I have recently suggested that TarpTent (www.tarptent.com) is a good source for well designed and very light tents. Their website is very useful and includes a video of each tent being set up and broken down. After carefully scouring their website, brother Mark and I have decided on the Scarp 2 to be used for the first time on the Meanest Link. Here is the e-mail I just sent to Mark(the even lighter tent we had considered was the Double Rainbow):
Just had a nice phone conversation with the owner. He was glad to have me point out an error on the "overview": the trekking pole reference does not apply to this tent. This is a double wall tent, either mesh liner (3 season) or solid liner (winter). The mesh captures any condensation. There should be little or no misting inside even in a heavy rain, especially with the mesh liner. He says it is a roomy tent for two persons because of vertical walls and height. The optional cross poles are for snow load and very high winds. Without them, the tent can be made more wind resistant by guying the end rope at a more upward angle--to a tree or over a canoe paddle. The floor is very tough and normally needs no ground cloth, which can capture a water bubble and force water through the floor if laid on. They offer free scraps of silnylon and netting for repairs as well as selling GE Silicone II (also available at most hardware stores) for seam sealing and repairs. Use only silicone for sealing. The aluminum poles rarely break. Just be careful as with any pole to seat it fully to avoid splitting the female end. Pole repair sleeve is offered. Order by early May for end of June or earlier delivery. All of which makes me agree with you that despite the extra lb., the Scarp 2 at 3 lbs. 12 oz. is the best tent for this trip and future use. It goes up quickly with one person doing the setup. Even faster with two persons.
Im rocking a eureka mountain pass 2 and I think its ideal for 2 guys provided they are under 5'11. My feets touch the walls of the tent when sleeping in the direction that provides us more room between my buddie and I . We build a wall beteeen us with our packs and gear. With just me in there and an air mattress its great. Lots of space! Also tent comes in a waterproof bag so you could still have shelter if everything gets wet somehow. I give the tent 2 thumbers up.
For years now, I have used a three person tent for Liz and me. Between the vestibule(s) and inside the tent there is plenty of room for us plus two packs. But at age 68 and the Meanest Link on the horizon, Mark and I are willing to sacrifice some comfort for less weight. The Scarp2 as you will see on the website allows you to push the walls out a bit, even making room enough for three sleeping pads in a pinch.
As for recommending a tent I haven't tested, yes, that is what I am doing. Purchase at your own risk. I don't think I have ever bought a tent that was recommended by someone else. I have always researched and thought about and asked questions about the tent as thoroughly as I could, and then took the maiden voyage. No icebergs so far. TarpTents come with a lot of positive reviews and testimonials, and I was impressed with the character of the man at the other end of the line. Wheee...here we go again.
IMHO: I just luv my 4 person Tim Horton's popup/umbella
style tent. Mind you, its a bit too spacious at some sites so my next best tent choice is the 3 person Coleman . Perfect
for 1 man + 1 other person and room still for the dog
I think John is saying that after some pretty extensive research (and past experience with quite a variety of tents) this is the one we have settled on to take on the trip we have planned. With both of us being on the far side of our 60's and given the extensive portaging we'll be doing in the course of the trip, we are placing quite a premium on weight and simplicity (we figure we'll be doing at least 83 portages totaling over 58,000k, or 37+ miles, in the 13 days we are under way), and this seems to fit the bill. In other words, it appears to us that this is the best tent we could find for our purposes. We'll tell you whether or not we recommend it after the trip, provided of course that we survive.
Congrats on the tent purchase and please let us know how it works out post-trip.
Doing all the homework by checking and comparing specs, reading reviews, watching setup videos, knowing your own needs/requirements, getting live demos at the store of a product, asking questions about it, etc all help solidify your decision and reduce the risk of a 'bad' purchase.
Looks like a great tent. I like the pull-out aspect of the corners for that squared off feeling of the Cotton A-Frame tents.
My 'favorite' 2-man tent is the NF VE-25. Great design, stands up in the strongest of winds, 4-season use, good ventilation, tons of space, no shortage of gear pockets, full-fly coverage, never leaked, lifetime warranty.
Yes, the Hogback was tempting. I was a little put off, though, by the size of its footprint in situations where good tent sites may be small and few and by the extra time it needs for setup. It would make a great base camp tent. In a lot of rain it could serve as a rec room for four to six persons. In the case of the Meanest Link, we need things as simple and light as possible so we don't have to think too much or expand more energy when we're really beat. A lot of by guess and by gosh goes into gear purchases.
One of the things that I have on the 'must-have' list is the ability to set up the tent fly first and then set the tent up underneath it.
I've been keeping myself amused this winter by reading trip logs for a lot of long distance hikers and bar none, keeping the inner tent dry in the pouring rain has moved to the top of the priority list.
PaPaddler, I hear ya on the hammock thing but as long as I'm taking a dog along that has never slept a day (or night) in his life outside, I figure the tent is the way to go. That and I'm making a silnylon overthrow for my sleeping gear...when he gets wet, he stays wet for hours and hours!!
I have and absolutely love a mec Wanderer 2 netting. I use it on my spring solo trip and when I car camp in the summer and fall with the wife. The netting is awesome for venting in humid weather and for star gazing at night if there is no need for a fly. The two, big!, vestibules are great and means not having to crawl over each other in the night. We bring our 2 packs in to the tent and use the main vestibule for shoes. It's easy to set up, a tad heavy for tripping but I am still young and it has weathered some pretty good storms and kept me nice and dry.
Curses on you, too, Peter B. We have yet to order the tent, and now you have me taking a hard look at the Hogback. The owner is great to talk with if you have any questions.
Beth, the Scarp 2 and the Hogback both a removable mesh liner that can be left at home to save even more weight in a bugless situation. Even better--unlike most tents that require that you put up the inner tent first, followed by the fly, thereby getting the inner tent wet if it is raining, these two tents go up in one operation, with the inner mesh tent and bathtub floor always clipped to and covered by the outside waterproof tent. You could, therefore, set up the outer tent first and then clip in the mesh layer, but I don't see any advantage in that. This is all very clear if you view the videos at www.tarptent.com.
I haven't seen it setup yet so I can't comment too much more other than it looks interesting. Specs look good too 1.8kg and 3.4 sq.m floor space. That's about half the weight my Tarn 3 and about the same size floor wise.
Two recent emails: the bottom one written first from me to Mark; the top one his reply. The first trip (the one referenced) for the new tent will be the Meanest Link. The startling thing is that Mark is right about the "revolutionary idea" of being able to set up and take down the tent and fly as one unit, never exposing the inner mesh layer to rain. That also greatly speeds up the process. Even after watching the videos that had not dawned on me. TarpTent needs to make that a bragging point.
For comparison, the LL Bean tent that Louise and I use on Georgian Bay is 8x8. Putting up the fly first is really a revolutionary idea and should go a long way toward keeping things drier both going up and taking down. For what it is worth, we do have two off days scheduled, so we will have some layabout time.
On Mon, Mar 28, 2011 at 10:27 PM, John and Liz Scarlett wrote:
Maybe I'm wrong. I looked in the Campmor catalog and most of the 3 person tents have the same sq. footage as the Hogback. It has six stakes instead of the Scarp2's four, but otherwise seems easy to setup. Even the optional cross pole might be worth the trouble. Pricey, for sure, but we would enjoy the room if we get a lot of rain. The trouble is that this trip won't allow for slowing down because of rain. What to do.
----- Original Message -----
I'd like to make one point about the "revolutionary idea" of setting up the fly and the inner part of the tent as one unit. This is hardly revolutionary, although it is hard to find examples nowadays. Back when Cannondale used to make tents, the majority, if not all, of their designs were a one piece, with the inner part of the tent sewn integral with the fly. I bought one of the last ones in 1987 and it is still my number one without a doubt tent. I have tried many tents over the years and have purchased the Wanderer 2 and 4. Although there are lots of excellent makes out their, personally, and speaking to people who also own a Cannondale tent, it remains the benchmark, industry best.
So if it's so good, why can't you buy them anymore? Because in the late 1980s Cannondale got out of the tenting business to concentrate primarily on bicycles. I toyed with the idea of setting up manufacturing of the Cannondale line, but after enquiring with them, I was told they still owned the patent for the design and had no intentions of selling it.
Cannondale put together a last production run in 1987 of about 100 tents. I managed to buy one through Cliff Jacobson, who many of you may know as an avid canoeist and outdoor writer.
Anyway, there you have a bit of the history on the subject.
Tarptents by the way have an enviable reputation amongst the US long distance hikers for their UL tarptents.
Next time I'm at MEC I want to take a look at the new Black Diamond Mesa 2P tent. One of the things I've been looking for other than the ability to pitch fly first is that it have solid walls at least half way up. While I love the netting, all it would take is one paw on a side panel or door and it would be toast. The BD Mesa appears to have solid walls just about high enough to prevent MacKenzie from wrecking the place. It is all mesh up top which is where I like it.
It's either that or I spring for the Scarp 2 and make up silnylon half wall panels to velcro on to protect the mesh. Good thing I sew!
John, when is the meanest link planned and are you doing it all, all at once or a section?
We're hoping to get it together to do the northern portion of the Meanest Link this summer, going from Huntsville to Opeongo by way of the Big East River to McCraney, then north through Butt to Tim and the Nip, then down river to Brent, down the Pet to the Crow, then up through Lavielle and Dickson to Ope. If we manage to pull that off, we hope to finish it the following season.
You've got that right, Raccoon. That's the way we traveled on our first trip into the Park years ago, but we were so much younger then. It really works best when you're between the ages of 14 and 24, at least that is what we told our son and his friend when they tried it on this trip in the early 90's.
I congratulate John Scarlett on his ability to name the best two-person tent without using it, by reviewing such unbiased sources as the vendor's website and chatting with the company's owner. I, of much humbler capabilities, must actually perform several unnecessary additional tasks, such as buying a tent, setting it up and sleeping in it for several nights, before I would venture to name one the best two-person tent.
I did some research before purchasing a new lightweight tent last year. Here's a comparison of the Six Moon Designs Haven with the Tarptent Scarp 2 which may be of interest.
Both the Scarp2 and Haven are two-person, double-walled tents with two entrances and two vestibules and have roughly similar interior dimensions. The Haven weighs considerably less than the Scarp2. However, the stated weight does not include the weight of two trekking poles and six stakes which are required to set it up. If you do not use trekking poles and wish to purchase tent poles and stakes from Six Moon Designs, they will add 173 grams, making the total weight 1,133 grams. This is still some 500 grams lighter than the Scarp2.
Note that the specifications are those of the 2011 edition of the SMD Haven Tarp (fly) and Nettent combo. I own, and have used, the 2010 Haven Tarp and Nettent.
The Haven sets up fly-first, with the Nettent suspended beneath it. This isn't a particularly revolutionary concept. Many European tentmakers adopted this sensible design years ago. You just need to look for a fly-first tent if you want one.
I have used the Haven combo in rainy weather without experiencing condensation. The outer tarp/fly is 254cm long, extending well over the Nettent to prevent splashback during rain. You can use only the fly in bugless conditions.
I do not mean to take anything away from Henry Shires and his Tarptents. He has earned an enviable reputation in the lightweight tent business. But he's not the only maker of lightweight tents.
I considered the Scarp2 in my purchase decision, but decided to buy the Haven because: 1) it weighs less, much less if you use trekking poles as I do; 2) it's longer, which suits my 193 cm. height.
Lightweight tents from boutique tentmakers such as Six Moon Designs, Tarptent and Mountain Laurel Designs are not for everyone. The tents require some consideration in setup to get the right pitch, since they usually offer several different options. So I would not recommend them to a first-time tent owner who is learning about grommets, guy lines and stakes.
You may need to wait several weeks, sometimes several months, between placing an order to the tentmaker, which is usually based in the USA, and receiving the shipment. You will not find these tents in the usual retail outlets, so you cannot easily try one without buying it.
While these tents are reasonably durable, they aren't "beaters" you could confidently lend to the local boy scout troop without risking some damage. Similarly, if you have a big, rambunctious dog, they are probably not the best shelter solution.
However, if you know your way around a tent and are prepared to research your purchase, you could be rewarded with a real gem of a lightweight tent from a boutique tentmaker.
While I buy many things from Mountain Equipment Co-op (I received a $330 patronage share redemption cheque for my 2009 purchases), the Co-op is not the best source for ultralight gear. A tent like MEC's Wanderer 2 weighs 3.4kg. It's a solidly-built tent. But I wouldn't want to carry it around every day. The MSR Fast Stash tent that MEC sells sounds lightweight at just 1.8kg. But I think it's heavy for a single-wall tent. One wall is not the best way to avoid condensation problems.
A two-person tent can be a tight squeeze when occupied by two bigger-than-average people. If weight isn't an issue, then a three-person tent offers a bit of stretching out space for two.
It really is one of the wonderful things about this forum, how much we can learn from each other. I had not heard of Cannondale tents from the 1980's, nor ever considered tents from Europe, nor the world of boutique tents before John began exploring that option. It has been a revelation.
I made the comment about the "revolutionary idea" of fly-first tents in an e-mail exchange with John relative to the tent he was considering and in the context of my own tent experience, which is pretty well limited to tents available from the larger recreational outlets over the years. I didn't realize I was passing judgement on the evolution of tent design in the world. I'm sorry if that was misinterpreted.
With that, I think I'll crawl back under my canoe and rest my keyboard for awhile.
Well I just bought an MSR Mutha Hubba 3 person tent. I got an incredible deal on it so I'm hoping it lives up to its reputation. One of the big things I like about it is that it's half the weight of our old tent. Down to 6 lbs from 13 lbs+ packed weight for the old one.
It is also a clip design as opposed to sleeves for the poles, so I'm expecting it to be a lot less work to set up.
One other reason to mention the Mutha Hubba on this thread is that the fly can be set up independent of the tent. Add a ground sheet and you have an even lighter weight option for the non-bug seasons. Once I have the tent (should be able to pick it up on Friday) then I can figure out if you can hook the tent on after you have set up the fly.
Nice photos. Had no idea Canada Day attracts such a crowd on the river. As far as I know, the only people crazy enough to go up the Big East are those trying to tackle the Meanest Link. We'd like to reach Bend Rapids the first day, roughly 33k (33,000m ), which is an awfully ambitious first day, actually the longest of the trip. So, we'll see . . . best layed plans, and all that.
First, I'm going to say, , what is the "best" tent depends on the criteria. One of the group of friends I camp with always take trips with few portages. I have carried a cheap CTC bug tent, a 9x12 family tent with a folding bed and queen airmat, with all the fixings with those guys. I could stand up to get dressed, sit and have tea at the coffee table on the folding chairs. We ended up staying three nights at the same campsite, it was just like having a little cabin. Honestly, if you were out there with your little wall tent on that trip it would have been a great source of amusement to me. One of my packs was so heavy I actually pulled a hammy lifting it, once, but hey, it was a minor pull.
The point here is what is the perfect tent depends on many different factors. For myself, I'd rather not have a wall tent. My El Capitan AC 3 man gives me room, as I'm fairly stiff, and comfort even in bad weather. I find wall tents too restrictive.That pointy roof is just irritating. MY AC is more wieght, but I've carried it across 2 k portages. I'm sensing the physical capabilities of the the person camping comes in to play here to. A person without much carrying capacity is going to make different decisions than someone like myself who for portages up to 300 meters is quite happy carrying a 40-50 pound pack and a 50 pound canoe at the same time. I have a fair bit of flexibility in that sense. My ex-special forces buddy has even more. I can't believe what that man can carry.
Anyway, I fiind the suggestion that canoe campers should be looking at the same gear as hikers a wee little bit presumptuous. Most of the time canoe gear is in the boat, not on your back. And while there may be days where the opposite is true, that's as much a function of planning as it is of necessity. Assuming that lightest is best is just that, an assumption. Before I got my El Capitan I did a pretty thorough analysis of the functionality of what was available. I didn't look at any wall tents. One of my first tents when I started canoe camping, right after I got rid of the heavy canvas tent, was a wall tent. IMHO , they are cramped, and I'm not happy in them. It's a personal thing. I'm not declaring my El Capitan AC "best" but for most of my trips, it's the best for me.
As for the best overall, that's way to personal. It's every man for himself. You may have a favourite, but it's just that, a person's favourite. Buying a tent because it's someone else's favourite just means at some point you're probably going to be buying another tent. I'm glad you're happy with your purchase, but... not for me.
Ricksterz, thank you so much for your input. My intention in bringing up this topic was not to lobby for a particular brand but merely to ask the question "what is the best two person tent" and to offer my research and experience, which obviously is limited but not as much as many folks'. I just got off the phone with Brandon Moak. He and his father Ron operate Six Moon Designs in Beaverton, Oregon. He is familiar with the TarpTent line and plans to add videos to their website. SMD uses Easton fiberglass sheathed carbon poles instead of the Easton aluminum poles used by TarpTent. Brandon claims they have never broken and are stronger than the aluminum--the opposite of the claim made by Tarptent. The new, improved Haven has yet to be produced or reviewed but will soon be ready for sale. Its total weight with six stakes and two carbon poles is 36.5 oz.--very impressive for a roomy, two door, two vestibule tent. Their are five additional tie-outs for wind and snow, requiring a potential total of 11 stakes. Thanks to you, Ricksterz, we have got to rethink what tent to purchase. I love this thread.
Brandon Moak said that the mesh liner does not have to be inserted after the fly is raised. It can stay clipped inside all the time. This is not an option mentioned in their description of the tent. It is a valuable feature for keeping the liner dry and for ease and speed of putting up the tent. Another nice feature of the tent is that it can be strung between two trees, eliminating the need for poles, which by the way are not centered on the A of the tent. They divide the A 40/60 so that one of the two slopes is steeper, making that side the preferred one for your head when sleeping.
Best? Favourite? (well new anyway) two person tent
March 31 2011, 2:02 PM
So this has been a fascinating thread and my thanx to all who contributed.
My wife and I wanted to get a tent lighter than our current 4.0 kg Eureka El Cap 3.
We looked at the MSR Mutha Hubba but for $389 at MEC, that tent has less floor space and smaller vestibules than the El Cap. Weight savings of only 0.9 kg didn't seem worth the money and space sacrifice.
Before this thread, I had never heard of Tarptents, or Six Moon Design or Mountain Laurel Designs.
New to the world of Ultra Light tents we visited all of these websites. Had an email exchange with Henry Shire and settled on a Tarptent Hogback, which has now been ordered.
So for $422 (US - which at today's rate of exhange comes out to $410-ish CAN) we get the Hogback with extra cross pole including the shipping from the USA to us. We cut the weight of our tent down to about 2 kg.
In the world of the Ultra Light this is a four person tent. In our world, it is for two people plus our Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retreiver.
The Hogback has slightly greater floor space than the El Cap 3, a little less headroom (but a broader peak height area) and smaller vestibules. No free lunch, right?
The thing is, that everyone who has chimed in on this topic is right. Because, after all, there is no one right answer to this question, only the collection of compromises that suit individual purposes.
Brothers Scarlett - since I already blamed you for this purchase in advance, be sure to check back in and 'fess up to what you wind up buying.
I know of the Cannondale tents, but only based on what Cliff Jacobson wrote about them. In his Canoeing Wild Rivers book and others he spoke very highly of them, and was so impassioned he had the company do a special order a few years after they discontinued their tent line. Hopefully Cannondale doesn't just sit on the patent, tents won't last forever so for those with one better baby it...
While the Hilleberg tents are not ultralight, they are relatively lightweight for all-season and alpine tents. They are built to withstand heavy snow loads and high winds.
Hilleberg is one of the European (Sweden-based) tentmakers I was thinking about when mentioning the history of fly-first tents. The company started selling one in 1973 (inner tent permanently attached to fly) and later modified the design so the inner tent could be detached from the fly for use in bugfree conditions.
Each Hilleberg tent is made in Europe by one person who attaches his/her name to the tent. Petra Hilleberg, daughter of the company founder, established the USA branch of the company in 2000. They have over two dozen USA retailers, though none are located in Canada. However, the USA branch will ship to Canada, as well as some of the USA dealers.
Hilleberg offers a free tent handbook (an enhanced catalog) which you may order at:http://www.hilleberg.com/OrderCatalog.htm . If you are at all interested in a heavy-duty winter tent, I recommend you request one. It includes samples of their rugged Kerlon tent fabrics. See if you can tear one apart!
These are relatively expensive tents, ranging in price from about $400 to more than $1,000 (USD). However, they have garnered some impressive reviews for performance under adverse conditions.
I have no personal experience with Hilleberg tents, though I am considering buying one for winter cold tenting.
Whew, what a ride. Ricksterz, the world of boutique tent makers you opened for me is fortunately a small one it seems, but it is almost non-existent if you try to get there through Google. Even after exploring Hilleberg, Gossamer Gear, Mt. Laurel Designs, Anti Gravity Gear, and a few others, only Six Moon Designs and TarpTent seem to offer a single wall tent with clip in mesh liner with two doors,two vestibules, and of a size comfortable for two (i.e., a three person tent--about 47 to 51 sq. ft.). You can go even lighter by sacrificing more comfort than I want to, but a three person,double wall tent under 3 lbs. is amazing enough for me.
Peter B., I will certainly let everyone know what tent we end up buying, eventually followed by a report of our field testing it on the Meanest Link in July.
John, you certainly can go even lighter with a tent, but that decision comes with compromises.
A single-wall tent can weigh less than a double-walled tent such as the Haven or Scarp2, but it is more prone to condensation issues in Ontario's climate. However, that would not be a problem for those who camp in a drier, desert-like climate.
Some tents use a fly material which isn't all that water resistent. It would resist up to two or three hours of rain before it starts to drip water on the inside of the tent. In southern California, where it rarely rains between April and October, that might be an acceptable compromise. However, I've been through multi-day downpours in Ontario so I want a tent fly that can hold up to a long-lasting rain storm.
Just to give you an idea of how lightweight one can go, take a look at ZPacks' Hexamid Twin, a two-person, single-wall tent which weighs just 10.5 ounces / 298 gms, excluding poles and stakes. After you add two poles with pole sack (2.62 ounces / 75 gms) and 8 stakes with stake sack (1.67 ounces / 48 gms) it tips the scales at just under 15 ounces or 421 gms. It makes the kilogram or so weight of the SMD Haven look like a bloated pig!
To cut weight, the Hexamid Twin has a screen floor, single entrance, spectra guy line and uses cuben fiber for the fly. [A recent test has shown that cuben fiber has a lower hydrostatic head than silnylon, in other words, bigger, wind-driven raindrops might more readily leak or mist through the fabric.]