GoLite is a medium sized manufacturer of backpacking gear that is predominantly lightweight and employs some of the features typically associated with “ultralight” gear. The Shangri-La 5 (a.k.a. SL5) is a double wall pyramid which is claimed to sleep 5 humans. These are my thoughts about it.
All specs as claimed unless *noted otherwise…
- 9.5 ft x 9.5 ft x 6 ft tall
- Double wall with fly-only pitch option
- Single entry
- 15D (1.1 oz) silnylon construction on fly, 20D no-see-um mesh inner
- Packed size: two pieces of ~ 7 x 16 inches each
- Total weight: Outer – 45.3 oz, Inner – 30.2 oz, Total – 75.5 oz on my scale (excluding stuff sacks)
- Suggested Retail Price – $299
The purpose of purchasing this tent was to get our family of 4 from two tents into one. The kids are still young so we all sleep together. Although it’s much heavier than any two-person shelter that we own, it’s not much heavier than two two-person shelters and the load can be split between two backpacks. At the end of the day it’s about a wash on the weight. I’m a fan of pyramids and own a few of them actually, but upon setting up the SL5 I was amazed by its size – both in the footprint and its height. The first thing the kids did was walked into it and proclaimed “wow this is like a tipi! Can we live in it??”. Even at 6′-3 I’m able to stand up if I hunch over a little… that’s a first for me on any tent I’ve ever backpacked with.
The seams are factory taped so no seam sealing is required. Thanks GoLite! It would be nice if these were made in the USA, but GoLite has a very decent policy with regards to environmental and workplace conditions, besides that the quality of construction is very good, typical of much of the sewing coming out of China. My gripe, not just to GoLite but all of the “mainstream manufacturers”, is: why must you use long and skinny stuff sacks? What am I going to do, put it next to the bazooka in my backpack? These shelters can fold/roll into modest size rectangular~ish shapes that will fit well inside most packs. I leave their provided stuff sacks at home… I really need to find a couple that are suitable sizes for each of the two pieces.
Set up is a breeze; like all pyramids getting the floor square and not too tight to begin with is the key. The SL5 comes with an aluminum center pole that breaks down for packing. The top end of the pole telescopes and has a detent that locks into one of several hole positions. The inner needs to be setup first if using it, which is maybe one downside if it’s raining. Although the fly could just be tossed over it for setup, if the wind is up that thing is going to take off. But, it shouldn’t take long to get the initial pitch up and the fly secured so I wouldn’t expect any serious problems setting up in the rain. Two top vents provide ample ventilation. Condensation is not much of a concern, especially when using the inner.
The pyramid is a great shape for versatility. Although the steep sides limit the usable floor spaces at the edges, the perimeter is still viable for gear storage and the tent is wide enough that there’s room for 4 anyway without being cramped. Room for 5 on the other hand… well look at the diagram GoLite provides and it’s clear that this could be a 5 person shelter in a pinch, but really it’s best suited to sleep four plus gear. The floor of the inner is a square with one corner chopped off, which makes for a vestibule area under the fly. When setting up inside, it makes sense to put shorter people (or kids) near the chopped off corner so anyone else entering the tent doesn’t step on their pads, bags, etc… Possibly the biggest issue with the SL5 has been finding a suitable place to pitch it. The sheer size of the thing can make for some logistic issues in site selection. There have been times when I would have easily squeezed into that perfect spot with a duo sized shelter, but with the 4-person pyramid I had to keep walking in search of 90 square feet of prime flat earth.
- Perfect size for our family of 4
- Good balance of weight vs. space
- Awesome value for the cost
Not So Much…
- Lack of built in gear storage, stow pockets, etc…
- Ridiculous sized stuff sacks
Since publishing this article GoLite has sadly gone under. Their inventory was liquidated over the holiday season of 2014. I’m sure there are some odds and ends floating around out there in new condition but weather or not there are any SL-5 tents sitting in a warehouse somewhere is anyone’s guess. If you find one that’s new you should probably snag it right away! We’re working on covering a couple other lightweight family-sized tents that can serve the function of the SL-5. More to come on those later!
Famous Last Words
The SL5 is a great solution for family or group hiking due to its simplicity in setup, moderately light weight, and reasonable price. Hike It. Like It.