This is my review of the Six Moon Designs Wild Oasis, the tent that I used on my 2015 thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail.
Some Quick Stats
- The Wild Oasis is a one man, single walled tarp that setups in a pyramid style
- The Tent pitches using a single trekking pole, it is not a freestanding tent
- It is made of grey silicone nylon with a strip of “no see um” mesh around the perimeter to keep out flying bugs.
- The tarp does not have a built-in floor and so a separate groundsheet is recommended.
- The tent weighs around 1 pound on its own, with the stakes I used and the Tyvek ground sheet it came in 1.45 pounds.
- The Tent cost me around 165 US Dollars
The Wild Oasis has been recently reconfigured and renamed by Six moons Designs as the Deschutes Plus Tarp. It is essentially the same tent but with 9 feet more coverage, making it more roomy.
Pitching the tent
Pitching the tent is a little different to putting up a freestanding tent but is fairly straightforward once you get used to it. The tent has six guy out points, guy line is included with the tent but you must cut and tie the lines yourself. You stake out the back two corners first. Insert the tip of the trekking pole into the grommet on the inside of the tent and stake out the front centre guy line. Ensure the tent is taught and the trekking pole is upright, stake out the rear centre point and finally the front corner points.
You may need to make a few adjustments to the guy lines and Sil nylon tends to sag a little after being under tension. Using an adjustable trekking pole meant I could tension the tent from my sleeping bag in the middle of the night if I needed to, without having to get out and re-stake the guy lines.
Once the tent was set-up I would lay out my Tyvek groundsheet, blow up my Air Mattress and lay out my Sleeping Gear. This was my first experience using Tyvek and it’s awesome. Tyvek is used in house construction, it’s an extremely durable, lightweight and waterproof material. I used the same piece of Tyvek throughout my trip and would just wipe it down once in a while if it got particularly muddy.
I carried 7 MSR Groundhog stakes, the tent requires 6 and I wanted to carry one spare. The Groundhog stakes are incredibly tough and I never had a problem with them pulling out. I will be experimenting with Titanium Shephard hook stakes in the future to save a little extra weight because I don’t think the heavy duty groundhog stakes are necessary for most situations.
First of all let me say that the Wild Oasis is no palace, when you choose a shelter like this you are always making a sacrifice in some area.
I’m 5’11 and medium build and had no real issues rolling into the side of the tent or the trekking pole in the middle of the tent. However when laying on my sleeping pad, my head and toes were just a few inches from the walls of the tent and I’m sure some people would find that uncomfortable.
I had plenty of room to store my backpack and all the rest of my gear inside the tent whilst sleeping.
I could sit up in the very middle of the tent but it wasn’t very comfortable.
Bugs – The “no see um” mesh around the bottom of the tent stopped pretty much any flying bugs trying to get into the tent as long as the door was shut. Ground dwelling bugs would sometimes pay me a visit in the middle of the night by pushing underneath the mesh. It didn’t bother me too much but I’m not as sensitive to bugs as some of my friends were (you know who you are). This could definitely be a deal breaker for some people and should be kept in mind.
One benefit of this style of tent and one of my favourite things to do was to remove the tent from around me in the morning. I’d make breakfast and watch the forest around me, talk to the guys and hash out plans for the days hiking.
The Wild Oasis was my first foray into the world of single walled, tarp type shelters. I knew from my research that these setups were prone to condensation.
I did frequently have condensation on the inside of my tent, especially during colder nights when I had the door closed.
On a handful of occasions it was bad enough that I had to use my micro fiber towel to wipe down the inside of the tent to prevent water from dripping down onto my sleeping bag.
This being said I didn’t find the condensation to be a deal breaker.
By leaving the door open at night and allowing greater air flow it reduced the condensation. I got quite comfortable sleeping with the door open and it gave me a more connected feel to the forest around me. If a storm rolled in I could reach over from my sleeping bag in the middle of the night and zip the door shut.
Condensation wouldn’t make me hesitate to buy a single walled shelter again and I believe many shelters on the market would handle condensation better than the Wild Oasis.
Lightweight and Small packed size
At 1.45 lbs total this shelter is extremely lightweight, Many people were carrying two person shelters that weighed up to 5lbs.
The benefits of carrying lightweight gear on a 2189 mile trip are endless, say no more.
One of the biggest benefits of carrying a single walled tarp type shelter is the small amount of space it takes up in your pack. The wild oasis packs down so small that I was able to carry it on the outside of my pack in one of the water bottle pockets.
Storing the tent on the exterior of the pack made a wet tent a non-issue. I carried the Tyvek sheet on the inside of the pack or in the mesh pocket if it was wet. The stakes were in a bright yellow home made stuff sack inside the mesh pocket so that they were easy to find and hard to lose.
The one major issue I did have was with a broken zipper about halfway through the trip. One evening I was setting up my tent only to realise the zipper pull was non-existent, it had come away from the zipper itself, never to be found.
I contacted Six Moon Designs as soon as I had internet access and they were very helpful, they sent me some replacement zipper pulls but without the correct tools I couldn’t fix the tent myself.
I eventually sent the tent back to them and they repaired it free of charge. This did mean I was a few weeks without a functioning tent but fortunately a good friend let me bunk with him in his palace of a two man tent.
These things happen and I can’t fault six moon designs for their customer service.
Aside from the zipper issue I found the tent extremely durable overall and had no real signs of wear and tear over the six months I used the tent.
In conclusion the Wild Oasis is definitely not perfect but is an excellent choice for long distance hiking.
I would recommend the Updated Deschutes Tarp from Six moon designs or similar floorless shelters for the Appalachian trail or other long distance hiking. However, I would advise someone that goes out for week long trips or overnight trips to find something similar that has a bathtub floor and full bug protection for extra comfort.
Would I recommend it for a thru hike? Yes if you don’t mind bugs, if you want something super light and if you plan on staying in shelters as much as possible. If I one day complete another thru-hike ill probably go for a shelter with a bathtub floor for extra comfort, I’m happy to carry the weight.
Personally I’ll be saving the Wild Oasis for longer, lighter trips or for Motorcycle camping and will be looking to pick up a new shelter, something along the lines of the Skyscape X by Six Moon Designs or the Solplex by Zpacks.
How about you? Id love to hear what kind of tent you use on your adventures in the comments below.
Thanks for dropping by, PIE