Big Agnes Seedhouse 2 Tent
November 18, 2008
Name: Sophie Pearson
Height: 5' 8” (1.71 m)
Weight: 179 lb (81 kg)
Shoe size: US Women's 10.5, EU 42
Email address: sophiep3 at gmail dot com
Location: Tampa, Florida USA
I first started backpacking as a teenager in England. I did a month-long trip in the Arctic but most of my backpacking experience has been weekend to 10-day trips, in a range of terrains and climates. I am a volcanologist so also do day hikes carrying loaded packs over intense terrain. Nowadays I am nearly always in sub-tropical or tropical climates. I am heading more and more towards ultralight packing, and unless I am sharing I use a bivy. I try to pack under 20 lb (9 kg) for long weekend trips but have carried over 50 lb (23 kg).
Manufacturer: Big Agnes
Year of manufacture: 2004
Listed weight: 4 lb 6 oz (1.98 kg)
Weight as delivered: 4 lb 3 oz (1.91 kg)
Packed size: 7 in x 18 in (18 cm x 46 cm)
Floor area: 28 sq ft (2.60 sq m)
Vestibule area: 8 sq feet (0.74 sq m)
Head height: 38 in (0.97 m)
The Big Agnes Seedhouse 2 is a free-standing, light-weight 2-man backpacking tent. Not to be confused with the Seedhouse SL2,
the Seedhouse 2 is 1 lb (0.45 kg) heavier and US$120 cheaper. The frame is made of 1 pole that runs down the middle of the tent
and then in 2 different directions at both ends. The tent is essentially just mesh with a waterproof floor that comes a few inches
up the sides. The footprint has to be bought separately and weighs another 8 oz (.23 kg). The tent has one D-shaped door at the wider end,
and tapers to where the feet go. There are 2 mesh pockets on the inside, 1 on each side just inside the door. The mesh attaches to the poles with clips spaced along it. The outer sits on top and has buckles to attach it
to the footprint or tent bottom. It also has loops on either side that attach to the tent, loops for 11 stakes, and 4 guy ropes (which take 2 of
those stakes between them). My tent is maroon color, but the newer ones are more of a natural, greenish color (called sage). There is a small
plastic window at the top of the door in the rain fly.
This tent has pretty much seen it all, from the fumarole fields of Yellowstone to the glaciers of Iceland, from the desert of Death Valley to the
forests of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, from the mountains of the Grand Tetons to the beaches of Florida. Over the 200+ miles (320+ km) it has traveled,
temperatures have been down to 25 F (-4 C) and up to 90 F (32 C), and elevations have varied between sea level and 11,000 ft (3,400 m). It has had about 60 nights of use
in the 3 years I have owned it, and seen every imaginable weather condition.
I shopped around for a long time before I bought this tent. I wanted one light enough to take backpacking, sturdy enough to cope with a range of weathers, large enough to sleep 2, small enough that I wouldn't get lost sleeping in there on my own, tall enough that I could get changed in it, low enough that it wouldn't get blown around, with enough exits to get in and out easily, without too many exits as I like simplicity in design and tend to break zips, cheap enough that I could afford it, durable enough that it would last a long time, free standing for when there are no trees around, etc. This one seemed to fit the bill, and I have not been disappointed.
The tent is definitely cozy for 2 people, although on comparison with a friend's tent we discovered that the narrowing towards the feet means that there is actually the same amount of shoulder room with a smaller tent and less weight. It does mean that we can't sleep top-to-toe, but with only one vestibule that is not really feasible anyway. It is tall enough that I can easily sit up in it, which I think helps it to not feel claustrophobic. The mesh means that it doesn't get too stuffy or hot with 2 people.
The tent has one zip at the wider end of it. Although it initially seemed weird to get into it from the head end rather than the side, I quickly got used to it and discovered that it was great because with 2 people we are not climbing over each other to get to the door (or having the hassle of a door on each side) and with one person it is actually quite natural to slide into the tent feet first. This does mean that there is only one vestibule, which is not that spacious, so if I am sharing the tent with someone I take my pack cover and leave my pack outside, or pack the two backpacks back-to-back on top of each other. With one person it is a really spacious tent and the pack can easily fit inside, even when I am doing lazy car camping with an inflatable mattress!
The frame of the tent is one set of poles which form A-s at either end (the foot end is noticeably smaller) and connect along the top. This is really easy to put up and is totally free standing, which is one of my requirements as I don't always know what terrain I will be in. It now takes me under 5 minutes to put it up every time. The tent inner connects with hooks to the poles, which is very quick to connect and much easier than sleeves, although initially I did worry that that is putting all the pressure at only a few points. However, it has not developed into an issue after 3 years and plenty of use. The floor of the tent is waterproof nylon and comes a few inches up the sides. The top of it is entirely mesh, which means that the tent stays cool really well and would be great for star gazing. Unfortunately I really like privacy when I am camping in a group and with all mesh everyone can see in really easily. This has put me off using the tent without the rain fly, even on the nicest nights. With the rain fly on there is still plenty of air circulation because it does not reach to the ground the whole way around, which is great in Floridian summer. In really cold weather I have only camped with 2 people in the tent so I don't know if it would let too much heat out for one person, but in fairly cold weather in Iceland (down to 40 F, 4 C) it seemed to retain the heat fine with just me in there.
On each side of the tent near the door there is a mesh pocket. I keep my camera, watch and a few other necessities in there, although it wouldn't fit anything too big. There aren't any loops or hooks in the top of the tent, although I think this may have changed with the newer models. It is a bit of a pain because I have to hang my lantern from the poles outside the mesh, which gives mosquitoes an opportunity to get into the tent every time I want to adjust the light.
The rain fly connects to the tent on either side, and to the poles at each corner. This keeps the tent pulled out for space, but means that it touches the rain fly. In previous tents this has resulted in puddles in the tent, but so far I have not had any leaks. Because of the design I have found it hard to get the rain fly staked out totally tightly, which means that it flaps and is quite noisy during extremely high winds, but it has never caused any malfunctions. The rain fly has a small window in the front which I really like. It doesn't let too much light in or let people see in, but I can see what the weather is like and how light it is from the comfort of my sleeping bag! The rain fly has a guy rope at the foot end leaving a very small vestibule that fits my hiking boots if I have camp shoes. I generally don't use it because there is no way to access it from inside the tent, and it seems to be a hang-out for nosy raccoons instead! The guy ropes and seams are reflective, which is nice when I am wondering around in the dark after a bathroom break.
The tent comes in a gray stuff sack which is a really good size. It doesn't take 2 people and 15 attempts to get the tent into the bag, but it is not so big that things fall around and it takes up more space than it needs to. The bag has developed a few small holes, but nothing that affects the functionality. The tent itself has held up really well over time. None of the zippers have failed, the poles are still in great condition and the fly does not show wear other than one bird pooh that I did not clean off in time. The only thing that is showing wear is that the mesh has a few pulls in it, but it still keeps all the bugs out.
|poles, tent and fly, bag
This is a three-season, light-weight backpacking tent that can fit 2 but is more comfortable with 1. It is slightly heavier than its super-light brother, but the smaller price-tag means that for those of us who are financially challenged it is a really great compromise. The single pole design means that it is really quick and easy to put up and take down and it can be used anywhere as it is free-standing. The mesh keeps it well ventilated but without getting too cold, but does mean that there is no privacy without the rain fly. This is a really great tent that has stood the test of time and weather, and I still love it!
Light-weight without a huge price-tag
Packs easily and fairly small
Very quick and easy to put up
Tapered shape means enough shoulder space at a lighter weight than comparable tents
D-shaped door at one end minimizes potential structural weaknesses
Other than a few pulls in the mesh, very durable
Small window in rain fly allows me to see if it is light from the comfort of my sleeping bag
Mesh top keeps it ventilated even in Floridian summer
Not huge amounts of space for 2 people
Only one vestibule so backpacks have to be stacked
All mesh top means no privacy without rain fly
Nowhere to hang things inside the tent
Hard to stake the rain fly out fully, so it is noisy in high winds
Read more reviews of Big Agnes gear
Read more gear reviews by Sophie Pearson