Considering a Good Four Season Tent

4:26 p.m. on March 3, 2009 (EST)
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Greetings!

I'm seriously considering purchasing a quality tent for four season usage.

One of the tents I'm considering is The Backside T-1 Tent. Some of the features I really like is the three-pole configuration. Looks like it will hold up to strong winds and snow loads. The size of the tent is perfect for me: 5.6X7.5ft. The center height of the same is 3ft 6inches. Total area is 44 square feet. Plus this tent is not some "trendy" BIG name brand. I seen it for sale from this online retailer: http://www.campingcomfortably.com/the-backside-t-1-3-season-tent.html

Plus I'm also looking at the Coleman Exponent Phact X3 Tent. However this particuliar tent is only available in the UK. I seen it on several online retailer sites. Some even ship to the States. http://www.outdoorgb.com/p/Coleman_Exponent_Phact_X3_Tent/

Thanks in advance.

Bruce

5:00 p.m. on March 3, 2009 (EST)
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Hay that tent looks just like the High Peak Enduro tent. I have a High Peak Hyper Lite and it works good for me and there relatively inexpensive. They seem to have a good sturdy & durable construction.

12:03 a.m. on March 4, 2009 (EST)
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Also check out the Grand Truck Quick Set tent. Its a pretty sweet tent and sets up in a flash.

12:52 p.m. on March 4, 2009 (EST)
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Bruce,

Good to see you back. How "4-season" are you talking about? Are you talking above 0F, no more than a couple feet of snow, sheltered by trees, or are you talking subzero, 50 knot winds, 10 foot drifts, on exposed ridges?

The Backside is not a true 4-season tent, but rather should be called a "convertible 3-season" tent. At the MAP on the website you provided, I suspect the poles might not be aluminum, or at least a quality alloy. It may be adequate for your area, but it would not work at all for what we are having in the Sierra right now. It would not stand up to the current snow loads. For our local conditions, a full-on expedition tent is needed.

The Coleman Helios, which is very much like the one you show (maybe is the exact same tent, just US version) would be ok (there was one at the winter and snow camping course I teach last weekend). The 2 person version is at http://www.coleman.com/coleman/colemancom/detail.asp?product_id=2000000435&categoryid=11070 There is also a 3-person version.

I don't really understand Coleman's "Scandium" poles - although scandium (Sc, atomic number 21) is used for certain aluminum alloys, mainly for certain aerospace applications, it doesn't really have any benefits for tent poles. But I guess it is good for marketing.

Anyway, the Coleman Helios is a pretty good-looking tent (I mean functionally, not appearance) and would probably suit your purposes at a not too great price. You might take a look at Sierra Designs Hercules or Stretch Dome. But both Coleman and Sierra Designs violate your "Avoid Big Names" criterion.

2:54 p.m. on March 4, 2009 (EST)
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Bill,

Thanks for the kind words. I am doing well.

I suspect you may be correct in regards to the The Backside T-1 Tent. I tend to agree with you. The tent looks like a "covertible" 3-4 season model.

However The Coleman Exponent Phact X3 appears to be a true 4 season tent, in my opinion.

Allow me to explain my needs if I may. I live in my tent year around-Spring through Winter. I face ALL the changes in the seasons-from warm, fair weather days to severe thunderstorms to all sorts of Winter weather. I'm talking about snow loads and ice storms. We all know what that entails.

I recently faced severe winds and rains on an exposed location high up on a ridge here in southeast Ohio, that was associated with a very strong cold front that pushed through the area. We are talking about winds in excess of 70 mph! My tent survived the severe buffeting from this particliar storm system but as a result my aluminum poles got bent in the process. However the tent never collasped. I was using my ALPS Mountaineering Taurus Outfitter, a two pole three season tent. I had to order new poles.

I need a tent that will hold up to hard winds and percipitation year around. From those nasty supercell thundrstorms to blizzard conditions. I trust you get the point.

I'm not quite sure Coleman violates my "BIG name brand" prohibitions. I am aware Coleman is well known but I don't think most backpackers (people I seen on those backpacker.com forums) would consider Coleman Exponent the brand "to have". I think they would more consider Sierra Designs, MSR or Mountain Hardware the "in" brands if you get my point.

3:06 p.m. on March 4, 2009 (EST)
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Mike068,

That High Peak Enduro model also looks like the former ALPS Mountaineering Glacier model, which is discontinued. The design is very similiar.

My Glacier tent's design was very good in handling winter conditions in Wisconsin. It held up to some pretty hefty snow loads and high winds associated with a blizzard that came from the west.

The only problem I had with the tent was the poles. ALPS used those Yunan Scandium poles. They were nice and lightweight but had the tendacy to snap. That was my only fault I found with the Glacier. However the design of the tent was good.

3:26 p.m. on March 4, 2009 (EST)
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Has anyone seen the new Big Sky Montana 2P Summit Shelter in the winter configuration. I have heard this is a nice tent winter tent. At less than 4lbs it might be one of the lighter 4-season tents on the market.
http://bigskyproducts.com/Big_Sky_Montana_2P_shelter.aspx


It seems to good to be true. I am not familiar with Big Sky, but it is worth a look.

3:33 p.m. on March 4, 2009 (EST)
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Gearjunky,

That tent has an interesting design. Looks alot like a three pole "hoop" tent.

Looks lightweight though.

3:54 p.m. on March 4, 2009 (EST)
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Hi Bruce, a couple of things I would consider, based on my limited experience with snow camping-

1. Make sure you have a big enough vestibule that you can dig out a "footwell" right in front of the actual tent door. Jim Shaw taught me this trick and it works great. It makes it really easy to put on your boots because it's like sitting in a chair to do it, plus, if the weather is really bad, you could at least heat up some water with the stove just inside the vestibule, but not really inside the tent. See the pics on my trip report. Here are a couple of others from different trips.

The footwell is a bit hard to see but it is right in front of the door. The vestibule is folded back against the tent. The blue pad worked as a seatcover for my "chaise lounge" that I cut into the snow.

Same tent-different trip, but you can see the vestibule closed up.

2. My tent is a convertible 3/4 season tent (an old EMS design). It has 5 poles and is pretty sturdy, but the way the roof is shaped, snow will pile up in the middle because the poles make kind of a flat triangle rather than a slope at the center, so you have to clear the snow off it every so often.

3. I would make sure whatever you buy has Easton poles or the equivalent. Fiberglass poles are hard to field repair if they break, while aluminum can be fixed with a sleeve (there is a thread on what the sleeve is for here somewhere).

4. Size-my tent is a two person, maybe 30 sq. ft. not sure exactly, but it would crowded for two people and gear. I spent a couple of days in Jim's TNF Mountain 25 and that is cozy for two in winter with all the extra clothes and stuff you don't want out in the snow.

5. I don't go snow camping without my shovel-mine is a Voile Mini-it breaks down for carrying. I use mine to dig the footwell, dig out my car, dig out my tent, get snow to melt for water, dig out the platform for the tent, you get the idea. I have carried mine on day hikes, just in case something happens and I have to dig an emergency shelter. If there is snow and you have a shovel, you can make a shelter. It is not really an avalanche shovel because of its size, but better than nothing. If you do buy one, I'd get one with a metal blade, not plastic-plastic won't cut through ice like metal will.

Not sure how much snow camping you've done, but if not much, like me, Allen & Mike's Really Cool Backcountry Ski Book is a fun and informative book on the basics.

4:17 p.m. on March 4, 2009 (EST)
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Tom,

Your tent looks like a good four season model. EMS stuff is pretty good. Plus I would not consider their brand gear to be "BIG name brand" or trendy.

Some of those older tents seem to be exactly what I'm seeking for. I never forget my Diamond Brand Mountain Home tent I purchased as a "seconds" quality tent. I loved the design-the elongated geodesic (5ftx7.8ft rectangular floor) design with four 7001 series aluminum poles, two doors and stake-out vestibules. It was a great tent overall. My only complaint was the nylon rainfly. It got so saggy when wet.

I used this tent on my numerous weekend winter adventures at West Branch State park in northeast Ohio.

Hard to find a tent this good, in my opinion. :(

5:27 p.m. on March 4, 2009 (EST)
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It does look a little light, but according to an article in backpackerlight.com, it works well in heavy winter conditions. I love those guys, but sometimes they go a little too light for me.

Just was wondering if anyone has seen this tent either at a trade show or out in the field.

I have actuly used a pyramid style tarp tent out in 40mph+ winter conditions with great results. The only problem is you end up brining a bivy, extra ropes and stakes to make sure it is tighed down properly. After you add in all the extras, you are around the same weight as a light 4 season tent.

9:42 p.m. on March 4, 2009 (EST)
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In the past I have tried hammocks, megamids, tarps, tarps & bivies, etc. By the time you get it all set up so it can withstand a storm you could have pitched two tents. Tarps are good for thru-hiking but you should not expect to always come out of a storm dry. It is hard to sleep with muddy raindrops hitting you in the face, sometimes you just have to put the backpack over your head.

I finally ended up accepting a couple more pounds (more like 3) was really worth the comfort and dependability of my MH 3-4 season tent. Tarps are okay for a fair weather weekend, but long term you will end up hating the day you bought it. Well at least during bad storms with high wind you'll feel that way I think.

There are trade offs with everything of course, I love my MH tent, even if it is on the heavy side, it never lets me down (with proper care that is) and I can concentrate on enjoying my trip better. Now when it rains I can study my map or read, instead of suffering through those storms or cold wind under a tarp hoping I guyed it out good enough. There's nothing more embarrassing than having your tarp blow away and up into a tree out of your reach. Kinda hard to pack it out like that.

The top of the line Coleman gear is good bang for the buck if you don't want to get a big name brand tent. But if you want a true four season tent you ought to consider getting a good one and not worry about the brand being a "big name".

If it is a money thing remember you get what you pay for. I paid 365.00 for my MH tent 13 years ago and it has paid me back many times over.

Before I bought my tent I took a nap inside the tent in Rock / Creek Outfitters where they had it set up. The poles and fly were impressive and looked much tougher than anything I had owned up to that point. I was sold, oh sure I had read reviews and such, but this was obviously much better than my Hennessey Hammock or my Eureka Timberline in terms of protection from foul weather.

One of the areas I backpack into gets over 90 inches of rainfall per year with sudden thunderstorms and dark skies possible at about any time. I am really glad I switched to a "big name" tent.

10:17 p.m. on March 4, 2009 (EST)
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Gearjunky, Big Sky, as far as I know, is a one man or close to a one man company that has its tents made in China. About a year or two ago (can't remember for certain), he had severe delivery problems that made a lot of people very angry. Supposedly that problem was fixed, but I would make sure he can deliver before ordering anything that isn't already in stock.

9:14 a.m. on March 5, 2009 (EST)
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Thanks Tom. I do not mind small companies, but I like good service and good quality. Companies like Mountain Laurel Design or Wild Things, very small but great products, and even better service.

TroutHunter,
I,ve tried tarp tent camping in the spring, summer and fall, and did not enjoy the experience. Bugs, splashing mud and rain, both at the same time. Trying to get in and out of the bivy with is even more fun. And did I say anything about the bugs mud and rain yet :) Never tried hammock camping. The "Ewok" lifestyle seemed uncomfortable, I like to sleep on my stomach.

The only time I go Tarp Tent camping now is in the winter or when I know it will not rain (desert conditions). I use the Mountain Laurel Design Silnylon Mid Teepee style tarp tent. http://www.mountainlaureldesigns.com/shop/product_info.php?cPath=35&products_id=84&osCsid=fd6a2e2ff5d00a0b5a06ddd0ec846404 This thing in bomb proof once set up correctly. It fits up to four people for under two pounds. I have had this out in 40mph winds, in the snow, sleet and (to my utter dismay) heavy rain in the winter. I have never used it above tree line, that may be pushing it.

Since my next few trips will be above tree line, I am considering a good lightweight traditional 4 season tent.


How about the new MSR Drogontail? At 4 lbs 6 oz, it is light and has alot of room. My only concern is 146" long (12'2") Wow... It may not fit in most locations. Anyone see this yet? http://www.msrgear.com/tents/dragontail.asp

10:37 a.m. on March 5, 2009 (EST)
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From reading lots of posts on several forums regarding Big Sky's delivery and customer service I would avoid them like the plague. Lots of bizarre stories of tents taking forever to arrive long after payments were made along with lots of unanswered emails from the company. Nobody's products are that good to put up with such crappy service.

10:49 a.m. on March 5, 2009 (EST)
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gearjunky,

I followed your link to Mountain Laurel Designs, nice looking silnylon mid. I'm curious, does it take two people to set it up? I realize it is not a solo shelter, I'm just curious about your technique for getting it set up.

Oh yeah,...I forgot to mention bugs in my earlier post, and spiders, and scorpions, we have little brown ones here.

12:34 p.m. on March 5, 2009 (EST)
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The tent I wish I could afford is the Terra-Nova Hyperspace, the Heavy Duty Version. http://www.terra-nova.co.uk/Brand/Terra_Nova/Tents/Heavy_Duty_Hyperspace_Green.html

This is my dream tent! Love the sturdiness of this particuliar tent. I know it would hold up to the nastiest of weather. Plus I love the colour of this tent with the green rainfly. Plus it is not some BIG name brand tent, at least here in the States. But in all honesty I simply can't afford this tent. Over my budget.

Oh well...I will have to dream on with this one!

1:55 p.m. on March 5, 2009 (EST)
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Alan knows the Big Sky story probably in the same way I do-by reading angry posts from people who'd paid for tents that either never showed up at all or took months beyond the promised delivery date. As I said earlier, supposedly, this problem is in the past. I haven't heard any complaints for quite a while, so I assume the lack of complaints may mean the problems have been solved.

Black Diamond makes some winter tents under their own name and also owns Bibler. They are fairly lightweight and simple in design.

From looking at their website, the Terra Nova is about $1000US. The Marmot Thor 3 looks somewhat like the Terra Nova and costs only $550. I have never seen one-perhaps Bill has.

I would seriously start looking on Craigslist or eBay once you decide on a tent. I got mine off eBay. I would get Craigslist Reader, a free program (Google it) that searches all Craigslist cities for you. I found my ski boots using it.

People often buy tents, especially winter tents, for a particular trip, then sell them afterwards if you can believe what they say in their ads.

2:30 p.m. on March 5, 2009 (EST)
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I realize the Terra-Nova tent is very expensive, especially when it comes to the currency conversion rate. That's why I'm seeking similiar tents in design/function but at a more affordable cost.

Thanks for the info concerning Craigslist. I'll have to check that site out. eBay I search regularly.

Best Regards,

Bruce

2:33 p.m. on March 5, 2009 (EST)
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Trouthunter,

"Oh yeah,...I forgot to mention bugs in my earlier post, and spiders, and scorpions, we have little brown ones here."

Don't forget those cute little harvestmen. I see them at the Park every season I work!

http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2209223920055403717nbiOtQ

3:45 p.m. on March 5, 2009 (EST)
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ministercreek said:

Don't forget those cute little harvestmen. I see them at the Park every season I work!

They look like Daddy Long Legs. I guess harvestmen are another name?

4:11 p.m. on March 5, 2009 (EST)
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I followed your link to Mountain Laurel Designs, nice looking silnylon mid. I'm curious, does it take two people to set it up? I realize it is not a solo shelter, I'm just curious about your technique for getting it set up.

The mid fits up to four people and gear. It is a tight fit, but you can get it all in there... much better with two or three. Set up is easy and can be done with one person in light wind. In heavy wind, you need help.

My technique is to set the two upwind corner stakes first, then walk out and set the down wind corner stakes. Once the are in, with a loose fit only, set the center pole. Note tying the knot takes practice, but once you get it down it works great. I didn't believe it would stand up to a cough, but I had it up to 60mph gusts. Next set the mid stakes and upper tension lines. Adjust the tension on all lines and you are good to go. You will have to re-adjust the tension after things settle, but that is easy. Total setup say 5 min. in light wind.

Great tent for the winter. Best thing about this tent is everyone can hang out inside. There is so much room you can stand (a little bent over, but actuly stand). The tent packs down to a softball. No extra poles, no extra anything. Very bear bones. Also this is a floorless tent, so you need a bivy.


I called MLD and talked to the owner about using this thing for winter hikes in Mt. Washington. He told me a little extra about the Alaska hike this thing went on. He said the main problem is that it is not designed to keep out hungry bears :(

5:02 p.m. on March 5, 2009 (EST)
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Gearjunky,

Harvestmen and daddy-long-legs are the same creature.

They are completely harmless. I allow them to walk up on me and even rest on my hat while I'm working. They are quite tame.

10:20 a.m. on March 6, 2009 (EST)
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If your looking to pull the trigger real fast on a great four-season tent, the Marmot Swallow 2P can be had for about half price at most online stores this week (if there are any left). It won't handle alot of snow, bus it is a TRUE four season tent that can be used in the summer as well.

1:52 p.m. on March 9, 2009 (EDT)
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I have narrowed my search down to The Sierra Design Convert 2, the Hilleberg Jannu, and the Marmot Alpinest 2. All are about the same weight when you include vestibule. The Hilleberg is the largest and has some of the nicest features, but also cost almost twice as much as the others. Has anyone used this tent?

2:30 p.m. on March 9, 2009 (EDT)
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I have not used a Hilleberg, but my friend Chris from the UK has the Jannu and loves it to death.

In fact due to our backpacking in TN and NC he has now earned the nickname "Hille-billy". He hates it! Which is why we keep calling him that, of course. He has threatened to go back to the UK and take his tent with him. Chris is a great backpacker / climber.

3:08 p.m. on March 9, 2009 (EDT)
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Hilli-billy....Funny. If I end up getting one of these I can not let my hiking buddies hear that one, it might get sticky.

Does it make a nice winter tent? This would be my main use. Also ask Chis if he ever weighed the tent. I'm finding conflicting reports. I thought it was around 5 1/2lbs, but I have read reviews indicating from 5lbs up to 7lbs. Their web site says 5 1/2lbs as minimum weight.

6:41 p.m. on March 9, 2009 (EDT)
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I have a North face VE25 I am selling and its a excellent four season tent. Used one week in desert southwest. Brand new otherwise. $300 Obo

2:58 a.m. on March 10, 2009 (EDT)
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Hilleberg. Hand made in Europe and sold and serviced by a Hilleberg family member. I've been a happy customer through all four seasons for many years and trials of expedition conditions are what these tents are designed for. Light for what they are and bright inside for those gloomy days waiting out the weather.

Cheers.

9:27 p.m. on March 10, 2009 (EDT)
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Have you checked the MEC tents? We use them all the time here and there good, warrantied forever and reasonably cheap. look at this for exemple

http://www.mec.ca/Products/product_detail.jsp?PRODUCT%3C%3Eprd_id=845524442592197&FOLDER%3C%3Efolder_id=2534374302702873&bmUID=1236734592990

at 270$ CAN its cheap and tough and ventilates well. We use one all the time and never had a problem with it (i'm doing a bacc in adventure tourism..)

1:52 p.m. on March 12, 2009 (EDT)
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Franc,

Yes I have looked at/considered an MEC brand tent. Personally I like the Nunatak model.

http://www.mec.ca/Products/product_detail.jsp?PRODUCT%3C%3Eprd_id=845524442538331&FOLDER%3C%3Efolder_id=2534374302885946&bmUID=1236880169947

Looks alot like The North Face VE-25 in design. Trust it would be as sturdy too.

It's just not a BIG name brand here, at least in the United States.

Thanks for the suggestion.

Bruce from southeast Ohio (currently).

1:34 p.m. on March 13, 2009 (EDT)
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Nice tents, at good prices, but A little on the heavy side. Even their lighter tents, MEC Lightfield and TGV are on the heavy side. If I wasn't carrying this on my back, it would be different. Most of the reviews on the web site link indicate there is a condensation issue with these tents. Have you seen this Franc?

3:02 p.m. on March 13, 2009 (EDT)
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Nice tents, at good prices, but A little on the heavy side. Even their lighter tents, MEC Lightfield and TGV are on the heavy side. If I wasn't carrying this on my back, it would be different.

Gearjunky,

Aren't most four season tents on the heavy side?

As I can recall, my Diamond Brand Mountain Home (2 person) weighed 8lbs 6ozs.

4:03 p.m. on March 13, 2009 (EDT)
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The condensation arises from wind orientation and local climate. The trick is to have the wind hit it from the back. The air goes through the lower back vent, up and out the front vent.

There is also a deal on the Moki at EMS

http://www.ems.com/catalog/product_detail_square.jsp?PRODUCT%3C%3Eprd_id=845524442595359

It is a 3 person tent but at this price (521$) is a steal. The most fonctional winter tent i have ever owned. Cut out the netting to save 10oz if you're only going to use it in the winter, otherwise i'm sure it ventilates better than all the other 4 season tents out there for summer use. The one tent you can use everywhere!

4:07 p.m. on March 13, 2009 (EDT)
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How about a Tarptent Scarp 2, with both the 3 season and 4 season inner tents?

http://www.tarptent.com/scarp2.html

1:49 p.m. on March 14, 2009 (EDT)
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1:59 p.m. on March 15, 2009 (EDT)
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Skinewmexico,

I need a tent that has the poles that cross in the geodesic pattern, for maximum snow loading strength in addition to the strong winds I plan to encounter.

Something like my former Diamond Brand Mountain Home four season tent:

http://outdoors.webshots.com/photo/2202999990055403717NlnGSG

4:21 p.m. on March 15, 2009 (EDT)
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Gearjunky,

Conerning the reviews I read here on trailspace.com http://www.trailspace.com/gear/mec/nunatak/, it appears the MEC Nunatak has good reviews from the people who reviewed this particular tent. Things like "holds a ton of snow" and "bomb-proof" do mean something to me at least. Plus this from a person who uses this tent: "I chose this tent for a trip to Denali & Rainier in 2007. We spent four weeks in the thing including 8 days straight in a blizzard at 17,000ft on Denali. The weather was absolute rubbish but life inside was easy. Even in howling 100mph winds we never doubted its quality and rock-solid stability". This tells me this tent will hold up to hurricane-force winds.

This is what I am looking for in a quality four season tent.

In addition to all this, I love the classic geodesic design and the pleasing colours.

9:03 p.m. on March 15, 2009 (EDT)
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MEC has good gear. Keep in mind that they are the Canadian version of REI, with very similar policies concerning product support. Like REI, they have a lot of products under their own label (and like REI, a lot are close copies of other companies' products). As with any outdoor product, you pay for what you get, and you get what you pay for. They are one of Canada's biggest names in outdoor gear.

10:25 a.m. on March 16, 2009 (EDT)
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ministercreek,

The tent sounds great, and it better be for 12 lbs of weight. That much weight the tent should be able to support a small car...

I'm curently looking at the Hilleberg Jannu http://estore.websitepros.com/1764795/-strse-68/Jannu/Detail.bok

Per their web site it is a four season tent that weighs only 5 1/2 bls and has alot of room. Great reviews. Not all four season tents have to be that heavy. With all the new materials and fabrics available, we should be able to find something that will work.

12:57 p.m. on March 16, 2009 (EDT)
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MEC has good gear. Keep in mind that they are the Canadian version of REI... They are one of Canada's biggest names in outdoor gear.

Being "one of Canada's biggest names in outdoor gear" does not bother me one bit. Afterall, MEC is their "house brand" and from my perspective does not make this BIG name brand gear like Sierra Designs or Mountain Hardware. I'm most happy considering this fact.

Love that Nunatak model.

3:17 p.m. on March 16, 2009 (EDT)
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Here is a website I found that features the MEC Nunatak being used: http://www.lewyckyj.com/Nestor%20Rostyslaw%20Lewyckyj/Baffin%20Island%202007.htm

Plain and basic would best describe the Nunatak model in addition to most functional.

7:22 p.m. on March 21, 2009 (EDT)
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Hi All A bit late to the discussion but here's my $.02. I have owned a Nunatak for many years and LOVE it! Yes, it is a bit on the heavy side, which is why I leave it at home now if I'm hiking solo (no kidding, eh!) There are many features which make this a good tent in addition to the quality. First and foremost I like the size. It's a four star hotel room for one, uncramped for two and will fit three. Secondly, and critical for winter camping expecially, are the vestibules. As someone pointed out earlier, it's good to dig a footwell at the tent door which makes getting in and out easier. With this tent it also leaves enough room on either side to set up a basic kitchen and cooking platform. I like the fact that the rear vestibule is actually a functional size and will hold a fair bit of gear. As for stability I can't honestly say I've experienced 100mph winds or sevearl feet of snow, but I'm totally confident the Nunatak would handle it. One of the coolest features is that, aside from the external guy points , there is a set of internal guying points that can be used to stiffen the structure. I have pitched this tent on all kinds of terrain in most conditions and always felt secure and comfortable. With the Canuckbuck at a discount to the Greenback it could be a good deal. I don't knnow what the shipping and service policies are for south of the 49th but if they're anything like up here you shouldn't be disappointed. If you want to see some shots of the tent pitched in various locales and conditions send me a note offline and I'll be happy to oblige.

10:56 a.m. on March 22, 2009 (EDT)
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Hi all

definitely a bit late to this discussion, but thought I'd mention Stephenson's Warmlite http://www.warmlite.com/start.htm

These tents are pretty expensive, but they are great tents, hand made in N.H. I have a friend who has been using the same one for over 30 years.

They make incredible sleeping bags as well.

2:05 p.m. on March 22, 2009 (EDT)
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Mikedwin,

Please do feel free to e-mail me the pics of your Nunatak. I would love to see them.

I need a tent that will hold up to severe winter conditions such as heavy snows, high winds and ice storms. Plus I'm planning on "riding out" an hurricane in the same (gasp!!!).

The Nunatak appears to be a good tent judging from the specs I read about this tent. Plain and basic-no frills. Plenty of guy-outs and a nice geodesic pole structure.

Thanks for the help and reply. :)

2:09 p.m. on March 22, 2009 (EDT)
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ejg,

Thanks and welcome to the discussion.

Those are nice tents. Are you sure they are "four season"?

They look good for three season usage however. Nice to see something is made here in the USA though.

Thanks for sharing!

7:11 p.m. on March 22, 2009 (EDT)
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The warmlites are considered 4 season tents. From what I've read on the net they seem to hold up pretty good in wind but i have no personal experience with them.

I've modified my Nemo Moki some more and I'm proud to say it rocks! I've put up some new guy lines in a few weird places and it is strong. Bring on the hurricane!

8:30 p.m. on March 22, 2009 (EDT)
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Yep, the warmlites are 4 season. They have been making them by hand in the New Hampshire White Mt.'s since the mid-60's and they have quite a reputation around here. They at one time made light weight packs too. The company still manufactures super warm sleeping bags and pads.

Stephenson claims that the warmlites are super easy to set up. In my experience set up is pretty tricky and it's best to color code parts. This tent is also not free standing, which bums some folks out.

Personally I find the set up with my MSR far easier.

2 of my closest friends and co-workers have been long time warmlite users and routinely winter camp in the White Mt.s with them with no complaints.

The warmlites are incredibly light weight and are bomber in the wind. (be prepared to seal all your seams yourself for rain and snow) The vestibules are floored and are part of the design. Nice feature for gear storage or if you have to cook in your tent.

I keep hoping I'll find one second hand one day.

 

Franc, I'd like to see photos of the modified tent.

10:02 p.m. on March 22, 2009 (EDT)
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I'm working on it, should have time to post the pics tomorrow. I'm up to 9 parachute deadman anchors and 7 guy lines, 2 of them triangular and equalized. I'm not sure what Nemo Equipment would think of it, but it's much stronger anyway!

10:05 p.m. on March 22, 2009 (EDT)
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PS: A floored vestibule prevents you from digging a 2 feet deep hole and dumping all your gear in it....think of it like an extra 4-5 cu. feet of space.

9:28 a.m. on March 23, 2009 (EDT)
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I looked at the Warmlite tents. Extremely light weight and they put them to the test. One of the only sites I've found that lists a wind rating (or at least a test limit). This could be good information for you ministercreek, if you really want to ride out a hurricane.

Strange design though. It seems the setup might be a problem in variable wind conditions. If you set it up and the wind changes direction in the middle of the night, you could be in for a rough ride. I've read a number of reviews that said this was somewhat of a problem, but nothing failed.

For the money you would think you could get a factory seamseal. Also, I do not like the floored vestibule. If you cook in the vestibule, you could melt the floor. It also limits your options on gear storage or "waste disposal".

Crazy web site... I think they need to get out of the 60's.

5:03 p.m. on March 23, 2009 (EDT)
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Franc and gearjunky,

Yes do bring on the hurricane!

With a decent four season tent I'm ready to give it the ***real*** test.

Last hurricane season my post really "shook up the roost" which concerned this very same topic.

The three tents that appeal to me the most is the MEC Nunatak, the LL Bean Backcountry Dome 3 and Terra-Nova Hyperspace.

Need a tent with the classical geodesic pole pattern and multiple guy-out points. All three of these tents have these features.

If I'm really "strapped for cash" then the Coleman Exponent Phact X3 Tent will have to do.

5:44 p.m. on March 23, 2009 (EDT)
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So if you insist on a classic geodesic, how can you leave the VE25 out?

2:17 p.m. on March 24, 2009 (EDT)
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So if you insist on a classic geodesic, how can you leave the VE25 out?

I never ruled the TNF VE-25 Tent out. Bomb-proof tent. I know this tent can hold up to the worst nature can "dish" out, including the worst of hurricanes. No doubt in my mind.

I did own one but (this really pains me to say this) some animal clawed holes into my lovely tent while I was away from camp.

Now I have to purchase another quality four-season tent.

The VE-25 took awhile to pitch, but once set up it was very solid. Held up to snow loads and high winds. The drum-tight rainfly was really sturdy.

So other than the VE-25 tent, do you recommend any other tent comparable to the TNF model in question? I do like the LL Bean Backcountry 3 Dome tent too: http://www.llbean.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/CategoryDisplay?categoryId=54145&storeId=1&catalogId=1&langId=-1&parentCategory=500105&feat=500105-tn&cat4=1096

In your humble opinion, what would you say in regards to the LL Bean brand tent in question? Sort of reminds me of the VE-25 tent only with pole clips instead of sleeves.

10:52 a.m. on March 28, 2009 (EDT)
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I recently was informed that Terra-Nova brand tents are starting to be carried by on-line retailers here in the United States, including their Quasar model. http://www.terra-nova.co.uk/Retail_Partners/Terra_Nova.html

For me personally, this is a dream come true! I was waiting for this to happen!

Terra-Nova makes some of the best mountaineering tents in the world, in my humble opinion.

2:37 p.m. on March 29, 2009 (EDT)
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If your looking to pull the trigger real fast on a great four-season tent, the Marmot Swallow 2P can be had for about half price at most online stores this week (if there are any left). It won't handle alot of snow, bus it is a TRUE four season tent that can be used in the summer as well.

The only problem with this tent is the fact I don't care for the design plus I prefer not to purchase Marmot products.

4:33 p.m. on March 31, 2009 (EDT)
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If you're not into Marmot, then take a look at the Eureka K2-XT. It's a knock-off of the VE-25 but a little larger and a true four-season tent as well. It ventilates well in the summer with all the mesh and can be zipped up tight for a bomb-proof extreme weather bunker.

I suggested the Marmot because it is being discontinued and there were some great prices on the web. I suggest the K2-XT because I own it and it's the best all around tent out there for all weather use - summer through winter. I'll admit, it IS heavy and packs large, but split between 2 people it's not that bad - especially if you need to ride out a tempest.

As far as quality, I don't know if these are made in the same location as Eureka's low cost tents, but mine is every bit as well made as any hand sewn European tent. This of course if just MY humble opinion.

4:49 p.m. on March 31, 2009 (EDT)
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USMCSarge,

I appreciate your suggestion and I know you are well-meaning. Many thanks. :)

I'm seeking a good four-season tent from a lesser-known brand name. I never purchase BIG name brands as a matter of conviction.

Do you read up on brands that are not BIG name like LL Bean, Terra-Nova, MEC, Kathmandu, Karrimor and others?

6:05 p.m. on March 31, 2009 (EDT)
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Bruce, in all fairness I typically do not follow the off brands. That being said (and looking over my shoulder for Bill to pounce), I am working on a DSS (Decision Support Systems) analysis of tents in order to take the "opinions" out of the equations. DSS is a software tool that is used to make a decision based upon criteria or data associated with an option (i.e. tent). I'm modeling the tents based upon the manufacturer's specifications (height, width, length, weight, price, area, etc.).

DSS allow a user to specify the parameters that are most important to them (opinions), so that for example, I can analyze tents based upon lowest weight at any price, or most room for the best optimum weight. I can also set all opinions to the same level and get a "no opinion" result from the system (my end goal).

I'll go ahead and add tents from the lesser-known brands and see what comes up. As far as posting the results on this forum, I'm sure that would be pretty bloody. I'm still working on adding parameters to the models (like fabric weights and types), and other things, like quality, are obviously not quantifiable.

To take a neutral stance here, let me say that of all the tents that I have modeled so far, based upon just the numbers, the new VE-25 is sitting at #3 in the ranking.

7:23 p.m. on March 31, 2009 (EDT)
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... looking over my shoulder for Bill to pounce...

Don't worry, Sarge, I agree with and understand what you are saying. I am still sitting here, completely baffled by ministercreek's gear selection criteria (your DSS appears to be inadequate to supporting his criteria, though). Somehow, counting Marmot, MSR, Sierra Designs, and Mountain Hardwear, with frequent mention of Feathered Friends, Integral Designs, and Western Mountaineering as the "Big Three" (looks like 7 to me) to avoid, while considering Cabela's (a chain with larger sales than REI plus several times larger dollar sales of sleeping bags than any of the 7, plus being sponsor of the Iditarod, which is more costly to put on than most major sporting events shown on TV), Eureka (an international company that is a division of Johnson Outdoors, which is the outdoor arm of Johnson Worldwide Associates), LLBean (for years, one of the primary names of gear for wintry climates), Campmor (one of the largest mail order outdoor suppliers), The North Face (a division of VF Corp, and in particular the VE-25, which is probably the most touted model in expedition tents), MEC (a Canadian chain that is as big as REI was about 5 years ago, very large for its home country), plus several other companies that are divisions of large conglomerates as non-BIG companies as the most desirable ones to use as gear sources. There was some statement about "hype", but no definition of what "hype" is (beyond some obscure "Bob" who is unknown to me or others I have talked to (some have speculated as to who it might be, maybe, considering the comments about Backpacker, "Bob" is a columnist for Backpacker who has personally offended ministercreek).

Inquiring minds want to know what the criteria are, clearly stated, for rejecting companies with well-known names and reputations built up over years of use by people who actually get out into the wilds and depend on their gear to get them through in the Arctic, on 6000+ meter peaks, in deserts and jungles, winter blizzards, and crossing Antarctica unsupported. In the meantime, I remain -

-- Baffled while Lost on the Web, and unable to Pounce on Anything.

8:54 p.m. on March 31, 2009 (EDT)
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I'm baffled too, I have had enough gear through the years to have a worthy opinion of gear quality, or the lack of it.

I pick gear based on quality, pure and simple, yes, I do try to find it on sale or discount at times, but quality and reliability is priority one.

I can't help it if my choices are from among the big 7!

I say more power to them, they help me stay warm, dry, safe,.......and apparently trendy against my will.

Lessor gear does not hold up as well IF you really put it through the paces, IMO.

True I haven't been on Everest, to the Antartic, or Alaska, where gear is really put to the test I guess, but I know a cheap zipper, poor stitching, and have had lessor tents drip, leak, rip, and almost smothered in a couple.

I love my MH tent, had it for 13 yrs. never had a problem with it I didn't cause. I backpack in very wet, humid areas, with strong thunderstorms accompanied by high winds quite common.

I'm done playing russian roulette with lessor tents to save money or for phlisophical reasons, or whatever. My comfort and safety is paramount. Let others do as they wish, I don't care really, but there's no need to be all OCD about other peoples choice of brand.

9:12 p.m. on March 31, 2009 (EDT)
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Here's a quick blurb on my DSS project: If I go to the latest copy of Backpacker magazine (Gear Test Issue) and cross the top four off of my list because they didn't test them (discontinued or older models), I'm left with the Kelty Gunnison 2.1 in fifth place. Wouldn't you know it - it's their pick for best all around two person tent!

9:50 p.m. on March 31, 2009 (EDT)
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Hi Sarge,

I'm curious what the top four were, no reason really, just curious.

Also do you have a category for 3-4 season convertable tents? Just wondering 'cause mine is in that category.

12:05 p.m. on April 1, 2009 (EDT)
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I just realized why the evil "BIG Three" seemed vaguely familiar. A couple years ago, I joined my son in a bit of climbing in the Dolomites. We stayed with some friends of one of his colleagues in a village named Nova Levante, not far from Bolzano. During our hikes on the rainy days when we couldn't climb, we followed the "Agatha Christy Weg", named in honor of Agatha Christy, the famous mystery writer. Seems she spent a lot of time at a hotel at the pass above Nova Levante. One of her stories had its climactic moments in the Labyrinthe, a fun and fascinating path through a large amount of huge blocks of talus. If you wander off the path, it is easy to get lost. Christy's most famous detective, Hercule Poirot, tracked down and did in the last of the group of villains in the Labyrinthe. The name of the story was The Big Four, an evil bunch indeed!

12:42 p.m. on April 1, 2009 (EDT)
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Bruce, in all fairness I typically do not follow the off brands....I'll go ahead and add tents from the lesser-known brands and see what comes up. As far as posting the results on this forum, I'm sure that would be pretty bloody. I'm still working on adding parameters to the models (like fabric weights and types), and other things, like quality, are obviously not quantifiable.

I must confess I do follow the so-called "off brands". I have been doing so for more than 15 years now.

The tent I'm seeking must not be either from Sierra Designs, Mountain Hardware, Marmot, MSR or any other of those popular name brands.

This has absolutely nothing to do with "snubbing" people who use these brands btw. To each his own. It has everything to do with seeking a good tent that will hold up to strong winds (even those of hurricane strength), snow loads, ice storms, etc.

Thus far I'm looking at The Backside T-1, the Coleman Exponent Phact X-3, the LL Bean Backcountry 3, the MEC Nunatak and last but not least the Terra-Nova Quasar or Hyperspace model. Take notice these are not BIG name brands, contrary to views some hold. These are some very good tents worthy to take into consideration as far as quality and value are concerned.

I have no desire to be like most people who think the BIG name brand route is the way to go. That is an Collinite view. Not an editor from the infamous Backpacker Magazine either. But an owner of the trendy backpacking shop near Akron Ohio. Hope I cleared things up.

Sorry Alicia-just making my point with the above statement. Hopefully you will suffer it to remain posted. Thanks.

August 31, 2014
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