Noall Tranquility Mega Dome
Noall tents were sold under the Gregory label when…
Design: warm weather
Ease of Setup: Easy for two, Moderate for one - Poles must be flexed to fit into holes, which is tricky for one person alone.
Weight: 6 lbs
Price Paid: $395
Noall tents were sold under the Gregory label when I purchased this tent in 1990 (?). I was living in Tucson, Arizona, at the time. Tucson is in a hot desert and I wanted a 2-3 person tent to use for desert camping. So I looked for a tent that was essentially a free-standing mosquito net with a fly. Fortunately for me Bob's Bargain Barn had a tent sale on their last Gregory Tranquility Base (which I believe is Noall's Tranquility Mega-Dome in 2001 tent-lingo). I bought the tent at half-price for $200 and have since used it hundreds of times in all kinds of weather; I even lived in it for six months during one great vacation traveling round Australia.
The tent is hexagonal in shape. It comes with a waterproof ground-cloth to which the poles (connected by shock-cord) fit to make a free-standing structure. The "inner" tent hangs below the poles on plastic hooks. It also clips into the ground cloth at each point in the hexagonal. The inner tent is entirely mosquito-netting save for nylon floor that extends about six inches up each side. There are doors on each side of the tent. The fly draps over the entire structure and clips into the ground-cloth at the hexagonal points. The fly has a ventalition window at the top. The fly can be staked. It is moderately easy for one person to pitch the tent, taking anywhere between two and ten minutes, depending upon how dark it is. There are no sleeves that have to be threaded, but the poles have to be flexed just right to fit into the ground cloth. With two people, it is easy to set up.
This tent has three really great features. First, the inner tent maximizes the amount of mosquito netting. There are no nylon panels that interfere with gazing at stars, feeling the cool desert breeze at night, or getting sprayed by flying foxes (when camped near a mango tree use the fly, trust me on this one). Psychologically, the "openess" of the mosquito-netting makes the tent seem roomy and in touch with the environment. I love listening to coyotes, birds, moths, and other creatures of the night while I am safe and happy from gnats, mosquitos and other night-life inside my tent. Sleeping without a tent is great, but I once used a black-light to look for scorpions (they flouresce a lovely bright blue color) and stopped counting after I found about twenty in a ten-foot radius of where I chose to bed down for the night. So I like the barrier that a tent provides in some environments.
The second great feature is that the inner tent is entirely separate. The tent with the fly can be set up without the inner tent. So in bad weather it is possible to set up the fly and then put the inner tent up underneath it. The same goes for taking the tent down. You can pack everything up, save for the fly, poles, and ground-cloth and keep the inner tent dry. Additionally, the inner tent can be packed separately to keep it dry. Also during an extended camp it is very handy to clean sand and dirt from inside the tent because you can leave the poles in place, unhook the tent, transfer gear to the ground-cloth and shake the inner tent out.
The third great feature is that my girlfriend loves the tent. She usually feels cramped in tents, but this tent has a high profile, so you can stand up (albeit hunched-over). It is also wide and long (I'm six foot even). With the additional transparency of the mosquito-netting it just feels very roomy. I've sometimes put a queen-sized mattress in it. Plus we each have our own door to the outside world. Yet it is light enough to use backpacking.
I should mention drawbacks to the tent, but I have no real complaints. The high profile makes the tent creak and sway in a high wind (a 40-knot wind). If the fly were six inches longer it would be easier to stake it away from the tent for situations of high wind mixed with rain. I don't think the vent on the fly does much, or maybe it is only when it is hot and humid that I blame it for not functioning as an air conditioner. So I have no real complaints nor can I think of improvements that I might make to the design, except perhaps for a zippered roof so that I might watch the falling stars more clearly snug in my sleeping bag, or pop my head through the roof to more clearly see the coatimundi prowling around my camp stove.
Finally, I should add that I've used this tent hundreds of times over a 10-year period, but only one component has failed: the shock-cord is no longer springy and there are cracks around the aluminum pole joints (this happens with any shock-corded poles over time). Even after 10 years of use, the seams, zippers, fly, and ground cloth, are all intact with no operational failures whatsoever.
In short, this is an extremely well-made and durable tent. The only problems I have had were of my own doing. The tent has a patch from a hole caused by a white-tail rat that chewed through when we were camped at Daintree in North Queensland, Australia. I also had to replace the ground-cloth because I accidently left it behind after a particularly fierce storm. But these things happen when you use a tent because you love it instead of having it sit in your closet. I am just in fear that Noall will stop making tents before this one finally wears out.