I had occasion to visit the K2 Base Camp store in Fortitude Valley this afternoon. I’d gone there with the intention of getting the low-down on an Exped Andromeda II Plus tent, a huge 3-person tent with a vestibule big enough to fit two bikes. We were served by a very knowledgeable fellow, Brad, who answered all our questions. They didn’t have an Andromeda in stock, but that didn’t stop Brad from showing us the rest of the Exped range. He suggested the Sirius II would be the closest match of the tents they had in stock. Completely unprompted, Brad pulled a Sirius II out of its packaging and set it up on the floor in front of us. One thing I think I knew but didn’t really appreciate is that the Andromeda (and the Sirius) is not free-standing. It needs to be guyed out in order to maintain its shape. Of course, we couldn’t guy out the Sirius II in the shop, and it drove home to me how much of a nuisance that would be if we needed to set up our tent on a hard surface.
Brad showed us how to pack the tent up, and would you believe it, it actually fit right back into the package it came from!
Both tents are about the same size, and both have vestibules on either side. However, the Orion is slightly taller, which translates into a somewhat larger vestibule space. There’s just enough room for two adults to lie side-by-side in the main area of the tent. The vestibules appear to be big enough to hold our panniers. I like the Orion better than the Venus because of the slightly taller ceiling and because of the larger vestibules.
Some demos on the Orion:
The Venus does come in a 3-person variety, however, whilst the Orion is 2-person only:
So there is much to think about. At this stage, I’m leaning towards the Orion. I’ll have to look at MSR’s equivalents and see what real-world reviews have to say about them.