Past Tents

The first time I set up my tent on the Istanbul tour I discovered the tent floor delaminating – very disappointing for a tent I’d used only a dozen or so times prior. While the tent never leaked on my Istanbul tour (despite heavy rains), I need a new tent. I like the design of that tent (the Mountain Hardwear SuperMega UL2), but the tent is no longer in production, so I can’t buy it under a REI warranty. The newer model (the Mountain Hardwear Ghost UL2) looks inferior, primarily only a partial fly (and a grey fly instead of mountain green).

So I need a change of tent. After an in-depth review of the current ultralight double wall tents, I headed to REI to test a couple of them out. I didn’t do that when I bought the Sierra Designs Lightning, which let rain into the tent every time you opened the fly, so I try to actually set the tent up before I purchase it. The leading contender was the Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL2, a modification of the standard design to be sold only at REI. Unfortunately, the redesign didn’t do the tent any favors. The “bathtub” wall in the rear of the tent now is so close to the ground that heavy rain is likely to splash back into the tent, even if pitched perfectly. The single pole with no rear support also makes the tent likely to collapse in heavy winds (and exacerbate the “bathtub” effect further). Given that the Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL2 was one of most expensive tents I was looking at, it’s probably for the best.

Another tent I had the chance to look at was the REI Dash 2. Ominously, it’s on clearance. It also has only a partial fly, which I’m generally against. Reviews for the tent support that concern, claiming the interior doesn’t stay dry. The fabric for the floor is also the lightest-weight of any tent I’m looking at, which is likely why REI has put it on clearance.

The final tent for that visit that REI had on hand was the REI Quarterdome 2. With two doors and plenty of headroom, it’s a nice tent, and the pole structure should make it sturdy and hold up under adverse conditions. It’s about mid-range in cost. It’s also almost the heaviest tent in my current line-up.

A second trip to REI let me put up the Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2 and the Nemo Hornet 1P (the smaller version of the desired 2-person tent). The Copper Spur is a nice tent. A full fly, decent-weight fabric, 2-doors, good vestibule space, and a good solid pole design. It is of course another one of the more-expensive tents, and bright orange. I was less impressed with the Nemo Hornet 1P, which is not 100% free-standing, and relies on a strange configuration of stakes at the foot of the tent. If anything sags in rain during the night (and nylon sags when it gets wet) there would be problems.

While I now have two good fallbacks, more shopping to go. . . Next to look at is the MSR Freelite 2 (a lightweight version of my well-loved MSR Hubba Hubba), and one of the few tents with a weight comparable to my Mountain Hardwear SuperMega UL2. My real question there is now stable I think it will be in a solid wind.

Before I left for Istanbul, I stuck lithium batteries in my Princetontec LED headlamp which lasted for the entire trip. Replacing the batteries after I got home, the cover for the batteries broke off. Princetontec is shipping me a replacement door – kudos!

Gear-wise, that should about cover it for major replacements. I replaced both front and rear tires when I got home, and even after all those miles I think the bike only needs general maintenance before the next tour. Lone Peak replaced the panniers that didn’t hold up very well. Before the last trip I considered replacing my Mountain Hardwear down sleeping bag, but it’s still holding up. I had three USB cables, and only one worked by the end of the last tour. The button on the camera occasionally takes double-pictures, but I can live with that. I probably need to replace the wool shirt, as it’s well-worn. Marnie bought me a replacement towel for Christmas, and for some reason I received any number of spoons …

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