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Reviews > Shelters > Tents > Eureka Tessel 2 Tent > Test Report by Ryan Lane Christensen

Eureka

courtesy of eurekatent.com

Eureka!

Tessel 2
Two Person Tent

Test Series by
Ryan Christensen

Last Update - August 24, 2010

w/fly w/out fly
[ images courtesy of http://www.eurekatent.com ]

ACCESS MAIN REPORT SECTIONS VIA THESE LINKS:

INITIAL REPORT
April 15, 2010

FIELD REPORT
June 10, 2010

LONG-TERM REPORT
August 24, 2010

INITIAL REPORT
April 15, 2010

Reviewer Information

Backpacking Background

Name:  Ryan L. Christensen
Age:  45
Gender:  Male
Height:  6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Weight:  235 lb (107 kg)
Email:  bigdawgryan(at)yahoo(dot)com
City, State, Country:   Idaho Falls, Idaho USA

I began backpacking at twelve, continuing until 25. After an extended hiatus, due in part to a bad back, I resumed cycling, hiking, and backpacking several years ago. I also began snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. I share my love for backpacking and these other sports with my children. I am a midweight backpacker, but carry a full array of necessary gear.
 

Product Information:

The information listed below taken from both
Eureka! product packaging and website.

Eureka! Tessel 2 -- A 2-Person Tent
Manufacturer: Eureka! (a Johnson Outdoors Gear LLC brand)
Manufacturer website: http://www.eurekatent.com/
Place of Manufacture:

China

Year Manufactured: 2009
Type: 3-season, modified dome
Capacity: 2 people
Pack Size: 5 x 26 in (13 x 66 cm)
Minimum Weight:
[tent, fly and poles]
5 lb 13 oz (2.64 kg)
Floor Size: 7 ft x 4 ft 2 in; or 29.17 ft2
(2.13 m x 1.27 m; or 2.71 m2)

Interior Height (center): 3 ft 6 in (1.1 m)
Number of Vestibules: 2

Vestibule Area:

Front: 14 ft2 (1.3 m2)
Back: 14 ft2 (1.3 m2)
Number of Doors: 2 (with hi/low venting)
Number of Windows: 2
Number of Vents:

2 (plus mesh roof)

Frame: shockcorded 9mm & 11mm DAC PressFit™ aluminum
Number of Stakes: 10
Material (wall fabric): 68D 190T polyester ripstop
Material (floor fabric): 75D 190T polyester taffeta, 2000 mm coated
Material (fly fabric): 68D 190T polyester ripstop, 2000 mm
Material (mesh fabric): 20D nylon no-see-um
Setup: post and grommet
Available Accessories: Gear Loft
A-Frame style Lite-Set Footprint
Warranty:
Limited Lifetime Warranty

Guaranteed against defects in materials and workmanship for the life of the tent to the original purchaser.

Eureka! shall not be responsible for the natural breakdown of materials that occurs inevitably with extended use (e.g. UV light damage, exhausted zippers), or defects caused by accident, abuse, alteration, animal attack, storm damage, misuse, or improper care.

MSRP: $309.90 US

Tester's Actual Measurements
Weight (complete):
[everything inside stuff sack]
6 lb 7 oz (2.92 kg)

Tent Weight:

2 lb 3.1 oz (995 g)

Fly Weight:

2 lb 3.8 oz (1015 g)

Frame Weight:

1 lb 7.7 oz (672 g) [box-style frame]

Stake Weight:

5.4 oz (153 g) [ten stakes]

Carry Sack Weight:

1.4 oz (37 g)

Frame Stuff Sack Weight:

0.7 oz (20 g)

Stake Stuff Sack Weight:

0.3 oz (9 g)
Minimum Weight: [tent, fly, frame]

5 lb 14.6 oz (2.73 kg)
[1.6 oz (45 g) more than advertised minimum weight]
Inside Length: 7 ft (2.13 m)
Inside Width: 4 ft 2 in (1.27 m)
Inside Height (center): 3 ft 6 in (1.1 m)
Packed Size: 5 x 26 in (13 x 66 cm)

Product Description:

The Tessel 2 is a double-wall, freestanding, modified dome tent that sleeps two. This 3-season tent is one of eleven two-person tents in Eureka!'s Backcounty Tent line. The Tessel 2 has Eureka!'s Storm® Shield: Dry, Tough, Fast. The "Dry" features include: windows, vents, and breathable fabrics to minimize condensation; bathtub floors to keep water out; and factory taping of major seams. The "Tough" features include: quality fabrics reinforced in high stress areas; and durable guyouts to hold during the most inclement weather. Storm Shield's "Fast" features include: shockcorded poles for easy and quick assembly; and nickel sliders on self-healing zippers to keep doors and windows working fast.

Eureka! claims its rectangular shape and box-style frame design "not only provides strength and stability, but also generous internal volume and livability within a small footprint." The frame provides a center height of 3 ft 6 in (1.1 m). However, this tent has a flatter roof than that of a conventional dome tent. Additionally, this tent has no support in the center of the roof. I am therefore very interested in seeing how well this roof sheds moisture.

Light and tough poles are essential to high-performance backpacking tents. The Dongah Aluminum Corporation (DAC) Pressfit™ poles and molded plastic hubs which create the box-style frame are "high performance" tent poles. These poles are lightweight, easy to assemble, and appear to be tough. In addition, they are "greener" than other aluminum tent poles because DAC uses brushes, rather than toxic chemicals, to clean them during manufacturing. The shockcorded frame fits into the grommet in the 5 in (12.7 cm) long webbing extending from each corner. In addition to a grommet, there is a loop in the end of the webbing in which to place a stake. There is also a female-end of a snap buckle to secure the fly to each corner. Attached to webbing in each corner of the fly is the male-end of the snap buckle. With the webbing, it is possible to adjust the fit of the fly.

The tent body is dark brown with lighter tan accents. The tent walls are made of a breathable 68D 190T polyester ripstop. The bathtub-style floor is 75D 190T polyester taffeta with a 2000 mm waterproof coating. The roof of the tent body is made of gray 20D no-see-um mesh. Inside, there are six gear pockets, two flashlight loops, and two loops for a gear loft (sold separately). On each of the long sides of the tent body there is a ! in red. The fly is a burnt orange, with tan accents. The fly material is 68D 190T polyester ripstop with a 2000 mm coating. All major seams are factory taped.

The Tessel 2 has two good-sized, side-opening doors: one on each of its long sides. The doors include zippered windows, made of no-see-um mesh, to allow one to look outside the tent, without allowing the bugs inside. The windows also include zippered window covers, made from the same material as the tent walls, to keep weather outside. The twin-track door zippers allow hi/low venting. There is a full-coverage fly to provide protection from water and wind. There are two zippers in the fly at each doorway. Therefore, the fly can be used to create awnings (with trekking poles) or can be staked out to create a vestibule on each side. At the bottom of each of the zippers is a hook and loop closure. There are two vents in the fly; one in each of the short sides. These are large vents, nearly 28 in (71 cm) along the bottom of the opening. These vents are intended to enhance ventilation inside the tent. The fly includes a cover for each vent. On each of the short sides of the rain fly, near the top, there is a loop made of webbing. This is the attachment point for a guyline. There are two guylines, at the corners near the frame, on the tents short sides. There is an additional guyline in the center of each short side at the bottom of the fly for a total of eight guylines. There are additional hook-and-loop attachment points on the top of the tent body for securing the fly, and closures along the vestibule door zipper covers in the fly. On the left side of each of the long sides of the fly, near the bottom, Eureka! Tessel 2 is written in black.

The box the tent came in has information in English, Spanish, and French. However, the assembly instructions are only in English. The step-by-step instructions and associated photos are easy to understand and follow. The reverse side of the instructions contains a warning to keep all flame and heat sources away from the tent fabric. There is also a warning to avoid using devices that burn fuel inside the tent. Additionally, warranty, general use, and care instructions are included. I have to admit, I learned a couple of things from reading these items. The main thing I learned was that dropping the tent or pole bags on their ends may cut the shockcords. I'll not be dropping the pole bag on its ends. I have listed some of the care and cleaning instructions below.

GENERAL POLE CARE:

  • Never let tent poles snap together as this can damage pole end
  • Do not drop tent or pole bags on their ends and do not bounce a tent bag on its end to get them out. These actions may cut the shockcord and damage pole ends
  • The aluminum frame may bend slightly and take a "set" through usage; this normally does not affect the performance.

GENERAL TENT CARE:

  • Sweep the tent floor daily to prevent damage from stones.
  • Try no to wear shoes inside tent.
  • Use a ground cloth whenever possible.
  • Do not keep food inside a tent. Hungry critters will chew through tent fabric in search of food.

STORAGE:

  • Make sure tent is completely dry, then store loosely rolled in a dry, cool, place.
  • To prevent dust from collecting on tent, cover with a cloth. This allows the nylon/polyester fabric to breathe.
  • Ideally, tent poles should be stored in their fully assembled state. This reduces tension on shockcord.
  • Tent bag should be used only as a carry sack and not for storage.

CLEANING:

  • Wipe down with a mild soap (liquid hand soap) and lukewarm water solution.
  • Rinse thoroughly.
  • Dry completely.
  • Never use detergent, washing machines or dryers.
  • Be sure tent is completely dry, especially heavier, double-stitched areas before storing.
  • Clean poles with a cloth and lubricate with silicone spray; especially after ocean-side camping.
  • Clean zippers with a quick dip in water and dry off; especially after camping in sand/dirt.

The optional Lite-set Footprint (sold separately) used with the fly and frame, provides a lightweight and compact shelter and reduces carry weight by more than 25% according to Eureka!.

Initial Impression:

as receivedI pulled the carry sack from the box and proceeded to pull the items from the carry sack. Nearly everything was as I expected. The box contained the following as shown in the photo on the right:

  • 1 Tent Body
  • 1 Tent Fly
  • 4 Piece DAC Aluminum Frame
  • 1 Pole Repair Splice
  • 8 Guylines with Sliders
  • 10 Stakes
  • 1 Pole Sack
  • 1 Stake Sack
  • 1 Carry Sack with Carry Strap

I was somewhat impressed with the stakes included with the Tessel 2. They are larger in diameter and appear stouter than the stakes included with other Eureka! tents I own. I hope these stakes will not bend easily when driven into hard or rocky ground. Testing in the field confirm whether these stakes are more robust than those of my other Eureka! tents. If they do bend with use, will I be able to bend them back into reasonable shape in the field?

Inside the tent, the walls are steep, providing great head room. However, with a width of 4 ft 2 in (1.27 m), I am interested in seeing how comfortably two full-sized adults can sleep in the Tessel 2. My initial take is that it will be rather cozy.

As far as features are concerned, I really like the two, good-sized, side-opening doors with mesh windows. I also really like the large vents. The six gear pockets also very nice. In addition, the vestibules are a great feature; providing a weather-protected area to store gear, without compromising sleeping space and comfort.

Initial Testing:

My initial testing included removing the tent, fly, poles, stakes, and guylines from their respective stuff sacks and inspecting them. I found everything to be in order. There were no loose or substantially uneven seams, and the zippers all worked fine. The Tessel 2 appeared to be of high quality materials and sound workmanship. Next, I proceeded to the post office to weigh the tent. My tested minimum weight of 5 lb 14.6 oz (2.73 kg) is a mere 1.6 oz (45 g) heavier than Eureka!'s advertised minimum weight. To me, this minimal overage is inconsequential, especially since I nearly always carry the stakes on multi-day backpacking trips.

Next, because of its box-style frame, I read the instructions before attempting to set up the tent. Following the prescribed setup sequence, I first laid the tent body out. Next, my 14-yr old son and I assembled the frame on the ground and inserted each of the four frame ends into a grommet. We attached the tent body to the frame using the pole clips and hub clips. We then placed the fly on top of the tent body, and fastened each of the buckles. However, we did not attach the fly's hook and loop fasteners to the poles. Nor did we stake out the tent body, vestibules, or guylines. I'll save those steps until I get it out in the backcountry.

This initial setup took a little longer than what I anticipate subsequent setups will take. It will be interesting to see how easily I can pitch this tent by myself. I certainly hope I can pitch it without too much hassle by myself. However, it may be a bit challenging based on the initial experience.

Initial Likes:

Initial Dislikes:

  • Double Doors
  • Head Room
  • Large Vents
  • Stouter Stakes Than Came with My Other Eureka! Tent
  • Tent Width Might Be an Issue For Two Full-Sized Adults

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FIELD REPORT
June 10, 2010

Summary:

I slept in the tent three nights during this phase of the test series. Thus far, I am happy with how the tent has performed.

Likes Thus Far Dislikes Thus Far
  • Double Doors
  • Head Room
  • Large Vents
  • Stouter Stakes Than Came With My Other Eureka! Tent
  • Bent The First Stake I Used

Field Locations and Test Conditions:

During this phase of the test, I slept in the tent three nights. Two nights were on Boy Scouts of America (BSA) overnight outings in Blackfoot, Idaho. Blackfoot has an elevation of 4,498 ft (1,371 m) above sea level. The first Blackfoot outing was our local BSA council Jamboral--celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America. The sky was overcast, winds calm, and the overnight low temperature was 18 F (-8 C). The second Blackfoot outing was for a BSA National Youth Leadership Training staff meeting. Skies were partly cloudy and the overnight low temperature was 29 F (-2 C).

slush The third overnighter was a father-son campout on Lookout Mountain, located in Kelly Canyon approximately 36 mi (58 km) east of Idaho Falls, Idaho. The elevation was approximately 6,600 ft (2,012 m). This site provided a scenic view of the South Fork of the Snake River below. The overnight low temperature in nearby Idaho Falls was 35 F (2 C) that night. However, I estimate the low where we were camped was at least 10 degrees colder or approximately 25 F (-4 C). The sky was cloudy; it rained/snowed most of the night. In fact, there was slush on my tent early the next morning (as shown in photo on right).

Observations:

In early May, I used the tent for the first time at our BSA council's Jamboral. Set up was surprisingly quick and easy by my self. Similar to when I set the tent up initially, I laid the tent body on the ground, put the box frame together and attached the body to the frame. Then, I attached the rain fly. Once the tent was fully pitched, I staked it down. Unfortunately, I bent the first stake I pushed into the ground with my hand. The area where we camped was an overflow parking lot; hard-packed dirt and weeds. I was disappointed the stake bent so easily. I had hopes these stouter-looking stakes would be stronger than those in the other Eureka! tent I own. It was cold that night and there were no winds. On both of my Blackfoot outings, I slept on a self-inflating pad, by myself in the tent. On both nights, I observed that this tent is on the narrower side, and having another adult in the tent could be slightly cramped. There were no issues with condensation.

inside_1 inside_2

On Lookout Mountain in mid-May, my seventeen year old son and I slept in the tent. Our bags extended wall-to-wall without any space between them. He was on a self-inflating mattress; I was on a high-tech, inflatable air mattress (shown in the photo above left). It rained hard most of the night and even snowed sometime between the time I retired and when I awoke shortly after 5:30 a.m. I estimate the temperature was approximately 25 F (-4 C) based on the 35 F (2 C) in Idaho Falls that night. The Tessel 2 did a great job keeping us dry. There were no leaky seams in the floor, walls or fly. The water beaded up and shed nicely off the fly; no puddling on the semi-flat roof. The Tessel also shed the snow as shown in the single photo above right. And, in spite of us both occasionally rubbing against the walls during the night, our bags were dry. I left my pack and boots in the vestibule. They were dry except for the surface that rested on the ground (although we were on a grassy area, water made its way under the vestibule cover).

condensation With the heavy rains, cold temperature, and two of us in the tent, I was pleasantly surprised when I awoke to see there was no condensation on the walls. The large vent in each end and the mesh top seemed to provide sufficient ventilation to prevent moisture buildup. After eating breakfast I began to take down the tent. As I removed the fly I found the entire underside covered with condensation. Likewise, the mesh top was quite wet with condensation (as shown in the photo on the right). As wet as the underside of the fly was, it was amazing the moisture had not dripped onto our bags. I was very pleased with the overall performance of the tent on this outing. Through the balance of the test series, I will pay close attention to the ventilation to determine whether there are condensation issues. We put the tent away wet, but as soon as we arrived home, we pulled it from its bag and laid the tent and fly out on the basement floor. I checked the next morning and they were both completely dry.

Although the Tessel 2 has performed well thus far, I have two minor peeves in addition to my displeasure with the first stake I drove which bent without much force. The first of my two minor irritants is the fact that the vestibule zipper can be somewhat difficult to open. The hook and loop closure used to secure the weather flap over the zipper regularly engages as I zipped. The second truly minor issue is the fact that I wish the storage sack drawstring had a cord lock. When I removed the tent from my suburban after my second Blackfoot outing I accidently turned the bag upside down and the poles easily fell out. I believe a cord lock would have held the contents securely in place.

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LONG TERM REPORT
August 24, 2010

Summary:

During the final phase of the test, I slept in the tent an additional five nights for a total of eight during the test series. I am happy with how the tent performed.

Likes Dislikes
  • Double Doors
  • Head Room
  • Large Vents
  • Stouter Stakes Than Came With My Other Eureka! Tent
  • Bent The First Stake I Used
  • Narrow Width

Field Locations and Test Conditions:

A week-long Boy Scouts of America (BSA) Venturing High Adventure consisting of backpacking/hiking/fishing in the Popo Agie Wilderness in the Shoshone National Forest on the east side of the continental divide in the Wind River Range of Wyoming. At 8,840 ft (2,694 m) above sea level, the Worthen Meadows trailhead is approximately 13 mi (21 km) from Lander, Wyoming. Over the course of the week, we covered approximately 50 mi (80 km), with trail elevations up to 11,000 ft (2,694 m) above sea level. Temperatures ranged from highs in the low 90's F (32 - 35 C) to lows in the upper 40's F (4 - 7 C). Skies wear clear to partly cloudy with rain sprinkles a couple of times. I carried a 50 lb (23 kg) pack at the start of the trip and slept in the tent.

Observations:

We only had rain one of the five nights in the Wind River Range and it was a short, light rain. The rain was of no consequence. In addition, I did not notice any condensation to speak of inside the tent--probably because we slept with the door flaps open.

The tent has performed well. Setup is not nearly as difficult as I initially imagined it to be. The tent repels moisture well. Additionally, with the vents and large mesh doors, the tent breathes well too. The large vestibules are great for storing gear. The fine-gauge mesh in the doors did a great job of keeping the hordes of mosquitoes and biting flies out of the tent.

Although performance has been good throughout the test series, after my extended stay in it, I have an issue with the Tessel 2. This is in addition to the two minor peeves I mentioned previously. For me, even though there is good head room, the tent is too narrow for two full-sized individuals for a multi-day trip. This particular tent is 10 in (25 cm) narrower than a previous Eureka! tent I tested for BGT. However, it is only about 5 oz (142 g) lighter than that previous tent. Personally, for the additional 5 oz (142 g), I prefer the additional room. With two full-sized guys in the tent, it is a little too cozy for my liking.

The tent shows no signs of wear, no loose seams, no fraying material, no punctures in the floor, and the zippers continue to work smoothly. As mentioned in my Field Report, I bent the first stake I pushed into the ground. I have been careful with them since that initial outing, but slightly bent another of the stakes. Maybe the 6.25 in (16 cm) DAC aluminum stakes, which Eureka! offers as an optional accessory, would perform better than the stakes included with the Tessel 2.

Overall, the tent has performed quite well. I like the tent, and will use it in the future. However, due to its narrow width, my use will be either by myself, or with one of my sons.

This concludes my Long Term Report on the Tessel 2 tent.
Thanks to Eureka! and BackpackGearTest for allowing me to participate in this test series.

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