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I have two tents... which one should I take?

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I have two tents... which one should I take?

Old 05-21-13, 04:30 PM
  #1  
bgraham111
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I have two tents... which one should I take?

Like the subject line says... I have access to two tents, and I'm trying to decide which one to take. I'm sure they are plenty of people who have way more experience than I do with this kind of thing... so I thought I'd ask. (Plus my wife said I should ask.)

I've done fully supported tours with tents, but a semi was carrying the tent, so the big tent was an obvious choice.
I've done solo tours, but they were credit card tours and I stayed in a hotel at nights.
This summer I want to do some short tours with a tent. (longest would be 6 days, between Washington DC and Pittsburgh, PA... gee... I wonder were I am going?)

The choices are...



The Eureka Solitaire,
weighing in at 3lbs, 4oz
with a floor space of 96" x 32"
and a max height of 28"
- not free standing
- can get maybe one or two panniers in with me
- Actually pretty comfortable
- Smaller packed size

OR


The REI Half Dome 2
weighing in at 5lbs, 10oz
with a floor space of 88" x 52"
and a max height of 40"
- free standing
- can get everything but the bike in with me
- I kind of have to lie diagonal
- larger pack size

It's one of these... I know someone is going to tell me I need to get a tarp, or a hammock, or a tarp hammock... I'd love to try those someday. But for this summer, it's one of these. I have them both already...

So... lighter and smaller? Or heavier and roomier?
Since these are short tours, should weather forecast play into my decision?
Just wanted to see if there was any sage advice.

Thanks!!!
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Old 05-21-13, 04:40 PM
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Darth Lefty 
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You should have a beer and stop worrying, you're just two tents

/runs away
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Old 05-21-13, 04:58 PM
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I always go lighter,

Its summer, you'll not spend that much time in the tent. You'll be outside, maybe sitting around a campfire, then when you're tired, you head to the tent, crawl in and sleep. Get up, sit outside and eat breakfast, break camp, and ride. In fact, you don't need to sleep in a tent unless its really buggy or its raining. Sleeping under the stars is really nice and highly recommended.
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Old 05-21-13, 06:08 PM
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Personally, I don't mind carrying a bit more weight to have a two-person tent. I like the extra room. However, if you get stuck for hours or, God forbid, days in a thunderstorm, that extra room is critical. Not to mention a vestibule you can cook in. I wouldn't carry extra weight to house the bike, though.
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Old 05-21-13, 07:45 PM
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I think you should ask next how to clean a chain, or what chain oil to use.....in other words you are going to get diff opinions from diff people.
I like having space to put all my stuff inside, so have toured with a tent just like the heavier one. Buuuut if you comfortable enough in the small one and wouldnt feel too confined if caught in a long rainstorm....
you gotta decide. Put both on your bike and see if the extra 2 lbs causes your legs to assplode or you to bonk instantly, then decide.
Dumbass comments aside, if you are going up mountains a lot, keep the weight down, its always appreciated (that said, I did lots of mtns with my heavy tent, I just was minimalist for everything else)
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Old 05-21-13, 08:53 PM
  #6  
cyclist2000
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I would take the larger tent, its summer and I am mosquito bait, so as soon as it gets dark I am in the tent. If it rains my bags are in the tent. One year my friend had a bivy and I had roomy 2 man tent, during a heavy night rain storm I had his bags in my tent too.
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Old 05-21-13, 09:17 PM
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I have done two long tours, the Pacific Coast and Cross Canada, and used a two man tent both times. I like the security of being able to pack all my gear inside the tent. I also love the versatility of a free standing tent.
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Old 05-21-13, 09:51 PM
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I have the Eureka Solataire and the Hubba Hubba (similar design rotor half dome). Go with the half dome as the Solataire is a bit claustrophobic in my opinion. However, the Eureka does great in high winds and blowing storms.

I am like the other posters here, extra room to bring a pannier or two inside is nice and the vestibule is good for cooking should you get a downpour. Go with the half dome.
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Old 05-21-13, 09:52 PM
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PS: I do have a. BMBH hammock and love it. My preferred preference to sleeping outdoors. Gotta have a couple of trees to make it work.
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Old 05-22-13, 10:15 AM
  #10  
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spend a night in each tent in your back yard and determine for yourself if the extra space justifies the extra weight. Oh and then go get on a scale and see if 2.5 lbs is significant enough in the big picture.
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Old 05-22-13, 10:29 AM
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andrewclaus
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It's your first self-contained tour, and you'll figure it out for yourself. You're not committing to a huge trip with lots of climbing, so it just doesn't matter much. I started big and went small because lower weight became more important to me, especially as I aged. Obviously, others feel differently and I would not, and should not, try to convince them otherwise.
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Old 05-22-13, 10:33 AM
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i've used very similar tents to both that you have there. Free-standing is not a huge issue around this part of the country, but the ventilation is (for me anyway). if i remember correctly you have ventilation on both sides of that 2 person tent thats a lot more comfortable than the solitaire. When I used one like the solitaire i'd pretty much be miserable with the lack of ventilation in summer in PA.
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Old 05-22-13, 11:42 AM
  #13  
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I have an REI Half Dome and it is larger and heavier than I would want to carry on my bike. Thus, I also have an REI Quarter Dome, which is about 2-3 lbs lighter and considerably more compact for packing, and that is what I would take for bike touring. When camping, I use my tent mainly for sleeping. If it was raining all day, I would probably rather ride in the rain than sit in my tent. If car camping, I would take the larger tent.
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Old 05-22-13, 12:25 PM
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The solitare is the obvious winner for size and weight.
So it becomes a personal choise as to whether the luxury of the larger tent is going to be worth the extra weight and bulk.

You're talking about a 3 pound difference. I suspect the combination of you, your bike, and gear to be over 200 pounds, so you're looking at less than a 1.5% difference in weight.

So I think it's going to really come down to whether or not you can handle the extra bulk of the larger tent.
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Old 05-22-13, 12:27 PM
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Originally Posted by dellwilson View Post
Personally, I don't mind carrying a bit more weight to have a two-person tent. I like the extra room. However, if you get stuck for hours or, God forbid, days in a thunderstorm, that extra room is critical. Not to mention a vestibule you can cook in. I wouldn't carry extra weight to house the bike, though.
Agreed,
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Old 05-22-13, 12:48 PM
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and a max height of 28" vs a max height of 40",
1st thing .. 28" means you will have to get out of the tent to sit up and put your shoes on
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Old 05-22-13, 01:30 PM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
and a max height of 28" vs a max height of 40",
1st thing .. 28" means you will have to get out of the tent to sit up and put your shoes on
Nor can you kneel and pee out the door if it's cold and/raining. In fact, it would be difficult to use a thunder jug with only 28" of clearence.
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Old 05-22-13, 01:39 PM
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Originally Posted by darth lefty View Post
you should have a beer and stop worrying, you're just two tents

/runs away
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Old 05-22-13, 05:47 PM
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I had, (note tense), both of those tents...

After ONE night in the Solitaire I took it back and got a refund. The only practical way in/out of the thing was to remove the fly, unzip the roof, stand up and step over the wall. If you're the least bit claustrophobic...forget it!
The only other way of ingress involved lying on your stomach, and sliding backwards. Try that in a wet, muddy place.
I have used the Half-dome two on a Southern tier, and a Baja Mexico tour. I'll gladly take the extra weight for the room, comfort and convenience the H-D offers. The Two side opening doors w/twin vestibules are nice also.

Sorry for the rant.
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Old 05-23-13, 05:18 AM
  #20  
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I found the Solitaire fine comfort wise. The general shape, layout, and size are really good in my opinion. On the other hand it is kind of heavy given it's size, requires a lot of stakes, and has really crappy fiberglass poles. I'd take lighter stakes and be very careful with the poles, especially the one at the foot end.

The Half Dome is a nice tent, but bigger than I need and kind of heavy.

So if you need a lot of sprawling room and take a lot of gear in at night go with the half dome. If not take the Solitaire.

Your planned tours are not long so just try them both on different trips to see what you like.

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Old 05-23-13, 06:07 AM
  #21  
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Smaller and lighter. It's not like there is a chance to get stranded in a snow storm in the summer. So what if it rains, you'll still be riding anyway.
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Old 05-23-13, 02:22 PM
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Before deciding, see how easy it is for you to get as much dressed/undressed and packed/unpacked as you think you'll need inside the Solitaire. [For added amusement, try it under a lawn sprinkler, during a rainstorm, or attract a swarm of gnats 1st!]

How much space do you need inside the tent for you and stuff? I used a somewhat similar Sierra Designs 1-person tent (it's a bit bigger, you can sort of sit up in it if you are sufficiently short of stature) for 2 C&O trips with Boy Scouts. Weather mostly cooperated, so room (or being much more limber!) to put on/remove rain gear inside the tent was not a problem. You pretty much still have to enter it feet-first. I also have the REI tent (forget if it is the Quarter or Half-Dome, probably Half), it is quite roomy for one person and all the stuff I'd want to bring inside overnight on a multi-day ride. The C&O at least, and much/most of the GAP (no 1st-hand experience) lacks major ascents, so the extra weight will not be a big issue - I think the packing volume would be a more significant difference. As another poster observed, the difference is a small % of the total.

FWIW, 2 of the folks on the C&O trip used hammocks (with tarps with bug nets). They had no problems finding suitable trees to use at the hike & bike sites we camped at. They brought a 2nd small tarp or cover and pad to shelter gear left outside. One Scout had a Solitaire or similar (bivy sack?). I thought it was too small unless minimizing weight & pack volume were absolute necessities, and I'd opt for a hammock given the availability of trees. While a simple tarp, ground sheet, and 2 poles (or bike) is small, light, and cheap; because of the summer bug situation, especially along the C&O, I'd skip it.
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Old 05-23-13, 04:13 PM
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Originally Posted by ks1g View Post
As another poster observed, the difference is a small % of the total.
I'd advise being very careful using that logic on too many gear choices. It sounds like a recipe for a very heavy load. I tend to think of it this way... There are scores of choices in deciding what to take. Choose each of the items you carry based on the fact that "the difference is a small % of the total" and pretty soon you are carrying significantly more.
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Old 05-23-13, 07:31 PM
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Wow - thanks for all the comments.

I like the idea of getting all my junk out and seeing how like them them all packed together, or how much stuff I can pull inside at night. I've slept in the half dome, but I've never spent a full night in the Solitaire. I was kind of leaning toward the solitaire if the weather looked good, and the half dome if the weather looked bad, but ya'll are probably right - I'd just end up riding in the rain anyway.

I plan on doing a few overnights to get the packing down, and to see how I like riding with a fully loaded bike.

And... my wife agrees with the first commenter - I'm two tents, and I need to relax.
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