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Reviews > Shelters > Tents > Big Sky International Revolution 2P > Test Report by David Bradish

BIG SKY INTERNATIONAL REVOLUTION 2P TENT
TEST SERIES BY DAVID BRADISH
LONG-TERM REPORT

INITIAL REPORT - September 27, 2009
FIELD REPORT - January 03, 2010
LONG TERM REPORT - March 08, 2010

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: David Bradish
EMAIL: davebradish AT gmail DOT com
AGE: 47
LOCATION: Southern California, USA
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 6' 2" (1.88 m)
WEIGHT: 170 lb (77.10 kg)

I started hiking in my teens in Arizona and New Mexico, primarily focusing on winter hiking. Since 1991 I have hiked a lot with my brother-in-law Ray, mostly in California's Sierra Nevada range and the southern mountains. In winter I bring as much gear as necessary to be safe and comfortable. For 3-season hiking I try to follow the principles of ultra light.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: Big Sky International (BSI)
Product: Revolution 2P with Porch
Year of Manufacture: 2009
MSRP as ordered: US $ 409.72
Web site: www.bigskyinternational.com

Company specs
Height: 42"/107 cm
Total weight as ordered: 56.1 oz/1590 g
Floor dimensions: see diagram below courtesy BSI
Packed size listed: 6"/15 cm x 19"/48 cm
Color: Granite Gray

My weights and measurements
Height: 43"/109 cm at highest point
Floor dimensions: 40"/102 cm x 52"/132 cm x 80"/203 cm
Total weight as delivered: 57.7 oz/1636 g
Trail weight, tent and poles only: 53.7 oz/1522 g
Packed size: 6"/15 cm x 18"/46 cm

IMAGE 1
Diagram courtesy of Big Sky


The Big Sky shelters have many configurations and material options available to the consumer. Their choices really did let me have a chance to go wild creating a unique package that would suit my needs or fancy. But I chose to stick with the "base" package offered by Bob Molen, the owner of Big Sky. The weights listed are for this collection of parts that made up the "base" package.

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

The Big Sky Revolution is a two-person tent that the company says is "Perfect for the lightweight backpacker that wants a very comfortable and roomy shelter without the weight". I try to go as light weight as I can but since I hike a lot in the spring and fall I often take a tent that can handle the snow that I see a lot of during these seasons. And as I am in the mountains most of the time I need one that can handle high winds and sudden storms in any season. When I saw the Revolution I had to look again to see if it was not a 4-season tent because it looks like many of my winter tents. Luckily I was chosen to test it to see if what I saw proves to be true.

IMAGE 2
Picture courtesy of Big Sky


The Revolution shown in the picture from BSI is a double wall tent comprised of a no-see-um mesh inner tent body and an outer fly and floor made of what Big Sky calls its new SuprSil fabric: high strength nylon fabric with silicone coating. Here is what Big Sky says about this fabric.

"SuprSil shell/fly fabric: Compared with generic silnylon fabric, Big Sky's new SuprSil shell/fly fabric will be about the same weight but is 2x more waterproof and has a 50% stronger tear strength.
SuprSil floor/tub fabric: Compared with generic silnylon fabric, Big Sky's new SuprSil floor/tub fabric will be about the same weight but is 3x more waterproof and has more than 50% stronger tear strength."

As the one-person tent I usually take is made of generic silnylon I will be interested in seeing how this new fabric works out. One thing I can say about the SuprSil, it is the slipperiest fabric I have ever seen. When I sat it on a desk in our office after unpacking it, it suddenly started sliding by itself. It slid off the desk onto and off a chair and onto the floor. It was like watching quicksilver.

It came with eight stakes that are made of slightly curved aluminum that has a bent end. Four are 6"/15 cm long and four are tiny at only 4"/10 cm in length. The long ones weigh 0.4 oz/11.3 g each and the little ones weigh 0.2 oz/5.7 g. BSI calls the tiny ones pegs instead of stakes. I will be interested to see how these work in a few days in the northern Sierra Nevadas.

IMAGE 3


A first for me is the way that the Revolution has the inner tent hanging from the outer shell. It sets up very fast as all I have to do is lay the whole works flat. Then I assemble the aluminum poles and place them in the corners in a crossing pattern with the bent sections to the wide end of the tent. The instructions sure could have said this by the way. The instructions are pretty limited and take a lot for granted. No mention is made of the red pole ends but I figured out that they go where a red strap is hiding UNDER the fly.

Next I clip the body to the poles. A short third pole goes over the top to provide support for the porch. Now just place as many stakes as I think it needs and it is ready to use. The neat thing about this is that the inside of the tent will stay dry when I have to set it up in the rain.

There is a good sized door on each side of the tent. The doors are made with the bottom wider than the top to give more room for swinging my legs out. I suppose this makes sense.

There is a lot of room inside, just about the most I have ever seen in a two person tent that I have owned. The only one that has more room is a 4-season tent that weighs almost twice as much. Inside the tent are two good sized storage pockets and two larger mesh pockets that BSI calls clothes hampers.

Another thing that has a lot of room are the two huge vestibules. These too are so much bigger than what I am used to I don't know what I will do with all the space. The vestibules are set up by pulling them away from the door and holding them with a single stake each. Above each vestibule opening is a vent that can be adjusted from the inside of the tent.

The Porch referred to in the name of the Revolution are overhangs over each to door to prevent water from dripping inside when doors are open during rainy weather. Speaking of rain BSI says that all necessary seams are sealed so I am going to take them at their word and see if I get any leaks. This picture from BSI shows the doors open and the porch.

IMAGE 4
Picture courtesy of Big Sky


The Revolution comes with a stuff sack that has three compression straps on it. I weigh it at 1.6 oz/45 g. Big Sky says the tent should be rolled and slid into the sack not stuffed. I guess that makes sense because of the attached inside tent but it is hard to roll up because the tent is so slippery.

IMAGE 5


A foot print was available as an out of pocket option but I am cheap and did not get it. Now I am worrying a little bit about the floor as it feels so thin. Maybe I will take Big Sky on their word of it being 50% stronger, or maybe I will get a piece of Tyvec to put under it.


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

I used the Revolution two nights on a 33 mi/53 km backpacking trip in northern California. The temperatures were from 29 F/-2 C to 52 F/11 C. The elevations went from 7000'/2100 m to 10,600'/3200 m. We had a little rain and snow on one night.

I also used it on a trip in the South Sierra Wilderness near Kennedy Meadows. The temperatures ranged from 32 F/0 C to 52 F/11 C. The elevation was as high as 8100'/2470 m. I used it one night at the trailhead before the hike and one night on the trail where the picture below was taken.

I was back in the same area, just a little south near the Domeland Wilderness where the temperatures were from 27 F/-3 C to 50 F/10 C. The elevations went from 6000'/1800 m to 8000'/2400 m. Again I used it one night at the trailhead before the hike and one night on the trail.

IMAGE 1

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

While setting the tent up to describe it for the Initial Report let me see how roomy this tent is, it was not until I slept in it that I saw just how much space there really is in the Revolution. It is a palace. I have never had so much room in a two man tent.

It got very cold on all the trips but I did not see one bit of condensation in 6 nights of use. I am sure most of that is thanks to the two vents on the fly. I think that another reason is the amount of space available for any moisture to dissipate before being able to condense on the inside walls of the fly. I felt the inside of the fly each morning right by where my head had been but never found the slightest bit of moisture. This was even true the night we spent near Wolf Creek when it started raining and snowing at 3:15 am. It did not last long and the tent was dry inside and outside when I broke it down the next morning. The only moisture was on the bottom of the floor where it was against the ground. That was quite wet and had dirt stuck to it as I do not have a footprint for it.

I have come to like how fast it goes up. I was able to have it up, and prep my pad and bag, and lay out items for the next day, while my brother in law was still messing with his tent. Thank you Big Sky. This is a picture of it near Wolf Creek.

IMAGE 2


I really like the porch. Having the extra room and protection makes it worth the extra weight in my opinion.

The material of the floor is very slippery. One of the nights I was forced to set it up on an uneven spot. I slipped against the wall the entire night.

One thing that I do not like is how hard it is to pack up in the morning. Big Sky recommends folding and rolling it up instead of stuffing it like I do to all my other tents. That makes sense as it will keep the inner from being torn off its attachment points. But the Revolution holds dirt more than any tent I have used. It is a dirt magnet. And most of that dirt gets transferred to me as I roll it. Plus it is so slippery that I can never get it back into the stuff sack without having half of the tent slide off the roll. The morning after I took the picture below I even had my brother-in-law help me slide the stuff sack over it and it still unraveled at the end.

IMAGE 3



LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

I used the Revolution for three days in San Diego County on parts of the Pacific Crest Trail. The low temperature was 37 F/3 C and it rained on two of the days. This picture is at Lake Morena County Park before the storm moved in.

In all I have slept in the Revolution 9 nights over the test period.

IMAGE 1

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

I ended up carrying the Revolution more than I used it over the past two months. The weather has been the worst I have can remember since I moved to California in 1982. It seems every time I have gone backpacking this winter and spring it has rained or snowed. On our trip to the Mojave Desert near Rosamond California the mud was so deep that we changed the trip and got a hotel for the night rather than try to pitch the tents in the flooded muddy mess.

But a few weeks later I had the Revolution in San Diego County where it rained two out of three days. I was reminded of how nice it is that the Revolution pitches with the inside tent protected by the fly as I watched my brother in law Ray take down his traditional double wall tent in the pouring rain. As soon as his fly was off his mesh tent was getting wet on the floor. Not mine though. Ha Ha.

The tent is truly factory sealed. I saw no leaks even though it was pounded for 15 hours over two days/nights. I did have heavy condensation inside the fly but nothing dripped onto me. The floor did not leak either, but I did make a footprint from a piece of Tyvek to protect it and keep it from getting muddy. I would rather have a small piece of muddy material that I can stick in my outside pocket then a muddy tent going inside my pack.

Surprisingly the attachments that hold the inside tent to the fly have all held up quite well. While I did not want to speculate earlier in my report I wondered if the difficult stuffing would result in them pulling apart, but they are all still good.

The tent seems to be very well made. The room for the weight is great. It is going to make going back to my ultralight shelter very hard to do. Maybe I will find myself grabbing the Revolution once in a while solo, and for sure once I get my wife to try an overnight trip.

I would like to say thank you to Big Sky International and BackpackGearTest.org for the chance to test this tent.

Pros

Very fast set up.
A lot of room.
Great ventilation.
Huge vestibules.
Weatherproof.

Cons

Fabric is a dirt magnet.
Fabric is very slippery, makes staying put on a slope almost impossible.
Hard to get into the stuff sack.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5 Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

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