A story of shared adventures between me and my Lunar Solo tent
Even after 6 years and a night of a snow bombardment from the trees the Lunar Solo provided shelter from the elements.
Before the Lunar Solo
Before I started bikepacking in 2015 I had been camping and spending nights in the woods during several weekends during my late teens. I had slept on the ground under a cotton canvas tarp, in lean-to shelters that we build out of scrap materials or if we were lucky we had rented a big half-platoon sized canvas tent previously used by the Finnish Defence Forces. During my conscript time in the Finnish Defence Forces we mostly slept in squad sized canvas tents, field hospital tents or island bunkers.
So once I found bikepacking and the mantra of “pack light and small” took my mind I started with a bivvy bag and tarp, and later I got a cheap one wall “lean to” tent that was awful to sleep in, but it wasn’t as big to pack or as heavy as “normal tents” that were around at the time. But as a student I didn’t have that much money to spend on equipment or the imagination of paying for quality equipment. In my eyes the entry level mountain bike that I had bought in 2015 for 450e was expensive, so spending over 100+ euros in gear seemed outrageous.
Of course I was able to drool and dream about more purpose suited gear and spent evenings spexing gear for the future, or following and reading about people on bike tours or bikepacking remote places, like Taneli Roininen. He has been in various continents and when he started exploring Patagonia he got himself a Six Moon Design Lunar Solo tent. I loved it, the design, the light weight, the packability and color. So in March of 2016 when I was at the end of my student time I got a job as a freelance graphic designer in an Ad agency in Helsinki. First month there I had a looot of work, not much free time, but when I saw what I had made after a month I was happy. Happy because I was able to make a few of my gear dreams come true. I bought a Marin Pine Mountain 2016 as a great general purpose bikepacking machine and then I went to Ultralightoutdoorgear’s webshop, based in the UK, who sell Six Moon Design products and pushed the button.
23rd of June 2016
Sorry for the quality of the photo, but some of the older ones I had to take from my Instagram feed. My first pitch of the Lunar Solo on the small area of grass in front of my apartment building. As you can see I was really happy inside it.
It was a beautiful early summer day, a bit cloudy when the delivery van from UPS brought me the long awaited package. I remember how light it felt in my hands and how small it looked and how big was the smile on my face. I took it out for the first pitch outside my apartment and it took me 15 minutes (these days in similar conditions it takes me around 5 minutes). I was surprised how roomy it was inside and felt the big panorama bugnet front. I felt right at home inside it and a few days later during a Midsummer cabin weekend I seam sealed the tent. The tent was ready to be put to its first test 3 weeks later.
The first big adventure for the tent and me
My first campsite with the Lunar Solo. Next to marchland in July above the Arctic Circle. Took this photo around 3 am. The bugnet worked like wonders keeping the thousands of mosquitos outside the tent. *IG quality
From Inari, Finland riding through the Kaldoaivi Wilderness area behind the Arctic Circle to Vardø, Norway, a small town on an island in the Arctic Sea. That was the route for mine and the Lunar Solo’s first multiday bikepacking trip. My first time in Finnish Lapland in the summer, riding and camping in the fell landscape. My first time seeing the turquoise waters of the Arctic Sea or going to Norway.
The second campsite was on top of a fell, around 400 meters above sea level. No trees, only open rocky and arid landscapes. Also the last not windy campsite, but a rainy one. Still the emptiness of the surroundings made a huge impact on me, and still I find myself longing to experience it again and again.
It took me 5 days and 400 km to complete the adventure, and an adventure it was. It had been a wet summer up north and as I entered the Kaldoaivi Wilderness area from the west entry point to the trail I got mostly to push-a-hike thru wet marshland for the first day, in clipless cycling shoes. Once the trail turns towards north and you start climbing the fells the fun really starts. Bombing down rocky fell trails is amazing to do, even on a loaded bike. For me this was and still is bikepacking at it’s purest form. Riding in remote, wild areas and camping in harsh but beautiful landscapes and being self-supported is just amazing.
My campsite for the 4th night in Norway, a hundred meters away from the coastal road. Strong headwinds were a hard travel companion from the Finnish border almost all the way to Vardø island. Going down a long downhill from high fells towards the pedaling I managed only doing 4 km an hour speed and pitching the tent was quite interesting, but once it was staked down the Lunar Solo never let me down.
As my destination was an island, I had to ride in a 3 km long tunnel going below the sea. It was freezing going down 83 ish meters below the sea.
Finding adventures abroad
After that first adventure I got bitten with a serious case of “exploraluensa” , a long lasting condition, when you feel drawn to explore new places. When not exploring, you think about exploring. Microadventures and after work overnighters help to reduce the symptoms, but one or two longer trips have the strongest impact on the symptoms.
Ireland 2016 riding the Wild Atlantic Way. The photo shows the only “wild camp” I was able to do in Ireland. Otherwise I camped in camping grounds or in small hostels. Coming from Finland and the freedom to camp almost everywhere thanks to Everyman's Right, Ireland opened my eyes to the fact that it’s not the same in other countries. I did enjoy spending 10 days on the road riding from North to South on the west coast stopping in tea houses, riding on beaches and having steamed clams, chips and Guinness for lunch. Not forgetting the many mornings waking up the drizzle of rain drumming the Lunar Solo. Found it to be quite enjoyable and relaxing.
Sweden 2017 the Roslagsleden. The first easter tour riding from Stockholm north on small gravel roads, forest paths and some roads. On the route you can find rune stones, magical forests, lean-to shelters to camp. 4 days with great friends, bikes and camping in cool early spring weather. The packability of the tent and even the 3-piece carbon pole fit inside my framebag. A great choice for bikepacking. *IG quality
Estonia 2017 riding the Swampthing trail, a route going from the North coast of Estonia to the Southern border. 5 hot summer days, riding around great swamp lakes, long never ending gravel roads and “enjoying” the local camp culture that included loud technomusic. In the end we camped on the southern shores of the Baltic Sea, staring at the same sea that we see across the Gulf of Finland but it seemed different. Falling asleep with the panorama door open was a great way to end the trip before returning to Tallinn.
Scotland 2018 and the Central Belter loop, from Edinburgh to the Cairngorms National park, to Glasgow and back to Edinburgh. Many beautiful places to see and enjoy, but this photo from the first morning at camp on the coastal cliffs was amazing. Waking up to sound of waves and seagulls and once you get out of the tent and look to the sea we saw a school of dolphins jumping near shore. The Lunar Solo also saved me from midges in the Cairngorms, when we set up camp near a small stream and just as we had our tents pitched the endless swarms of midges attacked us. So it was nice to enjoy the scenery without getting eaten alive from the safety of a midge free Lunar Solo.
Croatia 2018 riding partly on the Adriatic Crest route from Split to Zagreb. I turned 30 years old in September, and was without a job from the start of October, so for the 5 months I traveled, some by bike, others more in a more touristic way and some to see friends and family that lived in other countries. Croatia was the third adventure, my second summer for the year. Spent 16 days, most of it riding and enjoying the beautiful country. From the coastal beauty and hills near Split, up north thru the national parks, waterfalls and then to the east towards Zagreb. Even got to walk my bike on a mountain road through a herd of 70+ horses or ride my bike through a path covered with thorn bushes. The Lunar Solo stayed for most of the trip in panorama mode, even when I camped behind a statue of Jesus in bear country (I learnt later about the bears).
Israel 2018, riding the Three Seas. From Tel Aviv in the Mediterranean to Sea of Galilee/Lake Tiberias to the shores of the Dead Sea and through Jerusalem back to Tel Aviv. Enjoyed my third summer of the year and finally even got a taste of the desert. As the Lunar Solo is not a free-standing tent a lot of rocks were used to pitch the tent, especially in the more arid areas or on the concrete camping area of the resort on the shores of the Dead Sea. Paid 35 euros to pitch my tent with patio chairs and a playground swing. Still feel after all these years, that I need to experience more of the harsh and beautiful adventures that deserts provide.
Norway 2020 and the mountains, oh the mountains. If you have never been to the northern border of Finland and Norway, it is really clear to see even without the border river where Finland ends and Norway starts. Finland has fells and Norway has mountains. After bikepacking 4 days in the Pöyrisjärvi Wilderness area, that has some beautiful sand dunes and spending a night in a Sauna in Finland, we drove along the northern coast of Norway from Alta back towards Kilpisjärvi, Finland. On the beach of the photo, with the mountains in the back. Just admiring the landscape for the whole evening and in the morning too. Again the panorama doors of the Lunar Solo were open the whole night.
Learning to really love home
Before 2020 I liked going once a month for an overnight trip or a weekend trip in Southern Finland or long weekend trips. In 2018 I did the Karhunpolku or Bears Trail route in Northern Carelia and because I didn't have money for the train back I rode 600 km back home after the adventure and 3-4 times a year I rode the Mäntyharju Bikepacking trail. I liked Finland, but I truly started to love it in 2020. I spent 54 nights in a tent, in a lean-to shelter, in a hammock or a bivvy during that year while working a fulltime job and only having 2 weeks of holidays. I spent my summer holidays bikepacking in the Pöyrisjärvi wilderness in Finnish Lapland, my Easter touring around Uusimaa with a great friend with bicycles or for May 1st long weekend we rode along the long lake of Päijänne.
For most of those adventures and trips Lunar Solo was the shelter I carried with me and was always packed up and ready to go. Even during winters I pitched the tent and slept well in my proper winter sleeping bag. It didn’t matter if it rained or snowed. No matter how hard the wind or how hot the sun, the Lunar Solo was almost always packed up. It might really be a three season tent, but it doesn’t mean it can’t be used for the 4th season as well.
Spring, Southern Finland 2020 a little late March overnighter by a frozen lake. Just 30 km away from home. Just weeks before everything changed and before I would start almost every weekend with a little overnighter microadventure for the rest of the year.
Autumn, Southern Finland 2021 in the most eastern parts of Nuuksio National park. Love this campsite, just a 24 km ride away from home. It is especially nice in the autumn and spring. The ground is a bit rocky and rooty, but there are a few places that can fit the Lunar Solo in. Even if there might be a root below my back, the serene view of the lake in the morning mirroring the fall foliage of the trees makes it all go away.
Winter, Westcoast, Finland 2020 in Teijo National Park. The first night I used my winter sleeping bag inside the Lunar Solo. The ground wasn’t yet totally frozen so I didn’t break any tent pegs (that sometimes happens when hammering the pegs into frozen ground). As a single wall tent it might get quite a lot of condensation if there is a strong snowfall during the night that covers the airways on the sides.
Western Finnish Lapland 2020 camping on the shores of Lake Pöyrisjärvi outside the wilderness hut in Pöyrisjärvi Wilderness area. The landscape is dominated by sand dunes, that is not common for Finland or Lapland. Pitching a tent on top of a not even small mound is doable, you just need a small flat spot to be able to lay down and the Lunar Solo will adjust itself while offering great protection against mosquitos and blackflies.
Kaldoaivi Wilderness area, Finnish Lapland 2021. I returned to Kaldoaivi after 5 years, the place where the Lunar Solo and I shared our first adventure together. This time we rode from Sevettijärvi thru the “hiking route” that was at worst mostly just crossing swamps, but where the route ends there is a trail head to Kaldoaivi. I pitched the tent late in the evening after a hard day after following the wrong trail, then push-a-biking 10 km across rocky and bushy landscape back to the right trail. I was in the fell highlands, no trees or bigger rocks to give shelter from the rambling winds. It was quite the ordeal to get the tent pitched, I even ripped off the lower loop that holds the pole while trying to move it while everything was tightened up. It held up and kept me safe from the wind, and the next day when I arrived at the rental cabin in Nuorgam village I stitched it back with a sewing kit and it has hold up like new after that minor accident.
How about 6 years more?
I see no reason why not. The Lunar Solo might have some patches and stitches, but it’s not surprising how harsh I might be to my gear. But after 6 years of adventures, it is still my favorite piece of kit and I am really happy that I bought it. It has never let me down and I will use it till it disintegrates into small pieces or a rockslide destroys it (hopefully not).
If you have any questions left about the Lunar Solo you can find me by @a4d3e on Instagram and I will happily help and answer your questions. Enjoy the adventures ahead and never forget the adventures in the past.