Big Agnes Seedhouse SL1
Source: bought via a "pro deal"
I love the options and weight of this tent, but the foot area needs a little work, and perhaps a slightly roomier vestibule.
- fly/footprint set up
- pole strength
- number of stakes needed
- vestibule space tight
- air circulation when tent zipped shut
I used this tent for 6 months extensively in the Central Sierras, just south of Lake Tahoe. I primarily used it with the footprint, tent, and rain fly (rainfly more for privacy and blocking early morning light than for rain). I like the weight, durability, and options this tent provides, but I question the stakes and number of stakes needed, and the ventilation of this otherwise airy appearing tent.
I found immediately that in pumice/sandy soil the provided stakes were difficult to keep in the ground, especially when it got windy, or when I tried to put the footprint loop, tent body loop, and fly loop over it. Thus, I dug out some MSR stakes from a tarp tent I owned and used those.
At first I kept knocking the foot area loops off the stakes while rolling around in my sleep. Or if I didn't bring extra stakes the fly would flap in the wind. When trying to minimize tent stake use, the foot area doesn't set up well. It also in an area with NO humidity (I was in the Central Sierra High Desert), it doesn't breathe as well as you'd think if you don't bring extra stakes to tautly stake out the foot area. Staking the fly out further and separate for the footprint and tent body increased ventilation, but required I bring more stakes.
I would wake up in the morning with condensation all over my toe box area, on a night with no rain. This was with the tent door fly propped up on my backpack in the vestibule, and not fully open. I started sleeping with the door fully open and an eyemask on to block light from my eyes, yet increase ventilate. For a mostly mesh body tent, and it not being single wall tent, and me being in the HIGH Desert I can only imagine how moist the inside will get when I try this tent in Vermont.
I really love the tent weight, and know this tent has been around for years, but please improve the footbox staking and ventilation options. Also, as the first reviewer said, it is hard to get out of the tent when your backpack hardly fits under the vestibule. I'd keep my boots inside. The one time I put my pack inside for interest of space in the vestibule, I POPPED my Big Agnes Clearview Mat. Which is an UL mat, that apparently contacted a tiny part of my frame on my Osprey Ariel 65 pack and popped. It was not a fun night.
It is nice that taller folks (I'm 5'8") can fit in here with plenty of footroom, and that this tent is very durable and packable. It isn't as quick to set up when you bring the extra stakes to improve ventilation.
Price Paid: $150 (previously used twice)
Overall, I am very pleased with this tent. It's the lightest tent I've owned and it packs really small. I've even got it packed down with a compression sack so it takes up little room. I've never seen anything like it.
I've taken it to the AT a couple of times since I got it in September and only got to use it 3 times (2 nights each). Lowest temperature I ever experienced in it at night was 22 degrees and it snowed. No condensation inside, it kept me dry in both rain and snow.
I love the fact it includes the rainfly and footprint and they work extremely well together. Love the mesh pocket inside at the head of the tent; great for hanging the lamp, ipod and socks.
Now, I was looking for something as close to ultralight as possible, but not as claustrophobic as a bivvy-style. That's what the Seedhouse SL1 provides.
The gripes in other reviews are all valid, but manageable if you ultralight backpack, or reasonable if you take the perspective I give above:
- Vestibule? What vestibule? LOL, I fit my boots and jacket in the vestibule. I think its more to keep the rain out and for looks than it is functional. You put anything in there and it completely blocks your ability to get out/in.
- But here's a surprise. I'm 5'9" and 190lbs. I was able to fit my Big Agnes dual-air core pad, Encampment 15 sleeping bag, Baltoro 70 pack and boots all inside no problem and slept fine.
- Height limits are an issue. I would not recommend this tent for anyone taller than me. I can change it in, but my head does rub the top of the tent if I sit up or crouch inside. The pitch is also very steep. But this is not an issue at all if you are laying down inside the tent on your back or propped up on your side (which is how I like to read), or you implement the ghetto-fabulous "clothers hangar" idea from another reviewer. Also length-wise I can lay down in it fined and it fit my bag and pad without any issues. But not sure for taller folks if it would get tight in there.
- Work to pitch it? Lucky for me I knew about the fabric loop that runs the length ridge line of the tent body, and how the pole has to run through it as the first step in setup before I went out on the trail. I also packed the footprint with the tent so it all unrolled together. Finally I put down the 3 stakes at each corner first then build it up from there. I had it 'formed' in seconds. The tent definitely performs and looks its best if you have the fly all guyed out. To do this you need 11 stakes or a combo or stakes and trees. I bought mine with the MSR groundhog stakes. Super light, and could use 8 to get everything done. Again this is for the rainfly and tent. Tent alone can be perfect with 5.
I didn't have any problems with the door as some have stated, no condensation, leaking, or issues with wind gusts up to 40mph (what I've experienced).
Bottom line is I give it a 4 because the issues above are so minor compared to how awesome this tent looks when set up, how little it weighs and how little room it takes up in the pack. But if the issues are significant for you I suggest you test out the tent in a store somewhere if you can first.
I bought this used from someone who only used it twice, but was over 6' tall so he needed something bigger. I got it for a steal at $150 and don't regret my purchase at all.
Design: Sort of free standing three season A-frame
Ease of Setup: Not bad but lacking clips on portion and lots of stakes
Weight: 2lbs 6ounces
Price Paid: $200
Bought this using my 20% REI member discount and took it out on a 3-day trip to Mount Rogers National Recreation Area. Overall, the tent is very light and packs down super small. The square footage is roomy for the weight and it kept me dry on a night of rain and 25 mph winds.
I read about this tent on here beforehand and the negative comments were true. In the morning, after the rain had stopped the tent door is canted out so that rain from the fly drops into the tent very easily. The door is also pretty small and positioned at the front of the tent so that I (6'0" 180) had some difficulty getting in and out.
Also, the set up is a little cumbersome because the longest pole has to be threaded through small loops of nylon instead of convenient clips. It's listed as a free-standing tent, but to properly open up the floorplan near the foot you have to use two stakes, then to prevent rainfly flapping and for full rain protection the tent requires 11 stakes total, which is kind of a lot. Lastly, the design is sort of a modified A-frame so whenever I tried to sit up my head was wedged into the mesh at the top of the tent.
It's a good tent that's roomy and light, but in the end I decided to return it and pay the extra $30 for an MSR Hubba...
Overall a great tent. This served as my main tent on my AT thru-hike and got me through many bad nights.
Most of my gripes have been said by others here ... low vestibule space ... pitching problems ... door entry. This is the bulk of the issues. However, I would add pitching and take down time to the list of gripes. To put up correctly there is a lot to do. At the very minimum, you have to mess with the dreaded pole loops, the foot-end of the tent body has to be staked, the fly takes 6 stakes, and there are two clips that connect the fly to the body to pull both out at the same time (i rarely staked out the guy lines at the middle of the tent). Even in great, storm-less, weather you still have to go through the checklist to avoid condensation and maximize your room inside. Likewise, my hiking partner had a Hubba which took no time to put up and requires only 2 stakes (again at the minimum).
BA has thought of (most) everything with this tent and has utilized a variety of weight saving techniques that might make pitching more difficult. A small gripe, but still a consideration.
Price Paid: $182
I realized while reviewing another piece of equipment today that I have never reviewed this tent.
This tent has served me well in all kinds of weather. It is lite (2lb 6oz) and sturdy. I have used it in wind, snow, rain and sleet without a problem. When pitched properly, this thing can take the elements well.
I find access and egress to be easy, but I think a larger person would have a problem. I am 5' 8" and can sit up in this tent without a problem (that includes from the foot end which I have on occasion decided to sleep with my head at that end, dont know why). I find I have plenty or room on the inside for all my equipment, which includes my pack.
I would not recommend this tent for someone 6' tall or over, as your head and feet will touch both ends.
I have also noticed from the first night I used this tent several years ago that it seems to hold heat well. This is good in cold weather, as it is a few degrees warmer inside the tent than outside. No so good in warm weather here in the deep South. I have had a miserable night of heat and rain where I thought I would melt.
The vestibule is good for a pair of boots, but it is very crowded if you try to put your pack in it. I find it much easier to keep my pack in the tent with me (prop my feet on it as I sleep). It would be okay to cook in, should you need to.
One drawback on this tent is it requires a lot of stakes to work properly (10 to 12 is best). This takes a bit of time to set up and take down, not good if you are setting up in a storm.
All in all, I have enjoyed this tent. It holds the elements out well, is lite and sturdy, and is reasonably roomy.
Design: "three-season freestanding dome")
Ease of Setup: very easy to set up
Weight: under 3 pounds
Price Paid: $160
I have had this tent for 4 years. I have used it in all kinds of weather. I bought it because it was lightweight, so it does very well in that respect.
There are problems as stated before in other reviews. The vestibule is very small, the front door is very low and hard to get into the tent, the condensation is bad when you use the footprint. My worst problem after several years is the sealant seems to be flaking off. It hasn't leaked yet, so I don't know if that is a problem.
I loved the tent when I used it without the fly, just the netting, in warm weather. I give this tent the 4 rating because of the weight.
Design: 3 season hikers tent
Ease of Setup: Easy set-up but too many stakes for the fly.
Price Paid: $215
I bought this tent new with the ground cloth and have used it for three trips (each trip had multiple night camps in different spots). I was attracted to it for its small pack size. I ride adventure touring motorcycles so, pack size is paramount. It easily fits inside a pannier box on my bike.
The tent sets up quickly but uses a lot of stakes for tiedowns (11 stakes if my memory serves correct). The stakes work well if you are on soft ground. Anything rocky and they bend under the hits of my camp hammer. At the price of the tent there should be heavier stakes.
I think this tent is over priced though. Jury is still out on the build quality but it does seem delicate. The ground cloth is really thin so, if there are rocks with any kind of protruding points at all, they must be removed from the tent site. I would have liked to have seen a thicker/tougher ground cloth.
I am 6'3" tall - athletic build. The length of the tent is fine but the width is narrow. I use a 25" wide Therm-a-rest inside okay but there is virtually no room for gear storage so I end up stashing my riding clothes along my sides down the length of the tent. This eats up precious floor space. I was able to put my riding helmet and a few very small items at the foot of the tent. The vestibule is so small it is really useless. I can't believe BA didn't just expand the vestibule area to accommodate any gear you have with you. The opening is a little difficult to get in and out of for people as large as me.
On the last camp trip I spent two nights out in temperatures below 40 degrees with moderate winds. It was cold outside but inside the SL1 it was nice and warm. I was surprised by the ability of the mesh to keep out any blowing cold air. However, this would be bad in the summer unless you used the rainfly and ground cloth alone (not what I want to do since bugs and other critters could just join you as you sleep).
If I was a hiker/backpacker, this tent would be top on my list. It is small and light and is really just a step above a bivy. As a motorcycle rider/camper I have other gear that I don't want to leave on the bike and need to secure it inside my tent while I sleep. I will probably step up to a 2 person tent.
I give the SL1 a 3.5 star rating. If the ground cloth was more substantial, the stakes were heavier and the vestibule was at least twice the size, I would give this tent a higher rating. If the price was lower and the above were fixed it would be a slam dunk.
Ease of Setup: Easy
I went backpacking in the Mount Rogers National Recreational area last weekend and at night the wind gusts were at least 40mph as a cold front moved through. This tent stayed put the whole night. I was surprised when I got up the next morning and noticed that the fly and tent were still staked to the ground and hadn't moved. A great light-weight tent that I have used several times and am pleased with its performance.
Ease of Setup: annoying to stake out, too may stakes
Weight: 3 lbs +/-
Price Paid: $249
Read all the reviews and decided this sounded the best, so I got one and took it up into the Sierras for 8 days in June. It's a decent tent, but it didn't live up to the hype. First off, the front entry door is fairly low and difficult to get into. If you're over 6' you'll have problems with this. I was hiking with a friend who had the Marmot Eos-1 with the side entry, and he was laughing the whole trip at the way I had to duck and wiggle in. Another annoying door issue was the way the door was canted out, exposing it to rain when the rainfly flap was open. If you tried to enter this tent in a downpour, you'd end up with quite a puddle inside the tent.
Second, the vestibule is small, forget about putting your whole pack there. The tent interior is big, but not big enough for a person and a pack, so my pack ended up outside every night. I would rather have a smaller tent interior and a larger vestibule for my pack and dirty gear. The most annoying thing about this tent was the way it staked out. Too many stakes, and the way the two side stakes at the narrow end are designed make it impossible to get the rainfly completely tight. This doesn't sound like a big deal, but I had one night camping in a persistent wind, and the rainfly around this area buzzed and flapped loudly all night long. I finally had to get up at 3am and tie it off with some extra cord because it was so loud.
Also had some condensation problems, but no more than you'd usually expect. I have yet to see a tent with zero condensation.
Design: three-season, freestanding
Ease of Setup: great
Price Paid: ~400
this would be a great tent if they made the zippers better. i love the weight, setup, design, and the fact that this is a local colorado company. the rainfly only option is great and i have used it like that a lot!
but, and this is a big but, i've had it for only 6 months and the zipper fell apart on me during a 2.5 month backpacking trip. the zippers are too small and delicate, first the body zipper broke, which was especially surprising because i haven't used the body much. then the rainfly zipper went, which was _extremely_ inconvenient in the wind and rain in which i was camping, i got pretty soaked.
i would highly recommend this tent if they changed the zippers.
Ease of Setup: 5 minutes and you're done.
Price Paid: $249
I just finished an overnight trip to Mount Monadnock, NH. In all fairness, the night I spent there would have put ANY tent to the test. 6 straight hours of rain, high winds, and lightning. Because of the way the tent is designed, I was certain I'd end up cold, wet, and absolutely miserable.
I was wrong. The tent held up to the elements nicely. The only flaw was in how I pitched the tent. Make certain that you use the guy lines to pull the fly out far enough on each side, and tie each side down at least level with the flooring walls. If you don't, the rain hitting the ground combined with the wind will slowly mist against the mesh netting and cause your sleeping bag to get somewhat wet.
Anyway, I thought the tent held up well. I also like the fact that it does dry out rather quickly. I'd buy it again in a heartbeat.
Price Paid: $185- on sale
My Seedhouse SL1 has excellent interior space. I have plenty of room at the sides and bottom for my stuff. Headroom is excellent. The vestibule is tiny; however, I can fit my pack and boots. The lightweight and small compact carry size is the plus.
I have used this tent on Alaskan ridge hikes in wind and rainstorms with no problems. The tent is not free-standing and must be staked out to the max for maximum protection from gales and rain. Guylines must be re-tightened before bedtime. No condensation problems at all.
The lightweight netting is extremely delicate and snags
easily; however, it keeps out the tiniest bugs.
The only problem with the design is that in a torrential downpour it is virtually impossible to get in and out of the tent without some rain dripping inside. I keep my down bag away from the door.
I have found Big Agnes to have superior public relations in dealing with their products.
Update: May 31, 2007
I have recently been able to use the Seedhouse SL1 flash-fly set-up and was very pleased with the stability and fly coverage. I stayed dry in a light rain with heavy winds. I love the less that 1# 11 oz. weight of the Seedhouse SL1 flash-fly configuration, the ease of set-up and the stability.
Ease of Setup: easy
Price Paid: $250-ish
This tent has so much going for it. It's incredibly light, solid and secure, easy to pitch, and roomy for one person.
I haven't used it in the rain yet, but it seems very well protected. The rainfly is slippery with waterproofness. I'd buy it again.
If I had to make one gripe, it would be that the vestibule is on the small side. I carry a very large pack, and am uncertain if it would fit without leaning against the inside mesh door. A window would be nice too. But then again, any improvements on these small issues would add weight.
Design: Three-season freestanding
Ease of Setup: Overall easy
Weight: 2lbs 13oz max
Price Paid: $200
A great one man tent. This tent is very light, spacious and sturdy. The tent comes with many tie-down spots assuring that it is not going anywhere in a storm. It is very light weight which reassures you that you’re not taking anymore weight than you have too. Lastly it is very spacious. I (5’9”) was able sleep comfortably with my pack as a pillow and still had a plenty of wiggle room. The vestibule held my boots, my hanging socks and still left room for other gear like my stove. I was able to sit upright and pack my stuff in the morning out of the cold and rain. This is a great tent that will get a lot of use out of me before I need to consider another.
Design: three season, free standing
Ease of Setup: Easy to set up
Weight: 2 lbs 14 oz
Price Paid: $165
I have had this tent for a little over a year and have used it for at least 50 nights in all kinds of weather and all over the country. I have used it on long section hikes of the AT and choose to sleep in it rather than most shelters. It is extremely light and at 22 ft2 and adequate height it is quite comfortable and weatherproof.
Yes, it requires 11 stakes to pitch properly for wind and weather protection but doesn't take more than 7 or 8 minutes. Like most Big Agnes products it is very well made. I am extremely pleased with the tent and it has greatly helped me reduce my overall pack weight and still be comfortable and well protected from weather and insects.
Price Paid: $239
Many pluses for this tent. Its listed weight is accurate at only 2.5 lbs; with ground tarp, stakes and a light stuff sack, trail weight is 3.25 lbs. It's durable and well made. If staked out well (about 12-14 are minimal), there's no condensation problem and it can withstand foul weather. With low weight, interior space is understandably not much, but is certainly sufficient to be able to sit up to change a shirt and to read at night without bumping into the tent walls.
Design: three-season freestanding tent
Ease of Setup: set up was easy
Weight: less than 3 lbs
Price Paid: $150
Great tent, true to its advertised weight. The only complaint is the vestibule, hard to get my 6' 3" frame into the tent but fine once I'm in. Well made and bombproof shelter in the wind. If you sleep solo hard to find a tent to offer as much for the weight.
Design: three-season freestanding hub tent
Ease of Setup: very easy
Weight: 2.6 lbs w/o stakes
Price Paid: $229
This is a great backpacking tent for solo trips. It is somewhat freestanding, very light, and very spacious. Only problem is condensation if you don't or can't stake it out fully. Still I will take this out for just about all conditions except the dead of winter.
Design: Seedhouse SL1
Ease of Setup: fast pole set up, many stakes for proper tent and fly set up
Weight: 3lb approx
Price Paid: $185 - on sale
Hiked 45+ miles in four days in Erwin, Tenn., area on the AT. Spent two nights in SL1 tent in perfect weather. Got my pack weight down to 21 Lbs without water. Enjoyed the light weight, also enjoyed the comfort.
Price Paid: $199
Not truly freestanding: useless without careful staking. Without staking you'll sleep in a loose tube which will collapse on you and rainfly will also be useless. After setting it up in my living room it was clear it wouldn't fit my needs so I returned it without even taking it out on a trip.
Many times in cross-country Sierras I need to set up on bare granite, no ground or trees to stake into and sometimes even getting anchor rocks not easy (if they're heavy enough to anchor, they're heavy enough to be difficult to move).
Peak height is also misleading, 38" spec but slopes off so quickly can't really sit up straight -- and I'm only 5'8".
Very disappointing. If they'd included one more small pole to make arc by lower third of tent, it wouldn't have added much to weight and would have made much more useful. I saw one review where a person jury-rigged a wire coat hangar, very ingenious but at $249 I'd expect something a bit better thought out.