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Reviews > Shelters > Tents > Big Sky International Mirage 1P 2D Tent > Test Report by Ralph Ditton


LONG TERM REPORT: 12th November, 2009

                 Mirage Shelter
                                                                         (Photo courtesy of Big Sky International)
Personal Information
Name: Ralph Ditton
Age: 57
Gender: Male
Height: 1.76 m (5 ft 9 in)
Weight: 71 kg (157 lb)
Email: rdassetts at optusnet dot com dot au
City: Perth. Western Australia. Australia

Backpacking Background
My playgrounds are the Bibbulmun Track and the Coastal Plain Trail. I aim to become a sectional end-to-end walker of the Bibbulmun Track. I am nearly there as it is 964 km (603 mi) long. My pack weight including food and water tends to hover around 18 kg (40 lb) but I am trying to get lighter. My trips range from overnighters to five days duration.

Product Information
Manufacturer: Big Sky International - Jackson, Wyoming - USA
Manufacturers website:
Year of Manufacture: 2009
Made in: Product of USA sewn in China.
Model: Mirage 1P 2D Shelter
Rating: 3 season
Colour: Granite Grey
Sleeping capacity: 1
Number of poles: 2
Pole choice: Aluminium, or ultra light DuraLite composite poles
Received: Ultra light DuraLite composite poles 
Rain fly fabric: Ultra Light SuprSil-UL fabric
Inner side panels fabric: No-see-um mesh
Floor fabric: Silicone coated nylon
ShelterSavers ground sheet with colour coded elastic straps and clips
Factory seamed sealed: yes
Doors: 2
Zips: 2 YKK on each of the door panels and 2 YKK on the fly. All are 5 gauge.
MSRP: Shelter with 2 doors, ultra light weight SuprSil fabric and ultra light weight DuraLite composite poles: US $374.85
MSRP: Storage Bag. US $9.98
MSRP: Guy line kit with 4,10 cm (4 in) AL Ultra-C pegs. US $16.07
MSRP: 2, 15 cm (6 in) AL Ultra-C pegs. US $2.98
MSRP: 4, Y-not 14 cm (5.5 in) pegs. US $7.16
MSRP: ShelterSaver ground sheet- Big Sky 1P. US $16.96
MSRP: Pole splice. Free with DuraLite poles.
TOTAL MSRP: US $428.00

Weight of Shelter without accessories + DuraLite poles 827 g (29.2 oz) 834 g (29.4 oz)
Weight of Storage bag
36 g (1.3 oz) 40 g (1.4 oz)
Weight of Peg storage bag
Not listed
8 g (0.3 oz)
Weight of 4 Reflective spectra guy lines 
Not listed
24 g (0.8 oz)
Weight of 4 10 cm (4 in) & 2 15 cm (6 in) AL Ultra-C pegs
44 g (1.6 oz)
46 g (1.6 oz)
Weight of 4 Y-not pegs Not listed 44 g (1.6 oz)
Diameter of repair pole sleeve Not Listed 9 mm (0.354 in) inside
11 mm (0.433 in) outside
Weight of repair pole sleeve Not Listed 10 g (0.4 oz)
Floor length & tapered width dimensions 213 cm x 91 cm x 61 cm
(84 in x 36 in x 24 in)
213 cm x 91 cm x 58.5 cm
(84 in x 36 in x 23 in)
Peak Height 99 cm (39 in) 109 cm (43 in)
Sleeping Floor Area Not listed 1.3 sq m (14 sq ft)
Each Vestibule Area 0.65 sq m (7 sq ft) 0.63 sq m (6.7 sq ft)
ShelterSaver length & tapered width
Not listed

200 cm x 79 cm x 53 cm
(79 in x 31 in x 21 in)
Packed size 13 cm x 46 cm
(5 in x 18 in)
13 cm x 47 cm
(5 in x 18.5 in)
Weight of ShelterSaver groundsheet  85 g (3 oz) 88 g (3.1oz)
Internal storage pockets

Design and Features
The Mirage 1P 2D Shelter is a three season, single wall mesh and Ultra Light SuprSil-UL fabric habitat that uses two composite poles of DuraLite for erection that cross over at the peak to give shape to the shelter. The fabric hangs from the poles by way of clips. In addition, it is factory seam sealed.

Apart from the actual fabric which I have never seen before, the shelter looked exactly like what is featured on the manufacturer's web page. It is of a shelter hanging from two poles that cross over and had a deep bathtub floor.

The panels containing the doors are all no-see-um-mesh and the two ends are a single wall of Ultra Light SuprSil-UL fabric.

The wonderful aspect of this shelter is that it can quickly be erected or taken down in one piece and if it is raining, the inside will not get wet provided the fly doors are closed.

The manufacturer states that this shelter is a hybrid design and is recommended for low humidity areas only because of the condensation problems usually associated with single skin shelters.

There were instructions that came with the shelter. It is a two page document. Stapled to the top left hand corner of the instructions is a sample of the fabric for a test burn.

One thing in the instructions that caught my attention was point 3). "Lift the top loop and buckle over the poles where they cross and buckle, do this BEFORE attaching the pole clips... then attach each pole clip to the poles."

With previous tents I tend to start clipping the tent into place and the loop and buckle tend to be the last ones that get done. I suspect that the manufacturer has this instruction to take any unnecessary stress off the composite poles.

My Impression
I am familiar with Big Sky products as I have two of them, so I received what I expected. The only aspect that amazed me was how thin the SuprSil-UL fabric was. Reading about it is one thing, but to actually hold and feel it between my fingers brings the reality.
So it begs the question, how strong is it?
Hopefully, this test series will answer that question.

Having a closer look at the shelter, in my opinion, it is not strictly a single walled shelter. It is single walled only at the foot and head ends of it. The sides look out into a vestibule area just like a double walled shelter, hence its hybrid status.

The Shelter Body

The Exterior.
Sewn on the four leading edges of the shelter are  loops and tent pole hooks. From the centre to the rear of the shelter, there are four on each side and from the centre to the front there are three on each side.

At the peak of the shelter is a loop and buckle which is very small.  This buckle loop has a reflector strip on it. There are another four reflector loop strips around the perimeter of the shelter. These loops are used to guy out the shelter.

Right next to these reflector loop strips are the toggles that hold back the fly doors when rolled back. There is an elastic loop on the inside of the fly for the toggle to be housed in.

                                                    colour coded anchor points

The anchor points for the poles are attached to the shelter by way of thin straps that are colour coded for the ShelterSaver. Red at one end and granite grey at the other.

These straps loop through a small piece of webbing that has a metal grommet  that houses the locking pole tip. At the other end of the webbing is an elastic loop for a tent peg.

On the side of the roof at the peak of the shelter are two ventilation ports. There is one on either side. They are 38 cm (15 in) long and 7 cm (2.7 in) wide. The vent can only be opened so far because there is a strip of black ribbon that is attached to both sides and spans the vent.

The vent is propped open by a little rod covered in the same fabric as the shelter which has a little floppy foot of loop (as in hook and loop) that bends and it marries up with a patch of hook on the other edge of the vent.

The two vestibule doors open and close by way of a YKK 5 gauge zipper.  Alongside the zipper, stitched to the fly, are two patches of hook that catch the loop patches sewn on the zipper storm flap. This ensures that the zippers are protected from the weather and any wind blown sand/grit.

At the end of the zippered doorway next to the storm flap is a loop which has an elastic loop to be used as a stake out point to create the vestibule. There is one on either side of the shelter.

The zippers have a loop of reflective spectra guy line to be used as a finger pull.

                                                    looking inside

The Interior.
Through either vestibule one comes to a no-see-um mesh panel with a door in it. This mesh panel extends from the top of the tub floor to the peak and covers the whole side.

The doors are large in size with the bottom edge being around 1 m (39 in) long to allow space for legs to swing in/out and the height of 82 cm (32 in) allows me to get in/out easily without my back scraping along the top edge.

The top edge is much shorter and it was hard to measure as it starts to curve almost immediately. These doors are located towards the head end of the shelter as the manufacturer states that this was done on purpose to minimize excess movement getting in/out. It works for me.

There are two YKK 5 gauge zippers on each door panel. The finger pulls also have a loop of reflective spectra guy line to be used as a finger pull.

Scattered along the roof line ridge down both sides are seven loops sewn into the seams. These are hang points for a little torch, gear loft or clothes line just to name a few uses.

The main features inside the shelter struck me immediately. It is the four storage mesh pockets. There is one located at each corner and they are generous in size. The two at the foot end are slightly larger that the two at the head end.

My Impression
With regards to the peak height, my measurement came out larger by 10 cm (4 in) so I cannot explain why that is so. However, I am happy for the extra height. When I took the measurements, the shelter was fully erect on the kitchen floor tiles which are level.

I was very pleased to come pretty close to the actual listed area for the vestibules. I was short by 0.02 sq m (0.3 sq ft) which is an acceptable discrepancy.

The Poles

I was supplied with the much lighter DuraLite composite poles weighing in at 218 g (7.7 oz). There are nine segments to the poles and when folded up, they have a length of 44.5 cm (17.5 in). This impacts on the packed size as I wrap the poles up inside the shelter.

At the base of each male section of the poles, there is a rubber grommet. I guess that this is to help prevent the female section from banging against the shoulder of the male section when being assembled for use, which could cause a weakness leading to a split pole.

                                                    rubber grommets on male sections

The poles have a diameter of 6 mm (0.23 in) which is smaller than the carbon poles offered by the manufacturer. The carbon poles have a listed diameter of 7.42 mm (0.29 in). It would appear that the manufacturer is exploring stronger poles as the weight is exactly the same for the carbon and polymer composite. The DuraLite is a polymer composite which is used as a metal substitute.

My Impression
Looking at the DuraLite composite poles I thought that they looked exactly like the carbon fibre poles that I have, even down to the circular ribbing on the shaft segments. To compare, I took out one carbon fibre pole that is for a one person shelter which is part of the manufacturer's inventory. I then laid it side by side against the DuraLite composite. They were exactly the same length. What I did notice was that the DuraLite pole has a slightly smaller diameter, so I weighed them and was surprised that they were the same weight. The conclusion that I came to was that the DuraLite composite pole is a denser material than the carbon fibre.

One upside to this is that I now have a spare set of ultra lightweight poles.

The Pegs
I was supplied with the following:
  • 4 Y-not pegs that are 14 cm (5.5 in) long.
  • 4 Ultra C pegs that are 10 cm (4 in) long.
  • 2 Ultra C pegs that are 15 cm (6 in) long.
The Y-not pegs (also known as V- pegs) are for solid firm ground. They have a loop of reflective spectra guy line attached through a hole in a rear fin so that it can be used as a finger pull. This avoids the sharp edges under the fins when trying to extract the pegs. They have hurt my fingers in the past. The finger pull is a good idea.

The Ultra-C pegs (also known as Doggy or Sand pegs) are for loose soil. I predominately camp on sandy soil so these will be getting a lot of use.

Spectra/nylon guy lines
There are four guy lines and they are gold coloured with reflective yarn woven into the the outer covering so that it stands out against dark or light backgrounds. The diameter of the cord is 1.5 mm (0.06 in).

The core is Dyneema which has a breaking strain of 85 kilos (188 lb). It is extremely difficult to cut. When cut the end must be melted to stop the cord from fraying.

One good thing about this guy line kit is that it also comes with 2 mm (0.08 in) line runners. In the past I have had kits without any line runners. I like these line runners as they lock onto the cord with a good grip and do not slip when wet and they are easy to use.

ShelterSaver Ground Sheet
This ground sheet is generic for the 1 Person series of shelters that the manufacturer produces. It is a white durable non-woven fabric, lightweight and has colour coded ties to match up with the colour coding on the shelter. It attaches to the webbed pole housing by way of nylon dog clips. The moving clip part is very stiff to push in.

There is a large company trade mark logo in blue on the side that faces up. This screen printing does not feel tacky so it should not leave a carbon copy on the base of the shelter after weight has been applied, i.e. when I am resting inside it.

My Impression
I am pleased that a ground sheet was included to protect the floor. I have used this this ground sheet material with another one person model and it works very well in protecting the base.

Initial Impressions
One thing I noticed when the shelter was erected and there was nothing inside it, is that both ends are off the ground for about 25 cm (10 in) before the base comes into contact with the ground. I just hope that when there is weight placed on these ends that there is no undue stress on the poles or stitching of the shelter.

Getting in and out of the shelter was very easy for me as I am not a large person. The tub is nice and high to prevent rain splash coming in. Also, I had no trouble sitting inside the shelter with my feet in the vestibule to take my shoes off prior to doing my measurements.

The two vents at the top are very good as it will assist with the cross ventilation.

Things I like
  • The very low weight of all of the components totaling 1 kg 86 g (2 lb 6.3 oz)
  • Interior connected to outer fly
  • Very quick setup/take down
  • External poles
  • Interior will stay dry when setting up in rain
  • Generous large size doors for easy entry/exit
  • 4 storage pockets
  • Already seam sealed
Things I do not like
  • Nothing to date

6th September, 2009

Murphy's Law came to the fore when I had my first use of the shelter.

Our long Indian Summer weather conditions (even though it is winter) broke with a vengeance and the rain decided to play catch up with the annual average which was streets ahead of actual rain fallen to date by 200 mm (7.8 in).

My camping location was Potters Gorge which is on the banks of Wellington Dam in the South West of the state. Elevation is 100 m (328 ft) and the average overnight temperature was 8 C (46 F).

From when I pitched the shelter at lunchtime before our walk (it was just spitting) and got up in the morning at 6.30 am, the area had 56 mm (2.2 in) of rain with 25 mm (1 in) falling whilst in bed. Wind was from the WNW averaging 10 knots with frequent gust during the night between 18 and 21 knots. (Source: Bureau of Meteorology).

                                                       Mirage 1P 2D

I pitched the shelter in a light drizzle and was very pleased with myself that I did not get the interior wet. The pitching only took about three minutes which included pegging it out and attaching the ShelterSaver. The next step was to untangle the guy ropes and then attach them to the shelter then stake them out. I used all 10 pegs that was supplied with the shelter.

The shelter was pegged using the 4 -10 cm (4 in) AL Ultra-C pegs for each corner and the 2 -15 cm (6 in) AL Ultra-C pegs for the fly doors. Guying the shelter I used the 4 - Y-not 14 cm (5.5 in) pegs.

                                                       gaps under the shelter

As mentioned in my Initial Report, when the shelter is pitched empty, there is a surrounding gap under the shelter and I was worried that when weight was put on the tub floor it would cause stress on the webbing or poles. I am pleased to say that I did not notice any problems at all when I inspected it in the morning.

Prior to cooking my evening meal, I started to put my sleeping gear inside the shelter from my backpack. Between items, I kept zipping up the fly as I did not want any rain to get inside and I kept snagging the zipper on the fly's zipper storm cover. Most of the time it was easy to unsnag but when I caught the zipper on the sewn on logo it took a little while to get it off. In fact, every time I operated the zipper it snagged somewhere along the storm cover because it was wet and clung to the fly.

During the night I wiped down the two ends six times to remove the thin film of condensation that formed. I was pleasantly surprised at the very fine film on the interior as my previous experience with single skinned tents is that the condensation can form into very large drops. The top surface of my sleeping bag got wet from condensation but it did not penetrate through the surface layer into the down, judging by my inspection of it.

The rain did not let up all night but it ranged from a light patter to heavy downpours at varying intervals with the wind behind it howling through the trees around me.

When the rain was very heavy I experienced a very fine mist landing on the hairs on my face which tickled and woke me. That is when I sat up and wiped down the ends. The no-see-um mesh did not develop any wet film on it during the night. The only time it got wet was when I exited the shelter and the fly door flopped up against it and the underside of the fly transferred the moisture to the mesh.

As can be seen by the above photo, the vestibule is high off the ground. I had my boots and water bottle in the vestibule and they got covered in mud from the rain splatter coming up under the bottom edge.
Needless to say also that the ShelterSaver got covered in mud from the rain splatter.

There was no leaking of rain water through the seams or fabric and the shelter stood up to the winds extremely well.

When I was dismantling the shelter, one of the pole's locking tips came out of the pole. It must have caught on the grommet when I was trying to extract the pole.

                                                       locking tip out of pole

As it was still lightly raining when I dismantled the shelter I did not bother with the wayward pole tip. I just wrapped everything in a bundle and placed the shelter, poles, ground sheet and pegs into a large plastic bag as everything was wet.

When I got home I washed everything in plain warm water to get the dirt off. Drying the poles I then tackled the problem of the pole tip. After a number of minutes I finally worked out a way to reinsert the shaft into the pole. The problem was the large knot in the shock cord that was preventing me from getting the knot and shaft into the pole together as the knot was hard up against the shaft.

In the end, I stretched the shock cord further so that the knot was well away from the shaft and then stuffed the knot by itself into the pole first then pushed the shaft home.

My next trip was back to my old stamping ground of Prickly Bark. It is located at S 31 42.800' E 115 56.981 on the Coastal Plain Walk Trail and sits at an elevation of 83 m (272 ft) as measured by my Garmin Geko 301 GPS.

I spent two nights and three days at this location.

The first night the weather was fine with the wind blowing at an average of 7 knots from ENE and swinging around to NNE. Relative Humidity averaged 70% and the overnight temperature was 11 C (52 F).

There was only a very slight film of condensation inside the shelter. I had to run my finger against the fabric to see if there was a track left which indicated the presence of condensation.

I pitched the shelter under a small tree for protection as the night sky was cloudless.

                                                       Mirage Shelter
As the ground was very spiky from the small shrubs, I also used a thicker ground sheet to protect the floor and for somewhere to rest my feet when changing my socks and footwear. I dislike getting spikes in my socks and feet.

In the morning, I rolled back and tied into place the fly doors to let the sun and breeze dry out the inside walls of the shelter.

After our mid morning walk I had a lie down inside the shelter for an hour before a late lunch. The breeze was blowing through the rolled back doors at 17 knots (source: Bureau of Meteorology) and the interesting thing was that I barely felt it as the no-see-um mesh did an effective job of blocking most of it. My head was below the mesh, protected by the SuprSil-UL fabric. The shelter was side on to the wind and the sides did buck around. Thankfully I had used the guy lines. The tent pegs held well. I only had to adjust the guy lines a bit to re-tension them.

The forecast that evening was for rain so I moved the shelter to a different spot in order to pitch a light weight silnylon tarp over the shelter to avoid heavy condensation.

I did this because I had had enough of rain when getting into and out of a tent with a wet door flapping against the no-see-um mesh and letting rain inside.

This was a one off experiment to see if the tarp made any improvement for a drier interior, entry/exit and minimal condensation.

I emptied the shelter of my sleeping gear, removed the tent pegs and lifted the shelter up and moved it to a new location where I had some anchor points for a guy line for the tarp.

It became a two person operation because the wind wanted to blow the shelter over when I let it go to peg and stake it out. My friend held onto the shelter whilst I anchored it down. The wind was still blowing at 17 knots from the NNE.

                                                       tarp over shelter

The forecast was correct and around 10 pm it started to rain steadily until 5 am. 6 mm (0.3 in) of rain fell.

The tarp did the job and kept the condensation away. In addition, it also gave me protection when I wanted to exit and enter the shelter during the night when nature called. No wet doorway flapping up against the no-see-um mesh and letting rain in.

A good night's sleep was achieved. None of my clothing laying inside the shelter or the sleeping bag felt clammy from the humidity in the air in the morning.

Tent Pegs
The tent pegs held well in both types of soil. One was a compacted clay type soil and the other was basically sand with a layer of damp humus about 2.5 cm (1 in) thick that supported small bushes and spiky ground covers.

With the sandy soil I had to ensure that I put the tent pegs in at an angle of about 50 degrees and through the roots of small ground covers to achieve the maximum surface area of the tent pegs grip in the soil.

The roots also helped anchor the tent pegs in the ground. They stopped the tent pegs being levered out in the strong winds.

Out of the three nights that I used the shelter, I experienced two nights of continuous rain, hence the tarp experiment to see if it made a difference to condensation. It did.

The one night when it was fine, considering that it was in the depths of our winter, the slight condensation proved no problem at all and I was very happy with the shelter's performance.

I really like how easy it is to set up and dismantle. I do not have to hang onto the first pole that I house. I just lay it on the ground and then house the second pole, bring them both upright and start hooking up the shelter.

Perhaps, in view of my experiment with a tarp in inclement weather, the manufacturer could consider as an optional extra, a porch.

In any future backpack, the porch then becomes an item for consideration if wet weather is predicted.

I had no further issues with the pole tip coming out of the pole.

There is no change to my "Likes" and "Dislikes".

12th November, 2009

I have used the tent during this phase a total of five nights when I did the Cape to Cape Track in late September, early October which took six days.
When the weather Gods decide to go against the norm of dry warm days and nights, they do so to cause mischief.

It rained every night and four days out of six during the day.
We received a total of 32 mm (1.25 in) of rain over this period. (Source: Bureau of Meteorology)

Average temperatures during the evenings and nights was around 8 C (46 F) and the wind from the south to south west at an average of 8 knots.

Our first camp was at the Augusta Caravan Park where I pitched the tent. It rained during the night and I had to wipe the interior down to remove the very fine condensation.
Fortunately, the wind came up as the sun came up and dried the tent. However, the groundsheet had a wet bottom.
When dismantling the tent, the pole tip came away again from the pole end. It was the first end that I took out of the grommet. I had no difficulty in replacing it back where it belonged.
I packed the tent and wet groundsheet separately into my backpack.

The second day we had a headwind from WNW blowing at 20 knots which made life difficult as we had a beach section of 8 km (5 mi) of very soft sand.

Our camp for that night was at Deepdene Campsite which is situated about half a kilometre (546 yd) inland off the beach track.
It is situated in a sheltered hollow, out of the wind.
Here I pitched the tent on a very slight slope.

To counter my sliding down, I placed my rain jacket and food sack at the foot end and these acted as a stopper for me to slide down to the foot end of the tent.

My backpack occupied one vestibule and took up all of the width space. I had a bit of trouble in doing up the zipper to close the vestibule door. I had to tug the material over my pack as it is a 90 litre (5492 cu in) pack.

In the other vestibule I used a gaiter as a door mat because rain was forecast during the night. I wanted to keep the interior as clean as possible.

It rained during the night. My pack, shoes, water bottle and rubbish bag all got dirty from the rain splatter. The rain came down that hard that sand was blasted up under the vestibule fly.

The tent did not leak but I had a nice collection of condensation.

As we rose at 5 am for an early start, I had to pack a wet tent and wet groundsheet that was decidedly very dirty. Again, the pole tip came out. It only took about a minute to get it back into place.

Thereafter, I made sure that I did not take that tip out first again and had no more problems for the rest of the trip.

The next campsite was at the Conto Campground.
Upon removing the tent from my pack, which I stored in a vertical position, I discovered that the moisture on the fabric had run down to the base of my pack and ruined my toilet roll. Thereafter, I placed the end of the tent which was inside its stuff sack, into a plastic bag for added protection to prevent water going where it is not wanted.

I set the tent up on top of a small rise to catch the breeze and dry out the tent.

                                                      Conto Campsite
                                                                                                      Conto campground
On each and every occasion that I erected the tent, I guyed it out due to the presence of wind.

In the above photo, my backpack can be seen under the vestibule. Note the fly stretching over the pack.

When it was time to pack up camp at 4 am, have breakfast and leave, I dismantled the tent in the rain, so I had a very wet tent that went into my backpack and muddy tent pegs. I had no chance of wiping the tent down.
It was a 36 km (22 mi) hike which took 11 hours, hence the early start.

The next campsite was Ellensbrook. I pitched the tent in the rain and it continued to rain on and off most of the night.
As I had pitched the tent under a tree for some protection, it turned out to be a dubious proposition.
In between showers, the branches above me kept up a steady stream of big drips. These drips would impact the fly which then caused the condensation adhering to the underside of the fly to leave the sanctity of the roof and spray over me and my gear inside the tent in the form of a very fine mist.

Needless to say that my sleeping bag surface was damp along with my face and other belongings.

This was the first time I set up an interior clothes line using the internal loops sewn to the roof line, to try and dry off some clothes and socks. Not a big success due to the antics of the condensation spraying about.

Packing up from this campsite I found that the ground sheet was extremely filthy with leaves and mud adhering to it. I wiped the tent down a number of times to dry off as much water as possible before packing it away in my backpack.
The tent pegs collected a nice selection of muck. I tried to remove as much as possible with my fingers.

My next campsite was at Moses.
I made sure that I was not under any trees. The tent dried out reasonably quickly after setting it up around 4 pm as there was a good southerly blowing and we got some of it in our relatively sheltered campsite.

                                                      getting tent dry
                                                                                                   getting tent dry

                                                     moses campsite
                                                                                                       Moses campsite

Again I used the clothes line with much better results. I managed to dry off a shirt and one pair of socks that were not as damp as the other pair. The smell was awful but after 15 minutes I got used to it.

                                                       clothes line
                                                                                                           clothes line

It rained again during the night.
I did notice a big change in temperature when I was outside the tent and inside it. It was much warmer inside the tent. It was quite noticeable. Hence the success in drying some of the clothes.
I even kept my gas canister in the tent as some of the group had difficulty in lighting theirs due to the cold mornings. They had stored theirs either outside on the table or in their backpack. I had no difficulty in lighting mine when cooking breakfast.

Clothes Line
For the first night I just threaded the Sea to Summit clothes line through the four corner loops. This was a big mistake as the long sides of the line cut across the door entries. I had to be very careful in exiting and entering the tent otherwise I got caught around the neck by the line.

The next evening I re-threaded the clothes line using the loops above the doorway. This took the line out of the way making the entry/exit of the tent trouble free.

I found that my walking clothes did dry out sufficiently to wear the next day.
Sadly, the socks did not dry out.

Ground Sheet
In the Field Report stage I clipped the ground sheet onto the elastic loop at the end of the webbing that has the grommet for the pole tip. I found the dog clip hard to press in to remove it from the elastic loop.

In this period I decided to place the big end of the dog clip over the pole tip. This worked a treat for all four corners. I did not have to try and press in the very stiff plastic/nylon arm to create a gap for the elastic loop to clear.

The elastic attached to the dog clips have enough stretch in them to enable the different method of attaching them to the tent poles.

It did a wonderful job of protecting the floor of the tent but got extremely dirty from the wet conditions.

I had to hang it up against the side of my shed at home and hose it down on both sides before giving it a good soak in a bucket of warm water to get rid of the remnants of dirt. Then I hung it on the clothes line for two days to completely dry. I wanted the elastic to be completely dry before packing it away.

Tent Pegs
I experimented with different positions for the 4 10 cm (4 in) Ultra-C pegs and the 4 Y-not pegs. The 2 15 cm (6 in) pegs were used exclusively for the door/vestibule positions as they were longer and I did not want a collapsed vestibule during the night.

I swapped the other pegs between staking out the tent and guy ropes just to see how they performed in sand/mud/dirt.

There was no difference in performance as they all held in the different types of soil. However, the 4 Y-not pegs collected the most muck when I pulled them from the wet ground.

The only thing that I had to adjust during the evening before going to sleep was the guy lines. They got slack due to rain and cool conditions.

Tent Pockets
These were fantastic.
I used all four pockets every night.
I had a routine as to what went into each pocket.
A cloth to wipe the interior of the tent, tooth brush and paste in one pocket at the foot end on the left.
A straw for my blow up pillow and a spare blow up pillow in the other pocket on the right at the foot end.
Headlamp, camera, small flask of Bourbon in the left hand head end pocket.
Medical stuff like band aids, plaster and tablets in the right hand head end pocket.

Pole Sleeve
Fortunately I did not suffer any pole damage. However, one of the group had a malfunction with his carbon pole and I had to give him my pole sleeve for running repairs which he used successfully with the aid of duct tape.
He still has it.

Tent Poles
Apart from the recalcitrant pole tip that keeps coming away from its housing, the poles behaved very well.
They bend beautifully when inserting them into the grommet holes and I do not have that apprehension of waiting for that CRACK sound heralding a split pole which I have experienced with another tent's aluminium pole.

Around the tips and a short distance up the shafts from the ground level they got very dirty from mud /sand thrown up by rain splatter.
I was able to clean them up easily before packing them away with my wipes.
I always tried to remove as much moisture as possible after dismantling the tent before packing them away inside the rolled up tent.

The shock cords still appear to be in good condition with no visible fraying.

I have not noticed any hairline fractures at the ends of the pole sections.

After a number of years of below average rainfall and drought, it was my bad timing to test a tent in the wettest drought breaking period seasons. Such is life.

Despite the rain, I did enjoy using the tent in the rain and it did handle it very well.

The moral of the test period is not to pitch the tent under a leafy tree when rain is imminent as the big drops falling from the leaves impact on the fabric that sends a shock wave to the underside causing a very fine mist of condensation to shower the face and wet the sleeping bag.

The tent is very lightweight and this did cause some problems. When I was erecting it the wind wanted to make life difficult when trying to insert pole tips as the tent was taking a topple sideways and the base was acting as a wing ready for takeoff.

I did minimize some of the difficulty by pegging out two anchor points at one end when inserting the poles into the grommets.

By and large, I can thoroughly recommend this tent. All tents get condensation. It is a fact of life so I live with it and get on with camping.

This concludes my test series of reports.

Thank you to Big Sky for making this tent available to test.

Read more reviews of Big Sky International gear
Read more gear reviews by Ralph Ditton

Reviews > Shelters > Tents > Big Sky International Mirage 1P 2D Tent > Test Report by Ralph Ditton

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