Exped tents

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!

Once I saw the Sirius II set up, I decided we’d need to rethink our tent choice.  So I asked Brad to show us the free-standing tents.  He showed us the Venus II and the Orion.

Venus II:

Orion:

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:

Venus videos:

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.

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About Max

I'm an IT nerd who spends much less time on my bike than I'd like. I'm planning a big cycle tour for when I get long service leave (2013). Until then, I keep plodding along at my job and get on my bike when I can. Did I mention I love riding my bike?

Posted on 23/10/2011, in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. In determining if there really is enough room inside for two people lay out two full length sleeping mats, ideally the ones you will use. Looking or lying down does not really give you as good an idea as you think. Putting the mats in there lets you step back and get a good overview.

    You need space side to side unless getting cosy night after night is okay (keep in mind also if toss and turn space is important for the other sleeper) and at each end. You do NOT want to be kicking the end of the tent with your feet or bumping it with your head unless you like water dripping on you. Also down sleeping bags and water just don’t get on. Wet and cold? No thanks.

    Oh also you need to be able to bring food in to the tent or secure it well (vestibules don’t provide protection) so that those pesky native or otherwise rats don’t get fat tummies courtesy of you 🙂 I have camped where I have had to hang my food well away from walls to stop the rats feeding. Even then I have a hole in my pack where one had a good go even though the food had been removed for the night. The smell was all it took for its interest.

    The other point to keep in mind is that headroom is far more important to you than it is in a vestibule. Head room means being able to sit up or not; it means being able to dress easily or not. Living space is critical. Vestibule space is nice but not the end of the world.

    Have fun shopping.

    Andrew

  2. Those are some great points, Andrew. I hadn’t considered the food/scavenger issue at all.

    The demo tents did have sleeping mats set up inside. There’s room for both side-by-side, with a bit of room either side. It’s not roomy by any stretch. I think I will need to have another look at the tent(s) again, this time in the context of some of the points you’ve raised in your comments.

    My comment about headroom was a little misleading. Yes, there’s more headroom in the living area of the tent, but that means there is also more room in the vestibule. I probably didn’t explain that as well as I could’ve.

    Oh well, I’m sure I won’t mind visiting the camping store again! 🙂 Thanks for your comments; it’s given me some more things to think about!

    Max

  3. Yes – all good points. I will leave it up to my trusty and diligent researcher to get all the nitty-gritty!

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