The Syscape X (Photo from Six Moon Designs)
A week or so ago I talked about those expensive shelters that were catching my eye. The Skyscape X from Six Moon Designs was missing from my list simply because it wasn’t yet available but now the Skyscape is beginning to appear.
The Skyscape X is made from cuben fibre and includes an integrated bug net — there is a sinylon version which is quite a bit cheaper. The cuben tent weighs less than 500 grams and costs around £350 (plus shipping costs). The nylon version (the Trekker) is currently available for a bit over £100 and weighs just under 700 grams.
The Skyscape has been around for a while now and seems to have been quite popular. The tent keeps weight down by using two trekking poles to keep it standing. A two pole structure will be more stable than, for example, a one pole pyramid tent.
The new Skyscape X has had a few design tweaks most notably a second zip (or zipper) door has been introduced so that you can have easy access to both vestibules, or you can open up both sides of the tent to ensure a through flow of air.
For some people the use of a zip is a problem but as I’ve talked about many times before if you look after them, keep the clean and lubricated, they should last well. With a bit of practice zippers can be easily replaced.
With two vestibules the Skyscape should have more than enough space for a loo trekker. One of the reasons I like using my Duomid with a bivy rather than an inner nest is that I can have access to the red vestibule; it seems a shame to ignore storage space, although there is no shortage of that in the Duomid. I have only recently begun to appreciate the advantage of using two trekking poles.
My Stratospire 2 uses two trekking poles and using this during the autumn I realised that this system can be very flexible if you use adjustable length poles. Using a conventional 2 tent pole system if you set up your tent on slightly uneven ground you tent has to follow the shape of the terrain it is sitting on; this can make getting a tight or taught pitch a little difficult — especially with cuben. However, the two pole system easily copes with this and in real use I found myself regularly setting the optimum height for my tent using different lengths of pole; sometimes the height difference was quite surprising.
Demand for the Skyscape X seems high with the initial production run being sold out during the first day of sale. As a result Six Moon Designs have introduced pre-order system for the new tent.
Six Moon Designs proprietor Ron Moak was on the last TGO Challenge I took part in. He came down to the campsite in Montrose to demonstrate the shelter he and his walking companion had been using on the trail. These tents while compact seemed to be very practical and Ron told me they had performed well on Scotland. The picture above shows the fly being raised above the ground to neutralise condensation and that might worry some, however, the inner nests provide a high sides bathtub floor which looked pretty robust to me. Six Moon Designs have a good reputation for the production of inner nests. I always pitch my cuben tarp tent quite high. Wind speed tends not to be a great issue at ground level and a good tight pitch sees you through some pretty high storms, so I wouldn’t expect any real problems with this tent in the UK although I might consider it a three season shelter.
Six Moon Designs is not a company that attracts a lot of column inch copy here in the UK but they are one of the top ultralight producers in the USA. I like their philosophy and was very impressed with Ron when I met him. The website is well designed and packed of practical hints for wild camping, getting the most out of lightweight shelters and so on. These are the kind of faqs that give you the confidence to know that this is gear that is designed by those who properly understand life on the trail.
Six Moon Designs also sell packs although they will be launching a completely new range for the new year; these should appear before the end of January. These packs have been jointly designed with Brain Frankle who was the man who created ULA; they should prove to be very interesting.
They’re worth checkin out Six Moon Designs. You can easily buy direct using their website although backpackinglight.co.uk are carrying some of their stock at the moment. Six Moon Designs have taken a different approach to some other manufactures such as Mountain Laurel. Ron at Mountain Laurel builds to order so not to carry a large stock inventory. Ron at Six Moons (I know, too many Rons) tends to believe in carrying stock and so you can usually get quick delivery, although this may take time with the Skyscape X.
I’d be interested to hear from people using Six Moon products here in the UK and Europe.