Our New Family Shelter

damien's picture
Submitted by damien on

Over the past year I have been spending a lot of time searching for the "ideal" family backcountry shelter. My requirements were as follows:

  • It has to be able to sleep 5 people. We do not want to use two separate tents.
  • It has to be light enough for backpacking. 2 lbs per person or less.
  • It has to have a floor and bug protection.
  • It has to have a vestibule.
  • It needs to be designed such that it can be setup in a rain storm without soaking the inner sleeping area.
  • Although not strictly a requirement, it would be really nice if it was 4-season capable.

All of those requirements can be met by several manufacturers if you are looking for a shelter that sleeps four. As soon as you add the fifth person, the number of qualified shelters diminishes to almost zero. As a result, I was forced to get a little creative.

Earlier this year, Golite introduced their Shagri-la series of shelters which range from the Shagri-la 1 which sleeps one all the way up to the Shangri-la 8+ which sleeps eight to twelve. These shelters are designed as floorless, single-wall, tepee-style tents (with one or two poles up the middle), sturdy enough for four-season use. As an accessory they also offer the Shagri-la nest, an inner tent made of lightweight mesh and a sealed bathtub floor to keep out the bugs and water.

The Shangri-la 4+ (and it's associated nest) is designed to sleep four to five people and easily meets all of the requirements but one: it does not have a vestibule. After doing a little research and calling Golite to get actual tent measurements, I theorized that the Shangri-la 4+ nest (a one-pole structure) should be able to fit under one end of the Shangri-la 6+ shelter (a two-pole structure). What this means is that in theory it should be possible to construct a lightweight tepee-style shelter with bug protection that sleeps five AND has a vestibule.

couple of weeks ago I decided to take the plunge and make the purchase, hoping that I had done all of my math right. The tent arrived this last Wednesday and I set it up in my yard. Needless to say I was not disappointed!

Shangri-la 6+sideview
Shangri-la 6+
Shangri-la 6+ vestible
Shangri-la 6+ Vestibule Area
Shangri-la 6+ front view
Shangri-la 6+ From The Front
Shangri-la 6+ Tent with sleeping mats
Nest With Sleeping Pads From The Inside

The vestibule area ends up being nice and big with room enough to store lots of gear for 5 people and for cooking in foul weather. In terms of weight, I used my kitchen scale to weigh everything (it only measures to the nearest 1/4 oz):

  • 3 lb 3-1/4 oz for the Shangri-la 6+ shelter (and stuffsack).
  • 3 lb 13-1/2 oz for the Shangri-la 4+ nest (and stuffsack).
  • 14-1/2 oz for each pole (for a total of 1 lb 13 oz).
  • 5-14 oz for 10 GoLite Y-stakes (and stuffsack).

The total weight for the entire package comes in at just over 9.5 lbs, exactly where I was hoping to be! In terms of the back-yard test and whether or not it meets our initial specifications, I would say it has passed with flying colors. How it ends up performing in the field will be a story for another day (once we actually have started to use it).

Shangri-la 6+ Go-Lite



Thanks for the details about

Thanks for the details about your setup. I was thinking about something similar but for 2-3 people. I really want a rather large vestibule but there just aren't many options.

Any chance you can post a picture with a person in/near it for a sense of scale?

this looks great. the only

this looks great. the only down side i can see is that it looks huge! :^) what's the footprint? four of us share a 9 x 9 tent and although we thought about getting a larger one, we weren't sure it would fit in half the sites we used.

Hiya, I know Renee (sorta)

Hiya, I know Renee (sorta) :0) I was digging around on your adventure blog and found this article. Awesome! I was wondering if you could tell me where you got the sleeping pads and how much this tent set-up cost? We have 8 people...one of whom is very large. :) heehee...

We are wanting to do much more hiking and camping in the spring. But our tent, though it's very big and roomy for us, is TOO heavy to carry. I would love something we could hike in with and camp overnight deep in the woods.

Thanks for any help. You can email me privately if you'd rather not talk $$ online. :0)

sleeping pads

I'd just like to add that my sleeping pad is one of the greatest pleasures of my outdoor experience, seriously. I am not a "roughing it" type woman. I like my sleep and the system Damien has set up for me is so comfy I look forward to sleeping outdoors on the ground.

I love this comment, Renee!

I love this comment, Renee! At 42 I'm getting so the ground feels awfully hard on my hip bones. I need to find a better sleeppad or get the aerobed for hubby and me (which is of course not practical for backpacking, but since we mostly car camp we may splurge). I will look up the pad you're using, thanks!

Firts outing

Finally got the Shangrila 6 out on a car camping trip. It turned out to be a good test, as it was pretty windy. Started up with the poles at about 80% of their full height and once the wind got up one of them was bending alarmingly. I then lowered the poles to their lowest setting and pegged out all points to the ground and it was rock solid all night.