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Which Hilleberg for bicycle touring?

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Which Hilleberg for bicycle touring?

Old 06-22-10, 09:24 AM
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You can fit a bicycle into the vestibule, if you remove the front wheel, and adopt a policy of retreating into the tent before pulling the bike in after you. Once it's there, it's a major exercise to get out for a pee in the middle of the night...
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Old 06-22-10, 10:44 AM
  #27  
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Originally Posted by Bekologist
hmm, ive seen pics with bikes inside the hilleberg tents. there's one at their website.
The Hilleberg catalog mentions specifically that "you can park two bicycles in the Keron 4 GT's vestibule". I guess if they could have said that for the Keron 3 GT, they probably would have. Since the Keron 4 GT's vestibule is 83" wide (at the widest, near the door - it narrows a bit toward the end), and my bike is approx. 70" long, that sounds possible. I don't think I would relish carrying a tent that weighs 11 lbs 9 oz (5.2 kg) just so I can fit the bike inside, though it would be nice to be able to do that, sure!

Also the Keron 4 GT is over 5 meters long - that's a lot of real estate. I think it would be fine in many situations, but there would also be many other situations where the sheer size would probably start to be a bit of a liability.

I'm getting the impression that a lot of this comes down to personal preference, just like things such as kickstands (an analogy which seems to me to be very relevant - some people just don't seem to mind laying their bike down in the dirt, or leaning against whatever is available. But me, I really like having a kickstand - effectively a freestanding bike). So of course there will never be a definitive conclusion to this, only (hopefully) clarification of the options so that people might be able to make a more reasoned decision.

I am quite impressed with the number of people who recommend the Nallo GT. It seems to be a very popular tent, so my concerns about the foot venting are probably not very reasonable in the face of that.

As I said in the original post, my REI dividend will stretch this pro-deal that Petra Hilleberg is offering to two of these tents. So if I was to frame the purchase in terms of comparing the freestanding to tunnel, then which two? Staika and Nammatj? Allak and Nallo GT? For the GT models, 2 or 3 person? (Remember that I might go solo, or with Chiho). The Nallo 2 GT is 52" wide, which is a bit more than the Allak (51") but less than the Staika (56"). The Nallo 3 GT is an even more generous 64" wide, and it weighs 2.9kg (6 lbs 6 oz), similar to the Allak (6 lbs 10 oz). But the Nallo 2 GT would be more flexible in terms of potentially being used as a solo tent. Does the Nallo 2 GT work well for just two people, or a palace for a single person?

I continue to also like the Kaitum, for its dual doors and vertical end walls, but I have to admit to being swayed by the sheer number of people who recommend the Nallo GT.

So I could either just commit to my freestanding preference and go with the Staika and Allak, and then compare the Kerlon 1200 to the 1800, or I could pick one from each camp and compare styles. Ideally Petra would allow me to try out a bunch and then decide once I'd been able to put them all up and crawl inside. This would make a good article, I think, and be useful for other bicycle tourists who are trying to figure out which one to get. Moontrail and fliegfix in Germany are the two best sources of pics right now, maybe we could fix that from more of a bicycle touring perspective.

Thanks again for the insights, keep 'em coming...

Neil

Last edited by NeilGunton; 06-22-10 at 11:17 AM. Reason: Corrected error with Allak width
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Old 06-22-10, 11:07 AM
  #28  
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My LCS (local camping shop) was kind enough to put both the Akto and Soulo (the two tents I was considering) up in the store for me to crawl into... Straight away I knew the Soulo was perfect for me... my point is that "hands on" made the decision obvious compared to pouring over the catalogue specifications... If you get the chance to try before buying I'm sure you'll "feel" which tents you'll be happy with
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Old 06-23-10, 03:06 PM
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Not Brand specific, But Tunnel tents can Go Up in a fairly windy situation ,

as you put the poles and such together in the tent's sleeves while it is all laid flat on the ground,

staking down one end, then in a single motion you pull it Up and set the stakes on the opposite end.

much better than trying to deal with a bundle of spinnakers as you try to assemble a freestanding tent.
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Old 06-23-10, 04:47 PM
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This video (in German, I believe) shows a Staika being erected. Near the end (around 8:35) it appears to demonstrate how you might put the tent up in high winds - I assume this, since they have staked and tied out the lines before putting up the poles. This looks like a reasonable approach to dealing with windy conditions, though I may be completely mistaken on what that end bit was trying to say - any German speakers here?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eInvmW2VuT0

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Old 06-23-10, 11:36 PM
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fietsbob (any dutch relatives?): yes, that is the standard way of putting up a tunnel in windy conditions.
it works like a charm, I can tell you from experience.
Neil: yes, that 'bit at the end' is about putting up the tent in windy conditions.
it's quite easy, especially since the staika (and the other hilleberg freestanders???) have only short pole sleeves.
The Nammatj's have full sleeves, so what we do is:
1 we stake the upwind side (if really windy not just the bottom ones, but the guyrope as well).
2 we slide the poles in.
3 we 'pull up' the tent and stake the downwind side.
4 we enter the tent and hang the inner (we always unclip the inner so that we have two small packs (and it's easier to keep the upper of the inner dry))
while one of us is doing that the other carries in the panniers.
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Old 06-24-10, 07:11 AM
  #32  
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-tunnel tents are the easiest to set up in a gale. they generally just POP open after staking one end and lifting them up.

Funny thing, that picture from Hilleberg's website of the bikes in the vestibule (only the keron 4GT?) made me think all the GT tunnel tents were sized large enough for bikes.

i was picturing cyclotourists hunkered down in Nallo2 GTs with their bikes tucked safely inside the vestibule!

How foolish of me! Where is THAT tent for cyclotourists??? The lightweight but spacious hoop tent with bike-sized vestibule?
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Old 06-24-10, 02:08 PM
  #33  
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Originally Posted by Bekologist
How foolish of me! Where is THAT tent for cyclotourists??? The lightweight but spacious hoop tent with bike-sized vestibule?
It seems to me that all the tents I have seen that are made for holding bikes are very, very large as a result. I don't think I would really want the wind profile, huge long poles, or the added weight just to have the bike under cover (though it would be nice, admittedly). That said, I'd like if possible to keep this particular thread about the Hillebergs, rather than getting off on a tangent about velo tents in general (intriguing though they are).

I currently find myself favoring the freestanding. With the "which two tents" choice I could see myself going with either Staika/Allak or Staika/Soulo, or (I guess) Allak/Soulo, though I really like everything about the Staika (except the weight). I'm just not sure if I would rather try to use the Allak as a single person tent (which would be my option if I got the Staika/Allak pair) or just go with the Soulo as the solo option. Two doors is always nicer than one, it really gets rid of all the fears about ventilation - you get a complete thru-draft with both Staika and Allak. Comparing those two tents might be fun (Kerlon 1200 vs 1800), and I'm pretty certain I'd like either. I'm just not so sure about the tunnel concept - and that's not a disparagement of that design, it's just a personal preference thing (like kickstands).

As I said before, though, I continue to be impressed with the number of people who seem to love the Nallo GT, so I'm going to keep looking at that. I still can't really tell if that tent would let in water if you left the rear vent open when going to bed on a hot summer evening, and then one of those strong thunderstorms that is so common in the summer in the eastern USA pops up in the night. Those storms can get pretty windy - would water get blown under the vent and into the tent? Would you have to get out in the pouring rain to close it down a bit? That would not be something I want to have to worry about, to be honest. If there are vents, then I want to be able to adjust them from inside the tent. Anyone want to disabuse me of this fear? Does the Nallo do just fine with the foot vent rolled up all the way, even in a strong storm? The pic below (from fliegfix.de) shows the foot of the Nallo with the vent rolled up. It looks like the bathtub of the inner might cover sufficiently to stop water getting in, but not sure about wind-blown rain.

Besides that, there are other aspects about freestanding that I prefer over tunnels: It would be easier to orient the freestanding tent to have the doors facing in any direction I want, whereas a tunnel can be constrained by the orientation of the space, or other factors related to where and how it is staked out. Also, a tunnel tent should ideally be pitched foot into the wind, and the wind can always change direction in the night. A freestanding tent just doesn't care so much about that. And there's the ability to pick up the tent and shake it out or hang it up to dry out, and put it up in a motel room to dry, or act as bug net while sleeping... and the side-by-side with the vestibule sleeping arrangement, rather than having the entrance and exit above your head. These are factors that are making me lean toward the freestanding... at least for now.

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Old 06-25-10, 07:47 AM
  #34  
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regarding bike garage sized vestibules....Yes, the MSR Velo was one of the few and it was heavy. there was also an australian copy of that tent. and the new, cramped Mountain Hardwear Ghisallo with the very tiny tent and the bike vestibule. most of the pyramid tents have room for a bike.



I think it would be grand to have a light tent you could tuck the bike into at night.

Keep us posted on the tents!
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Old 06-25-10, 08:27 AM
  #35  
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Originally Posted by Bekologist
and the new, cramped Mountain Hardwear Ghisallo with the very tiny tent and the bike vestibule. most of the pyramid tents have room for a bike.
That Mountain Hardware is a great looking design. However this review on REI isn't too favorable.

"While the "Concept" is good, the design is awful!You cannot cover the avg size bike and zip it closed! You are exposing the bike to all weather conditions. The sleeping corders are more than cramped, and I am a 175pd 5'9 guy, so forget it if you are taller or wider! I did not use this in wind or rain so cannot speak for weather resistance. Hope they will redesign this and make it actually function! Absolutely not even worth [$]"

As for a bike garage, something like an Integral Designs SilTarp 2 or 3 could work. At 14 oz. it's not a huge weight penalty. If rigged properly could also be used as a group social/cook area during inclement weather.

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Old 06-25-10, 10:26 AM
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If i owned a hilleberg for bicycle touring and it was convenient, i would cut and extend the GT vestibule with a couple of feet of extra fabric so as to easily park a bike. this is just me though.

Otherwise, I've done the bike vestibule with tarp addition many times, but nothing like a clean one piece system.
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Old 06-25-10, 10:34 AM
  #37  
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I'm curious as to what failures people have experienced with Hillebergs. Any stories? (Please remember to give the exact size and model if possible). I've heard of a couple of cases of broken poles on the Nallo. I'm also wondering if it's really worth going for the heavier 1800 models over the lighter 1200.

Thanks again,

Neil
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Old 06-26-10, 12:07 AM
  #38  
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One more (probably stupid) question about tunnel tents: I read everywhere that they are fine in high winds, as long as you pitch them with the foot pointing into the wind. But what about situations where it's calm when you go to bed, but in the night a storm pops up with strong winds that could come from any direction? There it's impossible to pitch it into the wind, since you have no idea where the wind will be coming from later. And the winds from thunderstorms in the eastern USA can be very strong. How do tunnels stand up in those conditions?

I am quite liking the Nammatj 3 GT, as a possible companion to the Staika. I think these might make a good pair to compare the relative merits of the tunnel and freestanding designs. I also think I really prefer the 1800 models - the Nammatj has better vent adjustment options than the Nallo. About the only thing I'm not sure about with this tent (apart from ability to deal with wind from random directions) is the length inside - I saw one comment from someone who was only 175cm tall that they occasionally touched the end of the tent with their sleeping bag. This was due to the sloping wall at the foot. I am 180 cm tall, so I hope that wouldn't be a problem. I would prefer the vertical end walls of the Kaitum or Keron, but the Nammatj seems like a good compromise...
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Old 06-26-10, 01:17 AM
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Free standing is a big advantage in general, and obviously necesarry in certain terrains. If you aren't trying to camp on a sheet of glass most days, and you are fairly mechanically inclined, you can always pitch a non free standing tent. Think aid climbing in yosemite, there is always an anchor or two for the motivated. But it is like any other convenience, you will gain some ease of use, and possibly more options if the tent easily erects without the need for anchors.

Weight is not the only issue, but unless it is taken seriously it will mount up rapidly. It is a bit like financial probity, unless you set a fairly hard line it tends to drift out of reach. Most good managers are pretty rigid. That said I think it can make sense to make room for a few exceptions, like fresh food or tent size. One word of warning, I used to sell tents, and lost a few sales when the buyer insisted on weighing the tent. Turned out they were all a few pounds heavier than the specs. Maybe that isn't so any more, but I would wonder.

Tunnel tents were largely prized for bombproof shelter in extreme winds. Companies like Ultimate and Marmot sold them to the mountaineering crowd. Not my choice for fair weather tenting. I always like a 2 person dome with two poles in an X format. Fancier versions about with different offsets to the X pattern, but it is a simple design that works well in a lot of environments, and I have used versions for winter and summer camping.

This one is fancier than the ones I have owned, but gives the idea:

https://www.backcountrygear.com/catal...ail.cfm/BIB316

https://www.blackdiamondequipment.com...ers/firstlight

https://www.mec.ca/Products/product_detail.jsp?PRODUCT<>prd_id=845524442632573&FOLDER<>folder_id=2534374302885936&bmUID=12775364 46134

https://www.mec.ca/Products/product_d...=1277536051301

We quite frequently use 3 season tents for winter camping, though the prevalence of all net uppers in 3 seasons tents limits the range that will do double duty.
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Old 06-26-10, 07:55 AM
  #40  
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(that BD tent referred to by peterpan is quite compact! i have the BD lighthouse, a 3 pound epic canopied tent that is quite nice in its compactness for bike touring, with cross ventilation. great organized campground touring tent, and freestanding. would be ideal tent for a back east or for a summer NA tour, with the addition of a siltarp as an added rainfly for really foul weather nights)

lightweight tunnel tents have been standard emergency sledging equipment of the british antarctic service for quite a while. There were only a few tents approved, and last time i checked, the venerable North Face Westwind or its updated version had been the lightweight standard issue survival tent on every snowmachine, sledge and tractor there for a long time. maybe they've switched to hillebergs!

i wouldn't worry about tunnel tents in the NE, they would even be good atop mount washington. pitched with the guylines, it would have to be full gale approaching hurricane where you might even worry about it. tunnel tents work like limpets in the wind even cross to the pitch. in all practicality, a non issue. again, tunnel tents used extensively in the arctic, the foul weather choice.

do they stand up to bad weather? yes. are they the lightest space:weight tent design? yes, but recent single pole + designs (big agnes) have recently been giving tunnels a run for the money in the space:weight runoff.

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Old 06-26-10, 10:40 AM
  #41  
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So if a tunnel tent is just fine with the wind coming from any direction, why do they always seem to talk about pitching it into the wind? Is it simply because it's easier (when it's windy) to stake out the upwind end, then put the poles in and pull it out (downwind = easy) and stake out the other end? Other than that, does a tunnel do just as well with the wind from the side as end-on? I was under the impression that they really did better end-on to the wind, but I've never had one so I'm really depending on hearsay here. It seems to me that a tunnel would not have great support on all that fabric between the poles when being hit by a big side wind. They seem intuitively much more designed for situations where the wind direction isn't really going to change all that much (e.g. in the Arctic, I would assume that the wind just keeps blowing from the same direction, so it's easy to choose the orientation). Anybody got experience of using tunnels (particularly Hilleberg tunnels) in high side winds? Are they better or worse or just the same as the freestanding Hillebergs such as Staika?
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Old 06-26-10, 11:30 AM
  #42  
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Hi Neil! Have you asked Hilleberg this question? I know that they test their tents in much more extreme conditions than most of us would experience on a bicycle tour. I would also be interested in how they compare tunnel tents to other designs in high wind environments, so please keep us updated on your research
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Old 06-26-10, 01:07 PM
  #43  
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I will ask Petra about how tunnel tents do sideways on to the wind. Meanwhile, there's this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fhpl5p75DXE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qBwDOBSBnlA

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Old 06-26-10, 01:43 PM
  #44  
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Originally Posted by NeilGunton
Meanwhile, there's this:
"go south young man, go south!"

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Old 06-26-10, 03:06 PM
  #45  
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neil, tunnel tents do best oriented with the wind. approaching hurricane force winds a camper in a properly guyed hoop tent with cross winds might have to start worrying, but until then the worry is seriously overblown, esp for typical cyclotouring conditions. unless its off to ride the trans siberian, don't worry about it too much. but even then, hoop tents will perform for a traveller. look at all those hillebergs put to the test.

Originally Posted by peterpan1
Tunnel tents were largely prized for bombproof shelter in extreme winds. Companies like Ultimate and Marmot sold them to the mountaineering crowd.
and the north face, which then outfitted the british antarctic survey service with its emergency hoop tents for quite the while.

i've used tunnel tents extensively among many others in the last 30 years for extensive winter and highcountry camping, and find the space:weight ratio of a well designed hoop tent the choice for serious weather conditions.


no problem.

(fairly poor) pics of 4 season hoop tent over christmas week camping at fort worden state park in port townsend. brought it for december as the double wall nature of 4 season tents make them warmer for winter conditions.
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Old 06-26-10, 03:59 PM
  #46  
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Thanks for all the tips and reassurances. I know probably any of the Hillebergs would do the trick - that's what makes the choice so difficult! Their catalog makes every tent sound like it can do everything - e.g. from the Hilleburg tent porn catalog, we have the Keron. Under the heading "Keron and Keron GT Users" there's this gem of covering-all-the-bets-speak:

When we first introduced the Keron, it quickly became the standard tent for polar expeditions because of its superb durability and excellent wind stability, its roomy interior, and its simplicity. These same traits have made these tents favorites of outdoor enthusiasts of every stamp. Certainly this includes the “professionals,” such as mountain guides, forest rangers, search and rescue teams, and military special operations units. At the same time, both the Keron and Keron GT are also excellent choices for families, hikers and “regular” users – anyone wanting a tent that is exceptionally sturdy yet relatively light in weight , that will work for any situation, and that will handle many years of use. Indeed, the Keron and Keron GT models are admirable choices for any backcountry adventure, from demanding, extended winter expeditions, to long or short rambles in mountains and/or forests, to casual coastal jaunts, to relaxed overnight camping outings in your local recreational area. The extended GT version is a fine choice for dog mushers and cycle tourers because its extra large vestibule allows plenty of storage space for sled or bike equipment. In fact, you can park two bicycles in the Keron 4 GT’s vestibule!
So let's see... it's good for major expeditions... or family outings... or special forces... or cycle tourers... or backcountry adventures... or local outings in the park. Gee, did they miss any scenarios there???

The rest of the catalog, every tent, is pretty much along the same lines... they don't exactly make it any easier to select one based on application, do they.

I was liking the Nammatj last night, and had almost decided that the Nammatj 3 GT would make a fine companion to a Staika, for the purposes of comparing the tunnel vs freestanding concepts. But now this morning I am full of doubt again - the Nammatj interior is 87 inches in length, and my Marmot sleeping bag uses up about 80 inches. So even if you had your head crammed up against the door, that only leaves 7 inches to the foot of the tent. The Nammatj has a sloping foot, so I'm pretty sure my bag would be touching the inner tent down there on a pretty regular basis, which means the bag will get wet. I know it's not the end of the world, but I don't want to be dealing with that as a matter of course. So the Keron or Kaitum start to look better (they have vertical end walls) but the Keron or Kaitum GT models are just insanely long - over 5m. I would think that this would have to start reducing your options for where you can pitch the thing. Or, if you go for the shorter non-GT versions of the Keron or Kaitum then you are also foregoing that wonderful GT vestibule.

Excuse me, I'm going to go bang my head against the wall for a few minutes.

Thanks,

Neil
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Old 06-27-10, 01:44 AM
  #47  
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Originally Posted by NeilGunton
Excuse me, I'm going to go bang my head against the wall for a few minutes.
Your dilemma is real Neil

The Nammatj's sloping is a real consideration for taller people.
1200 Kerlon is strong enough unless you're going to EXTREME conditions.
The GT vestibule makes the tent experience much more pleasurable, especially when sharing (though I wouldn't put bikes in there - can't see the point quite honestly)
How important is the weight (including footprint) for you?

I really think you need to see the tents "live" to make your mind up.

If I had to choose, I'd go for the compromise Kaitum 3GT (well, until I started thinking again)

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Old 06-27-10, 02:06 AM
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I'm 6'2" and have never had a problem with damp sleeping bag in my Nallo 3 GT. I've used it in howling wind and rain, thunderstorm, and temperatures down to -10degC, and it's been rock-solid reliable. A bit noisy in strong wind, and a bit heavy, but it's got TONS of room and makes a great base-camp on days when it's too grim to face another day in the saddle. In my opinion, the only factor you should put on the 'negative' side of your equation is the 'structureless' tunnel design which requires a creative approach in sandy soil.
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Old 06-27-10, 02:22 AM
  #49  
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Al: how many people do you fit comfortably in the Nallo (with gear)?
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Old 06-27-10, 10:30 AM
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Hiya,

I really like to have a lot of room in a tent, and chose the 3GT because it would fit two people, plus clothes and kit, two deluxe-size Exped downmats, and leave plenty of space for wriggling about at night. But the giant vestibule means that kit can be put outside and there would be room for three to sleep in it, probably still with more comfort than you'd expect if you were three in a '3-man backpacking tent' from any other company.
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