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How to choose a two-person hiking tent

 

Snug in the tent! South Island, NZ

Tents, more than any other piece of outdoor equipment, involve compromises between conflicting properties. Many of these involve weight versus various properties. For example: weight vs size, weight vs stability, weight vs durability. There are other factors such as lighter weight quality fabrics are expensive to produce.

So which tent is the right one for you?

 
Here are some potential scenarios with the answers. We have written these using our years of experience in the bush and to help make your decision easier. Of course we sell many other tents than these. Details and specifications on all these can be found in our tent-buying guide. This is an opinionated piece. What do you think? Send us an email at info@bogong.com.au with your ideas.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scenario 1. Bushwalking tent suitable for walking all seasons in South-eastern Australia and New Zealand.


Our recommendation: Mont Firefly

Why? The Firefly offers good comfortable accommodation for two persons. Other tents are lighter but are generally smaller. A tent needs to be suitable for the worst conditions you may encounter; in good conditions any tent will do.

The Firefly is a cross ridge sleeping design with both occupants having access to an entrance/exit without crawling over the other person. It has two
Mont Firefly Tent
vestibules offering space for both occupants to store a pack and boots etc. Two wide doors offer excellent cross ventilation. The inner is made of nylon, which is warmer than mesh tents in cold weather, and offers more protection from dripping condensation or random leaks. The inner doors are double with a full mesh door backed by a full nylon door. Thus you can be zipped up as snug as a bug if necessary or infinite adjustment to have as much mesh exposed on the doors as conditions dictate. The Firefly is easy to erect and very stable with a double cross pole structure. It also offers many small thoughtful features such as reflective guy ropes, laminated floor, good quality fabrics and is a very reasonable price for such a well performing tent.
 

Scenario 2. Lightest two-person functional bushwalking tent.

Our recommendation: Mont Moondance 2

Why? At the outset it should be said that to get the weight down involves compromises. It is our job to inform you as to what these compromises are so you can make an informed decision as to whether these compromises are worthwhile.

Mont Moondance 2 3-season tent

The Mont Moondance 2 is an exceptionally light tent. It comes in at 1.95 kg complete with all the required pegs, guys and bags to carry it in. However it remains an extremely functional walking tent. To achieve this Mont have used the highest quality fabrics such as a laminated floor with an extremely high waterhead of 10,000mm whilst still very light. This is a more expensive fabric construction. Most brands simply put lighter coatings on their floor fabrics to keep them light and these just do not cut it when you need them to.

So what are the drawbacks? The tent will fit two people but is smaller than, say, the Firefly. It tapers slightly towards one end. 

This can be a problem if you like to use two thick full length mats in the tent. The inner only has a single door with mesh upper section and nylon lower section. The entire upper part of the tent is made from mesh which cuts the weight. This means it cannot be sealed up in inclement weather or if it is cold. However it does have nylon right around the lower section up to a reasonable height which is much better than some competing tents which are mesh right to the floor. This has the effect of creating a heat island in the lower part of the tent and stops splashback from driving rain. The vestibules are only small and it is difficult to accommodate a pack in them. It is probably better to leave your pack outside under a raincover. If you were stuck in this tent during an extended bout of bad weather it would be crowded and difficult to cook in the vestibules.
 

Scenario 3. Tent for extended walking in foul weather areas. ie Tasmania, NZ


Our recommendation: Exped Venus II
 
Whilst the Firefly would be quite suitable in this category, the Exped Venus II offers enhanced functionality on several fronts and if you do a lot of hiking in these types of areas it is well worth considering. Like the Firefly it has a fully nylon inner, has plenty of space for two persons with two good sized vestibules.
 
Advantages of the Venus II over the Firefly:
Exped Venus II Tent 
 1.         Integral pitch. This means the pole sleeves are in the fly and the inner is attached underneath to the fly. This is better for pitching the tent in inclement conditions, as the inner remains protected during the pitching process. In high winds it means the stress is transmitted directly to the structure of the tent and the whole thing is more stable. It is extremely easy to pitch as the inner and fly all go up in one operation.
2.         Large vestibules. Plenty of room to stash your gear in wet weather and also excellent for cooking in if required. There is also good overhang over the inner so it is not exposed at all when entering the tent in the rain.
3.         Serious multi fit guying system for extreme wind conditions.
4.         Slightly roomier inner which is important when tent-bound due to bad weather.
5.         Fly comes right down to ground level. This offers better weather protection but is a trade off with the ventilation.
 
Disadvantages.
1.         Heavier. 2.95kg vs 2.8kg for the Firefly
2.         Ventilation not as good because the fly comes right down.
3.         Difficult to pitch inner only (although possible) and harder to dry out because of integral pitch design.
4.         Price. This is a more expensive tent
 

Scenario 4. Tent for snow camping and alpine conditions.


Our recommendation: Mont Epoch

NB: The Mont Epoch is currently out of stock and is being redesigned. The new updated Epoch is due for release in April 2017. At right is a sneak preview image of an early sample that we have seen at Bogong.

Why? The Mont Epoch is designed to stand up to serious alpine conditions. It has a very stable pole structure with six poles completing the whole structure. A roomy inner means that there is plenty of space to sit out a prolonged period of bad weather and the pole arch in the vestibule means there is plenty of vertical space so that you can cook with as much safety and convenience as is possible for this task.

Mont Epoch Tent
The Epoch comes in safety yellow which makes the tent easier to find in the snow. So if you need to sit out the storm this is the tent to be in. An added feature is that the pole sleeves have been designed so an extra set of poles can be purchased and the tent can be double poled for extreme conditions. The disadvantage is of course the weight. The extra space, stability and strength means this tent comes in at 3.55kg. This is still a credible weight for such a complete package.Bogong is very pleased to be offering the Mont Epoch which is the best value 4 season/snow camping tent which we have had for some time.
 
Tents with particular niches for special needs. A few thoughts follow.
 

Scenario 5. Tent for a tall person. Say taller than 200cm.

Our recommendation: Exped Vela II

 
Exped Vela II Tent The discussion is fairly obvious here. Simply put, the Vela II will accommodate a person of any height. We have never had a customer that was too tall to fit in a Vela II although very tall people will struggle with many of our other tents. The Vela II has a somewhat left field design with no zip on the vestibule but instead a little pulley system which draws up the fly. A bit tricky the first time you meet it but users have told us that once you get used to it is quick and simple to use. The Vela II is also a useful tent for someone who wishes to store their rucksack inside the tent because for most people there is ample room to do so at your head or feet.
 
 
 

Scenario 6. Heavy-duty bombproof tent that will be abused and mishandled.

Our recommendation: Wilderness Equipment i-Explore
 
Wilderness Equipment i-Explore 3 Tent
The WE i-Explore is made to a higher build standard than our other tents. For example it uses #10 zippers on the fly vestibules, which is like a heavy rucksack closure zip. It also reinforced at all stress points and uses solid fabrics. It is therefore ideal for use by schools, hire operations or anyone who is rough on their equipment. It has plenty of space for two persons plus gear and offers good cross ventilation. The downside of this tent is of course the weight. It comes in at 4.2 kg.