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Reviews > Shelters > Tents > Eureka Mountain Breeze Tent > Test Report by Wayne Merry

Eureka Mountain Breeze Tent

Test Series by Wayne Merry

INITIAL REPORT: 25 Mar 2008

FIELD REPORT: 10 Jun 2008

LONG-TERM REPORT: 18 Aug 2008

About Wayne, the tester:

Age: 35
Gender: Male
Height: 1.8 m (5' 10")
Weight: 90 kg (200 lb)
Email address: wayne underscore merry at yahoo dot com dot au
City, State, Country: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Backpacking Background: I started overnight backpacking six years ago. I hike in various terrains from moderate/hard track walks to some off track and rivers. I like the temperature to stay above freezing, and have not camped above the snow line during winter. I enjoy going on weekend and multi-day walks up to two weeks as well as day walks. I carry a moderate weight pack, enjoying a few creature comforts at camp. I would normally do at least 2 overnight or longer walks every three months, in addition to a number of full day length walks.
About the test environment:

I will be testing the Eureka Mountain Breeze tent in Victoria, Australia. Elevations will vary from 0 m to 1750 m (5750 feet). The test will be conducted in the autumn (fall) and winter seasons with temperatures varying from 5 C (41 F) to 30 C (86 F). Humidity varies widely during this time of year. Conditions could vary from quite wet to very dry.

I will be testing the Eureka Mountain Breeze tent on all my overnight or longer walks that I have planned during the test period.
Product Details:
Mountain Breeze image from Eureka

Photograph Courtesy of Eureka!
  • Manufacturer: Eureka (Johnson Outdoor Inc)
  • Web site: http://www.eurekatent.com
  • Year of shipping: 2008
  • Place of manufacture: unknown
  • MSRP US$319.90
Manufacturer's description:

Back to Basics.

Simply the best way to get back to nature.

GENERAL FEATURES

With our mesh walls plus ample headroom and legroom, you can sit up, lie down, or stretch out - all while being totally comfortable and with a great view. After a good night's sleep, you're well rested and roaring to go, and your friends are green with envy.

  • pole rectangular dome tent with vestibules
  • Single piece pole & DAC Sunflower Connector Hub system is constructed of DAC Featherlite NSL aluminum and is ultra simple to set up
  • Ideal for inclement weather, the full coverage fly is constructed of 40D silicone-treated polyester
  • During temperate weather, the full panel 40D nylon no-see-um mesh tent body offers exceptional ventilation inside
  • 2 side-opening doors with #5 zippers offer convenient entry and exit for both campers
  • vestibules offer protected gear storage - 12.5 sq. ft. in front; 12.5 sq. ft. in back
  • interior storage pockets keep essentials within close reach, and 4 hanging loops accommodate a flashlight or accessory attachments
  • Quality Eureka! construction includes durable 70D nylon fabric with 1500 mm coatings on bathtub floor and factory sealed seams on fly, floor, and reinforcements

Specifications for product as tested:
  • Weight
    • Manufacturer specified:
      • Min weight: 2.47 kg (5 lb 7 oz)
    • As tested:
      • Poles: 529 g (18.66 oz) plus 13 g (0.46 oz) bag for a total of 542 g (19.12 oz).
      • Pegs: 15 g (0.53 oz) each. All 15 pegs plus bag: 234 g (8.25 oz).
      • Main tent: 786 g (27.73 oz)
      • Fly: 941 g (33.19 oz)
      • Main tent, fly, 15 pegs, and all bags/stuff sacks: 2.55 kg (5 lbs 9.95 oz)
  • Dimensions
    • Manufacturer specified:
      • Poles: DAC 9 mm (0.35 in) aluminium.
      • Width: 4 ft 4 in (1.22 m)
      • Length: 7 ft (2.13 m)
      • Floor area: 30.33 sq ft (2.82 sq m)
      • Vestible area: 12.5 sq ft (1.16 sq m) x 2 vestibules.
      • Packed size: 7 in by 16 in (17.8 cm by 40.6 cm).
      • Interior height: 3 ft 4 in (102 cm)
    • As tested:
      • Interior height: 113 cm (3 ft 8.49 in)
      • Length: 200 cm (6 ft 6.74 in)
      • Width: 130 cm (4.00 ft 3.18 in)
      • Floor area: 2.6 sq m (28 sq ft)
      • Vestible width: max 80 cm (31.50 in) from inner tent, and keeps this width for 55 cm (21.65 in) length.
      • Vestible area: 0.8 sq m (8.61 sq ft) x 2 vestibules.

Initial Report: Item Receipt & First Impressions:

25 Mar 2008

Mountain Breeze with fly

I received the Eureka Mountain Breeze in excellent condition with all parts supplied. I removed the tent from the cardboard container and the retail box contained within it, and headed off that night for a camping trip. The distance was quite some way, so the photos taken for this initial review were taken with the tent set up at a car based rest area on the way to a pack carry walk. The tent is shown erected to the right / above. The light was low so the camera used its flash, resulting in the guy ropes reflecting back in the shot.

My first impressions of the tent were quite favourable. I have used tents with complex interrelated poles before, so I did not find the Mountain Breeze pole configuration unusual. Aside from the poles, the rest of the tent is what I expected expected from a double skinned tent, and inline with what I expected from the product information on the Eureka web site. The package consists of a main tent which is includes 40D nylon no-see-um mesh, 70D nylon taffeta, 1500 mm floor and a small amount of 70D nylon taffeta, uncoated for part of the ceiling. The fly consists of 40D polyester taffeta silicone-treated, 1500 mm. 15 aluminium pegs were supplied, of which 8 are needed to peg out the tent, leaving 7 for guys. 4 guy ropes were supplied, which were pre attached to both ends of the tent (see picture above). There are connections for 4 more guy ropes on the sides, but these extra connections do not support the lower part of the pole system. The instructions were easy for me to follow, as I was already familiar with this kind of setup. The instructions are described in a set by set manner.

The frame system for the Mountain Breeze consists of a single frame consisting of multi segment, multi armed poles. The fame connects to four grommet holes, one located at each corner of the tent. Two pole arms at each end lead up from these grommet holes and connect with the main arm of the frame which runs over the top of the tent at its centre. Two side arms connect with the main arm which run roughly perpendicular with the ground. These two side arms act to keep the roof of the main tent high, not only on the centreline of the tent, but off to the sides as well. A picture at the bottom of this section shows the frame system when the tent is erected. The frame system is a nice feature of the tent, and helps to keep things roomy. It will, however rule out use of this tent for me in the snow due to the big flat roof. The drip line of the vestibule door is not over the inner tent, which is another plus which is made possible by these two side arms. The vestibule roof rises to meet these side arms, meaning that the roof of the vestibule is nearly as high as the roof of the inner tent at the centre of the tent. This helps a lot when using shellite (white gas) stoves in the vestibule, as there is enough room to allow for the invariable flares that occur when using these kinds of stoves.

Mountain Breeze pole system

Shown in the picture above is the joints of the pole system and connections made by the inner tent to the pole. The connections are a mix of J style hooks and clips. The clips connect on to metal and plastic devices that also act to connect various arms of the pole system to each other. The centre of the picture shows the main arm connecting to two other arms which lead down to the grommets (one of which is pictured). In this picture, I actually had the device around the wrong way, but it did not greatly matter. The right of the picture shows a plastic device that connects the main arm with one of the side arms, as well as providing an anchor for the inner tent clip, which is shown connected correctly. The frame system is more complex to understand than a simple set of poles, however I found I quickly got the hang of it. It may have helped that I have used a frame system that is not dissimilar in another tent in the past. My only real concern is that the connections between pole segments did not appear to sit in fully due to the arm connection devices. The connection shown in the right of the picture has the blue sections of the main pole remaining around 3 mm (0.12 in) apart. This is concerning, as this may increase the chances of a pole fracture. I have had fractures even at the best of times, so I am always on the look out for this, and I always try to minimize stress on the pole when setting up or taking down a tent.

Outer door

The picture to the right shows the outer (fly) door looking in towards the inner tent. The door is offset towards one end of the vestibule, allowing two-thirds of the vestibule to be used for storage while allowing easy access to the inner tent. The second vestibule door is similar, but located on the other side of the tent. The vestibule door zips from the ground up to near the end of a side arm of the pole system which is located at the top of the picture. If the vestibule is pegged taunt, then the door zipper is easy to use. The drip line of the door is located over the vestibule ground, even if fully open. Water can only enter the inner tent if the breeze or a person brings it in. The breeze can be dealt with by using the door on the other side of the tent, but as for people, the solution for that may lay beyond any tent design. I measured the vestibule smaller than what was specified on Eureka's web site, but there is room to store two packs and enter the tent using one vestibule, and use the other vestibule for cooking.

I found that the Mountain Breeze was a little shorter than specified on the Eureka web site, but a little wider. The net effect is that the surface area of the main (inner) tent is a little smaller than expected. There is around 20 cm (7.87 in) of room left at the end of the tent after a ThermaRest is placed in the tent, flush at one end. This is a little short for my taste, and the tent would be better if another 10 cm (3.94 in) could be found. Aside from that, the tent felt quite roomy inside. The frame system raises the roof quite high for most of the surface area of the tent, creating a roomy feel. The high and broad roof is shown in the picture at the bottom of this section which shows the tent with the fly removed. It is a palace for a single person, and should meet the needs of two people quite well. Shown in the picture below is a pocket provided in the no-see-um mesh (a second is provided as well on the other side of the tent), and a vent in the fly. The mesh provides for good ventilation, and the vent in the fly may help to reduce condensation forming on the inner surface of the fly. I am looking for the tent not to keep me warm, but rather to be well ventilated so the fly is not wet each morning, leading me to carry around extra weight. I expect this tent to perform well - the field testing should reveal all.

Mountain Breeze inner tent pocket and fly vent

I will be testing this tent over the next four months, mostly in southern Australia. Australia is heading into autumn (fall) and winter. Check back in around two months for my field report, and around four months for my long term report. Thanks to Eureka and BackpackGearTest for the opportunity to test the Eureka Mountain Breeze tent.

Mountain Breeze inner tent and pole system

Field Test Report:

10 June 2008

Field Test Information and Locations:
  • Cape Howe, Victoria and New South Wales, Australia
    • A forested and open beach area with elevations from sea level up to 200 m (660 ft). Temperatures were mild: 10 C (50 F) to 25 C (77 F) with humidity low.
    • This was a four day mostly off track walk and I carried around 14 kg (30.86 lbs) total weight. This weight is a little higher than normal as I am testing this tent.
  • Northern Wilsons Prom, Victoria, Australia
    • A forested and scrubby area. Elevations were from sea level up to 100 m (330 ft). Temperatures ranged from 5 C (41 F) to 20 C (68F).
    • This was a 5 day walk mostly on track. Part of the walk was along an all weather road, some along coastal rock formations. There was rain on three nights, none during the day.
  • The total number of nights that the tent was used during the field test period was 8. It either rained or showered on 3 of these nights.

Both of my trips during the field test period were extended trips, so I headed out with larger packs than normal. All of my usage of the tent was solo, so I was enjoying a two man tent as a very large one man tent, and as a result of this, I had a lot of space. There was plenty of room to use one vestibule for a pack, and use the other as a kitchen / entry way. I took a 65 litre (3967 cu in) pack on my first trip, and a 95 litre (5797 cu in) pack on my second trip. There would be room to fit two packs in one vestibule as even my 95 litre (5797 cu in) pack uses up less than half of the space. I found that the main compartment of the tent was quite roomy. I could sit up without my head brushing up against the roof anywhere in this area, except at the two ends of the tent. The sides of the tent inner raise at nearly 90 degrees on the sides, 80 degrees at the ends, and 60 degrees from the corners leading to this high roof which creates a roomy impression. I noticed that I took up less than half of the area inside the inner area, unless I chose to spread my stuff all over the place. While I have not used the tent with another person, this is a two man tent, and I believe that it would function with a good amount of room for two. My only criticism of the inner area is that it is a little short. With a full length Therm-a-Rest flush up against one end of the tent, there is only 20 cm (7.87 in) spare at the other end. I think this is too short, and have found 30 cm (11.81 in) to be better with other tents I have used.

Mountain Breeze fly anchor point

I found setting up the tent reasonably straight forward in the field. It takes me about 3-4 min to put the tent up solo. I found I got the hang of the pole (frame) system quickly in the field, however I have used a similiar but not identical pole system in the past. The two areas of heartache in erecting the tent are that:

  1. it is easy to get the hooks facing up rather than down - notice I had one wrong in the pictures in my Initial Review - and
  2. it is fiddly to get the small elastic anchors in the fly (pictured to the right) in place.
I have found this easier to do as I have used the tent, but I have to expose much of the inner tent to do so. This is not so good when putting the tent up in the rain. I have at times not bothered to use these anchor points when there is little wind. I have found these anchors easier to use as I have got used to the tent. They bugged me far less on the 8th time I put up the tent compared to the first.

I found taking down the tent straightforward. The fly can be quickly removed once the four elastic anchor points and the four straps secured at the grommet holes at the four corners of the tent are removed. The inner is exposed to the elements for about 1-2 minutes while the pole is removed. This is the only main concern I have with tent disassembly as it creates the potential for the tent to get wet if having to take down the tent in unrelenting heavy rain. As I have not experienced this during the field testing time, I have not been able to experiment with ideas to try to minimise this problem. The rain I experienced during the test occurred while the tent was erected - the weather was fine during the time I was taking up or taking down the tent.

The Mountain Breeze has two ventilation openings in the fly. I have found that these can reduce the amount of condensation that forms on the fly, but unless the night is warm or quite windy, they do not eliminate condensation. I have not found any condensation on the inner walls of the tent in the morning. However, while taking down the tent, the moisture will end up on the inner wall due to brushing against the fly.

Bent peg

The pegs supplied with the Mountain Breeze grab the ground quite well. I used the pegs in clay and sandy soils. I even used the pegs on the beach where they were able to secure the tent in the sand. As the pegs appear to be made of aluminium, they can bend, as shown in the picture to the right. I found I needed to take a great deal of care to ensure that my pegs did not bend in firm soils. The peg that did bend was in firm soil. It did not hit a rock under the surface. I was able to straighten this peg later back home with use of a hammer.

One of the downsides of having tent walls rising on high angles is that much of the roof of the tent is near flat. I found that water drains reasonably well, but a small amount can pool. I usually gave the tent a bit of a shake to clear this to ensure that I did not have the pooled water come over me when getting out first thing in the morning. The inside of the tent has remained nicely dry in the rain that I have experienced during the field review; however I have not experienced heavy sustained rain while using the Mountain Breeze. The rain I have experienced has been light to moderate showers, and light drizzly rain for around 8 hours. Most of the water on the fly can be shaken off in the morning. The fabric still appears to soak up some moisture, and does feel to weigh more than when dry. How much more weight is gained is unknown as I do not carry scales in the field. My (rough) guess is that between 500 g and 1 kg (1.1 lbs to 2.2 lbs) is added to the weight of the tent when the fly is wet.

Sand on zipper

I have found that the fly door zips can clog up with sand when camping on the beach, and that it is hard to clear the sand off the zip line. Sand can also get caught in the Velcro material located near the end of the zip line as well. The fly doors zip lines on both sides of the tent come close to the ground. This means that it is very hard to avoid contact between the zip line and the sandy material on the surface of the ground. I found that I could not fully close the fly zip because of this problem - as shown in the nearby picture. The tent would be better if the zip lines could better shed any foreign material that happens to get stuck there.

The guy lines and a few other small bits of material on the tent are reflective of torch light. This makes the tent easy to find in the dark, and also reduces the risk of tripping over extended guy lines. It is a nice touch when tent manufacturers think to include features like these in their tents. This reflection can be seen in the first picture of my Initial Review, where the tent is shown reflecting the light from the camera flash.

In summary, my likes and dislikes of the Mountain Breeze tent are:

  • LIKES:
    • Good size tent with roomy ceilings.
    • Accessible vestibules that make the tent easy to get in and out of.
    • 2.55 kg (5 lbs 9.95 oz) overall weight.
  • DISLIKES:
    • Pegs could be stronger.
    • Inner tent would be much better if 10cm longer.
    • Fly zipper and Velcro material vulnerable to sand exposure.

This concludes my field test report. Check back in about 2 months for my long term test report. Thanks to BackpackGearTest and Eureka for the opportunity to be able to test the Eureka Mountain Breeze tent.

Long Term Report:

18 Aug 2008

Long Term Report Locations:
  • "Two Bays" Mornington Peninsula, Victoria, Australia: Forested, open fields and coastal on track two day walk with elevations from sea level up to 300 m (1000 ft). Temperatures were cool: 10 C (50 F) to 15 C (59 F) with humidity medium to high. About 5 mm (0.2 in) of rain fell overnight.
  • Beeripmo walk, Mt Cole State Forest, Victoria, Australia: An on track two day walk in a hilly forested area. Elevations were from 400 m (1330 ft) up to 950 m (3120 ft). Temperatures ranged from 0 C (32 F) to 10 C (50F). Conditions were very windy with wind gusts up to 100 km/h (62 mp/h). Rainfall was solid overnight with 15 mm (0.6 in). Some precipitation was in the form of sleet, but quickly melted on contact with the ground.
  • The total number of nights that the tent was used during the long term test period was 2.

I was able to take the Mountain Breeze out on two trips over the long term test period. While it rained on both trips, conditions were far more 'sporting' on the second of the two trips where conditions were close to stormy. The first trip I was camped on quite a grassy surface, the second was a hardened gravelly surface specifically designed for walk in camping.

The Mountain Breeze fly standing without the inner tent

The first trip night saw me wake up with steady rain falling in the morning. This was an opportunity to a) avoid getting wet during the morning routine, and b) take the Mountain Breeze down inner tent first. Part a involved me preparing breakfast in the Mountain Breeze vestibule, rather unlike my walking partner who prepared breakfast outside in the rain after he left his bivy - this state of affairs was not due to any refusal on my behalf for him to join me in the tent! I found that the high roof of the Mountain Breeze gave a good amount of room to use a liquid fuel stove including room for flaring of the flame during priming. The flame was at least 20 cm (0.7 ft) clear from the sides of the vestibule during priming.

After finishing breakfast, I took down the inner tent of the Mountain Breeze, while leaving the fly standing. The two difficulties encountered doing this were releasing the fly from the elastic anchors holding the frame and releasing the inner from the frame at the four points where it approaches the ground. I had attached the pegs to the inner tent at these four points, although the pegs can be attached to the fly instead. There was extra work to account for this, but I was able to get the inner tent down as shown in the picture above. I was then able to prepare my pack for the day's walk ahead under the fly, and take down the fly as the final step before departure. The flexibility of the Mountain Breeze to have a fly that is at least part free standing without the inner tent is a plus. The fly is not fully free standing - it still requires four pegs on the sides of the tent normally forming the two vestibules.

My second trip saw me make camp in quite poor stormy conditions. The wind was strong and the rain was hard. Normally I erect the Mountain Breeze inner tent first and then place the fly on top. Given the adverse weather conditions, this would have resulted in a very wet tent. I decided instead to erect the fly first and then put up the inner tent underneath. As the fly is not fully freestanding, I had to peg it down in at least two points. I do not have a manufacturer supplied ground sheet, so working out where the four points of the frame should go is a little guess work, and they tend to not end up exactly where they should go until the inner tent is attached. Due to the wind, I had to take care that I did not put undue stress on the frame during this procedure, and at times I thought the poles were bending more than they would normally. It is also easy to erect the frame with at least one of the metal hooks facing outwards - I did this during the Initial Review! Fixing it with the rain pelting down hard was quite an experience - but even with all of this I was successful in erecting the Mountain Breeze fly first. I believe I would get better at this given more experience.

Gap between fly and the inner bathtub

One concern that I have with the Mountain Breeze is a gap that can open up between the hemline of the fly and the 'bathtub' of the tent floor. To some degree this gap can be adjusted at one end at the expense of the other end of the tent, but that is not much good if the direction of the rain is expected to change. This gap is shown in the nearby picture, where grass can be seen looking through the no-see-um mesh. The angle of this picture does exaggerate the gap, but even looking with the eye level with the top of the bathtub, some grass can be seen outside. My experience was that wind driven rain was not able to directly enter through this gap, but some of the splash from the rain hitting the bathtub, did enter the tent. Rain splash from rain hitting the ground and deflecting up also entered the inner tent. The quantities of water coming in where not high, but the weather conditions causing this to occur did not last a great deal of time. Given my experience, I don't think that the Mountain Breeze handled this storm that well. The bathtub could do with being a little higher.

The Mountain Breeze is still in good condition at the conclusion of this test. The zips have had difficulty in shedding sand as described in my Field Report, however aside from this, everything still works as well as the day I received the tent. The fabrics are slightly soiled due to contact with the ground, but I do not think that this is a large problem. It is hard to keep a tent in mint condition when pitching it on the ground in wet and muddy conditions.

Aside from the low bathtub, I have found the Eureka Mountain Breeze a good tent. The high roof in the main tent and the vestibule is a major plus. My observations contained in the field report remain as is. My main likes and dislikes are:

  • LIKES:
    • Good size tent with roomy ceilings.
    • Accessible vestibules that make the tent easy to get in and out of.
    • 2.55 kg (5 lbs 9.95 oz) overall weight.
  • DISLIKES:
    • Bathtub is about 5 cm (2 in) too short.
    • Pegs could be stronger.
    • Inner tent would be much better if 10 cm (4 in) longer.
    • Fly zipper and Velcro material vulnerable to sand exposure.



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