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Golite Shangri-La 2 Shelter: Keep It Simple Stupid

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Shangri-La 2 Shelter MSRP: $175

Detachable Floor MSRP: $70

Weight: 1lb 13oz

As the sun set at 10,800 feet, I lay in my tent and watched my ski-pole supports flex up and down as the wind hammered our high camp on the Kautz Route on Rainier. I was guiding clients up the 14,411-foot peak and despite forecasted winds up to 60 mph, I opted to forego a more traditional tent for the lighter Golite Shangri-La 2 Shelter. To reduce weight this tarp-style tent is supported by ski or trekking poles rather than tent poles. Anticipating the tempestuous weather, I built tall walls of snow, set solid anchors and fortified the Shangri-La 2 as best I could. When the wind finally kicked up all that was left to do was to turn on the iPod, nestle into my bag and hope for the best.

The single-walled Shangri-La 2 is beautifully constructed from 20 Denier SilLite, a silicone-coated ripstop nylon. GoLite claims the Silicone allows the fabric to stretch without adding weight or sacrificing durability and water resistance. It has an optional bucket-shaped floor made of heavier nylon that has a waterproof and fire-retardant coating and beefed up material where ski poles insert to create the pole structure of the tent. This is a roomy two-person shelter, a welcome change from the one-point-five-person tents I’ve had to squeeze into in the past.

I’ve used a lot of tarp-tents for ski traverses and alpine guiding in Washington when weight and pack space are critical issues. Usually, I bring along a detachable floor in these snowy environments, because it makes for a more comfortable sleeping space. I also have the option to leave it at home in more hospitable conditions or when weight is a pressing concern. The Shangri-La 2 weighs in at 1 pound 10 ounces without the floor, and 2 pounds 11 ounces with the floor, which is well worth the additional weight in most circumstances.

During my trips up Raineer, I learned that the Shangri-La 2 pitched best if I first squared and anchored the four corners with something like a ski pole or ice axe, and then used adjustable ski poles for the two center supports. I also got in the habit of making sure I had really good anchors for the lines running from the top of the tent for stablity. I added my own cord to most of the guy lines above ground level, and added small loops of cord to the attachment points at ground level that did not already have these sewn on.

[Photo] John Race

In order to keep out spindrift, I typically buried the edges of the tent in snow, sealing the gap between the tarp and floor to keep me warm and dry.

All of my camps during field-testing were on glaciers or snow, the weakest environment for this style of tent. The Shangri-La 2 performed extremely well in the 60-mph winds atop Raineer, having solid walls for protection. However, keeping the gap between tarp and floor was a cumbersome chore in the deep snow. My guiding partner and I appreciated the ample living space, especially when waiting out turbulent weather.

Despite its solid performance, there are a few things I would change about the tent’s design. The floor itself is bucket-shaped, but does not interface well with the tent. I would like the floor to be a few inches taller, which would make it easier to block out snow. The no-see-um mesh vents would be improved by having the option to fully close them in really windy conditions. The nylon tabs at the corners could be enlarged slightly to make it easier to loop over a ski pole or other bulky anchors. Finally, if the bottom zipper on the front door were located a few inches higher it would force you to climb into the tent, but it would facilitate weatherproofing by providing more fabric to bury.

In all, the Shangri-La 2 Shelter is an efficient use of expertly constructed material, whose simple design makes for a well-balanced space-to-weight ratio.

Pros: Ultralightweight; very roomy; very compact; well built

Cons: Better designed for camping on dirt than snow; holds condensed moisture, like all single-wall tents; difficult to cover bug netting to keep out spindrift