Bearpaw Wilderness Designs Luna 4 Pyramid Shelter Review

Mike7

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Feb 28, 2012
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Northern Idaho
I've had a chance to use my Olive Brown nylon Luna 4 shelter with 18" perimeter bug netting now for almost one year now. Of all of the shelters that I have looked at, this would seem to be one of the most versatile shelters for someone who does backcountry hunting and backpacking with other people and/or pets, and in a variety of climates and insect conditions. I looked at various shelters before my purchase like Oware, the MLD Supermid, the Golite Shangri La 3 & 5, some Six Moon Designs tents, the Kifaru Supertarp and Megatarp, etc. All of these shelters have redeeming qualities, but in my eyes not the versatility of a pyramid for what I need to use it for.

My main criteria for picking a shelter were: 1) capacity for good ventilation to minimize condensation in our sometimes cold, humid climate even with sides of the tent being down near the ground, 2) having the benefits of a floorless shelter (i.e. the ability to wear muddy boots and wet clothing into the shelter, the ability to pack up camp under cover from a storm while leaving the shelter to pack up last, the ability to cook in the shelter, etc.), 3) having the ability to keep out flying insects for comfortable shelter use in the high country with the family during the early summer thaw, 4) being lightweight with a trekking pole setup option and having fast, easy set-up, 5) the ability to use the shelter as a 3 sided awning for glassing while staying out of the sun and rain, 6) large enough to get dressed comfortably inside the shelter while not bumping in to wet walls, 7) and the potential for wood stove use in the shelter.

Pyramid shelters can fulfill all of these criteria, and the Bearpaw Wilderness Designs shelters inherently allow for customization in their ordering, which is something that I liked. I also like having the ability to pitch the Luna pyramid shelters down to the ground on the windward side while leaving it higher for ventilation on the leeward side. Still however, the sides and shelter height can be adjusted in literally seconds for any significant change in the direction of a storm/wind. The way the shelters pitch also makes it really easy to use a stick/small tree as the center pole, so that a person doesn't have to always use their trekking poles. I like that the front zipper goes right from the tent door material down though the mosquito netting allowing a person to completely seal the tent up from flying insects. There is also the ability to roll the doors completely out of the way to use the tent as a 3 sided awning. Also, all of the guyline tightening accessories on this tent are great (although other shelters like the the MLD Supermid seem to have similar accessories). I like the ability to pull the wall panels out with the guylines to increase the shelter's vertical space at the walls, which really opens the shelter up compared to a tipi type shelter that has the same sized footprint.

My Luna 4 Shelter (along with 18 inches of the heavy duty optional perimeter netting, all guylines attached, integrated stove jack, 5 MSR Groundhog stakes, stuff sack, a good heavy coating of silicone seam seal on all seams applied by the overly anal owner, and 7 MSR Mini-Groundhog stakes) is 2 lbs 15 ounces. And this is for a truly quite large space. This does not include the few ounces of Tyvek that I take along to throw my gear and sleeping pad on.

During my first pitch of the tent on top of a mountain, I did get a little wind (maybe 20 mph gusts) which the tent handled just fine, but it made we wonder how much wind the side panel guyouts (up in the mid-panel) could handle without putting unnecessary stress on the tent/attachment. This seems like a potentially weaker point in high wind compared to the seamed perimeter guyout points at the lower edges of the shelter. So I easily put some shock cord on the side panel guyouts where they attach at the tent. I am not sure if this is a completely necessary precaution, but on an October 2012 deer hunt with my son, we dealt with approximately 30 mph winds with gusts up to 50 mph without any problems. On that hunt, the wood stovepipe did shake around a fair amount during wind gusts initially, but we were able to prevent any chance of the stove pipe separating from the stove while in use by placing a rock over the damper where the pipe enters the stove (this was a large TiGoat stove with an 8 ft stovepipe that was cannibalized from my Vertex 7.5 tipi shelter).

I think in general having a stovepipe jack as close as possible to the peak of the shelter would minimize stovepipe movement in high winds (there is certainly room to have the jack placed higher on this shelter it appears and I believe John could do this for you if you knew to ask for this). I like TiGoat stove jacks a little better for their ability to be removed during the summer which then leaves just a vent, but it is also really nice having the jack already sewed in place on this shelter when you receive it. And the stove jack works great. I also like that with this jack, a person can cut their own stovepipe hole to achieve the exact position and hole size/shape necessary. In fact, I positioned my Luna 4 stovepipe hole above the center of the jack material so that the hot stovepipe is further away from the inner tent wall below the jack. If I were to order another Luna 4 though, I think that I would have the stovepipe jack placed opposite of the front door for the best ergonomic use of the shelter (this way people can sleep with feet toward the door alongside the stove and no one has to climb over a sleeper at night to escape the tent when nature calls.

I have only had one problem with my Luna 4. After my first trip, I had some trouble with the tent zipper. I was still able to use the tent in the field however, because of the backup velcro on the flap which is present at the door opening. I called John though, and sent the tent back. He stated that this rarely happens with the lighter #5 coil door zipper that I had...but that he now had an option of a more heavy-weight #7 coil zipper. I opted to have the heavier zipper put on instead of repairing the lighter zipper (being that this tent would be exposed to camping in dusty burns, etc. while hunting). He quickly did this repair and sent the tent back to me free of charge. The #7 zipper seems to be perfect, and I have had absolutely no problems with it.

The Luna 4 is the perfect size in my opinion for: 4 people and some backpacking gear, two people and two dogs with all of their gear and also with quite a bit of extra room, two people with stove/firewood and hunting gear with a small amount of extra room, or 3 people and gear. I make these assessments assuming a pitch just off of the ground a few inches, and while allowing for enough room to keep away from inner tent surfaces during times of high humidity. I think that if I didn't ever go backpacking with my wife and dogs, or hunting with a partner, then I would probably opt for a shelter around the size of a "Luna 3" as I like having plenty of room for gear and a wood stove if needed during the winter. As it is though, the Luna 4 is an all-around good versatile size that can be used by 1-4 people for hunting or backpacking depending upon one's needs for gear storage and a wood stove.
Since I already have a Luna 4, I think my next dream shelter just may be a .74 oz Cuben Luna 2 (with 12-18 inches of light perimeter netting and without a stove jack) for use by 1-2 people in the summer and early fall while backpacking or hunting.
From my calculatios the weight for a Cuben Luna 2 would shake out as follows: Luna 2 shelter=13.5 oz, #11 MSR Mini-groundhogs at 0.35 oz each=3.85 oz, and 18” of 0.8 oz/sq yd netting around the entire 22’ perimeter would be=2.9 oz(1.95 oz if you went with just 12” wide perimeter netting). So this would leave me with a total shelter weight of 20 ounces if bringing along all 11 mini-groundhog stakes.

--Mike
 

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Mike7

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Feb 28, 2012
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It is about 9 ft square and 6 ft tall. Using a small piece of Kelty lightweight cord to tie the trekking poles together looks bad, but it is light and amazingly stable.
 

Florida Mike

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Feb 27, 2012
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Jacksonville
So now I'm not so sure I want the "Shangra la"....thanks for complicating things! LOL, great review. I'm just not sure about the whole floorless thang. But I'm an ole fart so maybe I need to try it anyway. Mike
 

Ridgerunner

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Feb 28, 2012
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My buddy just got one of these looks sweet, can't wait to see it in person.
 

DaveS

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Mar 2, 2012
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Location
Kalispell, MT
Thanks for the review. I'm strongly considering a cuben fiber Luna 4 with a stove jack and the perimeter bug netting. Your review answered a number of questions I had. I really appreciate your idea about placing the the stove jack on the back panel. I wouldn't have thought of that.
 
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Mike7

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Feb 28, 2012
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Thanks everybody.

Florida Mike -- My wife didn't like the floorless thing at first either. But now that she has tried it, her opinion has changed quite a bit, even for nice summer backpacking weather. I believe that the Tyvek in a couple of the photos with the dogs from last year was two 4' x 9' pieces that my wife really likes, so effectively we can have a completely floored shelter (just put rocks on the Tyvek at the edges and wrap the netting under this). The beauty of this with wet weather and with the dogs, is that you can roll the Tyvek back when entering the tent with muddy boots and dirty dog feet. Then I just throw down a foam pad for the dogs near the door where we have rolled back the Tyvek. 4' x 9' pieces of Tyvek are also really easy to brush off, unlike a tent floor. The large rock that you see in the tent in one of the pictures (can also use a little tree stump, etc.) is what I use to stake out the dogs to keep them from roaming at night and from getting off of their foam pad onto our pillows at night (bird dogs like to be as close to you as possible, even when they're not cold).
 

fillthefreezer

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Jul 10, 2012
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eatonvile, wa
i really like that door setup compared to my SL5. what type of setup is there at the bottom for staking out? i really like the webbing and slider system golite uses as opposed to some that are loops requiring cordage and knots etc.
now that youve run it, any other things youve seen in hindsight?
 

ohhiitznik

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Feb 24, 2012
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Rochester Hills, MI
I'm glad mike sent me a PM a while ago about looking at this particular shelter for a team shelter. My buddy and I are going to be using this instead of 2 LBO's this year.
 
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Mike7

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Feb 28, 2012
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FilltheFreezer -- The stake out system is really good in my opinion. I don't have the tent in front of me...but as I remember it, the lightweight cord goes from the stake in the ground to a plastic "thingy"(a.k.a. Line Loc) on a small nylon webbing loop at the tent. The cord then loops through the "thingy" allowing you to pull the cord so that the tent is right down near the ground, or release cord through the device to raise the tent as much as you want. You cut the cord and decide how much adjustability you want (I set mine up in the backyard the first time with extra cord from John so that I could customize it to my wishes). The cord does not come out of the Line-locs unless you purposefully feed it through and the Line-locs are secured to the tent.

As far as things that I would change now in hindsight (overall small issues though):

1) I would put the stovepipe jack about 10-12" higher (if I remember right this is possible?) and have it placed on the back wall opposite of the door. This would allow for the best ergonomics, allow for the ability to stabilize the stovepipe to the center pole at the back of the stove if one wanted, and the ability to easily stack wood against the tent pole/post through the open door and behind the stove where it can dry.

2) I would go with the orange guylines. I went all camo with the guylines, which is okay if you are going solo and really make a point to remember where they are, but even with rocks and logs placed under the guylines, my kids and dogs find a way to seek them out and trip on them. The small camo cord option John has is virtually invisible in dim light.

3) And the final thing would be going for the heavier duty zipper if there is still an option of getting an ultralight zipper. I just emailed John this review, as I told him when I bought the tent that I would probably be doing a review and let him know, and he replied to me that the heavier duty zipper which he now uses is a #8 Coil zipper. The number of the zipper means absolutely nothing to me as a non-zipper expert, but I know the second heavier one he sent me (whether #7 or #8) is good to go, and is what I would recommend for any backcountry hunters.
 
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Mike7

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Feb 28, 2012
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Just an update with a little more info. I have been picking John's brain (of Bearpaw Wilderness Designs) a bit because of questions to me from this thread, and because I feel like I "need" another shelter for solo use. This is what I have learned.

The Luna 2 and 4 both come with #8 coil zippers now standard. These shelters come with line locs that are just the same apparently as the ones used by Mountain Laurel Designs and also some Six Moon Designs shelters. You can get a pyramid shelter through John of an inbetween size (for instance I am interested in a Luna 3 sized cuben shelter which could be used by one guy with a stove and gear or by 2 guys with gear or stove I think). He also does custom work such as putting netting on tents that you already own or sewing in stove jacks. He charges $25 for his stove jack and $25 to sew in any stove jack whether his or another stove jack which interests me And stove jacks can go in nylon or cuben shelters. Hopefully I didn't miss any thing of importance to anyone.

Because of this website you guys have me really looking at the quilt option after getting a quality pack just last year. Now I figured that I would return the favor by giving everyone some info about another really good shelter option. I shouldn't be the only one having to get a second job. :)
 

TNtrapper

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May 16, 2013
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Location
Tennessee
Man that looks great! Mike I know this post has been here a while....but I have a Luna 4 ordered and I was wondering what length stove pipe you are using? Ive had my eye on one of the TiGoat cylinder stoves to go with it. Man this will be great on those late december hunts. Thanks a lot!
 
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