I see that snow is coming and no doubt all those up t’north will be getting ready to play in the fluffy stuff. the last few days have been good for local walking but for me this is the time of the year to think about planning for the next season.
Now, I wouldn’t want you all to think that I’d suddenly developed a sense of responsible proportion by focusing on all of this budget stuff, for my mind at this time of the year inevitably turns to new shelters.
My curent shelter of choice has remained the same for three or four years now, the cuben fibre Duomid from Mountain Laurel. I am quite happy with this shelter but I am beginning to think about lede after it. The Duomid has a zipped front and so far this has held well — I look after it carefully. But, inevitably, the zipper will deteriorate at some point and I maybe able to easily replace but maybe not.
The Duomid has seen me become a real convert to cuben. Cuben is light, yes but also expensive. But I like the way it handles and doesn’t shrink. Some seem to find problems in getting a taught pitch but I find this easier than with sinylon. I’ve have found cuben to be pretty tough and also pretty easy to patch up when I do something silly like put a tent peg through it.
So, my next ideal shelter would be made of cuben and, probably, wouldn’t have a zip/zipper. So, what might I be thinking about?
Two shelters are pretty similar, the Mountain Laurel Cricket and the Z Packs Hexamid. These two tents share the same kind of footprint and both utilise a pull down beak system for protection to the rain. Z Packs build in a lighter weight of cuben than MLD have as standard and I’d be interested in comments on durability. Keith Foskett has been promising a review for while but it has not yet arrived. Come on Keith! These two shelters may be joined next year by one designed by Colin Ibbotson which should be interesting.
I must admit to wondering about the size of these tents. I have noticed that one or two people have commented that they find size restricted in such a shelter. This light be why Joe at Z Packs has recently bought out two new shelters, the Solplex and the Duplex. These solo and two person tents respectively are still pretty lightweight, indeed, they are comparable to Hexamids but appear to offer a lot more space. Both use two trekking poles for support. The Duplex looks similar to a cuben version of the Stratospire II.
I won’t have to worry about replacement yet. On next years TGO Challenge we will be using the Stratospire and the Duomid will no doubt be fine for solo trips to the hills. Joe fromZ Packs will be on the Challenge next year and it will be interesting to meet up with him and to talk about fabrics and design. Perhaps, I ought to pack my audio recording machine now.
On my last Challenge I had a good look at Six Moon Design shelters — Ron Moak and his walking companion were both using cuben shelters. The cuben Haven looked very well designed and well made.
No doubt I’ve missed a few of the more rare and esoteric designs that are out there.
I’ve long been an admirer of the MLD Trailstar. I’ve heard both bad and good things about the cuben version of the Trailstar — some find it inferior to the sinylon version and some are very happy with it. My problem with the Trailstar is its high footprint. Now, the new Little Star might present a serious option to consider.
I know there are others around these parts who spend more money than is sensible on state of the art lightweight shelters. What do you reckon?