non- freestanding tents! give me your advice!!!

Jen

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so, i know we have a tent thread going but this is a different question. I'm looking at picking up my first non-freestanding tent and i'm a bit nervous. i love the benefits: the lighter weight when i use my trekking poles, the fast takedown, the possibility of "porch-like" vestibules, but i'm a bit nervous as to whether or not i will love it. i hike all over, but for the next couple of years the backpacking will be centered around utah deserts/mountains with forays into the surrounding parks and peaks such as yellowstone and the tetons. i used to have the BA seedhouse UL2 but i didn't like it very well. i hated the entryway at the end, the slipperyness of it, the awkwardness of the poles for setup and takedown, the vestibule that could barely even hold your boots (and i have small boots). I want ease of use with roominess, light weight, and strength in wind storms. is that too much to ask? perhaps.

right now i'm looking at the six moon design's skyscape trekker (with "porch"), the sea to summit specialist solo, or the tarptent stratospire 1. any comments? should i just bite the bullet and pay hundreds of dollars for a tent i'm scared will collapse on me with the first windstorm, or go with another BA such as the fly creek UL1 and hate the design but love the weight and the standy-up-ness? what's a girl to do?
 
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Dan

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hahaha. i haven't had a freestanding tent in years. i love tarps and tarptent syles. however, if you hate the front entry of a seedhouse or a fly creek, most non-freestanders have a similar front entry design.

tarptents get a lot of love. i'd trust any of them, and the stratospire seems to have an awesome design that is pretty roomy. do you want just a one person, or bigger?

right now, i am carrying just the fly sheet from a go-lite shangri la 1 on solo trips, and it weighs 16 ounces, carry a tyvek ground sheet at 4 more ounces. when i'm out with my girlfriend and a dog, we rock a shangri la 3 with some trekking pole adapters, and the thing is damn near a palace. my favorite tent ever. it's like 3 lbs 12 ounces though, and can sleep 2 easily, plus dog and all gear. probably 3-4 people in a storm playing cards. can even drop the weight further if you only take the fly, down to something like 23 ounces.

the mid is not as great in the wind, but it is still serviceable. ultimately, its all one giant compromise.

all of this is probably of absolutely no help :)
 

lostlandscapes

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Jan 17, 2012
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I've owned both a Six Moon Designs "Europa" and (currently) a Tarptent "Squall 2". Both have performed marvelously in poor weather, especially with the side guylines staked out. When properly employed, they will not collapse on you (can't speak for tornadoes). In my opinion, despite the less-than-perfect shapes, potential for sag, and smaller vestibules that are part and parcel with tarp tents, they are worth every penny in weight savings. While not quite large enough for your pack (which I cover away from the tent with my poncho), the Squall 2's vestibule is plenty large for boots and other smaller items. When confronted with sandstone or other rocky, stake-eating surfaces, I've relied on large stones to serve as anchors. Another benefit: due to the small, narrow nature of the stuff sack that comes with the Tarptents, you can actually carry these shelters vertically on the outside of your pack in one of your external pockets, allowing you to carry a smaller and lighter backpack. Double Win.
 

Aldaron

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I'll second (or third) the Tarptents. I have a Rainshadow 2 and it's crazy light and crazy big. I only buy 3 person tents now because we just can't get comfortable in 2 person tents. But this one is a real 3 person tent, so it's really big. The one drawback to that size is that it doesn't hold in body heat as well as smaller tents, so it seems colder. If I had to do it over again, I would probably get the Squall 2.
 

Jen

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thanks guys, that helps a lot. i think i just need a little reassurance to get out of my comfort zone. i'm on my 5th tent, and i keep buying larger tents for 2 people but 9/10 times it ends up being just me. i borrowed a 1 man tent a couple of years ago and loved the size - i'm small and while a 2 person tent to yourself is amazing, i just want to cut weight right now. i think one person is the way to go. tim, i thought you had a tarptent, i just couldn't remember. and dan, i've been eyeing up the shangrila for years. i'm glad to know you like it that much. if you guys like them i think i'll just got for it!! my knees will thank me. trekking pole tent here i come!
 

Dan

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main reason i got a shangrila 1 was the price. it is not my favorite setup, but i got it for a shade over 100 bucks on the golite sale. the 3 was around $200. nick makes fun of my golite kit, but when it's on sale, it's the best value in the backpacking world. both are amazing at that price, and totally do everything i want.

not sure i'd say it's the "best" one person tent though, if the cost were no object.
 

DAA

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Jun 14, 2012
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I can't be of any help, because I've not had a chance to even set it up yet, but I went with the SMD Skyscape Trekker. Decided last year that trekking poles really aren't for me so I also got the optional CF poles to go with it. The weight came in as advertised and it all looks quality. All in, with seams sealed, stakes including two extras, guyout lines, poles and stuff sack it's 31 oz. With all of that in the included stuff sack it fits very nicely either inside the main compartment or in either front or side pockets of my new ULA Circtuit. Anxiously waiting for the snow to at least get a little bit shallower in my yard before I try setting it up though. First real use probably won't be till late April.

- DAA
 
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Nick

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I used an MSR Missing Link for quite a few years. It's a non-free standing that uses trekking poles. I loved it at times and hated it at others. I still have it but I think I'm not sold on just using my Copper Spur over it. The Missing Link was huge and spacious and the porch was to die for when waiting out an afternoon thunderstorm. That's the tent that we huddled under that first day at Potter Lake.

But where it failed miserably was in intense winds, especially if they happened to be hitting the broad side of the tent directly. It also sucks when it rains so much that the ground gets so saturated that the stakes stop holding and the poles start shifting.
 

River

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Jan 26, 2012
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We used to use the Missing Link too. I loved the length and the porch was awesome. Especially sitting inside and watching the rain. Sometimes it was a pain getting the stakes right and it sure was noisy in the wind. I remember sleeping on a picnic table one night because the tent was so noisy.

Sunrise over a dry lake bed in the Owyhees. The Missing Link is the orange tent on the right.
PB034141ed (Large).jpg
 

Jen

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ah, Nick you mean the tent that patina so courteously redesigned for you? as i remember it did not come complete with doggie door, but has one now. i very much liked that porch. DAA, did you get the "porch" section added on to that trekker for 2.5 more oz? i want to order that one and the tarptent stratospire and set them both up to compare how i love them. why aren't they available locally so i can go feel them up? my new trekking poles are on their way. i sent back the defective twist lock ones and got the power lock ones instead. btw, backcountryedge.com has super good deals and a nice return policy on some lightweight stuff.
 

HomerJ

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Jan 19, 2012
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I got the BA Fly Creek UL 1 last spring and if you hate the head entry style tent and a small vestibule you'll not like this tent. I had never tried a head entry style tent before. I love everything else about the tent except for this.
 

Nick

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Hehe, yep. She did make a nice little dog door in that tent. Good thing there weren't any mosquitoes! Oh wait...

IMG_0298.jpg


Got it patched up though...

IMG_3369.jpg


It's hard to imagine a better tent for sitting out foul weather in. Unless of course there's wind pounding it...
 

DAA

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DAA, did you get the "porch" section added on to that trekker for 2.5 more oz? ...

I did not. But may add it later, mostly depending on how much I like the tent once I start actually using it.

- DAA
 

Dan

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Feb 24, 2012
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I ended up ordering the tarptent notch. i haven't been this excited about a new piece of gear in quite a while. reviews to follow...
awesome, can't wait to hear how you like it. you should rent it out so I can give it a go too. heard nothing but rave reviews for it, looks like an impressive piece of kit. :twothumbs:
 

DAA

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Awesome! Anxious to hear how much you love it :cool:. The Notch was my other finalist, along the the Skyscape. In the end, I went Skyscape simply because I've decided I really don't care much for trekking poles and it was my "impression" (not fact, not even strong enough to be opinion, just a feeling) that the Skyscape might work better without them. I don't actually know that to be true though - so it was really almost a toss up in the end.

- DAA
 

Jen

Formerly colefeet
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we need to organize a local gear show where everyone brings their equipment for everyone else to look at and try out. :) i ended up going with the Notch based on weight, the fact that it only needs four stakes, the door is on the side, and the video online where they set up the tent is awesome. i saw the video and pushed "purchase" immediately afterwards.
 
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shaver

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Feb 22, 2013
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I think you will like your tarptent. I have the Squall 2. Its light enough for one, but roomy enough for two. I made one improvement in the design that might help you. To keep the tent sag free overnight in damp weather, I attached two sections of surgical tubing to the guy lines at each end, and the sides. They are sold as "snubbers" in fishing stores, such as Cabela's. Get the largest size they have. The snubbers let the tent flex in wind, but snap back in place when the gust of wind passes. I got the tyvek footprint with my Sqaull 2, but have been leaving it at home, and saving a pound.
 
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