Sleep Your Way In The GoLite Shangri-La 2
Published on 11/06/2012
By Peter Reese
Ultra light travel can lead anywhere from freedom to disaster. The combination of smart gear, backcountry acumen and informed trip plans can make the experience more reward than risk. GoLite is no newcomer to light and fast. From footwear to clothing to packs, the Boulder, Colorado-based company shows up where the going gets tough and ounces count.
SHANGRI-LA 2 has, based upon several testing sessions, moved up the food chain for the testers at Active Junky. While taking more experimentation to master than traditional tents, SL2 made a compelling case for component-centered shelter. The Shelter (15D ripstop nylon modified pyramid tarp) is light enough to weigh on a calorie counter scale at a mere 1 lb. 8 oz. The Nest (no-see-um mesh tent with bathtub floor) is of comparable – and convention-breaking – weight. Note that the dual uprights are the traveler’s choice, with trekking poles, paddles or cut wood staffs locking into reinforced ridgeline points. Paracord attached to either the Shelter or Nest can substitute for internal poles when secured to nearby trees, rocks or vehicles.
Based on Active Junky’s experience, SL2 has the potential to transform travel for enlightened, well-rehearsed campers. Translation: GoLite slashes weight by requiring the SL2’s users to employ skill and judgment on any given night at any given site. Active Junky discovered at least two different approaches to erecting the GoLite in a variety of conditions. Either method required a generous inventory of guylines and stakes to execute.
THE CASUAL CAMP functioned without full staking of corners, midpoints and guylines. Quicker set-up and packing were the benefits, with the advantage of easier build out on loamy, sandy or rock-encrusted sites.
THE PERFORMANCE PITCH took full-on focus to manage tension in all dimensions in anticipation of high winds, blowing rain and even snow. Instead of 15 minutes, this strategy required up to 30 minutes to fine-tune both the Shelter and Nest.
Testers, used to the increasingly-common practice of imprinting tent stuffsacks with directions and diagrams, had to reengage their problem-solving grey cells on the first try. Getting Shelter and Nest to mesh together proved to take the most effort. Top tier, clamp-locking trekking poles from Leki made tweaking pole height easy as did the super-reinforced floor and ceiling sleeves both on Nest and Shelter. Staking took two circumnavigations of the Shelter to get right and true. Only two design-related challenges plagued testers.
First, the loop-and-clip connection between Shelter and Nest is problematic for cold or gloved hands. This link is vital and could be remedied simply by lighter clip hardware. Second, the bathtub floor on the Nest wanted to levitate when staked at moderate to high tension. Simply throwing a sleeping bag or pack into the screened envelope can alleviate the over-pulling temptation. Once assembled, three outstanding attributes revealed themselves.
BREATHABILITY AND CONDENSATION MANAGEMENT was superior, but only in the PERFORMANCE PITCH where there was suitable room between Nest and Shelter.
VESTIBULE ALLOWANCE in front of the Nest (when paired with the Shelter) fit testers’ obsessions with protected pack storage and meal preparation while still ensconced in sleeping bags.
CEILING SIT-UP HEIGHT got raves from tall and stretching-prone testers, recognizing any shelter needs to anticipate days socked in by bad weather, poor snow conditions or sickness.
The SL2 is not a plush, basecamp tent that newbies can pop up like a camp chair. For the intrepid traveler who wants a ready-made solution to all-conditions shelter, GoLite delivers go-to performance with less weight and even fewer concerns.