Solo tent selection guidance

Posted by: OhioPaddler

Solo tent selection guidance - 03/12/17 02:32 PM

I thought that I had this decision pretty well made, but then REI decided to have a sale. I'm just starting to get into backpacking after having done the camping and day hiking thing for a while now and am trying to decide which solo tent to buy. I only see myself using this tent for maybe one or two outings a year, and most likely for only 2-3 days at a time. Perhaps a 5-7 day trip on occasion with my backpacking club. Trips will be almost exclusively in the Ohio area or surrounding states between spring and fall. All other trips are going to be with my wife and son where we will be using our Marmot Limelight 3p.

I thought that I had decided on getting the North Face Stormbreak 1 due to it's simple design, good reviews and low cost. The second tent I'm looking at is the Big Agnes Copper Spur UL1 Mntglo which wouldn't even be on the radar except that REI has it on sale for 50% off. Spec wise the comparison isn't even close. The Copper Spur has a bigger footprint, is taller, has more vestibule area, packs smaller and is 13 oz. lighter. However, even at 50% off the Copper Spur ($240) is still almost double the price of the Stormbreak ($130). While buying the Copper Spur wouldn't be a financial hardship, I don't like spending more on something if I don't really need it. The Stormbreak is right at 3 1/2 lbs which is my upper limit and similar to what I carry with the Limelight 3p split between my wife and I. I guess I need guidance from people with more experience as to whether or not the Copper Spur is that much better of a tent and if I will notice a big difference between carrying the Stormbreak vs. the Copper Spur on the short and infrequent trips I will most often be taking.

My pack is a Klymit Motion 35 and my base weight would be right around 14 1/2 lbs. with the Stormbreak and typical 3-season gear. Additional non-essential items I might take would be a hammock or a Helinox Chair One.
Posted by: aimless

Re: Solo tent selection guidance - 03/12/17 02:49 PM

I am thinking that when you are out on the trail you will very much enjoy that lighter weight, bigger footprint, greater headroom, bigger vestibule and so on. You indicate that there is no real financial hurdle to spending the extra money. If there is a psychological hurdle, try comparing the cost of upgrading to the Copper Spur to the cost of a motel room for a couple of nights. That usually does it for me. grin
Posted by: Steadman

Re: Solo tent selection guidance - 03/12/17 03:09 PM

Or by how the Copper Spur is less than half the price of a Cuben tent!
Posted by: Glenn Roberts

Re: Solo tent selection guidance - 03/12/17 05:02 PM

Copper Spur, without question. Although I personally prefer the MSR Hubba series (strictly personal preference), I have owned a Copper Spur UL1 and found it to be a good tent. I had zero issues with it.

I remember when the original North Face was THE brand used by people who actually went outside. All of us budget conscious folks saved up for a TNF sleeping bag, tent, or pack - all were great, back in the day.

Now, after a decade of concentrating on fashion clothing only, the resurgent TNF gear line is (in my opinion), like their clothing, for people who want to look like they go outside. I've only seen one TNF tent in action - a friend had one, used it twice, got wet both times (once from rain, once from condensation), and foisted it off on some poor unsuspecting Boy Scout. It probably worked well enough for the car camping the troop did.

If you decide on the TNF, be sure the rainfly covers the tent completely - his had essentially a half fly, and a "waterproof" body on the uncovered half. The leak came when the breeze blew the rain under the fly and into the tent through the non-waterproof fabric of the other half of the tent. The fly didn't overlap onto the waterproof fabric enough to prevent the leak. He also had a problem with ventilation and condensation.

Spend the extra money on the Copper Spur. It's intended to really function outsider in bad weather. (I know this from several storms spent in mine.) I'd buy another one without a second thought.
Posted by: Pika

Re: Solo tent selection guidance - 03/12/17 07:17 PM

I'll second Glen's thoughts, get a good tent. Without a good night's sleep backpacking is just an elaborate form of masochism. A good tent will keep you dry in almost all sorts of weather. A "price point" tent typically includes manufacturing short-cuts that both cut costs and reduce utility. You get what you pay for.
I have been using the same Big Agnes Fly Creek (2 lb) tent ($350) for nearly nine years now and I have never gotten wet while using it. It replaced a Sierra Designs Light Year ($200, 3 lb) that seldom kept me completely dry. The Fly Creek cost nearly twice what the Lightyear did but over nine years the cost difference was small compared with the difference in performance. Don't be penny wise and pound foolish😂
Posted by: toddfw2003

Re: Solo tent selection guidance - 03/12/17 09:37 PM

get the Six Moon Design Scout. weighs less than two pounds and is only $125
Posted by: Glenn Roberts

Re: Solo tent selection guidance - 03/12/17 10:01 PM

That would be a good tent. I also have a friend who used a SMD tent (it may have been the lighter version of the Scout - as I recall, they made a regular, light, and ultralight version.) Like me, he hikes mostly in Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee - the wet and humid Midwest.

It was well-made and, in good weather, the large side openings provided excellent ventilation. However, being essentially a single wall tent, it did not ventilate nearly as well when closed down (as in a rain storm.) He used it - with mostly no complaints - for a year or two, but recently replaced it with a double-wall Nemo Hornet 1 double-wall tent that weighs 2 pounds (costs about $330.) He says it's a little tight, but it's got lots of mesh and a full-coverage fly.

So, depending on where OhioPaddler is hiking, the Scout would be a viable option.
Posted by: OhioPaddler

Re: Solo tent selection guidance - 03/13/17 06:14 AM

Well the North Face's ugly logo being plastered on the rain fly should be enough to knock it out of consideration in the first place, lol. However, it is consistently a 4 and 5-star rated tent, regardless of it's price which is why I was considering it.

The Six Moon Scout is intriguing. I'm a little worried about condensation, though. I tend to sleep with the fly deployed regardless of whether or not it is raining. In the reviews I have read a lot of people worried about condensation but then never really had an issue with it from what I can tell. Might have to do some more research. Great, thanks guys...now I'm further away from a decision than I was when I started grin
Posted by: GrumpyGord

Re: Solo tent selection guidance - 03/13/17 06:18 AM

I have been using a Tarptent Contrail here in Michigan for the last several years and have not really had a problem with it. Not very roomy but I manage to get myself and my pack inside but I am short.
Posted by: HPD

Re: Solo tent selection guidance - 03/13/17 10:04 AM

First, let me say I am not familiar with the tents you're comparing but, I'll put my 2 cents in anyway.

"The Copper Spur has a bigger footprint, is taller, has more vestibule area, packs smaller and is 13 oz. lighter. However, even at 50% off the Copper Spur ($240) is still almost double the price of the Stormbreak ($130)."

Don't go cheap! Take advantage of the sale price. Sounds like a no brainer to me.
Posted by: skcreidc

Re: Solo tent selection guidance - 03/13/17 10:55 AM

"Without a good night's sleep backpacking is just an elaborate form of masochism."

My favorite quote in quite a while, lol!

I have a Big Agnes UL 3 man (well 2.5 man) that weighs 3lb 4oz without the footprint. With many UL tents you really need a good ground cloth or footprint to protect the bottom of these things, and I thought I have been careful. It's been easy to patch, but still something to consider; wear and tear, and what you expect out of your tent.

My solo Six Moons Design Skyscape Trekker has a "beefier" bottom and has held up better in that sense and has room for my pack, boots, and all as well. I've had both tents for at least 5 years now. The one I have weighs a little over 1.5 lbs without a groundcloth.
Posted by: Steadman

Re: Solo tent selection guidance - 03/14/17 01:32 AM

If we're open to broadening the tents being considered rather than narrowing to a choice between bargain tent and the better tent, I'll recommend a look at TarpTent's stuff.

I like my TarpTent Rainshadow 2. It's worked well with two adults in a storm, just me, and with up to 3 kids plus me (that was a little tight). Mostly used on the AT in the mid-Atlantic states. It did Ok out here in Bahrain the one time I got to use it (it was hard to set up in exposed windy conditions without help - but I think that's any tent) and I'll see how it does in Japan.

I'm in the market for a new one, and am looking at their two person designs (the MoTrail and Saddle 2 are the lead contenders right now) but I'm also looking at other manufacturers - not that I'm dissatisfied with what I've bought, but because it's fun to look.
Posted by: toddfw2003

Re: Solo tent selection guidance - 03/14/17 07:06 PM

I use a Six Moon Design plus with polycro ground cloth. Can sleep me, my dog and my gear comfortably. Can also sleep twp people. only weighs a pound
Posted by: Va3Pinner

Re: Solo tent selection guidance - 04/16/17 06:01 PM

I have been very happy with a Tarptent Scarp1 for about 5 years. Used it in all kinds of weather. Plenty of room for me, two vestibules. Can set it up in bad weather and no rain gets inside. I've endured some pretty good storms in it. Has choice of mesh or solid interior, and exterior cross poles for winter use. Just upgraded mine with a bigger interior.
Tarptent makes some good stuff, and Henry Shires is extremely helpful with his product info.
Posted by: OhioPaddler

Re: Solo tent selection guidance - 06/11/17 12:55 PM

I ended up buying a SMD Skyscape Trekker when I finally found one in stock. Hope to get a chance to use it soon. Thanks to everyone and their suggestions!
Posted by: toddfw2003

Re: Solo tent selection guidance - 06/12/17 06:34 PM

good choice. I am a huge fan of SMD. Thought I dont have the there workmanship in their gear is superb. I own one of their tarps
Posted by: connor45

Re: Solo tent selection guidance - 06/22/17 05:09 AM

Looking to get one from Six Moon Design Scout, good to hear it's a choice here.