Thursday, September 17, 2009

Tents

In the market for a new tent, and thought I'd record my research.

Requirements
  • Two person
  • Up to the challenge of Tasmanian (and NZ) weather: rain, mud, occasional snow (would be nice to use it for snow camping, too). Fine weather use isn't much of a concern - that's what tarps are for.
  • Would probably also get used as a car camping tent, although perhaps a dedicated cheap & heavy tent should be bought for that ..
  • Preferably two doors and vestibules (makes for comfortable use while travelling)
  • Closer to 2kg than 3kg
  • Good ventilation (decent amount of mesh in inner, ventilation in fly)
  • Bucket floor
  • Preferably integral pitch (i.e. fly first)

After a bit of looking around and asking knowledgeable gear junkies, I came up with the following shortlists. This thread on the Bushwalking Tasmania forums was particularly useful. And Bogong Equipment has got a brilliant overview of bushwalking tents.

I have both 3-season and 4-season shortlists. This is because I initially thought a solid 3-season tent would be sufficient. However, Tassie weather can get pretty bad, and it would be great to use it as a snow tent in the future, so I am starting to think a 4-season tent would be a better investment.

3-Season Shortlist

Macpac Macrolight
This tent is coming out in October, and will be on sale (30% off) for the first week. 2 entry/vestibule, 2 pole dome design. Looks to be a two-person, two-pole version of the Macpac Microlight. The Microlight is reputed to stand up very well to bad Tasmanian weather. Hard to say if the Macrolight would be the same. It has a wide-ish ridge that might hold snow. Will have to check out the real thing in a few weeks!
Fabric: 30D (3500mm) fly, Torrentwear Light (5000mm) floor, 9.0mm poles
Weight: 2.0kg (min) / 2.2kg (packed)
Area: 2.8m^2 (internal), 2 x 0.71m^2 (vestibule)
Price: $650 (RRP), $455 (sale)

Mont Moondance II
3 season, 2 entry/vestibule, 2 pole dome design with short top pole
Fabric: 40D
Weight: 1.86kg (min) / 1.98kg (packed)
Area: 2.66m^2 (internal)
Price: $470

Note: this is not the Mont Krypton, which has a built-in footprint, which has been known to collect water and act like a bath!

MSR Hubba Hubba HP
The HP is warmer than the original Hubba Hubba, but lighter. 3 season, 2 entry/vestibule, unusual wishbone design (although essentially a dome tent). I had a look at this in Paddy Pallins. It is cleverly designed, and quite spacious. However, the single pole design means it suffers from twisting problems in high wind. Also, the floor is *very* thin - you would want to use the footprint with it.
Fabric: 20D (1000mm) fly, 40D (10000mm) floor
Weight: 1.7kg (min) / 1.93kg (packed)
Area: 2.7m^2 (internal), 2 x 0.8m^2 (vestibule)
Price: US$400 (AU$460)

Wilderness Equipment Dart 2
Free-standing, 3-4 season, 2 person, 3 pole dome-style. I had a look at this in MDs. It is a great tent. The third pole makes the vestibules very big and useful. Internally, it is very long and spacious. A notable minus is that the 3-pole design creates a large flat area on top. This might be prone to pooling water, or loading up with snow. Also, it is quite heavy. The inner is mostly mesh, so could get a bit breezy in there.
Fabric: 30D (1500mm) fly, 75D (8000mm) floor
Weight: 2.62kg (min) / 2.89kg (packed)
Area: ?
Price: $580 (RRP), $406 (on sale from MDs)

Also available in a cheaper but heavier 75D version, and a "winter" version (same design, less mesh). These add an extra 250g, and cost $500 (RRP). I would call this a 3+ season tent.


4-Season Shortlist

Terra Nova Superlite Quasar
We used the Terra Nova Hyperspace in base camp on my expedition to Glacier Benito in Patagonia. They were heavy, but bombproof. A friend tells me the Superlite Quasar performs similarly well, but is much lighter. 4 season, 2 entry, 4 pole dome design.
Fabric: 4000mm (fly), 7000mm (floor), 8.55mm poles
Dimensions: 1.05m (h) x 1.36m (w) x 2.17m (l)
Weight: 2.2kg (min) / 2.5kg (packed)
Area: 2.88 m^2 (internal), 2 x 0.74 m^2 (vestibules)
Price: $990 (RRP), $690 (shipped from US)
Pretty impressive weight for a four-pole tent!

Macpac Minaret
A 2-pole, single-entry, 4-season tent. I had a look at this one in-store. It looks like a pretty good design. Roomy enough inside for two people to sit comfortably, but certainly not spacious. Funny shape means it's best suited to one tall-ish person and one short. Vestibule is not big but is functional. Needs to be guyed out well to be any good in the wind or snow.
Fabric: 30D (3500mm) fly, Torrentwear XP (10000mm) floor, 9.6mm poles
Dimensions: 1.00m (h) x 1.15m (w) x 2.00-2.50m (l)
Weight: 2.1kg (min) / 2.4kg (packed)
Area: 2.35m^2 (internal), 0.9m^2 (vestibule)
Price: $750 (RRP), $525 (sale)

Hilleberg Nallo 3
Hilleberg do some great tents. I remember walking with a guy around Torres del Paine who raved about his very nice 1 person one. The Nallo is only single entry, but there is a version (the Nallo GT) with super-big vestibule. 4 season, 2 pole sloping tunnel design. There is a Nallo 2 but from all accounts is sounds a bit small for two, so the Nallo 3 would probably be better.
Fabric: Kerlon 1200, 9mm poles
Weight: 2.1kg (min) / 2.4kg (packed)
Dimensions: 1.05m (h) x 1.60m (w) x 2.20m(l)
Area: 3.4m^2 (internal), 1.4m^2 (vestibule)
Price: US$595 (RRP) = AU$770 (with shipping)

Hilleberg Kaitum 2
Two entry tunnel tent, with 3 poles. Looks similar to Macpac Olympus.
Fabric: Kerlon 1200, 9mm poles
Weight: 2.5kg (min) / 2.8kg (packed)
Dimensions: 1.00m (h) x 1.40m (w) x 2.20m (l)
Area: 2.9m^2 (internal), 2 x 1.2m^2 (vestibule)
Price: US$715 (RRP) = AU$910 (with shipping)

Mountain Hardwear Spire 2.1
Four-season, double-entry, 2.5-pole dome design.
Fabric: 40D (1500mm) fly, 70D (3000mm) floor
Weight: 2.13kg (min) / 2.31kg (packed) + 310g for footprint
Area: 2.61m^2 (internal), 2 x 1.0m^2 (vestibule)
Price: US$425 (RRP), ~AU$580 (with shipping), US$36 for footprint

Mountain Hardware also have the Skyledge 2.1, a similarly-design 3-season tent.

Mont Bell Stellar Ridge
4-season, double-door/vestibule 2-pole dome design. Doesn't look solid enough to be a mountain tent ... looks a bit like a Macpac Apollo.
Fabric: "Ballistic" lightweight materials: 1500mm fly, 2000mm floor, 10000mm footprint
Weight: 1.81kg (min) / 2.06kg (packed) + 295g footprint
Area: 2.7m^2 (internal), 2 x 0.52m^2 (vestibule)
Price: $650 + $50 (footprint)

Mont Bell also has the Chronos Dome which is a heavier and cheaper 3-season tent of similar design.

Exped Sirius Extreme II
4-season, single-door/vestibule tunnel tent. Looks pretty good. Better than WE Second Arrow. Similar to Hilleberg Nammatj 2 but cheaper?
Fabric: 10000mm floor
Dimensions: 1.00m (h) x 1.30m (w) x 2.25m (l)
Weight: 2.65kg (min) / 3.1kg (packed)
Area: 2.92m^2 (internal), 1.43m^2 (vestibule)
Price: US$360 (~AU$500), or $530


Honourable Mentions
There are a few other tents that I considered, but didn't make the cut for whatever reason.

Hilleberg Nammatj 2
Similar to the Nallo, but doesn't slope down towards the end. 4 season, 2 pole tunnel design.
Fabric: ?
Weight: 2.4kg (min) / 2.8kg (packed)
Area: 2.8m^2 (internal), 1.2m^2 (vestibule)
Price: US$575 (RRP), US$675 (for GT)

Wilderness Equipment Second Arrow
5 season, 2 person, tapered tunnel design (single entry/vestibule). Looks good in print, but in reality this tent is very small. It has a very low roof which makes the inside feel quite cramped. It is also quite short - I only just fit in. The single vestibule is not very big, but could be opened out in goodweather. Probably the First Arrow is a better option as a snow tent.
Fabric: 30D (1500mm) fly, 75D (8000mm) floor
Dimensions: ?m (h) x 1.30m (w) x 2.03m(l)
Weight: 2.28kg (min) / 2.57kg (packed)
Area: ?
Price: $600 (RRP), $420 (on sale from MDs)

Also available in a cheaper but heavier 75D version.

Mountain Designs Positron
Single entry, two-pole dome design.
Fabric: 40D siliconised fly
Weight: 1.74kg (min)
Area: 2.7m^2 (internal)
Price: $540 (RRP), $380 (sale)

One Planet Gunyah 2v
This thing is super-light! Probably too light for serious rain, but worth considering for the mainland ... Single-pole dome design, two entries, but only one vestibule.
Fabric: 15D fly, 20D floor
Weight: 1.35kg (packed), 1.66kg (with footprint)
Area: ?
Price: ~$540


Exped Vela II
3-season, two-door, two-vestibule tunnel tent.
Fabric: 10000mm floor
Weight: 2.65kg (min) / 3.05kg (packed)
Area: 3.2m^2 (internal), 2 x 1.25m^2 (vestibule)
Price: $600

Tarptent Scarp 2
Using just one pole, a light 3-season tent. Add another two poles for 4-season use. Don't like the look of the way the extra poles are added. Probably not that great in the wind.
Fabric:
Weight: 1.53kg (3-season), 2.01kg (4-season)
Area: 2.2m^2 (internal), 2 x 0.58m^2 (vestibule)
Price: US$325

Also want to know about some Salewa tents: Sierra Ultra, Sparrow II, Bergen II $230, Sierra Leone. But no info online!


I am waiting on more info on the Macpac Macrolight. If that looks good, then I think I will go for that. Have been very happy with Frightfully Delightful's Macpac Apollo, although it was a tad on the heavy side.