Walrus Arch Rival Solid
Walrus is no longer in business, and the Arch Rival Solid has been discontinued. If you're looking for something new, check out the best three-season tents for 2020.
Reviewers Paid: $109.00-$150.00
Great tent, has stood the test of time.
- Well designed
- Solidly built
- Outstanding when used for one person
- A fortress against rain and storms
- A little heavy by ultralight standards
- Requires careful pitching
- The solid version gets steamy in hot humid weather
Walrus made outstanding tents reasonably priced and should never have gone out of business (they were bought out specifically to close them and eliminate them as competition). We ran an outdoor program for 20 years and used several of their tents. The Arch Rival was one of their best.
It came in two versions : mesh and solid. The mesh was for hot humid weather. The solid was for spring, fall, high mountains in summer, and winters back East and down below. At the time this was the finest one-person tent anywhere, or it could be for a man and his dog or a snug two-person tent for couples.
In a driving, slashing, all night thunderstorm, the Arch Rival was a fortress. We were caught in it in a Nor'easter along the New England coast and in a howling blizzard in Glacier National Park and it never blinked. That we're still using it after 30 years of yearly trips into the Grand Canyon, Rocky Mountain, Bryce, Zion, the Wind Rivers, Tetons, Yellowstone, Glacier, the Adirondacks, the Appalachian Trail, the Smokies, the Red River Gorge, the Boundary Waters, Isle Royale, the Big Horns, Sierra Madre and Snowy Range is testament to how durable it is.
There's only one caveat: You have to pitch it precisely. There's no variance. If you have a rock in your way, you can't pound the stake in up short or two feet further out. No. The angles have to be exact. You either have to move the tent or move the rock. And it needs to be level; you have to get down and eye that site carefully. When you're sizing up possible places to set up, you have to look further out, to make sure there are no obstacles to your pitching it. This means you need to stop during daylight hours so you can properly judge sites.
But pitched properly, you don't need to worry about the weather. You can set one backpack easily inside the vestibule. You can cook inside the vestibule if weather requires. I've known people with well trained dogs which comfortably slept inside the vestibule.
A footprint comes with the tent and after 30 years I'm still using that original footprint. It's been seriously abused and has held up magnificently, protecting the actual floor from even a scratch. In this ultralight era, it's a bit heavy at 4.5 pounds, but how much is it worth to you to not have to worry about rainy nights?
If you can find an Arch Rival on eBay or somewhere, buy it.
I am a "professional backpacker," having led groups and being the Editor of Outpost Magazine.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $150
Request: Does anyone happen to have a copy of the Assembly-Care brochure, which came with the Walrus Arch Rival X-V? Mine got soaked and dissolved?
If so, could you please email me a copy at email@example.com? Also, does anyone know whether this tent has, with the help of a couple of straps-with-buckles, a "fly-only" set up option?
Design: 3-season non free-standing (hoop)
Ease of Setup: Easy
Weight: 4.75 lbs.
Price Paid: $125
This tent requires careful site selection to work as well as it can. This somewhat limits the tent's utility. It is a terrific little tent though when you get it pitched well on an appropriate spot. Mine has always served me well through very nasty weather, even through 5 inches of very wet, very heavy snow. Ventilation is not its strong suit when weather dictates full fly coverage, but not many tents of this design could do better and it's all about weight and weather-proofness with this tent choice.
Design: 3 season 2 hoop non-freestanding
Sleeps: 2 tightly
Ease of Setup: Easy to do poorly, little harder to do well
Weight: under 5#
Price Paid: $109
I spent a long time looking at lightweight 2-person tents before I bought one. I found the Arch Rival to have the best characteristics of the group. It is lightweight (the posted weight includes all stakes that come with the tent, as well as the stuff sack, as weighed on my postal scale). It is large enough to sleep two people, and you can place one pack inside the tent and one pack underneath the fly. The fly does a good job of covering the tent and has a decent-sized vestibule.
Also, the tent floor seams are taped.
In fact, the weight of the tent can be further reduced by two ounces by leaving excess tent pegs at home.
On the negative side, I found the tent difficult to set up properly. While easy to set up in a sloppy sort of way, it is imperative that the tent be properly staked in order to get the tent walls tight. I had a difficult time getting proper ventilation/seperation between the tent walls and the fly. As a result, on our high sierra trip this summer (the first time we used the tent) half of the time my wife and I experienced condensation inside the tent, although we later remedied this through more ventilation (leave the door unzipped).
The tent pegs are cheap and will have to be replaced with ones which don't bend so easily. The front door zippers are awkward.
All in all, I find the Arch Rival Solid to be an excellent tent for the weight and for the money. If I were buying over again, I'd probably buy the mesh version to save a couple of extra ounces.
Design: 3-season non-freestanding
Ease of Setup: moderately difficult
Weight: 4 lb, 12 oz.
Price Paid: $120
Size: Snug, although comfortably long, and very light. The 4.5 lbs. includes the stuff sacks and stakes (most published tent weights don't) Tapered footprint makes it a little tight width-wise at the foot end. Nice vestibule, although zipping the rainfly door while inside the tent is a trick.
Design: Simple and minimal, well-thought out. Setup WAY easier than rolling off a log. A breeze even on a dark and stormy night. One caveat: there is no latitude for adjustment when setting the stakes. The structure of the tent is dependent on the stakes pulling the fabric tightly over the two hoops and down, and placement is critical. Tying out to a stake with a length of cord to avoid a rock results in a limp tent. The only solution is to relocate the tent (or the rock, I suppose).
Comfort: Stuffy when closed up on a warm, rainy night. There is a mesh version available which must be nicer for warm-weather camping. I was truly impressed with the tent's watertightness. We stayed quite dry on a very wet weekend, watching pools of water form on the groundcloth, safely beneath the translucent floor.
Overall: Aside from the necessary accuracy of stake placement, the two-hoop design functions superbly with a minimum of components. This makes for a lightweight shelter and an efficient design. The Arch Rival is well-crafted and longer than any other 2-person tent (as well as most 3-person tents!).
Design: 2-hoop staked
Sleeps: 2 good friends
Ease of Setup: "Difficulty of tent setup" does not apply to this one!
Weight: 4.5 lbs.
Price Paid: $119