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Ultralight solo tent recommendations

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Ultralight solo tent recommendations

Postby markorr » Thu Mar 19, 2009 6:43 pm

I'm thinking about getting a new tent for my 3 season solo backpacking trips in the Sierras. Criteria, fully enclosed to escape the bugs (so that rules tarps out), as light as possible, tall enough to sit up in (so no bivy sacks) and a vestibule big enough for a pair of boots. Otherwise I'd like to go as light and as small of pack size as possible. My current solo tent is a BD Firstlight - single wall, no vestibule, free standing, big enough for 2 people, weighs 2lb 11 oz

The 2 candidates I'm looking at are the Tarptent Contrail and the new Big Agnes Fly Creek 1 UL. I haven't been in either one yet, but looking at them they're similar size
Weight: the tarptent is lighter by 5.5 oz (24.5 vs 30)
Floor space: even, approx 22 ft for both
Head room: Tarpent 45 inches vs 38 inches at max
Design: Big Agnes is double wall, TT is single wall (how do TT's do on ventilation/condensation?)
Setup: Big Agnes is free standing, TT is not
Cost: TT is $200, BA is $300

I'm leaning towards the tarptent, but I've never had to rely on a non-free standing tent. The other tents we currently own are a Marmot Alpinist for winter/mountaineering and MSR Hubba Hubba for 2 person 3 season use.

Are there other options that are better than either of these? Does anyone have experience with either tent?

thanks
Mark



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Re: Ultralight solo tent recommendations

Postby hikerduane » Thu Mar 19, 2009 7:05 pm

I have had heavy condensation in my TT Squall, a few years ago when it spat snow pellets in the afternoon and into the night, then started up again, just before sunrise. When it hit in the morning, all the condensation got knocked on to my clothes and gear that was spread out inside. I guess next time I should bring a garbage bag for clothes and a bper towel to wipe the walls down with. My BD Hilight isn't much better, weighs more then your Firstlight and I get spritzed by it in the rain. I haven't had any issues setting up the Squall anywhere, if a stake won't go in, I put a rock on the stake or rig something up to hold it in place. I don't like the breeze that can come thru the Squall via the netting around the bottom. I saw a test of some of the new tarp style tents that were subjected to high wind, the TarpTent did the best, over a cuben fabric shelter, which I think was a SMD shelter. I'll have to dig it up, interesting results. The cuben material tent which many are thinking is the new fabric, faired poorly.
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Re: Ultralight solo tent recommendations

Postby trav867 » Sat Mar 21, 2009 11:32 am

So funny you posted this- I've narrowed my search down to the same two shelters. Looking forward to seeing what people have to say.
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Re: Ultralight solo tent recommendations

Postby oldranger » Tue Mar 24, 2009 11:50 am

I've used the contrail for the past 2 seasons. I've spent nights with no condensation and others with seemingly gallons. (actually have had same issues with double wall tents as well). If it is humid or raining or snowing there is probably no way around the problem. To minimize the problem I try to avoid low lying spots and vegetation. I carry an extra packtowel,too. The biggest problem for me is getting an early start. I try and make sure the inside is completely dry before packing it up. with a separate fly you can shake out the fly then pack it separately damp, fold the main tent so the dry floor folded in half, dry against dry then roll it up. That way you can get an early start and have a dry floor when you next set up the tent.

I never pitch the Contrail the way it is displayed in the photos. I usually find a stick and raise the center of the foot end so the tent is more of an A-frame. It seems to me that the standard way of pitching the tent will result in water pooling in rain or the tent not shedding snow if it snows. It always takes me a little time to tweak the setup for the conditions. But a pound and a half and no skeeters are real nice benefits.

mike
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Re: Ultralight solo tent recommendations

Postby oldranger » Tue Mar 24, 2009 12:01 pm

Photo of Cloudburst and Contrail below Pinchot Pass
tents.JPG
Cloudburst on left, Contrail


Note slight peak at foot of contrail. After using my Cloudburst for a week my cousin decided to buy it when I put it up for sale for $100. It is an ample 2 person tent and palatial 1 person and weighs 21/2 lbs.

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Re: Ultralight solo tent recommendations

Postby Cloudy » Thu Mar 26, 2009 7:49 am

I also have a Contrail and essentially do the same thing as oldranger so that it has somewhat of a peak to shed water at the foot end. Yes, it does pool water in that area if it isn't pitched or kept taut but I have the first version of the Contrail and don't know if the newer ones have changed much. All in all, I'm still happy with it.

Alan
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Re: Ultralight solo tent recommendations

Postby MountainMinstrel » Tue May 12, 2009 6:03 pm

One more vote for the Contrail. Used it three different trips last year. The only time I had condensation issues was the first weekend. We were at Emerald Lake SEKI and it rained off and on all day and night. I used the same setup as Oldranger and Cloudy with the foot raised in the center. I just wiped down the inside when I woke up and everything was fine. The vestibule is big enough for my pack while still leaving me an easy way in and out of the tent.

I love this tent \:D/
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Re: Ultralight solo tent recommendations

Postby markskor » Wed May 13, 2009 6:10 am

Going through the same problem here...need a new tent by summer.
I also have narrowed it down to two choices also - but one is different than yours.
My choices:
Tarptent Rainbow...like the "freestanding" with hiking poles
or Tarptent Contrail.
Help me pull the trigger.
Mark

PS...(EDIT)...AH Heck...It is my birthday today and as a present to me, \:D/
I just bought the Rainbow.
Mountainman who swims with trout
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Re: Ultralight solo tent recommendations

Postby ERIC » Wed May 13, 2009 7:48 am

markskor wrote:Going through the same problem here...need a new tent by summer.
I also have narrowed it down to two choices also - but one is different than yours.
My choices:
Tarptent Rainbow...like the "freestanding" with hiking poles
or Tarptent Contrail.
Help me pull the trigger.
Mark

PS...(EDIT)...AH Heck...It is my birthday today and as a present to me, \:D/
I just bought the Rainbow.


Happy birthday, bud. :thumbsup:
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Re: Ultralight solo tent recommendations

Postby MountainMinstrel » Wed May 13, 2009 4:24 pm

markskor wrote:Going through the same problem here...need a new tent by summer.
I also have narrowed it down to two choices also - but one is different than yours.
My choices:
Tarptent Rainbow...like the "freestanding" with hiking poles
or Tarptent Contrail.
Help me pull the trigger.
Mark

PS...(EDIT)...AH Heck...It is my birthday today and as a present to me, \:D/
I just bought the Rainbow.



Well...happy B'day :birthday I was in the same situation last year and ended up with the Contrail. I am sure you will like theRainbow as much as I have liked the Contrail.
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Re: Ultralight solo tent recommendations

Postby maverick » Thu May 14, 2009 1:22 pm

Happy Birthday Mark!
I was going to recommend the rainbow, especially since it is free standing.
I haven't have had any problems with it, we have been through some heavy
down pours and some very high winds, and it has preformed well.
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Re: Ultralight solo tent recommendations

Postby markskor » Thu May 14, 2009 2:44 pm

Mav,
My Rainbow tent has not arrived yet...the old "Tent is in the mail" syndrome...but, I read that Henry does not seam-seal his tents, thus the need to seal it myself, etc. before using.
Never had a tarptent, or had to do this before to an entire tent...since you have one, any hints or recommendations...red flags?
Mark
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