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Just for yucks

While surfing, I cross upon this dilly, a 3 person, 3 3/4 pound, 4 season tent!  I have no personal experience with this item, or even  touched one, but there is no way this tent meets the criteria it claims.  The video supported my suspicions, the fabric looks like the stuff  UL dry stuff sacks are made from.  A close look at the video clues in the wary that things are not as they seem: the tent pole pocket are unreinforced, and the double stitch line of the lap fell seams are not parallel.  I am sure there is more to be concerned, but I had my curiosity slaked on the first view.  They tout the tent standing up to 90 mph winds - and 150 mph, with some kind of optional accessory.  They also are promoting a VB "sweat" shirt.  PT Barnum would love these folks.  Newbies best avoid this item it is too good to be true.

Ed

I'm not so sure, Ed.  The tent pole pockets are reinforced with webbing.  That's pretty strong.  The poles are pre-bent and thicker than most UL tent poles--and they have plastic caps on the ends to reduce wear on the tent..  And they do make it clear that for bad weather, you need to place an additional four stakes---for a total of seven--plus the "rock sacks" that help keep everything in place.  

And I have to admit that the woman who does the demonstration is not just a pretty face--she's put tents like that up a thousand times, and you can tell by the way she acts in the video. She knows this tent inside and out. She does mention that it is crucial to get the tent set up quite tight in difficult weather. 

Will I pay $1000 for a for season tent like this?  Nope.  I bought a used four season tent for about $150 that weighs 7 pounds. But this one weighs half that amount...and for some people, that matters.  I'm never camping in the winter for more than a day or two, so don't worry so much about weight in winter.  I did pay almost $400 for a UL three-season tent...

I have run into rays, dolphins and schools of fish while surfing, but never a tent. 

Warmlite has been in business for like 50 years now. Pretty sure they have some idea of what they are doing. The 2P tent in the  video would be a pretty nice solo winter shelter, but I'd hate to try sharing that with a partner for a two day storm heh.

The high wind accessory is a set of straps that you can attach inside the tent to help the poles keep their hoop shape.

 

warmlitestabilizer.jpg
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 This is a different tent but a good pic of how the system works. You tension those straps after connecting so the poles can't flex. The larger tents with a hoop at either end would have two sets of these.

All in all it is good looking system in terms of ventilation and support. It really relies on being able to stake out the corners well which can be a challenge depending on snow conditions. Still, I'd be willing to test one if they sent it my way. Bit pricey for me to invest in myself though.

The only fabrics I am aware of that can take winds as high as those claimed by Warmlite are exotic tech textiles, like Dyneema.  But even OEMs of these tech fabric shelters would not claim their designs can be useful in a 150 mph wind. 

The pole pockets of the Warmlite tent may have webbing along the length, but the ends of the pockets where the pole ends rest lack reinforcement, (e.g. gussets) that you find on widely regarded OEM 4-season tents (e.g. Hilleberg, Northface, MSR, Black Diamond, etc.). 

As for the tent stake out points:  The only shelters I know that can stand up to really high winds are pyramid tent configurations specifically designed for polar expeditions.  The Warm Lite tent is not in that category. 

I loaned out a NF VE-25 tent to a friend doing a high Sierra trip in February.  VE-25 is a well regarded 4 season tent.  Prior to their trip my tent had yet to see any bad weather, so was in good condition.  Their trip was aborted when a wind storm ripped the tent from its moorings, blowing it away with three occupants inside, who managed to somehow escape.  NOAA estimated winds in the area to be ~80mph.  My friend stated the tent had folded nearly flat, before eventually failing at the stake-out loops.  Ergo why seasoned mountaineers collapse their shelters when things start to get crazy.

As for their vapor barrier shirt, the concept of a VB garment that has a built-in moisture wicking layer has been proven to be an inferior design concept.  I have tried VB garments that utilized this design concept.  It is difficult to get the wicking layer dry enough for multiple, consecutive nights of use.  Everyone I know who uses the VB layer technique in their layering system prefers wearing a separate moisture absorbing layer inside the VB layer, as it is easier to get it dry enough for the next evening's use.   

Indeed Warmlite has been around for quite some time.  Stansport, Ozark Trail, and other brands known for their inferior designs and poor performance in the field have also been around a long time.  Likewise there are dozens of highly reputed equipment manufacturers that no longer are in business.  My point being: a business' ability to remain viable for decades is primarily due to effective marketing strategies and business models, which may or not rely on a catalog of quality products. 

Ed

So you're saying that UL equipment isn't as sturdy as stuff built with less concern for weight? Seems legit to me. I do notice that the Kaitum 3 specs at 7.5lbs while the 3R is about half that.

The reviews I've seen on Warmlite tents (https://www.trailspace.com/gear/warmlite/3r/) lean towards saying they are solid, though more than a few folks mention the solid poles being breakable. Maybe that is why they didn't use reinforced gusseting on the pole sleeve :p

I agree that the wind speeds are outrageous, but it seems there are enough satisfied customers fro them to stay in business despite top-end prices. I too looked around for reviews and it seems that many/most purchasers are more or less satisfied. 

Anyway, just for yucks I thought I'd link up to a video from Sierra Designs that gives a more honest appraisal of performance in high winds:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8jf9yNuY78E

Enjoy!

Great video!  I hope I never experience such winds while I am backpacking.  When I do camp in windy weather I often look for a spot that has some kind of natural windbreak, so even if the wind does increase,  it won't be quite so strong where I am camped.  I suspect than many others do the same. 

Yes.  Hide from the wind.  Rock outcrops are great or a stand of small dense trees.  My three season tent starts to flex and get mishappen around 35-40 mph.  I slept in it once with 60 mph winds and just removed all of the poles.  I slept fine with my dog.  The sand went over the top of us. 

Yes.  Hide from the wind.  Rock outcrops are great or a stand of small dense trees.  My three season tent starts to flex and get misshapen around 35-40 mph.  I slept in it once with 60 mph winds and just removed all of the poles.  I slept fine with my dog.  The sand went over the top of us. 

When examining equipment reviews - even those found here, on TS - consider the reviewer's experience and conditions the equipment was subjected to.  Bogus products that roundly get ridiculed on the chat forums have plenty of high mark reviews.  Most of these reviewers probably did not test their shelters in a vigorous winter storm or sustained rain.  But then most choose to only camp when the weather will not impose, in which case they don't need a bomber shelter.  Thus even a Kmart blue light special shelter may suffice.  The Warmlite tent, however was touted as an extreme 4 season tent, and I saw enough workmanship and materials concerns to doubt the tent can endure the conditions they alude.

I am not necessarily stating the weight of the equipment confers sturdiness, although that is usually the case.  The materials used also bear on the subject.  Carbon fiber poles and Dyneema fabric are considerably lighter than alternate materials of the same duty rating, but at a substantial cost difference.  Value is a balance scale in the eye of the beholder, with cost and weight being the opposing masses, and performance serving as the fulcrum.  Good designs will result in products that outperform others using identical materials and weights, by employing bar tacks and gusseting in stress zones, and optimizing placement of vents, seams and other tent components; however good tent design comes at additional cost.

Folks may chuckle at Ppine riding out a storm in a collapsed tent, it sounds uncomfortable.  But there are circumstance where you cannot erect a wind revetment or find a protected stance, so you do as he did.  You stay protected and the tent survives the storm.

The Sierra Designs wind test brings up two points of consideration: 

  • A tent can be made to remain stiff against the wind, but at the risk of component failure.  Some designers choose instead to permit their design to yield to the wind; some tents will almost lay flat. 
  • Sierra Deigns mentioned their threshold duty rating was a 45 mph wind.  The tent exceeded this rating in end-facing tests, and barely met the criteria in the broadside test.  45 mph may not seem intense, but you'll have to take my word, the noise of the wind hammering that tent makes sleep impossible, even with ear plugs.  There are non-artic duty tents that are designed to withstand 60mph, but most of these distort to the point you might as well be sleeping in a collapsed tent, and spare it the wear and tear.

Ed

May 22, 2022
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