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

Big Sky International Revolution 2P Tent
Test Series
Initial Report October 28, 2009

Field Report January 8, 2010

Long Term Report March 17, 2010

Tester Information:
Name: David Heyting
Age: 32
Gender: Male
Height: 6’ 0”, 1.83 m
Weight: 205 lb, 93 kg
Chest: 46", 117 cm
Waist: 38", 97 cm
Sleeve: 36", 91 cm
Email: deheyting(at)yahoo(dot)com
City, State, Country: Snoqualmie, Washington, USA

Backpacking Background:
I have been hiking and backpacking for over 15 years. A great deal of the backpacking that I do is related to mountaineering and rock climbing in the Pacific Northwest. When not climbing, I’m a hiker that tries to go light in order to push more miles. My main areas of exploration are the Washington Central and North Cascades, but I have done lots of hiking in the British Columbia Coastal Range as well as the Oregon Cascades. I am also an avid adventure racer and compete in several races each year ranging from 2 hours up to several days in duration.

Product Information:
Manufacturer: Big Sky International
Model: Revolution 2P
Suggested Use: Three Seasons Backpacking
Sleeping Capacity: 2
Tent Components: Light weight shell with “Porch”, third Aluminum poles, tubular compression sack, and aluminum stakes
Listed Weight – Shelter and Poles: 2 lbs 14.7 oz / 320 g
Measured Weight: 3 lbs / 340 g
External Dimensions (Per manufacturer): 99 x 68 x 54 in / 251 x 173 x 137 cm
Area (per manufacturer): 41.9 sq ft / 3.9 m2
MSRP: $409.72.00 US
Color: Granite Gray

The Revolution 2P Tent - Notice the Window (photo courtesy of Big Sky International)

Product Description:
The Revolution is a two person three season tent. The shell is made with a super light silicone coated nylon fabric. The Revolution features double wall construction which is designed to prevent condensation build-up inside the tent. The interior fabric is made up of no-see-um mesh to keep out the creepy crawlies. The interior section hangs from the outer shell via several small buckles. The Aluminum poles are hooked in via external clips. There are three poles, two that are longer and form an x across the tent and a small pole that goes across the tent to provide support to the dual porches.

The tent features dual porches where the tent can be accessed from either side. These porches create two large vestibules for storing gear. The dual door design is developed so that neither person needs to climb over his/her tent mate to get out of the tent. The porches can also be tied back to allow for lots of ventilation. The Revolution also features lots of storage space by having a total of 4 interior pockets for storing gear. 2 are made to hold smaller items such as knives, headlamp, etc. and 2 larger “hampers” that can be used to allow wet clothes to dry. The Revolution also features a window that provides a way to check the weather without having to open the tent door.

The tent poles and stuff sack with the tent next to a water bottle. However I will note that the tent really stuffs - thus when packing, it can squeeze down to a much smaller size. The tent is in the stuff sack that was designed for the Revolution. The poles can be carried in the stuff sack as well.

Initial Report
October 28, 2009

Initial Impressions:
My first thoughts when opening the box up were – boy this tent is light and compact! As a part of the test procedures for this test, Big Sky International included a compression sack and a set of aluminum tent stakes. Also each Big Sky tent that is made with the silicone nylon fabric includes a small piece of fabric that is stapled to a sheet of paper that asks the purchaser of the product to conduct a burn test of the fabric. If they are concerned as all about the flammability of the product, they can then return the tent for a complete refund, no questions asked. In conducting the burn test, the product is indeed flammable, and it reinforces in my own personal rule about not cooking inside any tent or vestibule.
I am very interested with how the fly is constructed. Where nylon is stitched, the fabric is sort of folded up and then stitched at the base of the fold. This appears to eliminate the need to tape the seems. I will be very interested in watching the performance of the fly during periods of heavy ran.

View of the stich and how the fabric is folded, prior to stiching.

The Revolution is pretty straight forward to set up. The tent features three poles, two longer ones that form an X and a short pole that works in conjunction with the dual porches. The poles feature a red and black coding system so that I can easily determine which end goes in where. The pole hooks are easy to use and clip onto the poles.

View of the clip that is attached to the pole for easy set-up.

Based on the design of the dual porches, the ends of each vestibule for sure need to be staked out properly to allow the tent to function correctly. Both vestibules feature a zippered entrance where both ends can be secured to allow for more ventilation. The inner section of the tent is made up of no-see-um fabric. It has two very large openings on each side. Thus I first go through the vestibule and then open the door to the inner fabric. The space inside the tent seems adequate for two people and the vestibules provide extra storage space for gear and other items. It appears to me that one could separate the inner section of the tent from the fly and use the Revolution more like a shelter.

View of the buckle that can be removed to separate the fly and the tent.

Besides being very lightweight, the tent has some other great features, such as multiple storage pockets and a window. I really like the window as I can see what the weather is like or how much snow fell the previous night all without actually opening the tent up.

Features to Test
Although the Revolution is listed as a three-season tent, based upon the time frame that this test is occurring, I plan on using the Revolution in some winter conditions. Thus I will hopefully be able to determine how the tent handles adverse conditions. I am curious to see how the shell will perform over time and in heavy rain and snow.

With the tent being so lightweight, I wonder about the durability of the fabric as well. Will it be able to hold up to the wear and tear of backpacking? Or will it prove to be an amazing material?

Initial Likes and Dislikes:

Likes: The weight or lack thereof.

Dislikes: Nothing yet!

Field Report
January 8, 2010

Test Conditions:
During the Field testing period, I was able to get out in the tent for three uses, two of which provided some more intense weather which made for ideal testing conditions. The third use was in my backyard as I was trying to get an understanding of the tent prior to taking it out into winter conditions. I will mainly focus on these two trips. My first trip was down to Mt. Hood. We used the tent as a base camp for a planned winter climb of the mountain. Camp was set up below the Timberline Lodge at around 6,000ft (1829 m). The conditions were extremely cold with overnight temperatures down to around 9 F (-9 C). There was no precipitation during the trip. Probably the best test was an overnight trip on the Taylor River in the Central Cascades. This trip featured lots and lots of rain. Temperatures were mild in the 40’s (7 C) down to mid 30’s (0's C) at night. Camp was at around 2,000 ft (600 m). It rained constantly on the trip and throughout the night. On both of my trips in the field tests, I had tent mates.

Field Results:
The tent is extremely lightweight; however by making the tent extremely light the fabric has the appearance that it would be very delicate. However I was pleasantly surprised that the tent performed quite well in adverse conditions. On my trip in the Central Cascades, the conditions were pretty ugly. It pretty much poured all night and I stayed quite dry inside the Revolution. The ultra slim nylon fabric shed the rain all night long. I had fully expected that this would not be the case. I did a thorough check of the inside of the tent in the morning to confirm this. I also really like the design of the tent, as the dual vestibule entrances really keep the outside of the tent away from me. That means I am not subject to the condensation build up that often leaves me soaking wet. In many tents that I have used, I have found that both myself and my sleeping bag are constantly touching the sidewalls of the tent – which means exposure to condensation and moisture.

I have found the tent easy to set up. The color coded poles are easy to put up and the tent is easily hooked to them by the hooks. The stakes that were provided by Big Sky are great as well. I really like the fact they are lightweight and yet seem pretty sturdy. In my Taylor River trip the ground consisted of a clay-rock mix. The tent provides ample room for two people and the dual vestibules allows each person to access their gear, without having to bother the other person. Heck during the night my tent mate had to head out in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and I never even woke up!

The Revolution in the Central Cascades.

During my trip up the Taylor River in the rain, I did notice that the floor of the tent seemed to wick through quite a bit of water. However I was not using a ground cover of any kind and the ground was quite wet where I pitched my tent. My sleeping bag got pretty damp where it touched the ground and not my sleeping pad. Based on the super wet conditions it was hard to tell if this is a real issue.

During my trip to Mt. Hood, I did experience some large amounts of frost and ice build-up on the tent. Given that the Revolution is designed as a three season tent, I felt the tent performed pretty well in the cold temperatures. The design of the tent does not hold much heat because the main walls are made of no-see-um netting. The window proved to be of no use to me as it was covered with frost on Hood and full of condensation and rain drops on my other trip. I also felt that the tent was a little bit challenging to get in and out of. The no-see-um netting features an easy to pull zipper and a large opening; however I found the vestibule to be fairly low to the ground, for going through. This led to my back hitting the upper end of the opening which caused the water drain off the tent and onto me. I felt that in the morning, when getting out, I managed to get a lot of water on me when exiting the tent.

The window covered with rain drops.

Items for Continued Testing:
The durability of the tent and fabric will be the biggest item that I will be looking for. I felt that my rainy trip was a great start, but now I want to see how well the tent performs over time. I do plan on experimenting with a ground cover to see how that impacts the dampness I experienced on the ground floor of the tent. I also want to get another couple of nights in the snow, where it is not quite as cold to test the ability of the ground floor to keep out the elements.

Field Report Likes and Dislikes:

Likes: The low weight and ability to shed water.

Dislikes: Low to the ground door entrances.

Long Term Report
March 17, 2010

Long Term Test Conditions:
During the Long Term testing period, I was able to get out in the tent for two more uses. Both featured actually pretty pleasant evenings with moderate temperatures. My first trip was over near Port Townsend on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington. Temperatures were mild in the 50’s F (10 C) during the day down to mid 30’s F (0 C) at night. Very moderate conditions for the winter. Camp was right at Sea level. There was no precipitation and very little wind. My second trip was on the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie River in the Central Cascades. My campsite was at 1,200 ft (366 m). Again I had very moderate conditions, 50’s F (50 C) during the day down to mid 30’s F (0 C) at night. For both of these trips, I was solo in the tent, unlike the Field Report Period where I had a tent mate.

Long Term Results:
I have continued to be very happy with the tent. When using the tent as a solo tent, it was quite roomy. I was able to bring all of my gear into the tent and use the vestibules for my shoes. I have found the tent to be very lightweight. Really when using the tent solo, the weight difference between the Big Sky and my own bivy sack is less than 2 lbs (900 g). For the extra space and room, I found the tradeoff well worth the weight. I continued to find the tent easy to set up and take down. I have had no issues with the fabric, in terms of wear and tear. I was pretty careful with the tent when packing and unpacking, though as to try and avoid any issues with tearing or ripping the tent.

I was not able to test the tent again in the snow as the Pacific Northwest has had a very mild winter and an extremely low snow year. I did use a small tarp on both of my trips underneath the tent. I did not have any issues with water build-up on the floor of the tent when using the tarp. However for both of these trips I had dry conditions, mild temperature and no snow. I was able to use the tent on two more overnight outings during the Long Term Reporting period.

Long Term Summary:
I have found the Big Sky International to be a great choice for a lightweight two-person tent for my endeavors. The tent is very easy to assemble and tear down. It has ample room for two people and features dual vestibules. The dual vestibules are a very key feature with this tent. It allows for both my tent mate and myself to be able to enter and exit the tent, without having to climb over each other. Also it provides a place for me and my tent mate to store gear during the night as we each have our own vestibule. The tent has proven to hold up quite well in intense rain. It shed water and kept me and my contents very dry. The floor of the tent does seem to absorb moisture, which leads dampness in the tent. However I was able to fix that issue by using a ground tarp. The tent has held up well and seems to be pretty durable.

Continued Use:
I plan on using the Big Sky International as my main tent. The weight savings that this tent provides, along with a comfortable fit for two people is wonderful. The tent also packs down great in my pack and takes up very little space. I really like the dual vestibule as it makes for a much more pleasant evening for both people in the tent. I was able to test the tent is a very heavy down pour and stayed completely dry. It will for sure be a staple of my backpacking gear.

Long Term Report Likes and Dislikes:

Likes: The lack of weight is still fantastic!

Dislikes: The floor seems to absorb mositure.

This concludes my Test Report. Thank you to Big Sky International and BackpackGearTest for the chance to conduct this test!

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

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