Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The GoLite Shangri-La 5-A Change in Perspective

As you guys know, for quite some time now, I have been using a tarp and bivi shelter setup. Specifically, I’ve been using a US MSS bivi as my main shelter, combined with a DD 10x10 tarp for added shelter, and so that I have a good work space in case it rains during the day.

One downside to this system has been that during winter, or other times of high wind and cold, I have no protective barrier during the day. At night everything is fine once I get into my bivi and sleeping bag, but during the day, a tarp (if pitched to allow a good amount of room underneath) does little to stop the cold wind.

I have been reluctant to use a tent because I hate feeling enclosed in a bubble. I don’t want to limit the things I can do inside the shelter, such as cooking or carving, if I have to spend the day sheltered there.

I decided to try a compromise-a floor less tent. There are several good design currently on the market, including the Titanium Goat 6.5 and the Kifaru 4 Man Tipi. I loved the idea of the design, but didn’t like particular things about each shelter. I did a few comparisons, and decided that for a much lower price, I can get many of the same advantages with the now out of production, but still available GoLite Shangri-La 5. More specifically, I decided to go with the Shangri-La Flysheet. The tent also has in internal “nest” comprised of a floor and mosquito netting, but that is not what I was looking for.


Here is how the three tents stack up: 

  GoLite Shangri-La Flysheet Titanium Goat 6.5 Kifaru 4 Man Tipi
Weight 2 lb 14 oz 4 lb 2 oz 5 lb 5oz
Cost $350.00 $650.00 $850.00
Height 6.1 ft 6.5 ft 6.5 ft
Floor Area 90 sq. ft. 102 sq. ft. 103 sq. ft.
Material 15 Denier Ripstop Nylon 1.3 oz Silicone Coated Nylon Coated Paraglider Fabric
Stove Vent/Boot No Yes Yes

As you can see from the numbers, for very similar dimensions, the Shangi-La offers a much cheaper and lighter weight alternative.

The design of the three shelters seems almost identical. The materials seems very similar, and the designs appear to be about the same.


One notable difference is that the Titanium Goat 6.5 and the Kifaru 4 Man Tipi have a stove vent. That is an small area in the wall of the tent there the material has been cut out and replaced with a fire/heat resistant boot. That way a stove pipe can be threaded to the outside of the tent. The Shangri-La does not come with this option, but you can actually purchase the boot from Titanium Goat and install it on the Shangri-La.

So, I decided to same myself a lot of weight and money, and go with the GoLite Shangri-La 5. One important this to note is that out of the 2 lb 14 oz of the tent, the stakes and center poll weigh 1 lb 1 oz. That means that if you make your own poll and stakes in the field from wood, the pack weight of the shelter would be 1 lb 13 oz. I can’t say I’m upset about that.

The Shangri-La 5 is a good size shelter. It is advertised as being able to fit 5 people, but that is very, very optimistic. It is not huge, but two people and four dogs should easily fit in there for the night.


The shelter is large enough and vented well enough so that you can use a stove inside. I would not try to build a fire inside because a spark may jump and melt a hole through your wall. The fabric is coated with fire resistant compounds, but I would not risk it.


The amount of ventilation can be adjusted by lifting and lowering the sides of the shelter with the adjustable straps.


There are also additional loops on the walls, that you can attach to stakes with string for added stability in very bad weather.


Even with all of its components, the shelter packs down to a fairly small size.


Since I just got the shelter, this will not be a full review. I just wanted to keep you guys updated on the changes I am making to my shelter system. I will still be keeping my bivi, but it is my hope that this shelter will provide better wind protection while still allowing me to cook and do other projects while inside the shelter.

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