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Reviews > Shelters > Tarps and Bivys > Appy Trails Mark III Tent > Test Report by Patrick McNeilly

Appy Trails Mark III Tent
Reviewed By Pat McNeilly

Initial Report: March 14, 2009
Field Report: June 17, 2009
Long-Term Report: August 21, 2009

Name: Pat McNeilly
Age: 46
Gender: Male
Mark III PitchedHeight: 5í 8Ē (1.7 m)
Weight: 155 lb (70 kg)
Email address: mcne4752 at yahoo dot com.
City, State, Country: Gaithersburg, Maryland, USA

Backpacking Background:
I have been hiking for at least 20 years but backpacking for only the last four years.Most of my backpacking is done as overnight trips and occasional weekend and weeklong trips.My typical pack weight is approximately 18 to 20 lb (8 to 9 kg) before food or water.Most of my backpacking is the three season variety in the mountains of Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.In addition to backpacking, I also fish, hunt, and enjoy orienteering.As a result, some of my backpacking equipment gets use in a number of different venues.

Product Information:

Product: Mark III Tent
Manufacturer: Appy Trails
Year of Manufacture: 2009
Color: Green
URL:http://www.appytrails.com/
MSRP: $99.95 USD


Item

Weight (listed)

Weight (measured)

Tent

1 lb 2.7 oz (0.53 kg)

1 lb 2.4 oz (0.52 kg)

Stuff Sack

0.6 oz (17 g)

0.5 oz (14 g)

Pole set

4.4 oz (125 g)

4.4 oz (125 g)

Stakes ( set of 9)

3 oz (85 g)

3 oz (85 g)

Guy line

Not listed

0.4 oz (11 g)

Stake bag

Not listed

0.1 oz (3 g)



Initial Report
Review Date: March 14, 2009

Mark III accessoriesProduct Description :
The Appy Trails Mark III Tent is a lightweight single-walled floorless shelter designed for ultralight backpacking.The shelter utilizes a single pole to support the front with a second pole and guy line in the rear for stability.The Mark III is designed to sleep two while using a single pole or three if the tentís peak is supported by a rope from above.

The Mark III Tent is constructed of 185T polyester with a PU1000 waterproof coating and has an elongated hexagonal footprint.The length measured 122 in (310 cm) [listed length, 120 in (305 cm)] while its width measured 82 in (208 cm) [listed width, 91 in (231 cm)] at the widest point.All the seams are taped with the exception of a few that meet near the apex which appeared to be sealed. The stitching appears to be of good quality with only a few short threads noticeable where seams end.

The tent is supported by one aluminum 43.75 in (111 cm) shock-corded, three-section pole with a diameter of 0.4 in (11 mm).The pole is inserted into a circular reinforced plastic cap at the tentís apex.The top 1.5 in (4 cm) of the pole is narrower than the rest of the pole and extends through the top of the tent when inserted into the cap.†† A 20.5 in (52 cm) solid aluminum pole is also included with the tent.This pole is used to elevate the rear guy line creating additional tension on the fabric.This pole has small notch at one end to help secure the rear guy line.

Rear ViewMark III with open door

The Mark III has two covered mesh vents to allow for airflow.The first is a triangular vent in the front of the tent near the apex.This vent measures 7 in x 10 in (18 cm x 25 cm) and has a cover the same size on the inside which closes using hook and loop fasteners at the top.This front vent is covered on the outside by a triangular piece of fabric which has a 1 in x 13 in (2.5 cm x 33 cm) foam stiffener sewn into it to keep the vent open in bad weather.On the foot end of the tent, there is a 7 in x 20 in (18 cm x 51 cm) mesh vent.This vent also has a fabric cover on the inside which closes using hook and loop fasteners.This vent sits below the triangular piece of fabric which attaches to the tentís guy line.This guy line needs to be tightened for a proper pitch so the vent is covered whenever the tent is in use.

Rear Vent, from insideFront Vent, from inside

The tent is supplied with nine 6 in (15cm) aluminum stakes to secure the tent.The tent has eight 0.5 in (1.3 cm) grommets to which the stakes are inserted.Each grommet is reinforced with a 0.75 in (2 cm) square piece of webbing.The grommets are arranged at each corner of the hexagon shape plus an additional grommet on each of the long sides of the tent.The tentís guy line attaches to a 0.5 in x 1 in (1.3 cm x 2.5 cm) webbing loop attached to a triangular piece of fabric which covers the rear vent.The guy line provided is an 8 ft (244 cm) length of woven nylon cord with a plastic cord tensioner attached and utilizes the ninth stake.

The Mark III has a single door on one side of the tent.The door closes with a 54 in (137 cm) zipper which is covered by a 1.75 in (4.5 cm) fabric flap.The flap covering the zipper also secures with three 1 in x 1.75 in (2.5 cm x 4.5 cm) patches of hook and loop fasteners spaced evenly along the length of the flap.The door may also be rolled back and kept out of the way with a single tie back loop and peg located 26 in (66 cm) from the bottom of the fabric.

Product Review:
When I first opened the package containing the Mark III Tent there were three things that I noticed, the first was that the product was very light; the second was that the poles do not fit into the bag with the rest of the tent; and lastly was that the stuff sack was orange.†† I expected a very light tent and was happy to see that.Not having all the components of a tent wrapped up in one single package did throw me off a bit.I donít really see this as a problem since I often carry my tent poles separately from the rest of the tent.After reading some of the accompanying material, I learned that the manufacturer purposely made the stuff sack orange so that it may be harder to misplace.I thought this to be a small but very practical and thoughtful detail.

I decided to see how easy it was to set up the Mark III.I read through the instructions and took it into my backyard and found that it only took me a 5 minutes to completely set the tent up.I found that it went up very easily and appeared to produce a fairly taut pitch, even on the first try.I was impressed with the set-up and had myself wondering whether it will be so easy when dealing with hard ground or rocky terrain.The manufacturer also indicates that the Mark II can be set up with trekking poles instead of using the poles supplied with the tent which I will try during testing.

Once set up, I found that the tent is very spacious.I can easily lie down in the tent without fear of touching the walls and I have no problems sitting up at the front end of the tent.It appears that this would accommodate two people without much problem.Adding a third seems like it might be tight and would require hanging the tent from above, as the manufacturer suggests.I did lay across the widest part of the tent (even though the pole was in the way) and felt that I could lie across without much difficulty.The front portion of the tent forms a large area which should be able to accommodate gear for two people.

The tentís door closes with a zipper, as well as with hook and loop fasteners.The zipper operates smoothly but, from the outside, the hook and loop fasteners tend to get in the way and required two hands top open.The two mesh vents both have internal fabric covers that can be used in bad weather.I had not expected these since the vents also have covers on the outside.These are a simple design but a nice detail.

The stakes fit through grommets and not webbing loops.My first thought was that I have seen grommets pull out on tarps I have used.I was glad to see that the grommets are reinforced with patches of webbing, which will, hopefully, make them stronger.I also noted that the grommets seemed rather small.The stakes supplied with the Mark III easily fit into the grommets but any stake with a diameter greater than 0.5 in (1.3 cm), such as a ďYĒ stake, will have to be secured in some other fashion.

The tentís stuff sack measures 4.75 in x 14 in (12 cm x 36 cm) and the tent can easily fit into the sack.Although, I found that I had a hard time getting my hand into the stuff sack to push material all the way to the bottom when packing the tent.The manufacturer provides instructions on compressing the tent in the stuff sack.This is done by forcing the tent into the sack; putting a twist in the opening close to the compressed tent; and pulling the rest of the sack over on top of itself.Although I can compress the tent in this fashion, I have not been able to get it to 4.75 in x 6.5 in (12 cm x 17 cm) as the manufacturer suggests.

The seams of the tent are either factory taped or sealed.I did not find any problems with the taping but did notice that seam sealer was applied very thickly in a couple areas.This was primarily around the point where the front pole passes through the tent or around the area of the rear vent.It did not appear that there were any spots which were not sealed.

Field Report
Review Date: June 17, 2009

Field Conditions:
Mark III pitched in Delaware Water GapSince my initial report, I have used the Mark III Tent for a total of seven nights on three weekend trips in central Maryland, the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation (New Jersey), and the Michaux State Forest in Pennsylvania; as well as an overnight car camping trip in the area of Great North Mountain in the George Washington National Forest (West Virginia).The hiking distances covered were anywhere from 5 to 8 miles (8 km to 13 km) per day and elevations ranged from 250 ft (76 m) in Maryland to 3000 ft (914 m) in West Virginia.The trail conditions in all these areas would be called rocky.The temperatures ranged from 45 F to 80 F (7 C to 27 C) and we have had rather wet conditions this spring and I did have light to moderate rain on two ofthese trips.Although I did encounter rain, I did not have very windy conditions on these trips.

Product Review:
The Mark III Tent has been a good shelter for the most part.I find that it sets up easily and quickly.The space inside seems to be very adequate for two and really luxurious for one.Using the center pole that was included with the tent, my son and I could sleep comfortably and have room for gear inside.I tended to keep my pack outside, even though there was room, if the weather was nice.The rear of the tent slopes but is raised off the ground enough so as to allow space for two to sleep without touching the sides.Sitting up is pretty easy but I found myself having to slide myself toward the front of the tent to sit completely up without hitting my head.

Interior without poleI found that when setting up the tent that it is important to make sure the two front stakes are in and that the center pole is vertical and tightly pitched when attempting to stake out the rear guy line.If the fabric isnít taut, I found a tendency for the center pole to be pulled away from vertical and I couldnít get a proper pitch (too low).I did have opportunity to hang the tent from an overhead line.This was a great way to have lots of unobstructed inside space.It took more time to get a good pitch (I didnít time it) but did allow for plenty of space for my wife and I, plus our dog.There did appear to be space for three people but the third person had better be rather small and be willing to sleep scrunched up a bit.If there were to be three inside the tent, gear would have to be stored elsewhere.

A couple of minor things about setting up the Mark III that I thought I would mention include the fact that when using the poles supplied, I found it was important to put something under the poles to keep them from sinking into soft ground.This was particularly important with the short rear pole.It has such a small diameter that any tension on the pole when on soft ground would push the pole into the ground and the rear of the tent would sag.Also, the plastic cap at the tentís apex has a 3/16 in (5 mm) hole.Obviously, when hanging the tent, a rope larger than this will be difficult to fit through the opening, so some planning is required.Standard 550 paracord was perfect for hanging the tent.I simply fed it through the opening, tied a figure eight on a bight and attached it to a second supporting line (this also allowed for a hang loop inside the tent).

I would say that the Mark III has good ventilation with the help of the two mesh vents.I find the rear vent a little bit difficult to reach due to the sloping walls but that really hasnít been a problem.There were a couple times when I could feel the air flow, even when there wasnít much of a breeze blowing outside.I note this because I canít say that I often feel the air movement in other enclosed shelters (maybe a tarp, but not in a tent).The ventilation does seem to help with keeping condensation down.It doesnít eliminate it completely though.I did have condensation on the inside during a night were I had some moderate rain.This wasnít unexpected with a single-wall shelter.A nice thing about the Mark III is that I found it dries quickly and, since it doesnít have a floor, it is easy to turn it over and dry it in the sun.

I also like the design of the door.I am able to get in and out without rubbing my back against the fabric.The zipper is easy to reach from the inside and operates smoothly.The zipper runs almost straight up and down which makes it easy to open and doesnít require me to stretch far to reach the end of the zipper like in some tent vestibules.The flap covering the zipper also has three hook and loop patches which help to keep the door closed when getting in and out frequently.I find this feature very helpful when it is raining.The tie back loop to keep the door open has been a nice thing to have although I find the loop a little small and it can take some effort to feed the peg through the loop.

The one real problem I have with the tent is that there is tearing at the grommets.Over the past couple months, I have had two of the grommets start to tear out.One is toward the front where the zipper is and the other is along one side of the tent.A tight pitch can put strain on the grommets but I didnít think I had it so tight that the grommets should pull out.I also didnít have any serious wind to put extra strain on the tent.While the grommets are backed with webbing, the webbing is only sewn along the edge of the tent and does not completely encircle the grommet.This seems to allow for the fabric away from the edge of the tent to pull away from the grommet.Iím not clear why the manufacturer used grommets and simply didnít use small webbing loops which, in my experience, seem to hold just fine.

Torn grommetTorn grommet from inside














Long-Term Report
Review Date: August 21, 2009

Field Conditions:
Since my Field Report, I have only had opportunity to use the tent twice.Both involved weekend trips in the George Washington National Forest of Virginia or West Virginia.The weather conditions included temperatures ranging from 55 F to 90 F (13 C to 32 C) and high humidity.On one of these trips I encountered heavy thunderstorms.†† The hiking distances covered were approximately 5 miles (8 km) per day and elevations ranged from 1200 ft to 2500 ft (366 to 762 m).

Product Review:
Although I didnít get out in the tent as much as I would have liked, I did have the opportunity to give the Mark III a good test in heavy rain.During my trip to West Virginia I had to set up camp quickly because of a fast approaching storm.Well, that storm came and went and was followed by a series of thundershowers (I stopped counting after five).The rain came down pretty hard and I did not have any leaking in the tent that I could see.I had the vents open and didnít have any water coming in from around those areas. The storms did produce some fairly heavy winds but the tent hardly budged.The winds were not a concern to me at all.Pretty solid, if you ask me.

During that same night, I could feel air flowing but there was still quite a bit of condensation on the walls.The Mark III is a single wall shelter but in this case it was pitched in a meadow on already wet ground.These conditions lead to more condensation than I had seen before.One thing that I also noticed was that I didnít have all that much condensation dripping on me, even with the heavy rain.Large droplets of condensation were rolling down the steep walls of the tent and simply dripping off.Was I completely dry?No, but I was much drier than I expected given the conditions.

I had been trying different ways to set up the tent during the course of the test.On these trips I used trekking poles.The set-up was pretty easy but I would recommend that you try this at home before going out on the trail.I didnít and felt that it would have been better to know how long the front pole needed to be before trying to set it up in a hurry.

The instructions that came with the Mark III indicate that the set-up should be done by setting the two stakes in the front, then raising the front pole, and then staking out the rear guy line.This all seems to work just fine and is very quick.The instructions then say to set the rear stakes, followed by the stakes at the widest part of the tent, and then placing the rear tensioning pole.Lastly, the two side grommets can be staked out.After using the tent for about five months, I have found that if I stake the rear grommets before those at the widest part of the tent, I do not get a very good pitch.This is always where I have a problem with the center pole or one side sagging.I have not had any problems when I set the rear guy line then move back toward the front of the tent and set those stakes next.It seems to make for a little more movement when setting up but I found that I would get the best pitch that way.

I also have not had any further problems with the grommets on the tent.The tears didnít seem to get any worse and no new tears have appeared.

Overall, I like the Mark III tent.It has provided a good amount of space and has been a pretty reliable shelter which is easy to set up.I think that my likes and dislikes have not changed since my Field Report and I will continue to use the tent in the future.

Summary:
The Appy Trails Mark III Tent is a lightweight, single-walled, floorless backpacking shelter.The tent sets up easily with the two supplied poles or can be pitched with trekking poles or even hung from a tree limb.The shelter sets up quickly, provides adequate space for two and could accommodate a third if set up properly.All exposed seams are either taped or sealed to protect against the elements.The Mark III also has both a front and rear vents which have both interior and exterior covers which allow for good ventilation.The door is a good size for getting in and out and also closes with both a zipper and hook and loop patches.One problem with the Mark III is that the fabric can tear away from the grommets when the tent is pitched tight.The tent handled heavy rain well and ventilation in the Mark III seems to be good but the shelter can still collect condensation; however, the fabric dries quickly.

The good:
1. Lots of space.
2. Sets up quickly
3. Door closes with both zipper and hook and loop fasteners
4. Good sized door

The not-so-good:
1. Grommets tore.
2. Door tie back tight

This concludes my testing of the Appy Trails Mark III Tent.I would like to thank Appy Trails and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this tent.



Read more reviews of Appy Trails gear
Read more gear reviews by Patrick McNeilly

Reviews > Shelters > Tarps and Bivys > Appy Trails Mark III Tent > Test Report by Patrick McNeilly



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