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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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.