Advice on a 2-man tent

10:20 p.m. on May 24, 2006 (EDT)
(Guest)

a.k.a. Rose

I'm in the market for a 2-man tent to use with my 13-year-old daughter this August. I'm 5'8", medium/athletic build; she's 5'2", athletic build. We're hiking the Grand Canyon and Canyonlands area. I've narrowed the choice down to 3, and I'm desperately seeking advice. My biggest concerns are ventilation and stability. The winds and sudden storms can get quite dicey, and we're going to be changing elevation/temperature every night. I'm not concerned about the weight.

Here are my choices:
Sierra Designs Element
The North Face Talus 23
The North Face Rock 22
(Cabela's Deluxe XPG is also in the running)

I'm leaning toward the Sierra Designs because of the great ventilation, solid floor (3000D nylon!), 2 doors, and the larger vestibules. It also comes with a killer view. Advice?
Thanks!

5:35 p.m. on May 25, 2006 (EDT)
(Guest)

You should be concerned about the weight--at least a little bit. The Talus is 6 3/4 pounds packed. The Rock is over 5 lbs. I couldn't find any reference to the Sierra Designs Element, but any tent with a 3000d floor is bound to be very heavy.

You're going to be in very dry country. Every pound you shave from the tent is another pint of water you can carry.

If I had to choose one of your three, I'd go with the Talus. The Rock doesn't strike me as a high winds kind of tent.

If you are open to suggestions... The TNF Tadpole23 has a packed weight of just over 4.5 pounds and I've personally seen them withstand 60 knot winds. If you are that concerned about the floor, buy the $30 footprint. The ventilation is good, and stability is excellent. It'll be cozy, and the view from inside is not so good, but how much sightseeing do you do from inside the tent?

Enjoy your trip.

11:28 a.m. on May 26, 2006 (EDT)
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As Tom said, how much sightseeing do you do from inside the tent? I believe the current fashion in windows and lots of mesh in tents is just that, a fashion statement. I have two tents currently that have the plastic windows and have used a couple belonging to other people on backcountry ski trips and mountains like Denali. The windows get scratched and collect dirt and scum pretty quickly, to the point of becoming transluscent. They are never really clear, even when new, and show lots of distortion. When it is humid, they collect lots of condensation, and when cold frost up easily.

The large amounts of mesh give wonderful ventilation. This is double-edged, though. Lots of ventilation is great in summer, especially in hot, humid conditions. But if you get condensation on the fly (common if the temp drops by more than a few degrees overnight in humid conditions), it just drips on you (solution is to leave the fly off - not good if it rains, or keep the vestibule open to allow plenty of flow-through air). If it is windy and you are in a dusty area, the dust will just come under the fly (or directly if you left the fly off) and into the tent. If you get blowing snow, the tent interior collects lots of snow (had a friend who got 6 inches of snow piled in the tent which had blown under the fly). Too many tents (not the ones you list) have miniscule flies that allow wind-blown rain to come under the fly and through the mesh. So the bottom line is to look closely at how the fly fits and whether the windblown dust/rain/snow is likely to collect inside the tent. Oh, yeah, lots of mesh also allows the tent to deal with the wind better.

As for the footprint, a $2-3 plastic 3-mil painter's drop cloth, trimmed to fit works just as well as a $30 "official" footprint. Just go to OSH, Lowes, Home Depot, Ace Hardware, whatever, buy the dropcloth, pitch the tent over it in your backyard/garage/living room, mark the outline of the tent on the dropcloth, and trim it with scissors. You can get fancy and add grommets (also at the paint/hardware store), but it isn't necessary.

I have used a friend's Tadpole in high wind conditions. It stands up to wind just fine. But we ended up with a lot of dust inside. The others on your list will have the same problem, as will many tents.

Also, as Tom said, there are a number of other really good tents out there that fit your criteria, but are much lighter weight. Look at the gear reviews on this site (click on "Gear Reviews" on the title bar at the top of this page, then select "tents" and go from there).

11:41 a.m. on May 26, 2006 (EDT)
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I don't find the Sierra Designs Element on the SD website? Did you mean the Electron (which comes with a footprint)? The Meteor Light (which isn't really all that light) is close to you description. I have one, but it is a bit on the heavy side. It does have the heavier-duty floor. There is also the Observatory, which is billed as having great views, but again on the heavy side and like most of SD's 3-season tents too much mesh.

Actually Grand Canyon doesn't really have that much wind, and even the SD Clip Flashlight (which I also have) would do just fine for the two of you. It is not self-standing, but you have to stake any tent in the wind in any case. I have used my Flashlight in quite high winds on high mountains in exposed campsites with no problem, though I prefer my Bibler Eldorado in such conditions.

September 22, 2014
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