The Foray is not the Muzak version of backpacking tents. It does not blend quietly unnoticed into the background. That is not to say that it is punk rock, or death metal, or jazz or country. I suppose if any kind of music, the Foray would be classic rock, AC/DC perhaps, or ZZ Top. It’s there, it’s in your face, it’s doing things its own way, it’s confidently different, but it also fits within convention. There’s some fuss and theatrics, but at the end of the day, the Foray is clearly all about getting the job done. Righteously, with fun.
The Brooks-Range Foray strikes a pose.
Brooks-Range jumped into the market with a slew of exciting products. Shelter-wise, though, their initial offerings left a bit to be desired. Not everyone needs an aluminized cuben single-wall like the Rocket! Not to worry. Brooks-Range is now offering the Foray, a 2-person double-wall backpacking tent that weighs a scant 3 pounds. Sounds great, but were the specs like an online dating profile? Was the area of 30 square feet accurate? How’s the living space? What’s shakin’ in the Foray world?
You can’t miss the bright yellow, the black dots on the fly, the hooded vestibule vents, or the profile of the Foray. Bright yellow, hey, you’ll get found when your GPS batteries die and you have no idea how to navigate out. Color, whatever. The black dots intrigued me, though. They’re kind of… brutish, purposeful swatches boldly proclaiming their presence. The 4.75-inch diameter dots are, naturally, guyout reinforcement patches. The patches over the front pole also have ties to secure the pole; the ridgeline patch at the rear also ties off to that pole. The front-most patch on the ridgeline has a direct link to the pole. The center side tie-outs are canopy-only, and those half-moons along the bottom are just for staking out.
The fly flapped back so you can see the ties for securing fly to frame.
A close-up of the DAC arrangement for both anchoring the ridgepole and the fly to the ridgepole.
The vestibule is a well-considered, practical application of the concept. It uses two stakes, providing a wider entry. The generous overhang provides a ton of protection for the inner. The hooded vents zip closed if the weather so requires. They call it a 6-square-foot vestibule, but it’s the biggest darn 6’ vestibule I’ve ever seen. My rough measurement suggests an actual floor area of about 9 square feet for the vestibule!
A Granite Gear Blaze AC60 and Boreas Buttermilks 55, unencumbered, rest in the Foray’s vestibule. Still plenty of room for entry and egress. Also note relative length of vestibule.
That dramatic ridgeline slope is all business. It is clearly intended to provide serious storm-worthiness while keeping the interior, well, livable. In fact, the combination of serious guy-outs, steeply-raked side profile, & color give the impression that this is, first and foremost, a mountain tent. It is a mountain tent designed for minimum weight. Oh, and then we look inside and see a summer “liner.” But that’s all good.
The dramatic rake of the Foray’s ridgeline, beefy guy-outs, hooded vents, and build all suggest serious weather protection.
A CLOSER LOOK
The poleset, as so many are these days, is permanently connected via stout plastic swivels. Pole ends have a ball that snaps into a socket receiver. The ridge pole extends about 1-foot forward of the main arch; the rear end of the ridge extends about a foot past the rear arch. The Jake’s Foot connection of rainfly to tent body/pole tip seems like a nifty idea. The plastic foot that the pole fits into has a cross-wise rod for the fly to clip to; the fly has a wide flat clip that snaps onto the rod with a positive “snick.” It works fine, but in practice I found it required some futzing and fumbling, both in attaching and taking apart, that I would rather not experience. I’m surprised this fitting continues to see use.
It’s not just this tent: I hate Jake’s Feet. They smell like rotting swamp. I find the fly clips stubborn to attach, and more stubborn to detach. More often than not, I find myself like this: tent pole out of socket, fly still attached.
Although there are robust center-panel guy-outs on the fly, there is no correlating link to the inner tent. There is less air space between the fly and body of the Foray than we typically experience; if there were a simple toggle or something so you could hook the center of each side to the fly, it would provide a bit more livable space for essentially no weight.
It’s hard to photograph, but here you can kind of see the close proximity of fly to inner canopy. There is separation, to be sure, but relatively little. In practice, I found it easier to brush against the outer fly than with similar tents.
Bottom-edge side tie-outs are a bit odd. There is one on both the tent body and the fly, but the loops do not “meet up,” thus requiring a stake for each loop. There’s a tiny second loop on the fly, and it just about meets up with the tent body loop, but if you use that second loop it “staples” the edge of the fly right to the ground, minimizing airflow. The bigger loops are frequently referred to as “ski loops” on winter tents, but seem a bit out of place here. This brings up one issue I have with the Foray’s design. On one hand, storm-worthy tents are great, and this is clearly designed for such weather. However, this is NOT a four-season tent, and I feel that the fly should not go as close to the ground as it does. In summer you usually need maximum ventilation, and having the rainfly extend nearly to the ground reduces available ventilation.
Here you can see how much difference in staking tension there is between the inner and outer side tie-outs. The huge tie-out loops bespeak mountain heritage and the ability to “stake” out a tent with skis. But I think that skew is not in favor of the rest of this tent design.
If you stake the fly using the small loop along the side, there is almost no space to allow air flow… a detriment in a 3-season design.
The gap between ground and fly looks larger here than it looks or feels in person. It’s adequate, and quite possibly fine, but I think a little more space would be good.
Sorta kinda along this line of thought, I get the impression that the inner tent was adapted to the dimensions of the fly. Well, yeah, duh. But what I mean, more specifically, is that there is so little air space between the inner and outer tent that it almost seems like the designers said “Okay, we’ve got this fly. Let’s just make the inner the same, but scaled down two inches all around.” I had more “inner meets fly” incidents than I’ve had with any number of other similar tents I can remember.
So how ‘bout that body? It kind of strikes me like that person you keep dating, and dating, and dating… there’s a ton to love, but you’re not quite sure whether to take the hook. First, you can easily get a couple of standard-sized sleeping pads side by side, with a bit of room to spare. Bonus! There’s (relatively speaking) a ton of room in the “upper half,” nearest the door. The side walls are relatively steep, plenty of shoulder room, and not spacious but a realistically usable space for two. I am, however, completely baffled by some aspects of the door.
Room for two standard 20” x 72” sleeping pads, without them overlapping!
A tight zipper radius is found at the apex, doesn’t zip as readily, and frankly I didn’t find that extra bit of zipper particularly useful, anyway. I would just straighten out the zipper run. Second weird part of the door: there is roughly a foot of netting (of the upper canopy) that extends past the floor of the inner tent. Now, this does mean that the floor of the inner is very well inside the fly, and very well protected in any weather, but the upper volume added is not as useful as a longer floor would be. Although Brooks-Range specs the Foray as having an overall floor length of 90 inches, the real-world usable length is the 78” measurement they give, which I confirmed with my own measurements. The front width I found to be 50” and the rear width I found at 42”, both of which are precisely the measurements B-R has posted. After fiddling with some numbers, I think that B-R came up with an area of 30 square feet by using the full 90” length (the max usable length, from door into depth of foot “V”, was 86”) and erring toward the 50” width. Using the 78” length and calling the width an even 47” by my rough calcs are about 25.5 square feet of practical, usable floor area.
Check out the dramatic top overhang of the door. Square footage and usable length could be increased significantly by extending the floor to more closely match that overhang, without really compromising weather-resistance.
There is a distinct relationship between the front and back “halves” of the tent. While I greatly admire the low profile of the rear end, I found that with two people in the tent (or one person on one side, gear & dog on the other) my feet hit the top of the tent inner. What’s remarkable about this is that I’m 5’6” and have size 9 feet, and my feet are hitting the top of the tent inner when my head is just about butted up to the bottom of the tent door. WHOA! Not cool. Brooks-Range could fix this problem without too much futz (yeah, right… like re-patterning a tent is no futz!). I suggest inducing slightly more arch in the foot/rear-end pole and correspondingly raising the foot area of the inner. Wouldn’t require much to be effective. The easier part of the fix: make the door go straight down from the end of the ridgepole, instead of sloping foot-ward to the floor. It would be an easy gain of a foot in overall length, and I think users would far prefer the livability of the resultant space. The inner tent would still be very well protected from weather.
Anecdotally, I had the tent set up in my yard when we were hit with winds strong enough to remove the top half of a maple tree about 40 feet away from the Foray. The Foray stood proud through the storm with no evidence of, well, anything afterwards.
I feel as though I’ve used an undue amount of digital ink describing shortcomings of the Foray. It is, however, an excellent tent. It’ll stand up to just about any 3-season weather you throw at it, you can actually fit two people in there, and it’s wicked light for its class. (Brooks-Range specs the tent at 2 pounds 9 ounces, I found 2 pounds 9.75 ounces.) I believe that the attention I gave to the shortcomings was because this tent has a ton of promise, and is “so close to being there.” I would be really stoked to see a revised version. In the meantime, the Foray is very worthy of your consideration, particularly if you want a very light, very storm-worthy 3-season tent.