Sunday, November 29, 2009

World's Lightest Tent

What does the World’s Lightest Tent weigh? Well, the answer is apparently 9.2 oz in Cuben and 12.5 oz in sil-nylon.

A manufacturer, who I will respect and not name on my blog until it becomes public, has made a one-person full coverage tent (see below for an update). And no, it is not Six Moon Designs...although like the Refuge-X by SMD, this tent cuts weight through the use of Cuben fiber. To cut even more weight, the manufacturer used nanoseeum mosquito netting for both the windows and the floor. Basically, it is a Cuben tarp with mosquito netting everywhere else. It is 9’ long by 4.5’ wide and 45” tall. The extra length affords storage space for your gear. Three sides go completely to the ground while the other remains open with only a beak. In bad weather without adjustment, wind and water could be a factor. In good weather, ventilation and views can't be beat.

Six stakes and one trekking pole are required to set it up and it has been tested, with success, on a CDT thru-hike this year. A couple prototypes have also been thoroughly tested. It will be called the “Hexamid” and a two-person version is in the works.

The Cuben version runs $255 and $195 for the sil-nylon. You can also purchase just the tarp for $145 (3 oz) in Cuben and $85 (6.2 oz) in sil-nylon.

Gotta have it? This shelter will likely go on sale in December, although more colors (white, blue, and green) will start being available in January.

…and for those who were waiting for Six Moon Designs to re-release the Cuben fiber Refuge-X as well as the new “Vamp” for tall hikers, below is an exerpt from SMD’s website:


Over the last year we've had numerous inquiries about the status or future of the Refuge X. I've tried to respond to all questions, but wanted to deliver a more formal response in this post.

We've received lots of feedback from those who purchased the limited number of Refuge X tents we produced. The original idea was to incorporate that feedback into an updated version of the Refuge X. Sometime early this year I realized that if generate a new Cuben Fiber based product, we'll need to significantly alter our production method. One of the original goals for the Cuben shelter was to see if we could incorporate Cuben into a normal production with minimum changes to the production process.

While the Refuge X worked out pretty well, I felt we could do better. So for our next Cuben Fiber model we'll be making significant changes to the production method. We've been too busy lately for me to work out the details on how to best accomplish this.

I've incorporated Cuben Fiber in the design of one of our new shelters for next year. The first version of it will be available in standard silicone nylon. Sometime after the first of the year I plan to sit down and work out the manufacturing details of turning it into Cuben Fiber.

So the bottom line is that we're not abandoning Cuben Fiber, we're simply delaying it until we can release something that meets or highest standards.

First on the design board was the Vamp solo shelter. One of the first criteria for a solo shelter was to provide a comfortable and roomy shelter for tall people. With an overall floor length of 107", the vamp has plenty of stretch out space for the tallest hikers.

I also wanted a shelter that provided ample headroom when sitting up. So we set the support poles three feet apart to maximize the head room. This also has the benefit of making the side walls almost vertical. Which allows for greater interior volume and a smaller space.

The side entry of the Vamp makes getting in and out a breeze. Plus its oversized opening allows for a greater view. With the Vamp we separated the two functions, weather protection and bug protection, into two components, tarp and nettent.

If you're hiking outside of the bug season, you may simply carry the tarp and have a large roomy and secure shelter. Unlike traditional tarps, the Vamp provides full protection at a measly 16 ounces.

Another key component of the tarp / nettent combo is their easy at being mated together. When setting up the combined pair, you first setup the tarp. Then with your shelter secure from the rain, you can easily setup the interior NetTent. The reverse is true when taking down your shelter in a morning rainstorm. This way your inner tent will always remain dry.

The design of the Vamp makes it less prone to problems associated with shifting wind patterns during the night. On setup, one would typically set the pointed end into the prevailing winds. However, with the Vamp, any change in wind direction will have scant effects on your nights comfort.

Together the Vamp Tarp at 16 ounces and the Vamp NetTent at 10 ounces weigh in at a combined weight of 26 ounces. This is a remarkable weight for a very roomy one man double wall shelter. For those wishing to save a few more ounces. The Vamp Tarp will work well with the Meteor Bivy.

The Vamp is also scheduled to start shipping in the first quarter of 2010.
(The tent on the left is the SMD Vamp. The tent on the right is the super ultralight Cuben by.....)

(UPDATE 12/12/09 - If you notice in the comments section, the manufacturer stopped by and didn't have any problems identifying himself. So, for those of you who have read this far, the manufacturer is zpacks at, although you may not see it on his site just yet. I had one of the Hexamid prototypes and decided not to keep it. At 6'6" and 285, I simply felt I was too big for it. Despite it being 9' long, the pitch of the tarp was either touching or very close to touching my face and feet 100% of the time. To avoid it, I moved over and the result was that I was on the edge which meant rain and rain spatter would likely bother me. In the end, I'm going to hold out for the two person version. In the same breath, I think this ultralight tent would be a great option for minimalist backpackers who are of average size. Its design really brings forth a whole new concept for lightweight shelters. If you're wondering, no I wasn't concerned about a floor of mosquito netting. As Joe Valesko says, it is more durable than you think. A simple ground cloth of polycryo or tyvek is plenty.)


JT, N1ESE said...

I know who it is!! I know!! I saw pictures of this recently in his photo album and was wondering if he was going to start producing these. Awesome! I can't wait.

Bryan said...

That's a clever design. I can't wait to see who is producing it. What height trekking pole is required?

Mark McLauchlin said...

Will definately be following this one,

Jolly Green Giant said...

JT, N1ESE - :) You'll see them as early as December.

Bryan - The tent height will be 45".

JT, N1ESE said...

Slight correction to the original post. JGG wrote that it requires two trekking poles. However, it only requires one.

Some more info:

Great ventilation through the large nanoseeum screen entryway and 5" of screen around the perimeter. You can drop the tent 5" and stake it directly into the ground for additional rain or wind protection.

The shelter achieves its super low weight thanks to the noseeum floor. A noseeum floor is more durable than some people might think. One uses a ground sheet on the inside of the shelter. Any rain spray or condensation runs right out through the screen floor. You can adjust your position or even roll up in your sheet if the wind changes to the wrong direction.

It's going to be a nice shelter for many people.

Devin Montgomery said...

Hmmm... let's see... who has experience with cuben and just finished the CDT... :)

Incidentally, this also looks a lot like Ryan Jordan's prototype that drew so much interest in his Sigma DP1 review.

Joe Valesko said...

Hey that's my tent! Someone just pointed me to this blog. The "Hexamid" should be available in January and will be in green .6 oz cuben fiber with a nanoseeum floor. The blog post sums it up pretty well!

Anonymous said...

Anti-gravity gear has a "poncho villa" based on a Brawny design so it's sort of a diamond shape. They attach one end of the long axis under the support pole of their similar ( to the hexamid) Brawny type tent/tarp and the 2 short sides clip under the "vestibule" to the bottoms of the side walls of the open side, basically forming a second wall to the open side of the tarp/tent. I don't see why that wouldn't work pretty much the same on this tent. Gives you 4 walls ( or in this case maybe you could say 7 ) complete weather coverage and LOTS of space.