As far as shelters go, I’m a big fan of a simple tarp and bivy setup. A modular system such as this has its advantages. If you are using a flat tarp, there are numerous ways in which it can be pitched, depending on environmental needs. A simple Google search will bring up a large variety of pitching options, utilizing trekking poles, sticks, trees, etc. If you like to sleep out under the stars and the forecast is clear, you can throw down a bivy just about anywhere and feel a bit more connected with nature. Some people may find a bivy too confining or a tarp too exposed, but for me, I enjoy the simplicity and ease of use, as well as finding it more comforting and offering a more integrated experience with the environment.
But . . .
I made the move to a ZPacks Hexamid Solo tarp some months back because I like the extra coverage it provides as well as requiring only a single trekking pole to set up (although only offering a single fixed pitch option). I used the Hexamid with a bivy and was more than happy with that setup. I was intrigued however with the Six Moon Designs Serenity NetTent. My bivy weighs 7.1oz and the Serenity is advertised at 8oz. For very little weight gain, I could get a NetTent which would fit under the Hexamid, giving me a double wall shelter and I could have enough room to sit up, change my clothes, etc. And still keeping with the modular philosophy, I could use the NetTent on its own for those warm clear nights when all I need is simple bug protection.
As always, I did my research looking for any info on using the Serenity under a Hexamid Solo and could find very little if any info online. It was mentioned briefly in a thread at BPL, but not really much more than that. Looking at the specs for both the Hexamid Solo and Serenity NetTent, it looked as though they would work very well together. So even though I was perfectly content with my bivy, I decided to give the Serenity a try.
One nice thing about ordering the Serenity was that Six Moon Designs had it in stock and ready to ship. The NetTent was shipped the same day I placed my order and arrived at my doorstep two days later. First thing I did was ditch the stuff sack it came in and then weighed the NetTent. On my scale it came in at 236 grams (8.3oz). Not bad at all, just 1.2oz more than my bivy. Construction looked pretty solid and no glaring defects in craftmanship jumped out at me.
Clipping the Serenity NetTent into the Hexamid solo is very simple. All attachment points match up perfectly using simple elastic and mitten hook attachments.
Zpacks has a great video on YouTube detailing how to set up the Hexamid Solo. While they recommend using fixed length guylines, I choose to use micro linelocs on the six main tie-outs. I find this allows me to squeeze the Hexamid in a smaller area in which the full footprint would not fit and also saves me the hassle of pulling and resetting a stake if required. The two back mid panel tieouts are not as crucial the majority of the time so I use fixed length lines on those and simply wrap them around a stick (as opposed to staking) and stabilize with rocks if I am experiencing some high winds. Otherwise, I typically won’t even bother with them. And as always, I use six of my trusty MSR Groundhog stakes. These things can really take a beating and work great in the types of soil I frequent.Setup of the NetTent is fairly simple.
Stake out the four corners
Slip the trekking pole tip into the sleeve at the peak
Stake out the front guy
Stake out the back center
Slip the tab at center front between the trekking pole and ground
(Recommended pole height is 43″)
As of writing this, I have only had the opportunity to use this shelter setup a handful of nights on trail but am really liking it so far. For me, the NetTent is very roomy, considering I am use to sleeping in a bivy, this thing is like a palace for me. Set up is quick and easy and the weight is low. ZPacks is well known for their quality workmanship and innovative use of cuben fiber. Six Moon Designs is also highly regarded in the backpacking community and have been around for a number of years, providing unique and innovative gear. So the marrying of products from these two well established cottage industries makes sense and works. I would recommend taking some time to check out the offerings from both companies ZPacks & Six Moon Designs.