The tale of two shelters

As I commence my planning for Lapland 2011, my mind turns to shelters. Last year I took my Stephenson Warmlite and I was happy with it, but with a total weight of 1400 grams, I felt that I could go lighter this year, especially as I am planning a longer trip and therefore need to carry more food.

My requirements for a shelter are

1. Most campsites will be above tree line and therefore exposed and probably windy.
2. It is mosquito season and their numbers can be large.
3. It will rain.
4. I anticipate, because of 2 and 3, I will need to cook (with care) inside the tent.

I have spent a lot of time looking at different options, including

Chris Townsend‘s use of the Go Lite Shangri-La1 (SL1) on the Pacific Northwest trail.
Dondo’s use of the GoLite Shangri-La2 (SL2), which led me to look more closely at the use of the Black Diamond BetaLight.
Ryan’s appreciation for yellow pyramids with bug netting around the base, which led me to look at the MLD SpeedMid.

So after some playing around I have come down to deciding between;

MLD Speedmid, with perimeter netting and side tieouts (added after photo was taken) weighs in at (678 gms), though I do have some concerns about ingress of insects around the floor, which should not happen, but it could. I could add an SMD Meteor Bivy (223 gms) or possibly take a Gossamer Gear Bug Canopy (72 gms) as extra insurance.



I could take a GoLite SL 2 which weighs (606 gms) and combined with a MLD Solo Innernet (260 gms)

Weight wise the minimum weight would be 750 gms for the SpeedMid with GG netting whereas the SL2 with the innernet would be 866 gms, a 110 gm weight difference. For comparison purposes, the GoLite Shangri-La 1 with Aplinlite 1.25 bug inner weighs 826 gms.

Lets take a closer look, the shelters are similar in many respects, both are pyramid types

Floor Area

SL 2 approx 4 square meters (43 sq ft.)

Speed Mid approx 5.5 sq metres (60 sq ft)

The useable floor area is another matter, with the steeper sides of the SL2 most of the floor space is useable whereas the sloping sides of the SpeedMid limit the edges to storage only.

Internal Height (when staked to the ground)

SL 2 122 cm (4 ft.)
but with two poles it feels like there is more height.
Speed Mid 137 cm (4.5 ft)
Sloping sides, (when staked to the ground)
SL 2 the long sides of the shelter have an approximate angle of 63 degrees
Speed Mid, the sides of the SpeedMid have an approximate angle of 44 degrees, thus reducing the useable space at the edges of the floor.

Side Panel Area
The side panel area is important when considering shifting winds the side panel areas are
SL 2 approx. 3.26 sq. meters (35 sq ft.)
Speed Mid approx. 1.7 sq. metres (17.4 sq ft)
As you can see from the numbers the side area is lower for the Speed Mid, however, if the SL 2 is placed with the rear into the wind (and the wind direction does not change) then the area is approximately 1.6 sq metres (18.5 sq ft)

So good shelter placement is more important when it comes to the SL 2.

Entry and exit
As shown in the photographs above the SpeedMid provides the opportunity for opening of the front of the shelter to give expansive views, whereas the SL 2 is more restricted.

In wet weather entry and exit can take place with some spray entering when the door is open, this maybe more of a problem in the SL 2 if the inner net is placed as shown in the photo above, but locating it on the opposite side will reduce the potential for spray on the inner net.

Aside from all these numbers perhaps one of the most important aspects is, How does it feel? Therein lies my dilemma, the benefits of the Speedmid include space to move around with out being confined to an inner net, whereas the SL2 does provide a restricted space, especially if the bug inner is deployed. The SL2 provides more useable headroom, the SL2 has vents which allow for some ventilation, especially when cooking. The SL2 has a two way door zip, also useful when cooking, something I prefer to the Speed Mids one way zip.
Both Shelters have side panel tie outs.
Both shelters require a similar number of stakes.
Both shelters can be erected quickly by staking down the four corners and inserting the pole(s).

May be the choice comes down to if I want bright yellow then the MLD Speedmid is the one, subdued yellow then its the SL 2.

There again, maybe I take the SL 1 and a Katabatic Bristlecone bivy weighing in at 700 gms.

So what do you think and why?
This entry was posted in GoLIte, Lapland, Nordkalotten Trail, Shelters. Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to The tale of two shelters

  1. Aarondietzen says:

     Wow… as much as I like, and support GoLite, I like the look of the entry on the Speedmid… looks like a lot more room if the rain is really coming down.  of course, I have always preferred the security of a tent vs. other, more open shelters.  That is a tough call.  I would imagine that, in the end, it will come down to personal preference!

  2. gauperaa says:

    I would take the speedmid because of the larger floor area, views and wind resistance :). Like the SL2+inner setup too though

  3. Dave Hanlon says:

    Both shelters will deal with the weather you can expect (rain and wind). You can cook in both with care. Both are easy to pitch. Both are plenty light. The choice, for me, would come down to mosquito managment. Can't imagine spending multiple nights where you're heading without having a shelter that effectively keeps blood hungry insects out of my sleeping space. Whichever performs the best in that respect would get my vote.

  4. warbn says:

     Greta compassion, there is not much between these two shelters.On Bug protection, when pitching the Speed Mid, its height will be dictated by the mesh which will always need to be in contact with the ground. Whilst the in the SL2 pitching height is completely independent of the bug inner.Will the door on the end of the SL2 it means that a much smaller part of you bedding is exposed to wet weather when the door is open whilst the Speed Mid the bed is sideways to the door.Entry & Exit, assuming you can get a left side zip door version of the inner it would overcome that problem.The smaller foot print of the SL2 makes site selection easier.As for the SL1, as this is a long trip and assuming you need the inside space to escape the bugs and weather you may find the smaller size of the SL1 harder to work in.Also on the long trip point, it’s all about a good night’s sleep, whichever one you feel the most comfortable in will be the one you will be happy to lug around Lapland for 3 weeks regardless of how heavy it is.Which one would I take, since I dislike speeding the night worrying about being eaten by mozzies I would take the SL2 for the larger bug free space and the SL2 also has the better venting.Good Luck Wazza.

  5. Mark Roberts says:

    Take the speedmid. But take the bivy too. The bug netting will keep some bugs out, but not the ones in the grass you pitch it over, nor the ones you let in every time you get in and out. I've read that mozzies fly to the apex of a pyramid tarp, but I've not yet experienced that with my duomid

  6. interesting comparison…file under 'good problem to have' ;p  Higher winds  = less bugs, so looking at side panel area vs. pitching convenience is revealing.  I think I might risk the speedmid and take a bug bivi for backup, as its lighter, huge for 2 and if (when) u get properly rained on, it'll be more comfy.  The weight of both only takes u marginally over the SL2 setup.  Both look good tho', whado I know!?

  7. nielsenbrown says:

    Thanks for commenting Aarondietzen, yeah I agree what works for you is always the best.  The opening on the SpeedMid is great and, if it can be used then, it will be better than the SL2 . However, in wet weather most of the "front half of the shelter" will collect rain. So personal preference is governed by what will cover all possible conditions.

  8. nielsenbrown says:

    Thanks Thomas, I think you have summarised the dilemma very well, that is each shelter offers constraints and affordances, that is the SpeedMid has a lot to offer, but so does the SL 2 they are just different and ultimately we as the user have to decide what works for us.

  9. nielsenbrown says:

    Thanks Dave, I agree and regarding mossies, I have been in Skåne the last couple of days and the mossies are active, the SL2 with bug inner combination worked in this environment. I think we need to look at shelters that emulate the 2 walled shelter. As such the SL 2, in my view does that, others will disagree.

  10. nielsenbrown says:

    Thanks Wazza, I think you have hit the nail on the head, that is this is a 3 week walk (if I don't get lost)  thus when I stop walking at the endi of a day I need a place to relax, which protects me from the weather, the bugs and whatever else may be around. So the question becomes where can I be the most comfortable in the circumstances? Answer it depends on what I view as comfortable given that there is no darkness and thus insects do not relax at the time of the year I am in Lapland.

  11. nielsenbrown says:

    Thanks David, yeah each option is very much a personal choice along with what will fit in my pack. In some ways it may be better for me to pack a GoLite SL 1 and an inner net because they take  up less space than an Sl 2 with bug inner etc. The bottom line for me is taking something that I believe most of the time will serve my needs and if I am lucky with all then variables my gear will met all my needs.

  12. joenewton says:

     Hmmm, taking the Bristlecone bivy would be out of the question for me. There would be too many hours avoiding the reindeer-herd sized swarms of mosquitoes to endure to be cooped up in a bivy. While the SL2 probably offers a fraction more in the way of ventilation I personally would lean towards the 'Mid purely for it's better wind resistance, lower weight, space and simplicity. I think the reality is that both systems would work perfectly well in that environment. As David said, a 'good problem to have'. 

  13. nielsenbrown says:

    Thanks Joe, yeah I am not about to spend 3 weeks sleeping in a bivy. Another aspect that I have not really touched on is the footprint size, we assume that there is ample space wherever we go, but I know last year I ended up in a very rocky and very foggy area and finding a small space to put up a tent took some time. Time will tell on which tent I take.

  14. tookiebunten says:

    Great comparison. Great post. Well written. It gives you a lot to think about.

  15. nielsenbrown says:

    Thanks Tookie, yeah I spent a lot of time, probably too much pondering over shelters for this summers trip. I think I have made a decision but with a month to go I could still change my mind and it may depend on the weather outlook at the time.

  16. Martin Rye says:

    The SL2 has two mid tie points and uses tow trekking poles so it should be stable.  Like a DueMid it has a short side and this forces the angle of the long side to be steep and thus catches the wind.  Yet the SL2 has a narrow wind profile at the end and I would par it with a Six Moon Design Serenity net.  I also thing the SL2 can be pitched very tight to the ground as well in foul weather.  For me the deciding fact will be the footprint size when it is hard to find a pitch on boggy wet terrain at the end of the day a small footprint is a big help sometimes to find a pitch that is dry and not waterlogged.  I like the look of the SL2 with a bug inner.  I am having a look at the Speed mid soon as a friend is getting one.  

  17. nielsenbrown says:

    Thanks Martin for your comments, given that you have just returned from the TGO, I was surprised that you had time to read the blogs, there is always a backlog of reading when I go away, so I imagine your backlog is quite big. Your comments on footprint are timely, I am focussing on 3 aspects for a shelter, footprint, weight and packed volume (I am not including a bivy in this discussion). I used the SL2 and the bug inner in Skåne last week and the mosquitos were around and I found that there was ample space to move around sleep etc. I also noted that at night the mossies moved to the top of the shelter. Problem in Lapland in July there is no night, just less light. My concern about the SL2 is the stiffeners used in the vents, they make it difficult to pack in this regard the BlackDiamond Betalight is better. However, I have found that the Golite SL1 packs better as the stiffeners are shorter, the SL1 also has a smaller footprint and less weight so I am now including it in my considerations.Stay tuned for my decision and then my experiences when I return.

  18. tookiebunten says:

    Well it is one of the big 3 so you want to get it correct. Just now for me it's my sleep system that I'm looking into. Sleeping bag or quilt or sleeping bag, 3 seasons or 4. It's not easy! I'll look forward to reading your final decision and the reasons behind it.

  19. nielsenbrown says:

    Thanks Tookie, yeah the big three is important and on longer trips shelter becomes critical in my view as there will be times where the weather will be a challenge. As Martin said, one important issue is footprint, the ability to find that little bit of space to put a shelter up in a protected position this issue is at the forefront of my thinking at the moment. Yes I will publish a full report in due course.

  20. Mark Roberts says:

    Take the speedmid. But take the bivy too. The bug netting will keep some bugs out, but not the ones in the grass you pitch it over, nor the ones you let in every time you get in and out. I've read that mozzies fly to the apex of a pyramid tarp, but I've not yet experienced that with my duomid

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s