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Reviews > Shelters > Tents > Mons Peak IX Night Sky Tent > Test Report by Duane Lawrence
Mons Peak IX Tent
By Duane Lawrence
Name: Duane Lawrence
Email: duanesgear (at) yahoo (dot) com
Location: Sparwood, British Columbia Canada
Age: 45 years
Height: 5’9” (1.75m)
Weight: 160 lbs (73 kg)
I have been an avid outdoor enthusiast for over 25 years. I enjoy a variety of outdoor activities including mountaineering, day hikes, multi-day backpacking trips, river and ocean kayaking, back-country skiing, snowshoeing, mountain biking and rock climbing. I have climbed throughout British Columbia, the United States and when opportunity presents itself in Europe and India. I carry a wide variety of gear depending on the type and length of trip. I am a search and rescue team member in the Southern Canadian Rockies and am part of the swift water, rope rescue and avalanche technical teams and ground search team.
Description, Specifications & Construction
The Mon’s Peak IX Night Sky tent is two tents in one with the capability to be set up as either a 3-person or 4-person tent. It can also be set up as a shelter that consists of the 3-person or 4-person footprint and fly. The tent is rated by the manufacture as a 3-season tent.
The tent is made up of several components which include a generic fly, mesh canopy, 3-person tent floor, 4-person tent floor, 3-person footprint, 4-person footprint, a two pole system with 3 and 4 person pole extensions, generic gear stash and an extensive repair kit. All of these items are color coded and meld together to allow the tent to be set up in a variety of configurations. The various configurations reduce or increase the weight and capacity of the tent to suit individual expedition needs.
Each set up is colour coded, yellow for the 4-person tent/fly set up(s) and green for the 3-person tent/fly setup(s). The Night Sky features 2 vestibules with side door access. The Fly is made of a 68 denier (D) Rip-stop polyester durable water repellent (DWR). The tent canopy is 75D Rip-stop Polyester & 40D Polyester Mesh No-See-Um and floor 68D Polyester Tafetta. The Zippers are YKK and outfitted with reflective cord pull strings and anti-snag separable zippers. The poles are 9.5 mm (0.37 in) DAC. Included in the tent kit are 12 aluminium tent stakes, 4 guy lines, and individual carry sacks for the stakes, tent and poles.
The repair kit includes patches for the various fabrics including the tent mesh a pole repair sleeve, a 1 oz (28 g) tube or SeamGrip seam sealer and outdoor repair glue and three application brushes. The kit even comes with alcohol swabs for preparing the area in need of repair. If I was a pessimist I would have the impression that the tent fabric might not be very durable but being an optimist, or thereabouts, I am going to assume I will never need to use the repair kit. Time will tell….
The tent went up fairly easily although I actually had to read the instructions which are sewn into the storage bag. The instructions were very straight forward with a seven step process for setting the tent up. Once I had reviewed the instructions the tent went up very quickly, just a couple of minutes. The two-pole system clips directly into the tent canopy clips and corner grommets. Once everything is clipped in the fly is placed over top and attached using hook and loop pole attachment points and end buckles which can be cinched down to allow the fly to be taunt. Although the tent is free-standing the fly dose need to be pegged out so the vestibule can be used. Securing the corners and pegging the two sides of the tent look to ensure that the fly will not touch the canopy of the tent and allow air flow. I did note that the fly side peg strings are not adjustable which will likely make it harder to find a place to peg the fly out on the sides when dealing with rocky ground.
Switching the tent from a 3-person too 4-person tent was very straight forward and simple. Just unzip the floor from the canopy and zip either the 3 or 4 person floor option back onto the canopy. When setting the tent up I only need to choose the correct, color coded, poles.
With the 4-person option the side walls of the fly are 10 in (25.4 cm) higher of the ground than when it is set up as a 3-person tent exposing 13 in (33 cm) of the tent floor to the elements. I am wondering if this will reduce the effectiveness of the fly tent combination for keeping the tent body dry during inclement weather. Something I will be watching for over the course of the test. When set up in the 3-person mode a portion of the fly needs to be folded up inside the vestibule. The fly has a peg and loop system to secure the extra fabric which seems to work although my first question was why didn’t they use hook and loop instead of the peg and loop system as it came undone a couple of time while I was playing around with it. I am concerned that it will not hold the extra fabric in place especially on the door side of the vestibule.
I also took the opportunity to set the tent up in what I would call the shelter format, fly and ground sheet. It went together very easily with the poles securely attached to the ground floor grommet’s and the fly’s hook and loop attachment points. Once up it created a huge area that was easily accessible and stable. In this format there is no choice but to use pegs to ensure the tent is fully secured to the ground. It is also worth noting that the groundsheet does not cover the vestibule area, just the rectangular floor of the tent.
The tent has four mesh corner pouches for gear and a gear stash that can be attached to the top of the tent using a peg and loop system. It is flush against the top of the tent which raises some concerns of catching the mesh roof accidentally and creating tears in the fabric. I feel that I will need to be very careful when using this storage area. The tent has a top gear clip at the peak of the tent which I was thinking would be a good attachment point for a lantern but that would mean I would not be able to use the gear stash as it would get in the way and not allow the lantern to hang freely.
The fly is easily opened and secured to open using
peg and loops. I did find what appear to
be an extra peg and loop near the peak of the tent for what I am assuming would
be to secure the fly open but it seems that there is not enough fabric to
actually allow these to be used. They
might be for another purpose but I am not sure at this time what that might be.
A quick note regarding Mons Peak IX warranty. The web site indicates that they offer a 3-year general warranty and a lifetime warranty of defects with respect to materials and craftsmanship. Mons Peak IX will replace or repair the issue at their discretion and only applies to the original owner. The warranty does not cover natural wear and tear, UV fading or damage from regular use. I did note when I was looking at their web site that they have a variety of replacement parts sold individually. This is reassuring as when dealing with so many components it is nice to know that if I were to lose anything I could replace the individual component without much hassle. I really liked this when I saw it on their web page.
When I first unpacked the tent it was a little confusing as how this whole convertible system would work out but after reading the instructions and playing around with the tent for an hour, setting it up in all its configurations, I was fairly pleased with what I experienced. The materials used seem to be of high quality, ground sheet middle seams are tape sealed for water resistance. All the seams are double sewn and made of rip-stop and water resistant nylon. There is plenty of floor space 72 x 80 in (183 x 203 cm) and 93 x 80 in (236 x 203 cm) in the three or four person set-up respectively. The primary difference here is how I would place everyone in the tent, length wise or width wise. When converted to the 4-person tent the floor gains an additional 21 inches (53 cm) which allows for an additional person. There is lots of height in both the 3 and 4 person configuration, 55 and 47.5 in (140 and 121 cm) respectively, to allow for easy movement. With the 4-person tent the tent has a two zipper door, one for the mesh portion of the door and another for the floor. This is in comparison with the 3-person tent set up which uses a traditional one zipper door access. The designers added an extension to the side walls of the 4-person tent which required the addition of the second zipper to open the door side wall. This is really optional though as I could easily get in and out of the tent without opening this portion of the door. The vestibules are large and should provide lots of coverage for a couple of backpacks to be stored in each vestibule without obstructing access to the tent.
Overall I liked what I saw and for both quality and versatility of the tent. I am looking forward to testing it out in all of its configurations in the field. Check back in a couple of months from my field report.
Over the past few months I have had a total of eighteen very pleasant nights in the Mons Peak IX tent. The nights were a combination of car camping utilizing both the three and four person options, a week in the alpine at about 7200 ft (2195 m) and two nights backpacking in Glacier national park in Northern Montana. So far I have only packed the tent around for a few days over a distance of about 35 km (22 mi) as the car camping did not require huffing it around and my week long mountaineering trip involved a very enjoyable helicopter ride up to our amazing base camp. For weather conditions I am have to sadly report that I have yet to experience any rain at all and pretty much no wind. I have no idea what is going on this summer but the only weather we are getting is sun, sun and more sun with only a slight, not even remotely, refreshing breeze. Maybe this fall will bring some variety to the test conditions as right now the only really reporting I can do with respect to how the tent handles adverse weather is say that it has stood up to ultraviolet radiation very well.
Setting up and taking down the tent is very simple and can be done with either one or two people with equal ease. As long as I had already set up the tent for either the three-person or four-person floor plans then it generally took under five minutes to set the tent up. Essentially it’s a matter of laying out the body of the tent, attaching the poles to the very convenient clips, throwing the fly over top, clipping it in and then pegging it out. It is very simple and an easy to manage. There are a couple of things I would like to mention specifically though. At the top of the tent where the poles cross there is a neat little double clip, one opposing the other. This double clip captures the lower pole and holds everything nicely in place at the top of the tent. This is a great little bit of forethought by the designers as it is a simple way to keep the poles exactly where they need to be. When dealing with the fly I have noticed that I needed to use the loop and hook fasteners to hold the poles in place. The poles are fairly long which results in them not sitting in the intended locations if not fastened in place. I would suggest that they reduce the overall size of these fasteners though as they are a little too long resulting in the need to cross them at a downward angle. If they were shorter it would make using them much easier. The fly clips are very easy to use and secure the fly to the corner of the tent very well. I have noticed that I did need to peg out the walls of the fly to ensure there is enough air flow. The only minor issue here is that the extensions for pegging out the sides of the fly are not adjustable. Having the extension adjustable would make it much easier to peg out the sides in rocky terrain.
Tying the fly open was easily accomplished by rolling the fabric up and clipping in with the provided toggle clips. The only problem or challenge is that when closing the fly in the evening or trying to open it in the morning the zipper is so far away from the tent that I needed to crawl into the vestibule to get to it. When using the tent in its four-person configuration this problem is increased as the bottom 6-inches of the vestibule is secured using a couple of loop and hook style closures. To reach them I had to get right down to the bottom of the vestibule and with two hands had to pull the fly together securing it closed. If the fly is really snug then this is made all the more difficult and if I chose not to close it then the bottom of the vestibule would essentially remain open to the elements. Not an issue when there is no rain in the forecast but if there was it would be very annoying to close.
I should also mention that when using the tent in the three person mode the bottom of the fly needs to be secured using the provided clips. The peg and loop clips work but the portion of the fly closest to the zipper is left unsecured and literally flapping in the wind. This could easily be resolved though with the addition of some hook and loop closures which would also be preferable than the peg and loop closures currently provided as they have a habit of coming undone.
In either the four or three person format there is plenty of room inside the tent. I have used the tent mostly with only two people although we did have a friend join us for a weekend backpacking trip and we could have easily fit another person in the tent using the four person set up. The height of the tent is also very nice, lots of head room with fairly steep walls which meant that the overall space inside the tent was not diminished. At each corner of the tent is a spacious gear stash which holds lots of gear. The roof net, although very useful, is very hard to hang. Putting the roof net up is the most challenging part of this tent. The net is so exact in size that it is very difficult to hang. I've actually taken to not even using it as the central hook that is situated above where the roof net goes is really useful for hanging a lantern. If I have to choose which one I am going to use, with the corner pockets being readily accessible and the roof clip being very handy for a lantern, the roof net gets the short straw.
For convertibility I have found the tent to be easily switched over form one size to the other. On almost every occasion that I switched the base of the tent from the three to four person set up I got it right on the first try. I must admit though that on one occasion it took me three tries to get it right. I'm not sure how I did it but I zipped the two pieces together inside out, backwards and upside down. By the end of it I was laughing more than cursing as I think I attached the two pieces together in every format other than the right one. Aside from user error everything is very easy. The two joining zippers are large, easy to use and obviously identifiable as being for the conversion and not the doors. Swapping the poles is as a matter of matching the color with the tent and making sure not to forget them. This would be my only concern as although it has not occurred yet I can easily see myself forgetting a component or not paying attention to what I am putting together in my pack and taking the wrong pieces. I am not sure what would happen if this occur with respect to setting up the tent, might have to try it out to see what the consequences are. Probably best not to mess it up though.
With respect to overall construction everything seems to be doing really well. After eighteen nights and being exposed to some pretty intense ultraviolet radiation up at 7200 ft (2195 m) I have yet to detect any fading of the fly. The zippers are all doing very well and shown no evidence of wear. For the bottom of the tent body I have not seen an adverse wear. One thing to note is that I tend not to use a footprint as I find it is additional weight that I just do not need to carry around. This could result in higher wear on the tent bottom but as I mentioned this is not evident as yet. I did hook up the tethers when I was mountaineering for a week thinking I might run into a bit of wind but sadly for the test there was no wind at all. The guy lines attached very well though and were long enough to anchor the four corners of the tent.
So far the Mons Peak IX tent is doing very well. It hasn't run into any rain or wind yet so I am unable to comment on the stability of the tent in adverse weather but what I can say is that it is easy to convert from the three person to four person format; the setup is very simple and can be accomplished by one or two people with equal ease. The construction of the tent seems very good so far and there is lots of room within the tent especially with the steep walls of the tent. The only minor complaints I have are with respect to the distance I have to stretch to fasten or unfasten the vestibule from the inside and that the hook and loop system for the fly are too large resulting in the fly only being loosely attached to the poles. Lastly, when set up in the three-person format the extra fly fabric at the bottom is not secured very well. Generally though, I like the tent and having the ability to change it over from a three to a four person tent is pretty cool.
I spent an additional seven days and five nights in the Mon's Peak IX hiking in Banff National Park and Height of the Rockies. Although most of the nights were very nice I finally had some inclement weather to test the tents weather proofness. I am pleased to report that the tent did very well with both rain and snow. With three people in the three person configuration of the tent it did really well with one of my group very observantly pointing out that the fly was nowhere near the body of the tent which kept the fly from transferring moisture to the tent body. I did not measure it, but on the sides of the tent when it is staked out there is about 6 inches (15 cm) or so of space between the tent body the fly providing lots of space for any sag that the fly develops during a rainy night. For room the tent did very well with three people in the three person format. There was enough space for everyone and no one’s sleeping bags were pushed up against the edge of the tent. Also, having two large vestibules was great as there was tones of room for packs and boots while still allowing occupants to get in and out of the tent without having to clear a path.
Storage inside the tent is also very good. With the four storage
pockets, one in each corner, there was tones of room for my group to put away
all the small stuff that might get lost in the bottom of the tent once all the
sleeping bags are set up. I should note that I gave up on the roof net.
It was just such a pain to put up each time I had to set up the tent and
the hook at the peak of the tent was really useful so with the side pockets the
roof net was just not worth the trouble.
Thanks to BackpackGearTest.org and Mons Peak IX for the opportunity to test the Night Sky 3 & 4 person convertible tent.
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