Outdoors 1077

Published on June 6th, 2010 | by Greg


Truly Outdoors in Summer 2010: Mountain Hardwear and Eureka!

Last year, we had a great summer testing out gear. We tried everything from ultra-cozy two-person sleeping bags to camera bags to compact cooking sets. This year, there have been plenty of updates, and we’ll be looking at some of the newest, neatest gear for all budgets, regions, climates, and types from our friends. We’ll start with two tents, both suitable for three seasons, from Eureka! and Mountain Hardwear.

The Raven 2 is part of Mountain Hardwear’s backpacking category, as opposed to a superlight, expedition, or camp tent. They balance weight with durability, and are meant for use in even rainy conditions. Much like the previous tent from them that we’ve used, this is a tent that can almost be used year round (we wouldn’t want to use it in snow). But this one weighs a bit more at five pounds- not a lot, and it never bothered us, especially since we also tried out the optional footprint.

This way, you can make use of the Pitch Light option which takes it down to a around three and a half pounds, great for mild weather like summer camping. It lowers the weight by a lot, since you just need the fly, poles, and the lightweight custom-fitted sheet that serves as a floor. It’s pretty easy to set up and take down- faster even than the normal operation once you’ve gotten everything together and separated out. However, it’s a bit less comfortable, and we really liked the two side doors that made it easy for either person to escape when nature called at night. As always with Mountain Hardwear, everything is well-made, fit together nicely, and was quite watertight. We didn’t face a downpour, only some mild rain- but not a drop made it through. The footprint felt a little awkward in use; a bit of a pity- perhaps we were just spoiled by the solid 70 denier floor on the main tent, though the footprint is made of the same material. Poles were color-coded for simple construction, and reflective tabs made night-time setup a breeze, plus vertical walls make your tent stand out a bit and also increase the space inside, meaning it’s a bit easier to move around for taller folks. Only available in one color, we could have used some pockets or storage space but quite liked the Raven 2 for durable, all-around use. Available for $250; footprint is about $30.

For those needing a bit of extra space for another person, consider the Tessel 3 from Eureka! We’ve previously used some of their camping gear, including the fantastically-useful folding bench and table set. It fits three people, a bit too snugly if they are all large adults, and offers a nice full-coverage dual-vent fly which creates two vertibules (and can be configured as an awning even, using some extra poles, and with a spiffy roll-up entry). The shape is pretty unique- a sort of box/dome combination- and we couldn’t decide whether it was comfortable. It was fairly spacious though, considering the overall size and weight, and supposedly offers a leading internal volume in fact. But it probably isn’t a good choice for throwing parties and sitting around in. On the other hand, six storage pockets meant plenty of places to stow our various bags, supplies, food, etc. There are two doors, though they aren’t large.

Once again, we were able to try out the Lite-Set Footprint, which works similarly- leave the main part of the tent at home and take the fly and poles. It cuts the weight by 25%, or can be used in combination as a bit of extra padding for your regular tent floor. The netting on the Tessel 3 is quite good, and allowed us a lovely view of the nighttime sky (along with plenty of ventilation without any hassle from bugs). Setup though, was a bit difficult- it’s hard to manage with one person, even with practice. Stargazers will love this tent, as will anyone looking for a cozy tent that won’t weigh you down too badly, at around 7 pounds. Two adults and a kid are a great fit; we wouldn’t really recommend three adults unless you don’t mind sleeping shoulder-to-shoulder. Make sure you bring the fly and some extra poles, so you can enjoy the nifty awning- a bit harder to setup, but more fun to use. $360, available online.

About the Author

Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Apple’s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.

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