User Review: Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo (e)
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: List
Excellent shelter for an extended backpacking trip. Simple, lightweight protection from the elements and bugs.
- Excellent bug protection
- Waterproof floor (if seam sealed)
- Needs to be staked
- Steep learning curve
- Needs an adjustable hiking pole
Lunar Solo from Six Moon Designs
The Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo is a very well designed and lightweight tent for backpackers. It performs all the functions of a tent (shelter from weather, protection from insects, etc.), at the weight of a tarp.
I used a 2009 model Lunar Solo on my thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) that year. It protected me from sun in the desert, snow in the Sierras, rain on occasion, and clouds of mosquitoes in Yosemite. Overall, I never regretted my shelter choice during my PCT hike.
I still use that same Lunar Solo these days (early 2013). Although it is showing its age, with a little repair from time to time, it is still a reliable solo shelter.
You can buy the Lunar Solo from Six Moon Designs (SMD) either seam sealed from the factory, or save a little cash by seam sealing it yourself. I like the opportunity to save a little by performing the simple stuff myself. I ordered mine not seam sealed and did the waterproofing (seams and floor). That way, if I'm sleeping in my Lunar Solo in the rain and wake up wet, it's my fault.
The engineering of the Lunar Solo looks fairly simple at first glance. A simple single pole teepee type shelter with a hanging tub floor and bug net. You will learn the first few times using it that simple it is not. The Lunar Solo has a steep learning curve and must be setup perfectly for it to function as intended. Putting it up a couple times before taking it to the woods is a mistake.
This shelter requires practice to master with its staked design. Once mastered, you will learn how to improve it even more every time you use it. I switched to longer stakes to get it higher off the ground and improve airflow. Also, the sides must be pulled very taunt to maximize space inside. Once you get the hang of the shelters setup, you will be impressed by it's stability and weather resistance.
Condensation is an issue. There is no single wall shelter out there that is immune to condensation. We exhale moisture, and given the right conditions, the moisture will condense on the shelter material above us. The only way to minimize this condensation is through ventilation. The Lunar Solo does a very good job of this with its tarp like construction; however if there is little wind and the air is cool, you will wake up to some dripping.
The Lunar Solo has an amazing amount of room inside for a solo shelter that is supported by a single hiking pole. Staked out perfectly, I have even used it as a two person shelter. We place our packs in the vestibule and have enough room to sleep comfortably. The small pocket in the bug mesh is a nice little feature for storing your headlamp, keys, etc.
The small packed size of the Lunar Solo and lightweight feature makes it my go-to shelter for most of my outings. I use it for backpacking and on overnight kayak trips.
Like most lightweight hiking gear, you have to expect damage during heavy use. I find it funny when someone brags about their latest super ultralight backpack or tarp tent and how much they paid for it. Then, a few weeks later up the trail, I find out they had to go into town to get some of that gear replaced due to damage.
It's simple folks - ultralight gear means less material, less tough material, less stitching, and less reinforcement. It's a trade-off between weight, durability, and comfort. A decision that each person must make for him/herself.
My Lunar Solo has been going strong for 4 years now. I have had to sew up a few places, patch a few holes, and re seam seal it on occasion. But given the use I have gotten out of it, I consider this shelter to be one of my better gear decisions.