GoLite Shangri-La 5

Hiked It. Liked It.

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.

Specs

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

Impressions

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.

Pitched with inner only for bug protection
Pitched with inner only for bug protection

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.

Peeking Inside
Peeking Inside
Shangri-La
Shangri-La

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.

Enjoying the Sierras
Enjoying the Sierras

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.

Liked…

  • 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

Updates

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.

Jacob D Written by:

Jacob is the head honcho, wearer of many hats, and modern day berserker here at Hike It. Like It. When he's not out hiking or running the trails you'll find him operating in full capacity as a Super Dad and chipping away at a degree in Kinesiology. This guy likes to stay busy. Follow on Strava

14 Comments

  1. Terry
    August 11, 2016
    Reply

    Just a quick note. Your weights for the inner and outer are reversed. The inner is heavier than the outer.

  2. Jestep
    February 11, 2015
    Reply

    Recommendation on this.

    Hanging it from a tree is always best for the most space, but this can fit quite a few people comfortably in it. No problem with 3 people, 2 dogs, and everyone’s gear.

    If you’re camping on sand, get some different stakes. Since the stability is dependent on being staked down, camping is sand can be difficult to impossible if there is wind at the same time.

    Personally, I use a piece of webbing and attach 2 trekking poles together with this tent. Saves about an additional half pound or so of weight if you already use poles.

    Also, with some cord and 6 more stakes (13 total), this tent is extremely stable in higher wind conditions.

    We can also slide the pole over and fit an entire full size inflatable mattress when car camping.

    By far my favorite backpacking tent I’ve ever found.

    • February 17, 2015
      Reply

      Good tips! I have been lashing poles together for my other large pyramid and it works well, but it’s advised to use a piece of guyline fixed at the right length to loop over the pole tips. That will keep them from slipping, effectively collapsing under load. I tried to snow camp once without the guyline… learned the hard way!

      The SL-5 is also one of my favorites, it’s a shame there are no more around. I’m hoping to spend some time with a couple other “large” shelters this summer though, and of course post some thoughts up on the blog.

  3. Tim S
    January 30, 2015
    Reply

    Hey does anyone know where to get a hold of one of these anymore??? I cant find one anywhere online.

    Thanks everyone in advance.
    happy trails!

    • Jestep
      February 11, 2015
      Reply

      It’s going to be really difficult right now since golite is out of business. I would watch ebay for one or gear trade.

    • February 17, 2015
      Reply

      Tim, I thought I replied to you but I guess I didn’t… Agree with Jestep, you’ll have to watch the second-hand market unfortunately. You may get lucky and find one that is still new, but GoLite did not have any in stock for months even prior to their closing so I don’t believe any SL-5’s were part of their liquidation… but who knows what may turn up!

  4. Adan
    October 13, 2014
    Reply

    Hey dude, cool writeup. Im always looking to upgrade my family’s sleeping arrangements, especially for cheap. One question…What exactly was your reason for wanting to get away from multiple shelters? Was it mostly a weight thing or some other issue I’m missing maybe? I’m wanting to go the other direction, and get my family of five split up for sleeping but I want to make sure I didnt miss something basic. In my case, 5 people needing to change, play, stepping over each other to pee, etc, in a single shelter with one door seems hectic. I have an SL3 now, thinking of adding another SL3 or something else that might be better on rainy days maybe.

    • October 14, 2014
      Reply

      Hi Adan.

      If your kids are teens, or maybe even pre-teens who are ready for more freedom away from Mom and Dad, then yeah – multiple shelters would make more sense. Also, 5 people in one shelter is a lot (only 4 of us here). Ours are 6 and 8 years old and were 3 and 5 when we started taking them both out on trips; they still feel a little uneasy about sleeping in the woods and I think they will for a few more years still. Having a family tent makes them feel more secure knowing we’re both there with them.

      I think best yet would be getting everyone comfortable with bivying and just carry a couple of tarps that way we can just plunk down next to each other anywhere out there. I’ve seen Manfred and his family do this and it seemed very logical. Again, his kids are a little older than mine, but I think in the near future they could be ready for this.

      • Adan
        October 14, 2014
        Reply

        Oh sorry, I should have said, we cowboy camp often. I’m talking about just nights when we prefer a shelter, buggy nights or wet nights, etc. You make some good points. I’ll keep the SL3, add a Copper Spur or something, and that way Im good when taking 1-2 of the kids out as well.

  5. Eric L
    December 14, 2013
    Reply

    Jacob,

    I’m looking at getting a larger shelter that can sleep 3 plus gear. I’ve looked at the SL5 but the weight is a factor for me at 5lbs. What led you to the GoLite pyramid over those from Oware, MLD (Supermid/Speemid), or others?

    • December 15, 2013
      Reply

      Hi Eric. The SL 5 was a super bargain considering it included the inner and a dedicated pole. I don’t recall the exact price paid but it was a sale. Immediate delivery was a nice plus. With 3 people you can split it up so nobody has to carry the full load.

      I believe Oware offers a similar sized mid, the MLD Supermid is also close. Of course there’s also the HMG Ultamid 4 if you’re well funded.

  6. August 5, 2013
    Reply

    I stake out the outer (four main stakes) and then climb under to set up the pole, after which I slip in the inner tent, which uses the same four stakes. It is a bit tight, especially with the pole in the lngest possible position, but works well for me. After that you just do the rest.

    Living in Finland, the outer first pitch is often necessary, since this is by no means a dry country.

  7. August 5, 2013
    Reply

    You can certainly put upp the outer tent first, I always do that. It is quite easy to the slip the inner tent into its place. A very nice tent, I like mine a lot. For Europeans, the almost identical Eureka Wickiup 4 might be easier to find, and it is also a better in some aspects.

    • Jacob D
      August 5, 2013
      Reply

      Hmmm… I’m trying to imagine what the process is to pitching the outer first, since the pole goes inside the inner, and they share the same stake-out points… are you just staking down the outside without the pole, then climbing under? I guess then you’d have to reset each stake, or use separate stakes for the inner? I never thought of trying it that way.

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