A lightweight shelter

7 05 2012

I’ve only really used tarps before on sea kayaking trips as lunch/cooking shelters…. these were really effective in a very showery BC when paddling in the northern part of the Vancover Sound, east of Quadra Island. This area is covered in temperate rain forest (rain being the operative word here) so some shelter when cooking and eating communally was useful. Travelling by sea boat is great, esp. when you get the tides right (the cycling equivalent to a permanent tail wind!) as there are less limitations on weight and space compared to bicycle travel, so a massive Canadian-made Serratus tarp of 4m – 4m could be carried easily with a smaller backpacking tent. Lots of trees as supports!

But in recent months I’ve been trying to shave more weight from the kit for bikepacking; the place to save this weight (other than myself!) is on the shelter, the sleeping bag or the mat. I’ve used a Terra Nova Laser Large for two on the LAMM and WRT 2011 which was good in poor conditions, and a Hilleberg Akto too (Mach ‘n’ Back 2012) but these are still over a kilo per person. The Hilleberg can be fitted with a mesh inner which I really like and I used on a trip through to mid Wales in October 2011.

So the question was raised – could I get something like the Akto but lighter and as bug proof. The reason I’m not a fan of the idea of tarps is my issue with midges – I’ve always reacted badly to being bitten (eye lids swollen to the point of near blindness on Skye once) so I’m very wary of tarps in the UK summer – I know I could be wrong but I thought there must be an alternative to a plain tarp.

Then a post on BBB solved the issue. Stu posted on a SMD Lunar Solo (picture below shamelessly nicked until I can get one of my own up) he’d aquired and a supplier in Germany had them listed so I ordered – although I now see that they are not in stock in the US till June so there may be some delays in getting one via Germany! A few emails to Germany (with a bit of Google translate action) says it’s on it’s way but nothing yet…

Looks ideal – It’s only 700g with pole and a few pegs so I feel similar in weight to a tarp/bivi bag combo but with potentially more comfortable living in midge country! Simple design, so quick to pitch, which should be good in Wales and Scotland later in the year. Loads of ventilation and I’ll likely use it like the Akto with bug netting inner; unless it’s raining the flysheet is tied back most of the time for a view from bed.

SMD Lunar Solo


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