I recently took my new Hilleberg Unna spring snow camping on a short overnight to Pratt Mountain in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness 4/14/07 – 4/15/07, and then as a comparison took my Stephenson 2R on an overnight to Navaho Pass/Navaho Peak 4/26/07 – 4/27/07, across from the Stuart Range in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness located in Washington State. The summit on Pratt is 5,099 and I camped on a ridge at approximately 4,600 feet. Temperature was middle to low twenties, mild winds, snow depth four to five feet, and it snowed four inches during the night. Summit of Navaho Peak is 7,223 feet and I camped at Navaho Pass at 6,000 feet. Temperature was middle twenties to lower/middle thirties, winds up to 30 MPH at pass, and occasional light blowing snow. Snow depth varied from bare ground to three feet at pass.
Weight: (without stakes and ground sheet)
Unna 4lbs 1oz (27 square feet)
2R 3lbs 2 ½ oz (42 square feet)
The 2R requires three snow stakes, I use SMC TAanchors at one ounce each, that allows the necessary hold to stretch and tighten the tent with up to 60 pounds of pull through the front tension system if necessary in the worst weather. (Two additional side stakes can be used if a hard side wind hits.)The Unna requires up to 10 stakes to withstand worst weather and it takes time to pitch them out and to dig them all out in the snow.
Ease of set up:
Unna requires threading poles through sleeves and some going back and forth between both ends of the tent when there are sticking points especially at the cross over point at the center of the tent. Once poles are threaded into the closed ends tents goes up quickly.
The 2R goes up and is taken down much faster than the Unna and the 2R was very easy to set up and take down in gusty winds at the pass. (Spraying silicone on 2R poles prior to the trip as recommended by the Stephenson’s allows poles to easily connect and glide through the sleeves.) It has been stated that Stephenson tents have to be pitched perfectly, they need to be correctly pitched. The biggest mistake I feel that is being made is the tent is not being sufficiently stretched with the tension adjusters fully extended before being staked. Think of it as giving a slinky a really good stretch over a ten second period building up to a twenty pound plus pull. The other issue is having good stakes to handle the tension systems. No tent is perfect and there are a lot of reasons not to have a Stephenson tent, but they do not include being floppy in the wind and slowing collapsing during the course of the night, these results happen because of mistakes in pitching and are not a deficiency in the tent.
The 2R pole sections are one inch shorter than the Unna’s and the overall packed dimensions of the 2R are much less. The 2R just takes up less room in you pack, weighs less, and requires that you carry less stakes. Comments that have been made that Stephenson poles are like water pipes really miss the point here.
So what does the Unna do well? The Unna provided an excellent cold weather environment in which I experienced zero condensation. The Unna comfortably held me and all my gear (inside) and at just under six feet tall I had plenty of head room to sit up. The Unna is a luxury one person tent but I wonder about its’ summer application do to the limited venting options for hot weather or perhaps the interior fabric is more breathable that I suspect, however for early spring, fall, or winter it appears the Unna would do well.
The 2R appears to be a more versatile 4 season tent with side widows for summer weather and wins with ease of set up, less weight, more square footage, (will more easily hold two people) and less pack volume. Be that as it may, the 2R runs cooler in the winter because of its’ single wall ends and despite its’ 42 square feet, the Unna makes up for that a bit by utilizing its’ interior space better including better head room which for the 2R is located under the front pole.
Condensation can be an issue for the 2R because it does not have the interior volume and one less vent than the 3R. I did experience minor condensation during my trip with the 2R on the single wall ends when I awoke that quickly evaporated in the morning.
Another wild card is the Unna’s Kelron fly fabric that is more sun resistant than the coated parachute fabric of the 2R which is why the Stephenson’s preach taking their tents down during the day or finding covered/partly covered campsites.
These are two totally different tents and I’m glad I have both. The 2R sheds the wind and snow and has excelled in early spring snow camping in windy mountain environments. Our 3R has performed very well as our 2R also would have, just wanted more interior room, in high alpine summer/fall environments.
The Unna is a superb one person environment that I will definitely use for winter trips. I have only used the Unna once and will continue to take it out on trips throughout the year to see how it performs.