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Brooks-Range Foray 2P Tent Review

With its polka-dots and odd shape, can this unique 3-season shelter be taken seriously?

Recommended

Overall Rating: Recommended

The Brooks-Range Foray is a storm-worthy, lightweight (about 2.5 pounds) double-wall tent that exudes the design influence of actual users. It provides a surprising amount of room given its weight, while providing generous vestibule space and fly overhang. The tent could nab a highly recommended rating with some polishing of a few details and execution; in the meantime, the Foray stands strong in its market segment, and is well worth your consideration.

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by Brad Groves |

The Foray is not the Muzak version of backpacking tents. It does not blend quietly unnoticed into the background. That is not to say that it is punk rock, or death metal, or jazz or country. I suppose if any kind of music, the Foray would be classic rock, AC/DC perhaps, or ZZ Top. It’s there, it’s in your face, it’s doing things its own way, it’s confidently different, but it also fits within convention. There’s some fuss and theatrics, but at the end of the day, the Foray is clearly all about getting the job done. Righteously, with fun.

Brooks-Range Foray Tent Review - 1
The Brooks-Range Foray strikes a pose.

Brooks-Range jumped into the market with a slew of exciting products. Shelter-wise, though, their initial offerings left a bit to be desired. Not everyone needs an aluminized cuben single-wall like the Rocket! Not to worry. Brooks-Range is now offering the Foray, a 2-person double-wall backpacking tent that weighs a scant 3 pounds. Sounds great, but were the specs like an online dating profile? Was the area of 30 square feet accurate? How’s the living space? What’s shakin’ in the Foray world?

TOUR

You can’t miss the bright yellow, the black dots on the fly, the hooded vestibule vents, or the profile of the Foray. Bright yellow, hey, you’ll get found when your GPS batteries die and you have no idea how to navigate out. Color, whatever. The black dots intrigued me, though. They’re kind of… brutish, purposeful swatches boldly proclaiming their presence. The 4.75-inch diameter dots are, naturally, guyout reinforcement patches. The patches over the front pole also have ties to secure the pole; the ridgeline patch at the rear also ties off to that pole. The front-most patch on the ridgeline has a direct link to the pole. The center side tie-outs are canopy-only, and those half-moons along the bottom are just for staking out.

Brooks-Range Foray Tent Review - 2
The fly flapped back so you can see the ties for securing fly to frame.

Brooks-Range Foray Tent Review - 3
A close-up of the DAC arrangement for both anchoring the ridgepole and the fly to the ridgepole.

The vestibule is a well-considered, practical application of the concept. It uses two stakes, providing a wider entry. The generous overhang provides a ton of protection for the inner. The hooded vents zip closed if the weather so requires. They call it a 6-square-foot vestibule, but it’s the biggest darn 6’ vestibule I’ve ever seen. My rough measurement suggests an actual floor area of about 9 square feet for the vestibule!

Brooks-Range Foray Tent Review - 4
A Granite Gear Blaze AC60 and Boreas Buttermilks 55, unencumbered, rest in the Foray’s vestibule. Still plenty of room for entry and egress. Also note relative length of vestibule.

That dramatic ridgeline slope is all business. It is clearly intended to provide serious storm-worthiness while keeping the interior, well, livable. In fact, the combination of serious guy-outs, steeply-raked side profile, & color give the impression that this is, first and foremost, a mountain tent. It is a mountain tent designed for minimum weight. Oh, and then we look inside and see a summer “liner.” But that’s all good.

Brooks-Range Foray Tent Review - 5
The dramatic rake of the Foray’s ridgeline, beefy guy-outs, hooded vents, and build all suggest serious weather protection.

A CLOSER LOOK

The poleset, as so many are these days, is permanently connected via stout plastic swivels. Pole ends have a ball that snaps into a socket receiver. The ridge pole extends about 1-foot forward of the main arch; the rear end of the ridge extends about a foot past the rear arch. The Jake’s Foot connection of rainfly to tent body/pole tip seems like a nifty idea. The plastic foot that the pole fits into has a cross-wise rod for the fly to clip to; the fly has a wide flat clip that snaps onto the rod with a positive “snick.” It works fine, but in practice I found it required some futzing and fumbling, both in attaching and taking apart, that I would rather not experience. I’m surprised this fitting continues to see use.

Brooks-Range Foray Tent Review - 6
It’s not just this tent: I hate Jake’s Feet. They smell like rotting swamp. I find the fly clips stubborn to attach, and more stubborn to detach. More often than not, I find myself like this: tent pole out of socket, fly still attached.

Although there are robust center-panel guy-outs on the fly, there is no correlating link to the inner tent. There is less air space between the fly and body of the Foray than we typically experience; if there were a simple toggle or something so you could hook the center of each side to the fly, it would provide a bit more livable space for essentially no weight.

Brooks-Range Foray Tent Review - 7
It’s hard to photograph, but here you can kind of see the close proximity of fly to inner canopy. There is separation, to be sure, but relatively little. In practice, I found it easier to brush against the outer fly than with similar tents.

Bottom-edge side tie-outs are a bit odd. There is one on both the tent body and the fly, but the loops do not “meet up,” thus requiring a stake for each loop. There’s a tiny second loop on the fly, and it just about meets up with the tent body loop, but if you use that second loop it “staples” the edge of the fly right to the ground, minimizing airflow. The bigger loops are frequently referred to as “ski loops” on winter tents, but seem a bit out of place here. This brings up one issue I have with the Foray’s design. On one hand, storm-worthy tents are great, and this is clearly designed for such weather. However, this is NOT a four-season tent, and I feel that the fly should not go as close to the ground as it does. In summer you usually need maximum ventilation, and having the rainfly extend nearly to the ground reduces available ventilation.

Brooks-Range Foray Tent Review - 8
Here you can see how much difference in staking tension there is between the inner and outer side tie-outs. The huge tie-out loops bespeak mountain heritage and the ability to “stake” out a tent with skis. But I think that skew is not in favor of the rest of this tent design.

Brooks-Range Foray Tent Review - 9
If you stake the fly using the small loop along the side, there is almost no space to allow air flow… a detriment in a 3-season design.

Brooks-Range Foray Tent Review - 10
The gap between ground and fly looks larger here than it looks or feels in person. It’s adequate, and quite possibly fine, but I think a little more space would be good.

Sorta kinda along this line of thought, I get the impression that the inner tent was adapted to the dimensions of the fly. Well, yeah, duh. But what I mean, more specifically, is that there is so little air space between the inner and outer tent that it almost seems like the designers said “Okay, we’ve got this fly. Let’s just make the inner the same, but scaled down two inches all around.” I had more “inner meets fly” incidents than I’ve had with any number of other similar tents I can remember.

So how ‘bout that body? It kind of strikes me like that person you keep dating, and dating, and dating… there’s a ton to love, but you’re not quite sure whether to take the hook. First, you can easily get a couple of standard-sized sleeping pads side by side, with a bit of room to spare. Bonus! There’s (relatively speaking) a ton of room in the “upper half,” nearest the door. The side walls are relatively steep, plenty of shoulder room, and not spacious but a realistically usable space for two. I am, however, completely baffled by some aspects of the door.

Brooks-Range Foray Tent Review - 11
Room for two standard 20” x 72” sleeping pads, without them overlapping!

A tight zipper radius is found at the apex, doesn’t zip as readily, and frankly I didn’t find that extra bit of zipper particularly useful, anyway. I would just straighten out the zipper run. Second weird part of the door: there is roughly a foot of netting (of the upper canopy) that extends past the floor of the inner tent. Now, this does mean that the floor of the inner is very well inside the fly, and very well protected in any weather, but the upper volume added is not as useful as a longer floor would be. Although Brooks-Range specs the Foray as having an overall floor length of 90 inches, the real-world usable length is the 78” measurement they give, which I confirmed with my own measurements. The front width I found to be 50” and the rear width I found at 42”, both of which are precisely the measurements B-R has posted. After fiddling with some numbers, I think that B-R came up with an area of 30 square feet by using the full 90” length (the max usable length, from door into depth of foot “V”, was 86”) and erring toward the 50” width. Using the 78” length and calling the width an even 47” by my rough calcs are about 25.5 square feet of practical, usable floor area.

Brooks-Range Foray Tent Review - 12
Check out the dramatic top overhang of the door. Square footage and usable length could be increased significantly by extending the floor to more closely match that overhang, without really compromising weather-resistance.

There is a distinct relationship between the front and back “halves” of the tent. While I greatly admire the low profile of the rear end, I found that with two people in the tent (or one person on one side, gear & dog on the other) my feet hit the top of the tent inner. What’s remarkable about this is that I’m 5’6” and have size 9 feet, and my feet are hitting the top of the tent inner when my head is just about butted up to the bottom of the tent door. WHOA! Not cool. Brooks-Range could fix this problem without too much futz (yeah, right… like re-patterning a tent is no futz!). I suggest inducing slightly more arch in the foot/rear-end pole and correspondingly raising the foot area of the inner. Wouldn’t require much to be effective. The easier part of the fix: make the door go straight down from the end of the ridgepole, instead of sloping foot-ward to the floor. It would be an easy gain of a foot in overall length, and I think users would far prefer the livability of the resultant space. The inner tent would still be very well protected from weather.

Anecdotally, I had the tent set up in my yard when we were hit with winds strong enough to remove the top half of a maple tree about 40 feet away from the Foray. The Foray stood proud through the storm with no evidence of, well, anything afterwards.

I feel as though I’ve used an undue amount of digital ink describing shortcomings of the Foray. It is, however, an excellent tent. It’ll stand up to just about any 3-season weather you throw at it, you can actually fit two people in there, and it’s wicked light for its class. (Brooks-Range specs the tent at 2 pounds 9 ounces, I found 2 pounds 9.75 ounces.) I believe that the attention I gave to the shortcomings was because this tent has a ton of promise, and is “so close to being there.” I would be really stoked to see a revised version. In the meantime, the Foray is very worthy of your consideration, particularly if you want a very light, very storm-worthy 3-season tent.


Citation

"Brooks-Range Foray 2P Tent Review," by Brad Groves. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/brooks_range_foray_tent.html, 2012-10-09 00:00:00-06.

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Brooks-Range Foray 2P Tent Review
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Maia Jordan
(maia) - MLife

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Brooks-Range Foray 2P Tent Review on 10/09/2012 19:04:57 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Brooks-Range Foray 2P Tent Review

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
Brooks-Range Foray on 10/10/2012 12:29:56 MDT Print View

Great review. Looks like a mostly well done take on the single front entry style tent. Big Agnes should take a hint from the door/fly overhang and add a bit to their tents to stop the vertical rain intrusion.

allen force
(yknott456)

Locale: Florida
Brooks-Range Foray 2P Tent Review on 10/10/2012 13:28:47 MDT Print View

I think the Big Ag Fly Creek UL still may have the edge but I'd be interested in knowing what the headroom is. If I could sit up in it that would make it more attractive. Having to "tie" the fly to the poles is questionable. Why?

Jonathan Shefftz
(jshefftz1) - MLife

Locale: Western Mass.
My personal experience thus far... on 10/10/2012 13:45:23 MDT Print View

I bought the Foray for a summer ski mountaineering trip to Glacier Peak that ended up becoming just daytrips to Adams and Hood.
Which is a long way of saying the backyard set-up photo below is my only experience with it thus far.
But I bought the Foray because I wanted a tent that was lighter than my Rab Summit Extreme, and better with rain than my BD Firstlight.
I looked at the three-season freestanding ultralight competition, and decided that the Foray was better built for rough weather than other tents around the same weight. So glad to see that the reviewer agrees with me!

I would add that although the fly<>body separation could be better toward the foot end of the tent, all the competition in the weight class seems to have the same problem, if not usually much worse.

So the picture below makes it look taller than it really is, but I think the six guy lines provide a good impression of its stability.
Also attached is the official dimension spec, annotated with stake locations.
The tents with 9 very nice triangular stakes (plus nice stuff sacks).
Currently I'm using 5 of those stakes at the locations marked P, for tent Pole.
For the other 10 stake locations (yes, this tent can be set up with 15 stakes!) -- marked G for guy lines, V for vestibule, and B for body of tent/fly (w/o pole), I’m using even lighter Ti pegs.

practice set-up

stake locations

Edited by jshefftz1 on 10/10/2012 13:50:44 MDT.

Samuel C. Farrington
(scfhome) - M

Locale: Chocorua NH, USA
BR Foray on 10/10/2012 17:37:03 MDT Print View

This looks a lot like the similar MH and EMP offerings. Not so good.

On the other hand, you could think of it as a Warmlite with quality construction, a ridge pole and an awning-style vestibule. Much better.

However, a true foul weather tent has got to go up fly first, or at least not second.
The Warmlite does that. (Any word on their woeful quality of construction issues?)

And although the height may be the 39" stated by BR (inner-outer?), the front apex is much lower, and slopes sharply on each side, leaving only a skinny little triangle to crawl through to get in and out. Pining for a side entry yet?

The foot issues are well brought out in the review, and are similar to those in the MH and EMP. Ditto for the steeply sloping inside net walls. (Does the lighter nylon netting sag? Wonder if slightly heavier sagless polyester netting would actually be better?)

And the silnylon is nothing special - unimpressive HH on the BR website.
And they actually sell uncoated tarps saying that DWR + calendaring will keep you dry. Didn't BD try that with EPIC? At least they qualified on the keeping dry,.

Unless I'm missing something, it's hard to see how BPL can recommend this tent.
And more detail like you always used to have with the tables would be good, too.

Great photos. Thanks.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: BR Foray on 10/10/2012 19:38:12 MDT Print View

> Any word on their woeful quality of construction issues?
It was commented on in the survey of tunnel tents.

Cheers

Jonathan Shefftz
(jshefftz1) - MLife

Locale: Western Mass.
some q's & comments on 10/10/2012 20:06:39 MDT Print View

“This looks a lot like the similar MH and EMP offerings. Not so good.”
- How so? (Regarding the second observation.)
- For me personally, I wanted a very lightweight freestanding double-wall tent able to fit two small-ish people (who don’t mind getting squished a bit). I found six different models from six different companies (plus a seventh slightly different variation from one of the six companies). They are all obviously watching each other very carefully, or at least their suppliers are. The Foray appealed to me b/c of what seemed to be better weather protection, plus it seemed to suffer a bit less from some of the problem common to all of these.

“The Warmlite does that. (Any word on their woeful quality of construction issues?)”
“It was commented on in the survey of tunnel tents.”
- You guys are referencing Warmlite, not BR, correct? (I searched through the tunnel articles, and found only Warmlite references.)

“However, a true foul weather tent has got to go up fly first, or at least not second.”
- Well, yes, it’s not a double-wall tent with interior poles. If I’m in weather that bad, I’ll just bring a tent with an entirely different design. (Or stay home, hah!)

“And although the height may be the 39" stated by BR (inner-outer?), the front apex is much lower, and slopes sharply on each side, leaving only a skinny little triangle to crawl through to get in and out. Pining for a side entry yet?”
- No, I found the entry just fine.

“Unless I'm missing something, it's hard to see how BPL can recommend this tent.”
- Given my criteria at the beginning, what would you recommend instead?

“And more detail like you always used to have with the tables would be good, too.”
- Yes, the weight specs were mentioned almost in passing ... perhaps because the author was too focused on strange, unamusing, and utterly irrelevant musical analogies?

Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
re: comments on 10/11/2012 18:44:46 MDT Print View

Hi all-

In response to some of the questions and comments:

The ties provided are not necessary for a good pitch of the tent. The ties are provided as an option for "stiffer" weather, and such ties or similar attachments are common on "heavier duty" tents. Attaching the fly to the poles can add a bit of strength to the overall structure.

I disagree that the Foray and similar offerings on the market are "not so good." I have tested many of them in the field. I believe that actual experience with products can be more informative than armchair conjecture about products someone has not used. Please note, this IS a 3-season backpacking tent, not a mountaineering tent. It is NOT a "severe conditions" tent... that would, by standard industry convention, be a 4-season tent.

The entry has one of the easiest ingress/egresses in tents with similar design. I found it quite easy to use, and never found myself wanting for a side door.

The hydrostatic head of the fly material is more than sufficient. Big Agnes uses material with the same 1200mm HH for the Fly Creek, MHW uses 1200mm HH for the SuperMega UL2. I have used both of those in a significant range of weather, and have never gotten wet in any of the three. Of interest, MSR uses 1000mm HH fabric for their Nook.

We each think somewhat differently. Personally, once I know a tent weighs "X," I would rather not read the same fact four different ways. It reminds me of those Verizon 4G ads of late, where the focus group says "it doesn't matter how you present it," because the result is the same regardless. In my reviews I try to focus on information that you can't get anywhere and everywhere about a given product. If you want to know the hydrostatic head of the fly material on the Foray, you could probably find it on some thousands of websites. You cannot, however, find the kind of reflective detail this review brought forth. Perhaps it is worth considering adding a general specs table to future reviews, though. Point taken.

Cheerios!

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: re: comments on 10/11/2012 19:02:29 MDT Print View

Brad, this was a very well done review and worthy of a BPL stamp. Thanks,

Samuel C. Farrington
(scfhome) - M

Locale: Chocorua NH, USA
why not so good on 10/22/2012 18:45:22 MDT Print View

A potential problem with ridge poles in tunnel tents is that they can transform much of the cross section of the tent from a hoop to a triangle. This brings the inner walls much closer to the occupant except at the hoops. It's even worse if the inner wall material sags. Similar tents from the two other manufacturers I mentioned also present this issue. The Warmlite tent does not, becasue it has no ridge pole. And you can get it with a third hoop pole in both single and double wall. Unfortunately, in recent years there have developed quality issues well-reported on this site that tend to negate the positives.

When you add to the above the need to open the inside of the tent to the elements to get it pitched, and the footroom issues well developed in the review, I think 'not so good' is being kind. The BA tent reviewed a week or so later has similar issues, but has addressed them to some extent (note the spacious entry in the review photo, and the comment from an owner about dry entry).

When small tent makers like TarpTent have designed well to address the issues of dry pitch, access/egress, and inside space, the larger outfits like Easton, MH and even BR should be expected to do much better. It is not an issue of a 3 or 4 season tent. That is a red herring. I BP mostly in the northeast US and Colorado, and from this site have learned that the northwest can be even more of a bear, weather-wise in all seasons. If a tent can't deal effectively with that, it is just extra weight to carry, IMO. Maybe the weather is better is other locations. But if so, why bother with a tent at all.