This change has been accompanied by an explosion in availability of some very well-designed kit from many small manufacturers, made available through the wonder of internet shopping. Of course, it's always a risk shopping like this. You can't inspect the quality of the goods and things like fit, comfort and "feel" are only possible to check once the goods are available in the flesh. However, it's often worth the risk of a poor purchase to get something that's just what you were looking for.
A couple of years ago, I bought myself a new (actually, secondhand) tent. It's a Scarp 1 and has been great for some all-season camping. It's pretty lightweight compared to some of the tents I've used before. It's a bit fussy when pitching and needs a decent flat area to get it just right but it's pretty bomb-proof and very cosy in colder weather.
|Scarp 1 in Glen Etive|
|A good pitch in Glen Feshie|
I then decided to try out bivvying. This has worked better than I'd hope. The flexibility of not having to peg anything out makes short overnight stops very easy. Couple that with a small tarp and you get a bit more shelter and somewhere under cover for cooking etc. It's still a bit cramped though and I reckon I prefer a bit more shelter from the elements when the weather isn't too great.
|Experimenting in the garden. This "flying V" is my favourite tarp layout|
|Bivvy bag and tarp above Kinlochleven. Bike being used as a support.|
Luckily, someone pointed at the Six Moon Designs website and the Lunar Solo tent. Here, it seemed was my design made real. After my usual bout of swithering, several months later I ordered it from backpackinglight.co.uk and today it arrived.
|The porch doesn't come all the way to the ground - in order to aid ventilation|
|Midge-net "walls" can be seen at the back. The entire front is also medge-net.|
I've obviously not had a chance to try it out yet. The seams will need to be sealed and I'll want to experiment setting it up a few times to see if there are any snags. However, it seems to match my list of requirements pretty much 100%. I bought a very lightweight carbon pole to go with it but a normal walking pole can be used instead if I'm hiking. It's certainly very lightweight. At just over 700g (including pole and pegs), that's less than my tarp and bivvy bag combined. Internal space is very good - especially as I'm only 5'7" - and there's enough room to get some bags inside with me as well as more space under the porch. The only issue with the latter is that it's quite high off the ground so anything underneath it couldn't be guaranteed to stay dry. It'll also need careful pitching to ensure that any wind is coming over from the rear.
I reckon there are a few more nights of suitable weather this year before I might need the extra shelter of the Scarp and I'm really looking forward to trying it out.