Six Moon Designs Europa 2 Review

Single wall tent from cottage manufacturer, one rear hope pole, one trekking pole for setup. 2 lbs.

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by Doug Johnson | 2004-09-25 03:00:00-06

Overview

europa 2
Six Moon Designs Europa 2

The Six Moon Designs Europa 2 is a 2 pound (0.9 kilogram) silnylon, single-wall tent for two people. It is in the running for the roomiest and lightest two-person tent on the market. While it has some similarities to other single wall tents from GoLite, Tarptent, and Dancing Light Gear, it offers a unique and effective package. The combination of a rear hoop, front trekking pole support, and large floor area creates a large and comfortable living area for two people. The Europa 2 ventilates well with its mesh front door, rear mesh panel, and large side vents. It has some of the best ventilation and condensation management we've seen in a single wall tent. For storm protection, the covered vents and cantilevered front door with awning kept us dry in all but the most wind-driven rain, when we had some rain enter the front corners. The optional vestibule provides extra rain protection and more gear storage area. The Europa uses lightweight 1.3 oz/yd2 silnylon fabric. While not as abrasion or puncture resistant as heavier fabrics, this puts the weight of the Europa tent in competition with tarps and tarp shelters!

The Europa 2 is not without its faults. Instead of a true catenary ridgeline, it relies on its side guy outs to mimic a catenary curve. This design requires more guyline tension to get a taut ridgeline and is more susceptible to blow down in high winds. Further, we found it difficult to get even tension on the sides causing the Europa to flap in moderate winds. Pitching the Europa 2 with the rear into the wind minimized problems of wind stability and excessive flapping.

At $250 for the tent and $30 for the optional vestibule, the Six Moon Designs Europa 2 is an excellent value in a functional, lightweight, single wall tent.

Specifications

• Tent type

Single wall with floor

• Fabric Description

Canopy and floor - 1.3 oz/yd2 (44 g/m2) silicone nylon. Screens are no-see-um netting.

• Weight Full Package

As supplied by manufacturer with stuff sacks, stakes, guylines, etc. (note: no stakes included with tent)

Backpacking Light scale Manufacturer claim
1 lb 15.3 oz (0.89 kg) 2 lb 1 oz (0.94 kg)

• Weight Minumum Package

Includes tent body and fly, minimum necessary stakes and guylines, no stuff sacks or extra hardware.

Manufacturer supplied Backpacking Light
0.25 oz (7 g) titanium stakes used because none were included with the tent. 6 stakes, 8 ft (2.4 m) guyline. Same as Manufacturer Minimum but with 0.25 oz (7 g) titanium stakes and 0.004 oz/ft (0.37 g/m) Aircore 1 Spectra guylines. 6 stakes, 8 ft (2.4 m) guyline
2 lb 0.2 oz (0.91 kg) 2 lb 0 oz (0.91 kg)

• Floor Area

Backpacking Light measure ft2 (m2) Manufacturer claim ft2 (m2)
41.8 (3.9) 35+ (3.25+)

• Floor Area/Backpacking Light Minimum Weight ratio

1.31 ft2/oz (4.3 m2/kg)

• Optional Vestibule area

approximately 8 ft2 (0.74 m2) (open beak)

• Optional Vestibule weight

Backpacking Light scale oz (kg) Manufacturer claim oz (kg)
3.6 (0.10) 4.0 (0.11)

• Dimensions

  Inches Centimeters
Width 60/54 152/137
Length 90 229
Height 41/24 104/61

• MSRP

$250, Vestibule - $30

Features

Ease of setup

The Europa 2 sets up quickly and easily. A shock-corded aluminum pole slips into the rear sleeve and connects into a grommet on each end. From here, you stake the rear of the tent, preferably into the wind. Next, the front corners are staked out and a single trekking pole, extended to 48 inches is inserted into the awning grommet and the front is staked out with one adjustable guyline (The tent can also be set up with a stick or an aluminum pole or tied above to a tree.) Getting the front triangle tensioned correctly took us a little while initially but with practice was quite quick and simple. Lastly, stake out the side vents being careful not to overly disrupt the slight curve of the ridgeline. We put the tent up in a matter of minutes and with reasonable tension although the bit of looseness in the sides was difficult to eliminate.

Usable Features / Options

vestibule vestibule 2
Left: The Europa 2 features large side vents for increased ventilation and condensation management.

Right: With its large mesh side vents, it is virtually impossible for your bag to come in contact with condensation.

With mesh panels in the front, rear, and sides, the Europa 2 is airy for a single wall tent. The mesh panels are protected by silnylon flaps at the rear and sides and with a cantilevered door and extended awning at the front. In addition, an optional vestibule is available for $30 (described below). The Europa 2 also includes two mesh cargo pockets at the front and comes with two lightweight silnylon stuff sacks (0.5 and 0.4 ounces respectively) for the tent and pole. Guyline material is nylon in bright yellow for visibility. Stakes are not included with the Europa 2 but are available for purchase on their site along with Silnet seam sealer and an optional footprint. We used 0.25 ounce titanium stakes for our testing.

Weight / Sizing

With 41.75 square feet of floor area, the Europa 2 is very spacious for two people. (Some lightweight, two-person tents have less than 30 square feet of floor area.) There is plenty of room for two hikers and much of their gear. The Europa 2 has an impressive amount of space for the weight (area to weight ratio of 1.06 ft2/ounce) which includes good ventilation and a bathtub floor.

Flexibility of Pitching

Unlike a floorless shelter, the Europa 2 sets up only one way. It has a large footprint and requires a large space. Further, it is non-freestanding and needs stakes and/or rocks for set-up. The vestibule can be added for storm protection, extra storage space, and increased privacy or left at home or in the pack.

Usable Space

front view The large, beak-style vestibule offers privacy and increased storm-worthiness for just $30 and 3.6 ounces. A Velcro strip allows the vestibule to be rolled up for easy entrance/exit. Here, the vestibule is attached to the same stake as the front guyline. To achieve better tension use a separate stake.

The Europa 2 uses a hoop at the rear and a triangular front end. This creates nearly vertical sidewalls near your feet and more slanted walls at the head of the tent. The tent is also wider at the front by 6 inches. This combination gives you similar usable width at the front and rear. However, there is less usable space at the front than heavier tunnel or dome designs due to the sloping sidewalls. Of the 41.75 square feet of floor space, approximately 35 square feet would be considered "usable living space." However, we found that while the tight front corners were not usable for living space, they were great places for gear storage. This storage area along with the large footprint provided plenty of space for two people. The Europa 2 provided ample space for one person to sit up near the front of the tent. Due to the slanted walls, it was more cramped for two hikers to sit up at the same time. There is less room in the back of the tent because the ceiling gets lower and the footprint narrows towards the rear end. The extensive use of mesh in the sides makes the tent much more usable during times of heavy condensation because it is possible to move around without bumping into wet silnylon walls.

Usable Vestibule/Porch

The Europa 2 has an optional removable beak-style vestibule that adds approximately 8 square feet of coverage and weighs 3.6 ounces. The vestibule attaches to the Europa 2 with two side clips, a reinforced fabric hoop over the pole, and one guyline at the front. While it is possible to attach the vestibule to the same front stake as the tent's guyline, it tensioned better if we used a separate stake for it. While the vestibule could make getting in and out of the tent quite difficult, a long Velcro strip allows you to open it up and tie it off in the middle for better entrance and exit. This simple but effective design allows the user to easily get in and out of the tent without the need for an additional zipper. The vestibule does not go all the way to the ground but it still did a good job keeping our gear dry.

Field Performance

Stability

rear vent The Europa 2's rear vent is large and well protected.

The Six Moon Designs tent does not have a catenary-cut ridgeline. We found it difficult to get a taut ridgeline without heavy guyline tension. We also had difficulty getting even tension in all of the tent's panels. The side guy outs create a slight depression in the ridgeline to mimic a catenary arch and make the Europa stable enough for light winds. But in moderate winds gusts we experienced considerable flapping of the long roofline and considerable deflection of the sides. High winds are not the realm of the Europa 2. With only four additional guy-outs located above the side vents, we found no way to stake out the tent to protect it from high winds. In these conditions, the tent stakes at the front and rear pulled out during testing. Pitching the rear of the Europa 2 exactly into the wind minimized sidewall wind loading of the tent and made it more stable.

Storm Protection

The Europa 2 is a comfortable place to sit out a rainstorm. Its large mesh panels made the tent feel airy and the large bathtub-style floor provided plenty of space. However, the sloping roof does not make this a great place to sit up and play cards; only one person can comfortably sit up at a time. Lying down, there is plenty of room.

While we were initially skeptical about the ability of the cantilevered doorway and awning to provide full protection against Washington rain, the tent's performance made us believers. Even during heavy downpours, the doorway remained completely dry. In swirling, blowing rain, the doorway did get some water in the front corners but it was minimal. The optional vestibule provided more protection in a windy storm and provided a place to cook and store gear. Since it weighs less than 4 ounces we recommend using or at least bringing the vestibule in most situations.

The 1.3 oz/yd2 silnylon fabric used in the tent body was completely waterproof and shed water easily. The bathtub floor protected us from flowing water in heavy rain. The manufacturer recommends using a lightweight Tyvek or plastic ground cloth because, "If a puddle of water forms under the floor and you sit on it, water can be forced through the floor." We have experienced this with other silnylon floors and also recommend the use of a 1 or 2 mil plastic groundsheet to prevent leakage and protect the lightweight floor even though we experienced no leaking with the Eurpoa 2 pitched on wet ground.

The seams of the Europa 2 are not seam taped (impossible with Silnylon fabrics) or seam-sealed by Six Moon Designs. We experienced no leakage through the seams even though we never seam-sealed the tent.

Ventilation/Condensation Resistance

The Europa 2 offers the best ventilation and condensation management we've seen in a single wall tent. The large, open doorway, rear vent, and large side vents allow breezes to flow into the tent and provide excellent airflow. When air is still and cool, though, condensation occurs on the non-breathable silnylon walls. We experienced condensation during a windless 40 °F night. We did not find this to be a problem. The tent's large floor area, rear hoop with near-vertical side walls, and large mesh side panels kept our bags dry and well away from condensation on the silnylon portions of the tent. Condensation on the ceiling was minimal and easily wiped away with a bandanna. In our experience, the only tent that will keep you drier than the Europa 2 is a well-ventilated (and heavier) double wall tent or a single wall constructed out of more expensive (and heavier) waterproof/breathable fabrics, or a larger (and heavier) single wall such as the MSR Missing Link.

As with any single wall tent, keeping the doors and vestibule open will help to reduce condensation. (Note: Open the mosquito netting door if you can. Mosquito netting prevents airflow to a surprising degree increasing condensation.)

Insect Protection

The Europa 2 keeps you completely protected from insects. While hiding out, you can enjoy views out of the large mesh door as well as peek-a-boo views through the side vents. While we've seen tents that afford greater views during heavy mosquito pressure, we have seen few that match the weight, floor space, and storm protection of this tent. As has been mentioned, there isn't much room for two campers to sit up when hanging out in the tent; you'll have to enjoy the prone position for the most part.

Durability Field Observations

Silnylons have a high tensile strength but are prone to punctures and abrasion. The Europa 2 is no exception. Although we never used a ground sheet when testing this tent and camped on branches and rocks with no problems, we highly recommend the use of a lightweight 1 or 2 mil plastic ground sheet to protect the floor of the tent. Although the Europa 2 should last many seasons if treated nicely; it is not a tent to be treated harshly. We did puncture a stuff sack with a pole, highlighting the need to treat all silnylon products with care. That said, we were hard on the Europa 2 and experienced no problems with the tent.

All stake-out points are double bar-tacked for increased durability. Although a smaller YKK zipper is used in the doorway, we experienced no problems during our testing sessions. The rear pole has two brass grommets on each side to allow for product stretch and also added strength to these attachment points.

Value

At $250 for the tent and $30 for the optional vestibule, the Six Moon Designs Europa 2 is a mid-priced tent. For that price you get excellent ventilation, a large usable space, good storm resistance, and a weight of just 2 pounds (not including the single trekking pole). While this is not the tent that we would take mountaineering or in the winter, it is perfect for three season backpacking for anything but exposed and very windy conditions. If you like the concept of a tarp but want the complete coverage and insect protection of a tent, the Europa 2 is a well thought-out package at a reasonable price.

Final thoughts

Tips and Tricks

Before you hit the trail, be sure to set up the Europa 2 in your backyard and find the trekking pole length that works best in the front triangle. Mark this spot on your pole(s) for quick and easy set-up in the field when you're tired.

From skin out weight can be reduced further by trading out the telescoping trekking pole for a lighter, fixed length trekking pole (such as those made by Gossamer Gear and Bozeman Mountain Works), a stick, an aluminum pole, or tying it off to a tree.

The Europa 2 does not come with stakes. We were happy with the performance of the 0.25 ounce titanium stakes we used for testing. Only six are needed for this tent but we recommend a seventh if you use the vestibule.

When staking out the side vents, be sure to pull them out just to the point where the roofline starts to be pulled down slightly. This will mimic a catenary cut ridgeline without disrupting the roofline tension.

If you know you are walking into a storm, the vestibule is worth the extra weight. In our experience you won't need it for a normal rainstorm. If you get into a storm with a consistent wind direction, be sure to put the rear into the wind-this maximizes the tent's wind stability.

Recommendations for Improvement

A roofline with a catenary cut would make it much easier to achieve a taut ridgeline on the Europa 2 and is recommended to make this tent more stable in wind.

We experienced a small gap between the tent body and the vestibule toward the attachment clips. Moving these attachments would eliminate this minor problem.

Last, a heavier fabric used on the floor would increase durability and water resistance with a minimal weight penalty. Perhaps this could be offered as an option.


Citation

"Six Moon Designs Europa 2 Review," by Doug Johnson. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/six_moon_designs_europa_2_tent_review.html, 2004-09-25 03:00:00-06.

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