by Stuart Bilby | 2004-10-11 03:00:00-06
GoLite Den 2 Mt. Adams, New Zealand
The GoLite Den 2 is a two-hoop single skin tent with insect mesh doors at each end. It also has nylon doors to allow it to be closed completely in stormy conditions.
• Tent Type
|single wall with floor|
• Fabric Description
• Weight Full Package
• Weight Minimum Package
• Floor Area
• Floor Area/Minimum Weight Ratio
|0.59 ft2/oz (1.8 m2/kg) using Backpacking Light measured values.|
• Vestibule Area (rear vestibule)
|3.3 ft2 (0.31 m2)|
Pole sleeve - closed end
Pole sleeve - open end with grommets
Setup of the Den 2 is straightforward. This shelter is not freestanding, but two pegs (one at each end) are enough to hold it up. To complete setup, stake two more guylines at the front, then stake each of the four corners to stretch out the floor and add stability.
The two pole sleeves are closed at one end, so the poles are pushed in from the open end and the exposed pole tip is slipped into a grommet. There are two adjacent grommets (see photo) that make it possible to take up the slack from the stretch that occurs in wet silnylon.
The Den 2 is a relatively simple tent with few features or options. It has no pockets, front vestibule, or additional side guy outs. It has a small rear vestibule with zippered access door. The full nylon doors on front and rear allow for privacy when necessary, while the mesh doors allow for extra ventilation with insect protection. It comes with three well-sized stuff sacks for poles, pegs and tent.
The poles are Easton pre-bent 78HS hard-anodized aluminum. They fold to 22.8 inches long with a rubber Shokcord, which the manufacturer claims is good to -40 °F. The guylines are medium weight black braided nylon.
My initial reaction was to wonder why this tent was so much heavier than the similarly sized Tarptent Cloudburst. However, on closer examination it has many additional features:
While definitely not the lightest of the tents Backpacking Light reviewed, the Den 2 uses stronger materials than the typical 1.3 oz/yd2 silnylon used in many ultralight tents. It is a solid, roomy, two-person tent that is lighter than a traditional, freestanding backpacking tent.
There is pretty much only one way to pitch the Den 2. With this tent, it's important to put the rear of the tent into the wind for greater stability. Some days I needed to choose between pitching it with my head uphill or the aerodynamic, low end into the wind.
With the vertical sides and overhanging ends, all the interior space is quite usable. The tapering floor plan provides a generous area around the head/door end where it is most useful. The nearly vertical sidewalls make for plenty of room for two people.
The tent has a single vestibule at the foot end. It is low and small; too small to keep a pack in, and the rain tends to drive into it. However, it is useful for keeping items like muddy shoes out of the rain. Wriggling down to the entrance at the low end of the tent to retrieve something from the vestibule requires some contortions. When the tent walls were covered in condensation, I always ended up with a wet head or back.
The leaning hoop at the front of the tent creates a small porch and on rainy days, with little wind, this acts as useful temporary storage. In wet weather it also gives a useful dry space for stripping off and storing wet gear while entering the tent.
The Den 2 lacks any side pegs or tie outs. This makes for very large side panels that do not achieve a taut wrinkle-free pitch, especially when set up on uneven ground. In strong winds, the side panels tend to deflect in against the sleeper on the windward side. There is also quite a tendency for the wind to get under the big side panels and lift the floor. The large panels flap in moderate winds and the large, blunt front end of the Den 2 reduces its resistance to very high winds.
I experienced significant deflection in winds over 30 mph, particularly when winds hit the shelter sideways. The solid build of the Den 2 prevented any damage to the tent or bending of the tent poles in high winds. The tent recovered quickly from significant deflection.
The seams are not sealed, but the SilLite™ is water-repellent and the water tends to bead and run off before it seeps through. Despite many nights in heavy rain, I have not observed any seepage along the seams. The rear is thoroughly rain resistant. The front can be zipped up to repel any storm, although ventilation is very limited with the nylon doors zipped up.
The tent has bug netting at both ends and no other ventilation. Opening and closing the mesh or silnylon doors controls ventilation.
This tent suffers from the condensation issues that all single wall non-breathable tents have. In still, humid, and cool conditions condensation can be very heavy. Even during heavy rain, though, if both doors are left open and there is a little breeze then the inner walls will often remain dry. When condensation forms, it leads to the dreaded spatter, where rain drops hitting the outside of the tent or wind gusts, shake little droplets of water onto the weary sleeper. I very rarely closed the nylon doors because to do so was to invite heavy condensation in most conditions.
The Den 2 has effective complete bug protection with full mesh doors at each end. Having large mesh doors at both ends of the shelter helps to make life bearable when hiding from bugs inside the GoLite shelter.
With its solid SilLite™ fabric and strong 6,000 millimeter PU-coated nylon floor, the Den 2 is significantly more durable than the lightest ultralight tents, although this comes at the expense of added weight. I feel a lot more comfortable using it with boisterous kids than I do my light silnylon shelters. The detailing and seams are well thought out and the tent is solidly built with strong guy out points and stiff aluminum poles. I experienced no damage or signs of wear during testing.
This tent is well priced for a solid, lightweight, single wall non-breathable tent. It is a pleasure to set up and is well-sized for two people. If you are looking for a simple, lightweight tent but don't want to give up insect protection, a tough floor, and the durability of a traditional tent, the $199 GoLite Den 2 is a good value.
If you need to access items out the back door, be sure to turn yourself around at the front of the tent first, especially when you have condensation in the tent.
As soon as you can, swap out the GoLite stakes. Titanium pegs are much lighter and easier to work with than those provided by GoLite.
While I appreciated the additional durability of the heavier fabrics, the GoLite Den 2 could certainly lose some ounces by switching to lighter silnylon, at least for the upper part of the tent.
To increase wind stability, a tie out on each side would be a welcome addition. A hanging pocket at the front of each side would help with organization inside the tent, especially without a usable front vestibule.
Finally, a beak or other type of front vestibule would help with gear storage on rainy nights. As it is, you must either sleep with your gear, leave it outside, or hope that it stays dry in the rear mini-vestibule.
By eliminating the rear dual doors and zippers, switching to a lighter fabric for the tent body, and adding a front vestibule and side guy outs, GoLite would be able to increase the versatility of the Den 2 without a net weight increase.
"GoLite Den 2 Tent REVIEW," by Stuart Bilby. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/golite_den_2_tent_review.html, 2004-10-11 03:00:00-06.