Headed for the Mountains
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada.
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?