By Mark McLauchlin
Name: Mark McLauchlin
Height: 1.76 m (5 9)
Weight: 80 kg (176 lb)
Email: mark at swanvalleyit.com.au
City: Perth, Western Australia
I have been hiking since 2006 with most of my hiking consisting of day walks averaging 16 - 22 km (10 - 14 mi) and short overnight trips where
Most of my hiking is along the Bibbulmun Track and Coastal Plains Trail. I consider myself to be a light hiker with an average pack weight of 13 kg (29 lb),
which I am working to reduce. I generally sleep in my tarp tent or huts
that are often scattered along the various hiking trails.
Manufacturer: Appy Trails LLC
Year of Manufacture: 2009
Listed total weight: 1 lbs. 2.7 oz. (530 g)
Measured total weight: 1 lbs 3.05 oz (540 g)
Listed pole weight: 4.4 oz (120 g)
Measured pole weight: 4.4 oz (120 g)
Listed stake and stuff sack weight: 3.2 oz
Measured stake and stuff sack weight: value too low to measure.
The Appy Trails (not to be confused with Happy Trails) is described by
Sam Below, owner, as a 1 lb. 2.7 oz. 3.5 tall 3 man backpacking
floorless, tent. It is constructed from Solid 185T polyester which is
Quoted from the Appy Trails website some of the features are:
Single-wall design boasts low weight, while its single centre pole
architecture creates a stable and tight structure.
As a backpacking style tent, full vestibule space is built in.
The fabric is ideal for single-wall tents, not water repellent but
water proof coated polyester, T190.
Only one tent pole, light and compact, and also lessening the need to
carry weight by having the options of mounting using cord or pole found
at site or hiking pole.
Tensioned fabric makes the tent quiet in heavy winds.
Stuff sack slightly oversized for ease of stuffing. Compression
Comes with stakes, stake bag, guylines, stuff sack, instruction/care
card, information sheet
All seams factory sealed
Average minimum weight specification is based on tent only
The tent is relatively light weight for its design and construction
and compacts nice and small into its supplied stuff sack. Its colour
(green) blends in nicely with the surroundings, unlike some other quite
pronounced colours. Interior space is large as you would expect from a 3
person tent and entry and exit door is large enough so even the taller
hiker will be accommodated for. Great looking tent which seems to be
There are a few areas that I will pay particular attention to over the
test series, these include:
Ridgeline as can be seen from the image to the right the fold and sew
of the material seems to be causing the ridgeline to bow upward rather
than a downward v shape, this has the potential to collect moisture or
water which I feel could be a problem.
Door entry numerous attempts have left me unable to remove the sag in
the side wall of the tent where the door is. This is quite obvious and
although may not cause any performance issues does reduce the interior
space and does not look aesthetically pleasing.
Rear Guyline Two comments here, firstly I am unable to get the clip on
the guyline to hold fast, resulting in the rope slipping continually, I
ended up having to tie a knot in it. There are no instructions for the
use of this, however my understanding is that it should just pull
taught. I will send an email off to Appy Trails (Sam) for further
advice. My second comment is that perhaps the guyline could be made of a
reflective material as it sits quite high and could lead to accidental
Main support pole The pole itself is good, as mentioned above, however
due to the small diameter of the aluminium it easily sinks or is pushed
below the surface of the ground when the tension is increased when
putting up the tent. Perhaps this is leading to some of my sagging
issues. In an attempt to overcome this I have tried to place several
different objects under the end of the pole, e.g. my hiking shoe.
However this then raises the height of the pole which then creates a gap
between the side walls and the ground, not to mention the possibility of
damage to the shoe.
Front Vent This observation is purely that at this stage, however
still worth noting. When looking directly at the vent from the front of
the tent the right hand side of the vent is sewn lower that the
opposite. The effect this has is that the vent does not sit open
correctly, potentially causing issues associated with lack of
ventilation i.e. Condensation. I will fire off an email to Sam at Appy
Trails for advice.
Setting it up
The erection process is nice and simple, the instructions provided
are very helpful and easy to understand. The first setup took me a
little longer as this was my first attempt, probably 5-6 minutes,
subsequent to that I have got the timing to under 2 minutes, which I
feel is good.
Appy Trails suggests a few basic steps;
1. Lay the tent out on the ground, in a suitable area (discussed in more
detail in field report)
2. Starting from front to rear, firstly steak the two front corners.
3. Insert the centre Aluminium pole into its retainer.
4. Pull up the rear of the tent, and stake, by the guyline. The tent
should now stand.
5. Stake out the remaining points and apply tension.
This is not generally an area worth its own subheading however in this
case due to the excellent assistance I received I wanted to talk about
it. Upon receiving my first Appy Trails tent I noticed several
manufacturing defects (not listed in this report) which have been
addressed in the replacement tent. The replacement was sent out a few
days after reporting the concerns to Sam and within a week of that the
replacement arrived. For an international tester this is great comfort
in knowing that the manufacturer is very customer focused and
responsive. Great service all round.
This is a nice, simple and lightweight tent designed for the
minimalist who likes maximum room and protection from a minimal weight.
I am excited to see how it performs out in the field.
This concludes my Initial Report. The Field
Report will be amended to this report in approximately two months from
the date of this report. Please check back then for further information.
27th June 2009
During the Field testing phase I have slept in the Appy
Trails for 5 nights on various hikes that have been along the
Bibbulumn Track. Gringer Creek to Canning Hut was one of the
highlights which covered 60 km's (37 miles) over two days. The first
day I departed at 9:45 am and arrived at a place known as Nerang,
15.7 (10 miles) km from the start, where I ate my lunch and was back
on the trail by 1:15 pm. I arrived at camp for the night at Mt Cooke
just before 6 pm for a total distance of 29.3 km (18 miles).
The following day was a little difficult; my body was nice and sore.
I departed around 8 am and headed towards Monadnocks where I stopped
for lunch. At this point my total distance travelled was 42.6 km (26
miles). I moved on from Monadnocks and arrived at Canning hut at 7
pm, this was a long days hiking. The original plan was for this trip
to be 4 days, however at the half way point I suffered an injury
that would leave me having to get off the trail and return home
During this phase of testing I did not encounter any significant
amounts of rain, there was however a few small showers. The shelter
held up well and did not leak water from what I could tell.
Sleeping in a shelter without a tubbed floor and bug
proofing has been an enlightening experience for me and has
definitely shown a different perspective on getting close to nature.
Is this something I like? Well not as much as I had hoped it would.
The bugs and creepy crawlies were definitely an issue for me,
however I did find that if I made camp later in the evening this was
not such an issue. I do still prefer the extra barrier between me
and the bugs. I will be attempting to make a bivy sack and
hopefully will be able to use this in combination with the tent and
report back in the Long-Term report phase.
The amount of room in the Appy Trails is definitely a bonus, I
found there to be heaps of room for the solo hiker and gear.
Unfortunately my wife does not hike so have not been in a position
to test this with two people. However looking at the remaining space
after my gear is setup I do not see there being an issue. The
high point of the tent and angle of the side walls provides for
excellent use of interior space and is truly a great design. I like
the fact that I am able to comfortably sit up inside the tent and
get dressed without having to struggle for head room. The foot end
of the tent is also high enough that my feet and quilt did not touch
the walls or roof which is especially important in single wall tents
as they are more prone to condensation.
The lack of ventilation and the resulting condensation were of
concern which is also probably exaggerated by moisture from the
ground due to the absence of a sewn in floor. On numerous occasions
I noticed heavy water (condensation) beading on the inside of the
tent which did fall on my gear making it a little wet. After the
first night in the Appy Trails I decided that I needed to use a
ground sheet and that Tyvek would be my weapon of choice. This did
seem to make a difference in the condensation levels in the tent,
perhaps it acts as a barrier to keeping the moisture from rising. I
will keep using this and see how it performs.
Erecting the Appy Trails continued to be an easy and pleasurable
process with the exception of rear guyline which I still struggle
with. The process should be as simple as pulling up the guyline
adjuster and then staking out, however the adjustment continued to
slip which creates a lack of tension in the line ultimately
resulting in the tent becoming unstable or even falling over. To
combat this I resorted to having to tie a knot in the line. This
will be a comment that I would like feedback to the owner of Appy
Trails, Sam Belew. There are many other types of adjusters that I
have seen and used which do not behave the same. Correcting this
issue would be a great improvement.
Packing the Appy Trails is a really simple and easy process. When
out on the trail I never spend much time rolling or packing my tents
with a great deal of care as I know they will be out again later
that day or night. The Appy Trails was no different, it was simply
stuffed into the supplied stuff sack and packed away, the poles and
stakes were packed separately. The stuffed size of the Appy Trails
is great, it fits nice in two of the packs I have taken out with me
and is definitely an advantage. I would like to test the use of a
compression sack to see if the contents can be compacted further
making it smaller again. I will try to get my hands on a compression
sack and report on this during my Long-Term report.
The biggest issue that I have with the Appy Trails is that the
fact that after 5 nights there is still a very pungent polyester
smell which is almost suffocating. After my last trip I washed the
tent in the bath tub with luke warm water and hung out to dry under
my patio, to avoid direct sunlight, hoping that this would reduce if
not completely eliminate the smell, however this wasn't the case.
Perhaps over time it will improve.
I have enjoyed testing the Appy Trails and will continue to use it
through to the Long-Term report, post that my mind is still not made
up. I truly believe that with a few minor enhancements Appy Trails
will prove to be a very successful tent. The Appy Trails Mark III
has shown no signs of wear or deterioration during the testing I have
done since April and I hope that this continues.
Compact pack size.
Easy to setup and pull down.
Rear Guyline adjustment mechanism does not hold tension.
Ventilation continues to be an issue.
Polyester smell is very noticeable.
This concludes my Field report for the Appy Trails
Thank you to Appy Trails and BackpackGearTest.org for the
privilege of testing the Mark III
30th August 2009
My final two nights in the Appy Trails during
this phase of the report were on separate over night hikes. The
first was in the Helena National Park where the temperature
ranged from 18 C (64 F) during the day and reached a low of 7 C
(44 F), gentle winds and no precipitation. The second night out
was along the Avon River where the temperatures were much the
same, winds were a little more aggressive and there was slight
precipitation during the night.
There are a few items I mentioned as Cons in my Field Report
which I would like to comment on again and hopefully put the
potential buyer at rest. I have been corresponding with Sam
Belew from Appy trails during this phase and feel confident that
two have been addressed. Subsequent to the submission of the
previous report Sam sent me out a replacement tent, which I used
on the last hike as stated above. Sam was interested to know
where the Polyester smell was coming from as there were no
reports from other hikers about this, so we investigated
further. From this end I washed the tent several times with warm
soapy water, dunking the tent in the bath tub and lightly
wringing with hands. It was then hung out to dry under the patio
away from direct sunlight. Sam was working with his wife to see
if they were able to smell it and both came back with nothing at
all, very peculiar. The best conclusion we were able to come up
with was that perhaps the smell was introduced by one of their
cats, if you know what I mean. This may have happened while Sam
was quality assuring it before shipping out to me. The
replacement tent shows no signs of the same smell at all, in
fact there is none at all. I will close out that Con with a very
positive customer experience whilst working it though with Sam.
The other Con that I would want to re-address and close out, is the
issue with the rear guyline adjustment not holding tension.
Again Sam and I worked through the issue with numerous emails
back and forth. Sam send an image of what the setup should look
like to compare mine, they were the same. Something that was not
similar is that mine was bent out of shape, I would suggest that
was my fault at some point of playing around with it. I ended up
straightening the mechanism, which then later snapped due to
being weaker around the bend. I then replaced it with one the
same. So in hindsight this could have been resolved earlier had
I been familiar with this type of adjuster and had I not been so
rough on the tent, but hey isn't that one of the reasons we test
In one of my emails to Sam I mentioned that I would like to test
the tent being used in a compression sack, also discussed in the
Field Report, and Sam's reply was something I hadn't thought of
which turned out to be a great idea. Here is exactly what he
"I'd forget the compression sack and just keep pushing the
tent into the bag. With a little effort (fist it down tight!) it
will shrink to a 6 1/2" long tube. Then twist the bag and pull
it on backwards. When done try pushing it together like an
accordion. You shouldn't have much "give" left in the package
The below images show how effective this works out to be,
why did I not think of that.
|Appy Trails stuffed then
rolled back over.
||Comparison of the two stuff methods.
I enjoyed using the Appy Trails, it was a new experience for me
as all my previous tents have a sewn in floor and bug netting. I
feel that this experience has given me some good foundations and
more of an insight into how single wall tarps work, their advantages
and disadvantages. My Cons have been addressed and the Pros still
stand. My tent shows no signs of wear or damage, that were the tents
fault, during its use in varying conditions. Overall I am very happy with the Appy Trails Mark III and
would recommend it to anyone that is looking to lighten their load
while not reducing their comfort. Well done Appy Trails.
I would like to say a big thanks to Sam Belew for all the assistance
he has provided to me during the past four months, it has been
invaluable and a great learning experience. Customer service and
pride in his products is something you definitely cannot fault Sam
This concludes my Long-Term report and the test series for the Appy Trails
Big thank you to Appy Trails and BackpackGearTest.org for the
privilege of testing the Mark III