by the Product Review Staff | 2003-06-25 03:00:00-06
The Europa Tent (now in Version "II") by Six Moon Designs is a single-wall, silnylon tent with a hooped rear pole and a single pole (e.g., trekking pole) front support. The result is a 1-2 person tent that sets up in a snap and offers complete protection from the elements with its built-in floor.
Fabric and Materials. The Europa is made with a body of 1.4-oz silicone coated ripstop nylon. The floor is a more durable 1.9-oz silicone coated ripstop nylon. The rear hoop is a 7000-series aluminum sectioned pole. Noseeum mesh is used on the rear window and front door.
Weight. The manufacturer claims a weight of 33 ounces not including stakes or guylines. Our model weighed 35.8 ounces in its silnylon stuff sack. The tent requires a minimum of four stakes, but we recommend carrying six so the sides can be staked out for additional interior space and increased stability. Thus, with 6 ultralight titanium stakes and only a few guylines, the packed weight of the tent (including the silnylon stuff sack in which it is shipped) easily weigh less than 36 ounces.
Setup. This is an incredibly simple tent to set up. Two stakes in the front corners, one in the back, and a fourth for the front pole (a trekking pole make the setup nearly idiot-proof. Two additional stakes can be used for side guylines to increase interior volume, but it's nearly impossible to fiddle around with the stake configuration enough to get the entire tent walls taut - one limitation of the design of the side panels. These limitations, we are told, have been addressed in the upgraded Europa II, which was redesigned using CAD technology to increase tautness when pitched.
Entry and Exit. The front door consists of both a noseeum mesh door (which comprises nearly the entire front panel of the tent for great ventilation) which is backed by a silnylon door for storm resistance. Entry and exit is very easy through the large, zippered door, and the cantilevered front beak allows one to enter, exit, or even leave the doors open during hard rain without the risk of exposing the inside of the tent to rain.
Stability in Wind. Due to the inability to tension the side panels, the Europa suffered in windy conditions. At 15-20 mph, flapping increased in intensity from mildly annoying to disturbing. However, the tent held up fine up to 40 mph, when our occupants thought the world was coming to an end. Between 50 and 60 mph, the tent did not remain standing. After analyzing videos of the tent in these conditions, we determined that the lack of side panel tension was the primary contributor. Forces appeared to be transferred from the side panels to the cantilevered front pole, which was the point of failure in all wind-topples. While inside the tent, the large surface area of the walls contributed to serious interior volume reduction! While laying down during 40-50 mph gusts, the fabric of the side walls would actually touch our faces. Again, it appears that a lot of these problems have been solved in the new design, so we hope that the Europa II fares better.
Rain Performance. The Europa had no difficulty fending off the hardest rain. The cantilevered top and bathtub floor kept the splash out, even when the rear window vent and front door were left open to the elements.
Condensation Resistance. The Europa has a small rear mesh vent and a large front mesh door. Condensation was never a problem as long as the tail end of the tent was pitched into the prevailing breeze. Even the slightest breeze kept the walls dry at night. However, on still nights where the air was saturated with moisture (forming dew in the morning), the tent suffered from mild to moderate condensation. It was not excessive by any means, and we were easily able to wipe it up with an absorbent cloth in the morning. The most condensation we were able to wipe up was 3-4 ounces, which is far less than other single wall tents we've tested under similar conditions.
Interior Living - Solo. Plenty of room. This is a soloists' luxury home with room to spare for laying out and organizing gear.
Interior Living - Two Persons. With two persons, and a footprint of about 35 sq. ft., you better hope you both are small and don't plan on storing a lot of gear in the tent. We would rather rate this tent as a 1+ person shelter. The primary disadvantage of having two persons in the tent is that it is difficult, if not impossible, to prevent sleepings bags from coming into contact with tent walls and causing significant condensation to accumulate on your sleeping bag shells. This is primarily a problem at the foot end of the bags, where the tent width narrows.
Manufacturing Quality. The Europa is constructed well but not exceptional - minor cosmetic imperfections typical of small cottage shops can be found with a detailed eye. Under close scrutiny, however, we found no problems with the construction or materials that would affect the performance of the tent, and despite having exposed the tent to winds of up to 60 mph, we were unable to let mother nature break the poles or rip out the seams.
The Europa provides us with a great alternative to the original solo silnylon tent - Wanderlust's Nomad Lite. It is larger than the Nomad Lite and about the same weight. Stormworthiness in high winds remains a problem for the Europa but continued improvements should alleviate this issue on the Europa II. For the hiker that needs a lightweight shelter in more protected climes (a summer hike on the southern AT comes to mind), the Europa is an excellent choice.
Final Grade: B
"Six Moon Designs Europa Tent (2003)," by the Product Review Staff. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/00085.html, 2003-06-25 03:00:00-06.