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Old 05-18-08, 03:45 PM   #1
jpmartineau
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Tents: x mm waterproof fabric - marketing or true measure of waterproofness?

Hi, I'm currently in the process of shopping for a tent.

Tents have a lot of specifications, and one of which is the "waterproofness" of the tent's materials. The salesman at MEC (Canada's REI-like store) told me that number was the height of a column of water you can put above hte fabric before it leaks. Is this number worth considering or is it just marketing hype, like Watts when shopping for an amplifier?

Also, looking for opinions on some tents:

I need a tent that:
- Can sleep two in relative comfort;
- Is cyclo-touring friendly (i.e.: not too bulky/heavy);
- Isn't so big that I'll want to buy a second one should I go on a solo trip;
- Is waterproof (rain stays out);
- Has proper ventilation.

I don't mind paying for quality, but I want value.

So far, I've been to the local stores: MEC, La Cordee and SAIL. This is my short list:

- MEC Gemini
- MSR Hubba Hubba
- Marmot Limelight 3
- The North Face RoadRunner 33

If you have one of the above tents, please let me know if they've lived up to your expectations.

THanks!
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Old 05-18-08, 05:48 PM   #2
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if its a quality tent, its' going to be waterproof!

The thickness of coatings on fabrics is a more accurate representation of the coating's resistance to wear and tear, and corresponding weight.


a mountain tent will have10,000 to 20,000mil coated floors, heavy mil flys. lightweight, less 'bomber' tents will go 2,000 mil or less all over. still waterproof.

but, unless you are buying an EPIC fabric tent, or a cheap walmart one, 'waterproofness' of the fabric is not going to be an issue.

more important than worrying about the weight of the coatings, focus on comfort of tent, overall size sufficient to meet needs, ease of setup, ventilation, packed weight, packed size, color and style.

NONE of those tents you're looking at will give you any issues with the waterproofing of the fabrics, except over the looooong, long term. your tent will likely last so long if properly dried after use, you will buy another tent you like more before you wear out the one bought this time around.

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Old 05-18-08, 06:17 PM   #3
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Bekologist prretty much nailed it. I have has a few silnilon tarps to leak a little. Actaully felt mor like a mist on the underside. Where I have had more problems than with the fabric is at the seams. In fact most of my leaks were at seams. A good treatment with seal seam cures that. BTW I just got a Terra Nova Laser Competition to test and I love they way they deal with the one seam overhead. it has a pole hood that covers the only seam. it is not really big enough for the OPs intended use but you can check it out if you like. They do make bigger models but I dont think they use the pole hood on many.

http://www.backpackgeartest.org/revi...Ray%20Starnes/

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Old 05-18-08, 09:32 PM   #4
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more important than worrying about the weight of the coatings, focus on comfort of tent, overall size sufficient to meet needs, ease of setup, ventilation, packed weight, packed size, color and style.

NONE of those tents you're looking at will give you any issues with the waterproofing of the fabrics, except over the looooong, long term. your tent will likely last if long properly dried after use the you'll buy another tent you like more before you wear out the one bought this time around.
Ok. Makes sense to me. Thanks for putting that in perspective. I guess I'll go with the other criteria, except maybe the color - they all look nice and I don't expect to do any stealth camping...

Thanks!
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Old 05-18-08, 09:36 PM   #5
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Where I have had more problems than with the fabric is at the seams. In fact most of my leaks were at seams. A good treatment with seal seam cures that. BTW I just got a Terra Nova Laser Competition to test and I love they way they deal with the one seam overhead. it has a pole hood that covers the only seam. it is not really big enough for the OPs intended use but you can check it out if you like. They do make bigger models but I dont think they use the pole hood on many.

http://www.backpackgeartest.org/revi...Ray%20Starnes/

Coy Boy
Seams. Yeah, I've seen some tents which have the seams covered and others not. I'll have to look into that.

I never saw any Terra Nova around here - they probably aren't distributed where I live. Thanks for the link! Lots of interesting info there!
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Old 05-19-08, 02:49 AM   #6
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Mountain Hardwear Light Wedge 3

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Old 05-19-08, 04:24 AM   #7
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Another thing to consider with the tents you mention is whether the inner or outer goes up first. If the inner goes up first it can mean trouble if you have to put your tent up in the rain. If the outer (the waterproof bit) goes up first then you don't have a problem.

Most dome tents go up inner first, however they have an advantage that they are free standing so can be setup on more varied terrain.

If you can do without a dome, a great lightweight tent is the Hilliberg Nalo2. It can fit two people reasonably comfortably and weighs only 4.6lbs. It is good for 4 season usage. It also has a good size vestibule area which is great for storing your panniers, shoes, helmets, bottles etc. You can even cook in there if it is raining.
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Old 05-19-08, 07:28 AM   #8
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one caveat: Silnylon canopied tents will pack up smaller than urethane coated nylon tents of similar design.

looking at the tents you mention, if one has a silnylon fly, the pack size should be smaller.

Compare the standard Black Diamond Betamid or Megamid with the Black Diamond Betalight or Megalight for an accurate depiction of weight and volume of silnylon vs. urethane coated tent canopies of identical construction.

Whatever tent you decide on, I strongly recommend packing a seperate silnylon tarp for picnic table awning, bike cover, privacy screen, windblock, supersize tent vestibule, etc.... 8x10 siltarp packs up the size of a small water bottle.
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Old 05-19-08, 08:21 PM   #9
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Mountain Hardwear Light Wedge 3

+1 Awesome tent.

I spent 3 months in this tent with another 6' 180+lb'r 10 years ago. It was a bit tight, but we didn't really spend anymore time than neccessary in it. I still use that tent for all but ultra lightweight backpacking. In fact, right now it is on its way to the Outer banks where I will join it on friday for a 4 day tour. If I had more dollars than sense, I would buy a sub 3lb'r for solo tours, but on a bike, thats really not a big issue for me. It weighs just over 6lbs with packed with the footprint, IIRC, so its great to split between 2 people.

Edit: I have the light wedge 2 not the 3; The 3 will give 2 people more room, but will be a bit big for a solo. Not by much, tho', still a great tent.
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Old 05-19-08, 10:03 PM   #10
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+1 Awesome tent.

I spent 3 months in this tent with another 6' 180+lb'r 10 years ago. It was a bit tight, but we didn't really spend anymore time than neccessary in it. I still use that tent for all but ultra lightweight backpacking. In fact, right now it is on its way to the Outer banks where I will join it on friday for a 4 day tour. If I had more dollars than sense, I would buy a sub 3lb'r for solo tours, but on a bike, thats really not a big issue for me. It weighs just over 6lbs with packed with the footprint, IIRC, so its great to split between 2 people.

Edit: I have the light wedge 2 not the 3; The 3 will give 2 people more room, but will be a bit big for a solo. Not by much, tho', still a great tent.
Thanks for specifying the "I have the light wedge 2 not the 3". I'm really torn between the 2 and 3 person tents right now

I've added it to the short list. Will definitely look into it. Good suggestion guys, exactly the type I'm looking at.

Thanks for the other comments as well. Interesting perspective on "what goes up first".
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Old 05-19-08, 10:13 PM   #11
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Mountain Hardwear Light Wedge 3

I used this for the last four years....I like the extra room of a Three man for those 2-3 Day Rains that just wont let you really ride....a two man is just a bit tight for a three day washout.

Edit: This tent kept me dry and comfy during one of those Katy Trail Blow-up in no time Thunderpours (Think 2-4 inches an hour/50-70 mph Gusts) Setup and Staked right this thing will put up with anything I'm willing to sleep out in. I like this one more than my last (North Face 3-Man Geodome.)

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Old 05-19-08, 11:47 PM   #12
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Another thing to consider with the tents you mention is whether the inner or outer goes up first. If the inner goes up first it can mean trouble if you have to put your tent up in the rain. If the outer (the waterproof bit) goes up first then you don't have a problem.

Most dome tents go up inner first, however they have an advantage that they are free standing so can be setup on more varied terrain.

If you can do without a dome, a great lightweight tent is the Hilliberg Nalo2. It can fit two people reasonably comfortably and weighs only 4.6lbs. It is good for 4 season usage. It also has a good size vestibule area which is great for storing your panniers, shoes, helmets, bottles etc. You can even cook in there if it is raining.
+1 on the Hilleberg line which are superb tents. They have a great web site at hilleberg.com where they explain the pro's & con's of various designs in addition to their product line (all of which I believe pitch with the inner & outer going up at the same time).
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Old 05-20-08, 12:18 PM   #13
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You might consider a tipi from Kifaru.

http://www.kifaru.net/TIPI.HTM

Folks really seem to love them and their 4 man would be perfect for 2 people. And, if you want, you can even get a little stove.
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Old 05-21-08, 03:33 PM   #14
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So, in order to end this thread properly, I'd like to thank all that helped with all the info and comments and links and whatnot.

I ended up choosing the TNF RoadRunner 23. Got it at 20% off so it came off at a pretty sweet deal. What got me is the small size, double doors & vestibules and color, which isn't too visible. It has other nice features like reflective guylines, which are really practical for clumsy people like me.

For you Quebecers out there, La Cordée is having a "festival du camping" during which all tents and sleeping bags are 20% off. Nice oppertunity to get eqipment if you need some. They have rebates on other items as well.
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Old 05-21-08, 03:39 PM   #15
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You should look into the MEC Wandered 2. That's the one I use for bike touring. Rain proofness depends mostly on how you take care of the "double-toit" and you should take care of stuff touching the sides of the tent.

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Old 05-21-08, 05:00 PM   #16
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You should look into the MEC Wandered 2. That's the one I use for bike touring. Rain proofness depends mostly on how you take care of the "double-toit" and you should take care of stuff touching the sides of the tent.
Double-toit. Lol. Salut!

I did look at that tent. I wanted to stay under the 3kg. I actually almost got the MEC gemini, which is very similar to the Wandered except lighter, but the footprint is back-ordered until august, so that's what I got the TNF.
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Old 05-21-08, 08:13 PM   #17
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That TNF tent looks a lot like the Wanderer, except it's made from lighter material. I wanted a rugged tent, that's why I didn't go with a mesh tent (and it's only 200$!).

You probably won't be disappointed with the North Face, but I've had mixed stories about their (supposedly crappy) reps. The only thing that really bothers me about this company is the price of their stuff, when you take into account MEC products are as good if not better for less.
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Old 05-21-08, 09:36 PM   #18
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That TNF tent looks a lot like the Wanderer, except it's made from lighter material. I wanted a rugged tent, that's why I didn't go with a mesh tent (and it's only 200$!).

You probably won't be disappointed with the North Face, but I've had mixed stories about their (supposedly crappy) reps. The only thing that really bothers me about this company is the price of their stuff, when you take into account MEC products are as good if not better for less.
Yeah, the company is far from perfect. They almost went bankrupt a few years ago. I really like MEC products, but I couldn't get the footprint for the tent I wanted. I agree that TNF is a bit overpriced, but the 20% off makes it far more reasonable price, IMO.

As for rugged vs light, I will carry the bulk of our gear in my front and rear panniers, plus the tent, while she'll carry two small panniers (on her rear rack). We'll be doing short trips, a week max, so that gear-carrying arrangement is fine with me (my idea, to equilibrate things, since I normally ride faster than her). She likes biking, but I still want to make her introduction to touring as pleasurable as possible. So, since I carry most (practically all but the kitchen), I like to shave off a kilo where I can
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Old 05-22-08, 12:22 AM   #19
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Yep,

I am very minimalistic in everything else, so the added weight of the tent doesn't matter much to me. I have a lot of endurance and do trips usually a night out or two. My motto is, if it's heavier, just ride slower.

Have fun on the trip.
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