by Ryan Jordan and Will Rietveld | 2005-07-27 03:00:00-06
Double wall tents are not high on our list of things to love about ultralight backpacking. We get more enthused about single wall tents, tarp tents, and tarps, and Ryan gets downright ecstatic when the conversation turns to poncho tarps and bivy sacks. So when we were faced with the prospect of having to review some double wall tents for BackpackingLight.com, we really had to suck it up and bury some serious biases and learn - again - to appreciate their benefits. Double wall tents still offer significant advantages over lighter shelters. A double wall tent is generally stronger and more wind resistant than a similarly designed single wall counterpart, and, with a few minor exceptions, condensation is still easier to manage in a double wall tent due to the breathable inner tent that remains mostly dry. But, double wall tents are more complex to set up, they have low weight:space ratios, and they are heavy.
Those preconceptions and biases against double wall tents made us appreciate the Summit Shelters Evolution 2P Tent all the more.
The Evolution 2P is a fairly traditional looking double wall tent - it is built for two with all the amenities of a three-season backpacking tent: dual side doors, dual side vestibules, plenty of interior pockets to aid organization, and a mesh inner tent for maximum airflow. On paper, when you review these features, you immediately notice the comparison to tents like the MSR Hubba Hubba, Sierra Designs Hyperlight AST 2, REI Quarter Dome UL, and The North Face Vector 22. However... there’s one very notable difference: the Evolution 2P is a pound - or more - lighter than these tents.
With a silnylon fly and floor and carbon fiber poles (you can also cash down with a slightly heavier aluminum option), the Evolution 2P tips the scales at just over three pounds. That’s a remarkably low weight for two people to share on a backpacking trek, considering the nature of the tent, and it’s plenty light to be seriously considered as a roomy solo tent. The Evolution 2P is only a fraction of a pound heavier - and far roomier - than most of the lightest double wall solo tents on the market.
So does the weight savings come at a price? To the mass market that has been drilled (brainwashed?) with ”durability fear”, certainly - the carbon fiber poles require more care in handling and setup than aluminum poles, and provide a somewhat less stable structure in severely windy weather (however, in this double wall design, I would have no reservations in using the tent in virtually any three-season condition one might find in the US). In addition, the silnylon floor is lighter and less waterproof than conventional (heavier) tent floors, but again, silnylon fabrics have been put through the wringer enough by the ultralight community to have gained wide acceptance.
The real beauty of the tent is its ease of setup. External poles with clips make the free standing inner setup a cinch (new models come with single continuous pole sleeves, which may even be easier), and the fly goes on quickly. Vestibules are secured with two stakes each, and for best storm resistance and ventilation, the tent can be staked at its corners - we recommend carrying 8 stakes (lightweight titanium, of course!). Optionally, in severe weather, you can add up to four guylines to tie outs along the pole structure, which helps stability significantly in high winds.
For two people, ease of use is hard to beat with the Evolution 2P. Each occupant has plenty of interior pocket storage for organization, and dual vestibules and doors go a long way towards keeping close tentmates close friends. Vestibules are large enough for boots, a mid-sized backpack, and plenty of other gear. The fly is adjustable in several different positions on each vestibule side, allowing you to fine tune ventilation and views ranging from entirely open sides to fully sealed. Peak vents in the top of the fly vent moisture, and a clear vinyl window brings morning light into the shelter.
Pros: Lightest double wall, two-door, dual-vestibule tent on the market; easy setup; plenty of pockets for interior storage and organization; multiple vestibule configurations
Cons: Full mesh inner tent allowed condensation to "rain in" from the inside of outer fly in high morning winds following a cold, still night; carbon fiber poles not stiff enough for serious snow loading.
Ideal Application: 3-season camping with a child or spouse, or solo hiking for folks that like the comfort, security, wind resistance, bug protection, and privacy of a double wall tent.
"Big Sky Products (Summit Shelters) Evolution 2P Tent SPOTLITE REVIEW," by Ryan Jordan and Will Rietveld. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/big_sky_products_evolution_2p_tent_spotlite_review.html, 2005-07-27 03:00:00-06.