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Reviews > Shelters > Tents > Big Agnes Jack Rabbit SL2 > Test Report by Ryan Lane Christensen

Big Agnes
courtesy of bigagnes.com

Big Agnes
Jack Rabbit SL2 Tent

Test Series by
Ryan Christensen

Last Update October 17, 2012

Jack Rabbit SL2 JR SL2 body

images courtesy of bigagnes.com

ACCESS MAIN REPORT SECTIONS VIA THESE LINKS:

INITIAL REPORT
June 4, 2012
FIELD REPORT
August 21, 2012
LONG-TERM REPORT
October 17, 2012

INITIAL REPORT
June 4, 2012

Reviewer Information Backpacking Background
Name:  Ryan L. Christensen
Age:  47
Gender:  Male
Height:  6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Weight:  235 lb (107 kg)
Email:  bigdawgryan(at)yahoo(dot)com
City, State, Country:   Idaho Falls, Idaho, USA

I began backpacking at twelve, continuing until 25. After an extended hiatus, due in part to a bad back, I resumed cycling, hiking, and backpacking several years ago. I also began snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. I share my love for backpacking and these sports with my children. I am a midweight backpacker, but carry a full array of necessary gear.
 

Product Information:

The information below came from Big Agnes's website and Jack Rabbit SL2 Instructions.

Big Agnes Jack Rabbit SL2
Manufacturer: Big Agnes, Inc.
Manufacturer website: http://www.bigagnes.com
Place of Manufacture: China
Year Manufactured: 2012
Materials:

Tent Body
Fly & Floor
Waterproofing
DAC Poles

nylon and polyester mesh
silicone treated rip-stop nylon
1200mm polyurethane coating
TH72M aluminum
Models Available: SL2 (two person), SL3 (three person), SL4 (four person)
Warranty:

Warranty

"All Big Agnes products are guaranteed against manufacturing or material defect. Items will be repaired or replaced at the discretion of Big Agnes."

MSRP:
$289.95 US

Product Specifications
Manufacturer's Specifications  

Trail Weight:
[poles, fly, and tent body]

3 lb 13 oz (1729 g)

Packed Weight:
[poles, fly, tent body, stakes, guy lines, stuff sacks, instructions, and packaging]

4 lb 5 oz (1956 g)

Fast Fly Weight:
[poles, tent fly, optional footprint]

2 lb 15 oz (1332 g)

Packed Size:

6.5 in x 21 in (16.5 cm x 53.3 cm)

Floor Area:

27 sq ft (2.51 sq m)

Vestibule Area:

9 sq ft (0.84 sq m)

Head Height:

40 in (101.6 cm)

Foot Height:

28 in (71.1 cm)
Tester's Actual Measurements  

Trail Weight:
[tent body, poles, fly]

3 lb 11 oz (1672.6 g)

Packed Weight:
[poles, fly, tent body, stakes, guy lines, stuff sacks, instructions, and packaging]

4 lb 3 oz (1.9 kg)

Fast Fly Weight:
[poles, tent fly, optional footprint]

2 lb 14.6 oz (1319.6 g)

Packed Size:

6.5 in x 21 in (16.5 cm x 53.3 cm)

Inside Length:

7 ft (2.13 m)

Inside Width:
Head
Foot

52 in (1.3 m)
42 in (1.07 m)

Inside Height:

40 in (101.6 cm)

Frame Weight:

1 lb 0.8 oz (476.3 g)

Stake Weight:

5.0 oz (141.7 g) [eight stakes]

Carry Sack Weight:

1.05 oz 29.8 g)

Frame Stuff Sack Weight:

0.5 oz (14.2 g)

Stake Stuff Sack Weight:

0.2 oz (5.7 g)

Product Description:

The Jack Rabbit SL2 (hereafter called "tent" or "SL2") is a double-wall, freestanding, modified dome tent that sleeps two. The SL2 is a modified trapezoid in shape. The height slopes downward 12 in (30.48 cm) from the head to the foot of the tent. Likewise, the width tapers 10 in (25.4 cm) from the head to the foot of the tent.

This 3-season tent is one of three in Big Agnes' Jack Rabbit Superlight series of tents. The SL2 has double doors and vestibules. The vestibules have storm flaps which cover the zippers. All seams are taped with waterproof, solvent-free polyurethane tape. The waterproof rip-stop silnylon fly and floor have a 1200mm waterproof polyurethane coating. The frame consists of DAC aluminum hub and pole system and plastic clips to attach the tent body to the frame. This system is designed to provide quick and easy set up.

The DAC aluminum poles and J stakes are fabricated using DAC's new Green Anodizing process. The typical anodizing process includes two very toxic chemicals, phosphoric and nitric acid, during the polishing stage. DAC has developed a more environmentally friendly anodizing process that does not require the polishing step; thereby eliminating the need for phosphoric and nitric acids. DAC also significantly reduces the amount of waste water it produces by recycling rinse water. DAC calls its eco-friendly anodizing process Green Anodizing.

The SL2 has mesh pockets on the inside of the tent body to store gear. In addition, it has Gear Loft loops to which to attach the optional Gear Loft-Wall. The SL2 has reflective guylines and reflective webbing on the tent corners. All stuff sacks include cordlocks. The SL2 also came with a lightweight frame splint.

In addition to setup instructions for the normal configuration, there are instructions to setup the SL2 in the "Fast Fly" mode, which consists of the poles, fly, and optional footprint. The instruction sheet, attached inside the carry sack, also includes Tent Care information which covers four topics:

  • Storage
  • Cleaning
  • Seam Sealing
  • Zippers
Under storage, a key item to me, especially with silnylon, is the recommendation to "stuff or fold your tent a different way each time to avoid permanent creases." Big Agnes recommends McNett Mirazyme cleaner or Nickwax Tech Wash for cleaning the tent.

The instruction sheet also includes repair and warranty information.

Initial Impression:

I pulled the carry sack from the box and proceeded to pull the items from the carry sack. Nearly everything was as I expected. The box contained the following:

  • 1 Tent Body
  • 1 Tent Fly
  • DAC Aluminum Hub/Pole Frame
  • 1 Pole Repair Splice
  • Guylines with Sliders
  • 8 Stakes
  • 1 Pole Sack
  • 1 Stake Sack
  • 1 Carry Sack with Carry Strap

To my surprise, the box held two additional items:

  • the optional footprint in its storage sack [sold separately - $50 US]
  • the optional Gear Loft-Wall in its storage sack [sold separately - $22 US]

I was somewhat impressed with the stakes included with the SL2. They are larger in diameter and appear stouter than stakes that some manufacturers include with their tents. I hope these stakes will not bend easily when driven into hard or rocky ground. Testing in the field will confirm whether these stakes are more robust than those of other tents I own. If they do bend with use, will I be able to bend them back into reasonable shape in the field?

Inside the tent, the walls are steep, providing good head room at the head end of the SL2. With a width of 52 in (1.27 m) at the head and 42 in (1.1 m) at the foot, I am interested in seeing how comfortably two full-sized adults can sleep in the SL2. My initial take is that it may be a bit cozy. The vestibules appear to be good-sized. Will they adequately hold my gear and protect it from the elements.

As far as features are concerned, I really like the two, good-sized, side-opening doors with mesh windows. I also really like the gear pockets. The vestibules are a great feature; providing a weather-protected area to store gear, without compromising sleeping space and comfort

Initial Testing:

My initial testing included removing the tent, fly, poles, and stakes from their respective stuff sacks and inspecting them. I found everything to be in order. There were no loose or substantially uneven seams, and the zippers all worked fine. The SL2 appeared to be of high quality materials and sound workmanship. My tested trail weight (tent body, fly, poles) of 3 lb 11 oz (1672.6 g) is 2 oz (56.7) grams lighter than Big Agnes' advertised trail weight. My tested minimum weight (Fast Fly option: fly, poles, optional footprint) of 2 lb 14.6 oz (1319.6 g) is nearly identical to Big Agnes' advertised Fast Fly weight.

Next, I read the instructions before attempting to set up the tent. Following the prescribed setup sequence, I first laid the tent body out. Next, I assembled the frame and laid it on top of the tent body. I then proceeded to insert each of the four frame ends into a grommet. I then attached the tent body to the frame using the pole clips and hub clips. I then placed the fly on top of the tent body, and fastened each of the buckles. However, I did not stake out the tent body, vestibules, or guylines. I'll save those steps until I get it out in the backcountry.

This initial setup took a little longer than I anticipate subsequent setups will take. I am interested in seeing how easily I can pitch this tent in windy conditions. I certainly hope I do so myself without too much hassle. Testing will answer this question.

Initial Pros:

Initial Cons:

  • Silnylon Material
  • Light Weight
  • Double Doors
  • Head Room at Head End
  • Fairly Stout Stakes
  • Poles and Stakes made with eco-friendly process
  • Tent May Be Cozy For Two Full-Sized Adults

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FIELD REPORT
August 21, 2012

Summary:

I slept in the tent four nights during the Field Test phase. The tent has performed well thus far.

Likes Thus Far Dislikes Thus Far
  • Silnylon Material
  • Light Weight
  • Double Doors
  • Easy to Set Up
  • Good Head Room at Head End
  • Fairly Stout Stakes
  • Poles and Stakes made with eco-friendly process
  • Tent Is Cozy For Two Full-Sized Adults

Field Locations and Test Conditions:

Island Park I slept in the tent on a two-night backpack trip into Alaska Basin/Devil's Staircase via Teton Canyon, which is approximately 15 miles east of Driggs, Idaho. The trailhead is on the western side of the Tetons.

I slept in the tent on an overnight backpack trip in Island Park, located between Ashton, Idaho and West Yellowstone, Montana. Island Parks is approximately 6,500 ft (1,981 m) above sea level.

I slept in the tent on an overnight backpack trip to the Menan Buttes, located approximately 38 mi (61 km) northeast of Idaho Falls. The North Menan Butte is designated as a National Natural Landmark.

Observations:

On two of my outings, my son slept in the tent with me. I have not used a ground cloth or footprint. Consequently, when taking down the tent, there has been some moisture and occasionally some light mud on the underside of the floor. However, this has not been a major concern because I aired-out the tent upon arriving home.

On my trip to Island Park, there was substantial condensation on the underside of the fly (see photos below). I expected there to be some condensation as there was little to no wind and the overnight temperatures were on the cooler side on both of these outings. However, there was more condensation than I expected. Due to either the tent's design, or good fortune, the condensation did not drip into the tent or onto my sleeping bag. The photo on the left below was taken when I took the tent down in the morning. The photo on the right below was taken when I unpacked the tent several hours later at home--note how the condensation is beaded up.

Condensate_1 Condensate_2

I have yet to experience any rain while in the tent. However, while camping in Teton Canyon (Alaska Basin/Devil's Staircase) while threatening rain, there was strong winds. Even without the guylines secured, the tent remained securely in place -- like a rock. This was quite pleasing.

The Jack Rabbit's modified dome design, with its shock-corded Hub/Pole Frame, and color-coded webbing makes for easy setup. I set up and secure the tent and fly in about five minutes by myself. I have not had to put this tent up by myself in a storm so I as of yet, I am unable to report on that.

The tent has adequate room lengthwise for me at 6 ft 2 in (1.9 m) to sleep without brushing either my head or feet against the tent walls. The tent offers plenty of room for my gear and me when soloing it. However, even with my 16-yr old son in the tent with me, the tent becomes rather cozy widthwise. The headroom is very nice and allows me to kneel up while pulling on my shorts, etc.

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LONG TERM REPORT
October 17, 2012

Summary:

During the final phase of the test series, I slept in the tent two additional nights, for a total of six nights. The tent has performed well.

Likes Dislikes
  • Silnylon Material
  • Light Weight
  • Double Doors
  • Easy to Set Up
  • Good Head Room at Head End
  • Fairly Stout Stakes
  • Poles and Stakes made with eco-friendly process
  • Tent Is a Little Cozy For Two Full-Sized Adults
  • Vestibule Zipper Frequently Catches on Storm Flap

Field Locations and Test Conditions:

In September, I used the tent on another overnight trip in Island Park and on an overnight backpacking trip in the Kelly Canyon Nordic Area, which is located 26 miles (42 km) northeast of Idaho Falls, in the Targhee National Forest. The Nordic Area starts at an elevation of approximately 5,900 ft (1,798 m) and reaches elevations of 6,700 ft (2,042 m).

Observations:

As it did previously, the tent performed well during this final phase of the test series. However, I have found that the zippers on the vestibules frequently catch on the storm flaps covering the zippers. This was and is annoying, especially in the middle of the night when, half asleep, I must answer Mother Nature's call. However, I found that using a little extra time/attention/care helped reduce the number of times the zippers catch.

During the test series I did not experience rain while in the tent--it has been a hot, dry summer and early fall here in the western United States. Therefore, I set the tent up in my back yard and turned on the sprinklers for a couple minutes to see how well it would repel water. The tent shed the water nicely, and there were no leaks, as the interior was dry--nice to know for when I may need it.

The tent is in great shape. There are no visible loose seams, fraying material, our faulty zippers. I believe using the footprint has helped protect the floor. The poles, hubs, and even the stakes are in great shape. I must admit that I fully anticipated bending a stake; but to date, I have not done so.

I have been pleased with the Jack Rabbit SL2 tent throughout the test series. So much so that I believe this will be the tent I generally reach for first when I need a lightweight, three-season shelter.

This concludes my Big Agnes Jack Rabbit SL2 Tent Test Series. Thanks to Big Agnes and BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to test this great tent.

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