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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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.