GoLite Shangri-La 2
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: £222
A good three-season tarp/tent but ventilation could be improved. A roomy nest, but the door needs improving.
- Small porch
- Indifferent ventilation
- Length of nest ridge
- Nest door
I bought this tent as a deluxe, lightweight backpacking tent for one (I don't like to rough it too much). I liked the idea of using my walking poles as the uprights, thereby saving weight, and I do like traditional ridge tents.
The nest is large with a bathtub floor which seems very robust and mesh walling that even the most determined midge can't get through. The porch area is small but there is sufficient room within the nest to store rucksacks, etc, and still have room to lie down fully extended and not touch the nest ends.
The door of the nest is peculiar in that its asymmetry makes ingress and egress awkward given the presence of the pole. Why not just use a traditional central zip and have both halves of the door fold back fully?
It became clear after a couple of times of putting the tent up that the ridge of the nest is shorter than that of the outer. The consequence of this is that the front apex of the tent with pole patch slips forward and the pole rests on the unprotected ridge seam.
The solution to this is to suspend the door end of the nest from the loop on the fly inner and have the pole stuck into the ground immediately in front of the nest footprint. This solution also remedies the excess tension in the nest forcing the mesh onto the fly inner and causing condensation to drip onto the footprint and me!
Speaking of condensation, this is clearly a tent designed in a part of the world where they expect low humidity. The first few times I used the tent the fly was very wet in the morning and I was dripped on quite a lot. This tent does require a considerable amount of ventilation to prevent this unless it is windy. It is too easy to draw the sides right down to the ground — it's important to leave a gap of several inches all round the tent at the base of the fly and in very still conditions the door needs to be at least half open. Of course, windless conditions with fine persistent rain are not ideal conditions for this tent.
Internal space for one or two is excellent. I've shared the tent with a friend for a three-night trip and there was enough room for us and all our gear inside the tent and we didn't get fractious.
The tent has endured some very strong winds and rain at times. Gusts of 40-50mph were experienced in Snowdonia in September when wild camping and the tent performed very well, even if our sleeping bag fabric fluttered in the breeze inside the tent!
The additional side guys points on the 2011 model do make a difference to this tent's performance in high winds. I've used Dyneema (Spectra) tree-surgeon 1.4 mm line for my guys with Clam Cleats. Once the guys are correctly adjusted, they don't move or sag. This is a tent that takes a while to get right, in terms of pitch, until you've had some practice.
The tent is extremely waterproof and withstood 36 hours of steady heavy rain in Snowdonia with only one slight seam leak. It also survived a remarkably nasty cloudburst in the Brecon Beacons where more than 10mm fell in less than two hours.
Overall I'm very pleased with this model as a lightweight trekking tent. Although the porch is not huge it does provide some shelter to cook in and store boots, cooker etc. I feel this tent could be used for three seasons in the UK but the netting inner would present no obstacle to blowing snow.
Price Paid: $112
I have all three components to this system. This review is of the shelter tarp only.
Mine is the 2009 model, and does not have the extra guy loops midway up the side panels or the nest loops at the same locations but on the interior (affords more interior clearance in the nest by drawing it closer and more aligned, from a planar standpoint, to the outer tarp).
Mine also lacks the newest model's factory taped seams, although my version's seams (silicon impregnated threads) passed my 30 minute sprinkler test while I sat inside the shelter.
The newer model has larger peak vents, although one can debate a perceived advantage with larger vents with respect to high winds and spindrift.
Pitching the tent was simple in varied environments where the ground was penetrable. I have a freestanding tent that I love, but this structure is highly adjustable and flexible for height and width (without the nest, and limited when using the floor). When pitched properly (read the directions!) this is a very taut structure, and is superbly stable using trekking poles.
I have also pitched this in adverse winter conditions (on purpose, to assess its capabilities, without cover or a snow berm for protection). I was on a ridge at 19 degrees without wind chill during sustained 25 mph winds. There were gusts (reportedly to 50 mph).
After a quick prep of the site to level it out, I pitched the closed end into the wind with the trekking poles lowered to provide a lower profile (about 6 inches below normal). There was no crust on the snow, so I used my smc snowstakes (pre-guyed) for a dead man layout and set the first 6 main points of the pyramidal shape. There are 6 additional guy loops at the base of the shelter at midpoints between the mains.
I then used my Snowclaw as a snow anchor for the guy loop at the peak and attached it with a cinch line. I set the windward pole in the interior (using wide powder baskets at the base) and then the pole toward the door. A quick tightening of the snow anchored guyline and I was ready to test it out. Set up took 20 minutes in these conditions (my first experience with this shelter in extreme conditions).
It was moderately noisy during the highest gusts from flapping material, but I was comfortable inside. I always carry earplugs for the backcountry just in case the winds are howling. Good sleep is a must.
I only noticed a small amount of spindrift coming through the windward vent, but after an hour of sitting inside, there was no condensation. This is a true 4-season shelter, as the Shangri-La 2 didn’t budge a bit during the test. The door seals up tight as well.
I haven’t tried pitching this using overhead trees and no poles, but even pitched with poles it is large inside (two 6+ foot men plus gear are no problem). Considering the excellent y stakes included and the ultralight H20 proof stuff sacks, this 1 lb 13 oz structure is nearly perfect in my iteration, and with a few modifications to emulate the 2010-11 model, will be a true 5 star shelter.
I almost forgot to mention that it includes interior gear pockets and multiple loops for hanging gear or using a gear loft. Kudos, GoLite.
Where to Buy
We found the GoLite Shangri-La 2 at 1 outdoor retailer: