Macpac Minaret

rated 4.5 of 5 stars (11)
photo: Macpac Minaret four-season tent

Specs

Price MSRP: $499.95
Reviewers Paid: $450.00
Weight 2400g (Max), 2100g (Min)
Floor Area 2.35 sq m
Vestibule Size 0.57 sq m

Reviews

11 reviews
5-star:   6
4-star:   5
3-star:   0
2-star:   0
1-star:   0

Bomb-proof, four-season tent that is easy to pitch and take down. A true multi-pitch design. Just enough room for two.

Pros

  • Almost indestructible
  • Very easy to pitch and take down
  • Very waterproof
  • Plenty of storage pockets inside
  • Can unclip the inner and pull it back to make a larger vestibule

Cons

  • Not much headroom
  • Very hot
  • Small vestibule (but adjustable)
  • Tight for a two-person tent
  • Not the lightest tent for its size

I bought the original version of the Minaret in 1994 and retired it in April 2019 after its final trip to Southern Tasmania. During that time it has kept me dry and warm (often too warm) in the worst weather and never did I feel worried it would not cope, even in high winds and driving rain.

A true multi-pitch design where you can pitch just the fly, just the inner, both the fly and inner at once when kept joined together or put the fly up first and then erect the inner whilst under the fly to keeps the inner dry in wet weather. The inner can also be taken down under the fly as well if required, which I have done on many occasions.

It is fairly cozy for a two-person tent but I have been tent bound with a mate in Tassie for a couple of days and although small, we managed to cope ok. My main complaint is that it is low so it lacks headroom for someone of my plus 6ft height. The vestibule is also small, with just enough room for two pack, but then that blocked the entrance making it tricky to get in and out in bad weather. The inner can be unclipped from the fly at the door and pulled back to the first pole to make the vestibule much larger,  which was used when cooking in bad weather or just when tent bound. 

The tent is very warm and you need to keep the door open if you can in temperatures above 0c otherwise you might be too hot. Rather than calling it the Minaret, it was nick-named the Inferno. Ventilation was not that good on my original version as there was no vent at the back of the inner.  That has been fixed in the current version and I expect it would make it a bit cooler.

There are large mesh storage pockets along both sides of the inner which allows most things to be stored away, leaving the floor for your sleeping mat and bag and was a feature I appreciated in a smaller tent.

By today's standard, the original is a heavy tent at about 2.6kg and the current one is only a couple of hundred grams lighter, although it packs up reasonably small. However, if you are going into places where very bad weather can be expected, this is the tent for you. I would hate to be in some of the uber lightweight modern tents when you get hammered by a cold front in the mountains of Southwest Tasmania.

I owned and used the Minaret for 25 years and used it on countless trips in all conditions and it is a testament to the design and construction of the tent that it lasted that long. Over that period, there were no tears to either the fly or inner, the poles were still in perfect condition and all it ever needed was for the tub floor seams to be re-taped.

The reason I retired the tent was twofold. First, it had reached the end of its life as the fly was no longer as waterproof as I required and the floor had started to delaminate. Second, it was getting harder and harder to get into and out of as I am not as young as I used to be and the knees don't work as well now. I needed a higher tent with side doors.

Experience

I owned the Minaret for over 25 years and used it on countless trips in all conditions apart from snow camping. On many trips were were several days walk from any civilisation in the days before personal emergency beacons, so reliable gear is very important. The tent never let me down.

I have been in many Macpac tents and in fact, after much research just bought another, a Macpac Sololight, as my one-person tent, for its combination of light weight, features, good reviews, and attractive price.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $524 in 1994

Alicia MacLeay TRAILSPACE STAFF

Great review of your Minaret, Andrew! Thanks for taking the time to share it. If you have some pictures from its many years of adventures, we'd love to see those in your review too.


7 months ago

A sturdy four-season tent, lightweight and pretty much bomb proof. Integral pitch design makes it a snap to get up in any sort of weather, but can also have fly and inner pitched seperately.

Pros

  • Light
  • Solid in strong wind
  • Well made

Cons

  • Small inner
  • Hot in summer
  • Small vestibule space

The Minaret is an easy to pitch tent, requiring only a handful of pegs most of the time. The guy lines are pretty much unnecessary unless you are in some really strong wind. It pitches well, once it's pegged out tight, the rest just comes together.

The Minaret stays strong in the roughest of weather, the only real let downs in a bad weather tent day are that it is quite small. The specs say it is a 2-person tent, but I would consider it a 1-person tent, unless the two people are quite small (I'm 6'3 and struggle for space). There is not enough room in the vestibule for 2 packs and boots and other vestibule bits, which means you need to have your pack outside with a cover and make sure you have everything ;)  

As a single person tenet, there is enough space in the tent to bring your pack in and it is great. For a rough weather solo tent, it is fantastic. In fact it is more comfortable during a gale, and the ventilation between the fly and inner keeps everything cool.

The only other big downs side is it is very hot in summer, in fact I usually have the main door just closed with the mesh part even in winter with snow outside ... it's that warm.

So for a single person tent that will get you through everything I would thoroughly recommend it. If you have 2 people or aren't going to be tenting in extreme weather (wind, snow) I would look at something else.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $450

A four-season, plus two you never knew existed, tent. Absolutely bomb proof design, but a trifle on the small side for two.

Pros

  • Excellent design
  • Top fabrics
  • Easy to pitch
  • Stays where you pitch it

Cons

  • Bloody heavy by modern standards

My son who works in Fiordland, NZ, has owned one for a number of years and this tent has never let him down winter or summer. It is heavy at just short of 6 lbs, but the weight is worth it when the going gets really tough.

On a trip out to Pysegur there were force 12 hurricane winds and torrential rain, a little inland and in a more sheltered site we spent two days tent bound. We emerged safe and dry. I know of no other tent that would have withstood the conditions we experienced with the possible exception of a Whillans Box designed for Patagonia.

For info on the Whillans Box follow the link: www.smhc.co.uk/objects_item.asp?item_id=31776

The Box was an answer to the very sever weather conditions experienced in the Patogonia expedition in the '60s to climb the Central Tower of Paine. Don was a Manchester plumber and a superb rock climber and after a few attempts came up with this design for the expedition. Joe Brown described it as "A dog of a Box"!

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: Don't know

Alicia MacLeay TRAILSPACE STAFF

Thanks for the review of your Minaret, Heath. Now I want to know more about a Whillans Box...


2 years ago
BigRed

Hi Heathcote -- This looks to be very much in line with Hillerberg and Helsport tents which use the same tunnel design. We have a Helsport Fjellheim X-trem Camp, nominally for 3 people and with a an extra hoop for a huge vestibule. It is too heavy for anything but full-on winter use and preferably with a sled. Fjellheims are the preferred tent for Norwegian polar travellers like Aleksander Gamme. I haven't reviewed ours simply because we haven't really used it that much in rough conditions (the whole thing was my wife's idea). BTW I was hutkeeper at Mintaro for two seasons in '78, wondering if your son is working for the NP?


2 years ago
Alicia MacLeay TRAILSPACE STAFF

Thanks, Heath.


2 years ago

The standard by which other tents could be judged. Capable of keeping you dry and sheltered in gale force winds and torrential rain—this, after all, is what a four-season tent is all about.

Pros

  • Bombproof
  • High quality
  • Relatively affordable
  • Fast to pitch

Cons

  • Could be lighter

The first Minaret I ever used was loaned to me by a good friend for a trip into the central North Island sub alpine country in summer. That was over fifteen years ago. This version was over 10 years old and was pretty faded but it still did a good job.

A few years later I purchased another one secondhand that I had not inspected first. This one had severe UV damage and leaked like a sieve.

Not to be put off I purchased a brand new version from Macpac and I couldn't be happier with it. 

On that note I should mention that the RRP is around $750 NZ, but Macpac often has specials and you can pick them up for $450, which is tremendous value for a four-season tent.

The Minaret is marketed as a two-person tent, but really it's a good single-person tent with enough room for all your gear both inside and outside the vestibule. It’s really too small for two people unless it’s an emergency. There are many pockets for storing bits and pieces and the detail is pretty high.

You can pitch the thing quickly with the fly and inner already attached to each other and this is what I normally do. It comes with good quality pegs and guy ropes.

Condensation is about normal for a two-wall tent and can be managed effectively by opening the vestibule etc.
At 5.2 lbs it's probably a bit heavy by today's standards, but it does pack up fairly compact and I don't mind packing the weight knowing I have a shelter that is really going to save my bacon if the weather goes bad.

I have personally been inside the thing when it was pitched on frozen snow and had a night of torrential rain, sleet, snow, and high winds. The next day my sleeping bag was still dry, which is all you can really ask for.

Though I have one, I think I’m going to buy another as a brand new spare in case MacPac stops making them.

Highly recommended.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $450 NZ

Alicia MacLeay TRAILSPACE STAFF

Nice review of your tent, Robert. Do you have any pictures of it set up you could show others in your review? Thanks!


2 years ago
300winmag

Good winter tent! I recommend adding stake loops along the fly hem to nail it down in very high winds.


2 years ago

Used a roughly 12- or 14-year-old Minaret tent last year when crossing the Pyrenees from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean (the High Route, not the GR10). So for seven weeks two men (from New Zealand) slept in it nearly every night.

We solved the small vestibule problem by leaving one pack outside at night with a pack cover on it. We set off in 36 degrees Celsius and hit minus 6 at the base of Pic Carlit. We had rain, heat, cold, and wind. The Minaret handled it all with aplomb. Quick to erect and pack and not too heavy. Would we choose it again? Too right!

Pros

  • Stable, tough, and waterproof
  • Easy to erect
  • Versatile: fly only; inner only; or both
  • Stable, tough, and waterproof

Cons

  • Could be lighter
  • Needs more ventilation
  • Could be lighter

Never leaked. Never felt unstable. Was only just big enough for two blokes, but the pockets were big enough and well placed for books, spectacles, cameras etc. Vestibule was easily big enough for a pack and two pairs of boots.

Nothing better than lying at night with just the mesh closed, looking at the stars. It just needed to be a little lighter.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: Paid about $NZ800

g00se

Welcome to Trailspace, Adrian. Thanks for the great review!


6 years ago
Alicia MacLeay TRAILSPACE STAFF

That sounds like a fantastic trip, Adrian!


6 years ago
KiwiKlimber

Nice review. Although not a kiwi myself, despite the name, it's good to see some on Trailspace. Welcome abroad. I'd love to see more reviews on some of the gear you took on the 7-week trip.


6 years ago

I have owned Macpac Minaret tents for the past 20 years, used extensilvely throughout the world, above snowline, and in deserts. Highly recommend.

Only problem is the fly on some models goes a bit tacky, seems to be the waterproofing, not the material itself.  As always Macpac is happy to change under warranty.

We love this tent. My wife and I have used this extensively over the last 12 years bushwalking in Australia -- Tasmania and NSW. It has had to stand very wild, wet and windy conditions (though we haven't tried it in the snow) and has always come through with flying colours. In bad conditions you appreciate the amazing thought and detail in its design which makes life so much more comfortable.

Due to its design and pole sleeves sewn into the fly, when pitched into the wind and guyed out, it is rock solid. The continuous pole sleeves and ability to erect the tent and fly in one go make it quick to erect even when the tent and everything else is wet. I can set it up in a couple of minutes singlehanded. After 12 years, it still hasn't leaked!

Things I like include the extendible vestibule (you can unclip the inner when the tent is pitched, to increase the vestibule area) which allows a large storage or sheltered entry when the rain is bucketing down. The vestibule can be entered through either the main door or one of the triangular side flaps. This allows very flexible ventilation when the wind and rain are up, as well as a sheltered entry (through one of the side flaps) without exposing the gear in the vestibule or the inner to the elements. While the inner dimensions are quite cosy it has its room in the right places and feels bigger than it is. The maximum height and width is near the door. The inner mesh pockets are in the right places. There are a variety of ways the main entrance can be unzipped, allowing you to leave quite a bit open even in bad weather. It's nice to have a window when tentbound by the elements.

While this tent is an overkill for good weather or summer camping (we just use something like a tarp then), where the weather is wild, cold or marginal, this is a tent you can rely on.

Design: 4 Season 2 pole tunnel
Sleeps: 2
Ease of Setup: Easy
Weight: 2.7kg
Price Paid: $AUD 450 (12 yrs ago)

Yes this is still a great tent. Intergral pitch allowing you to to slide a couple poles in bang in four pegs and go to bed while the others are out in the rain trying to get a fly over is even sweeter when the next morning with the rain continuing you can un-velcro the tent with the fly still up pack the dry inner and all your belongings before going out to drop the fly. Expect it to weigh more than a US style as it has a functional floor material and doesn't really need a groundsheet. After many mountains mine was just getting too thin (My other 2 macpac tents are still fine after about 20 years) but I didn't buy another (went Wlderness Equipment) as a couple of new features annoyed me. The vestibule only has only one zip to save weight where as the old version had 2 hence a choice of opening the vestibule on the lee side and cooking in bed. The hoops are now similar heights. Having one smaller while losing headroom gave you a quieter night as its shape held the wind better. Yes, I admit it still must be a great tent if my complains are getting this picky.

Design: four season
Sleeps: 2

An exceptionally light tent. Outstanding groundsheet. Stable in strong winds. The inner tent can be reduced in size to allow more cooking space in the vestibule.

I do not have a single complaint after using this tent in freezing and WET Scottish mountain winters, and a sweltering hot summer in the Picos De Europa in Northern Spain.

Perhaps not ideal as a base-camp tent because of the lack of head room for extended periods. However, as a lightweight mountain tent for backpackers, it will handle some of the worst.

The tent can be pitched outer alone (v.light), inner alone (when it's hot and dry), or both at once (v. quick, and stops the inner getting wet). The fine mesh of the inner tent provides excellent ventilation (one opening at either end of the tent), yet prevents entry of all insect life.

This one replaced a Marmot Peapod which was so leaky it was quite literally a bathtub in its first British winter.

Worth every penny.

Design: ALPINE GRADE TWO-POLE TUNNEL
Sleeps: 2
Ease of Setup: POSSIBLE TO PITCH FLY AND INNER TENT SIMULTANEOUSLY IN BAD WEATHER. POLES SECURED AT END OF CONTINUOUS SLEEVES, SO ONE PERSON SETUP IN STRONG WINDS - NO PROBLEM.
Weight: 2.4Kg (new pegs)
Price Paid: approx. £300 UK

In the Antipodes, Macpac is renowned for its very high quality equipment which employ superior fabrics and craftsmanship to be world leaders. The Minaret is part of the "Zenith" series of four season or expedition grade tents. This series uses UV40 materials to be amongst the most waterproof and resilent tents available. Recently I returned from a testing trip in Tasmania, in the "Roaring Forties," and found that the Macpac was a superb choice. The floor is without doubt utterly bombproof (as I was stuck for three days on a high sodden moor without seepage). Strong winds and rain didn't bother the Minaret. For resilence, and waterproofness I can not recommend any tent more emphatically than the Minaret. In comparison to the vast majority of European, Asian or American alternatives, the Macpac is streets ahead.

Now for the minor grievances, the attachment of the fly to the inner is by way of velcro strips that can be annoyingly short and inconvenient to attach for those who separate the fly from the inner and erect the former first. All Macpac tents have this very convenient option of erecting the fly and then attaching the inner, so that in really wet conditions the inner can be stored separately and kept dry for longer. There is, as with many Macpac designs, limited air flow as the rear of the tent has a next to useless flap. The use of an asymmetrical design for the vestibule has provided a very limited amount of vestibule space. Speaking of space, the Minaret is barely a two person tent for longer walks. Considering the interior space of the tent, it is a superb one person and quite passable two person production - but for very long walks it is only for close friends. The tent can be used judiciously above the snowline, although the two pole design might be something of a compromise over the stronger (and substantially heavier) three pole competition. Strongly recommended.

Design: 2 person, hoop, four season
Sleeps: 2
Ease of Setup: Medium
Weight: 2.6 KG (get metric, US)
Price Paid: $750 (NZ)

A truly fantastic lightweight all weather performer. The offset vestibule provides sheltered entry. Excellent ventilation, considering it has only one entrance. Excellent interior storage space. I thoroughly endorse this tent.

Design: 4 season alpine tunnel
Sleeps: 2
Ease of Setup: elementary
Weight: 2.6kg total weight
Price Paid: a$690@Paddy Palin

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