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Reviews > Shelters > Tents > Eureka Mountain Breeze Tent > Test Report by Ralph Ditton
EUREKA MOUNTAIN BREEZE TENT
TEST SERIES BY: RALPH DITTON
INITIAL REPORT: 20th MARCH, 2008
FIELD REPORT: 4th June, 2008
LONG TERM REPORT: 7th August, 2008
Photo courtesy of Eureka
Name: Ralph Ditton
Height: 1.76 m (5 ft 9 in)
Weight: 71 kg (156 lb)
Email: rdassetts at optusnet dot com dot au
Location: Perth, Western Australia
I have been bushwalking for over eight years. My playgrounds are the Bibbulmun Track and the Coastal Plain Trail. I aim to become an end-to-end walker of the Bibbulmun Track. I am nearly there as it is 964 km (603 mi) long. Just on 200 km (124 mi) to go. 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. My shelter of choice is a tent.
Year of Manufacture: 2007
Product of: Korea, finished in China.
Colour: Light Olive Green
Sleeping capacity: 2
Number of poles: 1 frame assembly consisting of 7 poles all joined by shock cord, post and grommet
Pole: 9 mm (0.4 in) DAC Featherlight NSL Aluminium
Pole thickness: 0.6 mm (0.024 in)
Pole Tensile Strength: 68 Kg/mm˛ (97,000 PSI)
Pole Yield Strength: 60 Kg/mm˛ (85,700 PSI)
Rainfly fabric: 40 D polyester taffeta silicone-treated, Waterhead 1500 mm.
Inner fabric: 70D nylon taffeta, uncoated.
Mesh in Inner: 40 D nylon no-see-um.
Floor fabric: 70 D nylon taffeta, Waterhead 1500 mm.
Factory seamed sealed: Inner taped partially. Fly taped partially on the underside.
Zips: SC 7
Windows: Full mesh panels.
Gear Loft loops: 4
Torch loops: 2
Storage pockets: 2
MSRP: US $ 319.90
Minimum weight: 2.21 kg ( 4.86 lb)
Pole diameter: Aluminium 9 mm (0.35 in)
Floor dimensions: 2.14 m x 1.3 m (7 ft x 4 ft 4 in)
Peak height: 106 cm (42 in)
Floor area: 2.81 sq m (30.33 sq ft)
Vestibule area: Front - 1.16 sq m (12.5 sq ft). Back - 1.16 sq m (12.5 sf ft).
Packed size: 18 cm x 41 cm (7 in x 16 in)
Weight of Rainfly: 960 g (2. 12 lb)
Weight of Inner: 376 g (13.26 oz)
Weight of Aluminium poles: 338 g (11.92 oz)
Weight of stuff sack: 34 g (1.2 oz)
Weight of shelter without accessories + aluminium poles: 2.3 kg (5.1 lb).
Weight of 15 tent pegs: 230 g (8.1 oz).
Single tent peg average: 16 g (0.6 oz)
Weight of tent in my backpack with poles and the stuff sacks with tent pegs: 2.59 kg (5.71 lb).
Diameter of tent poles: Aluminium 9 mm (0.4 in)
Packed size: 18 cm x 46 cm (7 in x 18 in)
The Eureka Mountain Breeze Tent ( hereinafter known as "tent"), is a three season, two person, two doors with two vestibules tent made up with an inner and rainfly.
This makes it a double-skinned tent. In my experience moisture dispersal and removal is handled best by a double-skinned design with a large interior space.
This tent certainly has a very large interior space. I certainly was able to sit upright with plenty of space above my head. I was able to lay down without my head or feet touching the walls but I suspect that when I use a sleeping bag and my pillow, there will be some contact as the sleeping is bag is 1.98 m (6ft 6 in) long and the pillow is 260 mm (10 .2 in) wide.
Inside the inner, there are four loops for an optional gear loft and another two loops for a torch (flashlight) to hang from.
The two pockets in the diagonally opposite corners are funnel shaped. They are only meant for small items like glasses, tissues, nip of rum, medications etc. I will not be able to stow clothing in them to dry overnight.
The floor of the tent is a tub type with a generous height to prevent rain drop splashes entering the interior. It is made of 70D nylon taffeta with a waterhead of 1500 mm.
The walls of the inner are made out of no-see-um mesh with an opaque mesh panel at the top of the tent.
The rainfly is light olive green in colour and is made from 40 D polyester ripstop, silicone - treated with a waterhead of 1500 mm. It attaches to the inner by way of web grommets to the bottom of the tent pole under the tent web at each corner. Underneath the rainfly there are four tiny sewn-in pockets that capture the ends of the roof poles. I found that these were very difficult to attach and detach. I had to really stretch the fabric to get the sewn-in pockets opening over the pole tips. One end was easy but when it came to the opposite end of the pole, that is when I had difficulty trying to house the opposite pole tip.
There are two large zippered openings that have a series of hook and loop patches along the pathway.
For ventilation, there are two vents that can be kept open by a prop that has a patch of hook on its foot that marries up to a loop patch on the rainfly body. The vents are diagonally opposite each other. To close, separate the hook and loop and collapse the vent.
The tent can be guyed out and four guy lines are supplied with the tent. The guy lines are attached to the fly. Interwoven into the guy lines is a reflective thread. There are eight reflective tabs scattered around the rainfly body.
My expectations of what I might be receiving from viewing the web was slightly at odds with what I received. The difference was in the tent pole set up. Never having used a tent with frame assembly like this before, I expected the poles to be separate, but in fact they are all continuous.
With regards to the poles, the insert tube of the pole has a thinner wall than the main tube by some 15%. This weaker strength of the insert tube is strengthened by a small strengthening tube at the joining position. That is the copper coloured piece of metal that can be seen at the end. See the photo below.
The seams on the interior are factory seam sealed, however, the assembly instruction sheet has a paragraph on seam sealing and recommends that seams that will be exposed to the rain, runoff, or ground level water are a must for sealing. Looks like a job coming up very soon.
The instruction sheet, printed on both sides of an A4 size paper are very easy to understand. However, there is nothing to cover a busted pole. As an aside, there are no pole repair sleeves provided either. Having said that, a repair pole sleeve in this instance would have been useless because it would not fit into the DAC Sunflower Connector.
Initial Impressions and set up
I received the tent on Wednesday 19th March, 2008. When I removed the stuff sack containing all of the tent's bits and pieces from the cardboard box I immediately felt the weight and saw how long it was, some 46 cm (18.1 in). I immediately thought "This is one big tent and it is going to take up a lot of space in my backpack".
I removed the tent body from the stuff sack and wrapped up in the tent body was two other stuff sacks. One contained fifteen shepherds hook tent pegs and the other the tent poles. The tent pegs are made out of aluminium and appear to be sturdy. The shank measures 135 mm (5.3 in) before it starts to bend into the shepherds crook shape. They have a diameter of 6 mm (0.2 in). They would appear to be the common garden variety tent peg supplied by manufacturers with their tents. Fortunately I have sand pegs as I tend to camp in sandy areas.
Next, I removed the poles from the stuff sack and I was confronted with a tangle of poles with lots of elastic bands holding various sections together. BUT the poles were all one assembly, no separate pole sections.
I had some difficulty in trying to remove the smaller elastic bands as they would only come off one direction. I spread out the pole assembly and connected the small pole sections together making sure that they were all seated correctly. I then read the instructions to see how it and the inner went together. I put the pole tip ends in to the webbing grommets of the inner at the end furtherest away from me.
With my foot on the edge of the inner to hold it in place I began to arch the assembly and place the pole tips into the grommets. If I did not stand on the inner it would slide away from me as I tried unsuccessfully to arch the pole assembly. I got one end in and when I had nearly succeeded in getting the other end in I heard a horrendous sound and the assembly collapsed.
With my heart in my mouth I examined the pole end which had become separate from the male section. This happened at the junction of a hub pin for a roof pole. I could see no damage to the pole, so I reseated it.
Very carefully I began the process of arching the pole assembly again. This time there was no mistaking the sound. There was a metal tearing sound and the pole assembly collapsed again. This time there was definite tear along the pole. See photo. It was the main tube end that had been expanded just enough to fit snugly over the insert tube.
I then wrapped a small piece of duct tape around the split as a running repair. With great trepidation I started to arch the pole assembly. I put it together without any further mishap.
The damaged section has a flange shape at the edge which I haven't noticed on other pole sections. I wonder if this is the cause of the failure in that it would not allow the pole to be fully seated. It is hard to tell as it meets inside the plastic hub pin.
Thinking about later, I realised that this point where the fracture took place is where all of the energy of the bend is being concentrated when trying to place the pole tips into the web grommets of the inner. So, if there is a weakness in the metal, this is where it will manifest itself.
I then started to attach the tent body to the frame. I started at the centre and moved down to one end, successfully attaching the clips and web fittings over the hub pins. Then I started on the other end and came to grief when I couldn't attach the web fitting over the hum pin because I had it facing skywards.
So I had to unclip what I had done, remove the pole assembly from the end of the inner where I had the pin facing skyward, twist it around so that section faced the ground and with much dread began the arching process again to erect the pole assembly. I succeeded without any further mishap. I then attached all the relevant clips.
Next I tried to attach the rainfly to the inner. I went back and read the instructions. The roof poles had me foxed for a few minutes. I was looking for these sewn-in pockets on the underside of the rainfly. I kept overlooking these tiny black patches until finally I had a fiddle with one of them and found that it had a very tiny opening.
I was expecting a very generous sized pocket similar to what I have in another tent. As mentioned in the Product Description, the poles were very difficult to insert into the opposite pockets after the initial insert into the pocket. It required a lot of pulling to stretch the fabric to go over the ends.
Folding up of the tent poles proved challenging with the hubs causing problems for me. What I ended up with looked like I had been playing Fiddle Sticks. There were poles at all angles. There should be instructions as to the correct order of what to fold. My big worry is that I may be putting undue stress on the shock cord if I have folded the poles incorrectly.
I am taking this tent away with me over Easter to Greens Island alongside the Bibbulmun Track down near Manjimup and I will have my heart in my mouth when erecting the pole assembly.
BIBBULMUN TRACK : Sea level to 585 metres elevation (0 to 1,920 ft). Within this region I backpack along old forestry roads, sandy tracks, and purpose built walking tracks.
Daytime temperatures will range during the testing period, from a minimum -3 C to 42 C (27 F to 107 F) during March to July, 2008. Overnight temperatures on average during autumn to mid winter range from -4 C to 16 C (24 F to 61 F).
PRICKLY BARK: A campsite on the Coastal Plain Trail that is roughly 80 m (262 ft) elevation. The trail from the eastern terminus to the campsite is a sandy track that is mostly flat with a steep climb up a sand dune over the last half a kilometre (0.31 mi) to the campsite.
Daytime temperatures can range from 9 C to 45 C (48 F to 113 F) during March to July, 2008. Overnight temperatures on average during autumn to mid winter range from -5C to 11 C (23 F to 52 F).
Testing will be done over my autumn (now) to mid winter which is in July.
Snow does not occur in the areas that I hike, just heavy frost with occasional fog with low dew points causing condensation.
The areas that I hike in have kangaroo ticks, huntsmen spiders, various species of snakes and many prickly bushes that shed leaves with needle like spikes such as the Parrot Bush (Drydrandra sessilis).
A sweep of the ground before pitching my tent and laying my sleeping pad down is a must to avoid obvious puncture objects.
Other locations will present themselves with the Perth Bushwalking Club as they put out a monthly activity list and I will be participating in overnight bushwalks with them as I am now a member.
I am very apprehensive about taking this tent out to test with the damaged pole. I have duct taped the wound and it has held for two set ups. I will set out my likes and dislikes in the Field Report after I have actually used it, but so far, I am not at all impressed with the quality of the pole that fractures on the very first attempt to erect it.
This concludes my Initial Report. The Field Report will be amended to this report in approximately two months from the date of this report. Please check back then for further information.
DATE: 4th June, 2008
After the disaster at home with the split pole I went on the Easter break to Greens Island with the duct tape still on the damaged pole.
Arriving at the campsite I proceeded to spread out the inner on the ground and undid the pole assembly system making sure that the pins faced down. I inserted the pole locking tips into the grommets at one end and then proceeded to try and insert the pole locking tips into the grommets at my end. I got one tip in when the pole failed again stretching the duct tape as it was only two wraps around the pole thick.
I had great difficulty in trying to insert the duct tape and pole into the gap for the pole in the locking pin. I then proceeded to trim the pole by cutting the damaged section off and filing the end to make it nice and even. I had to really push hard to get the male section of the other pole into the female section of the damaged pole.
I then tried to erect the tent again. It was a failure.
Another split occurred and the structure collapsed. I gave up and used my standby tent for the duration of the camp.
I strongly suspect that the initial crack had propagated further than I thought or could see. To examine the extent of the damage I would have had to use a certain dye and a UV lamp which I do not possess, nor would I carry on a backpack. The other suspicion that I have is that the pole has been over tempered so that it was too hard and too brittle. In addition, in my photo in the Initial Report there is a definite flange at the end of the pole. This suggest to me that someone may have severely mangled the pole section before I received it. Given the fact that there is a tangle of poles from the hubs, this might be easy to do in a factory.
Due to the pole snapping, the manufacturer asked me to return the tent, poles and pegs to them in exchange for a new tent set. When the manufacturer was notified, they responded positively the same day and had the new tent on its way the following day.
Upon receipt of the new tent I carefully examined every pole end to see if there was any flaring of the metal. I could not see any.
With great trepidation, shaking hands and a palpable heart, I began to erect the tent. I was waiting for the awful sound of cracking metal as I flexed the pole work and tried to insert the pole tips into the last of the grommets at my end. My foot on the inner, bending down to the right to insert the third pole tip into the grommet whilst keeping the bend in the poles with the left hand, my hands were really shaking. It was at this time that I expected to hear a sickening sound. Inserted the right hand pole tip successfully and then the left. Tremors in my hand much reduced as it dawned on me that I may succeed. Succeed I did. I let out a mighty sigh of relief when all four pole tips were anchored in their respective grommets. Before hooking up the inner to the pole work I had another look over the connections of the poles to see if there was any partially seated poles or any potential problems. I found none. Then I proceeded to hook up the inner to the frame work.
The spring loaded toggle on the tent stuff sack did not work. The spring had ridden up the shaft and locked itself there leaving no spring to reach below the shaft so as to give it its springiness and tension on the draw cord. I undid the knot in the draw cord and removed it from the toggle. I then proceeded to pull the toggle apart to get at the spring. When it was apart, I used a blade between the compressed spring coils and twisted them down the shaft until the spring expanded to its normal state, partially up the shaft and partially below the shaft. I then reassembled the unit, reinserted the draw cord and it is working fine with good tension on the cord.
My next outing was on the Coastal Plain Trail for two nights and three days.
The ground was sand and I took sand pegs in lieu of the manufacturer's tent pegs which would have been useless in the sand. The manufacturer's tent pegs are solid pin pegs or another name is Shepherds Hook pegs.
Pitching the tent was agonizing as I was waiting for that awful sound of a snapped pole. What I found awkward was trying to get the first pole end closest to me into the grommet. At the far end of the inner, the pole tips are already housed. Trying to lock in the pole tip, the opposite pole tip waves to the sky. In my mind, this is putting stress on the pole at the hub closest to me as it is bending and twisting at the same time. I then inserted the last pole tip with a big sigh of relief as there was no mishap.
Putting the fly on was relatively easy until I had to insert the two roof poles into the sewn-in-pockets on the fly. The initial insertion into the pocket was easy. The difficulty was at the opposite end of the pole. After much effort I had to bend the pole slightly upwards so that I could get the end in. This was the same process to remove them also.
I used the guy lines supplied by the manufacturer and their line runners. Either I do not have the technique to operate the line runners or they are sub-standard. I got a nice tension on the line by pulling down on the line runner and let friction do its job of keeping it in place. Friction was very finicky. A puff of wind on the tent or a line got bumped and the line runner let go and I ended up with a slack guy line. In the end, I twisted the line runner around the line a few times and inverted it back through the loops to prevent them from slipping. The manufacturer really need to invest in decent line runners such as the type that are harp shaped and have gripping teeth inside one wing of the heart. They weigh just about the same.
The first night it rained. We had 9.6 mm (0.4 in). Rain did penetrate the top of the tent as the underside of the tent had big drops on it. Some even fell onto my loft that I had rigged up and my sleeping bag. In addition, rain came in through the open vents. I am not too sure where the origin of the leaks were but I suspect the seams. I have not seam sealed the top seams.
Rain water pooled at the edge of both doors which was interesting when I bumped the tent getting out. I made sure that the water had been pushed over the side before re-entering the tent as I did not want another back full of water.
Apart from the drips coming inside and through the vents, the sound of rain on the tent at night was a beautiful sound. Just a steady patter of rain hitting the fabric. Wind during the rain period ranged from 0 to 7 km/h (0 to 4.3 mph). Source: Bureau of Meteorology).
The vestibules were very spacious. I only had a little gear out there in one and nothing in the other. I had to use my gaiters as a door mat to help me in preventing the bringing of sand inside the tent. It was relatively successful. Some sand did get inside. The sand was easy enough to remove when I got home. I just unzipped one door and pulled the inner inside out through it and hung it on the line to dry.
After the rain stopped and the sun came out, drying the fly, I laid the yellow maggot (sleeping bag) on top of the tent to dry out also. It made a nice platform as can be seen in the photo below.
My last outing within the test time frame was over the Foundation Day long weekend which is on the 2nd June. This trip was two nights and three days. Upon arrival at the location in the bush where we decided to camp, we quickly erected the big tarp and then our tents as it was starting to rain. I must admit that on this occasion, I was not at all hesitant in flexing the poles as I wanted to get the tent up as fast as possible before the inner got too wet. When I put the third pole tip into its grommet I did momentarily cast an eye to the hub where the previous pole broke just to check and make sure that nothing was amiss because there was thunder and lightening going on around me. The inner went up fairly quickly. Then I threw the fly over it and started to hook it into position. I am still having great difficulty in inserting the roof pole tips into the little sewn-in pockets on the fly. In addition, I was trying to achieve this as the rain got heavier.
After much grunting and tugging, I got them inserted. As an aside, I had the problem of removing the roof pole tips when dismantling the tent due to the lack of play in the fabric.
I then pegged and guyed the tent out. I did not bother in trying to use the guy line runner in the proper fashion. I just inserted the tent pegs at the full extension of the guy lines so that the line and guy line runner formed a loop right at the end. I was not interested in getting in and out of the rain to keep re-tensioning the guy lines. I then retreated under the shelter of the tarp where the others in our party were gathering and I took this photo of the tent in the rain.
During lulls in the downpour I placed my sleeping gear inside the tent.
When I went to bed around 9 pm it was fine weather. The rain had not penetrated inside the tent and my clothing, sleeping bag and mattress was dry. Also there was no condensation on the inside but some on the outside. However, this changed by the time morning came after it rained further during the night and with my breathing whilst sleeping. Condensation did form on all of the fly inside surfaces. What did not help also was the heavy fog around the campsite.
The rest of the camping holiday had fine weather with the exception of fog the following morning. Condensation again formed on the interior of the fly. This caused no problem as nothing dripped onto my sleeping bag. In fact, no rain came inside the tent through the vents and I had the doors closed up. As this was a car based camp I placed the dismantled tent into large plastic bags as they were dripping wet from the condensation and water under the floor from the rain.
When I got home I washed them in warm water only to remove the dirt that had collected on the fabric and grommets where the poles were inserted. I also noticed an interesting thing on the supplied tent pegs. They had a mottled appearance like that seen on galvanized sheets. I put this down to the soil that they were in. I was in Wandoo tree country and the Wandoo tree does something to the soil to keep competitors out but lets little bushes grow as seen in the above photo.
Altogether over this Field Report stage I used the tent over four nights. I had planned to use the tent for four more nights at Greens Island but was unable to when the pole broke again after my attempted repairs.
So far the only grizzle that I have with the tent is the difficulty in housing the roof poles into the little sewn-in pockets.
Things I like
LONG TERM REPORT
DATE: 7th August, 2008
Field Locations and Conditions
I spent three nights and four days at the Prickly Bark campsite on the Coastal Plain Trail which sits at 60 m (197 ft). The soil is very sandy. Overnight temperatures over the three nights ranged from a low of 0.3 C to a high of 10.8 C (32.5 F to 51.5 F). (Source. Bureau of Meteorology). On the last night, rain fell for a short time and 2 mm (0.08 in) was recorded.
As I had been to this location on many occasions, I knew that the supplied tent pegs would be useless in the very loose sand so I used my own sand pegs which are 18.5 cm (7.3 in) long. These pegs gave me a good purchase in the sand.
I had a lot of help this time when I started to erect the tent. I had two twelve year olds who wanted to help. So as not to disappoint, I had one of them place, then hold the tent pole arrangement in the grommets at the opposite end to me whilst the other child held one pole tip end of the structure at my end whilst I placed my pole tip into its grommet housing. The youngster then likewise did the same to the pole tip she was holding. Many hands made light work of setting the inner up. However, I still had some difficulty with the fly when I was trying to complete the insertion of the roof pole tips into the tiny sewn-in pockets. I also again experienced the same degree of difficulty when dismantling the tent at this location. Perhaps a hook and loop system would be better with a little cup shape at the end to prevent the end of the pole from sliding through.
The tent performed very well over the three nights and I did not experience any condensation dripping through the mesh of the inner during my first night. Condensation did form on the outside of the fly but as the photo shows, it was just a light covering. The Dew Point was close to the temperature on my first night, but at midnight it was 0.8 C (33.4 F) and the temperature was 0.3 C (32.5 F). Hence the condensation. I did not experience any condensation on the other two nights.
The reflective tapes on the tent and the reflective guy lines worked very well. They made it very easy for me and the other members of the group not to go tripping over my guylines, or blunder into my tent because it was pitched near the water tank.
I took a photo of how it looked under headlamp illumination.
The tent has stood up to the rigours of our bush without any damage to the material from either the weather or vegetation. All of the seams are still intact and no loose threads are visible.
Over the test period I only used the tent for seven nights. However, I did plan on eleven nights but the temporarily repaired pole with duct tape failed, so I had to forgo four nights with this tent and use a substitute.
The manufacturer was very helpful in replacing the tent. All I had to do was cover the cost of postage for the tent that I sent back with the broken pole.
What I loved about the tent was the very ample interior space. I could sit up without bumping my head on the roof. The walls were steep so I did not feel claustrophobic when laying down. I could spread my gear about on the floor of the tent and I even used a gear loft from one of my other tents so that I could store my headlamp and change of underwear up there.
One negative aspect of the tent is its weight and compression size. Weight reduction could be achieved using silnylon for the fly and greater use of no-see-um mesh for the interior. The roof panels do not have to be of a solid material. There is not much that can be done about the rolled height due to the length of the folded down pole sections.
As far as erecting the tent, it took me a little while to get used to the poles feeding into the DAC Sunflower Connector Hub system which ended up looking like a TV aerial as I had never seen this set up before. Also, before I started to bend the pole assembly, it was a case of checking, checking again and more checking to make sure that all of the pole sections were seated correctly. I did not want to give the pole arrangement any leeway that might encourage the possibility of a split pole. Not the best sound to hear.
When folding up the pole structure, I tried various arrangements until I found the most practical method that would accept rubber bands to hold various sections together so that when I undid the arrangement I had no difficulty in removing the rubber bands. In my earlier efforts, I put some rubber bands on too soon on sections that I had folded over. Then I overlaid them with another folded up pole section that unfolded in the opposite direction to the previous pole sections. This made it very difficult to unfold the poles when I wanted to set the tent up. I was trying to take the rubber bands off and all I was doing was getting caught at the connector hub with nowhere to go. One of those little bug bears.
I did not notice any stretching of the fabric when it got wet from rain. It only sagged a tad when water pooled above the door way entrances as seen in the photo in the Field Report section above.
The zippers never gave any trouble and continue to work smoothly along the tracks.
On every occasion the tent cleaned up very well when I got home and gave it a bath in straight luke warm water. I always clean up my tent after an outing so that it is stored away dry and clean.
The "Likes" and "Dislikes still remain the same as mentioned in the Field Report section.
This report concludes the series of reports and I thank Eureka for making this tent available for testing.
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