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Mountain Hardwear EV2 Tent REVIEW

Roomy two-person mountaineering tent with fire retardant waterproof/breathable canopy fabric of pre-stretched polyester.

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by Alan Dixon | 2005-08-03 03:00:00-06


Mountain Hardwear EV2 Single Wall Mountaineering Tent - 1
The Mountain Hardwear EV2 is loaded with high tech materials and design: strong Atlas Scandium SL pole set with new floating connectors, low-stretch VX-O2 panels follow pole lines and reinforce side panel tie outs. The idea is that together they create a strong truss-like system to support the tent in high winds and heavy snow loads. The main canopy is a waterproof/breathable, fire-retardant (nice!), pre-stretched polyester.

The EV2 may be the lightest two-person, three-pole mountaineering/expedition tent on the market. Many new high tech (and expensive) materials contribute to weight savings. The EV2, even with its few flaws, is our first choice for a fast and light ascent tent. The Atlas Scandium SL poles and low-stretch reinforcing panels on the canopy create a surprisingly solid structure for the weight. Five vents and the waterproof/breathable, fire retardant canopy fabric do a credible job of managing condensation. The EV2 is one of the easiest tents we've pitched, mountain or otherwise. With the built-in vestibule, we found the tent had more than enough room for us and our gear to comfortably wait out a day long Patagonian storm of high winds with horizontal rain, sleet, and snow.

In Brief

  • Just over 5 lbs with vestibule - possibly the lightest tent in its class
  • Roomy for a two-person mountaineering tent with good area to weight ratio
  • Easy and extremely fast to pitch with exoskeleton poles and clip attachments
  • Strong, light Atlas Scandium SL poles with field serviceable floating connectors
  • High tech fabric/design: low stretch structural panels follow pole/stress lines. Fire retardant waterproof/breathable canopy fabric of pre-stretched polyester (meets fire resistant code for tents!)
  • Five vents and waterproof/breathable canopy fabric provide good condensation resistance for a single walled tent
  • We were unable to get a completely taut canopy pitch
  • Less resistant to heavy snow loads than heavier four-pole mountaineering tents (especially true with the older Easton pole set)


• Tent Type

Single wall, three-pole, mountaineering/expedition tent with built-in vestibule

• Fabric Description

CanopyConduit FR 2.9 oz/yd2 (98 g/m2) high tenacity pre-stretched polyester (the fire retardant FR fabric it less breathable than standard Conduit but meets code for fire retardance for dwellings so the tent can be sold in the states). This is a very expensive fabric!
Structure stabilizing panelsDimension Polyant VX-02. The 1.6 oz/yd2 (54 g/m2) VX-02 is a low stretch laminated fabric with reinforcing fibers. It has a coating for UV resistance.
FloorSuperlite 2000, a 70d nylon taffeta (more durable than ripstop and pitches better). The polyether urethane coating in the floor is hydrophobic and more durable than the hydrophilic urethane coating used on most tent floors.

• Weight Full Package
As supplied by manufacturer with stuff sacks, stakes, guylines, etc.

Body3 lb 13.6 oz (1.75 kg)
Easton poles1 lb 3.3 oz (0.55 kg)
[Atlas poles][1 lb 5.6 oz (0.61 kg)]
10 stakes, 3 stuff sacks, guylines, 10 cord locks11.0 oz (0.31 kg)
Total weight5 lb 11.9 oz (2.61 kg)
Backpacking Light scale (poles & body)Manufacturer claim (poles & body)
5 lb 0.9 oz (2.30 kg) Easton poles4 lb 14 oz (2.21 kg)
5 lb 3.2 oz (2.36 kg) Atlas poles4 lb 14 oz (2.21 kg)

• Weight Minimum Package
Includes tent body and fly, minimum necessary stakes and guylines, no stuff sacks or extra hardware

Backpacking Light minimum Manufacturer supplied minimum
Tent body, fly, poles, 12 titanium stakes: eight 0.25 oz (7 g) stakes and four 0.4 oz (11 g) stakes; and 16 ft (4.8 m) Triptease cord with 2 cordlocks.
Stakes and guyline = 4.2 oz (120 g)
Tent body, fly, poles, 10 Y stakes, 16 ft (4.8 m) guyline with 2 cordlocks.
Stakes and guyline = 6.2 oz (177 g)
Note: manufacturer supply is 2 stakes short of requirement for a good pitch
5 lb 7.4 oz (2.49 kg) Atlas poles 5 lb 9.4 oz (2.55 kg) Atlas poles

• Floor/ Vestibule Area

Floor area Vestibule area
31 ft2 (2.88 m2) Built-in (included in floor area)

• Floor Area/Backpacking Light Minimum Weight ratio (including internal vestibule)

0.36 ft2/oz (1.2 m2/kg)

• Dimensions


• Model Year

2004 body tested with 2004 Easton and a stronger 2005 Atlas pole set


$625.00 USD

Usable Features / Ease of Use

Mountain Hardwear EV2 Single Wall Mountaineering Tent - 2
Pitched in the Patagonian Andes. The Mountain Hardwear EV2 was strong enough to withstand the legendary Patagonian winds. It was 3 or more pounds lighter than most tents venturing out in the area, and the envy of other parties.

With external poles and clips, and no fly, the Mountain Hardwear EV2 is easier and faster to pitch than most mountaineering tents, including those that use internal poles attached with Velcro straps. The EV2 vestibule goes up easily - a welcome change from some tents where attaching an external vestibule takes more time than pitching the tent body itself. While it is easy to pitch, getting a taut canopy on the EV2 is difficult. I will discuss this further later in the review.

The EV2 has:

  • Five vents with mosquito netting, storm flaps, and built in struts to prop them open. The vents zipper completely closed to keep wind-blown precipitation out, or open to reduce condensation
  • New, and strong, Atlas pole set with floating connectors
  • Special clips at pole intersections are supposed to increase strength
  • External poles that generate no condensation on the inside of the tent
  • Two small, non-yellowing, non-clouding, clear UVX film side windows
  • Large stake out loops that accept both skis and snow pickets
  • Four mesh storage pockets for things like cameras, headlamps, glasses, etc.
  • Eight, buckle adjustable webbing tie outs for the floor and vestibule.
  • A narrow (but longish) floor design accommodates pitching on narrow ledges and snow platforms commonly encountered in climbing
  • The usual stuff sacks, Y stakes, manual (not very useful), and seam sealer, etc.

Weight / Sizing

The EV2 may be the lightest tent in its class. Although it has a slightly lower total area to weight ratio than the Crux X2, it is important to remember that the vestibule of the EV2 is completely enclosed and floored. No other two-person, three-or-more pole mountaineering tents can claim the floored area to weight ratio of the Mountain Hardware EV2.

Usable Space

For a five-pound, three-pole mountaineering tent the EV2 has a lot of room. The built in vestibule contributes to this. My wife and I slept in the rear of the tent and found enough room in the vestibule for all our gear. We easily weathered a day of high winds, rain, sleet, and snow in the EV2 without going crazy. The tent seems much larger than other tents in the 31 to 33 square foot size range. The roof line is almost horizontal front to back making it easy for two to sit-up and face each other. For a mountaineering tent it is fairly bright and cheery. The VX-02 panel reinforcements are semi-clear and let light in. There are two small side UVX film windows and the orange waterproof/breathable canopy fabric lets pleasantly colored light in as well. Even the vents let light in. The pseudo-bathtub floor, which has edges raised 3 inches above the ground, reduces the level floor area a bit. It took a little getting used to, but we did not find this a significant problem for usable area or gear storage.

Wind Stability

I found the Mountain Hardwear EV2 plenty stable in the winds in Patagonia which is, without question, the windiest place I've ever been. It seems like the closer you get to the crest of the Patagonian Andes and the huge southern ice field, Hielo Sur, the stronger the winds blow. The most severe test for the EV2 was a campsite below Paso Viento. Viento means wind in Spanish and if they have to mention wind in Patagonia... The wind was so strong that my wife and I were unable to walk or stand up. We retreated to a semi-sheltered site and pitched the EV2 to wait out the wind. The EV2 was stable with little deflection even during the hardest gusts that day and night. Our only gripe was the noise from flapping panels on the not completely taut tent canopy. Good side tie outs were essential to reduce the panel flapping and stabilize the large and otherwise unsupported side panels of the tent. The raised edges of the tent floor occasionally allowed some wind underneath the tent - a strange experience. The 41 inch peak height, while tall enough for both of us to sit up, was low enough to reasonably shed wind.

Contributing to the strength of the tent is the new Atlas Scandium SL pole set. This pole replaces the standard Easton 7172 poles on previous EV2's and adds a few ounces to the total weight. Much of this weight increase comes from a stronger and larger diameter vestibule pole. Atlas Scandium SL poles use floating connectors which they claim make the poles stronger, lighter, and more durable than standard fixed connector inserts or swaged end poles. The floating connectors allow more even pole flex, are 13% stronger than traditional fixed insert poles like the Easton 7172, and are 30% stronger than swaged end poles like the DAC FeatherLite. The floating connectors also make the poles more easily field repairable.

The EV2 has panels of low-stretch VX-02 fabric panels in high stress areas - under the tent poles and crossing the side panels of the tent where the side tie outs attach. The theory is that these panels form a strong, non-stretching network that interlocks with the poles for a super stable pitch structure between the tent canopy and poles. We found this only partially successful.

Storm Protection (Wind and Rain)

Mountain Hardwear EV2 Single Wall Mountaineering Tent - 3 The built-in vestibule offers seamless protection. No extra weight and nothing extra to pitch. The downside is that the vestibule is not protected from the rain when entering and exiting the tent (move fast), nor can you cook inside the tent with the vestibule partially open. The side and ceiling vents work OK when cooking in the tent but not as well as a partially opened, side entry vestibule as used on many mountain tents. When tent-bound in a severe storm, there is a zippered hole in the vestibule floor to get snow in and dirt and other stuff out (like emptying your pee bottle) without having to open the tent door. Make sure you don't mix clean snow with the stuff you put out!

The Mountain Hardwear EV2 does quite well with wind, rain, and moderate snow. The front door and all five vents zipper shut to keep wind and precipitation out. The built-in vestibule works to store all your gear away from precipitation and keeps it readily available as you wait out a storm. You can seal down the EV2, even more than a double walled shelter, which usually has a gap between the floor and the fly. I found this a blessing at the end of a day of windy hiking and bad weather in Patagonia. There was nothing more I wanted than to crawl into a place where there wasn't wind, dust, and grit swirling around, or horizontal rain, sleet, and snow, and where the whooshing and howling quieted down. The EV2 is easy and fast to pitch, so I was under shelter sooner than with most other shelters I've used. The five vents worked well to let in fresh air, hold down condensation, and keep precipitation out. The side windows and vents were also nice to peek out and see what the weather was doing.

Storm Protection (Heavy Snow Loads)

Note: The following discussion involves testing done prior to receiving the newer and stronger Atlas pole set. The EV2 that deflected under snow loading used the older and more flexible Easton poles. We believe that the stronger Atlas pole set should reduce the EV2's deflection under snow loads. In particular, the vestibule pole is much stiffer, with an increased pole diameter from 0.350 to 0.390 inch.

Our major gripe with the EV2 is deflection with heavy snow loading. One of our testers used the EV2 (older Easton poles) on a winter ski trip. During a night with around 16 inches of snow, the ceiling of the EV2 deflected 6 to 8 inches and the walls closed in by a foot or more. After a day of skiing and more heavy snow, the EV2 had deflected to a height of around 24 inches or almost half of its original 41 inch peak height. The tent did spring back undamaged after shoveling out. A Mountain Hardwear Trango 2 tent pitched in the same campsite did not significantly deflect under the same snow load. On the other hand, the Trango 2 is a four pole, double-walled tent, that weighs nearly twice the weight of the EV2.

Mountain Hardwear EV2 Single Wall Mountaineering Tent - 4 I found the Mountain Hardwear EV2 plenty stable in the wind but a bit noisy due to some of the canopy panels flapping. This is about as taut a pitch as I could achieve in the field. Notice that some of the canopy panels are under-tensioned and wrinkled. A good side tie out anchored into the crossing VX-02 structure stabilizing seam strips helps but does not completely solve the problem. The less-than-taut canopy may well contribute to tent deflection under heavy snow loads. Not visible in the picture is the super taut tent floor.

A few of our staff engineers (also the testers) discussed the snow load deflection. Here's our best guess at possible factors contributing to this and some possible solutions (in addition to the stronger Atlas pole set already mentioned above):

1. While the exoskeleton and clip pole attachment is a breeze to pitch, it may not lock the poles solidly in relation to each other or connect them solidly to the VX-02 reinforcement panels on the tent canopy. Thus, under heavy loads the poles have the freedom to shift from a strong structural configuration to a weaker one (i.e. they get crooked and start to flatten out) allowing significant deflection of the tent body. Also, and possibly more important, the three-pole design leaves a large and relatively unsupported rear panel on the tent as well as lacks the structure and rigidity of a four-pole tent.

Solution?: An interlocked four-pole structure may do much better as evidenced by the performance of the Trango 2. There may be something special about the rigidity and structural integrity of four pole design. As such, taking a pole out of a four-pole tent may not be the best approach to saving weight. A better approach might be sticking with four-pole design and looking for weight savings elsewhere. We'd guess that a fourth pole on the EV2 would add about 5 to 8 ounces. Even with the additional weight, the EV2 would still be the lightest tent in its class. (It may not be a coincidence that a new Mountain Hardwear tent, the 'EV3,' uses a four-pole design. This upcoming tent is featured at the end of this review; we can't wait to get our hands on one.) Other possibilities include better stabilizing the poles to each other and/or the canopy so they can't shift as much under load. In this way they may better utilize the structure and support of the VX-02 reinforcement panels on the tent canopy, the original design goal of the tent. Our tent was showing some wear at the pole junctions after substantial Patagonian winds, indicating that they were shifting under load.

2. The lack of tension in the canopy of the EV2 may also contribute to snow load deflections as well as allowing tent panels to flap in the wind. The floor of the EV2 is under much greater tension than the tent canopy. When we first pitched the tent, the floor was so tight and the canopy still not taut, that we were sure that we had done something wrong. But all testers found the floor very tight and could not get a taut-canopy pitch on the EV2.

Solution?: The EV2 is a complex structure and we can suggest no immediate solution other than that Mountain Hardwear needs to find a way to better distribute the tension in the tent. More tension should go to the canopy and less to the floor. Again a four-pole design may help with this.

It is important to note that our reviewers did not use an optional 'internal guy' system described in the EV2 User Manual. This system, while taking extra time and effort to set up, may have improved the EV2's snow loading performance. The Trango 2 also did not use the internal guy system and did well with snow load.

Ventilation / Condensation resistance

Mountain Hardwear EV2 Single Wall Mountaineering Tent - 5 This is a pitch done in a hurry. No apologies. It was windy and sleeting when we pitched the tent and we wanted to get under shelter ASAP! Rocky ground also prevented perfect stake placement. With some fiddling this pitch could be improved. Note also the raised edges of the pseudo-bathtub floor. It takes a bit of getting used to, but it is normal for the floor edges to pitch 2 to 3 inches above the ground. Mountain Hardwear claims that this is much stronger than a true bathtub floor.

The critical factor for managing condensation in the Mountain Hardwear EV2 is wind. With wind the EV2 is almost condensation free due to its five vents with struts to prop them open. Without wind, the EV2 with its waterproof breathable fabric, does better than non-breathable single walled tents but still condenses at moderate levels*. In calm conditions the vents are not large enough to make convective (chimney) ventilation work. To be fair, vents large enough for this are inappropriate on a mountaineering shelter. In calm, bug free conditions, the vents can be completely opened without mosquito netting for improved air movement.

Patagonia has an excessive amount of damp and foul weather that can make the best single wall tent look pretty bad. One of the techies at Mountain Hardwear was a bit skeptical of how the EV2 would do with condensation there. He shouldn't have been. Even waiting out a very cold day of constant rain we had no problems with condensation in the tent. What contributed most to this were the vents and that there was wind. With the vents open, the wind created enough air exchange to keep condensation at bay. The vents are thankfully located in areas of the tent that keep drafts away from the occupants. The waterproof/breathable shell fabric helped as well with condensation. In addition, having the poles outside the tent keeps them from condensing and dripping on you, which can be a problem in tents with internal pole attachments as found on many mountaineering tents. On another night without rain, we slept with the front door open. The vestibule was deep enough and protective enough that sleeping in the rear of the tent we were protected from the wind. Without rain and bugs this is a very pleasant way to sleep and an excellent way to keep condensation down.

Our other tester used the tent on an overnight backcountry ski trip. With two people damp from skiing, no wind, and temperatures just below freezing, the tent had moderate condensation. In his opinion the tent did significantly better than non-breathable single walled tents but not as well as some of the eVENT single walled tents he has used under similar conditions. The eVENT tents do not use fire retardant fabric, while the EV2 does.

* Note: All tents/shelters will condense given the right conditions - even uncoated nylon with no fly over it. I've had condensation inside a large nylon tent with a substantial mosquito netting roof vent, no fly, and the tent was even protected by a large roof. If it's humid enough with little air movement, anything will condense.

Insect Protection

The EV2 provides complete insect protection. There are five vents on the tent with mosquito netting and no other way for bugs to get in. That being said, this is a mountaineering tent and not a camping tent. If you want a tent with bug protection and a nice view buy a Coleman. The EV2 front door does not have a mosquito netting backing and there are no large panels of mosquito netting anywhere else on the tent. Under heavy bug pressure, your ventilation, and more importantly, viewing options are limited. Although the tent is fairly bright and cheery inside, it may not be the happiest place to wait out a swarm of mosquitoes.


The strong and field serviceable Atlas Scandium SL pole set, strong UV resistant VX-O2 panel reinforcements, and the pre-stretched polyester canopy fabric (polyester is also UV resistant) should go a long way to making the EV2 a durable tent. The durable taffeta polyether coated tent floor should be durable enough on most ground that you can skip the footprint and save yourself some weight.


The Mountain Hardwear EV2 is arguably the lightest and most innovative tent in its class. For $625 you get a lot of high tech design and materials. The EV2 is a great tent. Even with its design blemishes, it would be our testers' first choice for a two-person fast and light ascent. With a few structural improvements EV2 could be an exceptional tent and an excellent value. But the current design falls a bit short of its goal due to the snow load deflection and not-so-taut canopy. The EV2 is a good if not stellar value. We eagerly await the next generation EV2.

Recommendations for Improvement

See possible structural improvements discussed in the "Heavy Snow Loads" section above. A side entry option on the vestibule would be a nice addition.


The raised floor edges are supposed to be that way! Remember to follow the pitching instructions and leave the tie out webbing at an initial 3-inch length. Don't cinch the straps more to make the canopy tighter. You'll only increase floor tension without improving the canopy tension. Make solid side tie outs to stabilize the sided panels and you should obtain a reasonably taut pitch. It takes a bit of practice to get things just so and achieve the best pitch possible (which will likely include a few less than taut tent panels).

Special feature: sneak peak at the upcoming Mountain Hardware EV3

Mountain Hardwear EV2 Single Wall Mountaineering Tent - 6
Mountain Hardwear EV3: If you look closely you can see that it has a four pole design. It also has a side entry vestibule (not shown). This tent was built for Ed Viesturs. He will use the EV3 in his attempt to climb Annapurna, the final peak in his bid to be the first American to climb all fourteen 8,000 meter peaks without supplemental oxygen. Note: EV in the tent name stands for Ed's initials. He tested the EV2 before introduction of the tent. Photo courtesy of Mountain Hardware<

Mountain Hardwear EV2 Single Wall Mountaineering Tent - 7
Mountain Hardwear EV3: It's a little blurry, but this front view shows the improved vestibule. It has a side entry, which protects the vestibule from precipitation while entering and exiting the tent and gives more options for ventilation, especially when cooking in the vestibule. You can just make out the four pole design if you stare hard. Photo courtesy of Mountain Hardware<



"Mountain Hardwear EV2 Tent REVIEW," by Alan Dixon. (ISSN 1537-0364)., 2005-08-03 03:00:00-06.


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Ultralight in Ultra-Foul Conditions?
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Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Ultralight in Ultra-Foul Conditions? on 08/04/2005 00:09:35 MDT Print View

Think: steady winds in excess of 30 mph, lots of snow or sideways blowing rain, above treeline or otherwise exposed. Do you reeeeeally need a Bomber Tent? Whether your answer is yes or no, what's your response to proposing a camping kit - be it tent, tarp, or other - for ultra-foul conditions? Companion forum thread to the Bomber Tents Review.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Ultralight in Ultra-Foul Conditions? on 08/04/2005 02:07:35 MDT Print View

No experience in this area. Let me put my ignorance of these matters on display with the following question.

Can an ID eVENT Unishelter (31oz) be used in these conditions? Why, or Why not? I like this shelter for winter in New England. Haven't used it yet on any exposed eastern mtn. tops (merely "hills"/foothills to you out west - though winds/weather on Mt. Washington in New Hampshire is supposed to rival the tallest peaks of the Himalayas).

I'm thinking low profile to wind. The bivy can be staked down with several stakes so it doesn't blow away in the high wind. Great WPB eVENT fabric to help minimize the condensation possible due to the conditions (precip+no wind) & the small internal air volume, and to keep the moisture outside, ...outside. Rigid, bent, sectioned-hooped Pole (not merely a bendable wire) in head area to keep snow from pressing the bivy against one's face. However, must keep the one stake req'd for longitudinal pole support staked well in the high winds.

However, do I really want 2' to 4' of overnight snowfall [can y'all out West in the Rockies get 6' overnight???] on top of me by morning? Will the fabric in the body section be flapping too much, unless it's volume is filled with a cold weather bag? [I can sleep through most anything, esp. if I'm "whipped" from a day of hard trekking. So, guaranteed, I won't wake up periodically to clear snow off of the bivy. Oh...and any flapping won't wake me either.]

Now, I know that I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed, so, what other points, pro or con, am I missing here?

If the eVENT 'Uni' is not appropriate for use in these conditions, what about the ID Sola (ok...difficult to get into) and/or MegaSola (a bit on the heavy side for what you get)? [too bad both of these can't be considered bivies, & then made of eVENT to save a bit of wt - prob a 6oz to 12oz "guesstimate", based upon a loose cp. b/t the Unishelter & the eVENT Unishelter.]

I'd be interested in knowing more. Anyone care to enlighten me on any/all of these questions/issues, please?

[Note: These questions are not intended to "question" the four choices in a recent BPL on-line Review Ariticle. They are just for my own information.]

Edited by pj on 08/04/2005 04:05:50 MDT.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Why no tunnels? on 08/04/2005 05:00:02 MDT Print View

I note all the tents reviewed are domes. Now domes are NOT as stable as tunnels under really bad weather, nor are they as weatherproof. Why are there no tunnels included? Does no-one in America make decent tunnels these days?

(See the top of and the second row of for what a tunnel tent looks like.)

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Ultralight in Ultra-Foul Conditions? on 08/04/2005 09:57:34 MDT Print View

My short answer is no. I don't need bomber tent provided the ground isn't solid rock (e.g. I can drive stakes into the ground). I have been using a GG Spinshelter for around seven months. I have had a number of trips which I was exposed to 30+ mph winds, sideblown wind. I was find. Of course there was some condensation that dripped on me, but it was very minor.

jim bailey
(florigen) - F - M

Locale: South East
Jim on 08/04/2005 13:04:14 MDT Print View

Have used a Golite Hex this past winter during some downright severe weather in NH Presidentials, Stood up fine to 35-50mph gusts and heavy snow fall, had a few stakes come undone during the night but was impressed by the overall perfomance of this lightweight tent.

Larry Smith
(7633) - F
Re: Jim on 08/04/2005 19:30:27 MDT Print View

What about Stephensons Warmlite. The original superlite gear. Had one of their tents for years. Bombproof, lighter than any of these reviewed, actually made in the USA. Easy to pitch. Cutting edge in the 1960s and I'd say it still is cutting edge.

Dan Healy

Locale: Queensland
Re: Ultralight in Ultra-Foul Conditions? on 08/04/2005 20:06:36 MDT Print View

I’m with Jim… we also use a Hex 3 in conjunction with BMW bivys for alpine/bad weather trips … the space is luxurious for cooking in. The headroom is truly magnificent – changing clothes is too easy and you don’t have the damp gear in the attic in your face.. The condensation that forms when it is pegged to the ground in bad weather is not really an issue because the thing is so big you do not get to touch the lower sides anyway. With the conical shape, it is amazing how much the wind is shed from any direction, though you do get a bit of blown rain spray through the vents at the top. Because the Hex is so big and requires 11 pegs for a good pitch, finding campsites is sometimes a juggle. The Hex is also versatile. We have used it in heavy constant rain in a tropical rainforest to cold windy sleet at 3000m in the French Alps - this thing rocks!

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Warmlite on 08/04/2005 20:06:47 MDT Print View

can't really speak for BPL, but three points worth considering.

1) if i understood the article correctly, there might be at least one more article (and reviews) in the "series" (not sure if this referred to the current "series" of four shelters, or if to a "series"of articles on this subject). Since this one dealt with some freestanding shelters, perhaps another article will cover some non-freestanding ones?

2) often a mfr must submit a sample to be reviewed - and then, not request that it is returned & hold the reviewers responsible for any possible damage to the product. not sure if/how this applies to BPL review policies in this case.

3) the article mentioned "new" shelters. some popular shelters wouldn't qualify, solely on this basis.

Dan Healy

Locale: Queensland
Re: Ultralight in Ultra-Foul Conditions? on 08/04/2005 20:09:04 MDT Print View

Paul re the ID Unishelter, from experience, 8inches of snow on an unsupported bivy end is very cold! (how about a 3 pole bivy like the Bibler Tripod?) and I certainly wouldn’t want to spend a night and day in one when the weather turns really bad… like the folks in Patagonia had to…

Dan Healy

Locale: Queensland
re Why no tunnels? on 08/04/2005 20:39:55 MDT Print View

Roger, as a fellow Aussie I have read your first rate articles. I also own a tunnel tent – the excellent Wilderness Equipment First Arrow – but I would certainly like to see any data you have that supports the idea that the large amounts of unsupported fabric on a tunnel tent makes them more stable/weather proof as opposed to good 4 pole design like the Bibler Fitzroy. Or are you comparing them to the cheaper types that really are more about being free standing rather than weather resistant? One of the advantages of tents like the WE or Macpac range is the quality of the fabric and design – they punch above their weight. But all things being equal, a good interlocking pole design with less unsupported fabric at the same tension must surely be stronger.
I know I only got my engineering degree from Melbourne (and it is not civil or mechanical!) and you Sydney chaps are sometimes more informed ;) but if you have any data on this would you mind sharing!

Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
some explanations on 08/05/2005 00:12:58 MDT Print View

Hello everyone- I'm Doug Johnson and I put this release together. I'd be happy to explain a few things that you've found here:

1) You aren't seeing bivy shelters because we tried to focus on 2-person tents that could handle the worst conditions- high winds, sustained heavy snow loads, and the possible need to cook and live inside for extended. However, there are certainly bivies and solo shelters that could survive serious winter conditions.

2) I hear you on the missing Stephenson's tents Larry- I've been trying to get one of those to review for years! Not all companies participate. Then again, tunnel tents just won't stand up to heavy snow loads like a tent with interlocked poles. I love my Hilleberg tunnel tent but its flat roofline means that it won't shed snow like a 2, 3, or 4 pole interlocked design.

3) Like Paul said, you will also notice many missing ultralight bomber tents from this release such as the single wall Integral Designs and Bibler tents. For this release, we chose to focus on a smaller amount of great new designs. Of course, that doesn't discount other excellent designs on the market.

4) Re: the Hex. Yes- great tent. I've spent several nights in a similar BD Mega Light and it's been great. Then again, there are few who would pitch one of these on top of Rainier or high in the Himalayas. That's more of the focus of this release- tents that can survive the absolute worst. For a review of the Hex and other floorless shelters that are great for most winter conditions, check this out:
The MSR Twin Peaks fits this too and its review can be found here:

Thanks everyone- good questions!
Doug Johnson
Shelter Systems Editor

Edited by djohnson on 08/05/2005 00:16:26 MDT.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
to Dan, re: bivy response on 08/05/2005 03:28:47 MDT Print View

Thanks for responding. Good info. Appreciate it.

Bibler Tripod - don't know why I didn't consider it.

Ingress/egress much easier than Sola & somewhat lighter too. Much lighter than MegaSola - though smaller.

thanks again.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
re tunnels, and strength on 08/08/2005 22:43:21 MDT Print View

The WE 1st and 2nd Arrow tents are not bad, as long as you get the wind drection right. The classic tunnel for extreme conditions is imho the (old) Macpac Olympus. I know the Olympus has been tested to over 100 kph many years ago. It has also been used around the world under all sorts of extreme conditions.
Why is a tunnel more stable than a dome? Because the poles in a tunnel are much shorter than in a dome. The shorter the pole, the stronger it is.
Also, many domes (no, not all) have the poles separate from the fly. You just throw the fly over the top.This means the poles can move relative to the fly, go into an S-bend, and the tent can collapse. In a proper tunnel tent the poles are threaded INTO the fly. They canNOT twist. Sure, some may say that makes such a tunnel a bit harder to pitch than a pop-up dome. True - but I am far more concerned with spending a comfortable confident night than with a few minutes of 'convenience'.
The reason dome makers stress the 'crossed poles' is because poles which are not anchored togather at the top really are bendy and can collapse.
I don't agree that a tunnel has long sections of unsupported fabric: far from it. I do agree that some tunnels have an unfortunate flat top: that's because they are trying to use a straight pole rather than put a bend at the top. The bend makes the roof shed rain and snow far better.
I've made many versions of both designs, and used them under gale-force conditions. I trust my tunnels.

Nikolas Andersen
(nsandersen) - MLife
Re: re Why no tunnels? on 08/09/2005 15:04:59 MDT Print View

Some veterans on the nice (but not ultralite) UK site claim that tunnels flex better than geodesic domes, giving way temporarily to the worst gusts and then flexing back up again when the wind settles down a bit. I am unfortunately not an engineer either, so wouldn't know how much merit that holds.

A really nice (but UK, admittedly) tent brand is Lightwave ( -eg. they have a 2-pole double-skin 1-person tunnel at 1.3kg. It does unfortunately have a flat top.

Their customer service has a very good reputation, it might be possible to persuade them to let this site test their tents.

Michael Martin
(MikeMartin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: North Idaho
Bivys and Cooking on 08/09/2005 19:57:39 MDT Print View

Paul, Ryan recently made a post on another bpl thread praising the ID Unishelter bivy. Check out

Though I've never tried it, it seems like with a few tricks, a hooped bivy might be a workable way to go ultralight in extreme conditions. Like Dan suggested, I guess you'd have to deal with snow accumulation somehow.

But, what I'm really wondering is, how do you melt snow or cook during a storm if your sole shelter is a bivy sack? Any of you mountaineering bivy users have any tips to share?

Edited by MikeMartin on 08/09/2005 21:18:52 MDT.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Bivys and Cooking on 08/09/2005 21:15:40 MDT Print View


Many thanks for taking the time to reply. I haven't spent extended days out during the winter. I was just curious if my current overnight winter shelter would work for longer winter treks - even below treeline.

Snow is melted outside the bivy for drinking. Cooking is often not necessary as I often just eat GORP for several days + a multi-vitamin & mineral supplement.

Edited by pj on 08/13/2005 16:44:38 MDT.

John Davis
(JNDavis) - F

Locale: Isle of Man
Ultralight in Ultra-Foul Conditions? on 08/13/2005 16:24:02 MDT Print View

Having backpacked over 200 Munros in one of the worst summers on record (1986) as well as gaining experience in Iceland and New Zealand, I feel that this is a bit of a specialist subject. So the first thing to ask is what do you consider ultra-foul? I mean, if the wind is above 10 metres/second the midges won't be biting and rain always sounds worse on the flysheet than it really is. Modern waterproofs almost negate rain.

Today's 12 miler round Snaefell took place in windy but humid conditions. Humidity means sweat and a major challenge for clothing. Humidity also stops the ground from drying out, a major challenge for groundsheets. And if the wind drops on a humid day, the backpacker is in big trouble from biting insects. However, my nightmare walking condition is extreme heat. Ultralight is the only possible solution.

Edited by JNDavis on 08/13/2005 16:24:51 MDT.

John Davis
(JNDavis) - F

Locale: Isle of Man
Ultralight in Ultra-Foul Conditions? on 08/31/2005 08:19:39 MDT Print View

Tarps can be very comfortable in foul weather. Mine has beaks. I use one to block off the windward end and pitch the other end of the tarp high, with the beak horizontal, so that I can sit and drink tea as the rain is hurled past. The only real ultralight compromise is using a bigger tarp than the one Carol used in her Uintas trip.

In medium wind strengths my tarp flaps quite badly, far worse than a hooped tent, but there is the certain knowledge that an increase in wind strength would only pull pegs. The tarp and trekking poles are not going to break. Backpackers in latest generation tents don't have that comfort. Hoops definitely do break (although I admit that the BBC said wind speeds had reached 90 mph when my Tadpole's front hoop broke).

John Davis
(JNDavis) - F

Locale: Isle of Man
Ultralight in Ultra-Foul Conditions? on 09/06/2005 13:09:25 MDT Print View

Hmmm, I seem to be the only person enjoying this thread, but walking through the storm has some sort of appeal - don't want to speculate what - so here goes for another post.

We know what ultralight is because Ryan has given us a definition, but what is ultra-foul?

In the 1986 walk mentioned elsewhere I was wet to the skin on 23 consecutive days, including the day of my final Munro in round one. But, I was used to it and never felt uncomfortable till the water reached my groin. That is most definitely not my attitude today, so one of the aspects of ultra-foul lies in recent experience.

Another aspect of ultra-foul concerns the kit selected. I cannot help feeling that some of Ryan's gear choices for his Lost Coast trip meant that he experienced more discomfort than he would have with slightly heavier kit. Nokian Trimmis, waterproof trousers and a Cave 1 would not have made the load unbearable and would have kept him both warmer and drier. (Ryan seemed to feel fairly happy with his kit in his summary.)

So if attitude and gear selection influence our definition of ultra-foul, perhaps ultra-foul just means we've gone too far with the kit we've got. That can happen with any approach to backpacking, not just ultralight.

Do we experience more ultra-foul days with ultralight kit? Perhaps, but ultralight kit also makes it easier to clear out to a more sheltered area.

T. Sedlak
(busotti) - F
Hilleberg Unna on 04/26/2006 16:47:33 MDT Print View

Hilleberg makes a number of non-tunnel tents.

Unna specs: $400
4 lbs (64 oz) with 27 sq. ft. area,
40 inches tall, 2 interlocking poles. Sized on the threshold for 1-2 persons.

Edited by busotti on 06/22/2007 09:41:02 MDT.