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Exped Orion II Extreme

rated 4.5 of 5 stars
photo: Exped Orion II Extreme four-season tent

A well thought out tent that has improved with the current edition. The size and space, the ease of access and the durable build are all there in an outstanding 4 season 2p tent.

Pros

  • Space, especially for taller users.
  • Ease of access.
  • Durability
  • Free standing

Cons

  • Weight.
  • Cost.
  • However, both of these items will fade rapidly when sitting out a storm comfortably.

My Exped Orion 2 Extreme, has gone to lot of wild locations over the last 9 years but it needed to be retired. The outer fabric had suffered UV damage, and the floor was no longer waterproof. I tried using various coatings with some success but have decided to place it on light duties from now on while it is still very usable. It has been my go to tent for Australian extended trips in SW Tassie, Victorian high country and Gariwerd. Its ability to provide a reliable shelter in harsh conditions is very comforting.

I did a full search of the best 4 season; 2 person tents available including the Helsport Reinsfjell Pro, Hilleberg Allak 2, Nortent Vern 2, and decided to stick with the Orion. The known capabilities of space, access, build quality and practicality is unbeatable IMO.

I put the two tunnel tents side by side, new and the old, in my backyard for a comparison. Four things immediately stood out. The reconfiguration of the size, the new fabric, each guy point has now a double attachment point including a new permanent location on the crossing pole and the location of the main entry zip.

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Orion 2013 on left, 2023 on right

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Two full size maps and plenty of room.

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Large entry with overhang to protect inner from rain.
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Additional vent window zip option in door panel. Handy when cooking.

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Two vents at the door openings. The strut is also the pole repair sleeve.

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Pole end. This can be lowered by digging a small divot, should you require the outer to be at the ground level in cold conditions.

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The colour coded poles go in numbered sleeves. Cute

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Numbered sleeves.

The inner came attached. I love integral pitch tents. I have never detached inners and don’t see the point. I have found that by the time you setup the tent, any dampness that may have transferred to the inner due to packing it up dries up easily by leaving the tent open. On occasion, I will need to wipe the inner floor to speed things up a bit.

Exped have put an extra 10cm between the main tunnel poles and giving all to the inner tent width. Also, 15cm into the length of the inner. The cut of the lower straight edge of the outer, between the poles now allows for greater separation b/n it and the inner. This was one of bugs with the old tent. This is all good news and makes for a very spacious inner. The tent is of a tunnel design because of the two-poles parallel and at either side of the suspended inner. This gives vertical sides at the entry into the inner and great feeling of spaciousness together with ease of access. Something which dome tents cannot achieve. The doors into the inner can also be larger allowing for better ventilation with the full mesh yet fully lined doors. We have routinely had a third person over for dinner in bad weather. A fourth person is possible if you open all the inner tent sides. The full-length crossing pole or ridge pole, braces the top of the tunnel poles and holds the vestibule area out right down to the ground. The poles are all fully flat sleeved. The poles are colour coded and go into numbered sleeves. Cute. The crossing pole is last to go in as you insert the pole and stand the tent up and into the wind.

Exped have not changed what is an excellent design feature of the three poles extending to the ground, fully supporting the outer.

The vestibules are 100cm, so the o/a tent footprint width has increased. There is ample room to enter the tent and still have your pack in the second half of the vestibule. I have found that I can in wet weather zip the outer closed behind me, remove my rain jacket, then open the inner and swing inside.

Guy rope and attachments. Double guys attachments are now on all the poles. This then means that they don’t fit in the little yellow pillowcases, so I have fashioned up a toggle tie for the ones near the doors to keep them tidy and stopping them getting in the way of the zip. Might do the others as well. The new location for permanent ones on the crossing pole is in lieu of just a loop provided previously. I have not felt the need to guy the crossing pole given all the support elsewhere but the new points are welcome. We have been in conditions where others have had to retreat due to busted tents and the Orion has just shrugged it off. In light conditions, the only guy that I routinely put out is the one in the centre between the tunnel poles on either side. This holds out what is otherwise a wide and flat section. Given the new tent has some extra 10cm it’s importance is now even more relevant.

The glowing orange outer fabric is almost see through and is the newer, slippery silicone fabric. A 40D ripstop nylon silicone coated on both sides. The colour (Dark Lava) really pops. No trouble finding this one at any time of the day or night.

The entry zip is now on the tunnel poles not on the crossing pole. I’m unsure about the new location. Having the zip on the crossing pole afforded greater protection for the inner tent from getting wet IMO. But I will trial it and see what happens. Exped have suggested that it is easier to access.

The two high level vents still afford protection for the entry. I had them permanently open on the old tent. They provide cross ventilation across the top of the outer and condensation is never a problem. Don’t ever buy a tent (full mesh inner or fully lined inner) that doesn’t have a couple of ridge vents.

The new tent has shaved some 300gms off the weight. Now 3.2kg not 3.5kg. This has probably mostly come from the new outer silicone fabric. This is a very roomy, fully featured, versatile, and strong tent for the 3.2kg.

A reviewer has said that the tent doesn’t have repair sleeves for the pole. It does. It is the two struts which hold open the vents. They have also said that the tent doesn’t come right down to the ground on one side. This is intended. So that you can get greater air flow between the inner and outer as required. The pole sleeve ends sit right down on the windward side. In cold conditions, to limit drafts and/or spindrift, it a simple matter of digging a small divot to recess the poles on the leeward side so that the tent is in full contact with the ground.

Background

Other Current tents: 1p tent, Nortent, Vern 1

Previous tents: Iglu 2 (Bo Hilleberg design), Mont Epoch (1985 original 3p tunnel version), Wilderness Equipment First Arrow (2004), Vango Typhoon 200 (2011), Exped Orion 2p Extreme (2013), Wilderness Equipment ACE W UL (2014), Wilderness Equipment Second Arrow X (2022),

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $1.170 AUD

Great tent for winter explorations.

Pros

  • Good stability
  • Lots of headroom
  • Great in snowy conditions

Cons

  • Should have three 10 mm poles not 9.2

The tent sets up quick and easy as well as the guy-lines, which have small mesh pockets attached which makes it a lot easier to handle with gloves and mittens.

I would say it does really well in heavy wind but they really should consider upgrading all the poles to 10 mm for the extreme version.

Ventilation is good and they also have guy points which is very useful in a snow storm.

Vestibules are decent sizes and I quite like the double design with a vestibule on each side. You appreciate it a lot when you get up in the morning and find one side snowed up.

Headroom is also great, which again is important for winter trips where you have to wait the storm out. Being able so sit up straight and move around is a big plus.

In regards to weight, it really isn't that bad for a four-season tent. If you are planning a light summer trip for one person this might not be the best choice but that can be said for all true four-season tents.

My reason for buying it is for rough and cold weather journeys and I am satisfied with the choice.

Background

Still the first year. Will be more experience this fall and winter.

Source: bought it used
Price Paid: 3500

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The Orion II Extreme replaced the Exped Orion.

Specs

Price MSRP: $899.95
Current Retail: $899.95
Historic Range: $398.95-$899.95
Product Details from Exped »

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