I'm planning a seven night backpacking trip this fall where weight and comfort will be of supreme importance, and I decided that I need to spend a little money to do a gear makeover. One thing I've learned about backpacking is that less is more - we spend more money to save weight. And I decided to start with my tent.
I've had my Eastern Mountain Sports Velocity 1-person tent for about six years now. It has been a great little tent, but it always feels like I am sleeping in a coffin. The tent with its footprint (a little ground cloth that snaps to the bottom of the tent to extend its life) weights about 3.2 pounds. It is 24 inches wide at one end, 20 inches wide at the other end, and about seven feet long. There is no room to bring any gear in, other than clothing - which gets stuffed at the bottom of the tent next to my feet.
After research and thought (and saving up money), I bought a Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2 Platinum two person tent. I think the Platinum refers to the cost! It was very expensive, but my REI 20% coupon on any one full price item was a big help this year. This tent, with the footprint, weighs 3.0 pounds, or a tiny bit less than my other tent. Yet, it gives more than twice the space for less weight!
I used the new tent last weekend for the first time on two nights of camping out after backpacking into False Cape State Park, and love it so far. I can set it up in minutes, and it is extremely comfortable. There is a large door and vestibule on each side. With just me sleeping in there, it is like a palace, yet there is room for a second person if it ever came to that. (I have better odds of winning the lottery than of having my wife join me on a backpacking trip, but I am hoping to take my granddaughter camping this summer). There is room to bring gear into the tent, and there is room to put my pack under one vestibule while using the other for entry and exit. I think that I'm really going to like this tent. Next up - a new and lighter sleeping pad.
This tent is a "three season" tent, meaning it is OK for spring, summer, and fall. The tent itself has a waterproof "bathtub style" bottom, and mesh walls and ceilings. This allows moisture from one's breathing to go right out into the air, and not condense on the walls and rain down during the night. On a clear, warm night, one could sleep in the tent just like this, and look at the stars.
However, most of the time, you would put the waterproof rain fly over the tent. That not only gives rain protection, but also some warmth. The nights I was camping, it got to about 40 degrees, so the extra insulation was important. It would be interesting to see how the tent does in really cold (20 degree) weather. Note the door and the vestibule - one of each on both sides.
My sleeping pad fit nicely on one side of the tent, with floor space and room for gear on the other side.
I love the fact that my large pack easily fits under a vestibule. With my other tent, there is no such room, and the pack just has to lean against a tree. If it were pouring rain, and you were very careful, you could cook under the vestibule.
I look forward to many adventures with my new tent before I, or it, gets to old to have adventures!
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