Crux X2 Storm Tent REVIEW

The lightest double-wall four-pole mountaineering tent available.

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by Ryan Jordan | 2005-08-03 03:00:00-06

Overview

Crux X2 Storm Mountain Tent - 1

The Crux X2 Storm is a double-walled, four-pole, two-person winter mountaineering tent. At around 6 pounds, it is the lightest four-pole mountaineering tent available, with its closest competitor being the single-walled Bibler Tempest. The four-pole geodesic design of the Crux X2 Storm is ideally suited for high-mountain conditions where severe winds and heavy snows must be dealt with. The Crux X2 Storm is in the same structural class of tents as the REI Mountain 2 (7 lb 10 oz), Kelty Orb 2 (9 lb 11 oz), The North Face Mountain 25 (8 lb 7 oz), and the definitive tent in this category, the Mountain Hardwear Trango 2 (9 lb 2 oz). The Crux X2 Storm saves weight over these models primarily by eliminating the vestibule pole and using an ultralight siliconized nylon flysheet. During our testing of the Crux X2 Storm, we subjected it to extended snow loading rates in excess of 4 inches per hour and winds to 75 miles per hour. The defining feature of the Crux X2 Storm is its superb design: geodesic patterning, cutting, and sewing are nearly perfect, resulting in a beautiful shelter that may be more wind and storm resistant than any tent in its class. For a double wall shelter, the Crux X2 Storm offers well-thought-out ventilation features and is a breeze to pitch, requiring only three stakes for full-on storm protection. Since the Mountain Hardwear Trango 2 is the defining product in this category, several comparisons are made between the Trango 2 and the X2 Storm.

In Brief

  • An ultralight material applied to a four-season, double-wall, and four-pole geodesic design saves significant weight for serious mountain use.
  • Extremely tight pitch offers a quiet sleep and outstanding wind resistance, even when pitching with the minimum of three stakes.
  • Elimination of vestibule pole saves weight and improves pitching time but makes for more cramped quarters for storing two kits and cooking in a vestibule in the winter.
  • Traditional double wall design (inner first, outer last) is warmer, more weather resistant, and offers some protection from condensation, but is more complex to pitch than similar single wall designs.

Specifications

• Tent Type

Double-wall, four-season, four-pole geodesic dome mountain tent

• Fabric Description

Flysheet: 72 g/m2 (2.1 oz/yd2) ripstop high tenacity nylon 6.6, silicone-coated on both sides, water resistance rated to 5000 mm hydrostatic head; Inner canopy: 35 g/m2 (1 oz/yd2) ripstop high tenacity nylon 6.6; Groundsheet: 92 g/m2 (2.7 oz/yd2) taffeta high tenacity nylon 6.6, with 4 x PU-coated (water resistance rated to 7000 mm hydrostatic head).

• Pole Material

Yunan 4 x 9.02 mm Scandium 7X5X alloy

• Weight Full Package
As supplied by manufacturer: includes tent body, flysheet, poles, 12 6001-T6 square section alloy pegs, 4 x 2 m x 1.75 mm dyneema guylines, tent stuff sack, pole bag, and emergency pole sleeve.

ComponentBackpacking Light scale oz (g)Manufacturer claim oz (g)
Poles25.6 (726)-
Pole Bag0.6 (17)-
Tent Stuff Sack1.8 (51)-
Flysheet32.1 (910)-
Inner Tent34.2 (970)-
Stakes (12)4.8 (136)-
Guylines (4)0.5 (14)-
Total6 lb 3.6 oz (2.8 kg)6 lb 3.0 oz (2.8 kg)

• Weight Minimum Package
Includes tent body and fly, and three of the included stakes.

5 lb 13.1 oz (2.6 kg) as measured by Backpacking Light

• Floor / Vestibule Area

Inner Tent Floor Area Vestibule Area
27.8 ft2 (2.58 sm2)Front: 9.7 ft2 (0.90 m2) + rear: 3.5 ft2 (0.33 m2)

• Floor and Vestibule Area/Backpacking Light Minimum Weight Ratio

0.44 ft2/oz (1.16 m2/kg)

• Dimensions

inchescentimeters
Inner Width47120
Inner Length85215
Inner Height41105
Overall Length144365

• Model Year

2004

• MSRP

£375 (Approximately US$700)

Usable Features / Ease of Use

The Crux X2 Storm requires only three stakes for a very taut, storm-resistant pitch (similar to the Mountain Hardwear Trango 2, but unlike other mountain tents, which may require as many as six or eight stakes for a stable pitch in windy conditions). With a freestanding inner tent that is pitched first, the fly goes on easily with three stakes and four clips to pole termini. As such, the Crux X2 Storm pitches more easily - and more quickly - than most double wall mountain tents I've tried. The only snafu was a pole sleeve that was sewn a little too tight, making pole threading in that sleeve difficult. The manufacturer assured us that this was an anomalous manufacturing defect of our prototype and was not normal for production models. Regardless, the quick clips of the Trango 2 give it a distinctive edge for ease of pitching in stormy conditions.

A rear zipper provides access to a tiny rear vestibule for additional storage of boots, wet gear, etc. The main vestibule offers plenty of room for gear for two, but vestibule quarters get cramped when its time to cook on a white gas stove and the vestibule is full of winter mountain gear. Other tents (including the Trango 2) solve this issue with an additional vestibule pole and a larger volume vestibule, but the Crux X2 Storm forgoes this luxury with significant weight savings. I didn't complain: this was only a minor inconvenience that required a little extra organization.

Nice features include two small interior mesh pockets to organize little things in the tent, very nice rectangular channel alloy stakes, dyneema guylines with cam-lock tensioners, and a stuff stack that has a separate zippered pocket to organize stakes and guylines.

Weight / Sizing

The Crux X2 Storm is a relatively small tent, at only 41 square feet of total surface area (inner tent plus vestibules), yet its space:weight ratio compares favorably to larger tents (compare the 0.44 ft2/oz to the 0.51 ft2/oz of the Mountain Hardwear Trango 2, which enjoys economies of scale in its 51 square feet of surface area). The Crux X2 Storm sits apart from its competition in this respect. On paper, the numbers make the double-wall Crux X2 Storm competitive even with most of the lighter three- and four-pole single wall tents on the market, e.g., the Bibler Tempest and Fitzroy models.

Usable Space

Steep walls induced by four-pole geodesic geometry and a nearly-rectangular layout offer excellent usage of interior volume. Lack of a vestibule pole compromises interior vestibule volume, which is a factor when melting snow on a white gas stove, but the weight savings may be worth it. External vestibules in the front and rear are snow camping blessings to keep wet gear and hard goods separate from the dry inner tent. For more space, you can size up to the X2 Bomb model (3.4 kg, 7.5 lb), which offers a larger inner tent that eliminates the rear vestibule and adds an overhead vestibule pole. And, a new tent in the line - the X2 Stealth, will be a stripped down version of the X2 Storm with a target weight of 2.5 kg (5.5 lb), no rear vestibule, no vents in the fly, a slightly higher cut, no inner pockets, and even lighter weight fabrics.

Wind Stability

The Crux X2 Storm may know no competitor in its weight class when it comes to wind stability. When this tent is pitched, both the inner and flysheet maintain a drum-tight configuration with little sagging, even after sitting around in wet, cold conditions. Beautiful geometry, combined with outstanding fabric patterning, cutting, and sewing, result in a work of mountain shelter art that few manufacturers are able to achieve. All this prettiness has practical impact, too: even in extremely high winds, there is virtually no flapping and the tent remains quiet and stable. We experienced winds exceeding 75 mph atop Montana's Flathead Pass - winds that slammed into the tent broadside and did little more than oscillate the cylindrical shape in a minor semi-harmonic motion. When the tent was pitched tail into the wind, the wind spilled over it and gave the impression that you were fully protected inside the aluminum skin of a jet airliner at 30,000 feet. Even the relatively bulbous profile of the Trango 2, well-known for its perceived stability, couldn't compare to the quietude of the Crux X2 Storm.

Storm Protection

The Crux X2 Storm's stunning design makes it a top performer for snow loading. In one Montana storm that brought more than 30 inches of snow at a rate of 4 inches per hour, we left the tent alone for the day and came back in the evening to find it almost completely buried - but remaining in its nearly-perfect geodesic configuration - something we couldn't say about the Mountain Hardwear Trango 2 (which suffers slightly from its quick clip pole pitching system) or North Face Mountain 25 (which suffers from a larger unsupported side panel area). The Crux X2 Storm structure is very strong.

The flysheet pitches right to the ground and, with the exception of two minor vents that can be held open or closed shut; spindrift has no means of entering the tent. In very cold conditions with a high amount of blowing spindrift, it simply was not an issue for the tent's occupants.

Ventilation / Condensation Resistance

Crux X2 Storm Mountain Tent - 2
The Crux X2 Storm inner tent. Mesh pole sleeves (color coded and matching colored poles for ease of set up) facilitate airflow between the inner tent and flysheet, and mesh canopy vents (top of door, at pole intersections in upper portion of canopy) provide ventilation of the inner tent.

The Crux X2 Storm features some unique means of promoting airflow through the inner tent to minimize condensation, and its inner tent remains drier than both the Trango 2 (which offers very little ventilation between the inner and outer tent and instead relies on the breathability of the inner tent fabric to pass moisture) and The North Face Mountain (which suffers from poor airflow between the inner and outer tents) under similar conditions. Several circular mesh vents about 8 inches in diameter, at the pole apexes in the inner tent, vent condensation effectively without allowing for spindrift entry. Foam spacers attached to the inner nearly always keep the flysheet off the inner tent fabric, even under light snow loading. This latter feature is responsible for the ventilation failure of most double wall winter mountaineering tents in snow storms, and is a great feature for the Crux X2 Storm. Two exterior vents provide airflow from front to rear, and vents can be closed completely shut or propped open using tiny integrated poles. In addition, pole sleeves are constructed of very durable mesh for strength and airflow, but this is an antiquated design better replaced by quick-clips (such as those used on the Mountain Hardwear Trango 2) to both improve ventilation and decrease setup time (albeit at a slight, but possibly insignificant, loss of strength).

Insect Protection

During most conditions when a mountain tent is needed, you'll be above the "bug zone." However, should you find yourself in a buggy approach, the Crux X2 Storm will have you covered. It not only fends off the worst Mother Nature can offer, including hurricane winds and avalanche snows, but also does a reasonable job at preventing the entry of all matters of bugs and critters, including spiders, scorpions, beetles, mosquitoes, black flies, and gnats. No problem with insect protection here.

Durability

The Crux X2 Storm offers a robust floor and a silicone-coated nylon flysheet (similar to the high tenacity nylon flysheets used in Hilleberg tents) that offers a higher strength:weight ratio over the traditional nylon taffeta flysheets used in mountaineering tents.

Our prototype included a Yunan alloy pole set. We broke a pole setting the tent up in a high wind, but received a replacement set promptly from the manufacturer, and the broken pole was easily field repairable with the included repair sleeve. Yunan poles are not known for their strength relative to some other poles on the market, including DAC and Easton, and Crux has indicated that they will upgrade the pole quality in future production runs (if they have not already hit the market by the time this review is published).

As of this review's publication date, Crux tells us they will be upgrading pole sets for late 2005 models to a new DAC pole labeled only as "top secret," with Crux being one of the first manufacturers including the new pole sets in their tents. The benefit of the new DAC poles will be more transverse stiffness in the tent to improve broadside wind resistance. A pre-bend induced in the poles will improve strength and reliability as well.

Value

At about US$700, the Crux X2 Storm isn't a cheap motel. However, consider this: it's the lightest double-wall, four-pole, four-season mountaineering tent available, offers outstanding weather protection, and pitches beautifully. That $700 buys you art and performance in a package that should suit any winter mountaineer well for just about any conditions on the world's most hostile mountains.

Recommendations for Improvement

  • Pole set upgrade to DAC or Easton Aluminum poles;
  • Mesh pole sleeve material might be replaced with quick clips, similar to the system used on the Mountain Hardwear Trango 2, to ease pitching of the inner tent, improve ventilation between the inner tent and flysheet, and reduce weight;
  • More / larger mesh pockets on the walls of the inner tent for organization to make up for loss of vestibule space.

Citation

"Crux X2 Storm Tent REVIEW," by Ryan Jordan. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/crux_x2_storm_tent_review.html, 2005-08-03 03:00:00-06.

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Ultralight in Ultra-Foul Conditions?
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Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Ultralight in Ultra-Foul Conditions? on 08/04/2005 00:09:35 MDT Print View

Think: steady winds in excess of 30 mph, lots of snow or sideways blowing rain, above treeline or otherwise exposed. Do you reeeeeally need a Bomber Tent? Whether your answer is yes or no, what's your response to proposing a camping kit - be it tent, tarp, or other - for ultra-foul conditions? Companion forum thread to the Bomber Tents Review.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Ultralight in Ultra-Foul Conditions? on 08/04/2005 02:07:35 MDT Print View

No experience in this area. Let me put my ignorance of these matters on display with the following question.

Can an ID eVENT Unishelter (31oz) be used in these conditions? Why, or Why not? I like this shelter for winter in New England. Haven't used it yet on any exposed eastern mtn. tops (merely "hills"/foothills to you out west - though winds/weather on Mt. Washington in New Hampshire is supposed to rival the tallest peaks of the Himalayas).

I'm thinking low profile to wind. The bivy can be staked down with several stakes so it doesn't blow away in the high wind. Great WPB eVENT fabric to help minimize the condensation possible due to the conditions (precip+no wind) & the small internal air volume, and to keep the moisture outside, ...outside. Rigid, bent, sectioned-hooped Pole (not merely a bendable wire) in head area to keep snow from pressing the bivy against one's face. However, must keep the one stake req'd for longitudinal pole support staked well in the high winds.

However, do I really want 2' to 4' of overnight snowfall [can y'all out West in the Rockies get 6' overnight???] on top of me by morning? Will the fabric in the body section be flapping too much, unless it's volume is filled with a cold weather bag? [I can sleep through most anything, esp. if I'm "whipped" from a day of hard trekking. So, guaranteed, I won't wake up periodically to clear snow off of the bivy. Oh...and any flapping won't wake me either.]

Now, I know that I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed, so, what other points, pro or con, am I missing here?

If the eVENT 'Uni' is not appropriate for use in these conditions, what about the ID Sola (ok...difficult to get into) and/or MegaSola (a bit on the heavy side for what you get)? [too bad both of these can't be considered bivies, & then made of eVENT to save a bit of wt - prob a 6oz to 12oz "guesstimate", based upon a loose cp. b/t the Unishelter & the eVENT Unishelter.]

I'd be interested in knowing more. Anyone care to enlighten me on any/all of these questions/issues, please?

[Note: These questions are not intended to "question" the four choices in a recent BPL on-line Review Ariticle. They are just for my own information.]

Edited by pj on 08/04/2005 04:05:50 MDT.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Why no tunnels? on 08/04/2005 05:00:02 MDT Print View

I note all the tents reviewed are domes. Now domes are NOT as stable as tunnels under really bad weather, nor are they as weatherproof. Why are there no tunnels included? Does no-one in America make decent tunnels these days?

(See the top of http://www.bushwalking.org.au/FAQ/FAQ_Shelter.htm and the second row of http://www.bushwalking.org.au/FAQ/FAQ_Photos.htm for what a tunnel tent looks like.)

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Ultralight in Ultra-Foul Conditions? on 08/04/2005 09:57:34 MDT Print View

My short answer is no. I don't need bomber tent provided the ground isn't solid rock (e.g. I can drive stakes into the ground). I have been using a GG Spinshelter for around seven months. I have had a number of trips which I was exposed to 30+ mph winds, sideblown wind. I was find. Of course there was some condensation that dripped on me, but it was very minor.

jim bailey
(florigen) - F - M

Locale: South East
Jim on 08/04/2005 13:04:14 MDT Print View

Have used a Golite Hex this past winter during some downright severe weather in NH Presidentials, Stood up fine to 35-50mph gusts and heavy snow fall, had a few stakes come undone during the night but was impressed by the overall perfomance of this lightweight tent.

Larry Smith
(7633) - F
Re: Jim on 08/04/2005 19:30:27 MDT Print View

What about Stephensons Warmlite. The original superlite gear. Had one of their tents for years. Bombproof, lighter than any of these reviewed, actually made in the USA. Easy to pitch. Cutting edge in the 1960s and I'd say it still is cutting edge.

Dan Healy
(electricpanda)

Locale: Queensland
Re: Ultralight in Ultra-Foul Conditions? on 08/04/2005 20:06:36 MDT Print View

I’m with Jim… we also use a Hex 3 in conjunction with BMW bivys for alpine/bad weather trips … the space is luxurious for cooking in. The headroom is truly magnificent – changing clothes is too easy and you don’t have the damp gear in the attic in your face.. The condensation that forms when it is pegged to the ground in bad weather is not really an issue because the thing is so big you do not get to touch the lower sides anyway. With the conical shape, it is amazing how much the wind is shed from any direction, though you do get a bit of blown rain spray through the vents at the top. Because the Hex is so big and requires 11 pegs for a good pitch, finding campsites is sometimes a juggle. The Hex is also versatile. We have used it in heavy constant rain in a tropical rainforest to cold windy sleet at 3000m in the French Alps - this thing rocks!

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Warmlite on 08/04/2005 20:06:47 MDT Print View

can't really speak for BPL, but three points worth considering.

1) if i understood the article correctly, there might be at least one more article (and reviews) in the "series" (not sure if this referred to the current "series" of four shelters, or if to a "series"of articles on this subject). Since this one dealt with some freestanding shelters, perhaps another article will cover some non-freestanding ones?

2) often a mfr must submit a sample to be reviewed - and then, not request that it is returned & hold the reviewers responsible for any possible damage to the product. not sure if/how this applies to BPL review policies in this case.

3) the article mentioned "new" shelters. some popular shelters wouldn't qualify, solely on this basis.

Dan Healy
(electricpanda)

Locale: Queensland
Re: Ultralight in Ultra-Foul Conditions? on 08/04/2005 20:09:04 MDT Print View

Paul re the ID Unishelter, from experience, 8inches of snow on an unsupported bivy end is very cold! (how about a 3 pole bivy like the Bibler Tripod?) and I certainly wouldn’t want to spend a night and day in one when the weather turns really bad… like the folks in Patagonia had to…

Dan Healy
(electricpanda)

Locale: Queensland
re Why no tunnels? on 08/04/2005 20:39:55 MDT Print View

Roger, as a fellow Aussie I have read your first rate articles. I also own a tunnel tent – the excellent Wilderness Equipment First Arrow – but I would certainly like to see any data you have that supports the idea that the large amounts of unsupported fabric on a tunnel tent makes them more stable/weather proof as opposed to good 4 pole design like the Bibler Fitzroy. Or are you comparing them to the cheaper types that really are more about being free standing rather than weather resistant? One of the advantages of tents like the WE or Macpac range is the quality of the fabric and design – they punch above their weight. But all things being equal, a good interlocking pole design with less unsupported fabric at the same tension must surely be stronger.
I know I only got my engineering degree from Melbourne (and it is not civil or mechanical!) and you Sydney chaps are sometimes more informed ;) but if you have any data on this would you mind sharing!

Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
some explanations on 08/05/2005 00:12:58 MDT Print View

Hello everyone- I'm Doug Johnson and I put this release together. I'd be happy to explain a few things that you've found here:

1) You aren't seeing bivy shelters because we tried to focus on 2-person tents that could handle the worst conditions- high winds, sustained heavy snow loads, and the possible need to cook and live inside for extended. However, there are certainly bivies and solo shelters that could survive serious winter conditions.

2) I hear you on the missing Stephenson's tents Larry- I've been trying to get one of those to review for years! Not all companies participate. Then again, tunnel tents just won't stand up to heavy snow loads like a tent with interlocked poles. I love my Hilleberg tunnel tent but its flat roofline means that it won't shed snow like a 2, 3, or 4 pole interlocked design.

3) Like Paul said, you will also notice many missing ultralight bomber tents from this release such as the single wall Integral Designs and Bibler tents. For this release, we chose to focus on a smaller amount of great new designs. Of course, that doesn't discount other excellent designs on the market.

4) Re: the Hex. Yes- great tent. I've spent several nights in a similar BD Mega Light and it's been great. Then again, there are few who would pitch one of these on top of Rainier or high in the Himalayas. That's more of the focus of this release- tents that can survive the absolute worst. For a review of the Hex and other floorless shelters that are great for most winter conditions, check this out:
http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/00174.html
The MSR Twin Peaks fits this too and its review can be found here:
http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/msr_twin_peaks_shelter_review.html

Thanks everyone- good questions!
Doug Johnson
Shelter Systems Editor

Edited by djohnson on 08/05/2005 00:16:26 MDT.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
to Dan, re: bivy response on 08/05/2005 03:28:47 MDT Print View

Thanks for responding. Good info. Appreciate it.

Bibler Tripod - don't know why I didn't consider it.

Ingress/egress much easier than Sola & somewhat lighter too. Much lighter than MegaSola - though smaller.

thanks again.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
re tunnels, and strength on 08/08/2005 22:43:21 MDT Print View

Dan
The WE 1st and 2nd Arrow tents are not bad, as long as you get the wind drection right. The classic tunnel for extreme conditions is imho the (old) Macpac Olympus. I know the Olympus has been tested to over 100 kph many years ago. It has also been used around the world under all sorts of extreme conditions.
Why is a tunnel more stable than a dome? Because the poles in a tunnel are much shorter than in a dome. The shorter the pole, the stronger it is.
Also, many domes (no, not all) have the poles separate from the fly. You just throw the fly over the top.This means the poles can move relative to the fly, go into an S-bend, and the tent can collapse. In a proper tunnel tent the poles are threaded INTO the fly. They canNOT twist. Sure, some may say that makes such a tunnel a bit harder to pitch than a pop-up dome. True - but I am far more concerned with spending a comfortable confident night than with a few minutes of 'convenience'.
The reason dome makers stress the 'crossed poles' is because poles which are not anchored togather at the top really are bendy and can collapse.
I don't agree that a tunnel has long sections of unsupported fabric: far from it. I do agree that some tunnels have an unfortunate flat top: that's because they are trying to use a straight pole rather than put a bend at the top. The bend makes the roof shed rain and snow far better.
I've made many versions of both designs, and used them under gale-force conditions. I trust my tunnels.
Cheers

Nikolas Andersen
(nsandersen) - MLife
Re: re Why no tunnels? on 08/09/2005 15:04:59 MDT Print View

Some veterans on the nice (but not ultralite) UK site http://www.outdoorsmagic.com claim that tunnels flex better than geodesic domes, giving way temporarily to the worst gusts and then flexing back up again when the wind settles down a bit. I am unfortunately not an engineer either, so wouldn't know how much merit that holds.

A really nice (but UK, admittedly) tent brand is Lightwave (http://www.lightwave.uk.com/) -eg. they have a 2-pole double-skin 1-person tunnel at 1.3kg. It does unfortunately have a flat top.

Their customer service has a very good reputation, it might be possible to persuade them to let this site test their tents.

Michael Martin
(MikeMartin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: North Idaho
Bivys and Cooking on 08/09/2005 19:57:39 MDT Print View

Paul, Ryan recently made a post on another bpl thread praising the ID Unishelter bivy. Check out
www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/xdpy/forum_thread/991/index.html?mv_session_id=nrgjblym&mv_pc=198&skip_to_post=6071#6071

Though I've never tried it, it seems like with a few tricks, a hooped bivy might be a workable way to go ultralight in extreme conditions. Like Dan suggested, I guess you'd have to deal with snow accumulation somehow.

But, what I'm really wondering is, how do you melt snow or cook during a storm if your sole shelter is a bivy sack? Any of you mountaineering bivy users have any tips to share?

Edited by MikeMartin on 08/09/2005 21:18:52 MDT.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Bivys and Cooking on 08/09/2005 21:15:40 MDT Print View

Michael,

Many thanks for taking the time to reply. I haven't spent extended days out during the winter. I was just curious if my current overnight winter shelter would work for longer winter treks - even below treeline.

Snow is melted outside the bivy for drinking. Cooking is often not necessary as I often just eat GORP for several days + a multi-vitamin & mineral supplement.

Edited by pj on 08/13/2005 16:44:38 MDT.

John Davis
(JNDavis) - F

Locale: Isle of Man
Ultralight in Ultra-Foul Conditions? on 08/13/2005 16:24:02 MDT Print View

Having backpacked over 200 Munros in one of the worst summers on record (1986) as well as gaining experience in Iceland and New Zealand, I feel that this is a bit of a specialist subject. So the first thing to ask is what do you consider ultra-foul? I mean, if the wind is above 10 metres/second the midges won't be biting and rain always sounds worse on the flysheet than it really is. Modern waterproofs almost negate rain.

Today's 12 miler round Snaefell took place in windy but humid conditions. Humidity means sweat and a major challenge for clothing. Humidity also stops the ground from drying out, a major challenge for groundsheets. And if the wind drops on a humid day, the backpacker is in big trouble from biting insects. However, my nightmare walking condition is extreme heat. Ultralight is the only possible solution.

Edited by JNDavis on 08/13/2005 16:24:51 MDT.

John Davis
(JNDavis) - F

Locale: Isle of Man
Ultralight in Ultra-Foul Conditions? on 08/31/2005 08:19:39 MDT Print View

Tarps can be very comfortable in foul weather. Mine has beaks. I use one to block off the windward end and pitch the other end of the tarp high, with the beak horizontal, so that I can sit and drink tea as the rain is hurled past. The only real ultralight compromise is using a bigger tarp than the one Carol used in her Uintas trip.

In medium wind strengths my tarp flaps quite badly, far worse than a hooped tent, but there is the certain knowledge that an increase in wind strength would only pull pegs. The tarp and trekking poles are not going to break. Backpackers in latest generation tents don't have that comfort. Hoops definitely do break (although I admit that the BBC said wind speeds had reached 90 mph when my Tadpole's front hoop broke).

John Davis
(JNDavis) - F

Locale: Isle of Man
Ultralight in Ultra-Foul Conditions? on 09/06/2005 13:09:25 MDT Print View

Hmmm, I seem to be the only person enjoying this thread, but walking through the storm has some sort of appeal - don't want to speculate what - so here goes for another post.

We know what ultralight is because Ryan has given us a definition, but what is ultra-foul?

In the 1986 walk mentioned elsewhere I was wet to the skin on 23 consecutive days, including the day of my final Munro in round one. But, I was used to it and never felt uncomfortable till the water reached my groin. That is most definitely not my attitude today, so one of the aspects of ultra-foul lies in recent experience.

Another aspect of ultra-foul concerns the kit selected. I cannot help feeling that some of Ryan's gear choices for his Lost Coast trip meant that he experienced more discomfort than he would have with slightly heavier kit. Nokian Trimmis, waterproof trousers and a Cave 1 would not have made the load unbearable and would have kept him both warmer and drier. (Ryan seemed to feel fairly happy with his kit in his summary.)

So if attitude and gear selection influence our definition of ultra-foul, perhaps ultra-foul just means we've gone too far with the kit we've got. That can happen with any approach to backpacking, not just ultralight.

Do we experience more ultra-foul days with ultralight kit? Perhaps, but ultralight kit also makes it easier to clear out to a more sheltered area.

T. Sedlak
(busotti) - F
Hilleberg Unna on 04/26/2006 16:47:33 MDT Print View

Hilleberg makes a number of non-tunnel tents.

Unna specs: $400
4 lbs (64 oz) with 27 sq. ft. area,
40 inches tall, 2 interlocking poles. Sized on the threshold for 1-2 persons.

Edited by busotti on 06/22/2007 09:41:02 MDT.

John Davis
(JNDavis) - F

Locale: Isle of Man
Thoughts on Unna on 08/24/2006 13:14:11 MDT Print View

Sorry, Tom. Haven't tried one, but one of the great virtues of the Akto, and the tunnel tents, is the vertical door on the inner. This feature really pays off in periods of prolonged damp. If the inner door is vertical, condensation is unlikely to fall through it on to your sleeping bag. And something I really like is being able to sit with the flysheet door open while rain falls. Tea in hand, warm sleeping bag and - I know it isn't very ultralite but - good book to read and I feel very snug watching the wet, grey world outside. I don't think you could open the flysheet door on the Unna or the Jannu during rain without getting the inner wet. However, I'm only looking at the pictures in the 2005 catalogue.

Donald Browning
(docdb) - M

Locale: SE USA
Re: Thoughts on Unna on 11/02/2006 11:13:12 MST Print View

The tenshi is no longer available in eVent.....sad.
Don

David Bonn
(david_bonn) - F

Locale: North Cascades
Re: Ultralight in Ultra-Foul Conditions? on 11/02/2006 12:16:03 MST Print View

These pictures say it all, for me.

before a storm on Mount Bakersheep mountain after a snowy night

Nathan Moody
(atomick) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
I'm in the tent camp... on 11/02/2006 14:08:58 MST Print View

A few years ago I camped in Koke'e State Park, above Waimea Canyon on Kauai, and on New Years Eve the rain ultimately angled at about 80° to the ground with sustained winds of 30+mph. The wind direction shifted a good 90° halfway through the night. We were on sloped ground well away from the lowest point, but when we awoke even the slopes retained 2" of standing water.

In such conditions, a bathtub bottom tent made all the difference. With the wind shift, a freestander can just be unstaked, rotated, and re-staked. We were sleeping in a river - there was nowhere that wasn't! Groundsheets would have been overrun by the runoff.

So, all told, for me there's sometimes a benefit of even an UL tent in UF conditions, to speak nothing of the mental benefit/comfort, which is entirely more subjective. Now that rain's returned to us here in Northern California, this sure is a timely topic...

Fun to see everyone's varied opinions on this interesting topic!

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
Ultralight in Ultra-Foul Conditions? on 11/02/2006 15:45:13 MST Print View

Gorgeous pics, David.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: I'm in the tent camp... on 11/03/2006 03:01:33 MST Print View

> In such conditions, a bathtub bottom tent made all the difference.

I remember once (VERY clearly) finally getting into the tent in a howling storm to find the bathtub floor floating about an inch off the ground. My wife was happily sitting on her Therm-a-Rest while the floor just sort of bounced.
The only problem was working out where to put the stove to cook dinner :-) I eventually put my (small scrap of 3-ply) stove base on our shoes all piled up - and cooked dinner. We stayed dry. The flood receded eventually.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Re: I'm in the tent camp... on 11/03/2006 03:15:23 MST Print View

So, Roger, you call that roughing it? Using a waterbed while on a trek!!!

Edited by pj on 11/03/2006 03:16:28 MST.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Re: I'm in the tent camp... on 11/10/2006 23:20:55 MST Print View

Hi pj

> Using a waterbed while on a trek!!!
Well, actually, in this case I can plead not guilty to this monstrous charge!
We had dinner in the storm, but by the time we had finished dinner the storm had ceased and there was only thick fog. BUT: we had reached a known 4WD track, and it was 1.5 hr back to the car (end of a 5-day trip). The fog plus a full moon meant the ground was quite visible without a headlight. So we thought phooey, packed up the gear and the wet tent, and walked back to the car in the glowing fog. Got there about 8 pm, and went home - feeling very pleased with ourselves.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Re: Re: Re: I'm in the tent camp... on 11/11/2006 04:11:04 MST Print View

Roger, I admire the many treks you and your wife are able to take. I am genuinely looking forward to my own retirement when i can get out whenever the whim hits (and the wife permits! :)

Nikolas Andersen
(nsandersen) - MLife
Bathtub floors on 11/11/2006 06:17:02 MST Print View

How about a separate bathtub floor for tarps - have anyone seen one around? (My sewing skills are limited to trouser rips and reattaching buttons, so not quite sure about the DIY instructions at GossamerGear.)

John Glover
(jtg) - F
2 person bomber tents on 11/24/2006 16:40:29 MST Print View

Stephenson Warmlite beats all the others-lighter, more floor space, less condensation, easy set up , and great visibilty with side windows (and don't have to put on fly if it rains). Why is it so consistently ignored by BPL?

Mike Barney
(eaglemb) - F

Locale: AZ, the Great Southwest!
Re: 2 person bomber tents on 11/24/2006 17:51:58 MST Print View

There are 6 Stephenson Warmlites listed in the gear guide, and a couple of forum references. Why not write a reader review? I think most readers here are interested in any gear that has advantages.

Have a great holiday,
MikeB

Edited by eaglemb on 11/24/2006 17:52:48 MST.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I'm in the tent camp... on 11/27/2006 02:13:23 MST Print View

Hi pj

> Roger, I admire the many treks you and your wife are able to take. I am genuinely looking forward to my own retirement when i can get out whenever the whim hits (and the wife permits! :)
BIG mistake - waiting until you retire! GO NOW! And take your wife with you.

Brett .
(Brett1234) - F

Locale: CA
Rogers right, PJ on 11/27/2006 06:13:11 MST Print View

PJ, about your retirement statement; IMO Roger's correct; if financially possible, get out there now for some day trips or an overnighter (forgive me if you regularly do so and I interpreted your posting wrongly).
I also spent years interpreting "critical flight data" (recalling your earlier post) for a company who shall remain nameless.. worked 4 years without one days vacation; only scheduled holidays. That time is just a vacuous hole in my memory banks.
Now I turn off the cellphone on the weekends and work a little harder M-F. Sorry to digress from the subject of this post.. but relating it back; some of my recent hiking memories worth repeating are when conditions were "ULTRA-FOUL" and I was testing new UL gear. You can't plan for adventure; it is what happens when things don't go according to plan. (paraphrasing someone else..)

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Rogers right, PJ on 11/27/2006 09:14:28 MST Print View

Roger & Brett,

Sound advice. Normally out often for short 1-3days and near daily fitness hikes with full UL pack - excepting this late spring through now (nada/nothing), with both a critical project at work coupled with some very unexpected recent personal developments and estate issues stemming from that which require a lot of my attention.

peter vacco
(fluff@inreach.com) - M

Locale: no. california
Re: Other Hilleberg tents than Akto? on 12/29/2006 19:51:22 MST Print View

i used an unna for half a summer. it's well developed, palatial. extremely homey and dry, all which it well ought to be at 68 ounces and 400 bucks. also a bear to set up in a gentle breeze. real wind requires extreme care and planning (pre-guy out before erection... etc) it's nearly too much tent for one guy to handle. the poles are approx the length of a car. you gotta guy the pole corners in any wind at all, but then, even if you don't do the 5th rear panel guy, it seems to be quite secure thru squalls and gusts. i sat, just sat there in one spot for 4 days in steady drizzle thinking things out, and my down bag stayed perfect. there is no mentionable condesation even at sea level and freezing. i sewed in a large closable window, and this worked great.
verdict: flawless performance, but too big and heavy. ie .. nordic.

Chris Townsend
(Christownsend) - MLife

Locale: Cairngorms National Park
Hilleberg tents on 12/30/2006 10:29:53 MST Print View

During the 90s I led ski camping trips in Greenland, Spitsbergen, the Yukon and Lapland. We used Hilleberg Keron tunnel tents and they were superb, standing up to heavy snow and strong winds and being easy to pitch with mitts on in a blizzard. And back in 1992 I used a Nallo 2 for a walk the length of Norway and Sweden during a wet and windy summer. It performed excellently. Today I would take an Akto though - that tent didn't exist back then. Overall I've found Hilleberg tents superbly made, superbly designed and ideal for severe weather.

Jon McConachie
(hyker) - MLife

Locale: Sierra Nevada
EV2 on 06/15/2007 22:38:42 MDT Print View

One very nice aspect of the EV2 is the interior length. Very few tents have the length I need for my 6'5".

E C
(ofelas) - F

Locale: On the Edge
Re: Tunnel Tents on 09/15/2007 11:25:48 MDT Print View

Yup; I can attest to the stormproofness & bunker qualities of tunnel tents; I have one of the few Bibler Satellite Tunnel tents made, a great blend of usable space & lightness. Here it is pitched next to another Bibler for size comparision (a brand spanking new out of the sack 2 door Eldorado that I setup to seamseal).Satellite & Eldorado

Edited by ofelas on 09/15/2007 11:30:38 MDT.

James Waechter
(Weegie5)

Locale: Colorado Rockies
EV3 review? on 01/29/2009 14:59:44 MST Print View

From the Mountain Hardwear EV2 Review (which directs to this thread):

"It may not be a coincidence that a new Mountain Hardwear tent, the 'EV3,' uses a four-pole design. This upcoming tent is featured at the end of this review; we can't wait to get our hands on one."

What is the status of a review of the MH EV 3? This review is over three years old. Despite the delay, I'd still love to see a review of the EV 3. Any timeline for it?

Was it at ORWM last week? MH still has it on their website.

Edit: corrected quoted text

Edited by Weegie5 on 01/29/2009 18:52:40 MST.

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: 2 person bomber tents on 01/29/2009 15:57:53 MST Print View

>Stephenson Warmlite beats all the others-lighter, more floor space, less condensation, easy set up , and great visibilty with side windows (and don't have to put on fly if it rains). Why is it so consistently ignored by BPL?

I suspect the biggest reason is that Stephenson's are unwilling to provide demo tents for review.

The Warmlite is solid in the wind IF staked very tautly (and re-staked as it cools and sags), and IF the wind is coming from only one direction. But I did not find it was a nice place to hang out in a storm...too much condensation and the rain/snow pouring into the tent whenever you open the vestibule makes for a wet existence. The Nallo2 is the best lightweight tent I've used in these conditions (MacPac tunnels the best if I disregard weight). Although it also needs solid staking, at least with the Nallo2 there are also side guy-outs to cope with changing wind directions, a breathable inner to keep the condensation at bay, a covered vestibule entry to keep rain/snow out, a bathtub floor, and insect mesh on the inner door to help with venting (and insect control!).

Chris Townsend
(Christownsend) - MLife

Locale: Cairngorms National Park
Ultralight in Ultra-Foul Conditions? on 01/29/2009 16:19:41 MST Print View

Stephenson's Warmlite did provide a 2X for review and this was included in the State of the Market Report: Single Wall Tents (2008), which was published last November. I agree with Alison's comments - the Warmlite is stable when staked correctly but the lack of a vestibule and the door opening over the groundsheet means it's not as easy to live in during a storm than a tent like the Nallo 2.

T. Sedlak
(busotti) - F
Stephenson's, Hilleberg, Big Sky, Tarptent on 08/18/2009 12:49:25 MDT Print View

I have slept in a variety of tents including Stephenson’s (Warmlite 2R), Hilleberg (Jannu), Big Sky (Evolution), and Tarptent (Squall 2). Here are some thoughts for those interested.

The most bomber and well constructed is the Hilleberg. The weight on these tents is the higher end of the spectrum, but a Hilleberg is what I want for potentially serious weather. As the inner and outer tents are attached you can set up in a storm and still keep the inside dry. They are very warm and the ventilation is not the greatest. There is condensation but not extreme. The big bathtub floor is very waterproof. The vestibule is handy. You can fully open/close the vents from inside. Definitely not a warm weather tent (too warm), and I would not recommend Hilleberg if you camp in warm weather (65-70 degrees F or higher). I tried out an Unna, too; very spacious for one, but no formal vestibule (you can improvise one by detatching an inner tent corner). Unna ventilation is not great for warm weather and bugs. Some of the Hillebergs use pole clips (Jannu) and some pole sleeves (Unna). I found the clips much easier to deal with.

Stephenson’s Warmlite 2RS. This is an ingenious design that has many clever aspects I haven’t seen elsewhere. For instance the inner and outer zippers are staggered such that the outer zipper serves as a rain flap for the inner. The poles are pre-bent so as to give better strength (so obvious, but so few tents do this). It is huge for the weight, fully bugproof. The optional windows give great ventilation and the tent is warm when all sealed up. It is not quite fully double walled. The front and back ends are single walled and prone to condensation. I weathered a severe 14 hour rainstorm in this and water did come through the silnylon floor through hydrostatic pressure, but this was an extreme circumstance (I wasn’t on fully flat ground and pooling under the tent occurred). The vestibule is extremely small (boots only), but the inside is gigantic. The outer tent window has to be zipped closed from the outside, an inconvenience for unexpected rain. There is a photo gallery of a guy who solo climbed Denali using a Warmlite. Overall an extremely versatile tent. (http://www.terragalleria.com/mountain/info/ice/mk2.html). Also: http://www.terragalleria.com/mountain/mountain-area.mckinley.html

The tarptent is the lightest, but I would not use this if I were concerned about severe weather. I am not a big fan of all the tinkering needed to get this set up with an optimal pitch. Spindrift or rain with a bit of wind could be a problem as the mesh on the tent sides are a little exposed. For most circumstances this is a great choice (warm summer weather).

The Big Sky tents are great all around. I used mine for the entire John Muir Trail. The fly is not attached and set up in a storm would get the inner tent wet (the inner is basically all mesh on top). Easy and REPRODUCIBLE set up are strong pluses, as is the light weight. Severe rain or mountain weather might be a little dicey, but for general backpacking this is a great choice. The very small vestibules won’t keep much out of the rain except something the size of boots or a small pack.

Overall, there is no perfect tent for every circumstance. Everyone is different in where they draw their own personal line for tradeoffs, such as lighter weight at the expense of a miserable, wet night.