new solo tent

3:12 p.m. on February 7, 2010 (EST)
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I am looking for a new solo tent. I have been looking at the marmot eos 1p and the sierra designs lightning xt1. The marmot has more livable space but the vestibule is smaller. I don't know if a big pack would fit in the vestibule. Does anyone have any experience with either?

10:36 p.m. on February 7, 2010 (EST)
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I have the EOS 1 and have used it a few times. It's a fine tent with just one drawback: The wedged shaped roof of the tent. When sitting up, my head rubs up in the roof. Not a real big deal, but something that should be brought up. It's a tad hard to change clothes/put on shoes in the tent as well, but again, not something so bad that would make me say don't get one.

Yes, the vestibule is small, but I find it big enough to handle my gear.

Here's a photo:


2:09 a.m. on February 8, 2010 (EST)
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The EOS isnt't bad. Me personally? I would spend the xtra $ and get a Hilleberg Akto(4 season Solo.) It retails for $420 but you can get 1 for $320 or even lower if ya shop around.

7:38 a.m. on February 8, 2010 (EST)
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Unless you are really sold on the Eos, give Henry Shires' creations a look-see. I have the Contrail and it fits my needs perfectly. But it is not his only solo tent. That Scarp looks mighty appealing, too.

12:33 p.m. on February 8, 2010 (EST)
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The 'X' series is about as light weight and comfortable as you can expect. I have a 2R and use it as my solo shelter.

Unless there is a LOT of snow, not sure I would plan on having my bag in my vestibule or tent. Easy to just prop it up so it doesn't get the bottom wet and cover it to keep the dew off.

7:01 p.m. on February 8, 2010 (EST)
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Do you think a 4500ci pack would fit in the vestibule? I like the sleeping room the Eos has. The size of the vestibule is my main concern

1:34 a.m. on February 9, 2010 (EST)
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It prolly would rather easily in the akto.

11:10 a.m. on February 9, 2010 (EST)
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I am intrigued by the warmlite tents, but am a little put off by the lack of professionalism they display in their website. The extremely didactic opinions and general condescension is constant all over the website. The layout of the website is really bad. I honestly wouldn't really know what I was getting if I ordered a tent. There are only two very poor photos, and a couple poor diagrams.

Does anyone else get the same impression?

11:15 a.m. on February 9, 2010 (EST)
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For a decent quality and relatively cheap solo tent, I would recommend the Eureka Spitfire 1. The vestibule is small, would be a good for a day pack and a pair of boots. You could always throw an inexpensive rain cover over your pack. I have the Spitfire and it has served me well for a few years now.

Hers a link.

1:33 p.m. on February 9, 2010 (EST)
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I am intrigued by the warmlite tents, but am a little put off by the lack of professionalism they display in their website. The extremely didactic opinions and general condescension is constant all over the website. The layout of the website is really bad. I honestly wouldn't really know what I was getting if I ordered a tent. There are only two very poor photos, and a couple poor diagrams.

Does anyone else get the same impression?

I went to the website, I was not impressed with all the seemingly hollow praise they bestowed upon the tent design.

After visiting their technical data page I wonder if they know what technical data is. I did not find any mention of materials used, only weight & space. Maybe I missed something, but that info should be together.

I'm not familiar with the brand, but I agree the website was not impressing.

2:27 p.m. on February 9, 2010 (EST)
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So I looked @ the Warmlite site.... Uhhhh, yeah. For the $ I would go w/something a lil more reputable like Hille, Bibler, etc.

I am not impressed in the least. Just my opinion.

3:01 p.m. on February 9, 2010 (EST)
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I have looked into the company a bit more. Google provides a link to the home page of the company (there isn't a link back to the main site from the pages that are linked above) that has many more photos, and much more exhaustive pomposity.

It is quite entertaining in a "wow, this is awful!" kind of way. It seems that the original founders/owners, Mr. & Mrs. Stephenson and their son (the current manager) seem to have rather eccentric and particular ideas about backpacking and life in general. And they don't seem to care much whether or not they are communicating effectively, either about their ideology or their products, and even less interest in well-meaning suggestions from customers. It is a shame really; they could provide amazing product and service if they were willing to improve in design and marketing.

(don’t get me wrong, I think they should keep some of the quirkiness…especially the… *ahem*…interesting old photos ;)

3:08 p.m. on February 9, 2010 (EST)
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Stephenson Sr. is an authentic pioneer in backpacking technology, and his gear has an excellent reputation.

His absolute refusal to budge from saying exactly what's on his mind is charming -- once you get used to it.

3:09 p.m. on February 9, 2010 (EST)
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Hey gonzan, what is the link to the home page? Curiousity is killing me.

5:14 p.m. on February 9, 2010 (EST)
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Tommangan- I am sure he is quite entertaining if you know him! Just researching a little makes it clear that he is quite an impressive innovator. It just seems regrettable to me that he appears so inflexible in almost every regard towards most customers.

Rick- here is the website main page:

For a "revealing" look at the company, take a quick browse through his catalog!

For further insights into Jack Stephenson, I think his own "customer service" letters are quite enlightening. Definitely read a couple.

All that said, I actually might look at getting one of their tents someday.

5:47 p.m. on February 9, 2010 (EST)
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6:00 p.m. on February 9, 2010 (EST)
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In regards to Stephenson Sr.-Well I just read the letters on the correspondence between the customer and the company. I have to say that if a company responded to me the manner that Stephenson did w/the customer in the posts I would personally go ballistic. IMO it is completely unacceptable to speak to someone(let alone a customer) in this manner. As far as he being a "pioneer," good for him. I think we all are in some way, shape, or form(obviously that makes him think he is smarter than the rest of the world.) Based on the way he speaks to people, I wouldn't give Stephenson or his products a thought. I would much rather deal w/a company who stands behind their product, appreciates their customer base, and doesn't speak down to their customers. He is not professional in the manner in which he speaks, and he hardly sounds intelligent. Maybe in some aspects he is but speaking obviously is not 1 of them from what I have read. As an educated person his business ethics are not something I would ever subject myself too let alone get "use too." Not for my dollar. I know quite a few people who "speak what is on their mind." Difference is they are courteous about it.

Sorry if this is a lil "off target."

6:03 p.m. on February 9, 2010 (EST)
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Jack Stephenson is one of the true pioneers of modern backpacking. His tents and sleeping bags have seen service in mountains around the world - Alaska, Himalaya, Antarctica - and his designs have influenced many of the current high-end tent and sleeping bag designs. He never advertised very much, and the company, currently under his son's direction, still doesn't advertise much.

The website currently is pretty primitive, compared to what it was a couple years ago. But if you do a bit of navigating and using the "back" arrow on your browser, you will find a lot of information on their sleeping bags, tents, and down-filled air mattress products. You can see a pdf of the catalog here, though this is changed from the more famous pre-1990 versions.

Warmlite has been in NH for a number of years now, but started in Southern California. Stephenson was one of a small group of pioneers in the 1950s and 1960s, including Dick Kelty (he and Kelty collaborated for a short while) and Gregory. Each of these had varying ideas of what the best ideas of pack design were. There was a lot of exchange of ideas, also with Holubar and Gerry. Stephenson was probably the farthest toward the ultralite end of gear generally and influenced Ray Jardine, who is considered the "original" guru of ultralite (as well as being the father of the cam with his Friends). While I was in high school and undergrad in SoCal, I crossed paths with Stephenson, as well as buying my first Kelty from Dick Kelty in his "factory" in his garage in Glendale, CA, in 1960 (a Backpacker model, the predecessor of the Mountaineer, which led to the Tioga). I never owned one of Stephenson's tents myself, but used a couple that friends of mine had. One of our group in Antarctica in 2006 had a Warmlite sleeping bag - excellent quality, and he was plenty warm.

There are all sorts of articles and web pages talking about ultralite these days. But I still have the instruction sheets that came with my Kelty in 1960 - the prescribed gear list for a weekend or a week was 15 pounds, including the Kelty Backpacker, plus food at 2 pounds per day (this was before freezedry had been developed and was on the market). You got your water by dipping your Sierra Club cup (the real one with the logo stamped in the bottom) into the stream - no worries about giardia in those days.

Some of Stephenson's ideas seem strange until you try them. Some work for some people and not others. A good example of this is VBL - vapor barrier liners. VBL works for me for socks and sleeping bag liners, but not for clothes. Others find it works for them for clothes as well (usually when in very cold climates), while still others find it works not at all for them. Many of the ideas in his tent designs that seem familiar because they appear in other companies tents actually originated with Warmlite in the 1950-1970 era and were adopted by others some years later. Several companies are now producing down-filled air mattresses, which was another Stephenson innovation (Jim S, I believe, has had a Stephenson mattress since the early 1990s). Some of the "Stephenson Philosophy" was pretty common stuff among the beat and hippie folks in the 1960s and 70s (but a lot of aging hippies abandoned those ideas when they hit 30 yo - don't trust anyone over 30, some of them used to say ... until they passed 30 themselves - anyone remember Governor Moonbeam? Don't laugh, though, he may be governor again next election!).

Anyway, that's a long and rambling way to say, don't reject Stephenson gear just on the basis of your perception of the website and catalogs. You have to really try it out to see that it has a lot of virtues.

No, it is true that I do not currently own or use any Stephenson gear. But that's largely because it doesn't really fit with the kind of outdoor adventures I do these days.

6:15 p.m. on February 9, 2010 (EST)
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Well thanks for the enlightenment Bill,

Hopefully someone will get their act together with regards to the website, it has been said to always put your best foot forward, nowadays that 'foot' is often your website.

6:58 p.m. on February 9, 2010 (EST)
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Bill, Thanks for sharing about them. I am impressed and intrigued by their gear and methods, and will definitely be looking into it more.

I am, however, astonished by the horridly confusing and labyrinthian construction of their website and literature. I am also appalled by the arrogant attitude and verbal demeanor it seems they adopt in almost everything they write or say.

4:06 a.m. on February 10, 2010 (EST)
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lot of time ill cover my pack and hang it as well as my food bag.

12:54 p.m. on February 10, 2010 (EST)
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Quite a few comments on the tents (Stephensons 2R or 3R) in this forum's gear reviews. Apparently you either hate it or love it. No in betweens. As Bill has said, the tent has to match what it is you are looking for in a tent. I think that Jack Stephensons really was marketing the Zen of Tent. They are relatively rare out there and still draw a crowd with the usual, "Ooooh! So that is what it looks like." Some are impressed, in the morning, when I'm packing it up. "Is that all?", is typical.

I (and at times friends) have been using them for years. I suspect he and I met early on. I remember an intense (even then opinionated), but likable person - don't remember if he had his wife along. I should have remembered HER. Jack (senior) much later, on the phone, liked to just reminisce about the times tromping around in the same places at the same times and what led up to his design (largely unchanged except for fabric - now sylnylon). He is certainly committed to his products and is, at times, upset if you don't understand his viewpoints on their use and function. (I can go on longer about conversations with a certain Seattle maker of an excellent backpack and another of a sleeping bag - Wiggy wars are legend.)

His catalogs were in great demand early on. They featured colored photographs (well ahead of his time there) and nudes (WAAY ahead of his time there). The most significant complaint discussed then was that the nudes were in the way and blocking what the tents looked like. For $10, re-reimbursed if you purchased, they sent you a VHS video so you could see the tent (and others) being put up as well as some of the construction and shop details and some clothing - I think. As a tag on bonus, you also got an interesting sojourn into the Caribbean, I think it was, on Jack's boat featuring the beautiful, naked model in the earlier catalogs - his wife - now a tad older. The short, amateur, documentary visually described an excursion with fellow naturist.

That video provided all the proof most needed to buy one. Anybody with that much chutzpa demanded a closer look.

I was put off on getting my first tent because I couldn't walk into an REI (I think there may have only been two or three then) or Sears (not sure how many of those remain) and see it, touch it, lay in it and heft it. Jack said that if you just didn't believe in quality and trust in an engineer to do it correctly, then buy an inferior product -- [you fool]. I remember a heated discussion over the phone and being hung up on, when I suggested all the good reasons for a couple of guy lines to add at least a semblance of security in a blow. I see those have been added - some 20+ years later.

After thrashing the pros and cons around for a month or so, I called and ask if they had any current deals. They did on already made, in storage, 'interesting' colors (lime green I think they said mine could be). It arrived two days latter - the day before taking off on a trip. Except for the color, it has been an unfailing, perfect addition to my backpacking experience.

Jack had a no nonsense approach to his products, his life and, unfortunately at times, with his customers.

I've had excellent support from the staff at the company (replacing parts I have destroyed or bent) as have all who I know who needed it. It was always an adventure when Jack answered the phone, however. Sometimes it was best to just call back later, knowing what Jack sounded like would give you a chance to say, "Sorry, wrong number".

1:06 p.m. on February 10, 2010 (EST)
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Something else to keep in mind: in the era before mass marketing and mass manufacturing, everybody who needed something made -- cabinet, saddle, boots, etc. -- had to hire somebody like Stephenson to get the job done.

Granted, the gear should suit your purposes/needs/whims/ etc., but at the very least w/Stephenson (and the other home gear businesses like Henry Shires' Tarptents) you know exactly whom you're dealing with, and you're conducting trade in much the way it's been done for centuries.

11:13 p.m. on February 10, 2010 (EST)
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Jack was a true pioneer and one of those responsible for changes in the gear we take. BUT he thought he was the only person with an ounce of innovative talent. I have had one his down air mattress since 1988 and I finally need to either replace it or get the valve fixed. His son sold my friend a DAM and she was lucky he had one in stock, he told her "Your friend seems to understand our business". When I bought mine Jack spent five minutes trying to sell me a sleeping bag and he didn't really want to just sell me the DAM. So if you like the gear, buy it, but don't expect customer service and who needs customer service when things last 20 years and are still the best around anywhere. Besides I have an original catalog and I especially love Bobby who must be 70 by now...

Jim S

3:12 a.m. on February 11, 2010 (EST)
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There are too many options out there for me to get my head pounded in just because I had a problem w/a product....Sorry.

11:38 a.m. on February 11, 2010 (EST)
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I use and love the Shangri-La 5 tent. See image below

It weighs 2 lbs 15 oz, packs small and comes either in Bamboo (above) or Evergreen. Has three parts, rainfly, floor w/no-see-um netting or just floor section.

I have had mine for 7 years. It has only one pole which can be substituted with a hiking pole, two ventilation flaps on top, plenty of room for one person and gear and plenty of headroom. Its a 3-4 season tent depending on where used. I have used mine in the Sonoran Desert during Monsoons, in Alaska's Denali Park and in Utahs canyon country.

Current cost is $350, depending on what parts you get. See link below...

April 22, 2018
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