Wednesday, May 19, 2010
World's Lightest 4-Season Tent
Last summer the world's lightest 4-season tent was released to the fan fare of - well, very few. Whether people didn't know it existed or balked at the price tag, either way, I've heard very little chatter about a tent that I think is pretty fascinating.
The "Rocket" by Brooks Range (http://www.brooks-range.com/) is a 1 pound 6 ounce "mountaineering" tent which boasts roughly 25 feet of floor space, a peak height of 38", and a 7 sq/ft vestibule. It is 129" long and has a tapering width of 48" to 38". By sheer numbers alone, this is a pretty respectable size for a tent so spacious that weighs so little.
The Rocket comes with supporting poles, although it can also be set up with trekking poles and an avalanche probe. Why the avalanche probe? Well, it is a 4-season mountaineering tent and it is assumed this is something the user would already be carrying with them anyway. Perhaps overzealous marketing or wishful thinking, but either way it is nice to have options.
So what makes this tent so light? You guessed it - Cuben Fiber, or more specifically "CT3" fabric which is waterproof, extremely light, and very tough.
Despite this being a tent that I'd like to have in my gear closest, I'm like many who are apparently unwilling to dish out the healthy $600 price tag that comes with it. So, it will remain something that I hope will end up on my doorset one day. Donations accepted.
So if you don't have the money to spare and you don't need a full 4-season tent, what other options do you have for a full coverage tent? Well, you could get solid lightweight three-season shelters from many manufacturers. This includes Gossamer Gear (http://www.gossamergear.com/) who offers a solo tent in "The One" ($295/16 oz or the duo "Squall Classic" ($325/21.4 oz). You could try out several great options from Tarp Tent (http://www.tarptent.com/) such as the solo "Sublite" ($179, 19.75 oz), "Contrail" ($199/24.5 oz) or duo "Double Rainbow" ($260/40 oz), "Squall 2" ($230/34 oz), "Rainshadow 2" ($265/40 oz), etc. You could try several offerings from Six Moon Designs (http://www.sixmoondesigns.com/) such as the "Lunar Solo" ($235/23 oz), "Lunar Duo" ($310/39 oz), "Vamp" ($323/28 oz) or "Haven" ($355/36 oz). A smaller manufacturer recently getting some air time as they revamp their design and production process is Lightheart Tents (http://www.lightheartgear.com/) whom I saw at Trail Days two years ago. At $235 for the solo (27 oz) or $295 for the Duo (32 oz), they will no doubt have an impact on the future of lightweight backpacking. Course if you really want to go lightweight and don't mind walls and floors made out of only mosquito netting, you could go to Zpacks (http://www.zpacks.com/) and pick up the Hexamid ($275/8.2 oz) or Hexamid Duo ($345/10.5 oz). The "Fly Creek" series by Big Agnes is also a nice option from a mainstream manufacturer. The solo is $299/30 oz and the Duo is $350/34 oz.
For four-season tents, you'll need to focus on other options such at the Moment ($215/28.5 oz) from Tarp Tent, although I'd put it and the Brooks Range Rocket in the 3+ season category personally. My advice for a genuine 4-season tent is the Stephenson's Warmlite (http://www.warmlite.com/) which are expensive, but are made well, have excellent space-to-weight, and have been around long enough for the best design to rise to the top.