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Reviews > Shelters > Tents > GoLite Xanadu Tent > Test Report by Kathryn Doiron

GoLite Xanadu 2+ tent

Test series by Kathryn Doiron
Initial Report: Feb 18 2008

Field Report: Apr 29 2008

Long Term Report: Jul 1 2008

Image of Xanadu tent
From GoLite website

Personal Information:
Name: Kathryn Doiron
Age: 31
Gender: Female
Height: 5' 8" (1.7 m)
Weight: 150 lb (68 kg)
Email: kdoiron 'at' gmail 'dot' com
Location: Washington DC, USA

Brief Background: I started backpacking and hiking seriously almost four years ago. Most of my miles have been logged in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. I have recently finished 1200+ miles (2000+ km) of the Appalachian Trail. My style is to be as light as possible while not spending a fortune. My pack weight tends to hover around 25 lbs (11 kg) with two days of food and 16 oz (0.5 L) of water. I have recently started getting into winter hiking, snowshoeing and kayaking.

Product Information:

Manufacturer: GoLite
MSRP: US $450
Material: "EPIC Silicone encapsulated ripstop polyester, SilLite silicone-impregnated ripstop nylon, No-See-Um mesh, PU-coated 3000mm nylon floor" - From tent hang tag

Feature Manufacturer Listed Value As Measured
Shelter Weight 3 lbs 4 oz (1470 g) 3 lbs 3 oz (1440 g)
Pole Weight 14 oz (400 g) 1 pole: 6.5 oz (184 g)
2 poles: 13 oz (368 g)
Stuff sack: 0.2 oz (6.8 g)
Stake Weight 4 oz (110 g) (Note: this is all stakes) 1 stake: 0.5 oz (14.6 g)
8 stakes: 4.1 oz (116.8 g)
Stuff sack: 0.14 oz (4 g)
Total Weight 4 lbs 6 oz (1980 g) 4 lbs 7 oz (2013.6 g)

Initial Report:
February 18th 2008

The Xanadu 2+ tent is geared as a fully featured 4-season shelter. It is billed as a 2-3 person tent, ultralight and highly breathable. The tent is bamboo and smoke coloured. Meaning pale yellow-green, with grey vestibules. The top fabric is very thin and is SilLite. The vestibule fabric is a little thicker but feels the same. Both the top body material and the vestibule material are very slippery to the touch. The floor of the tent is much thicker than both the body and the vestibule material. When I opened the tent up for assembly the first time, I found a sleeve with two poles, a small sleeve with 8 Y pegs and the tent. I spread out the tent on the floor and unrolled it looking for the rain fly. I didn't find it. I unfolded the tent completely and thought, 'well isn't that nice, they folded the fly up with the tent'. That thought quickly died when I tried to lift off the fly. This tent does not have a fly. Actually the whole tent is the fly. I discovered this when I tried to figure out how to assemble the tent. After trying to lift off the vestibules, to no avail, and find a place to stick the poles, I finally read the directions. And oddly enough, the tent poles need to be inserted inside the tent. Good thing GoLite left the screen doors partially unzipped. The poles need to be inserted into the tent diagonally and inserted into grommets located in each corner. I didn't get the poles into the grommets on the first try but I did get the tent assembled and standing.

Grommet slot for pole placement Internal hook and loop tab holding pole in place

There are hook and loop tabs on the interior of the tent to hold the poles in place and a larger tab at the apex of the tent for the two crossed poles. The peg loops on the exterior of the tent are located at each corner, on both flaps of the vestibule and at the center of the non-vestibule sides. They look like webbing loops folded and sewn in half for extra strength. There are also peg loops at the bottom of the zipper of the vestibule. The non-vestibule sides of the tent have loops for extra guylines, the loops have a reflective strip down the middle. The guylines that stake out the air vents have reflective material woven into it and again the guyline loop has a reflective strip. The air vents are mesh underneath.

Larger center loop holding crossed poles in place Peg loop located at the bottom of the vestibule

The care and instruction sheet that was provided with the tent said no seam sealing was needed. The seams have been sewn with self-sealing thread, meaning the thread expands when wet and seals the seam. The instructions further mention that should seam sealing be desired, to use a silicone-based sealant. Although I have never heard this suggestion before, GoLite recommends breaking down the poles from the middle to help preserve the shock cording. The washing instructions are simple. Either hose off the tent or wipe with a damp towel.

I have never seen a tent before with the poles hidden on the inside. This is very unique for me and I am curious how this helps improve the stability of the tent under inclement weather. The tent is, in essence, a single wall shelter with two vestibules and large mesh doors. The vestibules zip straight down the middle and can be rolled out of the way. The large mesh door zips open in a big half circle from corner to apex to corner. The mesh door can be rolled up and tucked out of the way. I saw four interior pockets, two on each end of the tent. Upon closer inspection I noticed that the pockets are actually double pockets. You can either access the pocket from the top or from the side. Each leads to its own pocket so small items can be organized. The tent does not have any loops or hooks for an attic attachment which might have interfered with pole insertion.

The tie back for the vestibule Pocket location with respect to the pole

After reading the provided instructions, I had little trouble assembling the tent. I had a little trouble getting the second pole in place. One immediate concern I have that I will watch for over time, is pole insertion difficulties. I noticed that while the first pole was relatively easy to insert, the second pole was more difficult and I found my self pulling on the tent corner to wrestle the pole in place. With the mesh door between where I want the pole and where the pole is, I fear the pole might let loose and fly through the mesh either when trying to insert the pole or when trying to disassemble the tent. As I was unable to stake the tent out indoors, I hope that staking the tent first will alleviate this concern.

Vent tie back and tie

The tent looks to be very spacious with ample head room. With the vestibule and mesh door rolled out of the way, the door opening was quite large and was easy to move in and out of the tent from. The tent looks to be well made and well designed. I will be looking into how well the corner pockets hold up to having poles shoved into them over time. The tent only has three components; poles, pegs, and tent body. On a backpacking trip with shared equipment, it will be difficult to share the weight of the tent.

My test plan over the next couple of months will be to use this tent on all my outdoor activities. This will include backpacking, car camping and kayaking trips. I will be interested in looking into how well the tent stands up to wind, rain and campers inside. I will be checking out how well the tent is ventilated to hold off any condensation. I will be very interested to see how well the tent can handle three people, especially all the gear associated with three people. I will be bringing this tent with me on at least two upcoming kayak camping trips as well as backpacking trips and possibly a car camping trip.

Field Report:
April 29th 2008

I have taken the Xanadu tent out on 2 multi-night trips. The first trip was in South Carolina and the tent was used over a 3 night period. I was the only camper in the tent making for lots of room. This was car camping so the tent was not broken down each morning. Due to the hardness of the ground, I didn't get the stakes pounded in deep enough the first try which made setting up difficult. The pegs popped out of the ground and caused the tent to fold up and fall flat. I still have a hard time getting the poles into the pocket. I am hoping that proper staking will help. Over the course of the weekend trip, the weather fluctuated from lows of 50 F (10 C) overnight to daytime highs of 90 F (32 C). The wind was about 10-15 mph (16 - 24 kph) and would start up later in the afternoon and die down by the evening. On the last night a large thunderstorm rolled into the area and I was told later that the downpour was very hard. The next morning there were little pools of water in the corners of the tent. I am not sure if this was due to condensation rolling down the poles, or from rain seepage through the floor of the tent. I also noticed that the tent had a fair amount of condensation built up each morning. The condensation had an annoying tendency to roll down the wall of the tent, hit the line of stitching for the mesh and rain down from that point. I will have to see if warmer weather or moving the stake further from the tent to open up the side vent will help with the condensation.

Swimming pool in corner

The next trip was out in Virginia and was a two night trip. I was able to properly stake the tent this time and found it easier to insert the poles and get the tent up. I still have issues getting the second end of the pole into the pole pocket. I find I have to really put pressure on the pole to bend it enough to get it in past the mesh door. I pre-rolled the doors out of the way last time I had the tent out and this made set up much easier to deal with. I had my backpacking partner with me on this trip plus a ton of gear. As this was a combination camping and kayaking trip, we had an overabundance of gear to try to store either in the tent or in the vestibules. The first night out we had beautiful clear skies with an overnight low of about 55 F (12 C). The daytime highs were about 75 F (24 C). There was very little condensation on the inside of the tent, but the inside of the vestibule was covered in condensation. On the vent side, I placed the stakes further away from the tent hoping that would help with airflow and prevent condensation. It seemed to work as there was little condensation inside the tent. With the vestibule covered in condensation though, it was difficult to open the vestibule zipper without getting wet. The next night out experienced lower temperatures, down to 50 F (10 C) and with rain. The rain was constant and went from a drizzle to hard rain then back to a drizzle, thankfully no torrential downpour this time out. The next morning there was a very minor amount of condensation on the inside of the tent but again the inside of the vestibule was covered in condensation. When the door mesh touched the vestibule walls water would rain down at that point. There were no pools in the corners of the tent this time but the bottom of the pillows were damp.

Although the tent has very nice ventilation potential, there so far seems to be a tendency for the tent to accumulate condensation, especially in the vestibule. The line of stitching where the tent body meets the mesh netting is also an accumulation point for condensation and once it hits a critical point, it simply drips down in a line across the tent. This tent has well placed pockets. There are pockets located on each side of the door for a total of four pockets. So no matter which way I orient my sleeping bag in the tent, I always have a primary pocket near my head for glasses and my head lamp and a secondary pocket at my feet for sleeping bag stuff sacks and the tent stuff sacks. Each pocket is a double pocket with a top entry and a side entry. I haven't been finding the side entry as useful as the top entry simply because the one item I placed inside it fell out sometime during the night when I was moving gear around and was on the floor in the morning. It might have been due to the weight as it was a heavy VHF radio.

For one person, with a ton of kayaking and camping equipment, I found I had plenty of sleeping space and a large amount of gear space. Stuff did not really dry in the tent overnight and may have contributed to the condensation issue, but most of my wet gear was left on a line outside overnight. Stuff did dry during the day inside the tent and I was able to hang things between the pole and the tent body. I could hang a carabiner from the central loop to hang a flashlight from. The central hook and loop enclosure likely will not hold a lot of weight but it handled a carabiner with thermometer and small penlight very nicely. I would have liked to see a loop there for just such a use.

As a two person tent, there was still plenty of room for sleeping bags and gear but it was definitely tighter. The individual vestibules gave plenty of overflow space, but the condensation issue made coming and going from the tent more difficult. Even when the vestibule was fully opened in the morning to allow free access, the condensation still dripped from the top into the tent. The vestibules are not as large as I would like and the sloping angle makes it difficult to open the vestibule without either getting a hand dirty or getting a head wet. The mesh door while very wide and generous was also a bone of contention. The door is an inverted u-shape and zips from one bottom corner, up and over to the other bottom corner. The trouble is that the door needs to be at least 80% open before a person could comfortably enter the tent. The vestibule also has to be mostly unzipped to enter. Meaning when either of us tried to enter the tent in the rain, rain would enter the tent. I did find it was kind of feasible to half open the vestibule and squat between the door and fly but this is not comfortable especially with gear in the vestibule. This really only worked when the vestibule walls were dry and the mesh door was open, meaning bugs are getting in too.

The pros to this tent are the generous floor plan and handy pockets, plus the dual entry. The cons to this tent are inserting the poles into the tent for setup, the condensation issues, and the design of the door.

Long Term Report:
July 1st 2008

I have taken this tent out on two more multi-night trips totaling another 4 nights of use. In the end this tent has seen 9 nights of outdoor use. The first trip was down in the George Washington National forest at about 1100 ft (335 m), over a two night, three day trip. Temperatures were about 80-85 F (27-29 C) during the day and dropped down to about 50-55 F (10-13 C) over night. There was no wind as we were sheltered in a bowl type depression. On both nights, with two people in the tent, there was no condensation. I had the tent well staked out and had the guy lines tight. With two people the amount of room is very generous and we didn't feel any tightness in space.

The next trip was another two night trip at about 1500 ft (457 m), with temperatures around 80-85 F (27-29 C) during the day and dropping only to 70 F (21 C) over night. Again this was with two people in the tent and no appreciable condensation on the walls. The warmer weather combined with staking and tightening the guy lines seems to make a difference in whether condensation will form. It may also be due to the Epic breathable fabric the tent walls are made from.

Over the last four months of use, I have come to really dislike the mesh door. I find it is in the way when entering and leaving as I either have to open it all the way thereby leaving it in a position for it to get stepped on, or I try to leave the door half open and get caught up in it. When I prepare the tent for breaking down, I always roll the mesh door up out of the way to make setup easier. Trying to insert the poles into the pole pockets is always a challenge and I end up simply shoving the poles in the general vicinity and micromanage their position later. On nice evenings, I have also tied up the sides of the vestibule or draped them over the side of the tent. Doing this generally interferes with zipper operation on the mesh door. If the poles are correctly in place, the mesh door zipper lies under the vestibule and the zipper catches on the vestibule fabric. If the poles are out of place pressing more towards the mesh door, which isn't that uncommon, the zipper is pressed against the vestibule fabric almost ensuring the zipper will catch on the fabric. I have to slide my hand just in front of the zipper to keep the fabric out of the way.

Overall I wasn't that impressed with the tent. It did function as a tent but some of the special features tended to be more of a nuisance then helpful, such as the 4-season design with internal poles. The vestibule really wasn't very generous especially in inclement weather. When it was raining, I couldn't duck all the way inside the vestibule before entering the tent. I was under the impression that 4-season tents allowed for such sheltered entry to protect items inside the tent. I even had leakage issues when the tent was exposed to heavy rain. Not only did I have condensation raining down from the seam, but the corners filled up with water. While this may have been an isolated event, it was annoying and could have ruined the whole trip as that occurred on the first night out. The tent does have a generous amount of space and the internal storage pockets are located in easy to uselocations.


    - Spacious interior
    - Plenty of pocket storage space


    - Mesh door gets in the way due to design
    - Some condensation issues in cold weather
    - Leakage issues in very heavy rain

This concludes my long term report on the GoLite Xanadu 2+ tent. I hope you have enjoyed following this test series.

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Read more gear reviews by Kathryn Doiron

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