Saturday, December 29, 2012

Lunar Solo Tarptent ... I like it.

I'm not going to get into the why and wherefores of tarptents ... you'll know yourself whether they're the thing for you. There's advantages and disadvantages when compared to a simple tarp or a fully enclosed tent, your own priorities and circumstances will ultimately make your mind up for you.

This is a Lunar Solo from Six Moon Designs in the US. As the name would suggest, it's a 1 person shelter with plenty of space. It requires 6 pegs and a single pole to get it erected ... which can be done in about one minute with a little practice. The 'fly' is Silnylon as is the floor, they're fastened together by way of sewn in midge netting. There's also a netting front door, so it's fully waterproof and perhaps more importantly fully midge proof too.

Getting the thing up couldn't be easier. Peg the four corners down, insert the pole and then peg the front and rear out. A fine tuning of the ladderlock pegging points should see it tight and very stable. You can open either one door on the fly or both ... with one left closed you still retain a good sized porch area. It's surprisingly roomy inside, if you weren't giants and were good friends then two can just about fit and sleep in relative comfort. There's more than enough room for a single giant inside even if they want to sit up!

Vestibule/porch fully closed up. Plenty of room to store your gear and cook.
One side of the door open, see still plenty of storage space.
Outer joins groundsheet. Although single skin, condensation isn't really an issue.
Whole front tied back ... ideal for those midge infested summer evenings.
Big vent at the apex helps with the condensation issues.
and it's midge proof too!
Packs down to not much ... tips the scales at 748g inc lines.
It's slightly early days for the Lunar and me yet but I'm hoping for great things. It's reasonably light, quick to erect, roomy and keeps the winged teeth at bay. The construction is top notch and you can tell that someone has obviously thought about the design and what they wanted to achieve. I'll report back once it's had a few more outings and let you know how we're getting on.

Six Moon Designs can be found By Clicking Here

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Tarps ... come in the waters lovely!

There's a lot of distrust when it comes to tarps and maybe a little apprehension ... after all, if you get it wrong you might be in for a very miserable night. The tarp in the pictures measures 1.5m x 2m, it's about as small as I'd comfortably go in winter or if I were expecting much rain. Even something this small can keep you dry and snug if you give it a little thought.

One of the first things I'd suggest, is ftting your tarp with a set of lines. Guylines offer a lot more options because you can pitch your tarp higher. They don't have to cost a fortune (even ultralight ones) and a full set shouldn't add more than 50g to the weight of your tarp. Tarps with mid guy points are much more versitile than those without (the AlpKit Rig is a good example of one with) ... if you don't have any fitted, improvise with Tarp Clips. Lastly, don't be afraid of using poles, the advantages they offer far outweigh their weight/packsize, the poles in the pictures weigh 80g the pair and fold up to 30cm.

Simple 'A' frame ... it's what you see a lot of.

The most common set-up and possibly the first that people try is a basic 'A' frame. It's something we can all relate to because it looks like a tent of sorts. If set high then it offers a reasonable amount of room, although that may come at a cost. Once you start to lift a small(ish) tarp high, cover/protection can become an issue. I can't actually sit up under the above tarp and I'm exposed on all four sides to wind and rain.

'A' frame with a semi dropped tail for more protection.

A partial solution would be to drop the tail. You could remove the rear support and peg the tarp directly to the ground at the back but you'll lose a massive amount of space. Instead, if you still use a support but anchor it to the mid point of the tarp, you'll create a semi dropped tail. The dropped tail pitched into the wind will stop a lot of draught and wind driven rain getting through to you ... also consider piling your gear up at that end to, to form a 'wall' to block the emements.

'A' frame with a front beak added.

If you need to add a little extra protection to the 'head end' you can form a beak which will keep a surprising amount of weather off you. All you need to do is move your support/pole inside the tarp ... the further it is inside the bigger/lower the beak. Bear in mind that doing this will increase the overall height of the tarp (for a given length of support).

It's an 'A' frame but not as we know it ... extra protection and room.

A twist on the 'A' frame ... Using two supports again but this time set on the long sides of the tarp. This set up gives you a lot of room in the centre of the tarp for sitting/cooking and more side cover that the normal 'A' frame.

This is the same one from the back!

Move your pole inside for added headroom ... ooh and a porch.

If it's space and height you're after then the set up above works well, it's particularly good in summer when it's raining and you need protection from above but not from the sides. Your support now goes 'inside' the tarp. Depending where you place the support you'll be left with a flap that you can raise (guyline to stick in pic) to form a porch. Even with a pole in the centre there's still enough room to sleep alongside it.

A half 'mid' possibly the best set up for winter.

I think this has to be amongst the best set ups for protection and stability. It's basically half a pyramid, supported by a single pole ... the pole goes at the centre of one long side, the corners of the opposing long side are pegged out, with the two remaining corners being pulled round to form the pyramid shape. Pitched back to the wind this really does offer a lot of protection ... even more if you pitch the door close to a wall, tree, etc.

Off you go then, into the garden and have a play ... I hope it's warmer for you than it was for me ;o)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The 'Simple' Stove.

If you fancy dipping a toe in the warm waters of ultralite cooking but don't really know where to begin ... this could be the answer. It's both simple in name and nature. Pour your meths in, light it, wait 30 seconds and place your pot on top ... told you it was simple!

Unlike the Bear Bones 8g and 22g the 'Simple' stove is a single wall meths stove, it's not as complex or time consuming to manufacture and is painted rather than polished. If I was in marketing, I'd say that they're a limited edition and only available for a short time. However, the truth is, I found a box of bottles under the workbench that I must have bought by accident. They're not 8g or 22g size, so they've now been lovingly crafted into 'Simple' stoves. It's true that they may only be available for a limited time but then again they might not. Each stove weighs 8g and measures 31mm x 40mm, a pot of 80mm diameter up to 120mm would be ideal.

If you'd like to get your hands on one, send £10 via Paypal to (inc your address) and I'll get you one in the post ... I'll throw in a 100ml fuel bottle too.

'Simple' stoves waiting to make your tea!