Yet Another Thread About Tent Recommendations - ClubTread Community

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post #1 of (permalink) Old 03-05-2013, 11:11 AM Thread Starter
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Default Yet Another Thread About Tent Recommendations

A rather long set of questions and observations. My venerable REI A-frame tent isn't up to it any more so I'm on the hunt for a new one. My needs: every summer a week-long backcountry alpine/subalpine camp somewhere in BC where gear is flown in by helicopter so weight is not a primary issue, though we like to keep it down. Also two or three long weekend backpacks a year, and every two years or so a longer 4-5 night trip. Trips are sometimes to some remote areas including some rocky or gravelly places, but it's highly unlikely I'll be setting up on Mount Waddington or the Columbia Icefield or spending a week waiting out a blizzard. Generally hiking between Victoria Day and Thanksgiving, maybe an occasional Easter or Remembrance Day weekend, but no mid-winter trips.

I have over thirty years hiking and backpacking experience but not up to speed with current tent technology. I'm fairly fit though not necessarily fast with a 40lb pack; I'm not a weight fanatic and don't mind carrying a few more ounces to get more reliability and comfort. I'm 6'2" so like a bit of space. On the fly-in camps I have two MEC duffle bags, one with my tent and gear and one with clothes, so I need space for me and the bag of clothes and maybe day pack. On backpacking trips, just me and my pack. I usually hike with people but tent by myself so won't be sharing with anyone (the only person I share a tent with is my non-hiking wife; we use an MEC Wanderer 2 for car camping and are happy with it, but it's too heavy for one person backpacking).

Budget is about $200. What I've looked at:
MEC - The Camper 2 looks adequate but I'd like to go a step up, especially in light of some of the reports I've read on this site. And when I checked it out in the store I felt rather constricted in it. I've considered the Tarn 2 which has similar dimensions but it seems a bit more claustrophobic. I like the Volt 2 but it's out of my price range.

Taiga has a few Eureka tents, of which the Taron 2 looks like the best bet. I used to have a Bike & Hike which was comfortable and indestructible, but I don't know how good their tents are now.

Atmosphere has some good sale prices on Marmot and Mountain Hardwear tents which look good and have good reviews. Marmot's Traillight and Earlylight seem a step up from the Limelight, with various combinations of mesh and solid walls, height, vestibule size etc which I'm trying to work out for myself which are more important. The MH Lightwedge looks great on paper and was my first choice, but I looked at the one they had set up in the Kitsilano store yesterday and it gave me some doubts. Maybe it was the way they set it up on the hard floor, but the sides of the bathtub floor were all pulled way up off the bottom. Online pictures of real set up tents show it pulled up a bit but not as much as it was in the store (all the stock marketing photos show it flush with the ground). This tent also had the poles as a hubbed set rather than separate poles which all the online photos show, which leads me to wonder if maybe they set it up with some other pole set? I've checked out a few of their stores and each one seems to have different tents listed from what's out on display (if anything); one store had one tent set up bearing a price sign for another model. I tend to wonder how good their service is now and how much I even want to buy a tent from them - the days when they were Coast Mountain at Fourth and Yew are long gone (even longer gone is the old store at Fourth and Burrard).

Used tents online are a possibility but you never know what you're going to get and Craigslist and Ebay mostly have junk these days. MEC has some things on their gear swap page; the TGV 2 which is there currently sounds attractive but I really don't need four season capability, and it would be brutally hot changing clothes in there on a sunny July afternoon. Anyone know about the Walrus tent that's on there?

Anyway, lots of questions there. Any suggestions?
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post #2 of (permalink) Old 03-05-2013, 03:04 PM
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Lots and lots of questions, but here's one small answer
A freestanding tent set up without pegs will usually pull the floor way up off the ground. If set up in a store, it's quite likely that it doesn't sit quite right. Generally when you peg it in, it sits flat just fine. If you're uncertain, have as many people as there are poles help, and pull the peg spots out and down to the floor (human pegs) and see if it flattens then. Generally it will completely and you'll see how it would actually sit when pegged down.

The Tarn 2 has a very low foot, unlike a lot of symmetrical tents, which is what makes it feel smaller. I would definitely not buy the Camper 2 to stand up for many years. It's MEC's attempt to draw in the Canadian tire crowd, and it's not made of the same good stuff as many of their other tents. If a Marmot/MHW looks good and is marked down to your range, those are generally well-made.

A lot of recommendations will depend on simply what you're looking for. How much space you need, whether you want a lot of headspace or would rather less air, etc.
Definitely do your own research online and just go to Coast to buy. I don't know about the stores on the Coast, but I don't trust recommendations from any store in Calgary any more, other than a few specific staff I've learned know their stuff.
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post #3 of (permalink) Old 03-05-2013, 04:43 PM
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Might try the VOC gear swop tomorrow at (Wednesday) for used tents - UBC campus.
I'm bringing a couple to sell: MSR Zoid 2 and a TNF Talus 2.

I'm also selling off some bike gear - helmets and lights as well as a few first aid kits (I seem to have accumulated too many since taking the Wilderness First Aid course through the Red Cross)

I'm presently using a Tarn 3 for company and a Hilleberg Akto for solo.
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post #4 of (permalink) Old 03-08-2013, 10:16 PM
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Mountain Hardware Hammerhead 2 and Hammerhead 3 are both fantastic tents.
Great all around tent (good at everything, not excellent at anything).






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post #5 of (permalink) Old 03-09-2013, 10:01 PM
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I have the Camper 2 for three seasons now, and its a gooder (I'm 6'2")..

Easy assembly, relatively light, nice bathtub floor. Cheap enough also that it's not a huge deal to replace if you had to.

It IS a bit clausterphobic, even though it has a decent size footprint.. Just the design of the tent. Other con is the fly zip when fully opened doesn't extend over the footprint, so if it's raining you have to get in and out fast..

But then, you had a look in person already, so..

I like shopping MEC as they give Search and Rescue discounts (Atmosphere USED to)..
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post #6 of (permalink) Old 03-10-2013, 06:20 PM
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You could also look at the Kelty Salida 2; good tent, decent size (slightly bigger than the volt) and the right price ($160 US at REI).
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post #7 of (permalink) Old 03-15-2013, 10:15 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks all for the recommendations.

My wife and I are planning a weekend trip to Anacortes next month and we'll include a stop at REI in Bellingham. I generally dislike cross-border shopping, but MEC doesn't have what I want in my budget and REI has a dozen or so choices (more limited in the actual store, but in the store at least I can have a look at what I'm buying) where my probable choice will be the Half Dome 2. The Salida and Trail Ridge 2 also look appealing and I'll check them out along with the Alps Mountaineering Chaos 2.

Unless I actually find what I want at Atmosphere or something irresistible comes up on MEC's gear swap in the next couple of weeks.
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