Tent Opinions

a recent windfall has given me the chance to get a new tent!!! I figure that everybody should have at least 5. Well my trusty old TNF BigFrog is getting up in years (15-18 yrs old) and I know that it won’t last forever so…

Due to the nature of this windfall I have a limited number of places that I can shop from. I have pretty much narrowed it down to…

Eueeka Apex XTA 3

Mt Hrd Hammerhead 3

MSR Fusion 3

And the one that is BIG overkill but I have been lusting after for so long


I live in the Upstate of SC and I know that the VE will not vent as well as the others but I also know that it’s the most bomb proff.

I don’t know very much about the others can anyone help me with their experiences???




– Last Updated: Feb-20-04 8:38 PM EST –

We have the mountain hardware hammerhead three and we love it. When it is nice out we leave off the fly and we can look at the sky through the large ceiling net, but when the weather is less co-operative we zip up the roof and install the fly and stay warm and cozy. It is an ideal tent for two, but three would be tight. It opens on both sides which is a bonus when one has to whizz at three in the morning and you want to leave without disturbing the other.

I would not go with the TNF VE25. I think a mountaineering tent would be awful in the southeast. The humidity would build up inside and every thing will get damp. I find that problem to some degree with all tents. I have the big frog’s little brother, a 15 year old Tadpole, great tent but has been repaired a few times and not sure how many more years I will get out of it. I also have a MHW and an Eureka. Not sure of the name of the Eureka, must be 20 years old by now, but it is a 3 pole dome. The MHW is a small 3 man, relly a 2 person plus dog tent, I think it is called mountain light 3, all are good tents, but on rainy nights the humidity builds up inside. I have been using a hennesy hammock lately, which I really like. I also have been playing around with a tarp, takes care of the humidity problem, but not so good with the bugs. I am planning on making a bug bet to hang under the trap.


Eureka XTA 3
I own the Eureka XTA3; I bought it last spring. I had a chance to sleep in it two nights in September in the Michigan UP. Here are my impressions.

There are good and bad points.


  1. Shortly after I bought it, I set it up in my back yard, and it withstood a serious thunderstorm, complete with high winds and VERY driving rain. I was not in it during the storm; I was in the basement.

    Afterwards, I went out and looked inside, and there was a dime-sized drop of water on the floor; otherwise, bone dry.

    I had added extra stakes and guy lines ala Cliff Jacobson. It was good. I now carry these with the tent. The tent has extra loops for guys and a nice velcro system to attach the fly to the poles. They must have payed some attention to Cliff Jacobson’s camping video because it has most of the features he likes.

  2. My wife and I are comfortable (relatively) in this tent with a Coleman quick bed, and there is still room left to put a few things at the foot or head of the air matress.

  3. The fly goes basically to the ground, which is one of the reasons I think it is so rain resistant.

  4. It packs up relatively small, compared to my previous tent, which was a Eureka Overlander. I loved that tent, but it finally wore out, and it is no longer made.

  5. The XT3 is tall enough inside that my wife feels comfortable (well, adequately comfortable) moving around, which is important under normal circumstances, adn critical if we ever get stuck in the tent becuase of inclement weather.

  6. Two doors and two vestibule areas make for a place to store gear outside the tent but under the fly.


  7. Thin material compared to the Overlander. I don’t think it will last long.

  8. It is impossible to unzip the vestibule/fly without getting wet from the dew or rain that accumulates on the fly. Ands because the zipper on the fly is awkward to zip/unzip, my wife would rather have me unzip my side and then crawl over me to leave the tent at night than to open her own side. YRMV.

  9. It isn’t nearly as nicely made as my Overlander was.

    It has a weird venting system that I really can’t comment on, not having had occasion to need a lot of air flow; it was quite cool in the UP in Sept.

    OK. Finally, if there is a Dick’s sporting goods Store near you, they may have exactly the same tent, in a different color, under the “Northeast Outfitters” in-store brand name.

    Try their website; I think you’ll be able to get almost the identical tent for about 1/2 to 2/3 the price, except it’ll be blue. They may not have the aluminum pole version. It weighs more with the fiberglass poles.

    All in all, if I had it to do over again, I’d look for something else; maybe a Kelty.

I forgot to mention that there was pea-sized hail in that thunderstorm…

do a search here
in the ‘gear’ forum on forums.backpacker.com:


i’m also hunting for a new tent, and i’ve found searching that forum can get you quite a bit of info on tents and others’ experiences with them.

Do an archive search on p.net
This topic was just covered about a week ago…

Paddle easy,


Apex XTA 3
I bought mine about a year ago. I used it 12 times last year. Once with my significant other and it was really cramped. The rest of the time by myself and it was perfect size wise. I spent 4 nights in it with slashing driving rain and wind. Never a problem. The report by mskee about getting wet trying to open the vestibule is correct, but this is the best tent I have owned and so I don’t know any better. This being a descent guality tent, the air flow is very low due to the extreme fly, sealed seams and good quality no-see-ums netting. I thought I would burst into flames from being hot. This has an advantage in cold weather and during temperate weather a sleeping bag is over rated.

Take all of this with a grain of salt. I see people constantly asking which whatever is the best. The most fun I have had in my gearing up process has been the personal decisions I have made in selecting my gear. Have fun!


I’m also in the market
I’ve got an old Eureka 2-man that has always been cramped. I’ve also got a canvas pyramid complete with stove, and a bigger dome that is nearly impossible to erect without a small army. The Expedition Canoeing manual I bought recommends the Eureka Timberline as a 4-man that will make a good 2-man expedition canoeing tent. It also recommends A-frames as quicker to erect. I guess I’m looking for feedback on this model, as well as any alternatives. Thank god the snow’s still 3 feet deem on my roof and I don’t have to make these decisions quickly.

wind over 40 and snow over 8 inches

– Last Updated: Feb-22-04 11:13 AM EST –

are the reasons to get a ve-40 and they are not cheap. I'd much rather have the fusion hammerhead, etc etc in my pack much of the time. I own a tnf tadpole (gift from wife before we married, cost 140 and 4.5 pounds complete and tight for two) a tnf westwind, closeout fron rei a two person winter mountaineering tent for under 6.5 pounds for $108, (I only waited for 18 years to buy that tent), and a hilleberg nallo 3, lightweight holds 3 (family man now) and could vent better. Even the blem was hideiously expensive but the best of almost anything just is that way.

Real winter mountaineering tents,like the ve25 and westwind, stink until you need them (heavier than needed for almost any condition, vent poorly in heat etc), then they can save you life. I've slept through blizzards in Maine in the westwind, waking up only occasionally to hit the roof to knock off the snow. Woke up wiht two feet of snow piled around the tent (lots fron the tent shedding only snowed about a foot that night. On teh other hand the tadpole has withstood 45 mph wind though without so much flapping. ONly buy a mountaineering tent if you need one, that is my advice. The fusion could take you anywhere but the extra weight and cost are factors. Somebody is copying hillebergs quite well, and is a bit less expensive (even come up wiht some slight improvementss) Time allowing I'll post the refenence but it will not be as cheap as the XT.

MSR Opinion
I have had my MSR Superfusion for almost a year now and have been very happy with it.

I have used it in a three day rainstorm and a 12" snowfall and stayed warm and dry on both trips.

The zip out panels provide good ventilation for summer trips.

The only downfall may be that the full pole sleeves take longer to set up that a no-hitch-pitch system. I wouldn’t want to have to set up the tent solo on a wet windy night.


Are you going to use this tent during all four seasons? If not,you won’t be happy with the ventilation when it is warmer…the size is great though. Have you ever considered some of the tent models with a larger vestibule to make up for lost interior space?

Try this one…

Although I really don’t see the point on spending, what amounts to a car payment, on a tent. I have been “eye-balling” this one…

Paddle easy,


Sierra Designs
hasn’t been mentioned. I had a Meteor Lite that I used for 10 years. The first year I camped six out of seven nights, or more. It was still in perfect condition. Then I went to grad school and ruined the tent fly by keeping it packed up too tightly in a hot apartment. SD gave me a warranty upgrade, and I’ll be checking it out for the next 8 nights in Tampa. I set it up in my living room (which in NYC is comical), and there were some great improvements…a window in the fly, 2 doors, a vestibule. They have them at Campmor for under $200, which is less than I paid for mine in the 80s.


I own a walrus terromotto 3, which became the MSR fusion 3. It’s a great tent, MSR gave the tent a larger door and raised the price a bit. I wish it had a bigger vestibule, but if you plan on camping in the rain I would just bring along a sil tarp. The ventilation in the tent is great, and it’s a 3/4 season convertable, so it’s plenty strong enough for high winds.

The VE-25 is probably overkill, I own one as well as a Moss 4 season tent and I really only use them in the winter in New England.

My theory is I want a tent that will stand up to strong winds but I never want to pitch it were it will be tested in 40+ winds.

If I could only own one tent I think it would be the Terromotto (Fusion 3) it’s under 8 lbs, packs small, it’s strong enough for winter use and it has great ventilation.

Not on your list
I have the Marmot Swallow 2 person, and it is a nice convertible tent that can adjust to various environments. The big drawback to this tent is that it is heavier than most, but still lighter than my Marmot Den family tent. Seen Swallows on sale for $250.00 at Altrec.

The Fusion is a great tent. Classic design.

I’ve been thinking about getting a solo tent for quick weekend trips by myself. Maybe just a simple LL Bean tent since it will get pretty light use.

Why not just go with a bivy sack??

I have a VE-25 that is about 7 or 8 years old. It is a great tent but…It is designed for mountaineering.

Pros: Sturdy. I’ve had this thing set up in some serious wind and snow storms at altitude and it took it all. Absolutely weather proof. Nothing leaks on this tent unless you poke it with your finger and cause it to touch the fly with your finger. There is some sentimental attachment to this tent as I have spent many 40 below nights in it.

Cons: Heavy! Heavy! Heavy! It weighs almost 11 pounds. Not worth it if you aren’t going to need the stormproofness. I am originally from South Carolina and would not suggest this tent if you will spend most of your time in GA, NC, and SC. But if your’e young and strong enough to carry the extra weight it will last you a long time!

P.S. I just slept in this tent last night on a Canoe trip and it was about 25 degrees in the morning. It was nice to have a 4-season tent in weather like that, but one of these days I will replace it with a lighter tent!


um, no
Because anything that amounts to more than just a sleeping bag cover tends to be expensive and not incredibly lighter or smaller than a solo tent. I’m not a minimalist nut so I’ll carry around another pound or so to have something I can at least sit up in.