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
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 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.
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
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).
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.
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.
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
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
Weight: 27 ounces
Livable Space: 20 square feet
Weight: 25 ounces
Livable Space: 19.5 square feet
Weight: 15.5 ounces
Livable Space: 21 square feet
Weight: 26 ounces
Livable Space: 21 square feet
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