GoLite Hex 3 Shelter
GoLite is no longer in business, and the Hex 3 Shelter has been discontinued. If you're looking for something new, check out the best tarps and shelters for 2023.
Howdy, my name is Rob and I have a tent fetish.....deep sigh.
BUT, I've also spent most of my career working in large Wilderness Areas in Montana and Wyoming. So, a good tent means can make the difference. I've personally owned some of the finest. To whit, Bibler Kiva, Bibler Eldorado, Bibler tripod bivy, Hilleberg Stalon, Black Diamond MegaMid, Mountain Hardware Kiva, plus a passel of lesser doo daws, gimcracks, and tarps. After encountering the MH Kiva and then the Go Lite Hex I became a convert.
It started with the MH Kiva. Here was a tent I could pack on the mules, set up in an incredibly short time, sleep comfortably with two trail dust border collies and gear, or even sleep with a border collie tolerant second person. Yet this tent was light enough to throw in a backpack and head for the Wind Rivers climbing. I remember five people playing cards in a MH Kiva during a passing rain storm as we staged for a Haystack climb. In short, I became a tepee style tent convert.
Then I discovered the Hex 3 with the even lighter Silnet material. Both the Kiva and the Hex 3 offered the versatility of being a fly, a fly w/ floor, a bug nest, or a complete two wall tent. Of course this depends on time of year, bugs, distance, other gear, and optimally someone else to split the loads with (I'll carry the fly and poles and you bring the nest). My backpacking buddy and I use to use a Bibler Kiva, a superb tent, for most of our expeditions. At least until I bought the Hex and now it is our main tent.
I also ended up purchasing a couple of Hexes and a Kiva for the Wilderness crews to use. Some love them, some love a traditional freestanding dome tent, and others adhere to the giant canvas pyramid tent style. For my personal needs, I've currently ebayed all my expensive tents and have two pre-owned wore out 'NOLS garage sale' MH Kivas and my Go-To tent, the Go-Lite Hex 3.
Pros: lightweight, very roomy, tall enough to get dressed in, no floor or a removable floor keeps dirt and debris at the campsite, very quick to set up.
Cons: condensation (but in reality most tents share this problem and the Kiva-Hex can be shaken out easily), and are not as durable as canvas or 'synthetic' canvas for hard use all summer long.
And when Fall snows come it is time for a tent with a heater stove, Amen
Design: three or four season tepee tarp
Ease of Setup: Very fast and easy (also sleeps 2 border collies)
Weight: depends on floor, bugnest, or tarp only
Price Paid: $300
I use this on short duration backpacking trips and it is great for two people or one person and a bike/dog. Combine with the matching nest and it is excellent in buggy climes. I use it mostly without the nest. I love this tee-pee (single pole) design over the dome type tents.
- Wind resistant
- Stakes it comes with
I've had this tent for a number of years and among the dozen tents I own it is still my favorite. Best combination of space and lightweight. In buggy areas the Nest (bug net and floor) are a good idea. I mostly use it in fall/winter and it is my go-to tent.
For backpacking with two people sharing a tent we split the nest and tent between us to even out the load. Ventilation is your call by adjusting flaps and bottoms. During a rainstorm when all buttoned up you will get some moisture on the wall, but that's a fair trade for staying dry in a storm.
Space is awesome in this tent. I dislike the multiple dome tents. With this tent you can forgo the pole and use a hiking pole or a straight stick you find in the woods—or you can string a line between trees and attach the peak loop to that for even more space (no pole) inside.
It is very taut in wind, assuming you do your part with stakes, and is overall very easy to use in any season. It rolls up to small size and could even be stuffed quickly if needed.
One of three Golite tents I use and this is tops for short/medium backpacking or with a partner. I use a Bivy or Golite Hut 1 for solo excursions.
Source: bought it new
I have used my Hex 3 for about 10 years now. It was actually given to me by a friend who used to sell GoLite products at the Grand Canyon. I bought the bug-netted floor and the single floor sections later. I like it cause its light and sheds rain and light snow very well.
I have used it in Alaska, New York,Arizona, Wyoming, Utah and California. For me personally by myself its a great light,small packing roomy tent. I have had many tents over the last 34 years and this the best I have owned.
But you won't find it at GoLite as its been changed to be called the Shangri-la 3 now. Same tent with a few new features like clips that hold the tent fly to the floor at the stake out points and a better,lighter tent pole. The tent pole can be substituted with a telescopic hiking pole or tied off on a limb above.
Update: March 31, 2010
The Shangri-la 3 tent by Golite in my opinion is the best tent I have ever had. I was given the rainfly part by an old friend who used to sell Golite at the Grand Canyon. I have used it nearly 10 years. Actually mine is called the Hex 3, but basically it is the same tent with some improvements in the Shangri-la 3. Itn ow has clips at the stake out points that hold the rainfly to either the floor or bugnetted floor for better wind stability.
Right now on 3/31/2010 the rainfly sells for $275 and weighs 2 lbs 7 oz and comes in a yellow or green color. The bugnetted floor weighs 1 lb 12 oz and the floor part alone without netting is 15 oz. I use all three depending on the weather situation and bug seasons. So say like the rainfly and the nonbug netted floor weighs 3 lbs 6 oz.
The single pole can be substituted with a hiking stick or there is a loop on the top outside to tie the tent to a limb above. It sleeps 2-3 persons depending on how its set up. I am 6 ft 7 inches tall and have room between the walls when laying in the tent and can stand on my knees with plenty of headroom.
Design: 3 season pyramid
Ease of Setup: Sets up in about 5-10 minutes
Weight: fly 2.7,bugnetted floor 1.12, floor only 15 oz
Source: received it as a personal gift
Price Paid: 0,.00
Hex (no longer available) and update ShangriLa (can still find it) is a great adaptable shelter to accommodate multiple living things (people, dogs, cats ...).
- Lightweight and roomy
- Adaptable (can hang, use offered pole, or trekking pole)
- Don't need to carry separate (and usually expensive) framing system.
- If you use the center pole, it will restrict movement/bag placement indoors.
Nice lightweight, adaptable shelter. Gap between silylon fly and sturdy (but not overdesigned) floor can be adjusted to admit or reject air flow at bottom, to accommodate a variety of weather. It's durable enough to shed many weather conditions (wind to a point, rain, light snow). The floor is either a plain floor or a "bug nest," which has a plain floor fused to a bug net shaped to fit inside the fly.
Plenty of room for most purposes (keeping people and lots of gear or animals out of weather, for example, or inviting in guests for disco dance party). I've also seen photos of this shelter with snow piled around the base, to keep it sealed and stable in wintry weather. (There's still a vent at the peak, and the door is fully adjustable with a two-way zipper, to handle ventilation.)
Using fly and plain floor, it's similar in approach to tarp shelter (which it basically then is). This means it will never be my daughter's favorite, as she does not like the "open" bottom (the gap between the fly and the floor, which is adjustable from imperceptible to substantial), and spends a lot of energy anticipating what type of varmint will greet her in the middle of the night. Does not bother me.
Using bug net and fly, it's just like any other "enclosed" tent with a netted interior. And yes, then it's a two-zipper escape, just as you would imagine.
I believe the ShangriLa (updated, more recent model) has a loop to hook to the inside peak of the fly when hanging the fly from a tree branch (not using a pole to prop it up), which the Hex did not have -- and which I added myself.
I've used the Hex since 2000, in all kinds of circumstances, and have never been disappointed.
Source: bought it new
This is the best shelter I have tried so far. It is light-weight and very easy to set up. It is made from silnylon that is very light-weight and durable.
One can use a hiking pole with an extension or with the micro adjustable pole that comes with the shelter. In order to use the hiking pole you need an adjustable height pole.
My wife and I tried it out on a four day hike on the coast of Oregon in September. We had no rain but quite strong winds of probably 15-20 mph. We had no problem with condensation even though the temperature got down to mid-forties at night. Yes it was condensation on the inner walls but since it is so room we didn't rub up against the walls.
One night we put the tent in soft sand and naturally the tent-stakes was much too short. Instead we used driftwood and branches to stake it out. That worked very well and it was possible to make a good tight shelter after some readjusting.
I can't say anything negative about this shelter so far. I know that it isn't tested until it is tested in hard rain, but i feel confident that it will be fine. I may have to do a little seam-sealing.
One thing that we changed after we came home was the zipper. It made quite a lot of noise when the wind was shaking the shelter. I took off the metal zipper-pulls and replaced them with parachute cords.
What we liked best was that it is so roomy. It was easy to set up and take down. It is light weight even with the inner tent. It is possible to set up in a lot of different ways.
What we didn't like so much was the stakes and the zipper pulls. Both those things are so easy to change out so it isn't really a problem.
Design: single wall shelter with many options
Ease of Setup: very easy
Weight: 2.1 kg with the shelter, inner tent, stakes and extension pole
I slept in this tent with two large muddy dogs and my girlfriend during heavy downpours in a reasonable comfort in early June. There was even protection from nasty mosquitoes, but this required judicious use of door and subsequent bug killing....
I also used HEX for several nights in December with one dog and girl. It was satisfactory. I have noticed that in heavy rain the seams must be sealed if one doesn't expect a few leaks. I personally overcome this concern with bivvy sack...
The Hex 3 worked as advertised. So, why three stars instead of 5? Well, I guess the true test of a 4-season tent comes not only in that 4th, wintry season, but also in its use during those other three seasons.
My wife and I backpacked over Memorial Day weekend. I loved the light weight, but it rained a lot here in the White Mountains, and condensation was definitely an issue. The tent performed excellent at shedding the wind and those gusts even provided some additional ventilating relief.
All things being considered, if deciding to purchase this tent for use in the three normal seasons, I would select a different tent. However, if you want a great 4th season tent, with occasional usage as a three-season tent, this is a winner.
As a side note, the single pole in the center does prevent couple cuddling, so if your sweetie requires an occasional spooning, you might want to select a different design. :-)
Design: four-season teepee
Ease of Setup: fairly simple, does require stakeout
Weight: 2 lbs 14 oz
Price Paid: $320.93
Light and quick to erect are the first impressions I had on getting the Hex 3, but as they say the proof of the pudding is in the eating. My test was a week on an uninhabited Island (Texa) off the west coast of Scotland. The weather for the first five days consisted of winds gusting between 40 and 65mph with very heavy rain and temperatures of -5 at night. The HEX 3 worked fine apart from a couple of minor hiccups
1. the supplied pegs in the wet of the UK failed to hold in the soft water logged ground but fortunately I had taken some light weight 12" ones unlike another guy there with a Hex 3 who had to make some temporary ones out of drift wood
and 2. The roof vents let the driven rain in as it was blown up the skin of the shelter this I shall remedy with a small baffle in each vent that will be easy to construct.
Overall this shelter was great. Indeed one guy had a very expensive Nordic tent that had the zip ripped out and required running repairs. The ground sheet is a must in the UK but I found it was not the best of fits so I will be replacing the hanging clips with bungee cord. But overall this is a great bit of kit.
Design: center pole tipi shelter
Ease of Setup: very easy
Price Paid: $200
The Hex 3 is roomy for two and lightweight. It's worked for me in the snow and rain. The only issue that I have had is in wet conditions, like most single wall tents it collects moister on the walls. With that said, it is still a fun tent.
Ease of Setup: easy with practice
Weight: 2 lbs. 15 oz.
Price Paid: $230
Very light for the room inside. Works much better with the pole than using the trekking pole extention. We got caught in a wet snow dump two Octobers ago and it held up well.
The weakness of this tent is condensation. The morning or the snowstorm we were rained upon inside the tent if you're in conditions that you have to close the door, the top ventilation is totally ineffective in venting moisture.
The tent will keep you protected though, and there's enough room for two to easily avoid touching the sides. Takes a while to set up properly, seems like you're re-setting the stakes for a tight set-up.
Design: single pole teepee
Ease of Setup: a hassle epecially 1st few times
Weight: weight with pole and stakes 3.2 lbs
Price Paid: $159 US
Just got back from a high altitude overnighter, my first chance to test out the Hex3. It rained/snowed off and on for 12 hours, with a few short sessions of hail. No leaks. Floor worked excellent at keeping runoff rain from getting near my gear. Around 11 p.m. came the howling wind. With all corners and mid sections staked out, along with the two guy wires, my shelter hardly budged.
The Hex 3 is outstanding when it comes to shedding wind and rain. Very little moisture formed on the inside, but not once did I get wet. Also was able to cook all meals inside tent. If you expect windy conditions, bringing 3-4 extra stakes is a must to anchor down all the loops. Would choose a hexagonal floor layout over square anyday. You'll know why once you experience the Hex3 in harsh weather.
Update: February 19, 2009
2 and a half years later, I've put many more nights in the Hex3. I've mostly used it for 3 season camping/backpacking, as an attempt to set this up in the snow proved to be a hassle. Without solid stake downs on all sides, the sturdiness of the tent becomes degraded, and the walls sag, cramping the living space. It really takes some heavy and wet snow, along with snow anchors to securely setup the tent.
Another minor difficulty is folding the tent. It takes a lot more time and effort to get the odd shape back into the storage sack.
Aside from these 2 things, it's still a favorite tent of mine to use. It is very lightweight, and provides plenty of room for 2-3 people. It's kept my friends and I completely dry, and the little condensation produced on the inside is easy to shake off with the help of someone.
It's great if you use the nest with this. To avoid using the pole, you can place a golf ball or ping pong ball on the inside of the nest, and from the outside tie some parachute cord just under the ball, over the shelter. Then attach the line to a tree branch or another line tied between 2 trees.
Highly recommend for a 3 season tent, but would keep looking if I needed a snow sport shelter.
Design: 3 season teepee
Ease of Setup: 2 out of 5
Price Paid: $185
I liked this tent because of the light weight and setup alternatives. Although not easy to set up, it sheds snow, rain and wind easily when properly pitched. It can be hung from a line or tree limb, but the optional Hex Nest will still need a pole ?! I do not know why the designers didn't put an inside loop to hang the nest as well. A very nice shelter.
Design: 4-season teepee like
Ease of Setup: Quite easy but not fast
Weight: 1 kg
Price Paid: $300
My son and I used this set up for the first time last week (July 06)in a Forrest area (South Wales). Setup is very simple, only a matter of a few minutes. The tent proved very stable, and withstood 18 hours of very heavy rain without problem; no leaks, no condensation.
I would not say this is a three-person tent, but it slept the two of us with room for kit and lots of comfort.
Overall, you have a four-season, very lightweight, two-person tent, with excellent water shedding properties and wind resistance. You can leave the nest insert at home and use the tent as a tarp (the tent and nest have a hanging loop on top, or use just the nest as a bug shelter in warm weather. I can't speak highly enough of this setup.
Update: September 20, 2006
Super piece of kit. I paid about $300, but that was with the Nest as well, a good deal. Rain just runs off it, condensation is not a problem, especialy if you use the nest to make it a two skin tent. The trekking pole idea is that you use your pole and a length of pole that comes with the tent to achieve height, you DO NOT just rely on the trekking pole. Even with the nest, it's light enough to backpack with, leave the nest and poles at home and you can string the tent off a branch giving you a super size bivvy. The tent sleeps two in comfort with kit.
Design: single pole
Ease of Setup: very simple on level ground, takes longer otherwise
Weight: around 3lb for the tent around 5.5lb with the nest
Price Paid: $300
Can't beat the weight. Easy to set up. But the feature boasted by GoLite that you can use a trekking pole to set the tent at different heights is bogus. I set my pole at its highest and was not able to get high enough. This is especially true when you use the Hex floor. There is only one loop at six corners to attach the floor to the side of the tent and with my standard trekking pole, I was not able to raise the bathtub floor at all. Water thus was able to seep in. (I was in a deluge)
An easy fix would be to allow lower and higher settings by placing extra loops up along the tent wall to attach the floor at a higher point. Also, starting with a well formed tent at a lower setting to allow room to go higher with the extension of the trekking pole. Oh, and it sleeps two people, with gear.
Design: 4 season, pyramid
Ease of Setup: no problem
Weight: 1.5 lbs
Price Paid: $230, tent and floor
I live in the Pacific NW where tents are tested in all types of conditions. I have owned 20 or more backpacking tents through the years. This tent has been the most versatile. It is lightweight, tough, and roomy. I am 6'2" and I have plenty of room. The tent fits two people very well with gear. The nest is essential to keep the bugs out, but adds very little weight. The reflective tabs for stakes are great.
This tent performs great in any weather, including heavy rains. The tent sents up much faster than any other tents. Don't waste money on other tents. This tent will not disappoint.
Design: four-season teepee style
Ease of Setup: easy set-up
Weight: 4lbs 13 oz with nest half that without
Price Paid: $189
I've used this tent (it becomes a double wall tent with the optional nest) on several trips. It's light on my back, huge for two, can cram three, and can be set up with my treking poles. A tree fell on it during one trip, broke the factory pole but no damage to the material. I used it at 12,000 feet on Mt. Whitney, I had to put rocks over the stakes because the ground was bad for staking, but the tent stayed tight as a drum all night. I love it.
Ease of Setup: takes a little practise, now just a few minutes
Weight: around three
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Historic Range: $194.65-$230.00
Reviewers Paid: $125.00-$320.93