LightHeart Gear Solo
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $199
A super-lightweight, sturdy, and very roomy solo tent with great open views when in net-tent mode.
- Packs small
- Very sturdy
- Hard to keep interior dry during setup in rain
- Seam-sealing is a pain
This is a great solo shelter. Especially if you use trekking poles when hiking, this tent is super-lightweight (because you will use your trekking poles to support the tent rather than lugging additional tent poles). Pitching the tent is easy and fast, though might take a little getting used to. Floor is a diamond shape, which provides a lot of space but do keep in mind that as you get to the tips of the diamond floor the space is narrowing down so has limited use. Still this is much roomier than most other solo tents.
The Lightheart is a hybrid double-wall design, meaning it offers the benefits of a double-walled tent (better ventilation and thus less condensation build-up) while the tarp remains attached to the inner tent along the ridgeline. My favorite feature of this tent is the ability to roll the tarp up for a true net tent on warm nights under the stars. There are some other popular solo tarp-tent hybrids out there, and they are good products, but none that offer the 360° open views of the Lightheart with this much space inside.
The geometry of the setup makes this tent extremely sturdy. Trekking poles are stronger and stiffer than tent poles, so you actually have a stronger structural support with the Lightheart than you do with a typical free-standing tent. If you don't have/use trekking poles you can get lightweight tent poles made for the Lightheart. The poles insert into a small plastic ridge pole at the peak inside the tent, and when the trekking/tent poles are extended and pull the tent taut they form a single solid support system that stands up to almost anything.
Eight stakes will completely guy out the tent and tarp -- I use two bigger/stronger (MRS Groundhog) stakes for the ridge line (lots of soggy soil here in Georgia) and little Ti shepherd's hooks for the other 6. I also added 4 guy lines to the tent floor tie-outs, easy to slip those onto the same stakes as the fly uses to give even a little more width inside. The tent seam-sealed, ridge pole, added guy lines, and stuff sack come in a hair under 30 oz. This probably offers the best floorspace-to-weight ratio of any solo tent (unless you look to cuben fiber and price tags of double or more).
Seam-sealing this tent is a bit of a chore because some parts need to be sealed on the inside and some on the outside, and this tent has some deep corners that are hard to get into. You can do it at home but probably will need to do it in phases, letting it dry before turning a corner/pocket inside out to finish just that part. For a fee Lightheart will seam-seal it for you, and I suggest you consider letting them do it.
When setting up this tent in the rain it can be a little tricky to keep the interior completely dry, but as long as you keep the tarp pulled over the tent as it's going up your moisture should be minimal and easy to wipe up with a camp towel.
All in all a great tent, very pleased. Invariably on the trail I have other hikers asking what it is, or who say they have heard of it, and without exception they are all impressed. I am too.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $199 plus sealing charge
Initially I hated this tent.
- Lots of room
- Very slick floor
Initially I hated this tent. The floor was SLICK. I could not keep a Thermarest under me. Terrible sleeping condition. Everyone I ran into who had the Lightheart had the same issue. E-mailed Lightheart. They had no suggestions to help and said that I should have known the floor would be slick despite their application of seam sealer to the floor. Their solution was for me to buy a new and different tent at the outfitters in Franklin. WOW!
Ultimately I added more seam sealer to the floor of the tent (another hiker used a whole tube of seam sealer on her tent floor) and more to the bottom of my Thermarest. I also got much pickier about finding a level area to set up the tent. These helped a great deal.
I used this tent doing 466 miles of the AT in 2013. I mostly tented. The setup is easy if slower than I expected. I used 120cm length on my hiking poles and the tent set up well. I used 8-10 stakes, weather depending. The tent kept me and my gear dry (there was a bunch of rainy days and nights), had plenty of room for all my gear. It held up well to 50mph winds and a bit of snow.
Ultimately I liked the tent, but deducted one star for attitude.
Design: three-season double wall tent with integrated rain fly
Ease of Setup: easy--short learning curve
Weight: 27 ounces without stakes
Price Paid: $235
I love this tent. It is the fourth tent I have tried this year, and it combines the best of all worlds-- a double wall tent that is extremely lightweight (27 ounces without stakes).
The four mesh sides make it feel spacious and light. It feels so much more roomy and light than the other tents I tried (Tarptent, SMD and Big Agnes Seedhouse SL1). Don't get me wrong, the other tents were fine, but this one suits me to a T.
The tent is easy and fast to set up. It requires two trekking poles and stakes. The learning curve on set up was short (two or three times max). The integrated rain fly means I can set up the tent with the fly out of the say and pull the fly down in a moment's notice if it starts to rain. In the meantime, I can star gaze at night.
It has an odd shape-- like a diamond, but the shape leaves plenty of room on all four sides for gear. There's plenty of headroom for sitting up and changing clothes. The side entrance also adds to the feeling of spaciousness. It packs down small, not much larger than a nalgene bottle. I can pack it in the side pocket of my pack.
I camp mostly on the AT, where it rains a lot, but I have had no problem with either wetness or condensation. The only downside is that the elongated shape requires a large footprint.
Design: 1.5 person Double Wall Tent
Ease of Setup: Very easy to set up.Video instructions in the website a plus
Weight: 27 oz.
Price Paid: $245
This is a great double wall tent. I have used other tents like the MSR Hubba Hubba that weighed way too much. Over the past few years I have learned the value of lightening the load. I had purchased a Tarptent Contrail, and although a good tent, it just wasn't suited to my taste and ease of set up or the front entry being blocked by the trekking pole.
Being a skeptical person, I cautiously approached the next choice. I didn't want to make another mis-judgment. I had seen the tent set up at the April Fools Bash in Franklin, NC, and it planted the seed.
I spoke with 2 other Thru-Hikers that took it all the way on their AT Thru-Hikes and they raved about them. That was partially the reason I went ahead and purchased this awesome tent.
The ease of set-up is a no brainer, the roominess is just what I was looking for, and the weight, unparalleled. This tent is actually a 1.5 person tent in my opinion with lots of room for all my gear.
I usually do my own seam sealing, but in this case, I didn't have enough room to do it at home or a place to let it dry sufficiently, so I let them do it for me. It was well worth the extra money. They know that tent better than I and felt more confident in this decision. They did an excellent job.
Next year I will be Thru-Hiking the AT, and with all the features listed above and the others that have used this tent, it is very reassuring to know that I don't have to worry about staying light in the pack and dry as well.
I purchased the Tyvek footprint and do not have any issues with it. I did make a little modification, but nothing extreme and am satisfied wholeheartedly.
Now to customer service. I had spoken with Judy a few times on the phone and nothing was a problem. All of my concerns and requests were handled cheerfully and honestly. Shipping was free and fast, and she followed up to make sure everything was in order when I got the tent.
Thanks again, Judy for making my hiking a whole lot more pleasurable.
Absolutely, I would recommend this tent.
Source: bought it new
- You can trust your life to this tent in extreme environments
I am a mountaineer that does the Rocky Mountain high peaks multiple times a year. My trips are solo in trail-less true wilderness areas. I generally spend six days at altitudes of up to 13,200 feet. Three primary things are critical to my well being and survival in the challenging environments that I frequent; my orienting skills, my extensive mountaineering knowledge and my equipment. These are all inextricably linked to insure my safety.
Accordingly, my choice of equipment is a critical decision. In effect, I am betting my life on the reliability of the critical items I rely on. For example, a leaky tent could be far more than just an inconvenience. I woke up one morning with my down sleeping bag and my legs wet from a leaky REI tent. The REI tent just wasn’t up to the extreme rain, snow and winds that can occur often above 12,000 feet. This was in October, but luckily the temperature was warm enough that hypothermia wasn’t an issue. Had it happened on my last trip in November 2012, it might have had a different outcome. The temperature was in the low teens for much of the trip.
Fortunately, I had replaced my REI tent with a Light Heart Solo some time ago. This is an incredible piece of equipment. Replacing my six pound REI with a Light Heart that weighs in at about two pounds certainly helps with the extreme elevation gains that are part of my hike in. However, the ability of the Light Heart Solo to reliably protect me from the extreme weather conditions of a tundra environment is reassuring. The tent has performed flawlessly in high winds, extreme temperature and driving snow and rain. I am almost developing an emotional attachment to my Light Heart Solo. It is that good.
I am busy planning my next trip, at ease in the knowledge that my Light Heart Solo will keep me safe and comfortable, regardless of the extremity of the environment. I am convinced that my Solo will last as long as I am able to do the high peaks of the Rocky Mountains. I have bought my last tent and I continue to be delighted with my purchase.
Where to Buy
The LightHeart Gear Solo is not available from the stores we monitor.
You may be able to find it new or used at one of these sites:
Or you may want to check for a dealer list or direct sales on the LightHeart Gear website.
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