Friday, June 25, 2010

Backpacking Advice: BackpackingTent Reviews and Features

Today I wanted to give some backpacking advice on features that you need to look for in a tent as well as a few backpacking tent reviews.

After selecting the style of tent that you are going to need it is a good idea to look at the features of the tent.  Many of these features can help you to have a better backpacking experience. Others are options that you don't necessarily have to have, but may find you want them.  It's a personal choice.  In just a minute, we will get into tent features, but first let's look at our first review:

Backpacking Tent Reviews:  #1  Coleman Hooligan 2 Backpacking Tent

"I just got back from Great Smoky Mt. National Park and my brother and I used this tent for 4 days of backpacking. It turned into 4 days of rainforest like climate and this tent didnt leak a drop. There were some substantial downpours at night that had me nervous about the money I had saved on buying this tent. The tent held up great. Just like any tent that I own it was sealed prior to the trip. Just like it was mentioned in other reviews you should prob. invest in better stakes as the tent is not freestanding so good stakes matter. The ones that come with it are the cheap metal kind that come with most small tents. I do have to admit that weight was a little much for backpacking but for two people you cant expect much more."

The next bit of backpacking advice I would like to share with you is on the waterproof features.  As you can tell from the review above, the tent did not leak a drop.  You will want to consider a tent with a tub floor attached to the tent.  In this way, the seams do not lay on the ground.  You can also look for tents with sealed seams.  In many tents, the seams are sewed but there are tiny needle marks that will let in moisture.  If the seams are sealed, then no water will be able to get in.  Before I get to the next bit of backpacking advice, let's look at another tent review. 

Backpacking Tent Reviews:  #2  Eureka Pinnacle Pass 2A Performance 7-Foot by 5-Foot Two-Person Backpacking Tent

"I laugh when I see people say "There are lighter tents out there, but for more money". Oh really? name one.... That is 59 inches by 89 inches and weighs less than 5 lbs. Hmmm, Big Agnes Seedhouse 2? Nope they are 84" x 52" x 42", not even rectangular, only 6-8 oz lighter (I bought titanium stakes, which I use between different tents, the Pinnacle is 4 lbs 12 oz in the bags with light stakes) $70 more expensive ($120 since the pinnacle can be found for $99) with 9 less square feet and no real vestibule(s).

The Pinnacle Pass 2 A
1. Weighs 4 lbs 14 oz with all the bags, mine is 4lbs 12 oz with lighter stakes
2. 36.5 square feet, its 89" x 59". When I car camp I put a Coleman Queen size air mattress in it and it fits perfectly (A solo air bed tent that is super comfy for one or two) can't do that with ANY other "2 Man" backpacking tent!
3. Has two LARGE gear vestibules.

Hmm what else, REI half dome? Nope 5 lbs 8 oz, $150, only 31.8 Sqft

new REI quarter dome T2? Nope 4oz lighter, but 6.7 less sqft and $269

bigger REI Quarter Dome T2 Plus, almost, same exact weight, but still .84 sqft less room and $300!

Lets go extreme, the MSR Carbon Reflex 2 at $500, weighs 24 oz less, BUT is not free standing and has only 29.2 sqft, 7 1/4 less.
or maybe a Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2? (much better than the Carbon reflex) It is 2 lbs 2oz lighter, but again 5.5 sqft less area and $350.

How about "The fly doesn't cover the whole tent" Uh, Hello... McFly, it's a backpacking tent, they are trying to cut down the weight. The fly covers ever place that has noseeum mesh, and not the other water-proof areas, plus it creates two good sized vestibules for gear. Backpackers don't normally store their gear in the tent with them like car campers.

Speaking of water-proof, ALL tents should be seam sealed by the buyer, yes, even that $500 MSR Carbon Reflex 2, read the manual.

I own a lot of tents (even more sleeping bags). Are there lighter 2 man FREE STANDING tents out there, Not really. Most of you seem to think these "2 man" tents are too small, including this one. Is a Queen sized bed too small for two people in your world? because my Queen size air mattress fits in this tent.

I have a tent with 5.5 sqft MORE room than this tent that only weighs 2 1/2 lbs, BUT it is not free standing AND costs $265 (not bad really, a Tarptent Rainshadow 2). So it is $165 more and is a single wall tent so you have to watch out for condensation.

At $99-170 for 36.5 sqft tent that weighs less than 5 lbs with the stakes, guy lines, poles, fly and bags. This is hard to beat."

Great backpacking advice and comments in that one I would say.  By the way, what color is your tent?  Remember, that for summer months you will want to have a lighter colored tent to reflect the heat, and in the winter you will want to use a darker color tent to absorb heat.  I will get back to the backpacking advice in just a second, but for now let's look at the final review.

Backpacking Tent Reviews:  #3  Eureka Tetragon 8 Adventure 8-Foot by 7-Foot Four-Person Tent

"I bought this tent to use during motorcycle touring. The packed size is a little long to allow it to be placed in the trunk of my 86 Goldwing but we take a trailer anyway. It is a good size for two large men with air mattresses and we have had three inside. It sets up easily but I found it necessary to upgrade on the tent stakes. The door is a simple zipper system that hasn't missed a beat, as long as you grab the zipper pull correctly, it easily navigates past the storm flap for the zipper across the bottom of the door. The pockets inside are adjustable to several locations and are very handy to keep track of items while you sleep. All of the mesh that is covered up by the rain fly is great for ventilation but doesn't retain much heat on cold nights. This is not a big deal as long as you plan accordingly with an appropriate sleeping bag. The extension over the door and window are a nice touch and I have observed no sign of the pole ripping through the pocket and I have used this tent for three years. My friend has a much larger tent, but we take this one because it is just that easy to set up, tear down and pack away. There are many models within the Tetragon series of Eureka tents, just select the size you need."

Ok, back to my last little bit of backpacking advice.  So, next let's talk about space.  How much space does the tent have?   Be sure you are going to have enough space and have room for all the people who will be staying in the tent.   Some tents come with a little entrance way, which is a good place for muddy boots and such. 

Lastly, consider how much the tent is going to weigh when you are carrying it.  It should be lightweight, but still be able to withstand the elements. 

Thank you for stopping by and checking out this backpacking advice and backpacking tent reviews!  Have a good trip! 

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