Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $70
Lightweight, nigh bulletproof design coupled with high-quality materials and craftsmanship all add up to a stellar bargain IF you can fit inside.
- Extremely durable and well-constructed
- Extremely weather resistant (wind + rain)
- Very small when packed (even with rain fly)
- Full-length mesh for amazing sky watching
- Tent size can be an issue for those 6'+
- Tent height makes sitting up a challenge
Walrus Tents. Ahh, the glories of a simpler time.
I had been seeking out a Walrus tent for about 6 months when a 1+ person Swift popped up on eBay. New with tags still attached, it looked shiny even via the digital photos I was browsing through. I had to have it. Walrus tents were kind of like a unicorn to me — if I even spotted one in my life, I needed to try and touch it.
As did "GoGoGadgetArm77," and so a classic, early eBay-era bidding war ensued. In the end I "won," i.e. won the right to pay more than anyone else was willing for this particular tent. But I consider it one of the best gear purchases I've ever made. It was around $65-75 when all was said and done (including the standard gouging for S&H).
I have used my Swift for about 30-35 nights of camping in a variety of conditions. It has seen the most use in the BWCAW, Voyageurs N.P. & Quetico N.P. (Northern MN & Southern Ontario, respectively). Rocky terrain, sparse soil, massive lakes and long portages are all par for the course in those areas. The same goes with the potential for severe weather. With that said, I've never been wet inside of this tent.
Through thick and thin, this tent has handled it all — downpours (particularly, a 3" night over a July 4th weekend where I had standing water beneath me), windy days (Glacier N.P. where other tents were blown out of staked positions), negligent porters (mainly me dropping my pack off a small cliff — no damage!), snow flurries (6" one October eve).
This tent has one drawback (which also becomes a positive) and that is its size. A little over 6'2" long if well-staked and having the fly pulled back with guy lines, it isn't for everybody. If you can handle not being able to easily sit up if you're 6' or taller and sleeping in somewhat cramped quarters, the small stature is very wind-resistant and can tuck into some great places — beneath a low pine is one of my favorite options.
Buy any Walrus tent you can find that is in acceptable condition. Sturdy construction, great value and some nice features will be your reward. This company was eventually acquired by MSR and the build and material quality is at least as good as my MSR 3-person tent.
Design: 3-season non-freestanding hoop-type
Ease of Setup: easy (insert hoops before staking)
Weight: 3.25 lbs?
Price Paid: $112
I've had many good nights in my Swift (including wind storms and steady rain) and my impressions follow:
- sturdy and well-constructed; small, tight design; best when staked out tautly.
- good, watertight rainfly; excellent windshedding design, assuming feet into wind (I suspect it's low ground proximity reduces wind resistance significantly).
- excellent summer ventilation; very open feeling under full-length mesh.
- in this tent, be short. I'm 6'4". Flat on my back my toes and head rubbed both ends of the tent. While asleep, this didn't bother me, but I take a few minutes to fall asleep...
- in this tent, be horizontal. Almost any maneuver involving sitting up, spinning round, getting in or out, changing pants, etc., rubs you against the roof, at least if you're my height. It's do-able, just tight.
- small door size make for a restrictive ingress and egress.
- awkward placement of rainfly door zip requires 2 hands and some contortions to grab and unzip from inside.
- nice little touches, tie-downs, pockets and pouches, etc.
- vestibule big enough for shoes plus...
- room in tent for some gear, maybe even whole pack.
Would I want to spend 10 days backcountry in this tent in a drizzling rain? No. Would I do it if I added a poncho "vestibule" for sitting, cooking, etc. Yes.
Compared to an OR Bivy Sack at 2 lbs or a Slumberjack or Gossamer at 2.75 lbs, the Swift is a better choice for space vs weight. Compared to the SD Flashlight-2 or TNF Lunar Light, it's a good value and a bit lighter.
Design: 3 season non-freestanding
Ease of Setup: easy
Weight: ~3.25 lbs
Price Paid: ~$140 REI
I've made good use of my Swift for two very full seasons now. The first year of use included about 30 nights of constant wind and intermittent rain in the Sierra Nevada. In general, I've been impressed with the Swift. Aside from a few minor annoyances, it's well constructed, sturdy, and, most importantly, very lightweight.
I was replacing an old Sierra Designs Sleeve Flashlight (an excellent lightweight summer tent) that had begun to leak and the Walrus Swift was similar in weight and less expensive. Initially I was concerned about the full length mesh fabric; however, the fly has been extremely weather tight and, so far, my concerns have been largely unwarranted.
Although considerably smaller, the Swift, for one occupant, has a very similar feel to the Flashlight: plenty of room for you, your sleeping bag, and a small amount of gear. Unlike the Flashlight, however, the doorway is small and partially blocked by the rain fly making entering and exiting the tent awkward, even for relatively small individuals. One other small annoyance is that the front straps used to attach the rain fly are cut about two inches too short, making the rain fly, at times, a real challenge to attach to the tent. Also, placement of the rain fly closure zipper is difficult and awkward to reach from within the tent.
Even with these minor flaws the Swift has been a very servicable and reliable shelter. Very good bang for the buck. Recommended.
Design: 3 season lightweight trekking
Ease of Setup: easier than many
Price Paid: $80
I used this tent for an Appalachian Trail thru-hike. For the price, this tent competes as well as or superior to other tents I have used over the years. Its small size allows for it to be squeezed in small areas. There is enough room in the bestible (vestibule?) for one pack and other equipment or clothes to stay out of the rain. For lightweight and long distance trekking this tent really shined.
The only drawback is not being able to anchor the tent in rocky areas because it relies on stakes for support.
However, I was very imrpessed with its performance for solo trips and would use the same tent aqain should I attempt another thru-hike. A real bargain.
Design: 3 season, non-free standing tube
Ease of Setup: easy
Price Paid: got it for $112 from sierra trading post
VERY lightweight and compact tent that's perfect for me and my big ole pack. Planning on doing the AT next year and this is my tent of choice.
Put the poles in before staking it out -- it goes up much easier. it's gotten a lot of use and I couldn't be happier with its performance. Rain, wind, tree branches, you name it, this tent has survived through it.
Where to Buy
The Walrus Swift is not available from the stores we monitor.
You may be able to find it new or used at one of these sites:
Or you may want to check for a dealer list or direct sales on the Walrus website.
Retailers: Do you sell this product? List your site here.