Show Notes for Podcast #85
Best Ground tents for Overlanding
Matt Swartz and Scott Brady discuss the pros and cons of ground tents, and review 10 of the best models.
My name is Matt Swartz and I owe my love of the outdoors to my Grandfather, a PHD Ecologist, and photographer who was years ahead of his time. Every visit to his house was filled with hiking adventures where we’d collect and identify insects, or trips to a nearby creek to fish and look for water snakes. We’d also regularly sit on the couch together, pouring over the latest National Geographic while my Grandfather provided additional commentary, always getting deeper into the science. His knowledge was endless.
With those early childhood experiences in nature, it feels fitting that I’ve built a life full of adventurous outdoor sports, travel, photography, and writing. From my first camping experiences on the East coast to bigger adventures, like exploring the West coast of South America, or hiking from the border of Mexico to Mammoth, California, I find that time spent outdoors gives me an incredible sense of well-being.One of my biggest pieces of advice to the aspiring adventurer: passionately pursue your dreams, and don’t let society convince you that a high net-worth is more valuable than a life full of rich experiences. @m.b.swartz
Scott is the publisher and co-founder of Expedition Portal and Overland Journal and is often credited with popularizing overlanding in North America. His travels by 4WD and adventure motorcycle span all seven continents and includes three circumnavigations of the globe. His polar expeditions include two vehicle crossings of Antarctica and the first long-axis crossing of Greenland. @scott.a.brady
Our top 10 picks for ground tents:
Scott Brady: [00:00:00] Hello, and welcome to the Overland Journal podcast. I'm your host, Scott Brady. And I am here with my co-host, Matt Swartz, and we are going to go through kind of a technical subject today because we want to talk about ground tents and the reason why we want to talk about ground tents. People don't tend to talk about ground tents, but they're actually not only the most common tent use for overland travel, but they're also one of the most useful. So we're going to go through the reasons why they're great and the reasons why they may be a little bit of a compromise. And then we're also going to feature quite a few tents that Matt recently tested for an upcoming Overland Journal article on ground tents. What issue is that going to go?
Matt Swartz: I believe that's going to be summer 22.
Scott Brady: Okay, nice. We'll put some parameters around the tents that Matt tested to talk about. What was the considerations around the units that you chose?
Matt Swartz: Picking ground tents, you know, there's so many on the market. So we obviously had to narrow it down a [00:01:00] little bit. I've made an effort to adhere to kind of our traditional best of breed format, which is not picking a bunch of things that are the same. It's picking a bunch of things that. Specifically different from one another. Um, but kind of the unifying thing that I looked for were, were tents that could easily fit inside a vehicle. So we're talking like an SUV or even something smaller, like a G six tents that we tested. They could all fit inside a smaller vehicle, fairly easy.
Scott Brady: So we are going to talk about the other tents in the segment as well. So we'll talk about an Oztent. We'll talk about a Gazelle tent and others, but those are a lot longer units. Matt's test was very specific around bag tents that fit inside a compact SUV in the back of a compact SUV. But we are going to talk through about 10 different units today. The first thing is let's dig into why do we want to use uh, ground tent, Matt, like what's the reason to even consider it with how popular roof tents are?
Matt Swartz: I was going to say, are we even overlanding if we're not in a rooftop tent, I mean, you know, there's, there's a lot of emphasis on the ground. Tents are awesome for a [00:02:00] variety of reasons. Uh, they also have some downsides, but you know, to start off with some of the pros, I think one of the things that I recognize the most is the fact that it is in fact separate from the vehicle. I do think that that is a benefit of the ground tent and the best way I can illustrate that point to you is when you want to go out for an adventure for the day and camp is set up. If you're based out of your truck, if you're sleeping in a rooftop tent, or even in the bed of your truck, you have to put everything away to go and hit the trail. And that's going to eat up time. And, you know, for those of us who maybe only have the weekends to get after it, we don't want to waste time with stuff like that. Being able to set up your ground. At your base camp and leave it set up for the duration of your stay is awesome. You know, you go..
Scott Brady: That makes a lot of sense.
Matt Swartz: You get up, you get in your truck, you go hit the trail and you don't really have to put things away.
Scott Brady: Yeah. So you could go do a day trip of four wheel driving, or you could go see that ancient ruin or you could go fishing and your favorite fishing hole, and then you come back and the tent's ready to go and you're not needing to break down a roof tent, for example, or fold up a, some kind of a [00:03:00] built-in expedition camper system. So..
Matt Swartz: Exactly. I mean, I think about like vans as mobile adventure rigs too, right? Like the van is, or RV is the ultimate example of everything has to be put away before you can drive.
Scott Brady: And you pay the consequences if you don't. I've learned that.
Matt Swartz: So, yeah, that would be my first pro that I would, I would look at. What about you?
Scott Brady: That's like, that's a good one. And one of the things that I really like about ground tents is they're just typically they are much less of an investment than a lot of other forms of sleeping. So if you go with a, like a Habitat system that can be many thousands of dollars, if you go with a roof tent, particularly a hard shell that can be three, four or $5,000. There's even some now that are pushing the $20,000 range, which they absolutely have their place when you're first getting involved with travel. And we've talked about this a lot on the podcast is we should be spending the last amount of money that we have on the gear not the first. It should be all of the money that we spend should be on fuel and plane tickets and food, and the ability to go someplace [00:04:00] remote or unique. So I think really focusing on the travel first and the gear second oftentimes means that we may compromise around the gear that we use. And that's why I really liked back that ground tents are inexpensive.
Matt Swartz: Yeah, I would agree. I mean, it's just, it's nice when you don't have a, you know, a barrier to entry and the ground tent sidesteps that right? Like..
Scott Brady: And you can easily find them a good quality ground tent in the two, three, $400 range easily. You can even find them less than that. Um, and of course you can find like highly specialized ground tents. Like I think about the Arctic Oven that we used in Antarctica. You know, it was many thousands of dollars, but it's so specialized that you just don't typically buy a tent like that for general overland travel.
Matt Swartz: I totally agree. Yeah. I think in our, in, in the test that I did for OJ, uh, we had a range, anything from, I think the least expensive tent we had was in the two to $300 range, but I definitely tested some premium ground tends to that were uh, approaching the $2,000 range with all of the accessories that were included. So..
Scott Brady: Oftentimes that we think that they're not as [00:05:00] durable, but there are ground tents that are made that are very, very durable. What do you got next on your list?
Matt Swartz: One of the other really big benefits of ground tents is that they can be very specialized for environments. And you kind of just mentioned that a minute ago, that the tent that you used in the Arctic environment. Ground tents have been made for expeditions, right? And expeditions go to all different parts of the world. You know, some go to jungles, some, go to Arctic regions, some go to mountains, and really you want to select an appropriate ground tent for where you're going. That's great for the overland traveler, because you can tailor your ground tent to where you intend to go. Um, you know, like if you're going to go to Greenland or someplace where there's going to be wind and snow meaybe you want a tunnel that's super strong that's going to hold up in the wind.
Scott Brady: Sure.
Matt Swartz: Or maybe you're going somewhere where you want heavy duty, thick material that's gonna keep you warm in a cold environment where wind is not an issue, or maybe you want something super lightweight for like a desert environment. That's just going to let the breeze blow right through and keep you nice and cool. There's a lot of specialization.
Scott Brady: Well, and that leads to a question that a lot of people will ask [00:06:00] is, do you get a three season or a four season tent? I think it's oftentimes a mistake to buy a four season tent if you don't need it. So maybe share a little bit with the listener about the differences between a three season and a four season tent.
Matt Swartz: Absolutely, yeah, so for the vast majority of us, I think three season tents, you, you kind of hit the nail on the head. A three season tent is totally sufficient. The only time where you really need a four season tent is if you're going to be experiencing a gale force winds or heavy snow loads. That's going to help you save a lot of money in the long run if you don't invest. Because usually that's the biggest price jump is from the three seasons of the four season tent. Yeah. Just in terms of how we're going to use them. Let's be realistic. You know, most of us are not going to want to go out in a blizzard to go camping. We're just not going to do it. Save yourself some money and save the weight, too. You know, four season tents are going to be heavier. Uh, setup is usually more complex.
Scott Brady: Correct. Uh, a lot of times they have external and internal poles. They're oftentimes single wall, heavy duty single wall. The biggest compromise that you get with a four season is a reduced ventilation in almost all cases. Now there are exceptions to [00:07:00] every rule. When it comes to ground tents, there are highly specialized or season, ground tents that do have good ventilation, but for the most part, because they're designed for extreme snow and cold and high wind, they have a smaller ventilation footprint.
Matt Swartz: I would agree. Yeah. I think back to one of the first four season tents I owned and it was like a little, two person. It was like a one plus person, mountaineering tent. And it was actually a single wall tent that was made out of like a Gore-Tex membrane. So it's supposed to be a waterproof, breathable membrane.
Scott Brady: Interesting.
Matt Swartz: Every time I use it in a cold environment, all of the condensation on the inside would freeze to the inner layer. And if you tap the walls, you get this like raining of ice crystals down there. Yeah. I mean, it, it keeps you alive and it does its job, but a little bit, you know, specialized. So..
Scott Brady: Yeah. So it's important to buy the right tent for your application and buying a three season tent. And there are like, they call them three season plus. They've got some different configurations on the fly that can get you a lot better coverage. If you get a small snow storm or something like that, that comes through. So make sure you buy the right tent for the conditions that you're going to travel in.[00:08:00]
Matt Swartz: I was going to say, I think when it really comes down to it, I think snow load is the final kind of thing. There are a lot of three season tents that are in fact pretty solid in strong winds, especially if you guy them out completely, but snow load is a different story. You know, if you get 40 pounds of snow on a lightweight aluminum pole, it's not designed in a way to be, you know, some, some of those four season tents they have, every time the polls cross, they add a lot more stability. And so some of the three season tents just don't have that. So they'll do all right in the wind, but then yeah, dump 40 pounds of snow on them and you might have a broken pole.
Scott Brady: Yeah, it was unbelievable. We were heading to the south pole and we needed to get to this fuel stop and it was basically a fuel drop. So they just basically shoved the fuel barrels out of the back of a plane..
Matt Swartz: Did they even shut down the plane?
Scott Brady: They, they just, they don't even land. Because it's too far for them to land and take off again, but the fuel that they have, so they basically just dump the fuel out of the back of the plane. Um, and sometimes they'll dump it on us with, uh, a skid, with a parachute. That's the most typical one. So then you kind of [00:09:00] have a general GPS point and then you got to go find it and the parachutes help you find it. And then they usually have long poles on the skid, so that way you can see the poles sticking up through the snow and we get to this point and I see this bright yellow patch of fabric, and I figure it's, uh, you know, it's gotta be one of those, one of those parachutes. And I get over there and I start digging and it's actually a north face dome tent, like their head extreme expedition tent. And it was still upright. It had actually, the snow had gathered all the way around it. You could tap on the material and it, there was no snow on the inside. It was still intact.
Matt Swartz: Wow.
Scott Brady: Unbelievable. And the snow was seven or eight feet high, you know? Cause it had covered up almost all of the tent and we were asking one of the locals, like how is that even possible? He said that thing has been there as long as we've been coming here. Now it's got the advantage of has a snow structure around it. Unbelievable how strong those tents are.
Matt Swartz: That's incredible.
Scott Brady: Yeah, really cool. One of the things. That I really like about ground tents is the reduction in weight. It's something that we're always mindful of when we travel. Vehicles [00:10:00] perform better when they're lighter, they stop better when they're lighter. They do better in sand and mud and snow when they don't have so much payload. So we harp on payload a lot. And one of the easy ways to reduce the weight of something is with the ground tent is opposed to a heavy tent affixed to the top of the vehicle with all of the rack systems or the crossbars that are required to support it. So if you've got a vehicle with a low payload, um like, we were just testing a 392 Wrangler and it had an 850 pound payload.
Matt Swartz: Wow.
Scott Brady: So you take two adults and you're just about halfway there. And then you add a little bit of water and a little bit of, you know, you add a fridge for some food or whatever, and you're really tapping into that payload without doing any other modifications to the vehicle. So that's where you really want to consider the ground tent. So there they are super light. What was the lightest tent you had in the test or approximately the weight on that?
Matt Swartz: The lightest one in our test was approximately I think three and a half pounds.
Scott Brady: Super light.
Matt Swartz: Yeah. And we will talk about it later, but tents to get lighter than that too.
Scott Brady: Yeah. One of the advantages is that then you can. [00:11:00] Use that tent for other things you can use on your motorcycle or whatever. So I really liked the fact that round tents are much lighter weight than you would see with a typical roof tent configuration. Now, there are some very heavy ground tents, especially ones that are canvas in nature. If you need less payload, if you need a lighter payload, go with one of those lightweight ground tents.
Matt Swartz: And I think, you know, weight transitions nicely into kind of my last thing, which is overall size, which we talked about, right. I picked the tents for this test specifically because they fit inside a vehicle. And so ground tents, aren't just light, they take up very little, uh, volume in a vehicle to let's kind of transition into kinds of ground tents.
Scott Brady: Yeah, exactly.
Matt Swartz: Because I think weight plays into the first one that I'll mention, which is durability. Um, ground tents are directly on the ground on abrasive surfaces and they're usually early lightweight nylon material. Um, and so long-term use, um, we'll wear them out eventually versus a rooftop tent, again, as the example. It's never touching the ground. It's up on top of your vehicle. They usually have dedicated covers to [00:12:00] protect them from ultraviolet light, which can wear out the material. So it is a consideration.
Scott Brady: Yeah. I had recently I did a trip with a SUV we were testing and I use ground tents a lot because I'm oftentimes camping and testing a vehicle that we don't do modifications to. So I use ground tents a lot and I had this really nice three person MSR tent and we were up on the Mogollon rim, wind kicks up, lifts the tent up, you know, it was staked down, but it pulled the, some of the steaks out and it went right into a tree and it put a giant hole in the fly. Um, so you're right. They are not as durable, oftentimes as the heavier canvas style ones.
Matt Swartz: What other things can you think of that are maybe not as ideal for ground tents?
Scott Brady: You know, when you do have an issue with the tents, they're difficult to repair in the field. So the poles tend to be fairly lightweight. They can bend get damaged, and they're more difficult to repair. It's good to keep that in mind when you're, you're doing car camping, so you can bring some things along. So one of the things that I always bring along with me as a repair sleeve, and a lot of times they'll have a little [00:13:00] set screws on the end so that keeps it in place. So you, if you do bend a pole, you can slide the repair sleeve over the top of the bend and then reinforce the pole for use inside the tent for use with the tent. Definitely the material. So making sure that you've got patch kits and ways to, to reinforce the material, if you do get a failure in the field, uh, that's another thing too. And then just. Really mindful of the fact that they're delicate. You've got to just kind of change. I mean, I felt, you know, I recognize that I didn't set the tent up properly and unexpected gust came up and I paid the price of not fully staking the tent out. It wasn't the tense fault. I only put in four steaks, it was kind of loose, loamy material or of ground cover and so it just ripped this small stakes out and I've damaged the tent. So I think really being mindful of the fact that the tents are a little more fragile.
Matt Swartz: Yeah. I like how you mentioned having a repair kit, you know, because they usually don't take up a lot of space. So you've kind of got to have that as a backup. One other thing that comes to mind for me, um, that can be a little bit more challenging with ground tents also is, [00:14:00] uh, the complexity of the tents and the amount of time it can take to set them up.
Scott Brady: Sure.
Matt Swartz: This test, it was really fun. One thing I love to do is I, I love to try and use products without the instructions and that might just be like a male thing, I don't know.
Scott Brady: You learn so much though.
Matt Swartz: I really, I really believe that, you know, The best way to figure out good product design is, can I figure this out? Now, I have maybe a little bit more experience with setting up tents than probably the average person. I mean, I've spent like I would venture a guess it thousands of nights under tents. So I've set up quite a few. But one thing I did with this test was I attempted to set up all the tents with that and instructions. And there were a couple that. No joking. Forty-five five minutes to an hour to set up solo trusting without instructions. Yeah. So..
Scott Brady: Imagine being in weather and just feeling so frustrated that you can't make your shelter.
Matt Swartz: Absolutely. So, I mean, one thing I would mention along with that is it's always a good idea to set up your ground tent ahead of time at home when you don't have the pressure of add weather or an emergency situation. Test it before you take it out into the field and assume you'll be able to do it.
Scott Brady: [00:15:00] And if your partner is coming along with you, set it up with them before you go out in the field that can put, can put the relationship under some pressure. If the winds blow in and the, and the rains come in and you're trying to help each other, set it up. So by doing it ahead of time, you can improve the outcomes of your trip.
Matt Swartz: Yeah. But I mean, you know, you compare that to, let's say a rooftop tent that is a wedge design in those set up in five or 10 seconds. It's incredible.
Scott Brady: Super fast.
Matt Swartz: Some, some, don't the ones that open sideways have the tension rods you have to insert and ladders and all this stuff, you know, they can take longer, but I think some rooftop tents have that advantage.
Scott Brady: They really do, and you can leave your bedding, your pillows, everything all inside them so they can be much faster. So you're not usually gaining a lot of speed with the ground tent.
Matt Swartz: Yeah.
Scott Brady: There are some exceptions which we'll talk about in a little bit, but the other. The other con I find, and I have found with ground tents is you don't always have control over where you're going to camp. There's sections of many trails that are packed with lava and lava rocks. And let's [00:16:00] say it's getting dark and you need to find a place to camp. You can't always find level ground, and you can't always find a place that you can stake out a tent either. So if you don't have access to rocks and guidelines and stuff like that, to be able to stake out a tent using some weight and it can be a complication trying to get those things set up and also imagine the rain has come in, it's now a totally muddy trail, and you're having to set up your tent in the mud. Of course they work, but then you spend a lot of time when you get back, getting them cleaned up. You know, it's really important when we have these expensive nylon tents that we never leave them wet in the bag for even a minute longer than you have to. Um, as soon as you get a chance to be able to take the tent out and get it dried out the better. We have definitely lost some tents within our own team because someone forgot and the tent went back wet. Next time you pull it out at all, delaminating, the tents destroyed. So making sure that you get them dried out as quickly as possible.
Matt Swartz: That's such an important thing to keep in mind. I have a friend who's like, he's always kind of reinforced this idea of being a good owner of products. [00:17:00] You know, there's no point in investing in expensive items if you're not going to take care of them properly. And what you just said is so crucial. I mean, you know, you can buy the $1,500 canvas tent and if you leave it wet in its bag overnight, it can be a moldy discussing mess the next day. So..
Scott Brady: Totally.
Matt Swartz: You have to kind of commit to that when you invest in one of these things.
Scott Brady: Yeah. Or even sand and stuff. We did a trip across the Altar desert and it just, the tents were three season tents and they were packed with sand, man. It took a while to get them cleaned out properly when we get back or else, the next time you go camping, there's sand all inside your tent and that's never fun. I mean, it's amazing how you can feel those, just a couple of grounds of sand and feel it in your sleeping bag.
Matt Swartz: I love those those lightweight, backpacking tents that are freestanding, where when you're done, you can literally pick it up over your head and..
Scott Brady: Super helpful. It's super helpful. Yeah, totally. And I would agree. There are many advantages to ground tents and that's why we wanted to cover them in detail for a podcast. Let's start going through some of the units that you tested. We're going to talk about 10 tents over the next minutes. Um, [00:18:00] and most of them were tested by Matt in the Overland Journal article, but then we're also going to include some additional tents um, and some tents that didn't fall within the original criteria of being in a bag in the back of a compact SUV. So we'll talk through those too. So let's start off with that. Nemo Wagon Top was Wagon Top, is that what it's called?
Matt Swartz: Yeah. Yeah. So the first one, yeah, it was the Nemo Wagon Top. It was the Wagon Top Four. So it's offered in I believe a four, a six, and an eight, and that refers to the capacity can sleep four, six ,or eight people. I like this tent. This is kind of a, what I would describe as a more conventional, you know, family style tent. It was the four person model. So it had room for up to four adults, which would be great for a small family, you know, mom and dad, and a couple of kids, or, you know, two people and their dog. It'd be a lot of space for two people and a dog and a dog really comfortable. Um, it had a really nice big vestibule on one end that was removable. So you've got some great space that's not in the tent, but that has some weather protection for storing gear. That's something I always appreciate in a tent as a vestibule, just, just to have [00:19:00] more livable space without your stuff packed in around you.
Scott Brady: Sure.
Matt Swartz: The Nemo had some cool little innovative designs. One of those things was the design of the window covers. They were elastic with just a little, a little hook. What you would do is you would pull the window, cover down and hook it from the bottom. So there was no zipper to mess with, with, for opening or closing the windows for ventilation. I thought that was just a really innovative design that I'm surprised I haven't seen that any other ground tents before. But obviously..
Scott Brady: How about standup height? Was it good for standup height?
Matt Swartz: It was great. Yeah. Um, now I'm like five, seven. I'm not, I'm a below average height individual. So it was plenty of space for me, but I think even if you're, I believe it was like up to six foot tall.
Scott Brady: Wow.
Matt Swartz: You would be able to stand in there and I put the specifications in the Journal article, so people sure look more in detail about that. The, the Wagon Top also had nice vertical walls. So almost the majority of the interior space was usable standing space because the walls were not slanted in words.
Scott Brady: So, yeah, that makes a big difference. Overall, Nemo just [00:20:00] makes really innovative products. I've used their tents for a very long time. And of course in full disclosure, they've never been an advertiser, but one of the principles of Nemo, Ken Benzinger, has been a long time personal friend. So he would send me these things and say, Hey, test this out and tell me how it goes and what works and what doesn't work. They made a, an inflatable pole tent for many years, and it just became my go-to off of the motorcycle because you didn't have any long poles to deal with, or even a pole bag to deal with. You could just shove it into a pannier and I don't think they make any of the, of the inflatable pole tents anymore. Maybe some of their compact kind of like a bivy tent. I think some of those, they still have the air pole in them and those are awesome. I'm really a fan of the air pole design from Nemo.
Matt Swartz: That's cool. Yeah. I've never used one myself, but I remember when they launched those a while back and it was just so cool. You know, it's so different.
Scott Brady: Yeah. They had this one that was called a Morpho One P. It was the literally the perfect solo motorcycle tent. You could sit upright in it. It was like a bivy tent that had, you know, [00:21:00] because of the air design, you could just sit up in the center of it. And I remember going, like searching eBay and I bought like several of them 'cause I just, I knew that, you know, they were out and I wanted to always have one. So it's funny what you latch on to.
Matt Swartz: Nice. Okay. Well that's the Wagon Top and yeah..
Scott Brady: It sounds like a great one.
Matt Swartz: And kind of the final, final tidbit on that one is it's just, it was a little bit more affordable. I think it was like somewhere around the $500 price point. So under a thousand dollars, which some people may kind of scoff at that number for a tent, a four plus person tent, that's going to hold up two years of use. That's kind of par for the course.
Scott Brady: Really fair.
Matt Swartz: Yeah, I think so.
Scott Brady: Well, and a similar tent to that one, but a different design is called the Gazelle and the Gazelle uses these hubs. They have poles that come into a central hub. Um, you actually push up the hub in the very middle of, so it's a long tent, so that's the challenge with it. And it's why it wasn't in that test was that it's, um, you know, probably five or six feet long.
Matt Swartz: Almost looks like an awning when it's packed?
Scott Brady: Correct. It does like a bag awning. Um, so if you've got a [00:22:00] pickup truck bed or you've got a longer SUV or a roof rack, you could strap it to, it works great for that. It's about five feet long. It's it's very easy to set up though. You just kinda pull it out of the bag. You get the process kind of started. Unfolding. And then you step inside one of the doors and you push up in the hub that goes in the center of it, a pie, and then that at least gets that part set up. And then the four corners you pull the hubs out and it creates this very sturdy structure with, like you said, on the Wagon Top with an enormous amount of space on the inside because all of the walls are being pushed out. So it's full standup height and very vertical walls. If it's light wind you don't really need to stake it down much other than just a couple of corners. But if the wind picks up, you definitely want to stake out those hubs because otherwise they can collapse in on you. It's pretty, it's pretty disturbing in the middle of the night when the tent like folds you up like an origami. They're nice quality. They're, they're fairly affordable. Um, I think it's great for car camping. It's a good car camping choice.
Matt Swartz: And that one, the polls are already integrated, right? You don't have to fish them [00:23:00] through and figure out where they go. They're already..
Scott Brady: It comes ready to set up. You just take off the cover and, and everything's all already integrated into the tent fabric and sewn into the tent fabric. And it's very easy to set it up.
Matt Swartz: Got it.
Scott Brady: And Ryan Keegan, our cinematographer that works here, he's been using the same unit that we tested for years now with good success. It's never failed him. So, and I think he's. You know, spend a couple of months in Southern Utah living out of the thing. So it's proven to be pretty durable.
Matt Swartz: How is it setting up as an individual? Is it doable or?
Scott Brady: Super easy.
Matt Swartz: That's nice.
Scott Brady: Extremely easy. I think, I think the tent takes less than a minute.
Matt Swartz: Okay.
Scott Brady: I mean, it's just very fast. I mean, if you exclude doing the additional guidelines, it's very fast.
Matt Swartz: Sounds nice. Okay. Well, the next one that was part of our test. I was really psyched on a is the Hilleberg Keron 3.
Scott Brady: So those are rad tents.
Matt Swartz: They're incredible. I don't need to tell you you've slept in quite a few of the different models from, from them. Um, I assume on some of your polar trips, right?
Scott Brady: Correct. Yeah.
Matt Swartz: The Keron 3 is a tunnel design, [00:24:00] so it, it basically looks, it almost looks like a, like a greenhouse, you know, like a long tunnel greenhouse and it has three poles. This is kind of interesting because before we were talking about four season tents, and how the more crisscrosses of poles that you have, the more strength you have, but this is one of those tent designs that kind of goes the opposite way of that theory, but still is incredibly strong. It uses three polls and none of them crossed, but just because of the way that they form these hoops and with the way that you guy the tents out and stake it out, it's like, I mean, it can hold up to like hurricane force winds.
Scott Brady: Incredibly strong.
Matt Swartz: Yeah. Luckily I didn't have to deal with any wind that strong, but I did, I tested this one actually quite a while before some of the other tents. And I had it out on the western slope in Utah in some pretty windy desert environments. And it's like, it's rock solid or bomber, barely moves. This one's really cool. It's a, it's like a double wall design. So you've got the outer fly material and then there's like an inner mesh kind of cocoon with a waterproof bathtub style floor. The two are connected, so you don't have to set up the inner tent and then put the fly on you, just push the [00:25:00] poles through and it kind of springs into place. And when it's all set up. You can remove the inner tent and it saves you a whole bunch of weight. So you can camp with just the outer waterproof fly and use it as a floorless tent.
Scott Brady: Interesting.
Matt Swartz: And it saves you like half the weight of the tent, and it's a pretty lightweight, tent to begin with considering the size and the fact that it is a four season tent.
Scott Brady: And how durable it is.
Matt Swartz: It's so durable. Yeah. And I mean, kind of the, one other thing that I would mention about Hilleberg is, you know, their tents are premium tents. They cost, I think this was a $1,200 tent, maybe a little bit more. And some of their tents are more than that. The quality of craftsmanship in this is really second to none. I mean, again, I said, you know, at the beginning of this podcast, I've slept in a lot of tents on a lot of occasions. This is hands down, one of the nicest tents I've ever been in. And you see..
Scott Brady: Wow, that says a lot.
Matt Swartz: You see it in every detail of the tent, everything has thought and design put into it, like from the vents to the toggles, to the zippers. I mean, it is just, you can tell that this has been refined over a long period of time and it's just, it's so good. I loved [00:26:00] using this tent and despite the fact that you can't stand up in it, I think it has its place for people that are going to more extreme environments where, you know, you have to have absolute weatherproofness in, like I said, hurricane force, winds, snow rain in, in something that's just going to last for a long time.
Scott Brady: Yeah. Imagine if someone is doing a multi-year trip, they want to be able to have a tent that will not only survive that length of time, but then work in just about any condition. That's impressive. If you were in a hot environment in the desert, then you could just run only. The shell, you know, maybe sleep on a, on a ground tarp or something.
Matt Swartz: And this one also, despite being super burly and durable, um, it, it wasn't that heavy. Uh, I want to say it was under 10 pounds, so..
Scott Brady: Yeah.
Matt Swartz: And it can sleep threeis the ideal.
Scott Brady: Yeah. That's impressive. Those are very cool tents. I've always been a huge fan. Like you could just kind of, you just know you've got something special on, you know, when you own one of those.
Matt Swartz: Yeah. It's kind of, I know a lot of people who are like, outdoor gear aficionados. And it's like, that's like the pinnacle of tent [00:27:00] ownership.
Scott Brady: Totally, totally geek out here for sure. All right. Well then the next one we'll talk about, which is another stand up, definitely more car camping tent is the Oztent. Uh, they have a couple different sizes. Uh, they ended up very long so you typically have to have them in a full-sized truck bed, or you need to have them up on a rack. You know, they can be six and a half seven, eight feet long. They're very easy to set up, basically remove the tent from the storage bag, which is a super heavy duty canvas. And then the tent itself is like a reinforced nylon canvas material. You pull out two arms, you have to do it in the right orders. It doesn't break any of the hinges. That's one of the challenges with that tent is if you don't set it up properly, you can, you can bend the aluminum structure or break one of the plastic hinges. But once you know how it works, there's one arm that comes out and then the other arm comes out and then you step inside the tent with the door open and you just lift it up all in as one unit and it sets up. There's two tensioning hinges on the inside and once you pop those [00:28:00] into place, the tent all develops, you know, a strong structure, but it does need to be heavily guyed out during any kind of wind, because it's like a giant sail, so you have to really be careful about making sure that every possible guyline is implemented because we've seen a couple of them kind of fold in on themselves and wind without that proper staking and guylines. They use these plastic hinges, which are basically like a fusible link so you don't destroy the aluminum structure. Typically one of the plastic hinges will fail. So it's a good idea to bring some of those along. The spares that they sell. You can, yeah, you can even field service them typically requires a drill bit. So you can drill out where they've pinched the aluminum pole around the hinge. You drill that out and you can slide out the plastic hinge, slide it in another one, and then you end up using like a bolt once it's been repaired. But it is very easy to repair if you've got the right tools. They're super roomy, kind of a heavy canvas. So they're definitely would last for decades. And then they've got a clever awning that kind of, so [00:29:00] once you get it set up, you end up with, this is totally uh, vertical entry door and with a bunch of windows, but then you can unroll this awning that has additional poles. And then if you wanted to, like, if you had one more space, you could actually put walls on that. So you could end up with a sitting area if you were in a buggy buggy spot.
Matt Swartz: Okay. I was going to say, could you, I feel like I've seen people even set these up against the side of their truck, so you can almost walk from the tent and open, like your vehicle door with almost complete weather protection.
Scott Brady: A hundred percent and that would actually be a really clever way to do it would be what the awning up to the rack would be really clever. You'd end up, you know, you'd end up with a breezeway to sit in next to your vehicle, and they're very popular. The only thing to consider is that they're heavy and that they typically require a rack because they're very long.
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Matt Swartz: Similar, but different the Springbar.
Scott Brady: Yeah. Classic.
Matt Swartz: Yeah, a super classic. They're really cool. They're made in Utah by hand. They're incredibly robust. Uh, so this was the only cotton canvas tent that I tested, but I, I wanted to test kind of a more [00:31:00] traditional tent and the Springbar has been around for a while and they have figured things out as far as like construction methods that work. And, you know, it's funny, like I don't think of cotton canvas as uh, material that I would use generally for outdoor activities, but it is very weather resistant. Although I might suggest not using this, if you're going to be in a perpetually wet environment, you know, this comes back to that specialization thing. Like there's a place for specific tents, but yeah, the Springbar is really cool. Um, it is a big, heavy tent. I think it weighed close to maybe 60, 60 pounds or so with everything.
Scott Brady: Sure.
Matt Swartz: Tent, maybe even a little bit more. Um, but it's yeah, it's this like heavy duck canvas. It's got like a TPU floor that feels like, you know..
Scott Brady: Really bomber.
Matt Swartz: It's so bomber it's like you put it down and you can feel like little rocks and stuff under it on the ground, but you're like, you're not at all worried about puncturing it.
Scott Brady: Sure.
Matt Swartz: It's got nice vertical walls on all four sides. It's like a rectangular floor plan. So it's, you know, fairly [00:32:00] traditional in that way, plenty of standing room. Um, I had no problem being inside and I think, you know, someone up to six foot maybe even could fit in there.
Scott Brady: Typically with how like the roof line arches, which is, I think something unique to the Springbar.
Matt Swartz: The pole layout is very unique too. It's not your traditional like sleeves or integrated poles. You, I mean, that's where the name comes from Springbar. So you put these two separate poles into the roof that kind of formed the ridge line of the roof.
Scott Brady: Are they fiberglass so that they can flex?
Matt Swartz: They're actually, they are metal, but they're almost like the tension rods that you would use in a rooftop tent to kind of hold out the fly. You insert them into these t brackets and they, those are flexible. And so you have the two center poles kind of come together and meet in the middle and then you almost like press them down. And there's a lot of resistance, and then there's a sleeve that comes over that. Once they're pressed into place and the sleeve is over, it puts a lot of tension on that roof and it creates like this roof line that kind of channels water off of it and it presents enough tension to give it a lot of structure.
Scott Brady: Yeah. It's [00:33:00] such a clever design and it's, and it's just held up to the test of time. I mean, people have been using these things for decades.
Matt Swartz: Yes. It's a very cool tent. This was their Traveler model. And so in addition to that square floor plan with the standing room, it's got these big floor to ceiling windows that you can open that have mesh in them to keep bugs out. It's got, I mean, it's so charming looking it kind of..
Scott Brady: For sure.
Matt Swartz: Reminds me of like the kind of British campaign picture, but it's, it's beautiful to look at and it's also got this great awning that comes out so you get that kind of porch shaded area outside, and it comes with like these super burley stakes that you can just like hammer into the ground with a, you know, a mini sledgehammer.
Scott Brady: Sure.
Matt Swartz: I mean, this was a very solid tent.
Scott Brady: Um, about how long did it take to set up? Do you remember? Was it one of the easier ones to set up?
Matt Swartz: Once I did have to watch a YouTube video to see how the roof pole was assembled 'cause I've never assembled something like that. So I was like looking at it, not even understanding how it came together, but I mean, I immediately understood it once I watched this video and total setup was like under 40 minutes for me. So, and I was [00:34:00] able to set it up solo, despite it being like a heavy burley tent.
Scott Brady: Sure.
Matt Swartz: Um, and it held up great in wind. You know, we had some really windy days out by the Superstitions where I had that one testing, like in 30 mile an hour winds and nothing broke. I mean, it had these, it has these really great loops, you know, the loops that you normally stake a tent out with, um, this they're steel.
Scott Brady: Wow.
Matt Swartz: Yeah. It's like, I have no doubt that, you know, this is another one of those tents where if you take care of it, it's gonna last. Like it could last a lifetime.
Scott Brady: For sure. It's something you'd give to your kids or something like that.
Matt Swartz: Totally. And it's timeless, you know, it's like, I imagine the tent from 40 years ago is like, you almost can distinguish it from the modern ones.
Scott Brady: Yeah. So cool. Yeah. That's what I really like about that one. And, you know, it's made in the USA and they're passionate outdoor people and they've definitely been popular in the community. All right. Well, the next one we're going to talk about, which is kind of a true hybrid tent and it's new to the market and it is the C6 Outdoors tent. So they call it their Rev Tent, and it is very much designed to be able to work [00:35:00] on a roof rack as a roof tent, it can actually be used as a roof tent with their platform just on crossbars. So you can buy a platform. It weighs about 40 pounds. It actually folds open like a regular roof tent has a ladder self-supporting. You can use it on a bare roof rack, if there's enough slats, like on a Front Runner rack, if you can add additional slats, so you have enough coverage, um, you can also use it as a ground tent, and then you can also use it in the bed of a truck as a bed tent as well. And it looks kind of like a roof tent when it's opened up, but it has a four inch thick mattress on the inside. And the tent itself was only 25 pounds. The one thing that I noticed is it is a little bit big. It's probably 48 inches square. So you've got to have some space for that, but it's not overly large where you couldn't put it in a standard SUV or just strap it to your roof rack. So that's pretty clever. And I've even seen people not use a rack at all. So if you have a strong enough, or like, for example, Jeep Wrangler roof, which is actually quite strong. Um not in a dynamic setting, but in a static load setting, you actually use these [00:36:00] little inserts that you close the doors on it, and then it locks the tent in place on the roof. And then you can sleep just right on a bare roof with the tent itself. So it's, and it's got a kind of a quilted cover on the mattress. You know, thoughtful colors. It's a stylish tent and it's only 800 bucks, which for a tent that does all of those things pretty well, including having a mattress, I've used the mattress more than I've used the tent. You just pull the mattress out and like, get people staying at the house or just an additional, I even used it on the sailboat, like as an additional mattress to be able to sleep extra people. So it's really easy just to pull the mattress out and use it for other purposes as well. So what I like about it, it's kind of like the jack of all trades tent, but it does quite a few of them well.
Matt Swartz: That versatility is awesome. Like having a tent like that, that can do so many things in so many different ways is cool, you know. That was the C6 you said?
Scott Brady: C6 Outdoors.
Matt Swartz: Um, okay. So the next one I wanted to talk about was the Seek Outside Redcliff. I think this was one of the more interesting tents in the mix personally, mostly [00:37:00] because it was the first hot tent that I've tested. So this has a, an optional, uh, titanium woodstove that..
Scott Brady: Oh, wow.
Matt Swartz: That can be integrated. Yeah. Which is really unique. I've I'd never used, uh, any kind of a heater in a tent before.
Scott Brady: Did it get cold enough to be able to..
Matt Swartz: You know, in the desert, it cools off. So despite the fact that I was testing this in the spring outside of Phoenix, there were some nights where it got down into the thirties. So I was totally able to get in there, light the stove and, and..
Scott Brady: And you actually have it with you here somewhere, don't they?
Matt Swartz: I do. So for those of you who are watching this, the video version, or if I should say, if you're listening to the podcast, this is a great reason to go check out the podcast on YouTube because we have videos so you can see some of these things that we're talking about.
Scott Brady: That's right. Impressed by the weight. It was, it feels like it weighs just a couple of pounds. If that.
Matt Swartz: So this what we're looking at here, we've got a Front Runner Wolf Pack box, and I've got the entire thing in the box and that's the titanium woodstove and the six person tent. I think the full, the full up weight of this is like around maybe 10 [00:38:00] pounds for the whole thing. That's incredible.
Scott Brady: That's totally incredible.
Matt Swartz: They achieved that because it's a sill nylon tent. So it's a single wall tent. It's floorless so you're, you're saving a lot of weight there. There are obviously some trade-offs to that. It's got great tensile strength. It does well in the wind, but abrasion resistance is going to be a bit lower because so nylon is lightweight. So, uh, this is one that you kind of want to take care of setup is a little bit more time-consuming because it's a tipi design. So you kind of have to like stake out certain weights first.
Scott Brady: Um, got it.
Matt Swartz: And you have to be conscious of putting in the single pole in the center, because if you stake the points out too far apart then the pole won't be able to fully extend that. So basically what I'm saying is this was one of the most complex tends to set up in the whole mix. And this one took me well over an hour to set it up the first time. But part of that was also because setting up the woodstove is kind of a lengthy process and I had never tested this beforehand. So I didn't subscribe to my, you know, advice of testing this before you take it out and [00:39:00] you're testing we're testing. So this is the titanium woodstove in this little stuffed sack.
Scott Brady: I mean, it looks like a small messenger bag for those that are listening. It's super small.
Matt Swartz: It's not big. And this is, there's like an eight foot stove pipe in here that's titanium that you roll out and put these little steel cables around to keep the shape you assemble this box that has these legs to keep it elevated off the ground. It has like a flue, like a traditional stove. It's got a little door with a damper, so you can really dial in the burning of the wood. It's not like this precisely machined woodstove like maybe you would have in like a traditional home. So dialing it in to burn properly is like, it takes some practice, but..
Scott Brady: Does it have some surface area where you could put like some water to heat up and everything?
Matt Swartz: Totally and I, I did. I made coffee on top of it using the ability to heat your tent and also prepare some breakfast inside. I mean, it's so novel and the whole thing is sealed so you don't really have to worry about smoke or fumes, it's vented outside. And it's, it's really interesting the way that they created this, this vent for the [00:40:00] chimney, because obviously that gets hot because you've got, you know, burning..
Scott Brady: Sure.
Matt Swartz: Gases from wood going up. There's like a silicone coated fireproof material that's sewn in a square with a little Velcro flap. So you, you lift the Velcro flap on the outside, you push the stove pipe through. And I mean, I had the first time I use it, I had flames coming out the top of the eight inch chimney because I hadn't figured out the flue properly. And it didn't do any damage to the tent material. I mean, I was amazed. Yeah.
Scott Brady: Is it like a Nomex?
Matt Swartz: Yeah, it might be like a Nomex or certainly on their website I'm sure it elaborates.
Scott Brady: Super cool.
Matt Swartz: And I think we're having..
Scott Brady: Did it get toasty in there?
Matt Swartz: It gets so warm. It's so warm, so fast. Yeah. I mean, it's, it's incredible. I would love to take this out in like a true winter environment. My friend who lives in Colorado, who's an elk hunter turned me onto this company. Cause there are another, you know, made in the USA company. They're based in Grand Junction, Colorado. They make all their tents by hand. They're a small team of people. Yeah, it's really cool. And so he uses one of these for elk hunting. So he'll go out, he'll set up his base camp with this. He'll [00:41:00] go out and he'll scout and it'll come back and have a wood-fire and warm up and then he'll go back out and he'll set it up for like a week. And that's his base camp.
Scott Brady: Yeah, that's incredible. I mean, it seems like it would be ideal for people who like to use they overland into a destination that they want to explore further on foot or with a mountain bike or whatever. They're just going to kind of leave this tent set up in any weather.
Matt Swartz: I think that's a great insight. I, this is not a tent. If you're someone who likes to move around every night, this is not really the tent for you because even with a small group, I mean, it's, it's a process just to set it up.
Scott Brady: Sure.
Matt Swartz: I should say for me, I wouldn't want to use this if I were moving every night, but for base camping, super cool. And yeah, it's got a lot of space. It's a six person tent, so you can pack people in there and..
Scott Brady: And that it all fits in a Wolf Box. That's amazing.
Matt Swartz: Yeah. And I mean, even, you know, I should mention, you don't have to use it with the titanium woodstove and if you ditch that it's even smaller. I mean, it's like, I think it's a, like a six pound tent without the titanium woodstove for six people. So..
Scott Brady: Wow. So it's kind of for the people that are doing like fat tire hunting in that, whether you're literally just needing the, a super [00:42:00] light tent to go back in and base camp for a while.
Matt Swartz: And I think they do kind of market to the hunting crowd.
Scott Brady: Sure.
Matt Swartz: More so than any other user. Totally works for overland travel too.
Scott Brady: No doubt. Oh, that's very cool. All right. So then the next group of tents we have to talk about is they call them like a 10 second tent, or a three-second tent. It just depends on how it's marketed. A Front Runner sells one. They're basically like the window shade that you put up in your car where it kind of springs open, except it's bigger and it's probably three feet in diameter. In a heavy-duty sleeve. And if you are somebody who doesn't want to spend a lot of time setting up a tent, they are extremely fast to set up. I mean, you basically pull it out of the sleeve and you just throw it up in the air and it just pops open, totally set up and lands on the ground and then you stake it out if you need to, if there's some wind, but it's self-supported so you don't have to stake it out. You can just throw your sleeping bag and some gear in the inside.
Matt Swartz: Cause it's like weighted down?
Scott Brady: Correct. Yeah. Correct. But, um, if there's any wind, you definitely want to stake them out, but, uh, they are so easy to set [00:43:00] up that they take up a little bit of space. Again, it's like a three foot diameter, so I've been able to just tuck them along the roll bar over of a Wrangler. Um, they're very easy to store inside the vehicle, even though there are, they are a little bit big in diameter. They're not very thick. Also, not terribly expensive. Uh, the downside to those is that, and this has been true for any of the manufacturers that I've tested, they're made from fiberglass so that they have some spring to them and they do tend to break. Like if you, if you aren't careful with how you put them away, or you're not mindful of that, I've even seen some of the joints, uh, the glue fail and then the, and then the fiberglass pole pops out. And so I've had some cracked poles and some disassembled poles and other issues with those. Uh, I think they do get better and better with time. Um, but they are definitely worth considering a super fast setup. I'll say like on the, on the instruction thing, when you go, when you go to put this thing away for the first time, probably a good idea to know how to do it, because the colorful words I've heard from people trying to put these things away, like it is a very specific process of like, and [00:44:00] basically you stick it up against the tire of the vehicle to help support the other side so it doesn't start flipping in the air and flipping every different direction. Make sure you have your phone out. If somebody is trying to put one of those away for the first time, because it's going to be humorous, but once you get it it's like oh, now I kind of like folding up a taco and turning it into a circle.
Matt Swartz: Makes me think of like those light reflectors, you kind of have to like twist it.
Scott Brady: Exactly. That's exactly how it goes, but it's also this big tent. You'd have some planning, just watch somebody struggling and anyhow, it's just a joy. Yeah, exactly. Those are definitely worth considering super fast set up. And now the Big Agnes.
Matt Swartz: So big Agnes is, this is another Colorado company, lots of tent makers. They're, uh, they're based out of Steamboat Springs, Colorado actually, and have been for quite a while. So we tested the, their Mint Saloon, which is a really, it's a really interesting different tent, which is why I threw it in the mix. It's like they describe it as like a, yurt style tent.
Scott Brady: Cool.
Matt Swartz: It's it's a floorless single wall tent, it uses two poles, but it's got kind of like a teepee style single center pole.
Scott Brady: Cool.
Matt Swartz: And then a [00:45:00] really like a, literally like a 35 foot pole, like skinny pole that comes in from the side and kind of creates a round lip around the outside.
Scott Brady: So you get a semi vertical wall.
Matt Swartz: Exactly. Like. I want to say two and a half to three feet of wall is vertical, and then it kind of comes in like a teepee overhead.
Scott Brady: That's clever.
Matt Swartz: Yeah, it is clever. It's huge inside. Um, it has room for like eight people.
Scott Brady: Wow.
Matt Swartz: Uh, yeah, it's floorless. I believe you can get a footprint or a floor that you can use with it. I thought that like a really good use case would be like, you're going with a group of your buddies on an overland route, maybe you have rooftop tents, or maybe you have individual sleeping tents, but you could set this up as like an indoor mess hall for everyone to kind of configure.
Scott Brady: A gathering place.
Matt Swartz: Totally. Yeah, because it's just got so much interior space. Like you could literally set up an indoor camp kitchen for, you could have like four people cooking on multiple tables. I mean, it had a lot of standing room and a lot of usable space. And so that was kind of ideal. Or maybe if you're going out with a group and you're doing an [00:46:00] overland route and you all have kids and you want to put all the kids together in one tent, this could be a fun way to kind of like put them all together. They have plenty of space. They can all be with their buddies and then maybe you can have some peace and quiet.
Scott Brady: Oh, what a cool idea for those that want to cook inside a tent, it's really important to make sure that you have a fire blanket. I wouldn't consider doing any cooking inside a tent without it. They have them in different sizes. The bigger ones are important for if you're group cooking. The crazy story we were in the middle of the Greenland ice sheet. We have one tent that we can use for cooking and for gathering the team, a heavy duty insulated wall tent called an Arctic oven. Breakfast was being prepared and it was the traditional Coleman, multi fuel stove. We were using white gas. Uh, somebody was in there cooking. Next thing you know, you hear screaming, you hear fire, the person runs out of the tent. I knew that there was a fire blanket in there and I just happened to have been a fireman. So firemen are never very bright. So that, we're the ones that run into the fire. I ran into the tent, grabbed the fire blanket and we were able to snuff it out. But these [00:47:00] tents can catch fire very quickly. They are fire retardant. They're designed to do that. They there's regulations around tents being fire retardant. Uh, but what it basically means is that they can still burn through. Instantly, but if they don't catch on fire, so like the tent doesn't continue to burn until it's all the way down to the ground, anywhere flame touches or even gets close, it'll just burn a hole through it. So for us being in minus 40 conditions, this was critical to get the fire out as quickly as possible. So anybody who's cooking inside of a tent, make sure you got a fire blanket. We learned that when the hard way.
Matt Swartz: That's very good advice. And I will mention, so the Mint Saloon has this really big entryway that I did have to duck to get under it. It's big enough that two people can pass each other we're coming in and out. And then it's got some side windows that are kind of at like waist height, that open downwards. If I remember correctly, and then it's got a roof vent as well. So it's got a decent amount of ventilation. So with it all the way opened up, you know, I think, um, and with some caution, yeah. I think..
Scott Brady: What a cool tent, what a cool tent. And again, for those that are listening, [00:48:00] Paula, our producer will be dropping in either footage or still images of each one of these tents. So you can see what they look like as well.
Matt Swartz: Yeah, I have some cool actually got some drone footage of everything, but the Hilleberg because I tested that one like a year ago. Hopefully there'll be some good video footage, so you can kind of see the shape and what it looks like. And I even, I used a LiDAR on my iPhone 13 to do interior VR scans, and I'm going to try and figure out a way to put those up on Expedition Portal when we bring some of this information over there. So you might be actually able to do a little 3d tour of the inside of these tents.
Scott Brady: Oh that's awesome. Yeah. That's awesome.
Matt Swartz: Try that out. All right. Well then you've got our last tent number 10. Yeah, the last, the last one is the classic REI Half Dome two plus. This is like your traditional two person backpacking tent, no standing room lightweight under four pounds. Quick to set up. It's a three season tent so it's pretty sturdy in wind. So, uh, um, my partner, Amanda and I have one of these it's actually hers. Uh, she got it on like a screaming deal at one of the REI garage sales because the previous [00:49:00] owner had elastic failed in one of the poles, which was actually a kind of a common thing I read about these is that that happens. But it didn't render the tent unusable. It just means you have to kind of like hold one of the poles together before putting it into the sleeve.
Scott Brady: Sure.
Matt Swartz: So it's still completely usable. This tent's great. We've taken it a lot of places. Backpacking, we've used it for car camping on tons of occasions. And one that we tested was actually it's, it's like slightly older version of this tent because REI has been just evolving this one. Um, and it's still around. They have it now. And the current one has a few design tweaks. It will be slightly different than the one that we tested for this overall it's, it's a similar design and we're able to fit the two of us plus our dog inside. And it's got vestibules on both sides. So you can store like a backpack plus boots outside of the main tent body, but within a weather protected area. Um, and it's just, it's just a super simple affordable tent. Uh, it could be a great first tent, if you're not looking to go and spend $500. And I think these retail for like somewhere between two and $300. So, um, and we've had..
Scott Brady: Very fair.
Matt Swartz: [00:50:00] Yeah. We've had this one for, I want to say like eight years or something.
Scott Brady: That's awesome.
Matt Swartz: And it's got a couple of patches on it.
Scott Brady: Sure.
Matt Swartz: It's still going strong. Yeah.
Scott Brady: What a great tent. Yeah. REI definitely has made some really nice private labeled tents for.
Matt Swartz: Yeah.
Scott Brady: White labeled tents.
Matt Swartz: Yeah, they have, and they have so many different designs too, you know, you can get standing room tents from them. A, they used to have that lifetime warranty. They don't quite do that anymore, but I think they have a pretty solid, you know, year warranty on anything. So you can, you know, get something and if it fails in the first year, they'll just replace it. No questions asked.
Scott Brady: That's impressive.
Matt Swartz: And they're a national store, so there's some value there, you know, like let's say you're traveling for a trip and you break something out on the road being able to go to a branch in a different state and just bring it in and get a warranty replacement. That's actually pretty valuable. So..
Scott Brady: Yeah, I would agree.
Matt Swartz: So that's, that's kind of it for the tents in the article and plus the other ones that, that you've had some experience with.
Scott Brady: Well, what was your favorite if you were to, to pick one of these 10, which one would you grab?
Matt Swartz: Oh man, I will [00:51:00] say without hesitating, I'm going to take the Seek Outside tent on a backpacking trip, uh, next month in Western Colorado. And I'm going to test it with four of us and the woodstove.
Scott Brady: That's awesome.
Matt Swartz: Yeah, it's it. You know, like I mentioned, it is one of the most complex ones to set up.
Scott Brady: But if you've got help, you've got it.
Matt Swartz: Yeah. We'll have four people, so we can split that weight up when we were hiking with it. So, I mean, 10 pounds split between four people is like nothing to them. Potentially, it could still be pretty cold at night there so having that woodstove might be really nice. Yeah. I think that one it's cool. It's the versatility of that tent is hard to beat. I've used TPM. Before, um, that are floorless. And I just like that design, I mean, I'm totally fine with being on the ground.
Scott Brady: Seems like, people are really, people that love them, love them. And there's a couple of different really well-known manufacturers of those two, that there are the hockey and some others.
Matt Swartz: Yeah. I actually, Jack who's one of our other editors. Um, he does a lot of bike touring and I know he has one from Hyperlight Mountain Gear, um, like a DCF TB that weighs [00:52:00] like, I think it's like under four pounds.
Scott Brady: Wow.
Matt Swartz: Um, and you reviewed it. I believe it's up on Expedition Portal. But he really liked that tent too.
Scott Brady: Yeah, for me off of the motorcycle, I tend to go with one of the really lightweight Nemo ones. They've got some that are, I'm a bigger guy, so even if it's a, like a single pole or like a, a y pole design, um, it needs to have a little bit of interior space. So I like that. And then of course, there's that classic Morpho One P but you can't buy those anymore. I think I bought them all.
Matt Swartz: Every one that was left.
Scott Brady: Those are probably what I use most often off of the motorcycle. But the thing I've been grabbing just for general, camping out of a vehicle is that new C6 Rev tent. I think it's, it's a very clever design to end up with a four inch thick mattress that can't get punctured. It's really clever.
Matt Swartz: I can't tell you how many times I've had my lightweight mattresses deflate on me on a trip, you're just on the ground.
Scott Brady: Yeah. So it's a pretty good car, camping tent in my opinion.
Matt Swartz: Excellent. Yeah, that's cool. What else should we cover before we wrap things up?
Scott Brady: Well, I think that there's going to be a lot of different tent designs out there that [00:53:00] people have used. If you've got a tent that you've got a great story, a bunch of miles with or something that we didn't include in the tent, of course, there's we covered 10 tents and there's probably a hundred or more tents that would be suitable for overlanding. If there's one that comes to mind, please feel free to reach out to Matt or myself. Instagram's usually the best way to do that. Matt, how do people get ahold of you?
Matt Swartz: M.B.Swartz on instagram.
Scott Brady: And I would be Scott.A.Brady. If there's something that you got a great story with, or you'd like to have us mention in a future episode of what really worked well for you, uh, please do that. Um, we love getting that kind of feedback so that we can consider that for future testing. Uh, we will have, uh, another ground tent test in the future for Overland Journal. That'll cover a lot of those kind of larger units that are a little bit different design, like the Oztent and the Gazelle and others. Uh, so look for that in the future. Anything else that you'd like to add, Matt?
Matt Swartz: That was a lot of material.
Scott Brady: That was.
Matt Swartz: I feel like let's let people digest that and see what kind of feedback they have. Yeah. I look forward to testing more of these in the future and, you know, it's, [00:54:00] it's really cool. What's happening in the world of tent design. There's some really great innovation going on in fabrics. I kind of mentioned DCF, which is Dyneema Composite fabrics. I mean, their tents are getting much lighter and they're still very strong. I mean, you can get two person tents now that have floors and mosquito netting that are totally waterproof. That weigh less than two pounds. Um, you're going to pay a premium for them. But, uh, the future of tents is pretty bright and exciting.
Scott Brady: And, and using a ground tent for overlanding, super appropriate. It's been done far more than roof tents were ever done. People doing car camping with ground tents is very, very common. It can save you a lot of money. They can save you a lot of weight as well. So they're worth considering. Yeah, we appreciate you all listening and we will talk to you next time.