Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo Tent – a review

Time for a quick bit of kit reviewing, part of the new improved blog-o-sphere of mine….

I bought the Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo tent a few months ago and have only really used it in anger very recently. Its a bit of a departure for me as normally I either buy and use doubled walled tents….or tarps! The Lunar Solo is defintitely a tarp tent but with the bonus of an integral bug net.

Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo

Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo

The pitching of the Lunar Solo is just about the easiest I have come across. Peg out the back corners loosely, insert pole into receiving grommet in the fly, peg the remaining points, tighten the slack. Voila! I had the Lunar Solo up literally in about 2 minutes flat. Very very easy to pitch indeed. The ability to tighten the slack off with cinching guylines is very welcome as is the side panel tie out guylines which give the tent a much more rigid, tight and aesthetic shape. For the pole, the intention is that you use a trekking pole. Since I dont own any, I opted for a bit of DIY with some spare tent poles I had lying around. The optimum height for the pole is apparently 45inches so using a hacksaw, I cut a three section pole to size. I even had some left over so cut another section piece to allow me to pitch it slightly higher if required. This worked really well and the shelter felt nice and stable when pegged out.

The back of the tent - a pentagon design layout

The back of the tent – a pentagon design layout

The shelter doesnt come supplied with any pegs so I used Titanium nail pegs which proved to be very nice indeed, the first time I have occaision to use them in fact. The inner is about 224cm long and approx 91cm at its narroest point. The inner does have a small “triangular” side portion to the main sleeping rectangle and is useful for storing a few night-time odds and sods. The vestibule is cited on the Six Moons website as being 10 sq feet. As near as damn it thats the same size as the Akto vestibule. The main difference is that the Lunar Solo vestibule “wedge” does not come all the way to the floor and in fact leaves a gap of about a foot on the front of the tent. Needless to say that the fly can/does come all the way to the ground on the other 3 sides of the tent just in case you were wondering. This means that the shelter gets lots of ventilation but the downside is that windblown rain or snow could possibly intrude and so reduce the effective useful area of the vestibule for storage of non-bagged items.

So what did I think of it?

I used the tent on a sheltered site but in pretty relentless rain for one night and muggy but dry conditions on another. The rain did not intrude on me at all although there was little wind but the really nice thing about the tent was the almost complete absence of condensation on the underside of the fly. When I got up each morning I made a point of running my finger along the inner material and there was a hint of dampness but no more. I have to admit that had I been in my laser comp in the same conditions I would have caused rivulets to form if I had done the same to the fly. Mind you this is just as well because although the Lunar Solo has a large interior, the way the fly slopes down sharply from the apex/pole to the back of the tent means that unless you arent very careful you will probably end up brushing the inner once or twice in the night. To minimise the risk you have to “force” yourself to sleep close to the pole and thus under the highest clearance available. this is a minor niggle for me and the ventilation performance outweighs this.

The tent from the front illustrating the fly "gap" at the front and also for comparison of size versus the Akto next to it

The tent from the front illustrating the fly “gap” and also for comparison of size versus the Akto next to it

I cant comment on its storm-worthiness as I had relatively mild conditions (ie heavy rain one night but little wind). Having said that, the way the guylines can be tightened down and the fact you can peg out the fly side panels gave the tent a reassuringly solid feel. I would guess that this tent could handle moderate wind and some snow loading and so would class it as a 3-season shelter. It would be interesting to test it under more challenging conditions and I hope to do this in the autumn.

Good points:

light – 750grams (without pole)

lots of room in the inner and vestibule

solid

well thought out and really easy to pitch

very good ventilation

the ability to draw back the vestibule fly “curtains” completely to allow unrestricted viewing from the inner

Downsides:

Only 3-season

inner can be restrictive due to sloping fly thus reducing effective sleeping area

vestibule fly is high cut which reduces usefulness of vestibule area in poor weather conditions

Overall:

I really like this tarp tent and I know I will use it on high altitude fair weather jaunts if only for that fantastic ability to have a full sided unrestricted view from the inner. Its really easy to pitch and I like its simplicity. Will it replace my Laser Competition as my favourite tent? No, my Laser Comp is a much better all year round tent that gives me poor weather capabilities, but in the right conditions I will happily reach for the Lunar Solo as an option

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About Saddlebags and Backpacks - a brewer's outdoor adventures

I am a keen hiker, camper, cyclist and general all round gear addict..... I also manage to be a professional brewer in my non-spare time :->
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12 Responses to Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo Tent – a review

  1. Joe says:

    Thanks for posting this Dave. I’m still looking for a lighter, 3 season alternative to my Laser Comp. The Lunar Solo is on the short-list. Do you use a sleeping bag cover/breathable bivy inside it?

  2. Ben says:

    Thanks for the great review. From the Six Moon Design website it looks like the mesh is sewn onto the fly al the way around. Basically what I am asking is will it keep Scottish midges out?

    Thanks Ben

  3. backpackbrewer says:

    Hi Joe,

    on this recent trip I didnt bother with a sleeping bag cover and as per the review, the condensation was minimal. If I were taking this for an outing on the mountainside i would definitely take a cover or bivvy just in case.

    • Rob says:

      Hi Joe – just bumped into your post – I also have the 6Moons Solo and I use my Macpac Adventure sleeping bag with it – its waterproof! I have the 300 model (750g). If it drops below about 5c I need to start putting on clothing. But this combo works fine for 3 seasons here in NZ.

      If I am not camping above the bush – or tramping in stable weather at the height of summer, I take my tarp (Oware USA cat tarp 2) and bivvy bag also Oware.

      http://www.owareusa.com/

      I combine this with my Western Mountaineering Hylite bag (485g) . A VERY light combination

      http://www.westernmountaineering.com/index.cfm?section=Products&page=Sleeping%20Bags&cat=ExtremeLite%20Series&viewpost=2&ContentId=16

      Cheers Rob

      • backpackbrewer says:

        thanks Rob,

        its always interesting to see what combinations other people use and it seems as though we think along the same lines. Having never been there I would be interested to see what kind of weather you get in NZ although I have been told (depending on the latitude), its warmer but windier than the UK and you get reasonable amounts of rain…

  4. backpackbrewer says:

    Hi Ben,

    yes the mesh is sewn into the groundsheet and all the way around the fly at about a foot off the ground. The mesh inner is then completed by a zip to the front panel by the vestibule. The effect of all this? No insects got in and there was plenty of ventilation

  5. Richard says:

    Useful review, thats another one to add to my list of “Tarptens for Consideration”

    I’m definately interested but the one thing that troubles me is the need for a bivvybag which inevitibly adds to the total weight. My current bivvybag is an F&T goretex that weighs 596g which when added to a Tarp is getting into TN Laser Comp, BA Seedhouse/Flycreek/Copperspur territory.

  6. backpackbrewer says:

    Well, you could always go for a lightweight option re the bivvybag

    I have an MLD Soul bivvy which comes in at a shade under 200g although there are lighter ones out there.

    To be honest, unless the weather forecast is really kind, I usually take a bivvy or lightweight bag cover for insurance anyway

  7. Richard says:

    I’d been looking at the MLD ones, the other tarp/tents on the shortlist were the MLD Duo Mid and the Tarptent Contrail. The Contrail looks like it would be the most affected by sidewinds.

  8. backpackbrewer says:

    I think you are right Richard. There are a number of people/bloggers on the net in the UK who have got the duo mid and most are full of praise for it

    try this link for a review

    http://www.andyhowell.info/trek-blog/2009/08/03/mountain-laurel-duomid-first-outing/#more-1381

  9. I’ll second the Soul bivy, it’s a great piece of kit. I got the heavier floor and the big zip that comes accross your shoulders and down to your hips for easy access and venting. Every time I’ve used its been bone dry inside so the top fabric is pretty breathable.

    I’m also starting to appreciate tarptents and stuff that pitches with trekking pole a lot recently.

  10. backpackbrewer says:

    yes, I like the Soul bivvy alot. Not much weight plenty of performance.

    Re the tarp tents kind of tempted by the Henry Shire’s moment
    :)

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