Outdoor Designs Summit Extreme Tent REVIEW

Single wall, low-profile, and built for altitude: the Summit Extreme belongs on a high mountain ridge.

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by Doug Johnson | 2005-08-03 03:00:00-06

Overview

Outdoor Designs Summit Extreme Mountaineering Tent - 1
The Outdoor Designs Summit Extreme is built with a single focus - to climb to the world's toughest summits.

The Outdoor Designs Summit Extreme is a tent that was created for a singular purpose - to climb serious mountains quickly with the lightest weight and greatest level of security possible. It weighs in at just about 3.25 pounds, making it among the lightest two-person bomber mountaineering tents on the market. The Summit Extreme is constructed of Exchange Lite Gore-Tex, which is highly breathable and gas permeable, and has a large rear vent; both factors greatly minimize condensation. (Exchange Lite Gore-Tex is not available in tents sold in the U.S.; Outdoor Designs is manufactured in the U.K.) It uses Easton 340 Carbon FX poles which are 35% lighter but 208% stronger than similar aluminum models. The Summit Extreme has an extremely low profile at 28 inches, 13 stake out points, and can handle the strongest of winds. It has a small footprint and can be pitched in very small spots (even most double porta-ledges). A unique feature is the dual sealed tie out points, allowing two climbers to be directly anchored to the mountain without having to open the tent to pass a rope or slings.

However, in its singular focus, the Outdoor Designs Summit Extreme has some serious downsides. The 28-inch roof is very short, making sitting up impossible. This low height also creates low angled walls which, while adding to its wind stability, greatly minimize usable space. This tent is very cramped for two people. It also has no vestibule, making this a better solo tent unless you have a very focused pair of climbers who are willing to accept the cramped quarters. There is a mosquito mesh door on the front but this is not a tent you'd want to spend a lot of time in while waiting out the bugs in lowland areas. At $660 USD, the Outdoor Designs Summit Extreme is also a very expensive tent. That said, the price is right, and the design is right, if you need a tent that offers an unparalleled mix of light weight, high security, breathability, and wind stability. It begs to be taken up the most serious mountains in the world.

In Brief

  • Ultralight mountaineering tent at just 3.25 pounds minimum package
  • Easton Carbon fiber poles are 35% lighter and 208% stronger than aluminum models
  • Exchange Lite Gore-Tex is highly breathable and virtually eliminates condensation
  • Dual sealed tie out points to anchor climbers directly to the mountain
  • Very cramped quarters and a very low ceiling make this a better solo tent and passable for a pair of climbers only for the most focused summit attempts
  • Low ceiling, stiff poles, and 13 guy out points create exceptionally high wind stability
  • Very tough and durable
  • Made in the U.K. - Gore-Tex tents not available in the U.S.
  • Not cheap at $660 but a good value for climbers that need its features
  • The Summit Extreme has no equal in its niche - light weight, secure, breathable, and stable

Specifications

• Tent Type

Single wall with floor, mountaineering tent

• Fabric Description

Tent body: Exchange Lite Gore-Tex - 15,000 mm Hydrostatic Head, O2 and CO2 gas permeable; Tent floor: coated nylon - 10,000 mm Hydrostatic Head

• Pole Material

Carbon fiber, Easton 340 Carbon FX (ultimate tensile strength poles - 200,000 psi, inserts - 96,000 psi)

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

Backpacking Light scaleManufacturer claim
4 lb 8.2 oz (2.05 kg)3 lb 4.8 oz (1.50 kg)

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

Backpacking Light minimum Manufacturer supplied minimum
Same as Manufacturer Minimum but with: 0.25 oz (7 g) titanium stakes, 0.004 oz/ft (0.37 g/m) Aircore pro Dyneema guylines
6 stakes, 12 ft (3.7 m) guyline
6 stakes, 12 ft (3.7 m) guyline
3 lb 3.8 oz (1.47 kg)3 lb 5.4 oz (1.51 kg)

• Floor/ Vestibule Area

Floor area Vestibule area
27.1 ft2 (2.52 m2) none

• Floor Area/Backpacking Light Minimum Weight Ratio

0.52 ft2/oz

• Dimensions

inchescentimeters
Width47120
Length83210
Height2870

• Model Year

2004

• MSRP

$660 (£350)

Usable Features / Ease of Use

Outdoor Designs Summit Extreme Mountaineering Tent - 2
The rear vent can be held open by attaching it to the guyline and is fully adjustable from within the tent. Note the elastic section of the guyline for flex during high winds.

Setting up the Outdoor Designs Summit Extreme is very easy. Like other single wall wedge designs, the poles are set up outside the tent, slipped inside, and flexed into their corner spots. Pole tips are placed into the corner grommets (two are provided for tensioning options or for running a double pole set for extra strength). The 10 Velcro tabs are then attached. A minimum of six stakes are recommended to achieve the maximum stability and floor space (one at each corner and two for the side guy outs). In really nasty conditions, I was even able to set the tent up from inside, although it's usually easier from the outside because of the small interior space.

The poles are Easton 340 Carbon FX models which are 35% lighter than similar gauge aluminum poles but 208% stronger. In fact, these poles are twice as strong as ANY OTHER POLE EASTON MAKES. Their weakness is in their standard Easton aluminum inserts, which are half the strength of the pole material (see Durability below).

The tent material is Gore-Tex Exchange Lite, a waterproof/breathable fabric that is also oxygen and carbon dioxide permeable, allowing for totally sealed usage for extended periods. All seams are seam taped and the corners have deep, reinforced pole pockets.

Outdoor Designs Summit Extreme Mountaineering Tent - 3 Outdoor Designs Summit Extreme Mountaineering Tent - 4
The dual tie in loops are found on the top and side of the tent.

There is one door that has an inner mosquito/spindrift netting door. Door seams are covered by two overlapping 3.5 inch wide flaps that are Velcro closed. A rear vent is placed low in the tent for high/low air flow with the front door. This vent can be sealed closed by a cordlock, but is not backed with mesh. The vent is easily adjusted from inside and attaches to the rear guyline for maximum ventilation.

Outdoor Designs Summit Extreme Mountaineering Tent - 5
The author hanging out with the top tie in use. I am directly tied off with zero load on the tent and no opening in the top. Another loop on the side gives another secure tie-off.

A unique feature of the Outdoor Designs Summit Extreme is the dual sealed tie points. These points are created by fabric hoops that are sewn to the tent walls, creating sealed elbow macaroni-shaped hoops. One hoop is located on top of the tent (hoop outside the tent) and the other is at the base of the tent side (hoop inside the tent). These two fabric tubes allow the climber(s) to tie into the tube with a runner and then to tie into an anchor on the outside of the tent. This system effectively removes the tent from the system WITHOUT having to pass a rope or runner through an opening in the tent. This means that you can pitch the tent on a highly exposed ridge, on a big wall porta-ledge (it fits most double porta-ledges), or in an area of extreme wind and secure yourself directly to the mountain, increasing security in extreme conditions dramatically.

The Summit Extreme comes with standard v-stakes and a set of guylines. Also included are guylines with thick elastic hoops at one end which allow the tent to give a bit during high winds. These elastic guylines were a blessing during one 60+ mph night, allowing the fully guyed-out tent to give during gusts, helping maintain solid anchor placements. Three reasonably lightweight and durable stuff sacks are also included, although the pole sack is too short for the carbon poles.

Weight / Sizing / Usable Space

At around 3 pounds 4 ounces for the complete tent, this is one of the lightest tents that can truly be considered "bomber." The floor space is also reasonable, measuring 1 inch wider and 1 inch longer than a comparable Integral Designs MK1 Lite. However, because of the very short 28 inch roof (compared to 42 inches on the MK1 Lite), the walls are at a low angle. This cuts way down on usable space, making this tent very small for two people. As a solo tent, usable space in the Summit Extreme was better, but at 6'2" tall, I slept at an angle to be most comfortable. I could not fully sit up in the tent, and with a partner it was necessary to take turns getting ready or organizing gear.

There is no vestibule and precious little space for gear inside. If there are two of you, compromises will be a necessity.

Outdoor Designs Summit Extreme Mountaineering Tent - 6 Outdoor Designs Summit Extreme Mountaineering Tent - 7
The Outdoor Designs Summit Extreme is a tiny tent - very low to the ground and very cramped for two hikers. My wife and I survived in the tent during condensation testing on the Olympic Coast - cramped but with extremely minimal condensation despite completely sealing the tent in constant rains.

Wind stability

Outdoor Designs Summit Extreme Mountaineering Tent - 6
The Summit Extreme has low angled walls, stiff Easton carbon fiber poles, and 13 guy outs, creating exceptional wind stability.

Although the low height and low angle walls cut down on usable space, they absolutely shine when the wind picks up. Despite the fact that two-pole designs tend to not be the best when winds pick up because of side deflection, the Outdoor Designs Summit Extreme does very well with high winds, due to its sloped walls that easily spill wind. With 50-60 mph gusts on a mountain ridge in the Cascades, the tent barely moved. The side guy outs added to the stability of the tent. In fact, much higher winds would be needed to fully test the upper limits of wind stability with the Summit Extreme. This is the first tent I've used that I would take for an overnight in a storm on the summit of Rainier or a high camp in the Himalaya.

Storm Protection

The Outdoor Designs Summit Extreme sheds snow easily. However, the low roof creates a tiny flat spot on the top of the tent. During snow storms, I had to occasionally knock snow off the roof. Nothing abnormal resulted from these light snow loads and the tent could handle far greater snow loads with ease.

Ventilation / Condensation Resistance

The Gore-Tex Exchange Lite fabric is second in breathability only to eVENT in waterproof/breathable tent fabrics. However, the only full eVENT tent currently available is the Nemo Tenshi and only for a limited time. Further, because of fire codes, Gore-Tex tents are not available from North American companies. To find Gore-Tex tents you have to look at brands outside of North America such as Outdoor Designs (U.K.), Terra Nova (U.K.), MacPac (Australia), or Montbell-Japan. But when it comes to breathability and condensation resistance, it is well worth it to track down a Gore-Tex tent.

Little more than minor condensation along the poles was ever achieved during field usage of the Summit Extreme. This includes a very wet trip in the Olympic National Park; despite constant drizzle, still air, two people in the tent, and keeping it completely sealed, very little condensing occurred in the tent and not enough to run down the sides (a huge difference from the condensation found on the large volume silnylon tent pitched next to us). Even during condensation testing in my backyard when I boiled water in the tent for 15 minutes (not recommended), the condensation was remarkably low and dried within 20 minutes after shutting off the stove.

By opening the rear vent and cracking the door, cross ventilation was sufficient for airing out the tent if one is forced to cook inside the tent (once again, not recommended). However, finding space for cooking is a different matter.

Insect Protection

The Summit Extreme tent is designed to survive bug season but not to be comfortable in it. The door has bug netting and the fabric is breathable. However, the tiny tent is just a step ahead of a bivy for comfort when being swarmed. The rear vent without netting makes it impossible to achieve cross-venting at these times. However, adding netting to this vent would make it impossible to adjust the vent from inside the tent, a compromise not acceptable with the focus of the Summit Extreme.

Durability

While on a climbing trip, I fell hard on the tent while walking on ice in my boot liners, breaking a pole insert (which are half the strength of the carbon poles). I ended the trip fine and Easton had a new section to me in just three days, no questions asked. Believe me - this was not the fault of the pole. It is interesting to note that it was not the carbon pole that snapped but the aluminum insert, proving the strength of the carbon shafts.

The Gore-Tex fabric is very tough, both inside and out, and showed zero wear after several months of field testing. Even when a sharp piece of aluminum shoved into the tent fabric from the broken pole, I was amazed that no damaged occurred. Same goes with the floor which shows no wear despite being pitched directly on ice and rock on many occasions. This tent will last through many tough summit bids.

Value

At $660, the Outdoor Designs Summit Extreme is an expensive and specifically-focused tent and is $100-$200 more expensive than its nearest competitors from Integral Designs and Bibler. That said, there really is no competitor for the Outdoor Designs Summit Extreme. It can go with you on the most challenging alpine routes and keep you alive with its wind stability, moisture-passing walls, durability, and dual tie out loops. For climbers that put themselves on the toughest routes, this tent is an excellent value. If you are a casual mountaineer, however, your money will be better spent on a more comfortable, less expensive, and less narrowly-focused tent.

Recommendations for Improvement

The inside pockets need more reinforcement on the corners so they don't pull away from the inside of the tent (a minor issue). Other than that, there is no need for additional improvements. Sure, it would be nice to have more headroom or more usable space but that would miss the point of the Summit Extreme.

If you're looking for a more well-rounded tent, the Summit Raider is also available from Outdoor Designs. It features aluminum poles, a more comfortable 41 inch ceiling, the same Gore-Tex walls, and at a weight penalty of less than 1 pound.


Citation

"Outdoor Designs Summit Extreme Tent REVIEW," by Doug Johnson. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/outdoor_designs_summit_extreme_tent_review.html, 2005-08-03 03:00:00-06.

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Forum Index » Editor's Roundtable » 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 http://www.bushwalking.org.au/FAQ/FAQ_Shelter.htm and the second row of http://www.bushwalking.org.au/FAQ/FAQ_Photos.htm 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
(electricpanda)

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
(electricpanda)

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
(electricpanda)

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:
http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/00174.html
The MSR Twin Peaks fits this too and its review can be found here:
http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/msr_twin_peaks_shelter_review.html

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

Dan
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.
Cheers

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 http://www.outdoorsmagic.com 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 (http://www.lightwave.uk.com/) -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
www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/xdpy/forum_thread/991/index.html?mv_session_id=nrgjblym&mv_pc=198&skip_to_post=6071#6071

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

Michael,

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.

John Davis
(JNDavis) - F

Locale: Isle of Man
Thoughts on Unna on 08/24/2006 13:14:11 MDT Print View

Sorry, Tom. Haven't tried one, but one of the great virtues of the Akto, and the tunnel tents, is the vertical door on the inner. This feature really pays off in periods of prolonged damp. If the inner door is vertical, condensation is unlikely to fall through it on to your sleeping bag. And something I really like is being able to sit with the flysheet door open while rain falls. Tea in hand, warm sleeping bag and - I know it isn't very ultralite but - good book to read and I feel very snug watching the wet, grey world outside. I don't think you could open the flysheet door on the Unna or the Jannu during rain without getting the inner wet. However, I'm only looking at the pictures in the 2005 catalogue.

Donald Browning
(docdb) - M

Locale: SE USA
Re: Thoughts on Unna on 11/02/2006 11:13:12 MST Print View

The tenshi is no longer available in eVent.....sad.
Don

David Bonn
(david_bonn) - F

Locale: North Cascades
Re: Ultralight in Ultra-Foul Conditions? on 11/02/2006 12:16:03 MST Print View

These pictures say it all, for me.

before a storm on Mount Bakersheep mountain after a snowy night

Nathan Moody
(atomick) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
I'm in the tent camp... on 11/02/2006 14:08:58 MST Print View

A few years ago I camped in Koke'e State Park, above Waimea Canyon on Kauai, and on New Years Eve the rain ultimately angled at about 80° to the ground with sustained winds of 30+mph. The wind direction shifted a good 90° halfway through the night. We were on sloped ground well away from the lowest point, but when we awoke even the slopes retained 2" of standing water.

In such conditions, a bathtub bottom tent made all the difference. With the wind shift, a freestander can just be unstaked, rotated, and re-staked. We were sleeping in a river - there was nowhere that wasn't! Groundsheets would have been overrun by the runoff.

So, all told, for me there's sometimes a benefit of even an UL tent in UF conditions, to speak nothing of the mental benefit/comfort, which is entirely more subjective. Now that rain's returned to us here in Northern California, this sure is a timely topic...

Fun to see everyone's varied opinions on this interesting topic!

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
Ultralight in Ultra-Foul Conditions? on 11/02/2006 15:45:13 MST Print View

Gorgeous pics, David.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: I'm in the tent camp... on 11/03/2006 03:01:33 MST Print View

> In such conditions, a bathtub bottom tent made all the difference.

I remember once (VERY clearly) finally getting into the tent in a howling storm to find the bathtub floor floating about an inch off the ground. My wife was happily sitting on her Therm-a-Rest while the floor just sort of bounced.
The only problem was working out where to put the stove to cook dinner :-) I eventually put my (small scrap of 3-ply) stove base on our shoes all piled up - and cooked dinner. We stayed dry. The flood receded eventually.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Re: I'm in the tent camp... on 11/03/2006 03:15:23 MST Print View

So, Roger, you call that roughing it? Using a waterbed while on a trek!!!

Edited by pj on 11/03/2006 03:16:28 MST.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Re: I'm in the tent camp... on 11/10/2006 23:20:55 MST Print View

Hi pj

> Using a waterbed while on a trek!!!
Well, actually, in this case I can plead not guilty to this monstrous charge!
We had dinner in the storm, but by the time we had finished dinner the storm had ceased and there was only thick fog. BUT: we had reached a known 4WD track, and it was 1.5 hr back to the car (end of a 5-day trip). The fog plus a full moon meant the ground was quite visible without a headlight. So we thought phooey, packed up the gear and the wet tent, and walked back to the car in the glowing fog. Got there about 8 pm, and went home - feeling very pleased with ourselves.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Re: Re: Re: I'm in the tent camp... on 11/11/2006 04:11:04 MST Print View

Roger, I admire the many treks you and your wife are able to take. I am genuinely looking forward to my own retirement when i can get out whenever the whim hits (and the wife permits! :)

Nikolas Andersen
(nsandersen) - MLife
Bathtub floors on 11/11/2006 06:17:02 MST Print View

How about a separate bathtub floor for tarps - have anyone seen one around? (My sewing skills are limited to trouser rips and reattaching buttons, so not quite sure about the DIY instructions at GossamerGear.)

John Glover
(jtg) - F
2 person bomber tents on 11/24/2006 16:40:29 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?

Mike Barney
(eaglemb) - F

Locale: AZ, the Great Southwest!
Re: 2 person bomber tents on 11/24/2006 17:51:58 MST Print View

There are 6 Stephenson Warmlites listed in the gear guide, and a couple of forum references. Why not write a reader review? I think most readers here are interested in any gear that has advantages.

Have a great holiday,
MikeB

Edited by eaglemb on 11/24/2006 17:52:48 MST.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I'm in the tent camp... on 11/27/2006 02:13:23 MST Print View

Hi pj

> Roger, I admire the many treks you and your wife are able to take. I am genuinely looking forward to my own retirement when i can get out whenever the whim hits (and the wife permits! :)
BIG mistake - waiting until you retire! GO NOW! And take your wife with you.

Brett .
(Brett1234) - F

Locale: CA
Rogers right, PJ on 11/27/2006 06:13:11 MST Print View

PJ, about your retirement statement; IMO Roger's correct; if financially possible, get out there now for some day trips or an overnighter (forgive me if you regularly do so and I interpreted your posting wrongly).
I also spent years interpreting "critical flight data" (recalling your earlier post) for a company who shall remain nameless.. worked 4 years without one days vacation; only scheduled holidays. That time is just a vacuous hole in my memory banks.
Now I turn off the cellphone on the weekends and work a little harder M-F. Sorry to digress from the subject of this post.. but relating it back; some of my recent hiking memories worth repeating are when conditions were "ULTRA-FOUL" and I was testing new UL gear. You can't plan for adventure; it is what happens when things don't go according to plan. (paraphrasing someone else..)

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Rogers right, PJ on 11/27/2006 09:14:28 MST Print View

Roger & Brett,

Sound advice. Normally out often for short 1-3days and near daily fitness hikes with full UL pack - excepting this late spring through now (nada/nothing), with both a critical project at work coupled with some very unexpected recent personal developments and estate issues stemming from that which require a lot of my attention.

peter vacco
(fluff@inreach.com) - M

Locale: no. california
Re: Other Hilleberg tents than Akto? on 12/29/2006 19:51:22 MST Print View

i used an unna for half a summer. it's well developed, palatial. extremely homey and dry, all which it well ought to be at 68 ounces and 400 bucks. also a bear to set up in a gentle breeze. real wind requires extreme care and planning (pre-guy out before erection... etc) it's nearly too much tent for one guy to handle. the poles are approx the length of a car. you gotta guy the pole corners in any wind at all, but then, even if you don't do the 5th rear panel guy, it seems to be quite secure thru squalls and gusts. i sat, just sat there in one spot for 4 days in steady drizzle thinking things out, and my down bag stayed perfect. there is no mentionable condesation even at sea level and freezing. i sewed in a large closable window, and this worked great.
verdict: flawless performance, but too big and heavy. ie .. nordic.

Chris Townsend
(Christownsend) - MLife

Locale: Cairngorms National Park
Hilleberg tents on 12/30/2006 10:29:53 MST Print View

During the 90s I led ski camping trips in Greenland, Spitsbergen, the Yukon and Lapland. We used Hilleberg Keron tunnel tents and they were superb, standing up to heavy snow and strong winds and being easy to pitch with mitts on in a blizzard. And back in 1992 I used a Nallo 2 for a walk the length of Norway and Sweden during a wet and windy summer. It performed excellently. Today I would take an Akto though - that tent didn't exist back then. Overall I've found Hilleberg tents superbly made, superbly designed and ideal for severe weather.

Jon McConachie
(hyker) - MLife

Locale: Sierra Nevada
EV2 on 06/15/2007 22:38:42 MDT Print View

One very nice aspect of the EV2 is the interior length. Very few tents have the length I need for my 6'5".

E C
(ofelas) - F

Locale: On the Edge
Re: Tunnel Tents on 09/15/2007 11:25:48 MDT Print View

Yup; I can attest to the stormproofness & bunker qualities of tunnel tents; I have one of the few Bibler Satellite Tunnel tents made, a great blend of usable space & lightness. Here it is pitched next to another Bibler for size comparision (a brand spanking new out of the sack 2 door Eldorado that I setup to seamseal).Satellite & Eldorado

Edited by ofelas on 09/15/2007 11:30:38 MDT.

James Waechter
(Weegie5)

Locale: Colorado Rockies
EV3 review? on 01/29/2009 14:59:44 MST Print View

From the Mountain Hardwear EV2 Review (which directs to this thread):

"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."

What is the status of a review of the MH EV 3? This review is over three years old. Despite the delay, I'd still love to see a review of the EV 3. Any timeline for it?

Was it at ORWM last week? MH still has it on their website.

Edit: corrected quoted text

Edited by Weegie5 on 01/29/2009 18:52:40 MST.

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. (http://www.terragalleria.com/mountain/info/ice/mk2.html). Also: http://www.terragalleria.com/mountain/mountain-area.mckinley.html

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.