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4 Season tent selection

9:32 p.m. on May 21, 2011 (EDT)
4 reviewer rep
106 forum posts

Hello all, I'm new to this forum and have read several threads which helped me pick alot of my gear! I own a 3 season tent, Marmot Aeros 3P, which I love to use any time of the year here Florida, except when it rains hard, the condensation, set up method etc... make it hard to stay dry inside the tent, light rain is no problem though.  I've grown as a backpacker and need to get a second tent to meet my needs which is hiking at high altitudes in bellow freezing weather and hiking in heavy rain here in Florida.  I've done some research and here are the things that will fit my needs for the new tent:
1. Be able to accommodate me, my wife and my gear.

2. Have an exoskeleton, so that we can set it up in heavy rain or snow without getting the inside of the tent wet.

3. Be freestanding.

4. Withstand heavy snow.

5. Be as lightweight as possible!

I've found 4 tents that match the criteria, but I can't decide which yet! Here are them and what I've found about them:

Hilleberg Staika (8.8lbs). The heaviest, roomiest, sturdiest of the 4. So far the one I'm leaning the most towards of. I like that the entrances point opposite ways, in case of heavy rain I can enter the tent in whichever entrance the rain will fly inside the least. Seems to have the most durable material to withstand snow, wear and tear etc...

Hilleberg Allak (7.1lbs). Lighter version of the Staika, has less room and entrances point same direction. My second choice right now, the vent design of both the Allak and Staika will also help calibrate the temperature and condensation inside the tent.

Marmot Alpinist 2P (5.8lbs). The lightest, cheapest of the tent. It only has one vestibule and the fact that it is smaller than the other tents scare me as to how I'll fit me, my wife and my gear.   I've seen mixed reviews on this one.

Mountain Hardware Ev2 (6.2lbs). It is only on the list because it fits all the description, but it doesn't seem to match the other tents in quality.  It also fits more as a winter tent, I don't think it will hold up to the heat of Florida summer, or the rain!

Have I skipped any tents that I shouldn't? Am I missing something on the ones I've listed? Will the Staika be way too heavy for me to carry with my sleeping bag, pad and all the other stuff I try to make as ultralight as possible? I don't have access to try any of these tents before I buy them because there is no store nearby that will carry them so I've been going by videos, pictures and reviews online to get my knowledge on them. I will eventually have to order them online and returns and exchanges suck long distance, If anyone is able to shed some light in my research I will be most grateful, thank you all!

10:12 p.m. on May 21, 2011 (EDT)
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613 forum posts

I use Hilleberg tents for that very reason, as we have the greatest rainfall and very heavy, wet snowfall in North America, here  in BC. I have had three and now have a Saivo and a Soulo.

My choice for the "best" tents for 1-2 backpackers-mountaineers, in the circumstances you describe are two that were not available when I bought mine, the Allak for summer-early autumn and the Jannu, a superb harsh weather tent I consider just "perfect".

Hilleberg tents ARE costly, no question, but, nothing I have ever used or seen in decades in the mountains of western and nothern Canada, among the last real wilderness areas left on Earth and a very harsh environment, comes close to their utility in crappy conditions. They are, IMO, honestly worth the price and I am seriously considering buying one of the new larger domes for long term wilderness stays, even at the cost involved.

12:28 a.m. on May 22, 2011 (EDT)
RETAILER
8 reviewer rep
210 forum posts

On the Hillebergs, if weight is a concern, go with the Allak.  If it isn't, go with the Staika. Where do you plan on using it, other than Florida?

You can always split up the weight, your mate taking the poles and stakes for example.

Should you invest in a Hilleberg, take good care of it and it will last you for many years.

I've owned and used a bunch of their models and they are my favorite tent company.

2:07 a.m. on May 22, 2011 (EDT)
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1,236 forum posts

Welcome to Trailspace Max,

 It is interesting thing that happens when people get hooked into the "UL" gear thing.  At some point light gear must give way to saftey concerns.   As I get older my back is not getting any younger and I for one do not want the heavyness of all the gear of yesteryear.  It does seem to me that in the ever expanding search for "UL" gear that there are many light weight tents that claim to be 4 season that I don't think could hold up to really harsh conditions. There are also differnt grades of 4 season tents.  Example, the Bibler Eldorado and the Bibler Fitzory are almost exactly the same tent with the Eldorado using two poles and the Fitzroy using four poles .  While the Eldorado is a 4 season tent, it is not designed for high wind use where as the Fitzory is designed for the same things as the Eldorado as well as for high wind use.   I still belive in a "real" 4 season tent.  I've only "needed" my 4 season tents a few times in my life.  The rest of the time I could have gotten away with lesser tent (but I do sleep well knowing that my tent will hold up to what ever comes my way).  With that being said I've been on trips where mine was the only tent standing and all the gear from the other tents had to be put in my tent for safe keeping until the storm(s) blew over.  Most of the tents would survived but had to be dried out, restaked, put backtogether. as well as  being 100% soaked.  What a trip killer.  Not only that but what if your out in the wilderness in the  4th season conditons and your tent is not up to snuff.  I look at tent "person" ratings as a 2 man tent is 1 man and gear, a 3 man tent is 2 and gear and so on.   I think your list of tents if a good one with the exception of the EV3.  I myself would go with the Hillebergs and am in the market for one now.  If you want to cut down on weight I would repalce the  single wall EV3 with a single wall Bibler Eldorado (4.5 lbs +/-) or Fitzory (6 lbs +/-).  It's important to get members opionions but just as important to read the review of the tents you thinking about.  The Gear review section here at Trailspace is 1st rate.  Let us know what you decide.  Have fun buying your tent and don't forget to see if you can get it used if your into that. 

 

3:28 a.m. on May 22, 2011 (EDT)
245 reviewer rep
1,469 forum posts

Answers and suggestions of mine are within the quoted text of yours.

I am not going to tell you which tent to buy as it is often like a candy store out there when selecting Tents amongst other things.  Similar to computers technology is a benefit and sometimes a frustration because as soon as you buy a choice there then is another choice when you open the next brochures of ideas.

You may need to be comfortable that you have mad the very best decision you can for today and then go ahead and use the purchased tent for some time.  Then once worn or with a wish to purchase new again. Go through this process once again.  Technology is good that way.  Such that when you are ready to replace there probably will something better.

I have some basic and never evolving criteria that are a basis of what O look for in a tent.  I will highlight these to you next to the points you make within the quote from you OP. Then add a couple more at the end.

maxx said:


1. Be able to accommodate me, my wife and my gear.

Callahan - Yes, a range of tent occupancy capability compared to occupying capacity can be dealt with here and depends on how light or luxurious your personal choice is.  My lightweight choice is x1per person and for roomy luxury, this is camping remember,is x2per person. 

2. Have an exoskeleton, so that we can set it up in heavy rain or snow without getting the inside of the tent wet.

Callahan - A very nice feature indeed.

3. Be freestanding.

Callahan - Yes

4. Withstand heavy snow.

Callahan - If camping in such conditions, a worthy consideration, that the outer (fly) material is strong/durable and the poles also  strong/durable and well braced.  If the tent (poles) is more domed in structure this will provide stability and strength.

5. Be as lightweight as possible!

Callahan - Yes

Have I skipped any tents that I shouldn't?

Callahan - Well yes, you have skipped many but that is a personal choice and you could spend weeks searching for frustration.

 I also look for, (you have noted some)

- 2 doors with large vestibule each

- complete closing to ground outside (fly) doors

- bathtub inner tent design

- vent/s that close

- multiple guy line attachment points, at one each side or end

- inner tent having some (insect resistant) mesh

- Outer tent (fly) waterproof, with protected zippers

- Vertical or as vertical as possible walls, which provides lots of sitting room

- ease of warranty or repair is a big one too

Hope this helps

10:46 a.m. on May 22, 2011 (EDT)
12 reviewer rep
613 forum posts

Some very sound points made by all and I concur with Apeman's concise suggestions, with one caveat. 

I have used Early Winters, original Todd Bibler and now Integral Designs singlewall tents extensively in snow camping in BC and the "Eastern Slopes" of the Canadian Rockies. I have lived as long as a month in one, in rain, snow, wind and so forth, in the Rockies of S.E.B.C.

I would not buy a Bibler, made after Todd sold and this is not due to anything, except two rather important factors. The first is that the Biblers are more difficult to setup than the comparable Integral Designs tents and not as well made, although very good. This is NOT because I am Canadian and ID tents are made here, it is what I think based on years of use.

The next is that the Biblers for quite some years, have had a "coating" on the fabric that seems to inhibit H20 transfer and is slightly shiney. This, I am given to understand, is necessary so that they can meet flammability standards in some markets which is Bibler's affair.

However, my needs are for the strongest, lightest and most moisture-efficient tent available and, the two Hilles. and, especially, the ID MKI-XL are the best I have seen for this purpose, I have a Yellow MKI-XL as my "go to" winter tent and it is superb.

I would choose one of these with the optional rear "window" or the Hille. "Jannu" for a winter tent over anything on the market and would get out there and snowshoe my butt off! BTDT.

1:16 p.m. on May 22, 2011 (EDT)
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106 forum posts

Wow, you guys really have given me some solid advice! 

To answer Dewey's question, I plan on using the tent on mountains all throughout the USA (including Alaska) and probably Canada too.  I will use it mostly in Florida but I plan on hiking Mt. Whitney either this year or next, temperatures near the summit can get bellow 0°F.

The weight is an issue due to the fact we usually spend a week backpacking when we set out on adventures, and minimum 4 days 3 nights hikes, when you walk up a mountain for such long periods of time every pound counts!  But if the Staika will provide us the needed protection and space then I would take that over a lighter version. 

The Hilleberg tents also have two vestibules, that allows me to have two exits as well as more space to accommodate my gear, most other four season tents I've seen only have one, the way the Staika vestibules are set up seems to be more well thought of than the Allak, and they both seem to fit all the extra criterias added by Callahan am I right?  Except for the warranty part, which I will definitely call their warranty department to ask how they handle their claims before a purchase the tent!

I think I'm divided now between the Staika and Allak, there is no way I could share the weight of the Staika with my wife, I'm much taller and stronger than her, I'm 6ft tall and athletic, she is 5ft1 107lbs, in the end whichever one I pick I will have to carry solo.  If i pick the Staika will I regret the extra weight? If I pick the Allak will I regret having a less sturdier, slightly smaller tent with vestibule entrance facing the same direction?  Is there another tent out there, maybe a 3 person tent that will fit my description and give me more room for the same weight and feature as those two?

11:21 a.m. on June 1, 2011 (EDT)
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89 forum posts

Even the lighter weight material (kerlon 1200) of the Allak is far superior to any other expedition grade tent on the market today.

4:24 a.m. on June 16, 2011 (EDT)
30 reviewer rep
3 forum posts

Hi maxx -

 

Like Dewey, i'm a long-term fan of Integral Designs. My MK1 XL is highly customized having 2 full-size doors (screen on the inside), no sleeve vents, extra guy-out attachment points, etc. and is a superb winter shelter (as in standing to up 8" overnight snowfall,  40mph winds + gusts and many other 'difficult' weather situations over the last 7 years i've used it). I also have a vestibule for it and the combination is awesome to say the least.

 

I have also used the MK1 XL for more 'normal' (aka 3-season) backpacking use to temps in the 90's with similar humidity (Nothern Tenessee, Big South Fork area, Central/Eastern Kentucky Red River Gorge and similar sweaty places). It's hot, but with 2 full-screen doors you stay bug free and able to feel some ventiliation. It is snug w/2, but not impossible and thats with winter gear.

 

Were i to choose a non-free-standing tent, i'd buy an Exped Andromeda II 2-person (and i'm considering one, but don't *need* it). Similar design to Hilleberg, less expensive and a HUGE vestibule. I'm considering the Andromeda II 2-person for it's enormous vestibule - something very important to me. Over 25 years of backcountry hiking/climbing in all 4 seasons has taught me to appreciate the values of a big vestibule.

 

As i'm getting older, i've also been using a Henry Shires "Tarptent" Cloud Burst II for 2/3-season jaunts (2lbs!!! and good enough). Excellent quality for when i don't need 4-season toughness.

7:10 a.m. on June 16, 2011 (EDT)
130 reviewer rep
130 forum posts

I've used a Black Diamond Firstlight for going on 4 years. It weighs 2 lbs 11 oz. It's a single walled tent made with a breathable fabric called Epic which was the precursor to Event. Freestanding and an all around excellent tent in my opinion that packs very small for 4 season use. It takes about 2 minutes to set up and has very steep side walls that shed snow well. It's also a heck a lot cheaper than a hilleberg. Oh and you can buy an additional vestibule for it too.

1:35 p.m. on June 16, 2011 (EDT)
171 reviewer rep
223 forum posts

You should give a check to Exped tents. Much like hilleberg.

4:20 p.m. on June 16, 2011 (EDT)
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908 forum posts

Welcome to trailspace maxx. I'm from Ocala, FL. West of Daytona, South of Gainesville on I-75.

12:20 a.m. on June 17, 2011 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
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1,008 forum posts

The Alpinist is a fine tent from what I hear, so long as you don't need to store more than a pair of boots outside.

The EV2 is of course very storm-worthy, but it has no real vestibule, and opening the door at all in the rain will let in water.

I looked at both of those, as well as the MSR Fury, before I bought my Allak. I've never wondered if I made the right choice; the Allak is the most brilliantly-designed I've ever used, capable of adapting to a wide range of conditions for a very manageable weight. I got mine with a footprint, making the package about 8lbs.

9:16 a.m. on June 17, 2011 (EDT)
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106 forum posts

Thanks alot for your advice guys! I ended up buying the Allak, it is not the lightest tent out there but it sure is one of the best, I already received it and set it up several times, maybe I will write a review once I go out and do a few trips with it and put it to the test.  Compared to all the other tents I've seen and tried (most not being for winter though) this one is the sturdiest, most well made and easiest to set up, I can put up this whole tent and take it down faster than I can put the netting up on my Aeros 3p, and I can get that one up really quick too!  I did not have a chance to take a look at the Exped tents since I bought the Allak before I heard of them, they seem to be pretty similar to the Hillebergs, so anyone who reads this post later to find a tent for themselves should give those a chance too!

8:43 a.m. on June 18, 2011 (EDT)
RETAILER
8 reviewer rep
210 forum posts

The Allak is a great tent and should last you for many years.

As a side note, while Exped's have some designs that are similar at first look, there are significant differences in fabric between the two companies.

The Kerlon fabric used by Hilleberg is several times stronger in tear strength than Exped's and other Asian made tents on the market. It is very expensive but lasts for a long time, has superior UV protection as well.

Exped tents are more affordable for those who do not require equipment in real demanding conditions.

DISCLOSER: I work in the Outdoor Industry and retail both Exped and Hilleberg tents.

11:08 a.m. on June 18, 2011 (EDT)
63 reviewer rep
123 forum posts

Dewey said:


I would not buy a Bibler, made after Todd sold and this is not due to anything, except two rather important factors. The first is that the Biblers are more difficult to setup than the comparable Integral Designs tents and not as well made, although very good. This is NOT because I am Canadian and ID tents are made here, it is what I think based on years of use.

 

i have a Bibler Ahwahnee and really like it, so my question is why is the ID Yukon easier to set up?  I've never seen the Yukon in person, so all I have to go on is the picture, where they look the same to me???  

 

11:30 a.m. on June 18, 2011 (EDT)
65 reviewer rep
170 forum posts

vigilguy said:

The Allak is a great tent and should last you for many years.

As a side note, while Exped's have some designs that are similar at first look, there are significant differences in fabric between the two companies.

The Kerlon fabric used by Hilleberg is several times stronger in tear strength than Exped's and other Asian made tents on the market. It is very expensive but lasts for a long time, has superior UV protection as well.

Exped tents are more affordable for those who do not require equipment in real demanding conditions.

DISCLOSER: I work in the Outdoor Industry and retail both Exped and Hilleberg tents.

 Are you talking about the Swiss Exped? in Asian do you mean made in Asia and design in the US/EU right? http://www.exped.com/exped/web/exped_homepage_na.nsf/

I will go with a Hilleberg over an Exped, but "not require...demanding conditions" is a harsh statement. 

I also really like Lightwave tents, I got one (G1 ultra)

http://www.lightwave.uk.com/en/tents_overview.php

but you do need to set the inner first...

10:26 p.m. on June 21, 2011 (EDT)
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908 forum posts

Maxx

Have no idea if this is what you are looking for. Just saw it on GearTrade.com and it kind of looked like you could put the outer shell first. Didn't go any further than that.

Hilleberg MountaineeringTent Nallo 3 GT

April 21, 2014
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