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Camping Gear ReviewsTents & Shelters

Tents For The Antisocial

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Plus a pack for organization freaks, cold-weather trousers, a dew-shedding sleeping bag, and more

Eureka!

One-person tents (“Room For One,” ), several excellent new solos have hit the market. Beginning last winter, we put four of them through 5 months of testing everywhere from Oregon’s misty forests to Utah’s red-rock high country to the mountains of Idaho, Colorado, and New England.

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Tents & Shelters

GoLite Trig 2 Shelter REVIEW

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9.1tech score

The TRIG 2 SHELTER is designed to be a 3 season, two person backpacking shelter. Including the permanently attached vestibule and rear storm beak, it has an elongated pentagonal shaped footprint. To keep the weight minimized, GoLite makes this single-walled shelter with a form of Sil nylon that they call “SilLite.” For more information about this light, waterproof fabric, see the product information that I have copied and pasted at the end of this report. The shelter comes with 8 Y-stakes, stake sack, and a SilLite stow sack. For even more effective weight savings, the shelter comes without poles, but with tie out ropes.

Product Specifications

  • Size: Height: 48 in / 122 cm, Area: 35 sq ft / 3.25 sq m
  • Weight: Stated in the literature: 2 lb 15 oz / 1332 g main + 6 oz / 170 g stakes
    As received and weighed on home electronic scale: Shelter plus bagged stakes in a carry bag, with the instructions, 1485 g / 3 lb. 4.5 oz

Product Description

It is designed for use with hiking poles or convenient attachment points such as trees. The zippered entry door and lower back end are made of no see-um mesh for ventilation. There are also screened panels at the bottom of the two long sides for more venting during good weather. These panels can be covered by flaps which zip closed from the outside. Near the front lower sidewalls, two hanging pockets can be used to store small valuables. To support the front of the shelter, the user may choose to tie the attached reflective line to objects such as trees, wrap the line around a hiking pole or stick and stake out, or make use of a reinforced area, or “pole pocket,” inside the vestibule and tie the external line to a stake.

There is no similar “pole pocket” in the foot end, so the user’s second pole is placed outside the foot end of the shelter. According to the product information, the top, or canopy, is made from 30 deniers 1.76 oz / 50 g (SilLite) silicone-impregnated ripstop nylon and the bath-tub style floor is 70 denier 2.2 oz / sq yd /62 g / sq m 3000 mm waterproof polyurethane coated nylon taffeta, with the no see-um mesh listed as 20 denier 1.6 oz / 45 g woven nylon.

From my experiences, and looking at the shelter, I have no cause to doubt this information. I didn’t see mention at the website of the tie out loops along the bottom of the shelter being made of a thumb-width sturdy ribbon with a reflective stripe and adjustment buckles. Those were a nice surprise to me. TRIG 2 SHELTERS are available in “Stone/Lignite” or “Lignite/Night.” I have the second color combination, which I describe as brown and very dark gray.

Initial Impressions

I was predictably happy with this shelter from the moment of arrival. GoLite has a good reputation for quality lightweight gear. This shelter has just enough room for two friendly adults, based on my family’s physical attributes. I’m about 5’ 9” / 1.75 m, and my husband and sons are each over 6’ / 1.8 m, with one son at 6’ 7” / 2 m. (This shelter may be too short for (ahem) “Shorty” plus a second adult.) People of shorter stature, who are also pretty friendly, might be able to fit a third person, maybe a child, into a TRIG 2. So, here I have this shelter that hubby and I can fit into together, plus, it is about the same weight as some cheap discount store “pup tents.”

This shelter, however, is larger, better ventilated, more adjustable in pitching options, AND, is tall enough that I can sit upright (at the peak, at least), AND I can exit and enter comfortably, AND has a vestibule. WOW! Bonus, here: It is a decent size for stowing in a rolling duffle for a fly/drive/camp vacation. I get to multi-use my trekking poles, so I do not have intermittently used equipment that I have to lug around. At about 3 Ľ lb / 1.5 kg with stakes and stuffed into its sacks, the TRIG 2 is also light enough to carry on my own and share with a young niece or nephew on a short backpacking trip. With the quality workmanship that GoLite has become known for, how could I not be happy?

First Week Experiences

As soon as I had the shelter out of the box, I weighed it, pitched it in my backyard, and asked my husband to crawl in for roominess check. “So far, so good.” The reflective striped staking loops were a surprise, and having them be adjustable was even more of a surprise.

If I were making my shelter, I probably would not use such substantial materials for the loops, zipper, or even the bathtub floor, but as the sewist, I would know that I could replace these if needed. GoLite, as a commercial enterprise, does have to use some heavier materials in stress or wear areas to avoid equipment failures for their customers. Zippers can be a weak point for many items.

Mesh inner pockets provide a good place for small items

Beefing up the specs here makes sense for business reasons. I left the shelter up, anticipating rain, to check how well it stands up to storms. The next day, I found puddles on the sidewalls that did not penetrate to the interior. The air mattresses that I left inside did seem to be covered with a fragile film of condensation, and the interior walls were predictably damp. For as wet as the air and my yard were, I judged this to be normal. Saturday night, I slept in the shelter through a thunderstorm, and was “snug as a bug in a rug.”

I intended to sleep out another night, but when I was told of the thundershower causing predictions of “golf ball-sized hail,” I decided to strike the shelter and sleep indoors. Well, I found out that I can rapidly hit this shelter, in the dark, roll it into a ball, and carry the soggy mass into a structure, in this case, my house, and hang it to dry without problems. A nice side notes: I had left the instructions in one of the inside pockets and forgotten them until I pulled out all the shelter’s contents. Here was this soggy printed wad that I thought would be ruined. Surprise! The usage instructions are printed with water resistant ink on a water safe substance.

I’m wondering if the “paper” is actually “Tyvek?” Anyway, the pitching instructions include site selection tips and are repeated on the backside in what I believe is German. The instruction sheet seems no worse for its misadventure.

Test Location

Primarily, I will use the GoLite TRIG 2 SHELTER in my backyard, and during overnight to weekend hikes in eastern Massachusetts. Here, close to the eastern coast, the terrain is flat to rolling hills with a few mountains. As I head west in Massachusetts, I can get to more mountainous areas and, finally the Berkshire Appalachian Trail. Most of my testing will be around here. I had hoped to use the shelter on a fly/drive/camp weekend trip to “Trail Days,” but it didn’t arrive in time.

I will test the TRIG 2 in the different from my East Coast home base conditions of Yellowstone National Park when my husband and I camp there during our vacation this summer. I do not expect the altitude to have much effect on the shelter, but it might be cooler and drier in the mountains of Wyoming than here at home.

Test Plans

During the Field and Long Term Testing, I will be looking for

Signs of wear/durability: How do the materials and seams stand up to repeated use?

Portability, packability, set up: Do I still find this shelter easy to set up, stow, and carry? How well does it fit into my pack/luggage/vehicle? Does it develop any problems while suspended with hiking poles? How easily are available alternate support structures in established campgrounds? Is it inconvenient to leave behind in a base camp while hiking?

Weight: Does it become a “burden” to carry? How much heavier does it seem after a rainy night?

Privacy/insect screening/containment: Is the privacy this shelter allows sufficient for a “couple” and for changing clothes, etc.? Does the shelter protect the occupants from insects and other small “crawlies?” Does the shelter keep larger “crawlies” (in the form of children) corralled enough to wake me if they have issues or try to leave?

Space: Can my husband and I sit up inside the shelter at the same time? Can we change clothes inside? Change at the same time? How well do the two of us fit? We are both on the tall side (and are not thin). Can we fit any gear inside the shelter with us or in the vestibule?

Protection from elements: Last, but certainly not least, how well does the shelter protect us from precipitation, the wind, etc.? Of course, that is the expected function, but how does it perform? Does it have enough ventilation for warm weather or to be closed against rain yet breathe? Does it help us stay warm if the temperature drops? How about any condensation issues?

Likes

  • Lightweight for its roominess
  • Packs small
  • Subdued colors
  • Should have good ventilation
  • Appears to be well made and reinforced.
  • Seems to fit large adults.

Dislikes

  • In making the shelter appropriately secure for use by the general public, some materials are heavier than those I might have chosen. This makes the tent several ounces heavier that one I might have done.
  • The slope of the tent top does severely limit the area in which I can sit upright. Of course, any change to the slope would mean more material and therefore, more weight and bulk.

Otherwise, so far, none

Tester Background

As have many other backpackers, I started family camping as a child. When my kids came along, I took them camping, too. Sometimes we brought friends or cousins. When my oldest was old enough to backpack with the Scouts, backpacking soon turned into a family affair.

Now I might borrow a friend’s or relatives’ children for the company for a leisurely trip, or head out alone or with a friend or two for some serious trail time. My half-century mark brought with it the need and desire for lightening my load, so I have been learning to enjoy the trail with less “stuff.” Gone are the steel propane cylinders and steel stoves, replaced by solid fuels or alcohol and lighter weight aluminum or brass stoves.

Pack cloth has yielded to silk nylon, and jeans and cotton T-shirts have been replaced with nylon shorts and wicking shirts. As I continue toward an-LIGHT-­enment, I do most of my hiking and backpacking during weekends in New England. Additionally, I have been lucky enough to experience hiking to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and an 110-mile (177-km) stretch of the Appalachian Trail from Pennsylvania to northern Virginia. My preferred gear at this time includes a hammock, aluminum or brass stove, home-dehydrated foods requiring minimal preparation and cooking on the trail, and the least amount of additional clothing and gear that I can feel comfortable carrying.

I appreciate the opportunity to test this product.

SilLite information from the GoLite site: Ultralite waterproof fabric

  • Impressive strength to weight ratio & tear strength compared to conventional tent fabrics and PU-coated fabrics.
  • It weighs just 1.76 oz / sq. Yd (60 g /sq. m) and has a tear strength of 9.5 lb (4.3 kg). Silicone-elastomer fabrics allow their fibers to stretch without separating or breaking, and this makes them stronger than conventional PU-coated (or PU/siliconized) materials for a far lower weight
  • Silicone impregnation means that the silicone completely permeates the fibers & also makes the material hydrophobic, so it doesn’t soak up water. It is also less likely to wear away or degrade in UV light than PU.
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