View Full Version : The $150 Shelter Challenge

07-22-2004, 00:05
Just like everyone else, I'm hiking on a pretty strict budget. I'm really just getting in to long distance hiking and I need a 3-season shelter. The only limitations are:

1. I can't spend more then $150
2. The lighter the better (of course)
3. Someday perhaps Ill move in to the tarp/hammock realm but for now I'd like to start off w/ a tent, so let's stick to that :)
4. 1 or 2 man size

So what do you guys think?

Right now I'm researching the Zeus EXO and the Kelty Crestone, but I'm 110% open to any and all suggestions. What do you guys think about the EXO not having a removable fly, or am I completly wrong there?

Finally I have a vestible (spelling) question. Are these generally used to cover just boots or are they big enough to cover a pack and keep it dry. If not, how do you keep your pack dry at night?

Pencil Pusher
07-22-2004, 01:37
They're all sleeping now. How about this: http://www.thru-hiker.com (http://www.thru-hiker.com/)

Or buy the $12 emergency blanket and roll yourself up like a burrito every night. Use the $138 extra for beer money:datz

Or go check out the for sale forum on the main forum page here. Here's the link for someone selling their uber-light shelter: http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php?p=51966#post51966

07-22-2004, 01:59
Just go to Fred Meyer or Wal-Mart and buy last year's closeout tents, for about $20. I finally found my favorite, a side opening 2 man, with only one shock cord to mess with, can set it up in the dark, weighs almost nothing, no outside
cords to string up. What else does one need? Except a $19 dollar Brasilian hammock from REI! ;)

07-22-2004, 02:30
thanks for the reco, figured most of the guys would be snoozin

steve hiker
07-22-2004, 03:09
If you snooze you lose, right Blake?

07-22-2004, 05:28
you dont have to spend a fortune for a decent tent!

i found a tent thru a Google search on the Net for under $40 & have used it for 2 years now! It's a TexSport Knollwood Bivy Tent (sleeps 2 ..so if its just a solo hiker...you have plenty o' room for the gear.

ck it out: TexSport Knollwood Bivy (http://www.eboomersworld.com/prod/JDB/ptz2015-36118-TEXSPORT-HIKING-CAMPING-PERSON-BIVY-TENT-JUST-LBS.jsp)

Good Luck...& Happy Hikin'! :D

07-22-2004, 07:01
I just picked up the Eureka Zeos 1 man at Galyans for $99 on sale. Leaving for Philmont next week and they won't allow me to use my HH. Decided the 3# Zeos was worth purchasing over taking my Kelty V2 (5.5#).

I will let you know in a couple weeks how it worked!

Philmont requires a tent with a floor... which keeps me from using my tarp (Golite Cave).

... a gearhead?? ... moi??? :cool:

07-22-2004, 07:04
Doesn't quite meet your $150. challenge but for an extra $20 there is somebody selling a Tarptent Squall in the gear for sale forum.
I have heard nothing but good things about Tarpents.
It meets three out of four of your requirements. Light. 3 season. 2 man. Worth the extra $20.

07-22-2004, 08:30
You can get a nice hammock setup for warm weather hiking for less than $150.

07-22-2004, 09:07
Look at the Eureka Mountain Pass 1 or the Backcountry 1. About 100 bucks or so at Campmor, built well, weatherproof, and you can lighten the published weights up by simply using lighter stakes (they provide steel ones that weigh almost a pound collectively). Its a real tent, vis a bivy, tarp, or single walled operation (like the EXOs). Personal preference here is the Mt. Pass (if for some odd reason I don't want to use my Tarptent.... now why would that be.... I can't think of a reason....any... at all...)

cheers --

:sun BeachWalker :sun

07-22-2004, 10:15
Try this: www.alpsmountaineering.com/Mystique1.htm

FWIW, I have never seen an Alps product, but they get fairly decent reviews. Only complaint was the Scandium pole set which they phased out last year, I think. I read recently that the Boy Scouts were Alps' primary market which would lead one to believe they build a durable product to withstand youth abuse.

Otherwise, try eBay. Do your research reading reviews
is one of the better review sites.

If the Squall on this forum is still for sale, I would jump on it if you can establish a reasonable confidence level w/ the seller.

Good Luck

07-22-2004, 10:15
I would suggest the Sierra designs Light year cd. It is close to 150.00 and is as good as you can get for a tent with ventilation, sit up room and well under the 3 lb mark. I use a vestibule for my boots only and my water bag if freezing is not an issue. My pack always goes in the tent with me unless it's dripping wet when its time to hit the sack. Your vestibule will keep your pack dry as long as it doesn't rain too hard. But if there is water running across the ground and alot of splash then you pack will probably get wet or at least muddy on the bottom. A big vestibule helps this factor but then they are only on heavy tents. I like everything inside the tent because it just stays cleaner and drier in the long run. Even the night time dew can saturate things even if you hang your pack.

07-22-2004, 10:19
Also keep in mind the "Sqaull" is not a full protection tent since you mentioned you want full protection.

07-22-2004, 10:25
If the squall is correctly pitched and properly sited it gives as much protection as most if not all 3-season tents. Newer models have a zippered floor to front sreen connection as well. Add the extended beak and your pretty well covered. IMO.

07-22-2004, 10:34
You guys are great, thanks for all the good info, looks like I have some more research to do

07-22-2004, 11:52
Not sure how close you are to New Jersey, but I would take a trip or two out to Campmor. They often have last yrs tents or one that someone has brought back for ridiculously discounted prices. I bought my North Face Canyonlands tent there a couple yrs ago for 80bucks cuz someone had returned it tho it was brand new. Just look for awhile before buying

07-22-2004, 12:15
Haven't seen one up close and personal, but check out the REI Roadster, $129.00 before member discount. Looks like you can sit up in it and it has a small vestibule. I have used an REI half-dome with a hiking buddy and it is definitely worth the money.

Having a vestibule to cover your pack is very useful. However, I tarp most of the year, so I have plenty of room underneath. I also have a Mega Light (pyramid) that I bought off of Ebay for I think $159.00. Also plenty of space (floor available but extra). For cold winters, I have a tent with a vestibule, definitely key for a winter tent. Any tent that you wish to use with two people is more comfortable with two vestibules/two doors, even if small vestibules. But it sounds like your plans are mainly for yourself. From talking to various folks, even a very small vestibule, ~3 sq. ft., was enough to shield the pack and boots.

No vestibule means care needed in keeping the pack outside, such as a good raincover.

07-22-2004, 13:25
less than 12oz.
no poles required but can be used
set up in less than 1 minutes
good ventilation
packs very small
can be bug proof for 2oz. more

look to Moonbow Gear, Jonathan will custom make you a sil-nyl tube tent. The one I had made has a drawcord on one end that completely cinches that end closed, the other end has a triangular bug net insert....
I either carry this or the BivAnorak on any hike (day hike/slacks) that I'm not carrying a hammock (or tent but who wants to do that)....I think I paid around $120 for it but it was custom ordered to my specs and can sleep two in a pinch, is 12 feet long so gear can stay dry to or once can sleep while one has room at one end to cook, you could probably get custom color but mine is a stinging nettle green color....

07-22-2004, 13:33
Hey MM do you have any pictures of this sil-nyl tube tent. You have peaked my interest in it. Please let me see it, please.

07-22-2004, 15:07
Haven't seen one up close and personal, but check out the REI Roadster, $129.00 before member discount. Looks like you can sit up in it and it has a small vestibule. I have used an REI half-dome with a hiking buddy and it is definitely worth the money.

I have seen the REI Roadster up close and it is a nice little tent. Weighs in around 3 and a half pounds and has plenty of head room for sitting up and reading. The vestibule isn't very big and I'd question whether you could fit a large pack in it. It'd be tight.

07-22-2004, 15:51
A couple of the MSR tents (Micro Zoid , Zoid1, Zoid1.5, Zoid2 and Missing Link?) can be found for around $150 quite often. Especially at the end of the season (late fall).

07-22-2004, 20:30
Sierra Designs makes some decent tents in that price range. Maybe a SD Clip Flashlight?

07-22-2004, 20:54
We have a Eureka Zeus EXO. My wife and I used this tent this past May on our Section hike on the AT in GA. First night (camped near the Hawk Mountain Shelter) it rained buckets. We stayed dry that night. Using this tent went well.
There is one draw back and that is some condensation does build up on the inside walls if there is no air movement thru the tent. We would keep the vestibule pulled back so the front screen was fully exposed. This lets alot of air in from the front. Make sure side vents are staked out properly. I also made a stent to hold the top vent open as it tends to sag down. Basically it's a good tent, light weight and real easy to set up (real fast). The vestibule is not that large but we were able to stack our packs up and put our boots underneath (during the storm) but this is a very tight fit. I know you said no tarps but I tried the Crazy Creek light tarp 2 weeks ago up by the Rich Mtn. fire tower. It is 10' X 12'. HUGE ! I slept under along with my 2 dogs, alot of room! Tarp weighs 2lbs. 9oz. We have a couple of other tents we use depending on what time of year it is. Our son has the Eureka Back Country, one person. This is a good tent. There is also a 2 person version.

Best of Luck on your choice !! ;)
Happy Trails,

Bear Magnet
07-23-2004, 14:13
A couple of the MSR tents (Micro Zoid , Zoid1, Zoid1.5, Zoid2 and Missing Link?) can be found for around $150 quite often. Especially at the end of the season (late fall).
I used the MSR Zoid 1 last year, and I liked it. A bit under 3 pounds, vestibule big enough to put a pack under, mesh walls with a fly, so you can stargaze if the weather is good, and not too much condensation. I think it retails for $170 but I got it on sale for $130.

Bear Magnet
Jonathan Amato

Jack Tarlin
07-23-2004, 15:46
All good ideas so far....I know some guys hiking this year who opted for the Coleman Inyo, which weighs about 3 pounds 6 oz. and lists for only $89.00; you can check out the specs on their website. Also, the folks suggesting yard sales, used gear, etc. are onto a good thing; you might also check out E-Bay. There's all sorts of good stuff there; I know the Outfitter at Harper's Ferry puts a lot of their bargain stuff/closeouts for sale there, and this is a great time of year to be shopping.

Jack Tarlin
07-23-2004, 15:50
I just clicked on to E-Bay for the hell of it....if you go to the "Camping, Hiking, Backpacking" section, you'll see all sorts of stuff, all of it new or hardly used, and at great prices.

07-23-2004, 19:22
Will take/post pics of the tube-tent soon, problem is now I'm at the cabin and the tube-tent is in town in the gear pile, might be two-three days before I can post them, if you can wait that long.
It is perfect for thru-hikers who mainly rely on the shelter system and perfect for day hikers knowing they should carry a rudimentary shelter.
We carry the poly/plastic orange tube-tents for years but they were too fragil, not big enough, and did nothing for bugs. Of course what I paid Moonbow would have bought 10 of the plastic models.
Let me know if you can wait 3 days for the pics and I'll get them up.

07-24-2004, 01:34
Yep I can wait for you to get back, there is no rush for the pictures MM. Enjoy your days at the cabin.

07-26-2004, 02:13
Pics of tube tent are up,,,,dont trust my memory on dimensions....9x3.5 feet but plenty of room especially if you use the pullouts which I wouldnt do, dont even know if I would carry stakes for it just rely on rocks,logs....I had forgotten how comfy it was until I set it up....I would opt for both ends to have bug netting if I did it over again. Moonbow will do whatever you want.

Tube-tent 12oz.
Arc Edge 12oz.
Prolite pad 12oz.

not bad if you can sleep on the ground!

07-26-2004, 05:42
$150.00 / Lightweight / 1-2 person.

See if you can find a Golite Trig 2 that is used. Or other Tarptent.
Walmart used to sell Coleman Cobra 2 man tents for $89.00. Coleman has replaced the Cobra with the Inyo.
I have an older Cobra that is perfect for one person with room inside for pack and gear. This is a small tent without a lot of head room. Two doors, two vestibules, lots of mesh, one pole, quick pitch and weighs in at under 4 pounds.
On a budget of $150.00 I'd research tents until I found one that suited me and then see if I couldn't find one used.....
Good Luck, I'm sure you'll find one.

08-04-2004, 10:23
Look at the LL Bean Microlight too.

08-04-2004, 10:54
You excluded a hammock in your initial post, which has been my shelter of choice for the last 200 miles or so, but for 300 miles prior to that I was using a Peak 1 Cobra tent (4 lbs). It is still holding up great and I have no complaints, I just moved away from a tent for the greater comfort, convenience and site options offered by a hammock. The Cobra is no longer made, but the current version is the Exponent Inyo for $89 at http://tinyurl.com/5s7nh

I bought my Cobra during a half price close out sale and got it for $35!!! Great buy!! :banana

08-04-2004, 12:10
I have an MSR Zoid 1 that I got on sale at REI about 2 years ago. I have used it on 2 A.T. section hikes and several weekend hikes in Shenandoah National Park. It is well constructed and durable. I think it weights in at around 3 lbs. The only drawback would be if you're tall. I'm only 5"7" so it's a good fit for me but if you come in around 6' you might be cramped in it. Also, even at 5'7" I can't really sit up in it. It does have a vestibule and big side opening door, which I like. I haven't tried putting my pack in the vestibule and you certaintly couldn't get it into the tent. I normally carry a lightweight poncho, which I use to cover my pack and which I also use to put under my sleeping pad/bag in shelters. Best wishes with your tent search and hope to see you out on the trail.