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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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Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: 2 person bomber tents on 01/29/2009 15:57:53 MST Print View

>Stephenson Warmlite beats all the others-lighter, more floor space, less condensation, easy set up , and great visibilty with side windows (and don't have to put on fly if it rains). Why is it so consistently ignored by BPL?

I suspect the biggest reason is that Stephenson's are unwilling to provide demo tents for review.

The Warmlite is solid in the wind IF staked very tautly (and re-staked as it cools and sags), and IF the wind is coming from only one direction. But I did not find it was a nice place to hang out in a storm...too much condensation and the rain/snow pouring into the tent whenever you open the vestibule makes for a wet existence. The Nallo2 is the best lightweight tent I've used in these conditions (MacPac tunnels the best if I disregard weight). Although it also needs solid staking, at least with the Nallo2 there are also side guy-outs to cope with changing wind directions, a breathable inner to keep the condensation at bay, a covered vestibule entry to keep rain/snow out, a bathtub floor, and insect mesh on the inner door to help with venting (and insect control!).

Chris Townsend
(Christownsend) - MLife

Locale: Cairngorms National Park
Ultralight in Ultra-Foul Conditions? on 01/29/2009 16:19:41 MST Print View

Stephenson's Warmlite did provide a 2X for review and this was included in the State of the Market Report: Single Wall Tents (2008), which was published last November. I agree with Alison's comments - the Warmlite is stable when staked correctly but the lack of a vestibule and the door opening over the groundsheet means it's not as easy to live in during a storm than a tent like the Nallo 2.

T. Sedlak
(busotti) - F
Stephenson's, Hilleberg, Big Sky, Tarptent on 08/18/2009 12:49:25 MDT Print View

I have slept in a variety of tents including Stephenson’s (Warmlite 2R), Hilleberg (Jannu), Big Sky (Evolution), and Tarptent (Squall 2). Here are some thoughts for those interested.

The most bomber and well constructed is the Hilleberg. The weight on these tents is the higher end of the spectrum, but a Hilleberg is what I want for potentially serious weather. As the inner and outer tents are attached you can set up in a storm and still keep the inside dry. They are very warm and the ventilation is not the greatest. There is condensation but not extreme. The big bathtub floor is very waterproof. The vestibule is handy. You can fully open/close the vents from inside. Definitely not a warm weather tent (too warm), and I would not recommend Hilleberg if you camp in warm weather (65-70 degrees F or higher). I tried out an Unna, too; very spacious for one, but no formal vestibule (you can improvise one by detatching an inner tent corner). Unna ventilation is not great for warm weather and bugs. Some of the Hillebergs use pole clips (Jannu) and some pole sleeves (Unna). I found the clips much easier to deal with.

Stephenson’s Warmlite 2RS. This is an ingenious design that has many clever aspects I haven’t seen elsewhere. For instance the inner and outer zippers are staggered such that the outer zipper serves as a rain flap for the inner. The poles are pre-bent so as to give better strength (so obvious, but so few tents do this). It is huge for the weight, fully bugproof. The optional windows give great ventilation and the tent is warm when all sealed up. It is not quite fully double walled. The front and back ends are single walled and prone to condensation. I weathered a severe 14 hour rainstorm in this and water did come through the silnylon floor through hydrostatic pressure, but this was an extreme circumstance (I wasn’t on fully flat ground and pooling under the tent occurred). The vestibule is extremely small (boots only), but the inside is gigantic. The outer tent window has to be zipped closed from the outside, an inconvenience for unexpected rain. There is a photo gallery of a guy who solo climbed Denali using a Warmlite. Overall an extremely versatile tent. ( Also:

The tarptent is the lightest, but I would not use this if I were concerned about severe weather. I am not a big fan of all the tinkering needed to get this set up with an optimal pitch. Spindrift or rain with a bit of wind could be a problem as the mesh on the tent sides are a little exposed. For most circumstances this is a great choice (warm summer weather).

The Big Sky tents are great all around. I used mine for the entire John Muir Trail. The fly is not attached and set up in a storm would get the inner tent wet (the inner is basically all mesh on top). Easy and REPRODUCIBLE set up are strong pluses, as is the light weight. Severe rain or mountain weather might be a little dicey, but for general backpacking this is a great choice. The very small vestibules won’t keep much out of the rain except something the size of boots or a small pack.

Overall, there is no perfect tent for every circumstance. Everyone is different in where they draw their own personal line for tradeoffs, such as lighter weight at the expense of a miserable, wet night.