The Problem With Pyramid Shelters

Many pyramid-style shelters, such as the Solomid, MLD Duomid, and Trailstar, have low walls that reduce interior space. While lightweight backpacking shelters can be compromises in comfort, function and weight, there are times when I need more space and luxury. This was a top priority on my recent backpacking trip through Scotland. I had brought a Mountain Laurel Designs Duomid, which I had to keep closed for two weeks due to the cold and dreary conditions.

This problem can’t be solved by adding a bathtub floor to a pyramid or a net-tent to it. Your head and feet are just inches from the tarp’s surface, and you start to get tired of getting up in the morning to frost on your face.

If you have a large pyramid-like GoLite Shangri-La 3 (now manufactured by My Trail Company), where the shelter’s height and diameter means steeper walls, size does matter. It’s just not something I would want. This limits my ability to set it up in densely wooded New England forests.

I have been trying to think of a windproof shelter that would be suitable for open, windy spaces such as Scotland or New England’s forests. My efforts have not yielded much success.

My Tarptent Scarp 1 (which uses hoops to fix the wall angle problem and can be set up in rain without the inner tent getting wet) was one of my regrets. It weighs 48 ounces and is too heavy for me. However, I would be interested to know how much the outer fly weights independently of the inner, as it can be used separate.

The Tarptent Notch is appealing to me because the outer fly’s ends are lifted off the ground by Pitchlock poles. This allows for more interior head and foot space despite the angled walls. It’s very clever. This technique is used by Henry Shires, Tarptent, on many of his shelters.

The Notch fly, like the Scarp 1, can be pitched apart from the inner tent. It weighs only 15.2 ounces (433g), which is great for times when I don’t need an outer tent. The Notch weighs 26 ounces, which includes the inner and fly, and is likely to be sufficient for Scotland if it is pitched in more protected areas.

I am still unsure of my decision and would be grateful for any suggestions or insights you might have on the wall angle/usable area issue in pyramid-style shelters. My Duomid has been my go-to shelter for two TGO Challenges, and other long trips. However, there are times when it is not enough comfort.

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