User Review: Exped Polaris
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $400
Superbe tent in all respects save one: not much room for extended stays in tent during storms.
- Excellent construction and overall usability
- a bit tight for storm-bound occupants
The Polaris is a work of art-- eVent fabric means excellent breathability, the tent has a clever design and easy set-up. I've not used it on a big mountain, but for week-long ski-tours in the Sierra it has performed very well indeed.
It is a joy to use this tent-- at 6'6" tall, I find it plenty long enough, and the vestibule is fine for cooking for two persons, as long as the vestibule door is open. Head-room is good enough. During longish storms, however, the tent does feel a bit less than roomy (it is not a base-camp tent), but we found it marginally liveable for two day snow-storms. I got an excellent price on the tent, otherwise I probably would not own it-- but if price is not an issue this tent is great.
I also use 'Warmlite' tents for ski-touring and backpacking: the Polaris is not as light as my 3R Warmlite tent and it is not as roomy, but it will set up on a smaller platform, etc. I prefer the Warmlite for its incredibly light weight and amazing interior space (3-4 persons for a 3 lb tent is very nice!), but the Polaris has a better vestibule, and the eVent fabric is tougher.
It is possible that on a mountain, the tougher eVent fabric could be an asset if one has to pitch the tent on or near rock ('Liberty Ridge' in August, for example), and the Exped Polaris pitches on a much smaller platform than the Warmlite 3R tent can. The Warmlite is 'warmer' if it has the silver reflective heat barrier option, but the eVent fabric used in the Polaris is much warmer than ordinary polyester or ripstop nylon as featured in most other tents. Both tents use the tunnel design, and I would be hard pressed to give up either of them.
Sure, I've used the North Face VE-25 on mountains like Denali, but I can think of no other use for that kind of big, heavy dome tent. The tunnel design is best for all-mountain use, I think, and the Polaris is just a perfect iteration of that design.
Compared to any other tent I have used, the Polaris beats them all except that it cannot compete with a proper base-camp or dome style tent for sheer spaciousness, etc. So, I will hang on to both my Warmlite (for ski-touring with 3 persons in the party) and the Exped Polaris for mountaineering and two person ski tours.