32 Comments

  1. Ravi
    Ravi November 5, 2013 at 4:59 am

    HI Ray,

    I considered the Lightheart shelters earlier this year. I am 6’1″ and was told by Lightheart that 6 foot is the cutoff they typically use for the Solo and they directed me to the SoLong 6 as a more spacious alternative. I ended up going with the Hexamid Twin tent instead which I’m very pleased with but it is definitely more a tarp-like shelter.

    I’ve read great things about the Lightheart shelters and the newer cuben versions look even more interesting.

    1. Gert
      Gert February 1, 2016 at 11:01 am

      Hmmm, I did not know about the 6′ cutoff.

      I’m 6’5″ and still find the Lightheart Solo a roomy tent. I still consider it a perfect choice for my 2013 JMT thru-hike!

      cheers,
      Gert

  2. John Ladd
    John Ladd November 5, 2013 at 5:56 am

    I’ve found tarps very noisy in wind if you like to sleep where you get a lot of wind exposure (e.g., above treeline, near lakes) – enough so that they interfere with sleep. (Admittedly, it’s possible that I never developed proper skills in pitching them.) My favorite solo shelters are Black Diamond single wall designs – a hooped bivy (Spotlight) for most trips and a nominal 2-man (Firstlight) where I might get tent-confined by snow or am willing to add a little weight for more comfort. Both are quite stable in wind, a feature I particularly like. Both have small footprints, making it easier to use virgin or near-virgin campsites rather than more established ones. The Firstlight, due to steep walls, sheds snow well.

  3. Dan Prout
    Dan Prout November 5, 2013 at 7:22 am

    I use the Lightheart SoLong with the awning and carbon pole she sells. I am 6’2 at 235 and this works great for me. It does require and effort to setup if you have shallow soil because it is not free standing. It packs a total of 2 1/2 lbs with everything. I would get the cuban version if I had it to do over. I have a big black dog who sleeps under the awning area. I do use a Big Agnes Flycreek 3 when I do overnights, but this is twice the weight but offers a base camp you can’t beat.

  4. geekgirl
    geekgirl November 5, 2013 at 8:43 am

    I was a huge fan of the Tarptent Contrail, but recently bought the Notch, and am extremely pleased with it. For 26 ounces, you get freestanding, (when using trekking poles), double-wall (no condensation) and 2 entries with 2 vestibules, so there is a ton of space for gear. Completely remove the fly, and it’s almost as good as sleeping under the stars. I own 12 tents, and several tarps, but this is by far my favorite. There are all kinds of nice little features too, including line tensioners Hard to beat at 26 ounces. tarptent.com if you are interested in checking it out. Same price as the Solo

  5. Darryl Abrahms
    Darryl Abrahms November 5, 2013 at 9:08 am

    Ray, Why do you make upgrading to the Fly Creek Platinum conditional on replacing the stakes?
    Thanks for the information on cowboy camping. Sounds wonderful.
    Darryl

  6. Robert Perkins
    Robert Perkins November 5, 2013 at 9:42 am

    Ray, what is the weight of the Fly Creek Platinum without a ground cloth? I would possibly be interested in something like that for early season, ( read: mosquitoes ), in lue of my Hexamid Solo without a bugscreen. It’s good to hear you had plenty of room in your tent, as that seems to be a common complaint in the reviews on the Seedhouse SL1.

    Tarps are not for everyone, but I have to disagree with the comment on them being made out of flimsy material. I’m assuming you are speaking of Cuben Fiber, which may look flimsy, but is strong, ( its was used as sail material for The Americas Cup saiboats ), will take Cuben over Sil-Nylon any day for a shelter, as it doesn’t stretch like Sil-Nylon, allowing for a much tighter pitch. I also have had better luck with Cuben material not weeping through the seams after seam after sealing them. The early issues with Cuben Fiber of weak attachment points has been worked out long ago by reputable sellers.

  7. Larry Beck
    Larry Beck November 5, 2013 at 10:41 am

    Ray, I have an SL1 that I carried for about 5 years and yes, it’s a great tent. I upgraded to a Big Agnes FC1 and, it to holds up like a trooper during inclement weather. Like you mention, I also swapped out the aluminum stakes for titanium shepherd’s hooks. It got my FC1 down to 2 lbs but the Platinum version is lighter still.

    I don’t use a footprint but am just careful when I set it up. One thing about these tents is that they also give you about 5-10 degrees of warmth when the temps drop.

    Larry

  8. Darryl & Jenika
    Darryl & Jenika November 5, 2013 at 1:39 pm

    My daughter & I each took a Six Moons Designs – Lunar Solo at 23 oz. Before that I used a tarp but one afternoon fishing I lost half my pack to a bear. Next time it could be other hikers upgrading their gear. Just a little more security in a tent when you have $$ invested that you need to get thru the night. Yea, but definitely get rid of the poles and the rain fly unless you hike back east.

  9. Don
    Don November 5, 2013 at 5:32 pm

    Ray-you might be interested in a tent survey at Section Hiker
    http://sectionhiker.com/twelve-ultralight-tents-and-shelters-part-1/
    I won’t go into my shelter choice and reasoning–it’s a bit less than your requirements/desired features (except for the weight). One thing that stood out in your story was this “One of my favorite memories of the hike was that last night, cooking in my tent—–.” You might want to research the potential hazards of that practice.

  10. doug
    doug November 17, 2013 at 3:48 pm

    Hi Ray, I too enjoyed sleeping under the stars most nights on JMT and meeting you near Whitney. Why do you need a tent? A bivy and tarp were more than enough, and weighed 1.6 lbs plus trekking poles. Probably could do without the bivy, though did not try just quilt on the pads. Walls and floor seem excessive when you have a pad, bivy and tarp, and no bugs. I use the Mountain Laurel Design Solomid and would rely on that for weather-proof shelter anywhere there are no bugs. If bugs, add net.

    Doug (the skinny old guy with strong son)

  11. Wil Hiking Gear Dude
    Wil Hiking Gear Dude December 3, 2013 at 3:08 pm

    I am a total fan of Big Agnes Fly Creek 1 Platinum – lightweight, mesh provides for excellent ventilation. For anyone concerned about the ability to be comfortable – I am 6′ 3″ and 200lbs. One of the best tents I’ve owned. Yeah a tarp works too, but can’t beat the Big Agnes. Can’t wait to head out on JMT again soon!

  12. mrm
    mrm December 6, 2014 at 1:18 pm

    Hi Ray,

    I attempted the JMT this past summer but had to stop after 2 nights because of anxiety I was experiencing at night. It was funny because I was physically in the best shape, had all the right gear, had all the right food, did tons of research ahead of time, yet was cut short on my hike because of a feeling of fear and isolation at night. These were things I had no idea I would encounter and so was not prepared. I could barely sleep at night because I felt like every sound at night was some bear or serial killer that could murder me. Also feeling alone and isolated was something new to me. I’m sure if I did the hike with a friend or set up my tent next to others I would feel a lot better, but I was going solo. I had never camped alone at night up until that point in my life, always with others. Also, maybe forcing myself to continue on would have probably mellowed me out at night, but I’m not sure if I would have gotten used to the anxious feelings.

    I see in your post that you mainly slept outside your tent on your hike. Did/do you get anxious sleeping out in the open from the possibility of a bear encounter? By the way, during the day I don’t get anxiety at all hiking alone all day, it’s just at night. Any thoughts to help me complete the JMT in 2015?

    1. Bobbie Sargent
      Bobbie Sargent June 29, 2015 at 11:21 am

      I have not done the JMT yet. We are preparing for a JMT hike in mid September and in researching it I saw your post, mrm. I totally get the anxiety with the sounds at night. I think part of it, for me, is the extreme quiet, which seems to magnify the noises that do come. It’s the strangest thing, and only became an issue for me in the last few years (and I’ve done a lot of backcountry trips).For me, this only lasts the first few nights and my way to deal with I t is – drum roll, please – earplugs. Just had to let you know that they have worked like a charm for me to be able to get to sleep.

      Thanks for all the great info., everyone!

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