Full write-up with more pics here:
I loved my Big Agnes Fly Creek 1 Platinum dearly. It was home for a while! It's a beautiful tent and I never had a problem with it. But... I met a girl! The only flaw was the "1" next to the name...
So, I decided to diversify my holdings. I traded the Fly Creek 1 Platinum for a Fly Creek 3 (thanks, Mike!) and the lady and I tested it out, and she liked the idea of the tent but didn't particularly covet the Fly Creek. I, on the other hand, found the Fly Creek 3 to be absolutely monstrous in size, way too big for my solo ambitions.
I sold the Fly Creek 3 (thanks, Kim!) and bought a Borah Gear Snowyside full e-Vent Bivy and loved it, and I used the remaining $100 to get...
A cheap tent. Stoic Templum 2.1.
The tent is heavier than most tents, but not by that much, actually. A Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2 has 29 square feet, and the Stoic Templum has 30 square feet, so it's just as roomy as the competition. The Copper Spur's weight is 3lb 2oz, and the Templum comes in at 4.75oz with stakes, tent body, tent poles, and tent fly.
Overall, I was impressed with the quality. I would be hard-pressed to do better than $96. I know it's on sale, but Backcountry sales on Stoic gear are so regular and predictable, I just wait for sales. They'll come.
You can see some reinforcing fabric sticking out here. Not 100% clean. However, all the seams are doubled and feel perfect in the stitching and strength. There's also an extra webbing loop there, which I can (and will) cut out carefully. I can't, for the life of me, figure out what it's intended for.
The hook to hold the tent poles in place feels kind of flimsy. It also feels like a solid ounce. Tsk, tsk.
I took a pair of wire cutters and sliced right through the hook and removed it, leaving the webbing loop intact. The tent came with two silnylon tying straps for when it was rolled up; one of those makes a fine tie for the poles. A nice little bow on top!
Low-quality zipper pulls will be replaced.
It took one minute to set up. very easy. The tent fly is white, so stealth camping is going to be difficult to impossible, but that's ok! For my intended purpose, white is actually perfect; we'll stay cool and comfortable on lazy summer mornings. It's entirely livable!
So, without the extras like the footprint, loft, and stuff sacks, we're looking at a tent that is competitive with everything under the $300 cap, and *close* to the Big Agnes flagship in the same design (two door, two vestibule rectangular).
I know cost is a poor metric of measurement in quality or function, and I don't want to purport that the Templum is somehow "better." It's not. However, it does make me wonder at the marketing that goes into free-standing tents as a modifier of price. Other than a slightly heavier weight set of poles, this tent can be considered nearly identical to a more expensive tent. Manufacturing lighter poles doesn't seem unreasonably more complicated, so what I'm paying for is the DAC logo.
So, that's why I'm kind of in two camps at the moment (no pun intended):
Option 1: Buy Cottage Gear. This is going to be minimalist, lightweight, custom fit to purpose, and the price will be un-inflated. Plus, you get to support American and Canadian businesses.
Option 2: Slash price by going with the lowest-common-denominator tent I'm comfortable with, and sacrifice some quality but maintain function. The Templum is functionally the same for me as a Big Agnes.
I used to have an Option 3. Option 3 was to go with the highest quality shelter manufactured by the big-box companies as a combination of quality and light weight, but after seeing this tent come so close for a fraction of the price, I no longer think that's a good idea. I pay a lot for something that still can't match the weight and packability of a cottage product, and I pay through the nose for the brand.
Reminds me of the (infamous?) Sierra Designs Cuben UFO. All marketing, all hype, no value.
I'm finally coming to my senses on cottage gear, and now it's hard to look elsewhere...