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Tunnel vs freestanding tent

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Tunnel vs freestanding tent

Old 01-29-17, 06:06 PM
  #1  
francoisnewtown
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Tunnel vs freestanding tent

Hello,

I want to buy a quality tent with a large vestibule for my girlfriend and I. We make small touring bike trip (2-3 weeks max) every years. I want a "3 persons" tent for more comfort and a large vestibule to be able to cook inside during rainy days.

I was cheking first for a self-supporting tent, like the MSR or Big Agnes. I have a MSR Hubba when I travel alone and I like it. By digging a little on the internet, I then fell into the impressive European tunnel tents, where this type of tent is very popular. And now I have a "fix" on the Hilleberg Nallo 3GT !

By analyzing this tent well, I can see its strengths: solid, very large vestibule, quality materials with very reasonable weight. I wonder, however, whether air can circulate very well ? I'm afraid of being warm on hot nights. The lishtest model (Anjan 3GT) has no vent ! In the same design, the brands Vaude, Robens, Vango, Terra Nova, (all European), etc. make similar tents. The Vaude Ferret XT 3P and the Robens Osprey 3ET have both vent on each end.

As the freestanding tents with large vestibule, I found only the whole new Big Agnes Copper Hotel UL3, the 3 places of which will be available later this spring. Since it has not been tested yet and because it’s a brand new product, I hesitate to trust it. For example, the event on the top of the roof does not inspire confidence: I really feel the rain will get inside by good winds. I also look at the Nemo Losi 3P with which there’s a large vestibule adapted to this model.

I have to choose: a tunnel like the Hilleberg Nallo 3GT or a freestanding ... What do you think? Do you have experience with any of these tent ?

Thank you,
François
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Old 01-29-17, 06:22 PM
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Lt Stonez
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Freestanding for the easy setup, or pure hilleberg quality? Your choice :-)
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Old 01-29-17, 08:11 PM
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Where tunnel tents really shine is in their capability to withstand snow load and/or very strong winds without collapsing.
Provided that they get properly staked and guyed our, of course.
That puts them strongly in 3+ season territory.

They are overkill for your 3-season needs.
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Old 01-29-17, 08:23 PM
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Personally I feel that the freestanding feature is overrated and usually prefer to take one of my non-freestanding tents due to their generally lighter weight for a given amount of space. But unless your trips will include some pretty extreme conditions, incl. blizzards and substantial snow loads, I wouldn't opt for the 3GT. It's quite heavy, has limited headroom, and is very expensive. Those are minor drawbacks if you'll be facing conditions where that level of tent is needed, but it doesn't sound like your trips are in that category.

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Old 01-29-17, 09:11 PM
  #5  
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Originally Posted by IK_biker View Post
Where tunnel tents really shine is in their capability to withstand snow load and/or very strong winds without collapsing.
Provided that they get properly staked and guyed our, of course.
That puts them strongly in 3+ season territory.
....
Agree very much.

Originally Posted by IK_biker View Post
...
They are overkill for your 3-season needs.
He has not told us where he is going, so I can't comment on if it is overkill.

***

Last year when I went to Iceland I planned to spend time in the interior where you might not have anything to block the wind. And I wanted a big enough tent that I could pack up my panniers within the tent in the event it was raining when I struck camp. Thus, I wanted a 2 person tent although I was traveling solo. I decided that although my old hoop style tent (a vintage REI Nitelite) was quite heavy, it was probably the strongest tent I owned for wind, and it was big enough so that is what I brought. Had a nice vestibule that I used a few times to heat water in it with a butane stove. (I would never trust a liquid fuel stove that close to a tent.) Twice I was nervous about setting it up in strong winds, but I did not bend any poles and had no damage.

I have never used a Hillberg tent but I have seen them. The people that I talked to that owned them were very happy with them.

If all the campsites were as sheltered as the second photo, I could have used any tent. But they were not always that sheltered from the wind.

Regarding ventilation and rain protection, that really is tent model specific and I can't comment on the ones you are looking at.
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Old 01-30-17, 07:15 AM
  #6  
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
He has not told us where he is going, so I can't comment on if it is overkill.
He has told us, in a way, given the list of freestanding tents he is considering.
Weatherproofness does not seem to be of any concern in the OP.
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Old 01-30-17, 08:52 AM
  #7  
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I'll agree with the above, Hilliberg for severe weather. But are you really gonna go bicycle touring or hiking in a mid-winter blizzard? The copper spur is a great tent and has been around quite a while, great interior space. So the copper hotel really is not a brand new design, only the super large vestibule. The vestibules on the Copper Spur work for me. Do you really want/need the super large vestibule? I would never cook inside a Copper Spur, on any kind of stove, probably not even inside the super large vestibule.

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Old 01-30-17, 09:59 AM
  #8  
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I have Copper Spur 3

I also have and used tunnel tents from Warmlite and Hilleberg

IMHO - the tunnel tents are just as easy if not easier to pitch than the Copper Spur (and I LOVE our Copper Spur)

Tunnel tents - you pitch them with the rain fly already attached so if you pitch them in rain your inner tent will be dry or drier than the Copper Spur where you have to clip in the mesh inner first and then throw the rain fly over for the clip in.

Specifically comparing Copper Spur to Hilleberg ... your Copper Spur will be probably at least 2lbs lighter.

Last edited by PedalingWalrus; 01-30-17 at 10:02 AM.
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Old 01-30-17, 09:59 AM
  #9  
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Staking a tent is not an issue, until it is. After pulling up half the stakes to re-align the tent because you can't find a place for the last one or two because of subsurface rocks or tree roots, in a good rain, the freestanding tents start looking like a really good idea.
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Old 01-30-17, 10:16 AM
  #10  
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Originally Posted by PedalingWalrus View Post
Tunnel tents - you pitch them with the rain fly already attached so if you pitch them in rain your inner tent will be dry or drier than the Copper Spur where you have to clip in the mesh inner first and then throw the rain fly over for the clip in.

If you have the footprint for the Copper Spur you can't first set up the poles rain fly and then connect the tent body underneath?
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Old 01-30-17, 10:20 AM
  #11  
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OP, if you are traveling in bear county, may want to rethink the cooking in tent thing.
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Old 01-30-17, 10:26 AM
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Yes You can. Good point.

Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
If you have the footprint for the Copper Spur you can't first set up the poles rain fly and then connect the tent body underneath?
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Old 01-30-17, 10:36 AM
  #13  
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Originally Posted by Leebo View Post
OP, if you are traveling in bear county, may want to rethink the cooking in tent thing.
Even raccoon or opossum county. Or consider the fire risk. It might be better to look for tents with large rain flies. Or a separate free standing rain shelter.
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Old 01-31-17, 04:42 AM
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I bought the Coleman Houligan 3 simply because it's a 3 season tent I can walk into. You don't have to crawl in the dirt to enter it. I've really enjoyed it so far, but Coleman uses some cheap zippers and if there is a problem that's where I will find it someday.


Marc
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Old 01-31-17, 06:52 AM
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A free standing tent has an advantage that if it's not windy it can be set up without being staked. Also if you find it is set up on something uncomfortable a free standing tent can be easily moved. With another person a wider tent can give more room and again I think the free standing tent has more of that.

Cheers
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Old 01-31-17, 06:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Miele Man View Post
A free standing tent has an advantage that if it's not windy it can be set up without being staked. Also if you find it is set up on something uncomfortable a free standing tent can be easily moved. With another person a wider tent can give more room and again I think the free standing tent has more of that.

Cheers
+1

Try that with a tunnel type tent. We've used both free standing and non- free standing tents, and find the free standing tents more than adequate. A good 3-season tent will hold up to a lot of abuse.



We also use our 3-season tent for light packing on ski tours. Same tent as the one our daughter is cleaning out while on a bike tour in the picture above.

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Old 02-01-17, 07:01 AM
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Nice ski tour. What kind of skis are those. I'm not familiar with this model. I like the color combination and the light color on the sections that could pick up snow during uphilling. (light is better than dark)

edit :
(oh crap ... I just realized those were the bases and not the top sheets ... ;-) )

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Old 02-01-17, 07:18 AM
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Two people = Freestanding with two side vestibules. Plenty of room to put your gear in out of the rain and away from prying eyes. Each person keeps their gear on their side and can easily get to it. They can get in and out easily to go to the toilet.
Tunnel tents suck for two people, because you then end up with the upwind vestibule full of stuff from both of you, hard to access and you generally end up climbing over the other persons feet as you get in and out the downwind vestibule.
Doesn't need to be mega priced either. Our Alps Mountaineering tent has done 3 months of constant touring, doesn't leak and is comfortable in hot weather.
One very important factor is the ability to externally pitch, being able to erect and dismantle the outer tent without the inner. This is a massive plus when it's raining, put up the outer, under it's shelter half put up the inner, transfer your gear from your bags to the inner under shelter and then finish putting up the inner. Even some of the cheaper freestanding tents have foot prints available that enable you to do this...
I think I paid something like $150 for one of the Chaos 2 (plus $40 for a footprint), Huge tent, plenty of luxury for two. http://www.alpsmountaineering.com/pr...ng-tents/chaos

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Old 02-01-17, 07:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Trevtassie View Post
One very important factor is the ability to externally pitch, being able to erect and dismantle the outer tent without the inner. This is a massive plus when it's raining, put up the outer, under it's shelter half put up the inner, transfer your gear from your bags to the inner under shelter and then finish putting up the inner. Even some of the cheaper freestanding tents have foot prints available that enable you to do this...
This can be done with quite a few non-freestanding tents as well. I can certainly do it with my Eureka Spitfire-1 and it doesn't even need the footprint - a piece of string of the proper length will do to position the two stakes at the ends of the tent to the correct spacing.
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Old 02-01-17, 12:03 PM
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I have a Tarptent Cloudburst 3, which is extremely light (52 oz) for sleeping three tight or two in luxury. However, I found it stultifying on hot, humid summer nights with no breeze as there are no vents in the roof of this tunnel tent. (Do any tunnel tents have ventilation on the top?) My Hilleberg Staika, for all its weight, is much more comfortable in all four seasons. At the time I bought the Tarptent, I planned on camping with my wife and two large dogs (140 and 120 lbs.), but that never worked out...
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Old 02-01-17, 04:11 PM
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I can vouch for the Hilleberg tents—they are superb. Silicone-impregnated flies are far superior to and more durable than PU-coated material, and Hilleberg's construction is flawless.

I can also vouch for the concept of having a better tent than you think you'll need. Your tent is your final refuge from rain, wind, bugs, and cold. You can get by with a cheap sleeping bag if you have a good tent, but the best bag in the world is worthless if your tent leaks or collapses in a wind. I've been in "three-season" conditions—spring, 60 degrees, sunny—with 50mph winds.

I also believe the whole free-standing concept is overrated, with the significant exception mentioned above, of being able to upend it to shake out debris. Otherwise all tents should always be staked, and staked well.

I posted a comprehensive primer here, which is the total of several decades of using and reviewing dozens and dozens of tents of all kinds. It won’t be needed by the experienced tourists here but it could help those new to tent camping.
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Old 02-03-17, 08:30 AM
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North americain tent

Hi all, thanks for all your answer, very interresting.

I read Jonathan Hanson's web page about best tent description : amazing ! Jonathan is there good siliconed both side fly and floor coated tent made in north america ??
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Old 02-05-17, 11:57 AM
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Because My Warmlight tent is sewn in one pice, , the pre curved 7075 Hoop poles go into their sleeves while tent is flat on the ground , 1 end staked down,

So, I could put it Up, in a high wind and Quickly get inside the tent to get out of the wind.
No chasing downwind , a separate rainfly that gets ripped out of your hands before you can put it on your tent..

Sil nylon is impregnated rather than coated on 1 side, still a super light fabric.



...
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Old 02-05-17, 04:39 PM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by francoisnewtown View Post
Hi all, thanks for all your answer, very interresting.

I read Jonathan Hanson's web page about best tent description : amazing ! Jonathan is there good siliconed both side fly and floor coated tent made in north america ??
Francois, thanks.

Tent floors are almost always polyurethane coated, since the floor is not subject to UV degradation, and PU is highly abrasion-resistant.

The Stephenson tents Fietsbob mentioned are U.S.-made. Incredibly lightweight yet storm-resistant. However, you cannot get a vestibule, and Jack Stephenson will tell you you're stupid if you ask for one, or in any other way hint that his tents are less than perfect.
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Old 02-06-17, 08:57 AM
  #25  
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Another ultra-light way to skin this cat is a floorless tent paired with a tyvek footprint and "nest" (independent inner net tent). These allow you to use the interior as regular double-walled bathtub-floored tent, OR a giant vestibule where you can cook, leave your shoes on, set-up a camp chair, fix a flat tire, dig a cathole latrine, and even run a wood burning backpacking stove (hot tent), .... just by collapsing the inner tent and folding the footprint back.

After using one for a year, I now find fixed floors/bugnets to be an impediment better at keeping me out, than the bugs out.

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