June 15, 2007
the field testing stage I have used the Mesa on three nights. The first
night was a dry cold night at Shannon National Park campground, the second
night was after walking in to Woolbales campsite on the Bibbulmun Track, a
16 km (10 mi) walk, and the third night was after a short walk of about 2.5
km (1.5 mi) into the Mt Dale campsite, again on the Bibbulmun Track. On the
first two nights in the field I camped in dry but cool to cold conditions. On the
last night in the field it did rain, in the early part of the night. I
was not able to record temperatures but the average minimum temperature in
the Shannon/Woolbales area in May is 9 C (48 F). All three pitches where
done in the dry, however the first night's testing at Shannon National Park
was a night pitch. An interesting experience being my first field pitch of the
tent and in the dark! Finally, all three nights have seen solo use of the
Mesa (not as planned, but life interfered.)
All up I very
pleased with Mesa's performance to date, however I do find it takes up
some real estate in my pack and the vestibules are on the small side for
First the negatives with the Mesa. I
have two things that I dislike about the Mesa. The first is the amount
of real estate it takes up in my pack. The stuff sack for the Mesa is a long
narrow cylindrical shape, so I find I am having to pack the Mesa in a top to
bottom fashion (vertical) rather than near the top (horizontal) where I prefer (horizontally allows me to get the
tent out first and up quickly in adverse weather). So why not pack it on the outside? Well
"real" bushwalkers here down under don't pack gear on the outside,
especially when off-track walking, as gear has a tendency to snag and get
damaged. Is this a huge issue, no and it is one I can live with.
My second and more significant
concern is the vestibule size or rather lack thereof. For me and my large packs
(in the 80 litre (4900 cu in) range) I find that I am not getting enough
tent over the pack outside and that the pack takes up
exit space. Now running solo the exit space is not such an issue as I can
use the other door, but my experiments getting out the tent over the pack
suggest it could be more of an issue when sleeping two up.
The second issue with the vestibule
was the level of rain protection. I estimate the gap between the edge of the
fly and the ground when pitched is around 100 mm (4 in), which is great for
ventilation but it does allow rain in under the fly. On my last night
of testing when it rained I found the outer side of the pack got wet and
even my shoe on the other side of the tent and placed near the vestibule
edge got wet. Now I was lucky on this night and the rain whilst heavy
for a short while did ease off and so the wetness was not a big issue.
An alternative could be bringing the
pack inside the tent or using a pack cover over it, but then it sort of
defeats, as I see it, at least in part, the purpose of the vestibules.
On the subject of the rain, the
first positive is that it did not leak and even though I had left the vents
closed, condensation was not an issue. My early testing suggests the Mesa
ventilates quite well for me running solo.
This leads to my second positive.
Pitching. I found the Mesa an easy tent to pitch. I like the colour coded
connectors on the four corners which ensure I line up the fly properly with
approach is to layout the inner (I realised on the second night it has a
wide end and a narrow end, doh!), peg it out, then I work through the process of
putting in the poles. I like the poles being one complete unit. It really makes it easy to keep in all together and get it right,
particular in the dark. Not so good, mind you for getting them back in the stuff
sack. Why are some stuff sacks made so small? A little bit extra material
would make all the difference! I digress. Once I have the poles up and the
inner connected, the Mesa has its shape. I then throw the fly over, plug in
the corner connectors and finish pegging out the fly.
the Mesa is
pitched and all done well within five minutes. Pulling it down is just the reverse.
only concern is that the Mesa is an inner pitch first tent. Not so hot in wet
weather. It does look like it may be possible to pitch out first when using
the footprint. I will explore this aspect further in the long-term testing
Internally, the Mesa has a couple of
handy pockets on the side walls which I have found useful for storing my
glasses, watch, etc over night. I do however miss it not having a clothes
line inside. Clothes lines are great for hanging those wet socks etc overnight
(beats sleeping with them).
I have found the interior space very usable but again keep in mind I am
sleeping solo at present. I have not had issues with the floor being
slippery or any damage to same.
So in summary the Mesa has performed
well for me, it has not shown any signs of wear or tear or malfunction and I
look forward to continuing to test it.
Things I like about the Mesa:
Ease of pitch;
Spaciousness of the interior;
Does not leak (I have had a tent
that leaks, it ain't nice!)
No condensation issues so far.
Things I don't like about the Mesa:
Vestibules are too small in my
view. I would like to see them being able to be pegged out about 100 mm
(4 in) further from the inner;
Pole stuff sack is to small for
Packed size or rather packed
shaped when using the supplied stuff sack.
This concludes my Field Report.
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