Hello folks, welcome to the second installment of the series titled “Trying to milk as much content from one measly bike overnight as possible.” If you missed it, the first installment reviewing my Eton Raptor radio is over here.
One of the best or worst things about extensively bike touring and bike camping is one thinks a lot about “the kit”. The kit is in a state of constant reevaluation. Products bought and tested. Old stuff sold off. Many hundreds, even thousands of dollars spent overall. One can get obsessive about all this stuff. I’m somewhat obsessive about this stuff, though not as obsessive as some other folk.
And a big part of the kit is shelter. Besides just not worrying about shelter and sleeping in the plein air (or under something), shelter can be broken down into three categories: tent, bivy sack, and hammock. I generally use a tent, but also own a bivy. I’ve never owned a hammock, and despite knowing lots of hammock devotees, I’m not really into them, nor am considering getting one. And while I like the idea of bivy sacks, I rarely end up using the one I own. It seems that the conditions have to be “just right” to enjoy a bivy: a bit cool but not freezing, not buggy, and not raining. Once rain is thrown into the equation it’s better to bring a tarp, and that adds extra weight. And the last time I’ve tried to use the bivy in the middle of summer, I ended up sleeping on it rather than in it. Thankfully the night was relatively bug-free.
So the tent is the way I go. I still have the REI Quarter-Dome three person tent we used on our Cross-Continent Tour in 2011 (April and I co-own it), and while it’s a good tent, over the past two years I’ve been mostly using a solo tent. The particular solo tent in question, the REI Passage 1, was a decent tent, and served me well.* But it was a “compromise” tent, as when I bought it, I was pretty broke and it was the most affordable option. It’s a bit on the bulky side, pushing five pounds with everything in it. And while it wasn’t super hard to set up, I wouldn’t call it easy either.
So since I have more cash this year and a desire to get better, lighter gear, a new solo tent was high on the list. The option I was looking at most were the offerings made by Tarptent, especially the Moment DW. Lightweight (around 2 pounds) and made in the US. Not cheap either, at around $300 with the options I would want to get. Still, I was thinking about getting one until Nicholas C. discouraged me as he worries about their overall robustness. (And I trust Nick C. in these matters.)
So I searched some more. I should also mention that I covet Hilleberg tents, but they are definitely not cheap, and not as lightweight as others, as Hilleberg errs more towards overbuilt than light.** While it would be fun to be mistaken for a Northern European cyclotourist, the cost factor made me rule them out. Finally, and impulsively, I ended up buying a Marmot Eos 1 online. While they retail for about $250, I got mine for about $170, almost half as much as the Tarptent I was looking at. (Of course, Tarptent is made in the USA whereas Marmot is made “elsewhere”.)
The big selling point of the Eos 1 was its relative lightness. When I received it, it weighed in at 2 lbs 13 oz (1.25 kg). Yes, I could get lighter (the Tarptent I was looking at would come in just above 2 lbs) but I’d be paying a lot more, and under 3 pounds is pretty damn good. It packs down into a pretty neat and small package, too.
And set-up? Set up is so easy on this tent. The Passage 1 used two separate poles that I would have to “slide” into place independently. The Eos 1 uses a single connected pole system with two “prongs” on each end. The prongs go into the tabs on the end of the tent. Then the body clips to the pole. It takes about 2 minutes for this portion of the setup. The fly attaches to the pole with three velcros and then hooks onto the tabs on the edge of the tent. Setting up the fly (and staking it down) takes about another 2 minutes. I’d say it takes maybe half as long to set up than the Passage 1.
I’ve only had one overnight trip to test the tent out, but so far I like it. The footprint is about the same as the Passage 1, so there’s enough room for me to adequately sleep in and bring a few things inside the tent. (The vestibule area is fairly spacious, too.) The big difference is the Eos 1 is shorter, so there’s less headroom. If I sit up my head can hit the netting. I knew this getting into it, and so far it’s not a dealbreaker. The other potential drawback is that I felt a bit cold in the tent on the night I used it in Battle Ground Lake. But I didn’t get the footprint for this tent, whereas the Passage 1 had a footprint. I was hoping to not need a footprint for the Eos to keep the weight down, but I might just get it for the “off season” camping trips.
I’ll be putting the Marmot Eos 1 through the paces over the coming months. So far I like it quite a bit, and hope that it comes through.
*Past tense as I’ve already sold it.
**For comparison, their lightest solo tent, the Akto, comes in at 3 lbs, 12 oz packed, and for $500. But they’re built to survive blizzards and such.