View Full Version : Need help picking a new shelter

03-23-2014, 20:52
Long story short: I need a new trail shelter.

My use is primarily backpacking with the potential for bikepacking and maybe even paddling trips in the future. Luckily the options for shelters tend to fit the need for all of those uses--lightweight and compact.

In the past I've used a single-wall backpacking tent (primarily the MSR Missing Link and Tarptent Cloudburst 2) or a tarp (silnylon or 3 mil plastic sheeting). I like tents and tarps for various reasons. I've hammock camped a few times with my HH Explorer Asym Zip before my boyfriend cabbaged on to it. I think if I go the hammock route I'm going to end up getting a second hammock (note: my friend UnicoiZoom gave me a Byer Amazonas to play with before I got the HH. It has no netting, but that's easily remedied. While not a "backcountry" hammock I think it's fine for now).

I previously hiked with my 85 lb dog, who has since passed and left a big hole in his wake. My current trail dogs are my male, Ranger, at 60 lbs/24" and my female puppy, Halo, at 50 lbs/21" (hopefully she has another inch left in her). The little one is 10 months right now, but is starting to do some short day hikes to teach her what's acceptable and what isn't while we're on the trail while it's relatively easy to teach her new things. The BF has already stated that he's not sleeping in the tent with me--with or without the dogs--because he likes my hammock so much, so I don't have to factor in his height and size. I'm a short woman--5' 3"--so most tents have PLENTY of space for me to store some gear inside, but a 1-person is too small for me and one dog, let alone two.

I'm mostly in damp trail environments--upper midwest until recently, now in the Ohio River Valley, with a bit in NC/SC coming up in May (Foothills Trail) and Kentucky (Daniel Boone NF) soon, I hope. Good ventilation is a MUST.

So, here's my short list of options:

Tent--I have this narrowed down to the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL 2, Big Agnes Slater UL 2+, and Tarptent Stratospire 2. All of these have protection for me and for the dogs from crawlies, biting flying things, and water--both precipitation and ground dampness. I can share my quilt with the dogs to share body heat when it's cool out, which largely eliminates me carrying jackets for them and helps me extend the range of my sleeping gear. (They have little jackets for when it's cool as they're a short-coated Southern US breed). All three can be set up without the interior mesh, but the BA tents do require me to purchase the footprint to do so. The Stratospire would require me to carry a ground sheet.

Tarp--Probably a big flat silnylon tarp of some kind. I no longer have my Campmor 10' x 12' tarp, having sold it several years ago, which was a dumb move on my part. My thought was to get a Warbonnet Superfly as it appears to be able to pull double duty as a ground tarp somewhat easily. I have a bug net that needs 4 points to hang on to suspend it properly. Pros--no floor other than the ground cloth, so I don't have to boot the dogs or put down something inside to protect from their toenails. I always make sure the floor of my tent is covered by a sleeping pad before the dog comes in. I've yet to have a tent floor damaged by dog nails and I'd like to keep it that way. Cons--I have to hang the bug net by the 4 points, which is a pain, at best. The ground sheet doesn't do a great job of protecting me or my gear from moisture, in my experience. I inevitably get some kind of seepage.

Hammock--my favorite plan, but I'm having issues with the dogs for this one. When I tried this with Ranger last summer, before I got Halo, he very much did not like this setup. At home and while camping he crawls under my blanket/quilt. I completely gave up on a bag when camping with him because he'll try to crawl into my bag head first and get stuck, so I wake up to dog butt in my face. It's funny in hindsight, but annoying at the time. He also doesn't care for being out in the open with no cover, as is the case with a HH. He gets up and paces all night, which isn't good as he gets his tieout tangled, plus isn't resting. My thought for a hammock is to get a larger tarp (see above's choices) that runs all the way to the ground, or at least close to that, so he can feel more secure. I also hope that having a buddy will help, but I'm not sure. Halo so far doesn't mind sleeping on the floor next to the couch or bed (about the height I hang my hammock so I can reach out and check on them), but at some point she does like to crawl up and play Petris with Ranger, the BF, and I on the bed. It's awesome, I'll have you know. So, the pros--comfortable for me. Cons--the dogs have no real protection from the elements or bugs (they'd get some closed cell foam and/or a tyvek groundsheet), and I can't share body heat with them when it's cool out.

Thoughts? As much as I REALLY want to go with the hammock permanently, I'm leaning toward the tent option (especially the Stratospire due to the big vestibules) and using plastic sheet with my Byer hammock when I DO go hammocking on a dog-free trip with the BF, which would be the bike and canoe trips.

03-23-2014, 20:56
Shoot--can't edit.

My absolute weight limit is 3.5 lbs for the shelter--for the tarp that includes tarp, ground sheet, bug netting, guys, and stakes; for the tent it's the tent body, fly, guys, stakes, and poles (not including those for the Stratospire as I'm using my trekking poles for that); for the hammock it's the tarp, suspension system, hammock, guys, and stakes. Bag and UQ or pad don't count for my comparisons.

03-23-2014, 21:56
I was happy with my BA fly creek ul2. Was a good tent though more 1.5 person than 2. Would still be using it if I did not order a zpacks tent recently

Feral Bill
03-23-2014, 22:12
An 8x10 silnylon tarp with ground sheet and bug net is way under 3.5 lbs, even with the hammock, especially if you don't carry a dedicated pole. Plenty of hound room too.

03-23-2014, 22:13
Hennessy Hammocks has several different hammock, bug net and tarp combos for sale ranging from $100 to $350 and weights ranging from 1lb 12 oz up to 3lbs 14oz.

I made my own hammock which weighs 9.81 oz with whoopies, ridge line, tree huggers and toggles. I have plans to add a bug net that should add a few ounces to that, not sure exactly what tho. I use a B.A.S.E. Hex tarp which weighs 17.74 oz with guy lines and stakes. I would imagine that with the bug net attached to the hammock I'll have about a 2 pound shelter system.

03-23-2014, 23:08
MLD duomid.

03-24-2014, 10:29
Henry has a new Cloudburst 3 at Tarp Tent at around three lbs total. Big time room. I used the Cloudburst 2 and went to Contrail. Just a thought.....

03-24-2014, 10:56
That was one of my original choices, but when I emailed Harry his suggestion was the Stratospire as it's double walled and probably more comfortable for my situation.

03-24-2014, 10:56
How annoying is the single pole in the living area?

Old Hiker
03-24-2014, 11:08
LightHeart Gear SoLong 6 - double entry, awning.

03-24-2014, 12:09
I am very happy with my BA Fly Creek UL 2. Not big enough for 2 adults and gear, but for you, your dogs and your pack probably.

03-26-2014, 23:08
Thanks for all the great input.

I ended up going with the MLD Duomid for backpacking. I want something that will pitch quickly and hold everyone comfortably. It lacks a vestibule, but I can live with that. Other than my boots most of my gear comes in anyway.

I'll use my hammock for bikepacking and padding adventures.

03-27-2014, 08:11
The StratoSpires, 1 or 2, win the space to weight ratio race every time. Interesting that Henry steered you away from the Couldburst 3. I have been flipping coins between the Cloudburst 3 & StratoSpires trying to decide. I better call him before I do something I may regret.
Thanks! Cheers! TarpTent!


Damn Yankee
03-27-2014, 10:36
I have a Nemo Meta 2P which is very large and should have no trouble for the 3 of you. Two side doors, large vestibules and poles are on the outside. I got a great deal on mine direct from them, it was a demo and paid less than 1/2 the cost. Shoot them an e-mail and see what they can do for you. 3lbs 9oz.