The Eureka Zeus 2EXO is a lightweight single wall tent with exoskeleton frame that stands out because of its numerous features, reasonable price, and quality construction. On the other hand, it has a flawed venting system and forgoes potential weight savings in favor of unnecessary features and more durable fabrics. See our review of the Kelty Flight 2, which is a very similar tent but with slightly better features, weatherproofing, and headroom.
• Tent Type
|single wall with floor|
• Fabric Description
• Weight Full Package
As supplied by manufacturer with stuff sacks, stakes, guylines, etc.
• Weight Minimum Package
Includes tent body and fly, minimum necessary stakes and guylines, no stuff sacks or extra hardware.
• Floor Area
• Floor Area/Minimum Weight Ratio
|0.46 ft2/oz (1.5 m2/kg) using Backpacking Light measured values.|
• Vestibule Area
Ease of setup
The Eureka Zeus 2EXO is set up by first inserting the poles in grommets at the corners, and then raising and attaching the tent body to the poles using plastic quick clips.
The Eureka Zeus 2EXO is easy to set up and achieve a taut pitch. As a single walled tent, the tent body and urethane coated, non-breathable fly are one piece. After laying out the tent body, extend the two primary poles and insert them diagonally into grommets at the bottom corners such that the poles cross each other at the top. The tent body is pulled up to the poles and attached with plastic quick clips. As the tent is free standing, it is not necessary to stake down the tent body until after erecting the tent and placing it in the proper location. Once erected, the tent corners, attached vestibule, and side vents can be anchored using the included stakes. At a minimum, and with good weather, only four stakes are needed to extend the vestibule and keep the side vents open.
Eureka uses a plastic carabiner style quick clip for their Zeus line to attach the poles to the tent body. The pole clips are easy to attach and remove making quick work of set up and take down.
The tent features a small but functional vestibule. The vestibules require two stakes to pitch securely, but can be held open by tying off to nearby trees or rocks.
Usable Features / Options
It appears that Eureka was targeting a market that wants a lighter weight tent without sacrificing features. As such, the Zeus 2 has many of the features typically found in much heavier setups: full coverage no-see-um bug protection, weather resistant floor, vestibule, interior stash pocket, interior clothesline attachment loops, multiple vents, and zippered entries.
The Zeus 2EXO has two zippered entryways, an outer weatherproof door on the vestibule and an inner door designed to eliminate bugs while permitting airflow. The doors are zippered with YKK #5 coil zippers. The exterior YKK zipper consistently catches in the fly fabric. This problem occurred most often between the exterior zipper and its associated storm flap.
The Eureka does not have external tie outs on the tent body for use in heavy winds, but a work around is possible (described below).
Everything comes with stuff sacks; one for the stakes, one for the poles, and yet another intended to hold the tent body and other stuff sacks.
The Zeus has relatively short pole segments (14.25 inches). The benefit, we suppose, is the ability to market the complete package in a more reasonably sized stuff sack (6 by 15 inches). At 14.25 inches long, however, the poles are too long to fit horizontally in most, if not all, backpacks and would have to be removed from the main stuff sack and inserted vertically in the pack. This being the case, Eureka could consider making each pole segment a little longer to reduce the number of reinforced junctions needed. It should be noted that these comments are tailored for backpacking. Certainly, one who is bike touring or sea kayaking may appreciate the all-in-one-sack packaging found in the Zeus 2EXO.
Weight / Sizing
In tents, weight reduction is usually achieved by using thinner fabrics, replacing tent poles with trekking poles, losing freestanding capability, reducing convenience features, and/or reducing the overall size. The comparatively full-featured Zeus 2EXO tent achieves weight savings by utilizing a single layer design and reducing interior size, to the point of being snug, while only saving a nominal amount of weight through fabric selection.
Flexibility of Pitching
The freestanding design of this tent limits flexibility in pitching. All of the included poles are essential; it is not possible to substitute trekking poles. Stakes are only needed for the vestibule and side vents when climatic conditions will allow. Heavier winds will necessitate the need for the additional four corner stakes. There is some flexibility in pitching the vestibule, which can be fully closed or unstaked and opened wide to enjoy improved ventilation and expanded views. Fair skies are a must here as the nylon and mesh inner doors are not weatherproof.
The quick rising, near vertical sidewalls and fairly steep ends, create an efficient use of floor space. What minimal amount of wall slant that exists is concentrated at the ends and is useful to store odds and ends of gear and clothing.
The Eureka Zeus vestibule is especially small and barely provides suitable gear storage. Using it to store gear greatly reduces one’s ability to enter and exit the tent. The vestibule does not facilitate entering the tent during a rainstorm as the inner doors are not weatherproof and the vestibule doors provide minimal rain protection when open. Although leaving the vestibule door partially closed helps protect the inner door from rainfall, entry becomes impossible due to the vestibule’s already small size.
The Zeus pitches tautly by virtue of its exoskeleton design. It has a trim profile that reduces the surface area exposed to wind. We found it to be stable in high winds with minimal flapping, particularly if pitched lengthwise into the wind to reduce the surface area. When wind direction is fairly constant, pitching lengthwise into the wind is the best method.
Although the Eureka lacks formal guyline tie outs, we found that attaching cords to the plastic carabiner pole clips was a suitable alternative. The clip locations are not optimal as the clips are slightly higher or slightly lower than the mid points along the corner edges and under heavy winds, some flexing of the tent wall still occurs. Guylines should be attached approximately mid-way up the side of a shelter to balance wind force. Guylines attached too high causes the tent sides to buckle inward under high wind.
Photographed from below, it is obvious the "High" portion of Eureka’s "High-Low Ventilation" is not doing its job. What is not seen is a square foot of mesh, completely covered by the canopy.
Here is Eureka’s High/Low vent, located at the bottom of the door, in open position. We noticed very little improvement in airflow with the vent open.
The Eureka Zeus 2EXO has large side vents. If it were not for the side vents, there would be little airflow in the tent.
The Eureka Zeus has the necessary elements to prevent direct water entry – zippers are covered by storm flaps, the top and side vents are fully protected by canopy awnings, and all seams are factory sealed. We experienced a heavy, high-wind rainstorm during our testing that was unable to breach these entry points.
In the event of a mid-afternoon rainstorm, however, this tent does not provide comfortable refuge for its intended two occupants. This has nothing to do with weather resistance but rather with interior volume. There is only room enough for one person to sit up comfortably and contact with the condensation soaked interior walls is frequent.
Despite the tight quarters, the Zeus kept us dry. We did notice some water movement through the walls after prolonged rain. Several hours after a heavy rain, drops of water remaining on the exterior of the tent slowly soaked their way through to the interior. Moisture movement through the floor when pitched on moist ground was not observed.
The Zeus 2EXO has a small, nonfunctioning roof vent. Because it was placed just above a bend in the tent body, it does not remain open but lays flat against the bug netting. We found it necessary to insert a sock or stick in between the mesh and vent flap from the outside to keep the vent open and facilitate air movement. The tent also has a small gimmicky flap at the bottom of the inner entry door with "High-Low Ventilation" prominently written upon it. The Eureka already has excellent ground level ventilation along the large side vents, and the rest of the door is open mesh, so opening the flap (by separating the Velcro attachments) causes an imperceptible improvement in airflow. The amount of increased airflow caused by opening the door flap was insignificant compared to the improvement in airflow achieved by propping open the top vent.
Condensation occurs to some degree in almost all tents and generally occurs on the inside of the canopy. It is not a problem unless the occupants and associated gear get wet. With single wall tents, condensation problems are measured by the amount of condensation and the frequency of occupant contact with the inside walls. Overall, we found the ventilation design used in this tent minimized the amount of condensation; however, the interior dimensions are tight enough that frequent contact occurs with what condensation there is. Condensation did not occur to such a degree that water droplets formed, though the walls did feel damp at times.
The Zeus 2EXO provides exceptional bug protection. All interior doors and vents are either nylon ripstop or no-see-um bug netting and the full nylon floors prevent entry from below. The main concern occurs in hot weather when the interior of the tent is too warm to make fully closing the doors an agreeable arrangement. Options (other than the ones mentioned above) to further adjust airflow, and cool down the tent, do not exist.
Durability Field Observations
The use of heavier fabrics, particularly in the floor, and reinforcements at all tie outs increase the durability of this tent. During our field tests, we were unable to cause any serious damage above minor abrasion under normal use conditions (camping in red rock and cactus country with two kids!). Factory applied seam sealing tape added some strength to the seams by taking much of the load off the double stitching and distributing it across the fabric. We also liked the use of bar tacking at all stress points.
The implied durability stated here covers general three-season backpacking use. This tent is not designed, nor would we expect it to handle, extreme winter travel. The relatively light fabric, as compared to serious mountaineering tents, and two-pole design limits its resistance to tearing or folding under heavy snow weight.
The Eureka Zeus 2EXO is not particularly expensive. In fact, it would be difficult to find a decent two-person tent at the same price loaded with all the convenience features, other than its "cousin," the Kelty Flight 2. However, the Eureka is not particularly exceptional either and gets a slightly higher than average rating.
Recommendations for Improvement
If weight is a concern, the Eureka could be improved by reducing the convenience features and fabric weights. Interior pockets could be left out. The fly could be constructed out of 1.3 oz/yd2 silnylon. The plastic quick release pole clips could be replaced with grosgrain webbing. Although these changes would decrease weight, not everyone will appreciate the reduction in convenience features and fabric durability.
The Zeus really suffers from a poorly designed top vent. The vent cover fabric lies flat against the no-see-um netting preventing proper airflow. This problem is worse when the tent body is wet with rain, a time when increased air flow would be desirable. We suggest redesigning the vent cover by raising it above the nylon mesh. In addition, the vestibule is too small for the amount of gear two occupants need to store in it. As a result, much of our gear had to be stored in the already cramped quarters of the interior. Widening the very front of the vestibule at the point where it is staked to the ground would likely do the trick while adding minimal weight. We would also like to see less snagging between the vestibule zipper and its associated storm flap. Finally, lose the gimmicky "High/Low" vent. We found it ineffective at changing the interior climate of the tent and would much rather have the simplicity and weight reduction from its absence.