Current Retail: $79.99
Reviewers Paid: $79.99
82.6 x 59 x 47.2 in
Surprisingly high quality, and decent design. A true four-season tent for people on a tight budget. Just replace the stakes and you're good to go.
- It really is a four-season design.
- Lots of room for a two-person tent.
- Easy setup
- Reasonable weight (5.5 lbs)
- Well made
- Really inexpensive ($80 on Amazon)
- It's a little on the short side.
- Vestibule space is lacking.
- Stakes are worthless in the winter.
I own a Walrus Rapide XV winter mountaineering tent and it's a bomb shelter. But the tradeoff is poor ventilation, low internal volume, and low height. So I went looking for something in the same weight range that would address those issues. I also didn't want to pay a fortune. I found the, "Gonex winter camping tent," on Amazon and its specs looked good, so I figured for $80 I'd give it a try. I've been out in it twice in Yellowstone, once during a winter storm, and it worked amazingly well. Here's what I found:
1) It weighs about 5.5 lbs.
2) The tent body only has mesh high up near the apex, so this prevents blowing snow from getting in while providing decent ventilation for a winter tent (it wouldn't do well in the summer though).
3) The floor size is generous for two people, but it is a bit short. This, combined with the sidewall angle can mean your sleeping bag touches the tent walls. I manged o.k. at 5'11" but anyone much taller might have issues.
4) The fly extends to the ground and has flaps for piling on snow if you really want to batten down in a storm, but I've left them uncovered for better ventilation. It also has two well covered peak vents to let moisture escape. I woke up with notably less frost on the inside of the tent than when I use my Rapide. However...
5)...the fly isn't cut to offer much usable vestibule space. There's just enough room for a pair of boots, but I always keep those inside with me. Definitely not enough room to cook in the vestibule. Count on boiling water outside the tent.
6) Setup is easy: 2 high quality aluminum poles, 4 stakes for the body, 4 for the fly. Stake out the floor, attach the poles with the fast-clips and the body is up. Clip the fly to the four corners of the floor, stake it out, and you're done. You can optionally add guy lines to the fly for additional stability in really heavy winds (I haven't needed them yet, and if I anticipate weather that rough, I'll bring the tried and true Rapide instead). Both the body and fly pitch tight, so flapping in the wind is minimal.
7) So far, the sewing and zippers look good. All seams are sealed. I've only been out in below freezing weather, so I can't say how it would do in rain. In the snow though, it works great.
8) The stakes are the usual shepherd's staff shaped steel pins that almost everyone supplies. They are useless in the winter. They aren't burly enough to pound into frozen ground and they don't have the surface area you need for packed snow. I replaced them with heavy, 10" nail spikes (~$2 each at Walmart), and some aluminum snow-fluke style stakes I made myself.
9) The tent packs down to around the size of a mid- to lightweight summer sleeping bag. The stuff sack is decent, same for the pole and stake bags. Also, the stuff sack is big enough that re-packing the tent can be done without invoking any choice words.
10) In addition to decent sized mesh corner pockets, it comes with a gear hammock that clips in across the apex of the tent.
11) There are dual doors, a style I've really come to love. Rather than having to crawl out a tunnel off the head of the tent, you just roll out the side. Also, the doors completely seal shut, but also have the option of opening mesh windows for ventilation.
12) Two people would easily be comfortable in this tent, and I'd go so far as to throw in a well behaved medium size dog or a fair amount of gear.
Overall, I was really surprised by both the well thought-out design and quality of this tent. It certainly is more than adequate for front-country winter camping and I wouldn't hesitate to use it in the back country except for in the most extreme conditions. Ventilation is great for a winter tent, setup is easy, and its weight is reasonable.
However, it really is a winter-only tent. It's on the heavy side for summer use and isn't well enough ventilated. I can't speak to long-term durability, but the seams look solid and are well sealed. The floor nylon is burlier than my summer weight tents (REI and Big Agnes), so I don't anticipate any problems there. Same goes for the fly material—definitely stouter stuff than you find on lightweight summer tents.
Having used the tent a couple of times, I don't regret my purchase and wouldn't hesitate to buy one again.
I've been winter camping in front- and back country for over 45 years, including in Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks, and the Canadian Rockies. I've owned a Walrus Rapide XV, and used it for winter camping, for the last 20 years. I've used the reviewed tent twice in Yellowstone, once during a decent storm.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $79.99