Exped Venus II
6.1 lb / 2.75 kg (Minimum), 4.2 lb / 1.93 kg (LightPackers), 3.5 lb / 1.6 kg (UltraLight Packers), 7 lb / 3.2 kg (Packed)
30 sq ft / 2.8 sq m
25 sq ft / 2.3 sq m
17 in x 6 in / 42 cm x 15 cm
High quality four-season tent offers plenty of floor…
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $500 USD
High quality four-season tent offers plenty of floor space and peace of mind. Both door zippers failed after around 30 nights use.
- Almost free standing
- Large, luxurious
- Very warm
- Versatile - fly only option
- Zipper failure
- Weight penalty for luxury!
We have had this tent for just over two years, and have used it mostly for summer hiking in the Sierra Nevada mountains, including several storms, quite a few nights over 10,000 feet, and nights around freezing. Total around 30 nights' use. We have not used it in snow.
The tent is easy to set up, and one of the great things is that the fly is what attaches to the poles, not the inner tent. So one erects this tent by erecting the fly with the tent already attached inside. Setting up in the rain, the tent stays dry. It's a 2-person tent — we generally set it up together, with one person feeding the poles through the sleeves, and the other helping guide the pole end and avoid damaging snags.
There are three poles: two long poles that do not cross — they run like a sideways tunnel (you'll need to see the photos!) — then a third smaller pole that runs across the top — fabulous space maximizing design! The whole thing stretches taut and we do not get puddles anywhere on top of the fly, and the tent does not ever touch the outer fly anywhere.
The tent is stable in wind, and can be used on rock using rocks to secure it (that's why I say "almost" free standing. You do need something to keep the four corners apart.) Once the poles are in the sleeves, you can pick the tent up and move it without dismantling it. It has a lot of guy line points to tie it down in high wind. We always trust this tent totally to keep us warm and dry.
The tent comes with a little gearloft, like a little mesh ceiling, but we have removed this to give us more headspace. It is easily detached and reattached.We use a tent light and objects placed in the gear loft blocked the light. There are ample pockets and foot room and the vestibules - we just didn't really need the loft as well!
The bathtub floor comes up 3" or so from the ground, giving ample protection, and the tent fly comes down close to ground level - we have not had splash up problems. We have always used a Tyvek groundsheet for protection under the tent floor, but do not bother using a groundsheet in the vestibules. The vestibules are big enough to store large backpack, boots etc The vestibule has a full length zipper and this can be unzipped and the "doors" rolled up, still leaving a slight overhang to protect the inner tent door from rain that falls directly downwards... I wouldn't use it like this in heavy rain.
There are lots of neat, thoughtful little features in this tent, and until the door zippers issue we raved about it to everyone. But the zipper issue is a big one - we actually had to tape and pin one door shut and had to fiddle a lot with the other one to get it to close the last few nights out. A tent whose doors don't work is kinda just a fancy, heavy tarp, really!
And the doors are specially shaped and curved; I'm not sure the zippers could be replaced by anyone but Exped. And they are in Switzerland, and don't deal directly with customers (you need to go through a retailer). This might be a consideration if you are contemplating buying one of these tents on Amazon (as we did) or secondhand.
When we bought the tent, the design appealed to us for several reasons.
- It is long. We are not very tall people — my partner is 5'10" and I'm 5'5", yet in the past we have had troubles with our heads and/or feet touching the tent walls. We have plenty of room at head and foot for extra gear inside this tent.Width — adequate; we didn't need any more.
- The design means we have a door each, and can roll up the fly doors so we can lie looking out at the view from inside the tent. Our previous tunnel tent did not have a view — we love this aspect!
- Headroom. We can sit up in the middle of the tent without our heads touching the ceiling.
- Generous doors. The doors are very wide — the advertising says two people could sit side by side in the doorway. We have never really felt the desire or need to do this! — but you could.
- No permanent mesh yet great ventilation. The large doors are two-layered — tent fabric and bug mesh. So when it's hot you can have a LOT of mesh. But when it's cold, you can have zero mesh. And everything in between — the zippers run both ways — there are two sliders on each zipper so you can have it open anywhere along its length (this goes for the door zipper too, not just the bug screen zipper). There are ventilation tee pees in the outer fly; we have never had a condensation issue inside this tent!
The outer fly door zippers also have two sliders, so there is versatility there. You can leave it unzipped at the top or at the bottom, for extra ventilation. All of this means amazing temperature control, and we find that the tent is so warm it feels like a little heated room on cold nights! Meaning we can do with less warm sleeping bags.
Construction: The tent has held up pretty well, although some stitching has started to undo on one of the inside pockets of the tent, and we have had a bigger problem on our most recent trip with both tent door zippers failing. It was very dry and dusty in Yosemite this summer, and maybe we should have used a silicone zipper lubricant (didn't know about this until too late!). We are going to try cleaning and lubricating the zippers and working on the sliders.
But it is disappointing, to say the least! (I contacted Exped about this, and just got a standard reply telling me "sorry you have had a problem with one of our products" and telling me to to return it to our retailer and they will deal with it, but not responding directly to my specific questions about the zippers. We bought it on Amazon, so that makes things a little tricky. But we did pay $500 and hoped it would last quite a few years!)
Packability and weight: the big drawbacks. The tent minus its packing bags but including the Tyvek groundsheet, poles and pegs, comes in at 3kg (6.6lbs). You can remove the inner tent and just use the outer fly as a single layer shelter, but we are unlikely to do this due to snakes and bugs not being kept out. You cannot use this tent without its fly - you cannot use it as a tent-only for guaranteed rain-free camping. It's pretty bulky by backpacking standards, but it is a two person four season tent.
Summary: If not for the recent zipper failure of both doors, I'd be giving this tent five stars and we would be thrilled with it. The design, ease of setup, warmth, versatility, size and shape are terrific.
I'm giving it three stars because this is "Average". Three and a half is "Very good". If there was a simple "Good" I would have given it that.
UPDATE ON ZIPPER ISSUE: Been in touch with the Australian distributor for Exped who says zipper sliders wear out with use on all tents and need replacing, not covered by warranty and just need to take the tent to a regular outdoor gear repairer. Disappointing.