Six Moon Designs Lunar Duo Explorer
The Lunar Duo boasts some impressive specs and features. With a ton of interior space, large vestibules, and a 45 inch peak height, this thing was appropriately dubbed the “Backcountry Palace” by users. Add that it features two doors and two vestibules and you have a fantastic shelter.
The base price does not come with poles (an additional $28-$60) or stakes (an additional $13). You will need to purchase both unless you have your own stakes and are a trekking pole user. The different setup options are nice to have, but the price point rises from a base price of $310 up to over $400 if you purchase the stakes, two carbon poles and have it seam-sealed. Even at that price point though, you get a ton for your money.
The Lunar Duo does not come seam sealed, which is something you would definitely want to do if you anticipate any moisture. This can be done for an additional cost of $24, or you can purchase the seam sealing product and do it yourself.
Non-Freestanding, Single Wall
The Lunar Duo is not a free-standing design, so you will need stakes to use this shelter. Similar to all the other tents in this review, except the Copper Spur and the Kelty Salada, this can be an issue if you encounter rocky terrain.
The Lunar Duo is a single wall tent, so you are likely to experience some condensation in cold, wet conditions. I did notice some on a cold night, but it was minimal and didn’t present a problem.
This tent is very versatile as it can be pitched with your own trekking poles or poles you can purchase from Six Moon Designs. I used the S&S Archery CL Trekking Poles. (Check out my Trekking Pole Review for more on these). Six Moon Designs offers either aluminum poles (3oz each) for a cost of $14 each, or carbon fiber poles (1.8oz each) for a cost of $30 each. The Lunar Duo requires two poles to set up.
The most impressive part about the Lunar Duo is that you get all of this in a package that comes in under 3lbs, and right around 2.8lbs with a trekking poles setup.
The Lunar Duo knocks it out of the park with head room. Included with the tent is a pair of crescent shaped poles that you insert into the apex of the shelter. This bolsters the headroom and reduces the pitch angle of the walls. It adds a few ounces, but it is well worth it.
There is plenty of room inside for two wide/long pads and some gear. Addiotionally, the head and foot are at a 90 degree angle to the ground, making the interior feel even bigger than the specs suggest.
The Lunar Duo gives you a ton of interior space and a great peak height of 45 inches, two doors, two vestibules and the second most square footage of all the tents in this review. Pictured above is one wide/long pad next to a regular rectangle Sea To Summit Comfort Plus pad (more on that pad in Part 4 of this series). As you can see, there is still room to spare in both length and width.
Another positive to this tent is being able to set it up in the pouring rain and keep the inside dry. Being a single wall tent has its benefits in this way. There is no rain fly to hurriedly throw on to prevent the inside from getting drenched during setup. I actually found myself setting up the Lunar Duo in an absolute downpour. The tent stayed bone dry inside. Me on the other hand, well, I got drenched but at least I had a dry place to retreat. This would not have been the case with other models that require you to attach a rain fly after setting up the main body of the tent.
The Six Moon Designs Lunar Duo uses a ripstop nylon fabric and the canopy is silicon treated on both sides with 100% silicone. This increases water resistance while also increasing the material’s strength. The floor is also silicone treated on both sides, making sure you stay dry from the ground up. The canopy and floor are made of 30D ripstop nylon with a 40000mm hydrostatic tested rating. The the inner walls are made of 20D no-see-um mesh.
The Lunar Duo gives you two very large “C” shaped doors that make it easy to get in and out of. This feature is a noticeable difference from some of the others in this review. While a small thing, ease of getting in and out of the tent is a luxury on this one.
In my opinion, for what you get in the Lunar Duo, this is the best value of the bunch. Considering the weight, space, versatility, and overall build quality, the price point is pretty remarkable.
Being a non-freestanding shelter, the Lunar Duo is a bit different to set up than the others. You will definitely want to go through the setup process at least once before venturing into the backcountry. The corners of the tent attach to the tent spikes via elastic. This left me wishing I could get the floor tighter, but that didn’t pose a problem. Maybe some tension pulls would be appropriate here? I’d like to see some adjustment ability with this attachment point.
Vestibule Guy Lines
Another small annoyance was that the guy lines have a very steep angle and tended to get in the way of the vestibule zipper. These guy lines are interestingly staked inside the vestibule and tend to get caught up with the vestibule zipper. On the one hand, you didn’t have guy lines everywhere to trip over. On the other, it did get in the way of the vestibule zipper a bit.
The side walls tend to move with the wind, so you’ll want to utilize the additional guy-out points on windy nights. If any snow is in the forecast, you would definitely want to stake the extra guy-out points.
The zippers are silky smooth. However, I found that the inner zippers require two hands to operate because there is little tension on the floor. The floor itself isn’t staked down, so it relies on the elastic pieces on the corners to hold the floor in place.
I found the two longer vestibule stakes more difficult to stake in and pull out due to their extra length. I easily solved by adding a small piece of rope to grab on to. In the end though, I elected to use my MSR Mini Groundhog stakes in their place.
The material and silicone treatment used on the floor was extremely slick, causing my pad to slide around in the tent. Any kind of slope (which is almost inevitable in the backcountry) and you’ll find your pad sliding around. An easy fix to this is to throw in a foam sheet (like the one a new TV comes in) to put under your sleeping pad. This will actually give you an extra layer of protection from the ground and almost eliminate slipping around.
Vestibule Attachment Point
The vestibule attachment point was a bit odd and cumbersome. The rope and clip used to secure the vestibule to the tension rope is a bit difficult to get clipped. It also seemed to want to slide up the vestibule guy line and reduce the vestibule tension. Not a big deal, but slightly annoying.
The Lunar Duo Explorer was easily one of my favorite two person shelters, especially if you are with a buddy. Split this already lightweight tent with a friend and you won’t be disappointed. It’s loaded with features, especially for the price point. See how it stacks up against some others I tested in our full Backpacking Tent Review!
Check out Backcountry Camp Part 1: Basics of Selecting a Tent to help you select the right tent.