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Reviews > Shelters > Tents > Big Sky International Revolution 2P > Test Report by Kathryn Doiron

Big Sky Revolution 2P Tent with Porch


Test series by Kathryn Doiron
Initial Report: Oct 21, 2009

Field Report: Jan 2, 2010

Long Term Report: Mar 16, 2010


Image of Big Sky tent
Image courtesy of Big Sky website



Personal Information:
Name: Kathryn Doiron
Age: 33
Gender: Female
Height: 5' 8" (1.7 m)
Weight: 150 lb (68 kg)
Email: kdoiron 'at' gmail 'dot' com
Location: Washington DC, USA

Brief Background: I started backpacking and hiking seriously almost four years ago. Most of my miles have been logged in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. I have recently finished 1200+ miles (2000+ km) of the Appalachian Trail. My style is to be as light as possible while not spending a fortune. My pack weight tends to hover around 25 lbs (11 kg) with two days of food and 0.5 L of water. I have recently started getting into winter hiking, snowshoeing and kayaking.


Product Information:


Manufacturer: Big Sky International
Website: http://bigskyinternational.com/
MSRP: $349.95 USD + 40$ for porch and aluminum pole
Weight: (stated) n/av
Weight: (actual) 1.9 oz (53.2 g)
Options: with or without porch,
Material: Silicon coated nylon

Feature Manufacturer Listed Value As Measured
Fly weight n/av 22 oz (622 g)
Body weight n/av 16.5 oz (468 g)
Shelter Weight n/av 38 oz (2 lbs 6 oz) (1090 g)
Stuff sack weight 1.3 oz (36 g) 1.6 oz (44 g)
Pole weight n/av sm pole (1 supplied): 2.9 oz (82 g)
lg pole (2 supplied): 7 oz (200 g) (weight of one)
Stake weight 2.2 oz (63 g) (Note: this is all stakes, no stuff sack) sm stake (4 supplied): 0.2 oz (6.2 g) (weight of one)
lg stake (4 supplied): 0.3 oz (9.5 g) (weight of one)
Stuff sack: 0.2 oz (5.8 g)
Total weight 2 lbs 14.7 oz (1320 g) (plus porch weight)
50 oz (3 lbs 2 oz) (1423 g) (plus porch weight)
55 oz (3 lbs 7 oz) (1572 g) (porch model)
Tent as received: 4 lbs 7 oz (1685 g) (tent, poles, stuff sack and pegs)
Height 42 in. (107 cm) Not yet measured
Shelter Area 41.9 sq ft (3.9 sq m) Not measured



Initial Report:
October 21sth, 2009

The Revolution 2P tent is a light weight, free standing tent designed for 3-season use and can accommodate up to two people. This particular model has a porch feature which increases the area available in the vestibules as well as creating a peak over the vestibule. The tent has an internally suspended tent body which is mostly composed of mesh. The body has a deep bath tub floor and four large mesh pockets. The body clips onto the underside of the fly with a series of clips and hooks onto the corners with an o-ring and hook. The corners on one side of the body match up with the color coded corners on the fly making assembly quick. One side is red (foot side), one side is grey/black (head side). The fly is also suspended from the poles of which there are three.

Internal body clips   Center clip

The tent goes together in an X configuration with the two longer poles, while the smaller pole arcs over the top to support the porch. The small pole is completely straight while the two longer poles have a bend in one section about 1/3 of the way down the pole. The pole tip furthest away from the bent is red tipped and fits into the foot end of the tent. The bend helps create more space at the head end of the tent. The vestibule is offset with the opening closer to one side of the tent, the head side. The foot side has a clear pane in the fly for a window. There is no privacy covering for the window. The peg loops are loops of bungee cord. The fly has a series of webbing loops with a reflective strip to accommodate the optional guylines.

Bend in the pole   Guyline attachment point and pole clips

The tent came with a sheet of paper with instructions for set up and packing. They recommend staking the guylines out at a 45 degree angle to the tent. They also recommend rolling the tent rather then stuffing it as it gives a smaller volume plus there is no danger of pushing poles through the mesh. Other suggestions included a diagram with suggested guylines ordered by priority, and breaking the poles down starting with the center joint.

Pocket in the tent   Details of the optional pegs

I am so far impressed by how light the tent is. I was also very surprised by how slippery the coated nylon is. I wasn't expecting it to be quite so slippery and had the tent slowly slide apart when I set it aside while weighing the poles. Due to my weighing location, I ended up stuffing the fly and body back into the stuff sack as I didn't have space to lay everything out to re-roll it. The tent did in fact take up more space in the stuff sack afterwards then it had when I had first received it.

Porch pole attachment   Tent stuffed in sack

When I set up the tent I was interested in seeing how roomy the tent would be on initial empty inspection. The tent seems to be large enough but doesn't seem to be generously sized. I will be interested to see how much space is left once two people plus gear are sharing the tent. The tent has two doors located closer to the side edge rather then in the middle of the side. The body of the tent is buckled to the interior of the rain fly. The buckles are small with round tabs that stick out. They are relatively easy to work apart with two hands but a little more challenging to work apart when one arm is trying to control the slippery fly. The buckles are attached to the tent or fly by small loops of material, and to the staking corners by a ring and clip. Set up was quite easy in spite of my having pulled the tent apart earlier. I laid the tent body out on the floor and matched up the color coded corners, once snapped together the fly went up easily, then I just sat inside and clipped all the internal clips together. I left the fly and body attached to each other when I disassembled and repacked the tent.

Detail of the ventilation   A view into the tent

Big Sky offers optional extras when ordering from their site. The base porch model comes with the tent plus three aluminum poles. I ordered a stuff sack plus pegs which came with the tent as well as a few other options which haven't arrived yet and will not be included in this report. Ordering from the website was pretty easy. I read through the features and decided what would best work for me and my tenting style. Selecting the options updates the price at the top of the page. Each option gives a price increase amount and a weight increase or decrease amount. Some options are recommended by Big Sky as the best option or listed as the popular option among the choices.

Detail of the attachment point

My test plan over the next couple of months will be to use the Revolution Tent on all my backpacking trips. My trips will include backpacking in the George Washington National Forest and the Shenandoah National Park, as well as occasional kayak trips.



Field Report:
January 2nd, 2010

I have so far used the tent on two overnight trips for 2 nights of use total in the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. Trip details are highlighted below.

Trips:

My first trip out with the tent was out to the Shenandoah NP in Virginia. Rain was forecast for the night and the temperatures were expected to get down to about 45 F (7 C) during the night. The tent was pretty easy to set up but I wasn't sure which stakes to use closest to the tent body. As shown above, the tent came with 4 long and 4 short stakes. I placed the short ones closest to the tent body. The tent had plenty of room just for me and my gear. I made use of the generous pockets to store stuff sacks and small items. Sometime around midnight the rain started up and it rained through the night and into the morning. I broke down the tent in the rain and stored it wet. The tent was not easy to store wet and I ended up stuffing it into the stuff sack. Once in the sack I realized the sack wasn't water resistant and the water from the tent leaked through. As I had a short hike out, I carried the wet tent rather then get the rest of my gear wet. Once home, I laid the tent out on the floor and opened it up slowly allowing each section to dry before opening it up more. I didn't have any place to hang the tent to dry nor did I want to get the hardwood flooring wet. The tent dried pretty quickly due to the high heat in my apartment. I didn't notice any issues while the tent was drying.

The next trip out was again to the Shenandoah NP but with nicer conditions. There was no rain but the temperatures were still in the 50's F (10 C) dropping down to 40 F (4 C) overnight. The tent again went up fast and had plenty of room inside for just me and my gear. I didn't notice any condensation on the interior of the tent on either trip. The tent body is basically all mesh and doesn't seem to give condensation much of a chance.

Impressions and Comments:
So far I haven't had any issues with the tent. I do fear that the tent does seem really delicate and I am afraid I will break it with use. The mesh body doesn't have much structure and I am afraid to rip it. I am not totally thrilled with the door. Although the door is very generous, the zipper doesn't slide around on the track easily and I have to use two hands to unzip the tent. Since I don't have guylines, I haven't guyed out the tent yet but I will track down some line and give it a whirl to see how well it holds the tent in place. Other then that, the tent has worked well in the rain and has plenty of room for a single hiker plus gear.

Wrap-up
Pros so far: easy to use, spacious for one, and rain resistant.

Cons so far: feels quite delicate, zipper doesn't work well with one hand use.



Long Term Report:
March 16, 2010

Over the last two months I have taken the tent out on three more overnight trips out in Utah. This usage while very different from the East Coast has seen the tent performing well. Total field usage of the tent was five nights. See the trips reports listed below for an idea of usage.

My first trip out was with my hiking partner to test out the two person aspect of the tent. The trip was out to Zion NP in Utah. The tent is a bit more snug with two people inside and while we did find room to store everything we needed in the tent, it was a snug fit. Storage space was either in the pockets or at the foot of the sleeping bags. We managed to fit two down mats in the tent with little room left over. Packs didn't get stored in the tent. Stuff sacks ended up in the large mesh pockets at the foot of the tent and little items ended up in the pockets at the head of the tent. The temperature was down around the freezing mark. By morning, there was some frost on the inside and outside of the tent. It was mostly visible on the tent window. This was a two night, three day trip and by the morning of the third day, the mesh had a small tear in it near the door. The vestibule opening and the tent opening don't line up nicely which makes it difficult to enter the leave the tent. Something must have caught on the zipper of the tent while someone was entering and the mesh ripped out from the seam near the clip. I unclipped the tent from the fly at that point to relieve stress on the seam and prevent further ripping.

Detail of frozen condensation

I emailed customer service and they sent me a mailing label to return the body of the tent. I got the tent body back repaired. Turn around time was about 3 weeks from sending the body to getting the body back. While I sent the body to Big Sky, they shipped it to another company to repair the tent as evidence by a repair card left in the box.

Close up of the rip

The next trip out was an overnight on the Front Range of the Salt Lake Valley. We were up in one of the canyons for a short snowshoeing trip. Since we were not expecting more snow I felt the conditions were suitable for the tent. Given that I forgot to bring the snow stakes, I had a hard time staking out the vestibules in the deep snow, in spite of us having packed it down. This was also my first chance to inspect the tent body since getting it back from being repaired. The repair was seamless and had I not known where the tear had been I would have had trouble finding it. As it was the only sign was a couple of small pulls in the material holding the small clip to the seam of the mesh.

Tenting after a snowfall

The last trip out was again another overnight trip up to the Front Range trying to beat some bad weather expected later in the week. There was little snow on the ground and conditions were cold, close to freezing and moving lower overnight. The low that night ended up being about 25 F (-4 C). The elevation was around 6000 ft (1828 m) and the hike in was about 2 mi (3.2 km). We did experience some small amount of condensation again as we experienced in Zion on a previous trip. Due to the cold temperatures, the condensation was more a frost inside and out.

Final Impressions and Comments:
Other then the tent being a complete dust and dirt magnet, the tent is still in great condition. After using the tent out in the snow and another use afterwards, the fly still has Zion dust on it. I tried to take some snow and "wash" off the red dust, but to no great success. I did manage to remove some red dust, but the tent still looks as dirty as before. The material of the tent is still exceedingly slippery. I like to store the tent in the stuff sack but I think from now on I will simply shove the tent into my pack and leave the stuff sack at home for storage purposes only. When I carefully roll up the tent, I have trouble lifting it up without loosing the tightness of the roll. Once I have the sack positioned and ready to accept the tent, I have to be careful to push the tent in and not simply let it drop in as that just lets the center of the tent slide in leaving me with a handful of the outside. The tent performed very well both on the East Coast and in Utah. I did have some small condensation buildup but I noticed that seemed to be more related to having two people in the tent and temperatures rather then anything else.

I am still not quite sure what happened to cause the tent to rip. The tent does feel very delicate and while I was trying to treat the tent carefully given the delicate nature, tents do have to hold up to some abuse. I suspect the tear happened when entering the tent. I find that the door to the body and the door to the fly don't quite line up. In order to enter the tent, I find I have to face the front of the tent (facing away from the back window) and enter, which doesn't leave a lot of entering room. The porch feature is quite nice giving extra vestibule head room and space. I found it useful as it did prevent rain from getting into the tent body itself, but it didn't seem to give too much extra space, helping to keep the amount of space required to set up the tent minimal.

Using the tent for just myself, I found the tent was rather palatial. I loved the extra space and the tent itself is very easy for me to set up alone. I simply stake the four corners and pop the poles in. When I can't stake the corners, I pop the poles in on one side then stand on the tent corners and pop the poles in one at a time. For two people, the tent is definitely cozy. The pockets do allow for storage of some items but there is no room for packs in the tent. The vestibules are deep enough to store packs off to one side and allow for easy entry and footwear storage.

I have been happy with how the tent has performed so far, in spite of the slippery material and delicate feel.

Wrap-up
Pros:

    - easy to use and setup
    - spacious for one plus gear, room for two without gear
    - rain resistant

Cons:

    - feels quite delicate
    - zipper doesn't work well with one hand use


This concludes my report series on the Big Sky Revolution 2P tent with Porch. Thank you to BackpackGearTest.org and Big Sky International for allowing me to test this tent.


Read more reviews of Big Sky International gear
Read more gear reviews by Kathryn Doiron

Reviews > Shelters > Tents > Big Sky International Revolution 2P > Test Report by Kathryn Doiron



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