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!
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).
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?
Unfortunately, I took the tent down last night and I don't have any immediate plans to put it back up so I won't be able to take any more photos at the moment. The vestibule is exactly half the size of the nest (in all dimensions). If you look at the last photo (the one labeled "Nest With Sleeping Pads From The Inside"), the vestibule is as deep as the distance between the two poles, at least 50", perhaps a little more. This means you can easily fit 4 short Therm-a-rests across the floor of the vestibule, or if you turned two of them sideways you could easily sleep 2 people in there. Does that help?
Yes, thank you for your
Yes, thank you for your reply. Looks like a really nice setup especially if you had to hunker down in bad weather.
Hope you get to field test it soon!
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.
The inner tent has a footprint of somewhere around 9 x 9. The outer tent has a footprint around 9 x 13.5. That means that the vestibule is roughly 9 x 4.5 which is lots of room for storing gear in the rain.
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)
Hello Jenn! I don't mind
Hello Jenn! I don't mind sharing online, this may be information that others would be interested in too.
We have a variety of sleeping pads. For the smaller kids, we are using Therm-a-rest ProLite 4 (now called ProLite Plus) short pads. For our larger child, we are using a Pacific Outdoor Equipment Ether Thermo 6. For myself, I have Therm-a-rest ProLite 4 regular, and for my wife an Exped Downmat 7. Overall, I would say the best price/performance goes to the Pacific Outdoor Equipment Ether Thermo 6. It is light, warm, comfortable, packs small, and is very reasonably priced. If you do a search online you can find these sold all over the place. I would highly recommend it.
Wow, 8 people, that is a tent full! At that size, one thing you may want to consider is to get 2 4-man tents instead. As it is, our tent setup which sleeps 5 is already huge, and sometimes can be problematic for finding a site large enough (especially if it happens to be a wooden tent platform).
For our tent system (GoLite Shangri-la 6+ with Shangri-la 4+ nest), we paid about $550. GoLite makes an even bigger one called the Shangri-la 8+ which sleeps 8 - 10 people. If you wanted to go with a single tent, that would be the one to get for a family of your size (I don't know of anyone else who makes a backpacking tent that large). You would also want to get the Shangri-la 8+ nest to go with it to keep out the bugs. The setup would weigh about 14 lbs which is really quite good considering the number of people who will sleep in it, and would be transportable for backpacking. You would have to scour the web for deals, but I am sure you could get it for below retail cost.
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!
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.
We had ours out in some
We had ours out in some pretty windy conditions on the Gaspe coast once. It also helps to use the guy-out points around the perimeter when it really gets nasty. Glad to hear it went well for you.
I know the discussion here is
I know the discussion here is a few years old, BUT for any one who is interested in a Shangri-La 8, I am currently sewing a VERY similar tent on a made-to-order basis.
Check it out and please contact me if you're interested.