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NEWS FLASH! - We're #1!
If you want a tent that's truly superb, one that's high performance but still lightweight, one that's been painstakingly crafted to be head and shoulders above every other tent out there, here and now is the time to get it. I've been dying to make these tents for a few years now. Back one and I'll make it for you. My name is Mike Cecot-Scherer. I’m a freelance tent designer who's been making tents for the outdoor industry since 1985. My lifetime total stands at 249 tents so far. My resumé is here.
I call these ultimate performance tents not to out-superlative other tents, but because what I've done is unique: every need that an excellent tent must fulfill, being waterproof, easy to setup, lightweight, durable - and so on - these tents fulfill all those needs robustly. Of course. Here's the new part, the part that makes these tents ultimate: I've developed nine new, ground-breaking features - some gigantic, some small - that are solutions to long-standing tent problems. THAT'S why these are beyond-state-of-the-art and why they're ultimate. They'll do everything that an excellent tent must and then some. A LOT of 'then some'.
I should also mention that this presentation isn't where I offer assurances that the basic functions of waterproofness or ease of set-up or, really, any of the "of course"-level things are being met. For that I recommend my website. Lots and lots of details there.
These ultimate tents are called the MoonLights. There's a 2-, 3- and 4-person size. They're strong and roomy tents that weigh a little over 2 pounds per person. They'll be beautifully made by the number one quality tent factory in the world; using state-of-the-art materials and construction methods. Every detail has been carefully crafted to help you enjoy your time in the outdoors. I've SOLVED some vexing, age-old problems and this is the very first (and possibly only) time you can get those solutions in a single package.
These are enabling pieces of gear: they do for tent camping what shocks did for mountain biking - they're THAT good.
The Backer reward price for these tents is quite a deal. These tents aren't coming to a retailer near you anytime soon, and certainly not at the Backer's price. By getting them directly from the designer, me, the price of the MoonLight 2 is $375 instead of about $530 from a major brand. No kidding. The MoonLight 3 would be between $800 and $1050 instead of $495. The MoonLight 4 would go for $900 - $1150 instead of $550. They're a huge bargain for Backers.
Kickstarter is all about trust and you probably don't know me from Adam. It's one of the drawbacks to working behind the scenes for so many years. That's why I asked two good friends to lend some credence to this project, Jake Lah the president of DAC (the tent pole company that makes ALL of the poles for the top tents in the world) and David Mydans, the now retired tent designer for REI, a discerning peer. Please read the comments for their take on the MoonLight tents. If nothing else they can assure you that I'm for-real.
Here's a review of a prototype of the MoonLight 4 when it was called the RugRat.
If camping is part of your lifestyle, something that you do regularly and for a long time, then freak windstorms, snowstorms, and diluvial rains are not freakish at all – you've probably had them before and know that you'll have them again. That's why these tents are built with such attention to strength and performance: they deal with harsh, infrequent but inevitable conditions – providing nearly winter-tent levels of strength at a far lower weights than any other commercially available tents (and they're vastly cooler in hot weather). Once you become used to their capabilities, you'll experience a shift in the types of campsites you're drawn to because the most spectacular campsites are always the most exposed. With the MoonLights: GO THERE, camp, enjoy.
I don't just talk about strength, I designed it in and proofed it out. Our wind tunnel testing sets a lofty new standard for showing you that the MoonLights are strong in every direction. As you watch the wind test video or look over the results, keep in mind three things:
1) Most backpacking tents are flattened by 15 to 20 mph winds (24 to 32 kph) and most people in those winds would swear it was blowing 30-40mph. TRUE! It's a rare person that doesn't mis-gauge wind speed by almost a factor of TWO. So the wind speed results we show are winds that are really kicking it.
2) Our results are are not the blow-down and smash flat windspeed. We give you the windspeed up to which they are solid and quiet. These tents really can take a beating.
3) We tested without guylines and in all directions so you can be sure that the tent itself – as you are likely to put it up – is what's strong, not some fancy guyline work that took an hour to install (and a hundred feet of extra cord and a half pound of extra stakes). Crazy idea - doing it this way also tells us which direction we might want to occasionally guy the tent out.
See the wind testing yourself. I think you'll agree we've represented the tents quite accurately and fairly:
MoonLights aren't tents where everyone's sleeping bag wipes the walls because they press in so much. MoonLights are roomy and here's a neat way to really see how roomy they are — accurate 3D models that you can look at from any angle with human-scaled mannequins inside. Click on the images below to take them for a spin. The MoonLight sidewalls are steep. Sitting or laying down, they don't crowd your feet or head. The MoonLights 3 and 4 can comfortably handle professional basketball players (the middle mannequin in the ML3 model is six foot seven - the average size of a professional basketball player).
The MoonLight 3 & 4 are fantastic tents for kids. I explain more at the bottom of the page but these are tents that kids and parents can really enjoy, both for mayhem or sleep.
Nylon sags when wet because it literally expands. That's a huge shame because EVERY lightweight tent that uses actual woven fabric, currently uses nylon. All that sagging and wrinkling and dripping and condensation and flapping you experienced people have seen over and over — it's just what nylon does when it gets wet. So... simple: we use the latest generation of lightweight polyester fabrics (which match nylon in strength) and everything works like it's supposed to. You can set your tent up and forget about it until it's time to take it back down. In a word, it PERFORMS. As an added bonus, the polyester also has better UV performance — SWEET!
Time to face it: nylon sucks. We use state-of-the-art 20D polyesters — light, strong, better.
The stakeout anchors on the MoonLight tents adjust up to a full yard in length. They make getting a good stake in really easy and quick - no picking up and moving the whole tent needed. But where they really shine is when you can't use stakes at all - on bare rock for instance. That's when you find out that using boulders as anchors is seamless and slick. No fiddling or gerrymandering with extra cord needed. It just works.
When a zipper's teeth don't mate together when you try to close it, it's because the sliders have worn out. You can do a squeeze repair and it will work for a short while, but you're playing with fire. Worn sliders have razor sharp inside edges that will destroy the zipper teeth when you back the slider over them. Destroyed teeth means an expensive repair. My solution: an extra set of sliders already installed to use while you get the worn ones replaced.
All MoonLight rainflies can be pitched with just the poles. If it's pouring, just pitch the fly, crawl in, lay out your nice dry tent body and clip it up to the poles, unclipping the pole ends from the fly and reclipping them to the tent corners. All done. Nice and easy like everything about these tents.
What to do... the night hasn't cooled yet and you'd like to leave off the rainfly but you know there's a storm coming... Simple: put the fly on and then undo just two buckles and peel it back. If it rains the fly will slide back on in seconds. We may not have invented this feature, but we've perfected it. Thanks to the long adjustment cords on the vestibules, the MoonLight rainflies can be half-on or all the way down on one side. Either way, they re-pitch amazingly quickly and easily. Just the ticket for a 2:00AM downpour.
Every guyline in its place and a place for every guyline.
Camping out in extended rain can be challenging. One of its delights is that rainwear pretty much has to sit in a pile in the vestibule where it becomes completely, uniformly soaked. Cold and soaked. MoonLight tents can help. Outside both doors (to the right) are three little loops high up on the tent. You can use those loops to hang rainwear so it has a chance to drip-dry. You're welcome.
Beyond state-of-the-art features are marked with a Ω. Most others are (merely) state-of-the-art.
Strength and Durability features:
- 1) Ω ML3&4: DAC PL 13.55mm poles – just WOW! You pick them up and you can't even believe how light they are. Almost 3x the stiffness of 9.6mm poles for 11 more measly ounces! Ω ML2: DAC 9mm poles with 6 direct pole-to-tent connections for increased rigidity and strength, 24% stiffer than the more normal 8.5mm poles and weighing just .9 ounces more (point nine).
- 2) Ω EyePole freestanding architecture provides steep walls everywhere in the tent so you can use the whole floor.
- 3) Ω Wind tunnel tested in multiple directions. The MoonLight 3 & 4 tents are ROCK SOLID in 30-35mph winds without even using the guylines. The ML2 is solid in 21-37mph winds.
- 4) Ω ML3&4: Made in USA "polygon" hubs are precision machined out of 7075-T6 aerospace grade aluminum. They're gorgeous.
- 5) Rainfly door has a buckle across the bottom of the door opening for stress relief in harsh conditions
- 6) Long guylines (ML2 has 4, ML3&4 have 8): reflective, gold color, 1.5mm Dyneema
- 7) X-Pac reinforced stress points and abrasion areas (.8oz)
- 8) 8 rainfly-to-pole connections on the underside of the fly
- 9) Ω Polyester 20D and 30D fabrics always pitch the same no matter what the conditions — the tent is never too tight or too loose
- 10) Ω Adjustable LONG (36") stake-outs that let you find that spot that doesn't have a rock underneath OR quickly and easily lets you use boulders and logs instead — AND they're 2.5mm Dyneema, crazy strong and light!
- 11) Ω All guylines store in their own little velcro-closed pouches so your tent isn't a Flying Spaghetti Monster of tangled cords.
- 12) Color-coded poles and webs help you keep track of what goes where during setup
- 13) Pole ends snap into the "Jake's foot mini" so they don't fall off when you go from one side of the tent to the other during setup.
- 14) The rainfly clips on and tightens with quick release buckles
- 15) A boat-load of great stakes: DAC 6" J-stakes-S for hard ground plus 8" J-stakes-M for soft ground. Mix and match for each trip
- 14) Ω Doubled rainfly top seam stays on the pole, doesn't roll off and upset the pitch
- 15) Ω The rainfly can be pitched with just the poles to make an enormous, floorless ultralight shelter: ML2: 2 lbs 12 oz, ML3: 4 lbs 12 oz, ML4: 5 lbs 1.5 oz
- 16) Unclipping just two corners of the rainfly allows it to be peeled half-way or all the way off the top of the tent. Then if it rains during the night it can quickly be slid right back over the tent and re-clipped
Convenience and livability features:
- 17) Ripstop walls with closable windows let you regulate how warm or cool the tent is
- 18) Gigantic 10D net roof lets you stargaze or just watch clouds going by
- 19) Two doors and two vestibules - of course
- 20) Zipper-closable through-the-rainfly vents to keep condensation to a minimum: ML2: two high up, ML3&4: 2 high + 1 ea vestibule (2)
- 21) Roof vents can be accessed from inside: ML2 through top of the door zipper, ML3&4: through zippers in the roof
- 22) Clear polyurethane windows in the rainfly, 2 on the ML2, 6 on the ML3&4.
- 23) 10D net windows: ML2 has 6, ML3&4 have 8 All side windows can be closed for privacy or warmth or sandstorms
- 24) Lots of loops for hanging stuff inside
- 25) Ω More loops on the outside (under the rainfly) for drying wet rainwear
- 26) Door shape lets you spin your legs in or out without scrunching
- 27) Micro-biner clips included: ML2: 4, ML3: 6, ML4: 8 (only .1oz each, 2.6g) great for hanging headlamps inside as lights and rainwear on the outside to dry
- 28) All zipper pulls are cord so they don't jingle when the tent moves
- 29) Reflective guylines so you don't trip over them at night, bright gold color for day
- 30) UTX Phantom guyline adjusters – I love these new adjusters. They're super easy to figure out and use.
- 31) Fully seam-taped. The seams are the most waterproof part of the tent. Yup.
- 32) Ω Polyester 20D rainfly with silicone/PU coatings repel water like a champ, 1500+mm hydrostatic head.
- 33) Ω 30D Polyester sil/pu floor is 2000+mm waterproof
- 34) Rainfly doors are well outboard of the tent so drips and rain don't come in when you do. Some people call this a "dry entry."
- 35) The rainfly can be pitched first, so in pouring rain you can seup the fly and poles, crawl in and then put the tent up underneath so it stays nice and dry
- 36) Rainfly door can be unzipped from the top to make a slit-opening so you can get in and out with absolutely minimal rain coming into the vestibule with you
- Minimum Weight: 4 lbs 4 oz,1.91 kg
- Poles: 1 lbs 5 oz, 591g
- Tent body: 1 lbs 8 oz, 670g
- Rainfly: 1 lbs 7 oz, 652g
- Interior peak height: 41", 104cm
- packed size: 6" diameter x 18" long, 15cm x 46cm
- vestibules are 11 square feet, 1.1 sq meters
- Minimum Weight: 6 lbs 15 oz, 3.14 kg
- Poles: 2 lbs 10 oz, 1186g
- Tent body: 2 lbs 2 oz, 964g
- Rainfly: 2 lbs 3 oz, 989g
- interior peak height: 51", 129cm
- packed size: 7 1/2" diameter x 22" long, 19cm x 59cm
- vestibules are 12 square feet, 1.1 sq meters
- Minimum Weight: 7 lbs 11.5 oz, 3.51 kg
- Poles: 2 lbs 11.5 oz, 1234g
- Tent body: 2 lbs 10 oz, 1191g
- Rainfly: 2 lbs 6 oz, 1081g
- interior peak height: 56", 142cm
- packed size: 8 1/2" diameter x 24" long, 22cm x 61cm
- vestibules are 12 square feet
Standard stuff included with the tents: stuff sack, pole bag, stake bag, pole repair tube. Plus long reflective Dyneema guylines with UTX Phantom adjusters pre-attached (8 on ML3&4, 4 on ML2), micro-biner clips for hanging things ( ML2: 4, ML3: 6, ML4: 8), excellent stakes (12 ML3&4, 10 ML2) - half each DAC J-stakes small & medium.
NOTE: Most people will bring 5 to 8 ounces of the included accessories. Add whatever that weight is to the tent's minimum weight and that's the weight it will be in your pack(s). Explanation of "minimum" weight and why is HERE.
ARE YOU RIGHT FOR THE MOONLIGHTS?
Probably. It's one of the perks of being an ultimate and versatile tent.
Backpackers are the most obvious ideal users for these tents. But not just any backpackers. These tents are roomier, stronger and more featured than other backpacking tents because they cater to experienced users who've found that freak windstorms, freak snowstorms and freak "Dogs and cats" rainstorms actually happen all the time; especially in the more spectacular, more exposed, campsites. So having a tent that handles them is just being prepared, another safeguard for your treasured time in the mountains. And they're for those that use their tents long enough and hard enough that they'll see that ALL the extra features of the MoonLights – like the adjustable stake loops and the extra set of zipper sliders on the doors and the fly-first pitch – are "Thank god, FINALLY!" answers to age-old problems.
Through-hikers (PCT, AT, CDT), as opposed to section hikers, are probably not the perfect customers for the MoonLights. Going for big mileage from protected low-camp to protected low-camp, means you'll probably be happier with one of the really crazy-lightweight (and expensive) Cuben fiber/trekking pole tents out there. Also - and please don't hate me for saying this - super long distance hikers are, obviously, partly in it for the achievement of overcoming suffering and boredom. MoonLight tents don't fit into that psychology, they're way too comfy.
If you're doing the John Muir Trail (JMT), on the other hand, you're going to be going through some of the most exquisite off-trail mountains on the planet and I would guess that you'll want to go back over and over. Huzzah! That's the perfect use for a MoonLight tent!
The MoonLights are extremely versatile. They're strong enough to go anywhere in the world, above or below timberline, Spring through Fall. Going backpacking in Torres Del Paine in Chile? Bingo! And their just-so amounts of ripstop, windows, roof mesh and vents make them comfortable in cold OR hot weather (Death Hollow top to bottom anyone?).
Rafters, Boaters, Canoers and Carcampers will also find that the MoonLights are awesome tents. Not only can they handle serious weather when pitched in the most desolate, exposed and grimly forsaken sites (you know the ones, they're often littered with the remains of tents from previous campers), they can be secured well enough and they're strong enough to let you leave them up while you're out of camp. MoonLights also come from the fast and light school of camping, not the need-a-trailer-and-a-rocketbox-to-carry-it-all school. This style is ideally suited to travel: setting up or breaking camp easily and quickly, stowing in a small space, and getting on with the day's exploration. You can have one of these down and packed before the campsite next to you has even figured out how to re-fold their "camp kitchen."
Backpacking and Camping with Kids. The three and four person tents are likely to be used by families. What a coincidence – that's exactly how I came to make these particular tents – my family took a trip and the tent we took wasn't made with the two biggest priorities for camping with kids in mind: getting sleep and having fun. Parents of young children never get enough sleep and any trip needs to be reliably fun for the kids. So backpacking with them isn't about mileage and cruising through terrain and it sure as heck isn't about having the absolute lightest weight load. Instead it's about kids exploring, enjoying and being amazed by the outdoors. That seems simple enough. But here's the thing: infants, toddlers and young kids are TERRIBLE tent-mates for sleeping. They’re like little windmills that kick, crawl, thrash and snore. If you can’t get far enough away from them, you’re not going to get much sleep. So what's driven the size of these tents wasn't so much a desire for opulence as it was self defense.
Likewise, the interior volume needs to be big enough and inviting enough for kidplay mayhem. This is especially true during storms or when the kids need to stay safely inside – when, for instance, one parent gets water while the other is cooking. Kiddo lockdown is essential sometimes, but it can't feel like jail. That's why the two larger MoonLights have almost vertical walls and windows at various heights. Peeking and hiding and literally bouncing off the walls is what kids do in this tent. If you’re camping with another family with kids, your MoonLight will be playhouse central – it’s where everyone will want to hang out.
Here's a family and kid oriented review of the earlier version of these tents (the RugRats): http://talesofamountainmama.com/2014/08/ultimate-outdoor-family-tent.html
Wedding Gift! Getting out with young children is really hard – harder than any newlywed couple realizes when they pledge to each other to “keep getting out even when we have kids.” Oddly enough, the tent is a key piece of gear that can really help or really hurt a trip with young kids. The MoonLights were originally designed exactly for helping; from pockets big enough to hold a bunch of diapers to the high entertainment value of the styling, to their super-quietness in winds, they make a fantastic wedding present.
Beginners are actually perfect customers for the MoonLights. I don't see anything wrong with skipping ahead a few levels of experience in the shelter department. Why should you have to learn what makes a better tent by having one sabotage your trip? Epic trips will come. Character will be built. You have a ton to learn. My guess is that you'll be much more likely to enjoy camping (and continue doing it) if the tent is on the helpful and dependable side of the equation.
Supported bike trips are also naturals for the MoonLights. You might want a huge tent but support organizations require that they be compact. The MoonLights fill that unique niche: big but compact. They also handle the freak winds that exposed sites are prone to.
Trekking. Whether you're carrying them or porters, the MoonLights are a great balance between luxury and weight.
Festivals. Shortest sales pitch ever, three words: Festival. Tent. Carnage. How sweet, Google actually includes photos from this project on that search page now. But guess what the difference is: the MoonLights are still standing. Not a fair comparison in that none of our tents were actually at the sites of the carnage pictured, but fun.
Risks and challenges
The risks and challenges of these tents - other than getting funding at all - are frankly minimal. MANAGING potential risks and addressing potential Kickstarter Backer concerns, however, has been very much on my mind. So I offer this list of what has been done to manage and avoid risks:
• These are tent numbers 236, 237 and 247 that I've worked on. They've been prototyped beautifully by Jasper and are ready to have a handful of (small) final details applied. So the tents themselves are fully ready to be made by the factory. They're done.
• The timeline laid out here is as realistic as I and the factory can make it. Nevertheless, so many factors can delay a production that I need to say straight out: do not order this tent if you have tight time constraints for delivery. Mid-winter isn't a common need-by time for a 3-season tent in the Northern Hemishpere so hopefully that won't bother anyone.
• This tent is being made by Jasper Outdoor Products in China, a well known leader in making ultralight tents for the world’s top tent brands that I've worked with for years. They have done a beautiful job prototyping the MoonLights. Jasper has excellent worker conditions and rights as verified by regular inspections by two of its largest customers. Interesting factoid: Jasper’s owner is to my knowledge the only Asian tent factory executive who actually goes camping with any regularity.
• An unusual, but possible, problem would be that the container ship with the tents sinks or just loses the container. We will be insuring the shipment, but this would introduce a delay of at least six months.
• The poles come from Dongah Aluminum Co. (DAC) which is the biggest and, arguably, the most advanced tent pole manufacturer in the world today. Their poles define what a good tent pole is in the world today.
• The special hubs on the MoonLight 3 and 4 are being machined here in Louisville, Colorado – where TheTentLab is based. I will be personally overseeing that production so I can deal with anything that might come up.
• Once the tents arrive stateside, shepherding it through customs brokers and shipping channels is a painful but known process. MyDeuce of Spades™ Kickstarter project had just over 800 backers and I shipped almost all the rewards in just two days. So that kind of volume is no problem even though these are physically much larger.
• Large currency fluctuations could drive an untenable price increase. Given the short time frame between this offering and buying materials and actual production, this seems far-fetched, but it’s still important to keep an eye on.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (26 days)