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. Zipper issue.
- Free standing
- Large, luxurious
- Very warm
- Versatile, fly-only option
- Zipper failure
(1/10/15) I'm amending this review, initially submitted two years ago, as we have now had our Venus 2 for nearly four years, and have used it for approximately 70 nights camping, mostly in the Californian Sierra Nevada but also in the Australian Alps, some Australian bush and coastal camping.
We've used it in hot weather, but mostly summer alpine conditions 8,000 to 12,000 feet. It has been in heavy rainstorms (one dumped 3.5 inches on us over 17 hours), heavy hail, and moderate winds (not high winds). We camp a lot on bare granite above treeline. Many nights are around freezing temperatures. We have not used it in snow.
The tent is easy to set up, and one of the great things is that the fly attaches to the poles (Exped calls this an "exoskeleton"); the inner tent clips onto the poles on the inside, hung beneath the poles. So one erects this tent by erecting the fly with the tent already attached inside. Setting up in the rain, the tent stays dry. We have set up in absolutely pelting rain, and kept dry. Exped has a great instructional setup video on their website which helps to learn how to do this efficiently.
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. Despite this, it is still showing some wear on the fabric of the pole sleeves and some pinhead sized holes where there has been some snagging on occasions where one person has erected the tent by him/herself, and has pushed the poles through the sleeves.
There are three poles: two long poles that do not cross — they run parallel 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! Inside, the walls rise from the floor almost at right angles, meaning lots of space and no claustrophobia. The whole thing stretches taut with easy adjusters, is free standing, and we have even been able to pick the whole thing up and move it in the middle of a rainstorm, keeping the contents dry inside!
The tent is stable in wind, and can be used on rock using rocks to secure it. There are plenty of guying points. On softer ground, so long as you have the two vestibules pegged out, (with two pegs!) the tent is freestanding.
We always trust this tent totally to keep us warm and dry. It has never leaked. We have been in a hailstorm so loud we had to shout over it; we couldn't believe the thin fabric of the fly came through unscathed. The bathtub floor works perfectly, we use a home made Tyvek groundsheet to protect it from the sharp granite, and it is still totally waterproof.
We recently camped through a heavy rain event where water was running beneath the floor; no water came through the fabric. After about 50 nights use, the DWR coating on the outer of the fly broke down and some parts began to "wet out" — no leakage occurs, but the fabric gets wet and therefore heavy to carry. We sprayed on a DWR product and that restored it for a while. We will probably do that each year, if we continue to use the tent (see zipper issue below!)
The fly is 40D polyurethane coated polyester, with 1500mm rating. The floor is 70D taffeta nylon with 10,000mm rating.
Condensation is not an issue with this tent. There is a good airspace between the fly and the inner tent, and two little ventilation peaks for the fly. In very cold wet weather of course we got some moisture on the inside of the fly, but it never dripped in on us, and therefore was not a problem. Occasional small drops landing on the top of the tent inner just ran off the outside of the tent.
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, as we camp on sharp granite a lot, but do not bother using a groundsheet in the vestibules.
The vestibules are big enough to store large backpack, boots etc, and can easily be cooked in in rainy weather. 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. The zippers on the doors of the inner tent failed after about 30 nights camping; we were told they are not covered by warranty and to get the sliders replaced, probably a result of dust/dirt wearing out the sliders. We did this, but no improvement; on the second night of our 25 night 2014 sierra trip, they failed again...
Exped is a big company, and is in Switzerland, and doesn't deal directly with customers (you need to go through a retailer). So my advice would be to make sure you buy one of these tents through a very trusted retailer, and check carefully what the warranty does and does not cover. To me, not covering something as essential as zippers is unacceptable!
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, and a breeze flowing straight across the interior of the tent. But when it's cold, you can have zero mesh and this means the tent really heats up from bodyheat and gets really cosy. I am a cold sleeper and get away with a much lighter sleeping bag than I would otherwise need, with this warm tent.
Packability and weight: The tent minus its packing bags but including the Tyvek groundsheet, poles and pegs, comes in at 3kg (6.6lbs). The poles weight 540g of this. 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. It's pretty bulky by backpacking standards, but it is a two-person, four-season tent.
Lots of people on the John Muir trail looked askance at our big, solid tent (they were all under tarps, in hammocks, and crawling into tunnels). But on the many days we were confined to our tent, we were happy and comfortable. We never resented carrying the extra weight.
Summary: If not for the zipper failure of both doors, which has NOT been resolved by simply replacing the sliders, unfortunately, 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 suppose I'm still giving it four stars because I have not heard of anyone else having this trouble with zippers on an Exped tent, so maybe we just got a lemon (?) Unfortunately, for us, this has undermined our confidence in what is otherwise an excellent product; our next tent, regretfully, will probably not be as good, but it will be from a manufacturer we can deal with directly.