Well I bit the bullet and purchased this tent. I thought much about what was said here and I realized that I'm just not ready to commit to the idea of a mesh tent and tarp. What I found was something that is relatively light and definitely fiddle free. So here is my review, I hope that it may prove useful for anyone looking at this tent or it's even lighter sister.
Size: Just right unless you are over 6'
When I first pitched the tent I was worried, the length appears quite small from the outside. The footprint of the tent in general isn't very large. Inside was a different story. Length is perfect for me. With the end of my sleeping bag near or just barely touching the foot end of the tent I have just enough room to store my backpack wedged between the tent wall and my air mattress. I'm 5'11" using 2.5" air mattress for reference. I have no real worries of touching the tent wall at the feet because it is double walled there, with a sizeable vent right above your feet. The head end is where you'd want to be careful especially when humidity is high, that part is single wall construction.
Width is just fine for 2 standard 20" pads with a few inches to spare on either side. Though, I don't think the foot end is wide enough to accommodate two sleepers on wide mattresses.
In height, you have all you need and more The vertical poles are 46" and you only lose a couple of inches in that from the catenary cut of the fabric at the peak. The foot pole also helps give you plenty of usable space in the foot area. I use a Exped Downmat and had no worries about contacting my bag with the ceiling in that part of the tent.
Vestibules: A bit different but work great
Space is not enormous but is enough to stand a pack up in and keep it completely out of the elements in its standard configuration. The gear closet (that's what SD calls it) can be used in three configurations. The "door" can be clipped back against the fly to provide easier access and more ventilation in calm weather. It can be clopped just to the side of the door to form a sort of right triangle. This is how it will probably be used most. There is also an option to clip the door section in so that it increases the space by blocking about a third of the door. The doors here are quite large so while not ideal, it isn't a huge hindrance for entry and exit.
Coming from a clip-flashlight style tent I can say that these vestibules are a vast improvement. I'll never miss trying to writhe my way across packs while avoiding a wet and dripping rain fly in a pitch black potty run.
Pitch: Quick and easy without any fiddling about.
Tent goes up quick and dry. Process is as follows: Spread tent out> Stake four corners> Install foot pole> Install one side vertical pole> Stake out vestibule> repeat on other side> stake out foot vent guy line> stake out head end guy line> adjust tension on stakeout points and guy lines
All stake out points use line locks and a very small diameter cordage making it easy to pitch in rocky soil where you might not be able to drive your stake in the exact right place. Included guy out lines also utilize the same cordage and the triangular micro tensioners. According to the instructions the guy-out at the head end is optional unless in strong winds. I plan to use it all of the time. The extra tensioning on that fabric panel and the extra headroom far outweigh the few grams I would save by leaving it at home.
I haven't had a chance yet to try pitching with my trekking poles yet, but I don't foresee any problems there. I do like that when using trekking poles the handles are up instead of in the dirt as with some other tents I've seen.
The only issue I could find was that there was some floppiness in the roof and in the overhangs on the door. All lines were tight and the ridges were tensioned, but I think with the amount of unsupported fabric on the roof, there’s just no way to keep it flap free. I don’t see it as a problem, but it is noteworthy.
Ventilation: Great though not yet thoroughly tested
My first and only test so far wasn’t exactly a difficult test of condensation resistance. New Mexico dry air with a slight breeze, though I was only about 15 feet from a small river. No signs of condensation anywhere. As mentioned previously, there’s a decently sized mesh panel right above your feet. Mesh continues along the upper portion of the side walls until you get to the door. The solid inner window leaves about a triangle of mesh about 4 inches in height exposed even when fully zipped up. The wall between the tent and the gear closets is just a big mesh panel. The windows can be zipped up for privacy or weather protection or down for maximum ventilation. Even with the single wall construction of the roof I don’t see condensation being a big problem here, there’s just too many places for humid air to escape.
Construction: Outstanding, especially for the price
Let get this out of the way first; this tent is not cuben and it’s not silnylon either. That pretty much removes it from the radar for a great number of people here. It weighs in a bit shy of 4 pounds. Not UL but not something I would call heavy either.
OK, now that that’s out of the way… There are a number of weight-saving, smart ideas in this tent. Small diameter cordage, line locs, and micro tensioners are used instead of fixed solid webbing. The gear closet clips with a very lightweight center release buckle. None of these things are generally found in a tent at this price range. I also like the small hang loop above the door at the peak on each side. This means you can hang a flashlight/lantern easily or even string up a clothes line.
The only place it feels like they skimped to save a few dollars in in the stakes. It’s listed to include their hex pegs but mine just came with standard thick aluminum shepherd hooks (think Kelty Nobendium). Needless to say they went into storage with the car camping stuff and were replaced with some old Moss branded Groundhog stakes. (You just can’t kill those things!)
Conclusion: A great lightweight tent at a great price
While I’ve only spent a night in it so far, I’m pretty pleased with my purchase. It fits my needs and my budget. I would certainly give it my recommendation to anyone who might be considering it, especially with one of the frequently available 20% off coupons from REI or Campsaver.
BTW, thanks to everyone who chimed in on the OP. you gave me a lot to think about and consider as I looked for what would best suit my needs and wants.