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Stephenson 2C Tent Review - Part 1
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Maia Jordan
(maia) - MLife

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Stephenson 2C Tent Review - Part 1 on 11/26/2013 20:39:26 MST Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Stephenson 2C Tent Review - Part 1

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Re: Stephenson 2C Tent Review - Part 1 on 11/27/2013 05:17:20 MST Print View

Having used the 2R for many years, I have found the wind stabilizers to be unnecessary in any forested camp site. I have been through some pretty bad storms (+80mph registered at the local airport, well, a field actually), a tornado (with trees crashing down not far from where we camped) and several down bursts. It stood up well with no damage, and, no wind stabilizers. Easily, the winds exceeded the 40mph you mention.

Staking is not a huge problem either. The one stake at the foot end seems very impractical, but the angle of the shorter roof out to the stake is very low. Most of the stress is across the ground, not pulling up. It is easily possible to angle the stake to a 90 degree angle to that stress and plant it that way. I use 4 .2oz shepherds hooks with this tent. Two are sometimes planted in the rear on softer ground (loam & forest duff) but generally I only use one. It has never come down.

The quality of the seaming really worried me. I was used to felled seams, especially along the ridge. After seam sealing, though, they have not opened up. They remain well sealed. They do look messy as hell, though, functionally, they work.

The ventilation IS a problem above freezing to around 40-50F (around 8-12C.) Condensation is BAD with this tent. It has one top vent and two low vents. We also have the "windows" on the sides. In cooler weather, we crack the windows for a 6" vent along each side. It seems to help a little. But generally, after two or three days of rain, our gear is damp. No the tent does not leak, and protects against the rain. But in long periods of rain, everything gets damp much faster than in the Exped Sirius (to remain within the same class of tent.) I suspect the small volume lets condensation occur as the air is being vented out due to the high humidity of having two people in the tent. I suspect it will be a bit worse in the 2c. The liner only masks this since condensation usually occurs, mostly, on the outside layer.

Warmth goes down with ventilation. Unlike the Sirius, with it's 2 top vents, we don't stay very warm. I doubt there is more than 5-6 degrees differential between inside and outside air. With the 6" side vents open, the top vent, and the two low vents, we do get enough air change to reduce overall humidity, if not condesation, but that means a loss of heat in the tent, too. In the 32F/0c to 45F/~10C temp range, we never bring this tent, opting for the heavier Exped. Colder or warmer, weight trumps the condensation and we bring it...

Inaki Diaz de Etura
(inaki) - MLife

Locale: Iberia highlands
Re: Stephenson 2C Tent Review - Part 1 on 11/27/2013 08:11:23 MST Print View

I've been using a 2C for a few years now. Still not too sure about wind worthiness... I've got significant deflection on the rear pole in an exposed location with a strong, side wind but the tent came out undamaged. I'd say the tent was correctly set and properly tensioned but who knows... such cases have been historically attributed to user error and I have no idea how 30 or 60 lbs feel like to the touch. I wasn't using the wind stabilizers because my tent came without them (I had them added later but no such strong, lateral winds have happened after that)

Agree about the condensation issue. In cold, saturated environments it can get really damp inside. I use it solo so it's manageable. The middle, double wall section does help, it's quite common that the condensation is only found on the single wall ends but sometimes it's so heavy it can be found all over the place, including the floor.

It's a truly spartan tent, which is fine with me (I was looking for the lightest, wind and winter worthy tent I could find) but even so I sometimes miss little commodities as a place to leave dirty, smelly shoes, wet gear... a loop for hanging whatever... it's not a complaint though. The lack of vestibule is certainly something to get used to and cooking inside is something I try to avoid and do with extreme care, if unavoidable.

I was initially shocked by the apparently cheap construction but I must trust it is meant that way because it is strong enough. No problems so far.

I got the simplest door option, zipped only on one side. It's a bit uncomfortable. The two side zipped door (as the model in the review) is probably worth the extra weight.

The 2C is too small to be comfortable for two in the long run but it's excellent for one as far as room goes and it's light enough for solo use. It is my tent of choice for harsh environments and I don't think I would find a better one.

Mathieu Fagnan
(MFagnan) - M
Stephenson 2C Tent Review - Part 1 on 11/27/2013 13:06:14 MST Print View

I have been using a 2R for a bit for high altitude mountaineering. I'll post my comments after the part 2 of this review. However, I have been considering the get 2C or the 3C and was wondering if 2 full size pads (20x72) fits without overlap in the 2C ?


Tim Hawthorne

Locale: Southwest
Comments on Stephenson 2C tent review on 11/27/2013 16:11:35 MST Print View

Nice Article so far. I have been using the 2R and 2X for more than 25 years and they are still in good nick. I like the 2R and 2X better because of the additional space. I have camped in several inches of snow without any problems except I woke up every couple hours to kick the snow off from the inside with my stocking feet. I have a few comments about the tent.

Anchors: I have never needed to double stake the lone rear stake. I merely take and use the appropriate stake for the terrain and weather. An ice axe works well in ice and snow. The 9" Easton stake works real good on most occasions. Stuff sacks filled with sand and buried, or a large rock 60 lbs. or more works great. In many campouts I have never had an anchor pull lose. In addition, ten stakes are rarely needed. I have most often gotten by with just three.

Diagonals: I have never needed these straps, even in winds up to 60 mph. It is nice to have them just in case. With the longer tents they are not so much in the way.

Cooking: I like to open the double zipper door on my newer tent and support it on each corner with my trekking poles. This makes a nice open rain covered area to cook more safely. Some of the tents had a single zipper where this did not work as well but good still be propped up on one corner for cooking. Cooking totally inside requires practice and experience. Knowing your stove and what makes it flare up is important. I almost always try to light the stove outside the tent.

Seam strength: The seams on both of my tents have held up very well. I inspect them after each trip and keep them covered in fresh seam seal if there is any wear. They may not be works of art but for me they work.

Sylnylon: Because the sylnylon floor is so slippery, I have placed a silicone dot on top of the floor about every foot. This helps keep your pad from slipping away all night.

Wet clothing: Good point about wet clothing. I make a practice of not taking it into any tent. I put my wet gear in a kitchen size laundry bag. I then leave that outside until morning. Precipitation can be a big problem in any tent and requires extra ventilation, which is extra cooling to reduce. It is also a good idea to keep your body heat from getting high while in the tent also.

Pointed ends in the tent design: If this is a problem, you should consider the 2R or 2X tents that are 24" longer.

Thin walled poles: I keep reading about this problem but have never had it with either of my tents. It sounds to me like a problem of not being careful with the poles. Remember, your life could depend on your poles so take good care of them.

Lightweight construction: I know some lightweight campers who go through a new tent every couple of years. If you are not careful with ultra light gear, you might want to consider heavier more durable materials and construction.

Michael Sherman
(micshe) - M
2-Stake Technique? on 11/27/2013 16:15:05 MST Print View

Simple question: how do you place 2 Groundhogs to share a 60 pound load on the rear stake out point?

Eric Kammerer
(EricKammerer) - MLife
Pre-curved poles on 11/27/2013 16:38:36 MST Print View

I've been using a 5R for over a decade on family trips. One thing to note: if the pre-curved sections are not properly aligned, they lose a lot of strength and will snap quite easily in even moderate winds.

Sam Farrington
(scfhome) - M

Locale: Chocorua NH, USA
Warmlite 2C on 11/27/2013 20:38:36 MST Print View

At last check, the inner walls of the WL tunnel tents were not vapor permeable.
But that may have changed. It would be a plus for the article to clarify this.

Also at last check, the front and rear cones were single wall only. It would help to clarify if that is also the case. Sorry if I missed it.

Not only was Jack one of the first cottage manufacturers, he dared to put curvatures into his tent structures where many other cottagers till fear to tread (TarpTent excepted). In the early days, the Jackpack was also part of the line, along with the sleeping bags, tents and other products, all packed with a feast of imaginative ideas that he came up with. A profoundly admirable enterprise, I think. Testimony to this is that BPL is doing a 3 part article on a design that dates back around half a century.

But recognizing the never ending demand for progress, here are some improvements that would increase weight only slightly and might be considered:

1. Replace the current poles with Easton 344s (aka Nanolites), prebent to Jack's curvatures before tempering to T9. The current Warmlite poles, especially the rear ones, can easily be bent by hand and have not much inherent longitudinal strength. The heavier Easton 340s weigh about .5 oz per running foot, and based on that, the lighter Nanolites would not be much heavier than the current Warmlites. The dilemma, of course, is how to get Easton to do that with their insistence on large wholesale orders, requiring a very substantial investment from a cottage manufacturer.

2. Add reinforced loops along the tent sleeves the right distance below the apexes, so that guys can run from both loops/hoops to join at one stake point on each side of the tent, in order to stabilize it against winds coming at the sides of the tent. The would only require two more stakes, and might eliminate the need for the inconvenient internal guys.

3. Make the inner wall vapor permeable if not already. That would actually lighten the tent. And add some internal venting to the inner wall just inside the pole sleeves so air can circulate between the walls. Some high quality netting would suffice for this. The catalogs contain Jack's explanations why the double vapor barrier walls are better, including the point that they don't absorb water making the tent much easier to pack and carry; but still, this alternative might be considered. Maybe the inner wall could be light denier polyester, which absorbs less water than nylon. Feeling less smothered might help with Ryan's psychological distress.

4. Place some triangular gussets between the top sides of the door and the top front of the cone walls, in order to provide additional rain cover when the door is used as an awning with trekking pole support. The gussets could be detachable on one side allowing them to be rolled up when not in use. Then the floor could be made detachable with buckles at the front so it could be rolled back a bit when not needed for sleeping. This would allow for safer cooking 'outside' the tent floor in protected areas.

Some food for thought, I hope.

John Duncan Coolidge
(DuncanC) - MLife
Cooking inside a Warmlite, etc... on 11/28/2013 14:57:53 MST Print View

Get some nylon tape and stitch a loop adjacent to the apex of the front pole pocket onto a fold in the inner liner. It should readily hold a Jetboil with the hanging system given the snow load capacity of the tent. The condensation is always an issue in a small tent, but I would rather have it be where it can mop it up with a lightweight towel than have it hidden outside a permeable liner and condensed onto the outer waterproof layer where I will be obliged to carry it. Too it is another argument for using vapor barrier garments. It would be ideal if your exhaled breath could be vented to the outside. I started using Warmlite tents back in '72 while living in Hawaii. It served us flawlessly for years and was finally replaced with another with side windows. Biking around the Olympic Peninsula and down the coast to California, swimming and hiking the north coast of Molokai, swimming from Waipio to Waimanu valley on the island Hawaii, biking the Big Island, multiple hikes in the Kau Desert down to Halape that no longer exists due to seismic action, and leading multiple high school student overnight hikes into the mountains of Oahu. If you can learn to manage the water vapor you will have the best tent available which was designed by a Hughes Aircraft aeronautical engineer. The construction was of state of the art materials and it remains so today. Regards, Duncan

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
WHAT?? no pics of nekked female Stephensons? on 12/01/2013 00:44:44 MST Print View

I'm sorely disappointed! (In the lack of the aforementioned pics.)

But as a design, well several tent makers have similar shapes. I'm not as enamored of Stephenson's tents as I used to be in the '80s. Plus too fragile for my taste. But they were pioneers of light tents that had wind-worthy designs.

I'm going with the TT Moment DW for winter solo and a modded TT Scarp 2 for two people in winter - both with crossing poles for snow load safety.

Edited by Danepacker on 12/03/2013 19:17:10 MST.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: WHAT?? no pics of nekked female Stephensons? on 12/01/2013 13:17:36 MST Print View

Oh yes, those girls. The Stephensons were nudists as well.

Can I spoil your dreams? Those nude girls are now all Grandmas!


Kevin Schneringer
(Slammer) - MLife

Locale: Oklahoma Flat Lands
So is Eric on 12/01/2013 13:31:28 MST Print View

Well I guess Eric ages well for a Grandpa....

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Re: 2-Stake Technique? on 12/01/2013 14:09:11 MST Print View

It really doesn't require a direct load of 60lbs on the stakes. The angle of the roof as it comes over the poles allows the pressure on the stakes to be much decreased.

For example:
Tent explanation
Note that the angle of incidence between the front pole and the rear stake is low. This means the pressure is roughly 2x or 3x as great on the roof as on the stake. Don't get confused by staking pressure and roof tensoin on the fabric.

There is a "web" for attaching the stake near the back. I simply stretch this out about 8-12" and stick in two stakes rather than one. You might need to adjust with the tensioner, though. Yeah, all stakes on that tent have about 8" of tension adjustment.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Stephenson grandmas on 12/03/2013 19:22:54 MST Print View

Well Roger you WOULD have to remind me that those Stephenson girls are now grannies! Can't a guy wish for maybe - daughters? (Yeah, I'm a Dirty Old Man.)

But I suppose gravity and carbs have taken their inevitable toll on those former beauties.

When you're right Roger, you're right. (sigh)

Mary Omodei
(momodei) - M
Re: Warmlite 2C on 04/03/2014 19:25:59 MDT Print View

Gussets for 2R now used in winter and summer conditions - we are both great engineers eh Samuel? I have gusseted most of the tents I have acquired/made. I can't work out how to attach an image of the gusseted 2R to this thread.

Steven Duby
(JHypers) - M

Locale: Interior Alaska
Re: Cooking in the 2C on 04/16/2014 17:05:10 MDT Print View

I would argue that one of the best uses for the 2C is as a 1-person winter tent, so with that use in mind I will explain my setup for cooking on the tent floor. Please keep this in mind as an "extreme conditions" option.

First, the cooking system: MSR Wind Pro II w/ wind screen & reflector, Open Country 2L kettle, small closed-cell foam pad. I also have a foam cozy for the gas canister.

I set this up right next to my sleeping bag. With the remote canister and inversion option, I can adjust the setup according to the conditions. I arbitrarily peg the minimum cold-start temperature for Isobutane/Propane at -10F, so if the outside temperature is any colder than that I'll warm it up in my jacket for 15 minutes before starting the stove. After the initial priming of the pre-heat tube is done, I invert the canister for liquid feed. This is essential for faster boiling at subzero temperatures. If the temps are really cold, the fuel line is long enough to where I can actually keep the canister in my sleeping bag for additional warmth.

When the stove is on, I open one side of the door to allow more ventilation. If it starts to feel a bit uneasy inside, I simply stick my head out the door for fresh air.

The foam pad & heat reflector protect the silnylon floor of the 2C, while the windscreen serves as a barrier to any potential flare-ups. I would only consider compressed gas systems for inside the 2C. A white gas stove is too much of a risk in my opinion, and upright stoves like the PocketRocket have the flame exposed and are prone to tipping over.

A Jetboil or MSR Reactor might seem enticing given their hanging capability, however as was previously discussed, the cord loop at the front pole apex is no good. Having tried this with my own system (PocketRocket inside an Ortik Heat It hanging kit), I found that it almost touches the floor. Plus unless your head is to the rear of the tent, thus giving yourself very little room to sit up, the stove will be hanging right in your face.

Given that I enjoy being settled into my tent while cooking after a long day of winter travel, for a 2C or any Stephenson tent I don't see a better option than a remote/inversion canister stove.