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australia:tents

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choosing a tent for Australian conditions

Introduction

  • there is no one perfect tent or shelter for all purposes or people
  • like many things in life your “best” tent to buy will be determined by a range of factors:
    • price
      • in general, the lighter the high quality tent for the level of storm proofing, the more expensive it will be
      • cheap tents under $AU100 are likely to fail in strong winds and not be adequately watersealed and potentially expose you to a very cold, wet night - only use these in guaranteed fair weather conditions, although they could make a nice insect tent for hot nights (as long as no thunderstorms are forecast)
    • weight you are prepared to carry if hiking
      • if hiking with 1 or 2 others, you may be able to share the tent and thus the load which may make a 3P tent more appealing
      • car campers have the luxury of allowing more weight for either lower cost or greater space, strength and/or durability
      • if hiking for many days on a trail then weight and packability become increasingly important and thus many will prefer a trekking pole tent over a freestanding tent - and whilst these will also be less likely to fail in being able to be set up (eg. no poles to break), they do suffer from much more condensation issues as they are generally single wall tents, they are not as robust in strong winds and you can't take the fly off to watch the night sky.
      • if hiking in alpine areas in possible snow conditions, a tunnel tent may offer a better compromise between weight and storm proofing than a dome or a trekking tent.
    • size
      • the degree to which tents can pack down to, in particular, the pole length, can have important ramifications with your hiking set up.
    • is it freestanding or does it need pegging and guy ropes?
      • freestanding is important if you wish to be able to move it easily after setting up, or if you want to set up on concrete or wooden elevated camp sites which are becoming common in NZ, Grampians, and Tasmania.
      • in general, trekking pole tents and tunnel tents are NOT freestanding, and not all dome tents are freestanding
    • space and livability - how many people and much space do you want per person
      • generally a 2P tent is best for one person and a 3P tent is best for 2 people, but if weight is critical and livability is not so critical, then a 1P is just OK for one person.
      • a 3P version of a 2P tent is generally 30cm wider, 5cm taller and minimally heavier
      • do you need to factor in spending many hours in the tent waiting for the rain to clear?
      • internal tent height may be a significant factor especially for tall people, although the taller the tent the more stresses in strong winds and the larger the air volume in the tent so the less warm it will keep you
    • dual doors vs one door
      • especially useful if two people sleeping
    • door size
      • large doors make it easier for ingress/egress, provide better ventilation if full nylon inner canopy, reduce stress on your back getting in and out, and potentially allow two people to sit in door side by side as they enjoy their meal looking out over the horizon
    • vestibule space to provide storage for backpacks, etc and perhaps allow cooking out of the rain
      • Exped Orion is great for this giving 95cm space
    • durability and toughness
      • do you need it to withstand school kids or severe environments
    • ability to withstand strong winds
      • these can occur anytime and its here when cheap tents especially with fibreglass poles tend to fail and end up in the bin
      • aerodynamic stability of tent design is an important factor as well as strength of poles and ability to attach guy ropes, especially at the wind end.
      • the taller the tent the more wind stress it needs to cope with
    • ability to cope with heavy rain and water under the tent
      • PU nylon fly is better than silicon nylon flies for wet weather at the cost of more susceptibility to UV
      • floors need to be at least 5000mm waterhead rated, 10,000mm is better while some Mont tents boast 25,000mm which is almost as good as Gortex
      • vestibule design needs to ensure rain spray is minimal into the tent when the vestibule is opened - the Exped Orion excels at this thanks to its long ridge pole and deep vestibule of 95cm.
    • ability to keep you warm in cold weather
      • the fly needs to be adequate to keep the internal dry
      • the inner “canopy” being full fabric such as nylon is useful in southern areas of Australia or in alpine hikes
      • doors should be full mesh PLUS full nylon to give the greatest versatility although this does come at a weight cost
      • the bigger the tent the less warm it will keep you
    • ability to ventilate adequately to avoid your breathing causing condensation and making everything wet
      • ability to open ceiling vents
      • dual wall tents generally avoid the issue of condensation making you wet inside the tent which is a problem with single wall tents
    • ability to ventilate in hot humid conditions
      • inner “canopy” tent needs to either have lots of mesh, or at least two large mesh doors, and it needs to be able to have the fly removed
      • canvas tents have the additional option of making the canvas wet to create an evaporative air conditioner effect, but these are heavy and need relatively dry air conditions for this to be effective
    • ability to minimise entry of dust or sand in wind storms
      • fully enclosed fabric inner canopies are probably the best bet
    • luxury items such as:
      • internal pockets
      • gear loft to store clothes etc overhead
      • internally accessible zippable vents preferably with zips for both mesh and nylon options
      • ability to peg open vestibule flaps
      • ceiling hooks to hold lamps, etc
      • guy rope management systems
      • reflective parts for better visibility at night
      • internal lighting system such as battery operated LED strips
      • higher quality zips
      • glow in the dark zips to make them easier to find
      • snow skirts - these apparently are generally not needed in Australia as the Aussie snow tends to be more icy
    • tent set up versatility
      • can it be set up easily in heavy rain without the inner canopy getting wet?
      • in hot conditions when you want the lightest pack, can you set it up with just the fly and poles (and perhaps a footprint) without the inner canopy, or can it be set up with just the inner canopy without a fly?
      • can you attach extra space such as an additional vestibule or a canopy to provide a space to cook, eat or sit in the shade or out of the rain

2P freestanding tents with mainly nylon inners for most weather conditions in southern parts of Australia in 2021

  • best true 4 season performance and versatility for weight
  • most livable, spacious and rugged storm proof 4 season tent especially for tall people
    • Exped Orion II
      • note there is also a great 3P option the Orion III which is even taller, wider and only 400g heavier and $AU100 more expensive - for my money this may be the better buy especially if you are car camping or sharing weight with 1-2 other hikers
      • ridge poles extend well past canopy to ensure even if vestibule is open rain is unlikely to enter
      • large 95cm vestibules giving a total 2.3 sq.m space and with the large doors with dual full mesh/full nylon gives not only fantastic ingress/egress but great temperature control/ventilation options while allowing two people to sit side by side in the door.
      • inner height is an impressive 125cm plus there is a large gear loft
      • in general use fly is permanently attached to inner canopy and poles insert into the fly so setting up in heavy rain should not get the inner tent wet
      • $AU1199 and 2.8kg(without inner) / 3.2kg with inner
    • Exped Venus II
      • not as rugged as the Orion or as tall as it only has a short ridge pole but still a nice large vestibule and overhang to protect the doors
      • $AU999 2.84kg
  • best 2P 2kg mainly fabric hiking tents
    • Mont Moondance 2 full nylon version
  • best medium priced “storm-proof” school kid tough 3-4 season tents
    • MacPac Apollo
      • very good storm proofing, fall fabric tent with dual mesh/nylon doors for versatility in most weather conditions
      • nice option for car camping as well as it is a bit heavy for just one person otherwise
      • $AU420 on sale 2.8kg
      • there is a 3P version - the MacPac Polaris
    • OnePlanet Wurley 2 for 2 school kids
    • Mont Eddie 2
      • internal height 112cm; 75D fly; 5000mm floor; 70D inner;
      • $AU569 2.7kg

2P ultralight freestanding mainly mesh inner 3 season hiking tent under 2kg

  • Sea to Summit Telos TR2
    • very spacious thanks to an innovative tension ridge poles
    • gear loft and nice pockets and overhead light diffuser
    • good ingres/egress as doors go higher than usual
    • can leave fly minimally attached and then if rains easily complete the fly
    • fly only mode does not need the optional footprint and with optional use of trekking poles to create an awning canopy effect
    • 15D sil-PeU 1200mm nylon fly has nice large ceiling vent
    • dual vestibules give 1.8 sq.m area
    • 105cm tall
    • 8.5mm and 9mm DAC poles
    • 15D nylon + mesh inner - inner is mainly mesh
    • 20D silnylon 2500mm floor
    • 1.675kg
    • packed size 13 x 13 x 48 cm
    • $AU849
  • Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2
    • fly and floor are 20D silnylon PU 1200mm waterhead
    • inner is a proprietary mixed denier nylon with top half mesh including doors
    • 102cm high
    • 71cm vestibules giving total 1.6 sq.m but can be converted into awnings with trekking poles
    • gear loft, mtnGlo version has LED lighting
    • 1.42kg pack size 50x15cm
    • compatible with all Big Agnes gear lofts sold separately
    • $AU749
  • MSR Hubba Hubba 1.6kg
  • Mont Moondance 2 1.87kg 100cm tall inner top half is mesh

lightest alpine snow 2P tents

  • Rab Latok Mountain 2
    • no vestibule, only one door; 2 pole wedge design; but not freestanding?
    • $AU1399 1.85kg pus 585g for optional attachable vestibule
  • Big Agnes Copper Spur HV2 Expedition tent
    • minimal vents so not good in warmer conditions
    • 2.1kg
  • Wilderness Equipment Second Arrow UL
    • tapered aerodynamic tunnel tent with 2 vestibules 80cm and 30cm but not freestanding
    • fly can be pitched first or together with inner
    • $AU799 1.83kg

the Australian tropical coast

  • needless to say, this is going to be hot, humid (which will really reduce the lifespan of any tent) and perhaps wet and subject to attack by a range of animals ranging from ants who will love your tent as a refuge, especially if there is food, to dengue fever carrying mosquitoes, rodents who will eat through your tent if they detect food and then if you are silly you have crocodiles, cassowaries and snakes to deal with.
  • sleeping at night generally means NO sleeping bags but just light cotton sheets and plenty of fresh air so a tent with lots of mesh and ventilation is imperative as is a fly if you are in the wet season (Nov-Apr) as it rains very hard and frequently along with frequent thunderstorms and you are likely to get a cyclone or two, so most campers will go in the more tolerable but perhaps more boring dry season
  • a swag which is so popular in inland Australia and southern coastal regions is not going to be fun in the wet season when you will appreciate being well above ground - perhaps a rooftop tent or tree tent, or at least an elevated bed.
  • general tent requirements in the tropics
    • freestanding tent with inner tent mostly no-see-um mesh with a very waterproof floor and able to be set up without a fly to allow a tarp or no cover option
      • examples include:
        • Sea to Summit Telos TR2 almost full mesh, very versatile light tent
        • Mont Moondance II has the most waterproof 25000mm floor but only half mesh
        • Exped Lyra II half mesh, 10,000mm floor
        • Wilderness Equipment I-Explore 2 Mesh 8000mm floor but only 40% mesh
        • MSR Zoic full mesh but floor only 3000mm waterhead
        • Big Agnes have full mesh tents but floors are only 1500mm waterhead - similar to Exped Mira II
        • Big Sky Soul 2 is full mesh but fly is inadequate design to keep it dry
    • very waterproof fly and potentially an additional tarp for shelter in the rain and to dry out clothes
      • some may choose a mozzie tent under a tarp as a good option, or just a mesh inner of a tent and a tarp instead of the fly
        • examples include:
          • Mont BatCave2 UL with Mont Batwing Tarp
          • MSR Front Range™ Bug/Floor Insert with Front Range Shelter 3000mm waterhead floor
      • some prefer a hammock with a double bottom layer (mozzies bite through single layer) and a mozzie dome as it is often easier to find a spot and it gets you off the ground (but not away from ants, mozzies and arboreal snakes!)
        • make sure you have driplines set up to prevent water running down the ridgeline into the hammock when using a hammock tarp
        • in nights with a minimum below about 20degC you will get cold in a hammock so you will need some under insulation such as a pad between the two layers
    • not too expensive as it will not last long up there

Central Australian desert in winter

  • this is likely to be mild to warm, sunny and dry by day with clear sky nights which make for very cold and even sub-zero cold nights
  • however, occasionally if a tropical cyclone crosses land and ends up as a low pressure system you can get hot, humid prolonged rain conditions but these are uncommon during winter when most people would travel to the Red Centre
  • this makes tent choice a little problematic as you need warmth at night but also most value a clear view of the sky
  • a popular choice here is the swag
  • alternatively a freestanding tent with nylon lower and a mesh upper and removable UV resistant fly (and preferably a heavier duty tarp set up to shelter from the midday sun) is a reasonable option if you have a warm sleeping bag and thermal mat examples include:
    • Mont Moondance II
    • Exped Lyra II
    • MacPac DuoLight
    • Sea to Summit Telos TR2 but almost full mesh which will be colder at night, however, very versatile light tent
    • many other tents as you probably don't need highly waterproof floors
australia/tents.1624023352.txt.gz · Last modified: 2021/06/18 23:35 by gary1