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Light Weight 4 season Tent
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Robin McKay
(rlmckay) - M

Locale: Auckland NZ
Light Weight 4 season Tent on 05/15/2006 03:26:23 MDT Print View

I was just about to order the Hilleberg Atko when I discovered Stephenson Warmlight 2. These look/read impressive. The website doesn't look too professional and these tents cost a bomb ($US480). I see no reviews on my beloved BPL site - does anybody have any experience with this tent? I live in NZ and when above the bushline we can get some pretty nasty weather. Any advice?

David Bonn
(david_bonn) - F

Locale: North Cascades
Re: Light Weight 4 season Tent on 05/15/2006 08:14:38 MDT Print View

With respect to Stephenson Tents, there seem to be three kinds of people: people who find that they are fantastic and work very well, people who find they don't work well at all, and people like me who aren't willing to drop the dinero to experiment.

Seriously, I've traveled with a few people who love their tents. The designs are generally single-wall tents with clever ventilation tricks. The light weight is spectacular.

if you have ventilation problems with your current tent, you probably won't be very happy with these tents. They also seem to work best in colder temperatures, mostly because the ventilation is largely driven by the heat gradient between the (small) interior and the big cold outside.

By "cold" I mean "well below 0C". Freezing is merely "brisk."

So such a tent probably rocks on the Bagley Icefield in April but probably sucks in the Smokies in February.

kevin davidson
(kdesign) - F

Locale: Mythical State of Jefferson
Stephenson for NZ on 05/15/2006 10:17:01 MDT Print View

I like to think that NZ mtn. conditions are very much like our Pacific Northwest conditions--- at least as far as the S. Island goes.
The Stephenson Warmlite Tent 2R( not the X) will work as well or better than any tent on the market in such. I recommend the side windows option if you do go ahead and get the Stephenson--that in conjunction w/ the standard venting makes it one of the more effective tents in conditions where condensation can form . Top it off with the fact that you would be getting a far stronger tent for 4 season conditions--it's up to high elevation mtneering situations and far roomier than the Akto--- it is a 2 person shelter that a 6 footer plus can comfortably move around in. Absolute palatial for one.

Don't be put off by the website--- they are a quirky lot but their gear is (still after many years ) quite visionary, expedition proven and the cat's meow. The only drawback, as I see it, is it's high price.

Allison Miller
(kathor88) - F
Mainlander too on 05/15/2006 20:24:08 MDT Print View

I'm a South Islander who briefly owned a Stephenson's 2R with side windows. Sold it pretty fast as I didn't like it. I found the condensation to be excessive, and the design of the fly means you can't get in and out of the tent in the rain without getting the floor of the tent soaked. Also lacks insect mesh on the front door, so if you don't get the side windows, it turns into a sauna in warm weather if you need to keep insects at bay. The tent itself was also quite floppy on the inside so the inner walls hung down and got sleeping bags pretty wet from the condensation. Other than those complaints, it seemed pretty sturdy and roomy for the weight and should hold up to a decent amount of wind and rain if pitched well....I now use a Nallo 2 that I've modified to make it much lighter and better ventilated. The Nallo 2 suits my tramping needs better.

kevin davidson
(kdesign) - F

Locale: Mythical State of Jefferson
Perhaps David B. is right about 3 ... on 05/15/2006 21:30:20 MDT Print View

... kinds of people. Allison---sounds almost like we are talking about 2 different tents. The Stephenson I have had entree to over the last few years (my climbing partner's) is a very tight tent. What was the vintage of the 2R you briefly had?

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Light Weight 4 season Tent on 05/15/2006 21:37:35 MDT Print View

Take a look also at Sierra Designs Solomente tent.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Re: Light Weight 4 season Tent on 05/15/2006 23:59:56 MDT Print View

Ben, the Solomente looks very interesting. I'm looking for a shelter that's larger than my ID eVENT Unishelter bivy for use under certain conditions - primarily winter, but i'm also just curious about its warm weather performance. I'm not sure if it is a 4season shelter or just a cold weather/winter shelter (see question #1 below). Would you mind answering a few questions?

1. Does the Solomente provide any bug protection when the vestibule is open and the door is unzipped for maximum ventilation? I haven't been able to read anywhere if there is a mesh door and also mesh covered vents. Also, does it provide adequate ventilation on hot summer nights? What's the warmest night you've used it in thus far?

2. In practice, how breatheable is the Dri-Zone material? Please describe condensation issues and conditions producing it.

3. Can you compare it to eVENT, GTX, and/or Epic? [by this, i don't mean "numbers", but rather real-world experiences]

4. How waterproof (resistant???) is it to heavy rain?

5. How does it handle snow loading and wind given its pole configuration?

6. Have you cooked (alc., esbit, or canister gas) in the vestibule in inclement weather?

Many thanks in advance for your time and replies.

Robin McKay
(rlmckay) - M

Locale: Auckland NZ
Stephenson Tent on 05/16/2006 02:40:02 MDT Print View

Thanks guys for all those replies - Allison and Kevin have thrown a curved ball at me - Kevin, do want to comment on Allisons condensation and bug issues??? Will check out Solomente and Nallo2 (latter maybe to heavy?). For the record I had a Macpac Nautilus - great tent, too heavy - then a Terra Nova comet, solo. I now have a Tarptent (squall). The latter is a bit flimsy for NZs 3/4 season so looking to add a 4 season one to my gear-locker.

Scott Toraason
(kimot2)
Re: Stephenson Tent on 05/16/2006 12:04:34 MDT Print View

I own both the Stephenson’s 3R and 2R. One of the best things I purchased was their instructional video that taught me how to seal, pack, pitch, tighten, and break down the tent. For me the instructional and or informational video was absolutely necessary because Stephenson tents are different from traditional tents from their pre curved hollow poles to how their tents are sealed, pitched, and tightened.

My fully sealed 2R with side windows comes in at 3 lbs 3oz. That’s everything including space blanket ground cloth, 4 side window tie outs, and stuff sack, just not 3 stakes which vary on the destination. Every tent I have owned required that I unzip something to get through the front door. Although Stephenson’s does not have mosquito netting on the front door, it’s probably because the front door is already double-zippered for added strength and safety. Anyway, it’s never been a real problem for either water or bugs as you do not have to open the whole door to exit or enter.

I have had virtually zero condensation with my 3R and some condensation issues with the 2R in forty degree rainy weather with no wind and two people in the tent. The other issue is slickness of the sil nylon floor. For a few extra ounces, I’m considering the idea floated on this forum of coating the floor with a three to one ration of silicone sealant II and mineral spirits.

No tent is perfect, that’s why I have five. I would order Stephenson’s video if they still offer it as it was very helpful for me. There is a second half to the video, I never viewed it and no disrepect to the Stephensons intended; they are very upfront about their lifestyle and when to turn off the video if you don't wish to continue watching.

kevin davidson
(kdesign) - F

Locale: Mythical State of Jefferson
Stephenson Tents---Response to Robin on 05/16/2006 12:33:14 MDT Print View

Robin--- my experience with the 2R has been in higher elevation settings in the N.Cascades and our Strato-volcanoes, B.C. Coast Ranges, and the Sierra in all 4 seasons.

It seems that most of the negatives come from lower elevation use in warmer, humid conditions. The Stephenson is primarily an Alpine tent, and as such is designed for rougher, colder conditions. Most if not all alpine tents are going to have troubles in those conditions. In fact, I would venture to say that anything other than a net tent with a tarp or canopy over that( if raining), is going to struggle if high temperatures, no wind and high humidity are present ( say lows higher than 10 C plus high RH) . Personally, in such conditions---rare for what I do and where I'm doing it--- I use a tarp w/ a bug net rigged if necessary. Pitch site could make all the difference in how comfortable you might be --- picking an exposed site that could pick up the slightest of breezes could allow sufficient venting of the shelter and lowered condensation. Finally, I will say that many people have condensation issues not thru any inherent fault of the tent, but by user induced issues--- that's a topic of it's own.

Scott has good advice concerning the floor. Bugs have not been an issue as per Scott. I suppose that if it were my own tent and were using it on the Alaskan tundra, I would modify the door to have some netting on the door.
With all this said---what is my primary personal tent? A BD Lighthouse, which I have used under most of the same conditions. And that's yet another thread.

Edited by kdesign on 05/16/2006 12:51:22 MDT.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Solomente on 05/16/2006 12:46:41 MDT Print View

PJ:

Answering your questions:


1. Does the Solomente provide any bug protection when the vestibule is open and the door is unzipped for maximum ventilation?

The Solomente is designed for lightweight winter use. The four closeable vents are backed with no-see-um mesh, but NOT the door.


2. In practice, how breatheable is the Dri-Zone material? Please describe condensation issues and conditions producing it.

I have only tested this in my backyard -- 3 nights (slept in 1 of those nights) -- 48-50F, 75-80% humidity, and light rain in one of those nights. I had the vestibule deployed, door closed, and vents opened each night. There was not even a hint of moisture inside the tent on any of those nights. In contrast, the vestibule flap -- made with coated, non-breathable nylon -- was wet. I also set up my Rainbow tarptent for comparison -- the tarptent's ceiling/walls were very wet inside and out on all three nights (although the floor always managed to stay completely dry).


3. Can you compare it to eVENT, GTX, and/or Epic? [by this, i don't mean "numbers", but rather real-world experiences]

No, I can't compare the different fabrics. However, eVENT is moot since you supposedly can't buy them anymore (although I would surmise that eVENT will perform at least as well -- if not even better than -- SD's Drizone. Epic, as you know, is rain resistant, not rain proof. I tested a BD Firstlight once and found its rain resistance to last about 9 hours (BD claims a more modest 5).


4. How waterproof (resistant???) is it to heavy rain?

No experience yet in heavy rain, but the fabric is waterproof, not just water resistant. I would trust SD on this one.


5. How does it handle snow loading and wind given its pole configuration?

Again, no experience, but the poles are strong -- especially given the "jake's corner" at the foot end -- and the modified A design should be fairly effective in throwing off some of the snow. I believe this tent is good for N. America winter use, except for the fiercest climates where no one would even think of deploying a lightweight shelter.


6. Have you cooked (alc., esbit, or canister gas) in the vestibule in inclement weather?

The vestibule is very small, but is well designed. It will fit a medium size pack, a pair of poles, and boots. I would not want to cook under the vestibule -- unless I am desparate. Even then, I would probably use a canister stove where I can control the flame -- versus an alcohol stove where the flame can flare up.

Many thanks in advance for your time and replies.

You are welcome.

Allison Miller
(kathor88) - F
Horses for courses on 05/18/2006 19:52:30 MDT Print View

I think I partly just got a dud tent, and probably should have sent it back, but postage to NZ is prohibitive. No matter how taught the tent outer was pitched, the inner walls (where the side windows had been added) were saggy. It was clearly a sewing/manufacturing problem. The condensation...well I can only compare the 2RS to other tents I have used (which is quite a few), and it was the worst tent I have ever used. that's with 2 people, often in cold, still, frosty weather but also in wind and rain conditions. I even tried t with a vapour barrier (as per Stephensons' instructions) and found no improvement.

The bug issue is maybe just a minor one for most people provided you have the side windows and it's not blowing too hard to use them. Without the windows opened it becomes unbearably hot on sunny or still days if you have to keep the front door zipped up to prevent insects getting in.

If I had kept the tent I would have added a zip to the insect mesh on one of the side windows. This would allow covered entry/exit during rain, as well as a covered awning to cook under in the rain. The lack of a poper vestibule makes cooking in the rain inside this tent very dangerous. The extra zip wouldn't add much weight but would have added a lot more usability/comfort to the design.

Perfect tent? Not easy to find, but with some sewing know-how I have made a 3-season inner for the Nallo 2 out of nano-seeum netting and a silnylon floor. I have also swapped the aluminum poles for Fibraplex carbon fiber poles, so now have two tents. One for 3-season use weighs in at 1.6g (including 12 stakes). This insect net option allows for pitching of just the inner on really hot days when all you want is escape from the bugs. With the fly on it provides very good wind and rain protection that you can even cook under. With the original inner and poles it become a 2.1kg 4-season tent which is very warm and suffers little condensation in most situations. So not quite perfect, but pretty nice for the weight. The one thing about the Nallo which could be a problem is that it's not really made for tall folks, whereas the 2R has a lot more useable leg room. Oh yeah, I also added another top vent at the back of the Nallo 2 for increased airflow...