Mountain Hardwear Approach
Weatherproof two-person tent that will last for 10…
Weatherproof two-person tent that will last for 10 years of moderate careful use.
- Able to open door and see out in light rain
- Able to keep door ajar in heavy rain
- Long enough for 6'2" people
- Sturdy fabrics
- Good in strong wind and epic rain
- No condensation if you crack the door slightly
- Small for two people but works for two
- Not tall enough to sit up (6'2" male)
- Customer service
- Lifetime warranty
I have owned this tent for I think about 10 years. My wife and I bicycled across the country in it without a single problem under every day use. Even though headroom was at a minimum it also was very low profile which allowed it to withstand serious winds.
Setup is easy and quick. The materials and craftsmanship are very nice. In shopping for a new tent I have noticed that the craftsmanship on Mountain Hardwear and Sierra Designs really tend to stand out above some other brands.
The floor of this tent was amazing and it is unfortunate that Mountain Hardwear does not make one of this quality anymore. I know the Optic and Light Wedge say on paper that they are the same fabric, but to the feel I thought there was a big difference in durability (the older Approach being far sturdier).
In this tent's 10th year of life I woke up to find the floor of the tent floating around me with running water from flooding during a monster rainstorm. It kept me dry enough and in its earlier life it had kept me bone dry.
The fly was also high quality. Not only did it keep one dry at all times it also is one of the best in the wind. It fit the tent like a glove and never had a ruffle or a sound.
The grommets for the poles on the tent, groundcloth, and fly all worked nicely. I will take a simple metal grommet over some plastic Jake's foot any day. The tent had a minimal amount of plastic overall which was a huge plus. The only plastic was the cinches on the webbing to tighten down the fly and some plastic hooks for the tent to adhere to the poles. Both of these were thick, non brittle, high quality parts. Both were of higher quality than you see on tents today. I could not have broken these parts if I had tried.
As mentioned above this tent was used on a cross country cycling trip from Virginia to Oregon during the summer. The rest of its use has been mainly in the SE United States where it does just fine in the humidity and 20 degree nights.
I treated this tent with more care than I have seen anyone else treat a tent. Every morning I shake it out after drying completely. The few drying times were really the only time it ever saw the sun as I always set up my tent after sundown. It only lasted 10 years before the seam tape totally gave out and the poles developed major fissures. I seam sealed with seam grip but this didn't work so well and was a pain. So I will be retiring this tent.
I contacted Mountain Hardwear about this tent to see if any of it would fall under the "lifetime warranty". I also asked many other questions including many basic specifications about this model. I received a very unsatisfactory response of a phone number for some third party pole company with no explanation as to why or any response to any of my questions. Guess they don't honor their warranties and don't even care to respond at all when one is inquired about. This makes it hard to justify buying anything more from a brand like that.
I have found that Mountain Hardwear customer service is truly bad especially compared to folks like MSR, Sierra Designs, and REI. I have had other poor experiences with their customer service in the past. I will say that I did manage to finally reach one customer service representative who deserves a raise and a promotion. She did not have every answer at her fingertips, but was anxious to look it up and has been great through many contacts on various questions.
Perhaps this only happened prior to the 2000s, but companies used to honor a "lifetime warranty" in the outdoor gear world after 10 years or more (or at least enough of the time to make folks remember). I would hope that they would still do this but perhaps that is not the case?
Many of these companies are not making the quality durable long lasting products they used to. Outdoor gear seams to be lightweight and very fragile these days. Remember when you could buy a down coat that only shed a feather a couple times a year and that you could actually walk through the woods in without the now plastic bag thin nylon catching on a branch or touching a tree and having the whole thing rip open?
The lack of response for this tent on my warranty question does not give me hope and neither did my inquiry into my higher end seven-year-old Mountain Hardwear jacket which has many issue despite cadillac care. I will try my luck with the customer care representative that has been so helpful to me. Perhaps a 10-year lifespan is all one can hope for these days?
I will say that the '80s and '90s Eureka Timberline expedition grade tents were way more sturdy, watertight, and have lasted twice as long as this tent or any of my friends tents of brands like North Face or Marmot. So if you are car or canoe camping, go with a Eureka if they are built as well as they were in the '80s and '90s. Let's face it though, Eureka poles were not as sturdy in the wind and outside of the expedition grade models they are not quite as sturdy or water tight. Many 80's and 90's outdoor gear was far more durable and long lasting than today and yes you could still carry on your back with a smile.
A similar tent that you can purchase today is the Marmot Fuse. Unfortunately the floor is of lighter material and won't last as long. Although it has the same silicone/polyurethane fly of the same denier and the design is very similar. It probably is also lighter if you have reached that age where your body does not like you carrying anything over 5lbs.
Overall a bomb proof tent that will last 10 years. Mountain Hardwear is not as tough as it used to be, but few of this class of tent are. I would still say they offer some the sturdier and best made tents on the market for their class and price range for those of us who are quite happy splitting a 6-ish pound tent around between two people.
Unfortunately I do question their warranty honoring and warranty process. Perhaps all companies are like that now, but many friends and family members have had better luck with North Face in recent years. You also have to get the right person on the phone for quality customer service.
The Approach is a great lightweight two-person backpacking…
Price Paid: $300
The Approach is a great lightweight two-person backpacking tent that sheds wind and water quite well. I have used this tent for four years in a variety of climates, including the Rockies, Alaska, and the southwest. Despite extended periods of heavy rain I have not experienced any leaks whatsoever, and the low profile does a great job in strong winds.
At 6'3" I find the length of the tent to be fantastic, but the ceiling height is too low for me to sit up completely. The tent can also feel a bit cramped with two people, but as long as you aren't holed up in it for days it's perfectly adequate. My only other issue with the design is the rather small door, which can make it a bit of a nuisance to enter and exit (particularly in wet weather).
I have had some issues with the lightweight poles, bending or splitting sections on three separate occasions. Fortunately a pole repair sleeve saved the day on each occasion, and Mountain Hardwear has replaced the bent or broken section under warranty each time. Nevertheless, it has been a bit of a hassle and I now take exceedingly great care in handling the poles during setup and take-down.
Despite the pole issues I have been very happy with the tent as a three-season backpacking shelter. Given the small size and light weight I would probably not recommend the tent for very cold or harsh weather where you may be spending extended periods of time in the tent, but for typical backpacking conditions the Approach gets the job done nicely.
I bought this tent for solo backpacking, and I am…
Design: three season
Ease of Setup: Easy even for one person
Weight: 4 lbs
Price Paid: $315 list
I bought this tent for solo backpacking, and I am very impressed. I spent a very windy, wet night on an exposed bald mountain and stayed perfectly dry and comfortable. I had one small, slow leak in the vestibule around a piece of velcro, but that was my fault for using the water-based seam grip on that area when I ran out of the smelly stuff. The water-based seam sealer works great on the zipper fabric material, but I wouldn't use it on any other part of the tent or fly.
I really like all of the pockets and the UVX windows on the fly at the vestibule door and the ceiling sloping down to allow a rear window view also.
My only small complaint about the tent is that it has no brow pole at the door so the vestibule slopes away from the tent at such an extreme angle that you need quite a stretch to reach the closed zipper on the vestibule door. This also makes the usable room in the vestibule less since the height around the front edge is not sufficient for anything other than the toes of your boots. That would add additional weight though.
This is a 2-person tent, but it would be a cozy situation. But hey, at 4 lbs. for a great weatherproof tent, what you want? If you want a great 3-season tent with plenty of room for 2 people, I highly recommend the Mountain Hardwear Room with a View. I had a small problem with one of the poles on my tent, and Mountain Hardwear's customer service was great in quickly replacing the pole. The poles do have a lifetime warranty.