User Review: Bibler Pinon
Design: freestanding modified dome
Ease of Setup: easy
Weight: 5 lbs. 11 oz.
Price Paid: $389
I purchased this tent last year for spring backpacking in Great Basin, Zion and Canyonlands National Parks. I own a Noall tent (which I love and have reviewed as well), but I chose to carry a different shelter for these trips because:
1. I wanted to save some weight because I was expecting to carry the entire tent on two solo hikes. The tent would have to be reasonably light.
2. I could not carry a tarp because I would have to spend some time in Park campgrounds where I would require more privacy than a tarp would provide.
3. I wanted a totally freestanding tent because I had never been to these parks before and did not know about the staking conditions in these desert and slickrock areas. (The Bibler Pinon is TOTALLY freestanding including pole supported vestibules.)
4. I didn't want a tent much smaller than the Pinon (32 sq. ft. plus two vestibules) because for part of the trip I would be sharing the tent with someone.
5. I wanted to experiment with waterproof/breathable tents.
The Bibler Pinion turned out to be an excellent choice for my needs. I have never tried an entirely single-wall tent in warm humid or rainy conditions, but have heard that they develop considerable condensation on the interior walls, even with the vents open. It is my opinion that most single-wall tents are excellent for the dry, cold conditions encountered in high altitude mountaineering, but not for regular backpacking. However, I found that the Pinon is perfectly designed for 3-season use.
The tent features no-see-um mesh sidewalls protected by two coated nylon vestibules that can be entirely rolled back in warm dry conditions. The rest of the upper tent body is made from Todd-Tex, a PTFE waterproof/breathable laminate (like Gore-Tex). In addition to the two mesh walls, the tent features a peak vent that exhausts warm, moisture laden air. The vent is equipped with a cover that protects the interior from rainfall. The cover can be rolled back in nice weather. The combination of mesh sidewalls and peak vent have ensured that I've NEVER experienced condensation inside the tent ~ none! (My stay at Great Basin was in late spring ~ camping in snowmelt and generally damp conditions).
The fabrics used are very high quality. Although my tent is apple green on the outside, the interior is a pale yellow that is very pleasant. The sewing quality is excellent as well ~ probably the best I've seen. The tent pitches taut and perfect every time. My thoughts about the tent are listed below:
A. It is refreshing to see a tent with a permanent vestibule that is TOTALLY freestanding.
B. I like the fact that the vestibules roll completely back, the ventilation is as good as it gets.
C. The weight is VERY light for a totally freestanding tent with 32 sq. ft. of completely usable space, two doors and two vestibules. (YES, the Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight is lighter, but you can only really use about half of its 32 sq. ft. of floor space due to the very low foot end of the tent and the slightly sloping sidewalls ~ and it only has one door and one small vestibule AND it's NOT freestanding.)
D. The tent poles are internal and although the tent is easy to erect, crawling inside the tent is clumsy and I don't personally find that the tent is faster (or takes longer) to set up than other brands.
E. The peak vent cover does not have enough overlap. I've had blowing rain enter through the vent. This leakage was very minor but annoying. If only the cover had about two inches more overlap.
F. The tent has almost "ground level" sidewalls. This feature means that when it's raining, and the vestibules are opened for entry, there is no coated sidewall to prevent rain from wetting the floor. If only the tent featured a six or eight inch high coated fabric or Todd-Tex sidewall, under the vetibules.
G. I wish that Bibler would offer factory seam taping on this tent, I would gladly pay an extra $25 for that service. The tent requires much more "Seam Grip" sealant than Bibler provides, and the tent requires much more time to seal than Bibler's stated "one hour" job. Remember, you only have a SINGLE wall of protection and so, your sealing job must be done carefully and completely. In particular, put gobs of sealant on the nickle snaps where the interior pole ends are fitted. Seal both the inside and outside surfaces of the fabric. If you aren't careful here, the tent will leak at these points FOR SURE!
H. I personally wish that Bibler would change the bright apple green tent fabric color to a more Leave-No-Trace sage green or something similar. Then, high altitude moutaineers could have a very visible yellow option and backpackers could have a tent that blends into the environment.
This tent, like most outdoor equipment is not perfect, but I have found that it offers a combination of roominess, comfort, convenience, strength, ventilation and reasonably light weight that is unmatched by most other tents.