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Old 05-16-12, 05:18 AM   #1
tarwheel 
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Ultra-light tents for touring

What brands/models of ultra-light tents are some of you using for loaded touring?

REI has the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2 on sale right now for $270 (about $100 off) and it weighs only 2 lb 2 oz (without the stuff sack), which seems incredibly light. Obviously there are trade-offs with UL tents but for loaded touring it seems those might be compromises many would be willing to take to help lighten your load and volume. From reading the reviews at REI, the Fly Creek is only marginally 2-man but has plenty of room for one person with gear, and it's also very rain, weatherproof. I looked at some of the bagged Fly Creek tents at the local REI the other day, and they are incredibly compact and light weight.

From reading the descriptions and reviews, the BA Copper Spur UL2 actually seems like a more useful design but it weighs about 1 lb more and is quite a bit more expensive ($400) since it is not on sale.

REI Outlet also has their 2-man Quarter Dome UL on sale for $205, but it weighs nearly 2 lb more than the BA Fly Creek. Like the Copper Spur, it seems a more useful design than the Fly Creek, but I'm wondering if you are better off accepting the compromises of the smaller, lighter tent to save on weight and volume.
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Old 05-16-12, 05:31 AM   #2
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I have the BA Fly Creek UL 3 and am very happy with it but can't go wrong with any of the tents you mentioned.
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Old 05-16-12, 05:39 AM   #3
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I just ordered a new Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight 2, to replace the one I've used and loved for the last 20 years. I wouldn't even consider buying anything else.
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Old 05-16-12, 05:42 AM   #4
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I love my Eureka Spitfire 1. It is 2 pounds 9 ounces with lighter MSR Needle stakes. Cost is under $100 if you shop around.
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Old 05-16-12, 05:57 AM   #5
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Big Agnes tents are very high quality. I have the Seedhouse SL1 for backpacking and and short tours. I use the Seedhouse SL3 for my long tours. It adds lots of roomy-ness for the extra 22 ounces. Both are excellent tents.
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Old 05-16-12, 06:29 AM   #6
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My Tarptent Contrail is 24 ounces, packs small, and cost $200 new. This will be my sixth season using it heavily--I have over 150 nights in it and it's ready for more. It is ultra-reliable. But it is single wall and has a learning curve on pitching and condensation issues.
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Old 05-16-12, 07:13 AM   #7
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I've found every small, light tent I've used made with traditional waterproof flysheet construction had issues with condensation.

The Epic-canopied Black Diamond tents suffer much less from condensation issues, and are pretty spacious and pack small, but weigh in at about 3 pounds.

I much prefer a tarp and mosquito net for ventilation and comfort. Most small tents are pretty damp.
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Old 05-16-12, 07:52 AM   #8
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Here we go , Tents. My theory after many comfortable and miserable nites , spent counting "no-see - ums ' and drips ; to achieve that state of nirvana, the PERFECT tent. Sort of like meeting Buddha on the road, grasshopper; there is No perfect tent. Buy the tent for the lousiest worst weather you can imagine, a tenting nightmare.A tent chosen for the occupants size and amount of gear and region of the planet to be visited. Personally, I have a few favourite tents, small self-supporting tents that with the addition of one those ultra-lite tarps , I can set up shelter. The tarp allows one to sit in a dry or shaded area, not restricted to the confines of the tent. Never buy a tent without laying in it is good advice.One final thought, tenting is also Fun and the search for the perfect tent will enrich your life. PS After you have found the perfect tent , then seek the perfect bike!
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Old 05-16-12, 09:31 AM   #9
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Big Agnes does make good stuff, and that is a good price for that tent.

However, I do have to point out that something like the Kelty Salida 2 is $160, by the same measure weighs 3 lbs 12oz, and only takes up an extra few cubic inches (mostly due to the poles). So that 1 pound, 10 oz reduction in weight costs you about $100, under the best of circumstances.

If you plan to use it for backpacking, that might be a little more viable. But I'm not fully convinced this is the best weight reduction for the money, especially if you happen to be capable of reducing your waistline by about 2 pounds.
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Old 05-16-12, 10:16 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tarwheel View Post
From reading the reviews at REI, the Fly Creek is only marginally 2-man but has plenty of room for one person with gear, and it's also very rain, weatherproof.
I guess it depends on how much gear you insist on bringing in. I find one man tents to be generally fine, but don't bring much inside other than my handlebar bag, what I need to sleep, and what I will wear in the morning. The Spitfire 1 is big enough that when I have used it for backpacking and it was OK for me and my 60 pound dog. It might be a bit short if you are too much over 6' though.

When packing ultra light I probably could bring all my gear in if I wanted to. When carrying more I have always left the loaded panniers on the bike. Obviously, food and toiletries go in the bear box or are hung where that is required.
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Old 05-16-12, 10:18 AM   #11
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At $100, Eureka Spitfire 1 can't be beat for the money. Not good for anyone much taller than 5'10". Versatile, tough. Side door makes it a step in/step out tent. No crawling.
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Old 05-16-12, 10:42 AM   #12
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Silicon nylon fabric is super light,
and a more long lasting waterproof vs coating of Poly
but does not pass fire resistance, tests,
as required, in some states..

Stevenson warmlight , a hand made to a custom spec list,
in NewHampshire . hoop non freestanding type
I've put it up in some pretty strong winds ..

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Old 05-16-12, 10:59 AM   #13
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I have the quarter dome UL2 and it's acceptable for touring. I wouldn't actually characterize it as "ultralight" (or "2 man" for that matter), but it's quite light, dual-walled and freestanding, as well as easily erected and has side doors, all of which were on my want list.

My only complaints are that, at 6',1", I have to sleep diagonally so as not to brush the walls with my feet, and I wish the pole sections were 4-5" shorter for more compact packing.
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Old 05-16-12, 01:56 PM   #14
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Weight, compactness and peak height are my main criteria and have found the Black Diamond Lighthouse (rate two person which is just right for me alone) meets my requirements at about three pounds with foot print.
Sleeping bag, air mattress, pillow pump, tent (sans poles), and foot print all fit into one Ortlieb Bike Packer Plus pannier with some room to spare. And yes I know not everyone uses a foot print/ ground sheet and that some think it is bad to pack tent and sleeping bag together. I intend to use my tent for a long time and don't like a lot of stuff lashed to the rear rack.




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Old 05-16-12, 02:03 PM   #15
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I recently purchased the REI Passage I tent. It's a solo and it has worked well for me. Cheap to at $139. It weighs just shy on 3 lbs with poles.
I like it because it is freestanding.
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Old 05-16-12, 02:26 PM   #16
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The Black Diamond Lighthouse (now) HiLight tent I haven't used it for bike touring, but I have for backpacking. Here I put the waterproofness to the test with a 36 hr. deluge in Lyell Canyon in Yosemite. It is single wall, with breathable eVent fabric. I made it lighter with carbon fiber poles, Ti stakes, and lightweight plastic groundcloth. Not having to deal with a fly is nice, it dries very quickly, and there never has been any condensation. The freestanding aspect is more versatile, as it doesn't need stakes or support. It packs very tight.



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Old 05-16-12, 02:41 PM   #17
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Hilleberg Akto used to be ultralight but these days, a solo tent at 1.5kg/3.3lbs is merely lightweight.
It is very quick to pitch with fly and inner connected at all times, incredibly tough and can survive any storm. On the downside, ventilation is a bit limited and it is better suited to cooler, windier climates.
Pitching on hard ground is more difficult for hoop tents but a couple of logs or boulders can hold everything in place.
Storage space is OK but I prefer to leave the ortleibs out in all weather. Cooking undercover in heavy rain is a problem. I prefer to keep my stove well away from the material and the flap can become unfurled.
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Old 05-16-12, 03:15 PM   #18
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Eureka SpitFire I



As mentioned usually can be found for about a C note.



I like the free standing Eureka Backcountry I:





A little more $, a little more weight, but a great little tent.
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Old 05-16-12, 04:23 PM   #19
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A bit more than the Eurekas, but Tarp Tent can make a small pack version of the Rainbow that works great for touring
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Old 05-16-12, 05:53 PM   #20
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REI Outlet also has their 2-man Quarter Dome UL on sale for $205, but it weighs nearly 2 lb more than the BA Fly Creek. Like the Copper Spur, it seems a more useful design than the Fly Creek, but I'm wondering if you are better off accepting the compromises of the smaller, lighter tent to save on weight and volume.
I had the Quarter Dome UL but found it cramped at 6', 2". I exchanged it for the Quarter Dome T2 Plus and it's got a ton more room. It's definitely not ultralight but to me comfort in the tent (good sleep) will translate to comfort on the bike. My routine is to read or write for 1/2 hour or so before going to bed each night and there's no way I could do that comfortably in a cramped tent. Conservatively, I'll be spending more than 70 "awake hours" in a tent on a cross country trip and I want to be comfortable. I am looking to cut weight elsewhere. But everybody's different, some people are quite comfortable in small tents.

If you are looking at the Quarter Dome UL be sure to look at the T2 (plus or non-plus). It's easier to pitch, the walls are more vertical, and it seems like a better designed tent overall.
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Old 05-16-12, 06:02 PM   #21
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The Black Diamond Lighthouse (now) HiLight tent I haven't used it for bike touring, but I have for backpacking. Here I put the waterproofness to the test with a 36 hr. deluge in Lyell Canyon in Yosemite. It is single wall, with breathable eVent fabric. I made it lighter with carbon fiber poles, Ti stakes, and lightweight plastic groundcloth. Not having to deal with a fly is nice, it dries very quickly, and there never has been any condensation. The freestanding aspect is more versatile, as it doesn't need stakes or support. It packs very tight.


Those tents aren't Event, but made with a more breathable, non laminated Epic fabric canopy, and they do rock.

I've put it thru the test both ski mountaineering and bike touring, and they are very roomy, tough in the weather, and pack up very small.
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Old 05-16-12, 07:24 PM   #22
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Go to your local REI, set up the tent, and get in. The Fly Creek UL2 was barely a 1-person tent, IMHO. When I crawled in and lay down, I was counting all the places mosquitoes could bite me through the tent wall; I think the minimum was 3-4 places unless I was curled up in the fetal position.

Shame, because Big Agnes makes good stuff, and the weight was really, really right! I'll drag around a few more pounds.

I'm not a fan of single wall tents in the east. It's just too humid, and that means too much condensation.
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Old 05-16-12, 09:12 PM   #23
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My Tarptent Contrail is 24 ounces, packs small, and cost $200 new. This will be my sixth season using it heavily--I have over 150 nights in it and it's ready for more. It is ultra-reliable. But it is single wall and has a learning curve on pitching and condensation issues.
Let me second Tarptents. I don't own one, but I know people who do and have camped in them, set them up and taken them down. Great for the weight - maybe better in dryer environments due to condensation, but I don't think it's the end of the world.

Question about the Contrail - how's the shelter the vestibule provides? I don't currently own a tent (hammock camper on the east coast) but at some point I will and one of my big concerns is cooking/eating in the rain. Is there room for that?
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Old 05-17-12, 07:06 AM   #24
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Do the tarp tents have mosquito netting? That is a must, IMHO. Too many bugs in the Eastern US to go without.

I have looked at solo tents in person and none of them would have enough room for me. I like to keep my gear inside the tent and have a little room to spread out. Two-man tents are ideal for my purposes and not that much heavier. I also like free-standing tents as they are much easier to pitch as well as excellent ventilation. Living in the SE, ventilation is a huge issue. I doubt if I would be bike touring in winter, so I don't need a mountaineering tent designed for low temperatures.

The Big Agnes Copper Spur 2UL is just about ideal among the tents I have looked at so far. It is a little roomier with more vertical walls and double entry compared to the BA Fly Creek, but I'm not sure it's worth paying $50 more for it. Too bad REI doesn't have them on sale, altho I could get it for 20% off with member sale this weekend.

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Old 05-17-12, 07:18 AM   #25
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Go to your local REI, set up the tent, and get in. The Fly Creek UL2 was barely a 1-person tent, IMHO. When I crawled in and lay down, I was counting all the places mosquitoes could bite me through the tent wall; I think the minimum was 3-4 places unless I was curled up in the fetal position.
Seriously? To me the Fly Creek UL2 seemed OK for two as long as they don't bring in much gear and absolutely cavernous for one.
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