Published on June 6th, 2010 | by Greg0
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.