oregon outback

Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo LE Review

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I had never heard of Oregon-based Six Moon Designs until I went on a bikepacking trip with some friends from the Bay Area. Josh hiked the John Muir Trail and like most people that do thru-hikes, obsesses over gear. Tru hikes require lightweight, packable and most importantly durable equipment. So my first impression of the Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo LE was impactful, to say the least. The following article is my Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo LE Review. It wasn't until I decided to do the 380 mile Oregon Outback that I decided I needed to swap my 2 person Big Agnes with a proper 1 person tent. I immediately got ahold of Josh and he was quick to answer any questions I had. It quickly became apparent that purchasing a Lunar Solo Le was a no brainer. Nothing else came close to it in my opinion and after countless adventures in the backcountry, the Lunar Solo Le has become my go to tent.

Before we can start you have to know that Six Moon Designs makes two versions of the Lunar Solo. The Lunar Solo features a Sil floor that is lighter but requires a foot print to keep you dry and safe from tears. The Lunar Solo LE features a rugged waterproof floor that is yes, you guessed it, heavier. So why go for the heavier Lunar Solo LE? Durability and simplicity. There is no need to carry a foot print or worrying about some little branch ripping a hole into your precious floor. So whats the price and weight penalty? The Lunar Solo LE is 6oz heavier but you will save $35. Six Moon Designs charges $30 to Seam Seal the tent so there's a huge price savings with the Lunar Solo LE. Loose the 6oz else where folks. You won't regret it.

"As you can see the tent packs down really small. Note the size of the bottle compared to the compression sack."

The Lunar Solo LE requires 1 pole and 6 stakes. You can use a hiking pole or purchase a compact aluminum or carbon pole for dirt cheap. It's like carrying around a drumstick. It's so damn small. Now 6 stakes may seem like a lot but it's not. Stakes are so light and cheap these days you won't have a problem packing them and hey you could always use sticks you find on the trail if you want really want to.

"I am not going to lie. It takes a bit of practice to dial in the set up of this tent. Below is a gif I made from my first time setting up the tent at a local park. Setup is a breeze now, though sometimes I do miss the easy set up of my Big Agnes. "

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Well that's about it! I hope this helps and that you've enjoyed my Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo LE Review. I've posted info from Six Moon Design's website below. Comment if you have any questions and make sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram!

Below is the information from the manufacturer:

The Lunar Solo Limited Edition is a special version of the Lunar Solo. It features stronger more durable and waterproof floors that do not slip like sil-nylon floors.

As with the Lunar Solo it's hexagonal shape spills wind and sheds snow making it a very secure home in severe weather.

Its low hexagonal shape easily spills the wind no matter the direction. Short steeply sloped sides handle snow or high winds with ease. A generous canopy covers a 26 sq. ft. sleeping area plus 8.5 sq. ft. of vestibule storage. The 48" peak height, set in the middle of the tent maximizes room for sitting and taking care of chores.

The sleeping area is surrounded 6-inch deep bathtub floor, topped by 6 inches of mesh. This ensures excellent ventilation while keeping you separated from low canopy walls. This keeps you drier on those occasions when condensation forms on the canopy.

The vestibule is set on the long side of the tent to maximize views and ventilation when fully open. Close it and you've got phenomenal protection from the worst storms.

For detail setup instructions, check out Lunar Solo - The Perfect Pitch.

  • Full Vestibule provides protection while still maintaining good ventilation when closed. Fully open, the vestibule maximizes ventilation and view.
  • High Vent removes excess moisture build up.
  • Zipper Vestibule Closure makes opening and closing the vestibule a snap.
  • Heavy Duty Bathtub Floor makes a more durable, no slip and watertight floor.
  • Easy Tensioning Adjustment makes keeping your the tent taut a trivial task that can be accomplished while still in your sleeping bag. Re-tension straps have been added to all tie out points.
  • Floating Canopy allows the canopy to be set to different heights.
  • Floating Floor reduces floor stress and helps to minimize punctures from sharp objects.
  • Optimized Sleeping Area is oriented to maximize usable space, ventilation and view. A peak height of 48 inches gives you plenty of head room.
  • Center Pole Support significantly improves the ability of the tent to handle wind and snow loads.
  • Single Hiking Pole Support reduces the amount of gear need.
  • Internal Gear Area keeps your gear easily accessible.
  • Oversized Screen Door allows easy entrance and exit while keeping the front pole out of your way.
  • Ultra-light Waterproof Canopy is made from high strength 30 denier Silicone Nylon.
  • Handy Mesh Cargo Pocket
  • Extremely Easy Setup in less than two minutes under any conditions.

Oregon Outback : The Final Stretch

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I am awaken in the middle of the night by the freezing cold. I throw on my rain jacket for some extra insulation and eventually drift back off to sleep. I can hear Dave packing up as the sun rises in the distance. Our journey together ends here as he’s got to be at his sag wagon by 1pm. There has to be over 40 Outbackers sprawled out on the grassy lawn in Shaniko. With just over 60 miles to go it’s everyone’s last day on the Outback. We’re back on the road. The pavement points downward and my body feels surprisingly fresh. The road begins to roll and it stretches out as far as the eye can see. The ground begins to crumble as paved roads become gravel rivers rippling into the distance. My body is shattered and I immediately fall off the back. John and I unable to keep up the pace. We silently agree that we’d just take it easy and get through this together.

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Oregon Outback : Prineville to Shaniko

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The sun rises in the high desert illuminating the canyon surrounding the Prineville Reservoir. One by one we crawl out of our tents. Our weathered hands reach for the sky as we stretch sore limbs and rub sleepy eyes. Brad offers to make everyone coffee and one by one we fill our empty cups. We take our time cleaning up camp and enjoy the beautiful glow of morning. [portfolio_slideshow id=4537 width=1200]

Today is another big push of a 100+ miles. My knees feel broken and it definitely hurts to sit down on the saddle. I take some Advil and try to put the pain behind me.

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We hug the canyon walls as we descend down the Crooked River. Fully tucked, teary eyed, the descent is fucking amazing. We pour out onto rolling roads with the Crooked River to our left and towering Canyon walls to the right. The river runs a 125 miles long and is a tributary to the Deschutes River. Its a short push to Prineville.

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Call it a coincidence, call it fate; I rather believe it was our destiny to eat at yet another place called Brothers. Yesterday it was Brothers Stagecoach Stop and Cafe and today would be breakfast at Brothers Restaurant in Central Oregon. Coffee and the best Chicken Fried Steak I’ve ever fucking had. Enough said.

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It’s a long paved climb into the Ochoco National Forest. My knees crack and I tell everyone to push on. I climb in silence. It’s beautiful here. Alone with thought. Alone with the dizzying pain each pedal stroke makes. I push on and thankful for the friends that await for me at the top. It’s always worth it. Always. The descent through the Ochoco National Forest was good; really fucking good.

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It’s our first time that we’ve had to filter water on this trip. It’s exciting and I don’t know why.

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I’ve been looking forward to this section of the Outback. River Crossings and incredible remote roads that traverse through ranch lands on the edge of the Ochoco National Forest. This feels like Bikepacking.

My knee hurts so I pedal off the front to give myself ahead start. I approach the first creek crossing. There is a group of cyclists on the other side cheering me on. “Stay to the left. Stay to the left.” I stay to the left. My cadence is high as I cross the rocky creek bed. My feet are soaked and I am properly doused in water. I am smiling. I must be smiling. Fuck. This is so good!

Theres a few more creek crossings. The last one is deep. Dave almost makes it but pinch flats. I dip my cap in the ice cold water while we wait in the hot Oregon sun.

We descend. My front wheel hits a pot hole. I am going fast. I am loosing air and my front wheel is feeling really soft. I corner and my wheel sends me out of control. I panic knowing that I could be going down hard on this fast gravel descent. I have one foot out and carefully apply the brakes in hopes to not skid out. I loose control and point my bike towards a ditch. I feel lucky to walk away.

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After I fix my flat we regroup at what looks like an abandoned church. There is still a lot of riding to do. My legs are tired. We fill our bottles in someones yard and push forward. We’re climbing. The road is steep and the gravel is loose. I crack. The sun is really intense, sweat stings my eyes. My legs will not turn the pedals. I walk up the rest. Frustrated; I look down to realize I had been in the big ring the entire time. Fuck. Back in the smaller ring John and I decide to go at a more sustainable pace.

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It’s the final stretch to Shaniko. We’re on pavement now and it feels really good. The climb into town seems to go on forever. We’re buried deep in our own thoughts. The sun is setting and the light is incredible. Such an amazing and tough day on the bicycle. It’s rare to live in the moment these days. Setting up camp I come to realize what that truly means. We’re in the moment now and thats something I will now forever search for.

Oregon Outback : Silverlake to Prineville Reservoir

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I wake up to grey skies and sore legs. It’s day two of the Oregon Outback and I am on the concrete floor of a two door garage. I lay in my quilt as I let the air out of my Therm a Rest. Not until my body reaches the ground will I get up. Rituals. We all have them. We were very fortunate that a local farmer gave us a dry place to stay as a strong storm passed through Silverlake. We all reflect on how terrible the night would have been outside. Thankful. So fucking thankful.

With another big day ahead of us we hit the road and pedal towards Fort Rock. My rain jacket is zipped and the legs slowly wake up. Riders out in the distance slowly pull into focus and I will soon realize how small the world is.

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We’re passing a group when someone calls out my name. I am confused. It’s Toby! The world suddenly feels so small. I’ve know Toby for years and it was really special to run into him and his girlfriend Jillian. You can take a look at Jillian's amazing photography from the trip here. Toby and I chat for a bit. I feel warm now. I want to hang back and pedal with them but they’re on a different time agenda. So I say good bye and catch up with my group.

Fort Rock used to be under water and is known for it’s Tuff Rings which were created when Magma rose to the surface. It’s unreal.

"Fort Rock is an isolated tuff ring in the Fort Rock Basin. It has many cliffs and terraces formed when waves from Fort Rock Lake cut away parts of the crater walls. These features are ~4600 ft (1400 m) around and ~200 ft (60 m) high. The crater floor is 20-40 ft (6-12 m) higher than the floor of the old lake basin. The southern rim of Fort Rock has been broken by waves from the old Fort Rock Lake. Orange-brown lapilli tuff can be found in beds 0.4 inches to 3.3 ft (1 cm to 1 m) thick inside the crater. Rock beds on the inside of the crater dip at angles of 20-70 degrees. These are parallel to the crater walls, so the crater is probably shaped like a funnel."

- OregonState.edu.

As we pull into town cyclists are filling up water bottles at the nearby church. The streets are empty and the only store in town is definitely not open. One last look at the Fort Rock Basin and we’re back on the road.

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20 miles north we find ourselves pedaling within the stillness of the Deschutes National Forest. It’s beautiful and home to the infamous Red Sauce. The forests soft red dirt is the most feared section of the Outback. Luckily for us the previous nights rain had really packed it down. Blessed.

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Dave’s legs are on fire and we find him waiting for us beneath a sign pointing towards Prineville. Classic Dave. Hoping to redeem ourselves from missing out on 30oz steaks we decide to take a 12 mile detour to Brothers Stagecoach Stop and Cafe.

Brothers Stagecoach Stop and Cafe is warm and it feels so good. The walls are littered with knick knacks and it feels like we’re in the middle of nowhere. We are in the middle of nowhere! I order a bacon cheeseburger and nurse a cold beer to calm my empty stomach. Orders in and everyone is busy scanning the walls and talking about whats coming up next. Foods out. Guns out. Best damn burger ever.

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My belly is full. We’re on the road again and the spirits are high. We’re back on gravel in no time. The sun is out as we make our way up the Crooked River Highway. It’s scenic as fuck. Out of nowhere we’re climbing. I felt good all day then suddenly I feel a sharp pain in my knees. I’ve never felt this before but I know it’s from pushing the pedals with all my gear. It’s a tough slog up the hill. Pushing past the pain is what we do and thats what I did. We summit. Don takes advantage of the light. Check out Dons photos and write up on his Exposure page.

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The descent down to the reservoir is incredible. All the pain is washed away as we carve are way down the hillside. At the bottom Dave hops out of the bushes and waves us over. He’s smiling ear to ear as he secured us the raddest camping spot of the trip. We set up camp just feet from the Prineville Reservoir. We have fire. We have food. We have the stars and the celestial lit waters. What an incredible way to end such an amazing day on the Oregon Outback.

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Oregon Outback : Klamath Falls to Silverlake

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I wake up to the sound of Dave’s alarm; my sleepy limbs are draped over the hotel floor and the distant sound of rain slowly fills the room. Dave’s already packing and I know it’s time to get up.

We warm up our legs in route to the Mavericks Hotel, the start of the Oregon Outback in Klamath Falls Oregon. We are greeted by a parking lot full of riders ready to take on the infamous 369 mile route created by Velo Dirt. It’s 7am and the group rolls out. Bikes are everywhere. It’s fucking chaos. The first 8 miles of the OC&E Woodsline State Trail is paved and here riders scramble to find their friends and get into position.

The pavement quickly gives way to the rugged rail bed that once carried timber and cattle through the Pacific NorthWest. It feels real now. We’re on the Outback. This is the fucking Oregon Outback. Our group of three forms into a group of seven; Dave, Don, John, Calvin, Bryan, Brad and myself. We’re a goofy bunch from Portland, Berkeley, Los Angeles and New York. I know Don; Don knows Dave, John, Calvin and Bryan. Calvin knows Brad and so on and so on. We’re an eclectic bunch and I couldn’t have asked for a better group of dudes to ride with.

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The gravel dances beneath our tires as we make our way through the vibrant green. We eventually catch up with the clouds as we make our way through Switchback Hill. With our rain jackets on we navigate our way through the muddy switchbacks in route to Sprague River.

We spit out onto the road and grab lunch at the Running Bear Deli. The place is packed with BikePackers. The line is out the door and my mouth is watering. Pulled Pork Sandwich or Burrito? I went with the locally smoked ham sandwich. Winning. After filling our bellies and our bottles we head back on the road. The trail follows the Sprague River and I recall this particular stretch being pretty muddy from the rain . At some point Dave hit the deck and I narrowly missed running over him. We had a good laugh and took a detour in Beaty to load up on Water and most likely some form of Junk Food.

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Back on the trail we pedal along Five Mile Creek in the Fremont National Forest; which is just fucking beautiful. I recall moments where the woods opened up and the creek twisted through a lush landscape of green. It was so cinematic. The long day on the saddle was taking a toll on me. My body was longing for food and I set my eyes on our 7pm reservation at the Cowboy Dinner Tree. Dave had legs and set off to make sure we could eat our 30oz Top Sirloin Steaks.

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The sun is setting fast and we realize we’ve missed the turn to the Cowboy Dinner Tree. Was Dave there waiting for us or did he miss it too? We take a moment to figure out our options. Do we ride back and look for the turn off? Do we push forward and hope Dave meets us at camp? My energy levels are at an all time low and we decide to push forward.

Dave is shivering in the Silverlake general store. The sun is nearly down and the temperature is quickly dropping. We all missed the turn for the Cowboy Dinner Tree. Bummed but it’ s a huge relief that we’re all back together again. Cold hot dogs and frozen burritos kinda taste good after a 120 mile day anyways.