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Please help me choose a tent


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  • #3806544
    Wiley M
    BPL Member

    @wmelton17

    Question: What tent should I buy?

    Uses: Backpacking, bikepacking, rafting

    Location: A mix between rainy climate (WA, BC) and drier climates (CO, WY, MT…)

    Requirements: Not a fair weather shelter. I want something freestanding. A trekking pole tent does not work for me, and I don’t really like the idea of a semi-freestanding like a Nemo hornet or BA fly creek. I am undecided between a 1p and 2p.

    Priorities (in order):

    Performance in Rain/humidity – I hate worrying about getting wet. I would prefer something that has a dimensionally stable rain fly. Unfortunately a lot of the tents I am looking at have some sort of variation of silnylon, though I have heard good things about both of big sky and slingfin’s silnylon. I also ruled out the big sky soul because the door design looks like a nightmare in the rain. Fly first setup is obviously a big plus in this category.

    Performance in wind – It gets really windy in Colorado sometimes. Fortunately with the combo of guy lines I think all of my options are more than adequate here.

    Weight/packability – Goes without saying, I am looking for something light. I raced bikes when I was younger and am still a weight weenie. Some of these tents offer “bikepacking” poles that are a bit shorter. The difference in weight between the Big Sky’s bikepacking and UL poles is considerable, though the bikepacking poles are only 6cm shorter. The way I pack poles on my bike I don’t think the shorter poles make much of a difference.

    Ease of setup – Most of the time, I don’t want to worry about guy lines for an adequate pitch.

    Livability/comfort – I normally camp with a 6’6 WM versalite or a quilt. Anything shorter than 88 inches seems dicey for the versatile. I have never camped in a quilt in a 1p tent, I am somewhat worried about the narrow walls of a 1p with a quilt

    Versatility – I like the idea of having the choice between a mesh and a solid inner. Something I could use in some light winter conditions would be nice.

    Cost – Least important for me here.

    Options:

    Dragonfly – This was my original choice. The cutout in the rainfly is the main thing holding me back.

    Portal – This was my second choice. Seems like a great tent, wish it was silpoly.

    Evolution/Revolution – Also seem great, also wish they were silpoly. The 1p seems too narrow and the 1.5p seems a little too short. I like the fly first set up of the revolution, but also like being able to pitch it without a fly.

    Mirage – I am intrigued by this one, but not sure about the single wall in the PNW. Dry set up.

    Chinook – I like the idea of having the choice between mesh and solid and using the third pole. Not having to stake the vestibules is nice, especially when rafting.

    Arc Dome – Have to wait for this one. Dimensionally stable rainfly and looks like you don’t need to stake out vestibules.

    X-Dome – Same as Arc Dome, these seems to check my boxes.

    Conclusion:

    Which tent should I buy? Am I being too picky with rainfly materials? Should I wait for the tarptent or durston? Any tents I missed? I appreciate any thoughts you all have about my dilemma.

    #3806547
    JCH
    BPL Member

    @pastyj-2-2

    Priorities (in order):

    Performance in Rain/humidity – I hate worrying about getting wet.

    In my experience, a small 1P tent in the rain is miserable.  I’d stick with 2P.

    #3806549
    dirtbag
    BPL Member

    @dirtbaghiker

    I have and sometimes use a Nemo Firefly 2p freestanding tent. If you notice that cut on the fly,  not sure if its same as on Dragon fly tent,  but if it is.. It has not been an issue for me, even in heavy rain. 

    #3806562
    Wiley M
    BPL Member

    @wmelton17

    Yeah that was my though RE 1p or even the 1.5p tents. Here is the list filtered for 2p tents.

    I am close to pulling the trigger on a Revolution or the Portal, but am being picky on fly material. I have read that the sil/sil nylon these two use sag less than what I am probably used to.

    #3806566
    Dan
    BPL Member

    @dan-s

    Locale: Colorado

    Have you looked at the Six Moon Designs tents? I haven’t read super carefully through all the details in your post, but some of them might work for you? And they seem very affordable.

    #3806567
    Alex Wallace
    BPL Member

    @feetfirst

    Locale: Sierra Nevada North

    I had a 1-person BSI Mirage. Great tent, but condensation at the foot and head was hard for me to manage. I understand that BSI is currently updating the design to include a “DripDrain system” at the ends, which should help? Anyways, I’d recommend going with the double wall Revolution if you go with BSI.

    Otherwise, Slingfin Portal is outstanding and the build quality is higher than BSI.

    #3806569
    Wiley M
    BPL Member

    @wmelton17

    Thanks Alex. Have you used the portal too? How would you compare the rainfly material to the BSI SuprSil?

    #3806650
    Alex Wallace
    BPL Member

    @feetfirst

    Locale: Sierra Nevada North

    Yes, I have a Portal 2, but only used it on one trip so far. 3 days/2 nights, shared with a friend. We did get rain, hail, and moderate winds and it handled it well.

    The rainfly material feels thinner than BSI’s. Otherwise, both seem to perform about the same (e.g. stretch, sag, beading of water).

    #3808064
    Sam Farrington
    BPL Member

    @scfhome

    Locale: Chocorua NH, USA

    Please note that the Slingfin fabrics are nylon, and I found the fabric to have the issues consistent with nylon tent fabrics.  If that is not an issue, one of the lighter slingfin fabices may work for you.

    #3808072
    Kelly
    BPL Member

    @kellymackeyoutlook-com

    Zpacks introduced a new freestanding tent that you might want to check out:

    Free Zip 2P Freestanding Tent

    I own the predecessor to this tent, the Zpacks Free Duo.  I’m satisfied with my Free Duo.  My only gripe is splashback during rainstorms because of the short vestibule doors.

    #3808099
    bradmacmt
    BPL Member

    @bradmacmt

    Locale: montana

    The Big Agnes Copper Spur 1P is a stellar tent, and I find it fairly palatial for a 1P. I have used one in a variety of conditions including “light winter” as you put it. While it primarily has a mesh interior, it has a thin fabric at the lower portion of the inner to block wind. A nice compromise really. I don’t currently own one, but if I was looking for a freestanding 1P tent for everything you describe, that would be my top choice. Ive had two of them.

     

    #3808131
    bradmacmt
    BPL Member

    @bradmacmt

    Locale: montana

    Dragonfly – This was my original choice. The cutout in the rainfly is the main thing holding me back.

    Aside, I wanted to address this – I’ve used a Nemo Hornet 1P going back to 2016. It’s handled all kinds of hellacious weather admirably, even though it’s not technically a freestanding tent. If you really want the Nemo, I wouldn’t worry one bit about the fly cuttout. It’s just not a “thing” IME. In fact, I replaced my original Hornet with the Hornet Osmo Elite 1P. This year my wife and I replaced our BA Copper Spur 2P with a Hornet 3P too.

    #3808155
    Sam Farrington
    BPL Member

    @scfhome

    Locale: Chocorua NH, USA

    OK, so you may want a silpoly dome, but may have to wait a while until TT comes out with the silpoly arc dome.  You can sign up for the TNT arc dome on the TT site; but it is a nonwoven, though better than DCF, or so TT thinks, as I do also; TT says the TNT will be better than DCF and less expensive.  How much remains to be seen when TT starts selling.

    Most of the so-called domes use the hubba type design, which means hubs and struts that don’t lend themselves to strength in blows, and add to weight.  The TT arc dome uses full length flex-poles which are stronger, and pitch faster.  Since the flex is less pronounced, it may also work with carbon shafts that run 0.247  oz/running foot, much lighter than Easton’s best alloys.

    You seem to have ruled out most of the other domes, so it may be worth waiting for the arc dome TNT, or even the silpoly.  I use Australian tents so am in no hurry; but you may have to settle for the TNT or even the silpoly that appears to be slated for even later for the arc dome.  Some dislike the lesser pole flex, due to less inner space; but compared to concave saggy A-frames,  are palatial.  And the lower flex pole design presents much less walls against the wind, so is far more aerodynamic; hence wind resistant.  It is a trade-off between inner space and reduction of wind force against against the outer walls.  T’wer me, I would wait on the TT Dome in the silpoly; or start looking at Aussie and New Zealand domes.  They’ve been coping with awesome wind blasts longer.

    Granted, I am dead sent against laminated SUL unwoven tents.  They are not only outrageously expensive; but far less durable, as was shown on the Skurka sponsored trek posted on BPL:

    https://backpackinglight.com/forums/topic/dcf-shelter-failure-during-a-hailstorm-in-alaska-skurka-video/#comments

    The silpoly fabrics, with a mini-ripstops, are ideal, and are what I suspect some of the cottage makers are using on tarps.

    #3808174
    baja bob
    BPL Member

    @bajabob

    Locale: West

    The last ripstop polyester tent I had the fabric tore like paper.  It might have less sag when wet (one the many overused and repeated UL cliches) but certainly wouldn’t trust it over silnylon when it mattered in harsh conditions.

    #3808195
    Dan @ Durston Gear
    BPL Member

    @dandydan

    Locale: Canadian Rockies

    “Most of the so-called domes use the hubba type design, which means hubs and struts that don’t lend themselves to strength in blows, and add to weight.”

    The main structural problem with the hubba type design isn’t the hubs and struts themselves, but that the two dual arcs quickly merge into a single arch for a large span, so it ends up behaving more like a single arc tent (e.g. weaker). In essence, it is a single arc tent with a little bit of extra support from the forked ends.

    The hubs themselves are not the problem as any freestanding tent has lots of joints/ferrules (between the pole sections) and a hub is just a particularly robust ferrule joint (e.g. if you took a simple arc and added a hub in the middle, there would be no loss in strength). The cross strut also isn’t the issue, as it is an add on that doesn’t have much effect on the overall strength since the core structure is still there (e.g. the SlingFin Portal is a dual arc tent with a cross bar that is quite sturdy). It’s that merging of the dual arcs into a single arc for a major portion of the span that causes the loss in sturdiness. Theoretically you could use larger/stronger tubing for the single arc portion to compensate and make a Hubba style pseudo-single arc tent that is similar in strength to a dual arc, but the Hubba uses the same size tubing in the single arc portions so it does behave closer to a single arc tent.

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