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#106892 - 11/23/08 09:07 PM Need help selecting 2-person tarp tent
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6401
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Once again, I am asking for input from the wonderful folks on this forum! Parameters: 3-season backpacking in Pacific NW or summer backpacking in the Rockies. (Note that "summer" in the Rockies may mean violent thunderstorms, high winds, cloudbursts, hail, sleet, even a few inches of snow.) I backpack with an 80-lb. dog (part of my sleep system!). Since I need a bug-free space for the dog as well as for me, the weight difference between tarp, groundsheet plus large bug net, or a generic tarp tent, is basically nonexistent.

For years I used a SD Clip Flashlight and became progressively more unhappy with it. With its outward slanting screen door, I had to close the vestibule up tight even in a light drizzle. As a result, there was so much condensation on the inside of the fly that it dripped through the inner tent fabric, leaving puddles on the floor and my sleeping bag. I also found it extremely claustrophobic. Of course this was a "lightweight" tent, so I put up with it for years. It has left me with a loathing for double-wall tents.

Then I discovered all this wonderful lightweight gear. After much research, I bought a Tarptent Squall 2. I really enjoyed the airiness, the 360* views when lying down, and the spaciousness. With me plus one grandchild plus Hysson (the dog), there is still plenty of room to spare. Even in very wet weather, I've had no condensation problems inside, nor have I had a problem with wind. I still have this tent, plus its "big brother," the Rainshadow 2 (for backpacking with grandkids).

Having been caught up in the obsession with lighter weight, I bought a Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo for trips with just the dog and me. For the first few trips, it was fine, since we were in it only to sleep. The dog curled up next to me in the triangular space meant for gear and we were quite cozy. However, last August, on a 5-day trip in Colorado, it rained the first 4 days. About 5 pm, along came the first in a continual series of thunderstorms, lasting until 9-10 pm. As a result, Hysson and I were cooped up in the tent for several hours before bedtime. While the LS held up great to the wind, torrential rain and hail, it was far too cramped for the two of us under those conditions. With two of us in a tent designed for one, we completely overwhelmed the ventilation system and had big condensation problems. It was especially bad when Hysson woke up and went into his full-body tail-wag routine before I could wipe the walls down! Since then, it's been back to the Squall 2.

I'm looking for a lighter 2-person tent than the Squall 2. I have just finished going through Backpacking Light's State of the Market Report on single-wall tents. [Unfortunately, a subscription is required to read this article, but if you go to the forums (free), and page down to "Editors Roundtable," you'll find enough comments on the article to get the gist of what they're talking about, including a ratings chart.] I don't 100% trust the ratings in this article, mostly because I have some issues with the ratings for the tents with which I'm familiar.

I appear to have the following choices (if you have other ideas, please tell me!):

Six Moon Designs Refuge --I'm concerned about no bathtub floor and the lower rating on condensation--per the above article, the netting around the bottom tends to lie on the ground. If this is true, then I probably don't want it. I plan to make an appointment to go see this tent in person, since SMD is only about 45-60 minutes' drive from my house. Cost: $260, but 20% off through 12/31. (This is the silnylon version--cuben is way beyond my budget!)

Gosssamer Gear Squall Classic (when they start making them again). I'm concerned about the noisy spinnaker fabric. Some of the folks on BPL opine that spinnaker is not as strong as silnylon so would be more apt to rip in high wind conditions (i.e., Wind Rivers above timberline). If it weren't for that, I'd get this tent, because otherwise it's just what I want. The upcoming 2009 version will have a zippered vestibule, which I far prefer to the velcro on the Squall 2. Cost: $295 is what's currently listed, but I don't know if that's going to be the actual price for the new model.

AntiGravity Gear O2 --I'm concerned about its lower rating for ventilation in the above article and (from the pictures) what appears to be low wind resistance. Cost: $279; free shipping through 12/31.

Friends, if you have anything to tell me about these three tents, about any other 2-person tents that would be lighter than the Squall 2, or about spinnaker fabric, please have at it! Thank you!

Finally, there's the zero cost option: Use the Squall 2 and resign myself to the extra 8-10 oz., in exchange for lots more room and far less condensation. With Henry Shires coming out with great new tents every week (unfortunately not 2-person versions so far), maybe I should wait to see what he will do next!


Edited by OregonMouse (11/25/08 05:31 AM)
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#106893 - 11/23/08 09:51 PM Re: 2-person tarp tent [Re: OregonMouse]
Franco Offline
member

Registered: 04/05/04
Posts: 998
Loc: Australia
Oregon Mouse
Yes reviews are mostly subjective and I get a kick to see similar problems, say three drops of rain inside, described as "total failure" by some and "minor inconvinience" by others. It is human nature to overlook the faults of what we like and magnify the ones of what we don't.
In that review I was amused to see the Lunar Solo, and the The Sublite getting a 3.5 and The One 3 for wind stability and then Ryan Jordan described how in a storm out of those three only the Sublite remained standing....
I think that for you and your dog the Squall 2 is still a pretty good solution.
Franco

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#106894 - 11/25/08 05:34 AM Re: Need help selecting 2-person tarp tent [Re: OregonMouse]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6401
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
I'm hoping someone here has experience with the Squall Classic? Or with other spinnaker shelters? Are the concerns about spinnaker "fragility" fact or fiction? If it weren't for possible concerns about the fabric, the Squall Classic is exactly what I'm looking for.
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#106895 - 11/25/08 11:50 AM Re: Need help selecting 2-person tarp tent [Re: OregonMouse]
BarryP Offline
member

Registered: 03/04/04
Posts: 1574
Loc: Eastern Idaho
“I'm hoping someone here has experience with the Squall Classic?”

I’m just wondering if me and firefly are the only ones that presently own this tent?
I have a lot of posts about this tent. Some highlights:

I have the GG Squall. Our scoutmaster has the SpinnShelter (thanx to Glenn <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />). So I have observed both in heavy rain.

I believe this is the lightest fully enclosed 2-person tent that gives the least condensation.

To me I have had BETTER waterproofing results with spinnaker than silnylon. I haven’t had any drops come in these 2 tents through thunderstorms.
I also have NOT seam sealed these tents but I had to with my silnylon tents to get similar results.

And, I don’t know why, I have had less condensation issues with spinnaker.

One feature I love about Spinnaker is once you have the tautness correct, you don’t have to retighten 30 minutes later. Silnylon eventually sags on you so you usually have to retighten (or just live with the sag).

Once it’s set up, it hasn’t been noisy.

The GG Squall is so easy to slide into its tube stuff bag. That’s where I struggle with silnylon.

In my GG Squall Classic during heavy night earsplitting 8 hour thunderstorms, my stuff is always totally dry. During those nights, I don’t have condensation since a nice wind is going through.

I will admit, I try to pick a camp spot that slightly impedes high winds and rain, and has good drainage. But I would do this with any tent.

I don’t know how your dog’s paws will do on the mesh <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/tongue.gif" alt="" />.

-Barry

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#106896 - 11/25/08 12:12 PM Re: Need help selecting 2-person tarp tent [Re: OregonMouse]
johndavid Offline
member

Registered: 04/23/08
Posts: 260
Loc: jersey city NJ


Have you considered the GoLite or Black Diamond pyramid tents w/bug insert? They are relatively more spacious than your listings.

I use the Hex without insert as my primary four-season shelter these days. Without netting and with door shut, it's fairly bug-proof under most circumstances

Call me crazy, but functionally these several tents appear to me very similar to the $30 Wenzel puptent, which is a bit smaller??? than what you're seeking.
http://www.campmor.com/outdoor/gear/Product___35842

.

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#106897 - 11/25/08 01:15 PM Re: Need help selecting 2-person tarp tent [Re: johndavid]
Franco Offline
member

Registered: 04/05/04
Posts: 998
Loc: Australia
Maybe you missed the point. Oregon Mouse already has a Squall, why would she switch to a much smaller,twice as heavy , condensation prone , badly designed shelter that comes with fiberglass poles ?
Here is one comment on that tent :
"i used the wenzel solo this weekend. it's really a bivy, which i thought i wanted. bit i borrowed this one just to try it out to see if i liked it before i bought one. well.....i HATED it! it's hard and awkward to get into, even harder to get out of, you can't sit up to put your boots on. condensation was HORRIBLE! every square inch inside was covered with ice chips. i had to pee in the night and i put it off for hours because i dreaded crawling out of that thing so badly. it was very cool having such a small, light pacage to deal with, but i need to be able to sit up. i think i'll get that walrus zoid1 at campmore for $99...”

I have noted that you tend to post crappy advice like that as some sort of hobby, any reason for this Mr Calamity ?
Franco

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#106898 - 11/25/08 01:24 PM Re: Need help selecting 2-person tarp tent [Re: johndavid]
BarryP Offline
member

Registered: 03/04/04
Posts: 1574
Loc: Eastern Idaho
“Call me crazy, but functionally these several tents appear to me very similar to the $30 Wenzel puptent, which is a bit smaller???”

Well, let’s see what’s similar:

“Pkg Wt 4 lbs. 8 oz.”
Nope. 188% increase in weight

“Area (Sq. Ft.) 25”

Nope. More room in GG squall.

“Int Height Front 3 ft., Rear 2 ft”

Nope, taller in GG squall.

“Pack Size 6 in. X 19 in.”

Nope, GG squall packs smaller

“Pole Material Fiberglass”

Nope, GG poles handle wind so much better. They’re stiffer and lighter.

And some other problems (based on what happened to our scouts): Condensation heaven. Leaks in big thunderstorms. Our scouts won’t be buying Wenzel again. For the price, Kelty and Eureka is better. For the weight, get spinnaker.

-Barry

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#106899 - 11/25/08 02:26 PM Re: Need help selecting 2-person tarp tent [Re: BarryP]
johndavid Offline
member

Registered: 04/23/08
Posts: 260
Loc: jersey city NJ


They are functionally similar in that they are all single-wall, coated nylon tents with screened windows and doors and coated floors. It's a pretty simple concept that has been around for at least forty years.

The Wenzel effectively weighs about 2.5 pounds without poles, which can be replaced with hiking sticks or whatever. Additional weight savings might be available in the stake department, but dunno.

One of the biggest differences would be price.

Typically, tents leak because seals aren't properly sealed, or less commonly, because there is a hole in the canopy. It's also possible to confuse condensation with leakage.

All I said was that I used something very similar to the tent in question in three seasons quite frequently for nearly ten years, including one season of continuous use for two months, and found it entirely satisfactory.

It cost me $19.95 at the time. This always seems to get certain people riled up.

Some years prior to buying that tent, while camping with a tarp in August, a guy with a ten-pound dome tent gave me a lecture that tarps just weren't safe in the White Mountains.

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#106900 - 11/25/08 11:02 PM Re: Need help selecting 2-person tarp tent [Re: johndavid]
Franco Offline
member

Registered: 04/05/04
Posts: 998
Loc: Australia
The reason some object to your style is simply because you totally disregards the OP requests an deliberately post about a product that is almost diametricly opposite to the one asked for and then insist in coming up with totally contradictory and misleading statements. For example what is the point of stating the weight of a tent that requires poles and not including that ?
Oregon Mouse wasn't asking for the smallest ,cheapest shelter that "might do" she wants the best available. If that shelter was so [Edited for inappropriate languge, please review forum policies for more information] fantastic , why are you not using it ?
How come we don't see dozens of posts raving about how good such a cheap shelter is ?
This is not the first time you do this here.
Your attitude stinks and is well summed up by your own words from a forum that has already banned you , and I quote :

My three, highest guiding principles in all questions of camping and life are personal laziness, cheapness, and contrariness.

Franco

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#106901 - 11/26/08 01:07 AM Re: Need help selecting 2-person tarp tent [Re: Franco]
johndavid Offline
member

Registered: 04/23/08
Posts: 260
Loc: jersey city NJ
I offered some specific reasons why I think these tents are similar

Some narrowly stated reasons why you may hold a contrary view would advance the thread.

As for the Wenzel poles, substitutes can indeed be made effectively, and include hiking poles, wooden sticks or lines strung from trees, obviously.

A lot of smart and experienced people do think a small sheet of builders plastic is the "best available" shelter. The term is best put aside, however, due to its subjectivity as well as varied user needs and desires.

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#106902 - 11/26/08 12:05 PM Re: Need help selecting 2-person tarp tent [Re: OregonMouse]
Franco Offline
member

Registered: 04/05/04
Posts: 998
Loc: Australia
Oregon Mouse
If we haven't managed to put you off and you are still reading this...
I have been doing some more thinking about your "ideal" shelter. I cannot come up with any other lighter/better solution than to pick one of your three choices. The Refuge and the O2 have great space for weight ratio but I would only use them in fairly sheltered areas, the Refuge X (the Cuben version) is lighter again but not only has a less than ideal aerodynamic shape but also Cuben is proving to have very little puncture resistance and therefore prone to fail where it is stitched.
Spinnaker is often commented upon as beign noisy, note though that once it is up and set up correctly it does not flap and therefore there is no more noise to be heard. I have only seen one negative comment about spinnaker (not cost related) and that was from Ryan Jordan : The problem with Spinnaker's no-stretch gig is that when it fails, it fails catastophically. It is drastically weaker than silnylon.

When I was prototyping Stealth (LITE) Tarps, I blew out two in one weekend of high winds in the Tetons. Those were near-seam failures that were subsequently "managed" by better seams, but the reality is that the fabric explodes when it does go!

All of the GG designs deal with Spinnaker fabric well enough that this won't be an issue if you are camping in mild weather, but if you are in high winds, it should be something hanging out in the back of your mind <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> That was the impetus behind making a "PRO" version of the Stealth tarps, that fabric is really strong and we've never had a fabric failure on those.
don't think I'd worry about it in the Squall Classic, which is designed for thru-hiking the AT or PCT during the summer.
I know a guy that has a lot of experience with the type of shelters you are after including the Squall Classic, so I will ask his opinion and let you know if you are still interested. He is away at the moment.
Gossamer Gear now have a new batch of spinnaker but they will ship only in the new year, so you have some time to think about this....

Franco

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#106903 - 12/04/08 10:51 AM Re: Need help selecting 2-person tarp tent [Re: OregonMouse]
hikerFedEx Offline


Registered: 11/11/08
Posts: 19
Loc: United States
I love my Lunar Solo, but can understand how cramped it could be after a few hours with you and your companion.

Would you reconsider a tarp w/ bug bivy? the MLD Duo made of cuben fiber is only 6.5oz I think; add he Serenity Shelter 8.2oz for bugs and you can't beat ventilation, room and flexibility to pitch one or both sides to the ground for storm protection.

I just wonder abogt most of the roomier SUL tarptents less - how storm/wind resistant they are. e.g. the refuge, etc.

No quite wut you asked.

The single wall article was excellent though I agree I have some minor disagreements

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#106904 - 12/05/08 05:19 PM Re: Need help selecting 2-person tarp tent [Re: Franco]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6401
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
I've been out of town visiting family for the past 10 days; I had access to a laptop but I can't type on the thing!

Thank you very much, Franco and Barry P for all the info!

I've long since learned to ignore johndavid's peculiar, sometimes ignorant and usually irrelevant posts. I suppose it would have helped if I'd mentioned the weights--the heaviest tent I mentioned, my Squall 2, is 36 oz. with the extra side stakes and guylines (I overdid the seam-sealing a bit), definitely lighter than what he's proposing. As I mentioned, this tent has an extraordinary amount of ventilation, which an el cheapo pup tent doesn't have. The Squall 2 (as do most of Henry's offerings) also gives me 360* views when lying down, which I greatly appreciate. It's just that I'd like to save another 10 oz.

HikerFedX, the MLD Serenity bug shelter is strictly a solo shelter, and pretty snug at that. I need a bug-free space for my dog as well. Same problem with the bug shelter of the same name sold by Six Moon Designs.

Franco, I'd greatly appreciate any input from your friend with the Squall Classic.

It will be at least January before the GG Squall Classic 2009 model will be ready for sale. Henry Shires has been tweaking the design (it's his design, although Gossamer Gear manufactures it). By now I am 95% sure that this is the tent I'm going to get. I will of course try it out in the back yard (plenty of wind and rain out there in our east-of-Portland winters) before deciding whether or not to keep it.


Edited by OregonMouse (12/05/08 08:37 PM)
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#106905 - 12/07/08 07:36 PM Re: Need help selecting 2-person tarp tent [Re: OregonMouse]
Franco Offline
member

Registered: 04/05/04
Posts: 998
Loc: Australia
Oregon Mouse
Thank you for your comments. I do tend to lose it a bit when people insist in giving advice that is totally irrelevant to the OP's requirements ( I call that the "get a hammock syndrome")
As promised here is the advice from someone that is definitely familiar with your Squall and the Classic version : apart from the loss of headroom, what you get is a LIGHTER Squall. No other downsides.
Have fun !
Franco
I had the opportunity to see spinnaker in action two nights ago at 5250' . It was a GG Spinn Twinn. It was on an exposed ridge area ( the sort of place with short contorted trees all bent into the ground) and we had strong winds ( ?) and occasional showers ( and deep fog at 2 AM, pee brake) The owner opted to spend the night inside the hut (as did several others with their "bombproof" shelters...) so I took the Spinn shelter down because its neighbour (a few meters away) mentioned the flapping noise.
The fabric itself feels strong enough ( more then the TT silnylon by touch) the noise was not "crinkly" it was just from flapping ( could have been set up much lower ant tighter)
My Contrail appropriately pitched in the middle of the paddock in the open ( for shock value) performed very well and contrary to popular misconception was just as taut in the morning as it was when I went inside to sleep. All the other tents were 4 season shelters apart for an MSR Hubba Hubba conveniently located almost inside a forked tree.

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#106906 - 12/08/08 10:15 AM Re: Need help selecting 2-person tarp tent [Re: Franco]
Berserker Offline
member

Registered: 05/10/04
Posts: 493
Loc: Lynchburg, VA
Franco already mentioned it, and I just wanted to highlight that you are going to loose headroom with the Squall Classic. If this isn't a big deal to you then I think the Squall is awesome (I have the old pre-Squall 2 sil-nylon version by the way). At 6'-5" the head room thing does bug me, so I usually only carry my Squall in the summer when I don't expect to hang out in it other than to sleep.

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#106907 - 12/08/08 10:55 AM Re: Need help selecting 2-person tarp tent [Re: OregonMouse]
rootball Offline
member

Registered: 06/16/08
Posts: 112
For a second there I thought I was on the old Whiteblaze.

Mouse, I have a question that perhaps you can answer - it is along the lines of this post - please don't anyone cuss me out as I am very sensitive and I mean no harm.
During rains your dog must get wet - how do you get into shelter with a wet dog and keep it from getting your sleep system wet? Or how can you keep from getting your clothes wet? I have often pondered this - wet dog, down bag, small space... how is this handled?

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#106908 - 12/08/08 11:33 AM Re: Need help selecting 2-person tarp tent [Re: rootball]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6401
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Thanks, Franco, for the additional info! And again, many thanks to all who suppled relevant input! Lord willing (gotta put that in at my age), I will come back this time next year with a review of the GG Squall Classic. The headroom shouldn't be an issue because I'm 5'3".

There has been at least one occasion when I've let a tent down in extremely high winds and wrapped up in it like a tarp.

Rootball, to answer your question, I will make a separate post about how I deal with a wet dog in the tent, in the General Discussion section.


Edited by OregonMouse (12/08/08 07:46 PM)
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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