Six Moon Designs Europa Tent REVIEW

Possibly the finest 2-pound two-person shelter on the market - providing you don't intend to use it above tree line in intense winds.

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by Alan Dixon | 2006-10-11 03:00:00-06

Introduction

six-moon-designs-europa-single-wall-tent-review REVIEW - 1
The overhanging front of the Europa allows you to leave the vestibule pulled back even in moderate rain to significantly improve ventilation and views. Here, the tent interior was mostly dry after the vestibule was left open all night in the rain.

Six Moon Designs and Tarptent continually compete to make the best ultralight single-walled tent on the market. In keeping with the competition, the revised Six Moon Designs Europa (updated in 2005) is an improvement over its predecessor and a serious competitor to the popular Tarptent Squall 2. The Europa is exceptionally large for a full-featured 2-pound tent and has one of highest area to weight ratios we’ve seen in a tent. At 7.5 feet long inside, the Europa will accommodate the tallest backpackers. Like the Squall 2, the Europa is a complete, full featured tent for around 2 pounds with bug protection, weather protection, a full bathtub floor and a vestibule you can cook in. It has a fast setup with a single pole and only four stakes. But of course it's not perfect...

Refer to Comparison: Tarptent Squall 2 and Six Moon Designs Europa for a detailed discussion of the differences between these two tents.

six-moon-designs-europa-single-wall-tent-review REVIEW - 2
The Europa has a large floor area. It has excellent ventilation for a single walled tent due to lots of mesh on the side and rear walls. Also notice how well the mesh sidewalls keep tent contents like the sleeping bag away from the tent fly. In addition to storage are in the end of the tent, when the vestibule is open there is room along the side of the tent wall but under the fly for storage.

What’s Good

  • Large floor area and very high area to weight ratio. Interior length of 7.5 feet is great for tall sleepers and leaves dry storage room in rear of tent
  • Gaps between tent canopy and interior mesh walls can be used as secondary vestibules
  • Excellent condensation resistance for a non-breathable single-wall tent
  • Overhang on front of tent allows use of tent in rain without vestibule in many conditions, substantially improving ventilation, condensation resistance and views in rainy conditions
  • Huge amounts of mesh (two thirds of the interior tent walls are mesh) provide excellent ventilation and keeps sleeping bags away from condensing tent walls
  • Doors and beak are easily rolled up for full ventilation and views. Rolling up door mesh increases air flow and ventilation and significantly decreases condensation
  • Floating bathtub floor reduces floor tension and minimizes punctures from sharp objects - important for a light 1.3 oz/yd2 silnylon floor
  • Fast, four stake, single trekking pole setup. Webbing and buckle guy line adjusters on all tent cords. Can adjust tent tension without going outside
  • Large beak vestibule provides excellent protection but has enough of a gap at the bottom for good airflow. Stiffened vestibule vent stays open in rain

What’s Not So Good

  • Fussy about pitch. Can only get tent body taut when front pole height is in a narrow range
  • Vestibule works only with a very specific tie-out cord angle, which may be a bit too steep to apply full tension to the tent’s ridgeline
  • With a singe front pole, the tent entry area is somewhat cramped for two people to sit side by side
  • Center Velcro closure on beak/vestibule is difficult to close

Specifications

  Model/Year

2005 Six Moon Designs Europa (with Ultralight Floor) tested (same as 2006 model)

  Style

Two-person single wall tent with floor

  Fabrics

1.3 oz/yd2 (44 g/m2) silicone impregnated ripstop nylon, 1 oz/yd2 (34 g/m2) no-see-um netting

  Pole Material

Hoop Pole: Easton 7075 HS aluminum, 9 mm diameter

  Weight Full Package
As supplied by manufacturer with all included items

Measured weight: 2 lb 1.9 oz (0.96 kg)
Shelter 1 lb 13.3 oz (0.83 kg), rear pole 4.0 oz (113 g), stuff sack 0.6 oz (17 g)
Manufacturer’s specification 2 lb 1.0 oz (0.94 kg) with Ultralight Floor and 2 lb 5.0 oz (1.05 kg) with Standard Floor.
Note: tent does not come with stakes.

  Weight Manufacturer Minimum
Includes minimum number of items needed to erect tent

2 lb 2.9 oz (0.99 kg) measured weight (assumes purchase of 4 Easton stakes from manufacturer and using personal trekking pole for the front pole)

  Weight Backpacking Light Minimum
Same as Manufacturer Minimum but with 0.25 oz (7 g) titanium stakes and Spectra guylines

2 lb 2.3 oz (0.97 kg) measured weight (assumes using personal trekking pole for the front pole)

  Area

Total covered area: 45.0 ft2 (4.19 m2); sewn in floor is 34.3 ft2 (3.19 m2); vestibule area (beak-style) is 10.7 ft2 (1.00 m2)

  Area to Backpacking Light Minimum Weight Ratio

1.31 ft2/oz

  Dimensions

Length: 148 in (378 cm), Width: 77 / 54 in (196 / 137 cm), Height: 48 in (122 cm) tested height. Variable between 45 to 48 inches with adjustable trekking pole (Backpacking Light measured dimensions)

  Dimensions Sewn-in floor

Length: 89 in (226 cm), Width: 57 / 54 in (145 / 137 cm) (measured by Backpacking Light)

  MSRP

$290

  Options

Carbon Fiber Tent Pole (front pole) $25, 1.8 oz (52 g)
Tyvek Footprint 6.5 oz (184 g), size: 54 x 84 in (136 x 213 cm)
6 in (15 cm) Easton Stakes $2, 0.3 oz (9 g)

Performance

At just over 2 pounds and 45 square feet (floor plus vestibule), the Europa has one of the highest area to weight ratios we’ve seen in a tent. Quarters are spacious for two large adults with additional floor space and storage to spare. Two inside pockets provide storage for small items. With the vestibule open, there is storage along the side of the tent wall but under the fly. The 7.5 foot long floor provides plenty of storage area in the rear of the tent - enough for both backpacks and additional gear.

six-moon-designs-europa-single-wall-tent-review REVIEW - 3
The Europa on a spring trip along the Appalachian Trail.

The Europa is a single wall tent constructed of silicone-impregnated ripstop nylon. It uses a single aluminum hoop pole in the rear and a trekking pole in front (or an optional fixed length pole). The Europa sets up with four stakes and has the option of using two more with side guyouts. The Europa has perimeter no-see-um netting for bug protection and a front door that opens along the bottom and right side. The front mesh door stows away with Velcro tabs. In humid conditions leave the mesh pulled back if possible to reduce condensation in the tent - mesh across the door opening slows airflow a surprising amount.

The standard Europa package includes the tent body with attached floor, a generously sized silnylon tent stuff sack, and a rear hoop pole. You supply the front pole, usually a trekking pole, but a fixed-length carbon pole can be purchased from Six Moon Designs. You’ll need to supply four stakes (six if you use the side guy outs) since, astonishingly, this $290 tent does not come with stakes. We recommend using a 0.3-ounce Easton aluminum stake (available from Six Moon Designs and other suppliers) for the center guyout. Standard titanium stakes are fine for the rest of the guyouts in most situations.

The current Europa preserves the cantilevered (overhanging) front found in earlier versions. This design eases entry into the tent by moving the center pole away from the door. Additionally it provides a covered area that keeps rain out of the tent when the vestibule is open and creates a protected cooking area.

The overhanging front entry is a significant reason for the Europa’s excellent condensation resistance. Being able to leave the vestibule fully or half open in many conditions, dramatically increases airflow and reduces condensation over a tent with a closed vestibule (especially if you also roll back the Europa's mesh door). With the vestibule open there is still plenty of room in the rear of the tent and along the sides under the fly to stow gear without need for the vestibule. The 7.5 foot length of the tent floor allows you to scoot back from the entrance a bit to stay even more out of the rain. Most times you can cook under the shelter of the overhanging front without worrying about humidity buildup in the tent and the poor ventilation caused by a closed vestibule. As a bonus, an open vestibule gives you better views and reduces claustrophobia.

six-moon-designs-europa-single-wall-tent-review REVIEW - 4
The Europa has webbing and buckle guyline adjusters on all three front guy line attachments (center and both sides). These make proper tensioning (and nighttime adjustments) very easy and eliminate annoying re-staking to increase tension. You can stay inside the shelter of the tent to make all adjustments. The front guyline adjustment is cleverly upside-down to make adjustment from inside the tent easier.

The Europa goes up in just a few minutes. The rear pole slides into a rear sleeve and is held in place by a grommet on each side. The front pole is then inserted into a grommet and erected with a single guy line. Corner guy lines are staked and tensioned. Finally the rear hoop is repositioned to even out the sidewall tension by moving it back slightly. The Europa has webbing and buckle guyline adjusters at all front guy line attachments that make proper tensioning (and nighttime adjustments) very easy. The front guy line adjustment is cleverly upside-down to make adjustment from inside the tent easier.

six-moon-designs-europa-single-wall-tent-review REVIEW - 5
The Europa has a fairly taut pitch once you get the correct pole height.

We recommend anchoring the center guy line with an Easton aluminum stake. For a similar weight, the Easton stakes are stronger and have more holding power than standard 0.25-ounce titanium skewer stakes, which is important, especially in soft soils, as the front guyline takes a lot of tension due to a very steep angle.

The Europa pitches very quickly once you have the front pole height dialed-in. This tent is very picky about front pole height and only comes reasonably taut at a narrow range of pole heights. We found it worked best around 48 inches (120 cm). If you vary the tent pitch height as the SMD literature suggests, the tent body looses some tension and the floor doesn't hang quite right. The front tie-out angle on the Europa may be a bit too steep to apply full tension to the ridgeline.

The floating bathtub floor of the Europa is an improvement over the previous model. The floor is attached at the corners with elastic cords allowing you to achieve a taut pitch on the tent body independent of floor tension. This leaves the floor under minimal tension, which reduces punctures from sharp objects under the floor. The elastic cords raise the bathtub sides of the floor so that the tent stays drier in splashing rain and stays cleaner in dusty conditions.

six-moon-designs-europa-single-wall-tent-review REVIEW - 6
For a single walled tent, the Europa does an excellent job of controlling condensation. The front overhang is a key element since it protrudes enough that the full vestibule is not needed in many conditions. This dramatically increases airflow and reduces condensation over a tent with a closed vestibule (especially if you also roll back the mesh door). You can even cook under the shelter of the overhanging front.

In rainy conditions, the silnylon canopy of the Europa extends beyond the floor below by almost a foot, providing solid rain protection. The Europa does well with splashing rain, particularly along the sides and in the front corners where the bathtub floor and tent wall overhang do a creditable job of keeping rain out. When needed, the vestibule provides over 10 square feet of well protected storage area.

six-moon-designs-europa-single-wall-tent-review REVIEW - 7
The Europa has a large and protective vestibule but you don't need to use it in most conditions.

The new Europa’s larger and lower-extending vestibule does a better job than previous models' of protecting gear stored outside the tent. The vestibule still provides good ventilation. A clip attachment to the front guy line is easy to use and the beak rolls away to the sides with Velcro tabs when not in use. The center Velcro closure on the vestibule is hard to close when under proper tension.

six-moon-designs-europa-single-wall-tent-review REVIEW - 8
The Europa’s vestibule vent has a stiffener so it stays open for ventilation and keeps rain out.

We found the Europa durable enough for normal use. If you don’t pitch it on rough surfaces such as gravel or sharp sticks the Europa will give years of reliable performance in the field. We did use care when on sharp or rocky surfaces and in those conditions used a light spinnaker groundsheet under the tent floor. We also have a few reservations about the very taut front guyline. We think that reducing the guyline angle may help reduce the guyline tension while still achieving a taut ridgeline.

What’s Unique

If you’re not intending to use the Europa above tree line in intense winds it is probably the finest 2-pound two person shelter on the market. The Europa provides the best combination of a huge interior living area, storage area, amenities and condensation management that we have seen in a fully featured 2-pound tent.

What is unique about Europa is its condensation resistance. Two thirds of the inner tent walls are mesh for improved ventilation and the mesh keeps sleeping bags away from the condensing outer walls. The overhanging front of the tent also contributes to the excellent condensation resistance.

Recommendations for Improvement

six-moon-designs-europa-single-wall-tent-review REVIEW - 9
Although two sitting side by side is possible, it is cramped in the Europa. But its high center peak makes it very roomy for one to sit up. The Squall 2 has more room for two people to sit side by side.

  • The Europa has room for improvement on the tautness of its pitch. It does not get quite as taut as the Squall 2 and is more particular about front pole height. It doesn’t allow the multiple height pitching that Six Moon Designs suggests (it loses tension at lower pitch heights). We suspect that the overall tent geometry needs to be tweaked - possibly with a more catenary-like ridgeline. A less steeply sloped front tieout might also help put more tension on the ridgeline and less on the front guyline.
  • We love the overhanging front of the tent but wish it had even more overhang - as much as the previous model Europa or possibly more. This would allow rolling back the vestibule in even more inclement weather conditions.
  • The center Velcro closure on the vestibule is difficult to secure. We understand that it will be replaced with a zipper in future models.
  • The tent’s side pockets hit the floor. We suggest moving them up so they hang correctly.


Citation

"Six Moon Designs Europa Tent REVIEW," by Alan Dixon. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/six_moon_designs_europa_single_wall_tent_review.html, 2006-10-11 03:00:00-06.

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Six Moon Designs Europa Tent REVIEW
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Carol Crooker
(cmcrooker) - MLife

Locale: Desert Southwest, USA
Six Moon Designs Europa Tent REVIEW on 10/10/2006 23:31:39 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Six Moon Designs Europa Tent REVIEW

ROBERT TANGEN
(RobertM2S) - M

Locale: Lake Tahoe
Re: Europa tent on 10/12/2006 18:58:52 MDT Print View

Could you improve the front guyline problem with the following? Before installing the front pole, tie a spectra cord firmly to the front pole near the spike end, thread the cord up through the grommet, pull the grommet down over the spike of the pole, then use the cord as a long front guyline in addition to the short guyline, but having a better angle?