First Look: LightHeart Gear Solo Wedge Tent (Includes Pictures!)

10:40 p.m. on June 9, 2014 (EDT)
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Anytime I get something new, I usually wind up testing/assembling/disassembling the heck out of it at home before it comes with me on an overnight.

While being a ground-dweller isn't new, non-freestanding tents always take a little practice. This season I'm using an LHG Solo Wedge as my primary shelter. 

My bad back has made me a lightweight, or weight-conscious backpacker by circumstance, and designs like these made too much sense not to try.

This hasn't been out enough times to merit my full review, but I like it enough to make an initial report.

You won't find as much about these tents online as you will with some others. 

Came home today, and for kicks and giggles, decided to set it up in the "front yard" of my townhome - keep in mind that's a severe overstatement. Wanted to see how the diamond shape did in spaces with smaller footprints. Well enough that this tent could call two of its friends over to hang out, if it wanted. 

So, here's a simple walkthrough and an excuse to post some photos of a much underrated tent from a quality cottage manufacturer (Judy, if ya come across this, feel free to use whichever pictures you'd like).

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Love the design, which is a riff on a pyramid shape. 

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You can pitch it either with 2 adjustable trekking poles, or 2 adjustable aluminum poles. An optional third pole is the easiest way of propping the "wedge" into the awning position...more on that later. 

I opted for the tent poles: they weigh eight ounces less than my trekking poles did, and lack the carbide tips that can punch right through silnylon. For those wondering, the carbon fiber awning pole sold by LHG only adds an ounce - well worth it. Again, more on that later.

The tent has three main "modes," as I like to call 'em.

1.) "Star Gazing" Mode.

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Pull the front fly up and over.

Fold or roll the overlapped fly halves toward the middle.

The roll secures itself over the ridge peak with simple tension.

This opens the interior mesh walls on all 4 sides. 

I should note, this pitch only requires 2 stakes.

(Yes, the wedge is purple, and yes, the zipper pulls are bright pink. You think I'll ever complain about visibility? Nope! No, I won't. Ironically, the bright pink reads so well against the forest green, that I'd gladly put pink pulls on all my tents if I could. Security about one's masculinity, however, is NOT included.)

2.) "Storm" Mode.

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This is the tent with both the front and rear vestibules staked in their lowest positions. 

This pitch can be done with a minimum of 4 stakes - I'm using 6 here, because all four sides of the canopy are staked down. 

There are a multitude of stake-out points on this tent. I ran out of stakes before I ran out of stake-out points. For gram weenies, four stakes are the bare minimum to pitch this tent with the fly. Without the fly, two stakes. Six stakes is the number I use, and allows you to secure all four canopy corners and the two vestibules.

The front and rear vestibules are slim, here - an empty pack can lean against the canopy (or some hiking shoes likewise propped against the wall), but beyond that, you'll want to take advantage of the interior square footage.

3.) "Porch" Mode.

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The front fly has two zippers.

One opens and closes the fly for entry/exit.

A second reveals a wedge, expanding the front fly and creating a "porch."

It can either be propped with a pole/stick, or tied up and away.

It's big enough for a person to sit under, or - daresay - cook. Responsibly cook. Don't go firing your Dragonfly stove under this thing. Silny doesn't like it when you do that.

It opens up the interior, too!

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It's a really great working space, and provides truly overheard protection - the triangular pitch of the roof even creates a drip line that diverts rainwater down and away.

The interior takes some getting used to. If you grew up in a diamond-shaped house, well, I'll speak for myself. It's spacious - the ridge pole that connects the main poles makes the center wide enough you can sit straight up in it - and I'm 6' tall!

But there's plenty of room. Even for a full-length sleeping pad like mine.

Torso-length pad users will be able to fit their pad and pack where my full pad sits, and that opens up the short sides and the head for whatever you'd like.

There's even a small mesh pocket for eyeglasses or things necessitating easy access. 

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Here's a look inside, with the front fly and mesh doors tied back on the loop-and-toggle attachment. The lantern hangs from the top zipper pull, my 35L internal frame pack is behind the pad, and the foreground's completely empty. Maybe this is the excuse I'm looking for to finally get another dog.

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In summary? I love this tent, and this ain't even the current design!

Judy's since updated the heck out of these things (she's a very forward-thinking and adaptable designer)  I'm sure if there are any problem I find with this tent, she'll more likely than not have solved them with her current model.

Really excited to call this my home away from home.

Judy, ya done good!

10:13 p.m. on June 10, 2014 (EDT)
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I've looked at this tent on the website months ago. What was the trail weight and packed dimensions of it? Looks cool. What about condensation when it's zipped up tight?

10:43 p.m. on June 10, 2014 (EDT)
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Total weight?

Listed weight is 28 ounces for the tent.

For my system, right around three pounds.

#$%^! Three pounds! Well, here's why.

That's literally EVERYTHING needed to pitch the tent:

-Tent with PVC Ridge Pole

-Guy Lines

-ZPacks Cuben Fiber Stuff Sack (Slim)

-2 Adjustable Aluminum Poles

-1 Non-Adjustable Carbon Fiber Pole

-ZPacks Cuben Fiber Stuff Sack (Custom, Lg Tent Pole shortened to 16")

-6 TOAKS Titanium Hook Stakes

-ZPacks Cuben Fiber Stuff Sack (Stake)

-Tyvek Footprint (secured with shock cord). 

Lighter, custom cuben fiber models can be made, if the money's there for ya.

Total weight of the poles is a little over 9 ounces, so a lot of weight comes from those (gave up using trekking poles to free up my hands once I built my core and back muscles up again - poles go seldom used in my part of Illinois).

Substituting your trekking poles (provided they're telescoping and adjustable in the 125-130cm range) is an easy way to cut that weight out of the equation.

Packed size?

I substituted the stock, silnylon stuff sack LHG provides for a cuben fiber one from ZPacks that measures 5" DIA x 12.5" H. It's lighter than silnylon, and packs the tent down smaller than the stock one could. Packed diameter's about the same as a quart-sized Powerade bottle, so you could feasibly put it into a side water bottle pocket, even. 

Far as interior dimensions, 133" L x 65" W (30 sq ft) for the interior. Peak height at the center is around 43" and tapers toward the ground from there - the newest model adds strut-supported corners to extend the usable space from end to end. 

While you can only sit up in the middle of the tent (which is impressive when a 6' tall guy like myself can do so without touching ceiling), the diamond shape leaves a lot of room for gear. 

Condensation?

We'll see. The "porch mode" allows a lot of ventilation, but unsure of how it'll do with both the front and back vestibules staked to the ground. Mind you, you've large mesh panels on all four walls, and air can flow through the full width of the tent on both sides - certainly helps. The newest model added peak vents which I'd assume were made to remedy any condensation issues. 

Hope that answers some questions for ya, my friend.

Waiting until the fall to put a review out on this tent, but wanted to put what information I've so far out there so folks could learn a little more about it and hopefully show some love toward a cottage manufacturer that deserves a good amount of it. 

11:09 p.m. on June 10, 2014 (EDT)
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Honest Eric I think this is one of the Best choices you have made...Iam actuallly friends with Judy and she is alumni from my school...Iam actually looking at getting a Solong 6...I'll be backpakcing with a partner next year and might share gear...I'd love to hear about any Condensation issues you have if any...Look foraward to your trip reports,,,Now get it out there...

11:13 p.m. on June 10, 2014 (EDT)
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I've heard nary a bad thing said about her or her work. Reputation sold me on this just as much as the product did. About to have the next couple months to myself while my girl's away on an acting gig, so this one will be hitting the trail right quick, brother! I got a deal on this from someone who bought it but never used it, otherwise I'd have opted for a newer model - Judy amazes me at how adaptable her designs are and when she has opportunity to make an improvement on her designs, she not only does, but does quickly. By the way, Denis - you just saying you'll be hiking with a partner in general, or are you planning a thru for next year?

11:07 a.m. on June 11, 2014 (EDT)
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Just out of curiosity...anyone else here on TS use an LHG tent?

Be interested to hear the experience others have with these tents!

2:52 p.m. on June 11, 2014 (EDT)
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Awesome tent, Eric.  The porch design looks like a great option for those humid days, just get a nice breeze through the tent.  I love the design, seems misleading when looking at it from the outside, but looks like it has plenty of space!  I enjoy hearing about these smaller vendors.  Thanks for sharing man!

4:25 p.m. on June 11, 2014 (EDT)
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Cool to show this Eric, thanks. I like supporting small manufactures also. Who doesn't root for the little guy?

 

From the pictures it looks like you're going to have a wet sleeping bag footbox if you get any condesation on that mesh.  Does it just look that way or do your feet not touch the mesh when lying?

6:23 p.m. on June 11, 2014 (EDT)
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Yeah, Daniel - it's a tricky one to shoot. For the review I'll probably have someone take the pictures for me while I'm sitting or lying inside. Easiest way to demonstrate size is using a human reference point.

Another thing to like about the front side "wedge" is the privacy.

Nice views while sitting inside, but passerby outside don't have a line of sight into the tent. 

You really want some privacy, you can just spin the tent around and point the back vestibule toward the trail. Staking down the front vestibule will gain you a full 360 degrees of privacy. 

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It's on the right of frame, here, with the rear vestibule staked down. Between the forest green color and the sloped, sleek design - it blends really well into its surroundings, too.

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Hey, Patrick! I put some stuff inside to get a feel for the space - sleeping bag and pad (especially a full length) are best kept at the center of the floor space. This affords the most sleeping room, and is most likely where I'll be dozing off. If I was an inch taller? I'd have gone for a SoLong. I wouldn't wind up sleeping where you see the pad, here - just wanted a quick visual to figure out what percentage of the floor my pad consumed. 

One thing I've wondered is how sleeping on a thicker pad affects the usable length of the tent. If I was, say, lying on a CCF, torso-length pad? It'd be a lot easier to slip my feet into those short and narrow corners. 

There are additional tie outs where the bottom of each the mesh panels meets the top of the bathtub floor. Not sure if these are to expand the interior space, or  add stability. 

Nice thing is, you only need to keep the floor clear by the door, and you can use the rest the perimeter space for your gear. 

Kind of like giving first look impressions on the forum, because things come up in conversation that deserve mention in the review. 

7:59 p.m. on June 11, 2014 (EDT)
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Seems like it'll stand up well to wind with the low profile when staked out. Any experiences so far? Can't wait for the review!

7:59 p.m. on June 11, 2014 (EDT)
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Seems like it'll stand up well to wind with the low profile when staked out. Any experiences so far? Can't wait for the review!

8:29 p.m. on June 11, 2014 (EDT)
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Used it for a gear "shed" on my last backpacking trip at the Palisades. Didn't get to spend the night in it, but I will say it held its pitch for the full three days we were there. Didn't have to adjust or tighten things once. 

Contemplating setting it up on my deck this weekend to see how it'd fare on a tent platform. Not something I'd encounter in my neck of the woods, but an aspect I'd want to show for thru-hikers and such. 

June's a month I'm gonna be on my own for. There's a trail I hiked in January (never wrote a TR for it, but it appeared in my MJF Chili Mac review) that I may check out, and is the closest backpacking to home. Solo month? Best time to test a solo tent. Won't be using the MH Optic again until I accompany my girlfriend on her ride home from the NE in August.

12:41 a.m. on September 3, 2014 (EDT)
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Hey, Denis. Have actually taken this out on the trail with me and wanted to reply to your questions. Working from an iPad Mini makes it impossible to post photos on TS, so I haven't posted any reviews since I made the transition in technology. Condensation may be an issue if your height exceeds the size of the tent and your toes touch walls. At six feet tall, I'd highly suggest anyone my height or taller purchase the So-Long 6, instead of the standard size. While morning dew and condensation from the tree canopy rained quite a few drops onto the sil-ny, none of them managed to get inside the canopy and get myself or my down bag wet. The ceiling height is limited to the center of the pyramidal shape, but the floor space is more than plentiful and allows you to stow most your gear inside the tent. The optional tie out points help for sure. Six stakes sufficiently pitch the tent, but opt for as many as you're able. The more stakes, the more taut the pitch. Hope to surmount the iPad problems and get a review up sooner than later, but hope this all helps and tell Judy I say hello and thank you!

11:05 a.m. on September 3, 2014 (EDT)
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Eric,

Your tent is really interesting to look at. It is kind of a glorified tarp which to me is a good thing. That makes it low and light. It is wonderful to be able to look outside. The snug profile leaves little to resist the wind. Once you get used to kind of "sliding into it" I bet you are going to really like the set-up.

For a long time I always backpacked with girls. It made sense to have a two person tent and I always carried it. Now I am older and the one lady I care about only goes on one trip a year. The solo tent now  makes sense. I bring a tarp usually, but the old 2 man tent for bug season. May I ask what it costs for such a beautiful tent?

11:31 a.m. on September 3, 2014 (EDT)
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This is a great looking tent! I just picked up another solo tent myself that I am going to try this weekend, its tarp inspired as well.... and that seems the way to go for solo backpacking.

11:54 p.m. on September 3, 2014 (EDT)
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Thanks, fellas!

Right on, ppine. Basically a mesh inner tent with a silny bathtub floor and silny tarp sewn atop it.

It's a cozy set up since it's designed for a solo hiker, but feature-rich as heck considering how much you get for so little a weight penalty.

The awning option allows the same view to the outside as a tarp, but because it slopes downward, it sheds the rain and is below the line of sight of passerby hikers - heck, you want maximum privacy, face the more public awning side away from the trail and draw the rear vestibule toward the ground!

December 17, 2014
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