Gear Review: Six Moon Designs Skyscape Trekker

I’ve been using my beloved REI Quarter Dome 1 tent for all my backpacking needs—some 4,000 miles of hiking—since I bought it in 2015. It’s elegantly designed, easy to pitch, and while not ultralight at 2 pounds, 6 ounces, it’s an easy carry. But I’ve been interested in trimming ounces from my pack, and long intrigued by the prospect of saving weight with a tent that uses trekking poles for support. Enter Six Moon Designs’ Skyscape Trekker, a versatile shelter that offers surprising roominess at an affordable price and qualifies for the UL label.

Six Moon Designs Skyscape Trekker At-a-Glance

MSRP: $225
Weight: 1 pound, 12 ounces (28 ounces)
Category: Non-freestanding, hybrid double wall
Peak Height: 45 inches
Interior Space: 23 square feet; vestibules are 16 square feet

Materials and Features

six moon designs skyscape trekker nebraska ogalala grasslands

Six Moon Designs’ Skyscape Trekker, pitched along the Great Plains Trail on the “savannah” in far northwest Nebraska. Drying shirt on top not included. Clay Bonnyman Evans photo.

Six Moon DesignsSkyscape Trekker is a one-person tent that is roomy enough to fit two people in a pinch. It’s designed well, though it does take a bit of practice to get a taut pitch. Designed for use with trekking poles, it’s admirably light yet durable.

The Skyscape Trekker is a double-walled tent, but sewn together in a single piece. It’s essentially a rainfly with a bathtub-type floor, setting up similar to a tarp, but enclosed. The canopy/fly is 20D silicone coated polyester, while the floor is a tougher, 40D silicone polyester. Buyers can either seam seal the tent themselves or pay to have it done at the factory.

Assembly requires two 45-inch trekking poles, though aluminum ($28; 3 ounces) and carbon-fiber ($60; 1.8 ounces) pole systems are available. There are two side entrances and 16 square feet of vestibule space.

skyscape trekker six moon designs

Trekking pole tips are inserted in a pocket of tough material adjacent to the spreader bar. Clay Bonnyman Evans photo.

The side netting is finely woven 20D mesh, designed to allow ventilation while keeping out insects as small as “no-see-ums.” The canopy doors roll up to allow for through-ventilation, and 80 percent of the canopy is separated from the interior by the mesh walls.

The #3 YKK zippers on both interior walls and fly work well, though with ultralight material this fine, it’s easy to catch it while zipping or unzipping. The tent requires just five stakes for pitching, though there are additional loops to stake down the bathtub floor if desired.

As with most ultralight tents, there aren’t many bells and whistles. There is a small plastic hook hanging from the canopy, and one small stash pocket.

Space, Weight, Packability

six moon designs skyscape trekker

The canopy on the Skyscape Trekker can be rolled up on both sides, allowing ventilation. Clay Bonnyman Evans photo.

The Skyscape Trekker is generous in both floor and headspace. It’s a solo tent, but if you needed (or simply wanted) to shelter with a friend for a night or two, it wouldn’t be out of the question.

The floor is a whopping 103 inches (8.5 feet) long, which leaves lots of room for a pack, “exploded” or not. The spreader bar at the top of the canopy, combined with steeply angled interior walls and a 45-inch height, offers a surprising amount of room to sit up, always a plus.

The whole point of this tent is to provide a durable, lightweight shelter that’s not too troublesome to pitch, and for the most part, it fits the bill. At just 28 ounces, it’s 40 percent lighter than my beloved REI Quarter Dome 1, and it packs easily and neatly into a relatively small bundle (12.5 inches—the length of the spreader bar—by 4 inches).

Assembly

skyscape trekker

The Skyscape Trekker packs quickly and neatly into a small (12×4 inches) space. Clay Bonnyman Evans photo.

If you haven’t set up a tent that uses trekking poles before, it can take a little bit of practice.

After staking down three points of the Skyscape Trekker canopy/fly, you must crawl inside, poles in hand, insert the tips in the reinforced pockets on either side of the spreader, then extend the poles until the handles are seated firmly on reinforced floor patches. It can take a little muscle to get the poles sufficiently extended and level the spreader bar. While a tad awkward, this becomes second nature after you’ve pitched it four or five times.

More than with some tents, angles are important when trying to get a nice pitch with the Skyscape Trekker. You shouldn’t stake the canopy too tightly, so there is room to extend the poles inside. But sometimes, once poles are extended and canopy lines tightened, canopy edges may be hanging a little loose. In such cases, you can choose to leave the edges to luff in wind or rain, or, if you are more persnickety about such things (as is the reviewer), replant the canopy stakes at angles that pull them tauter.

The short walls of the bathtub floor don’t really stand up on their own, but you can choose to bring three extra stakes for that purpose.

Protection

skyscape trekker tent nebraska national forest

The Skyscape Trekker (right) stood up to a night of 40 mph wind gusts on this grassy plateau on the Great Plains Trail in northwest Nebraska. Clay Bonnyman Evans photo.

I used the Skyscape Trekker in the Colorado Rocky Mountains for a single night prior to climbing a 14,000-foot peak, and for two weeks hiking in the Black Hills of South Dakota and grasslands of northwest Nebraska.

The seam sealing I did myself proved admirably waterproof in two nighttime downpours in the Black Hills, one of which included 15 minutes of hail up to an inch in diameter. It also proved sturdy in an hours-long gale with gusts reaching 40 mph on a grassy, exposed plateau in the Nebraska National Forest, bowing but standing strong.

However, lacking any vents in the canopy, condensation collected on the ceiling during both rainstorms and dry nights. The tent does come with two, 3mm cord guyouts, which can be used to extend interior height and, according to the company, improve both strength and ventilation.

Durability

skyscape trekker hail black hills

The Skyscape Trekker stood up to a 15-minute, pounding hailstorm in the Black Hills. Clay Bonnyman Evans photo.

The canopy, floor, and mesh walls held up well through a couple of weeks of nightly use and some rough weather.

However, a corner loop on the bathtub floor broke, and the line connecting one rear corner of the canopy to the floor began to unravel and lose elasticity after just three pitches.

I reported the damage to Six Moon Designs, doubtful that it could have been due to user error (the canopy was staked loosely prior to inserting the poles, and the poles were extended by hand, as directed).

“I am quite baffled by that area falling apart,” Brandon Moak, vice president of operations, wrote in an email. “I don’t think we have ever had the webbing that holds the cord lock break or fray like that.”

Moak arranged to have a mailing label sent so the tent could be returned and repaired, which he said the company would do for any customer in a similar situation.

Overall Value and Recommendations

skyscape trekker

Lightweight, affordable, packable and easy to use, the Skyscape Trekker is a versatile option for a lightweight shelter. Clay Bonnyman Evans photo.

The Skyscape Trekker is an excellent, affordable, easy-to-use lightweight, one-person tent. Six Moon Designs reports that it has rarely seen the kind of damage I experienced, indicating that it was likely due to a quirk in the individual unit, not overall design. The challenges in pitching might be frustrating for some users until they get the hang of it.

Comparable One-Person Backpacking Tents

Big Agnes FlyCreek HV UL

MSRP: $329.95
Weight: 27 ounces
Livable Space: 20 square feet

Gossamer Gear The One

MSRP: $350
Weight: 25 ounces
Livable Space: 19.5 square feet

ZPacks Plexamid

MSRP: $555
Weight: 15.5 ounces
Livable Space: 21 square feet

Tarptent ProTrail

MSRP: $225
Weight: 26 ounces
Livable Space: 21 square feet

Shop the Skyscape Trekker Here

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Comments 2

  • AJ Vaughns : Oct 1st

    Thanks for the review! In the world of $600 tents, I think it’s important for folks to know there are really good, lightweight, AND affordable options. I have the SMD Scout (identical to the Trekker I believe except slightly heavier fabric, but for $135!). I’ve used it several times a year for the last 6 years in every condition and it’s held up great.

    A note about condensation. For a while I was staking the panels pretty close to the ground. When I extended the stakeout straps to their max before staking, it brought the edges up a few inches which made a world of difference. You can also unzip the fly a little and still withstand pretty strong rain without getting wet. Last, I put all wet gear inside my trash compactor liner while in the tent. With these changes, and tying out the footbox, I think condensation management is as good as any single-wall tent could be.

    After 5 years, I had a few pin holes that I sealed easily with seamsealer. I also developed a small tear in one of the footbox corners where the netting joins the silnylon. SMD was amazing about offering to fix in for the whopping fee of $15 and even promised to rush it in anticipation of an upcoming trip. In the end, I did a quick fix myself, but I was very impressed with the service.

    Reply
    • Clay Bonnyman Evans : Oct 1st

      Thanks for the kind words.

      I, too, found the company great to work with regarding the damage I experienced. Honestly, I was still able to make full use of the tent, but SMD was instantly responsive about getting the repairs done, so that was great.

      But here’s how dumb I am: When I packed up the tent to send to SMD for repairs, I just automatically rolled up my little bag of tent stakes, on autopilot after a recent long hike. Here’s hoping they will return my stakes to me!

      Reply

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