MONS PEAK IX TRAIL 43 TENT
TEST SERIES BY STEVEN M. KIDD
October 17, 2017
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Steven M. Kidd
5' 9" (1.75 m)
185 lb (83.90 kg)
Backpacking Background: I've been a backpacker on and off for over 30 years. I backpacked as a Boy Scout, and then again almost every month in my twenties, while packing an average weight of 50+ lb (23+ kg). In the last several years I have become a hammock camping enthusiast. I generally go on one or two night outings that cover from 5 to 20 mi (8 - 32 km) distances. I also do several annual outings lasting four to five days covering distances between 15 to 20 mi (24 - 32 km) per day. I try to keep the all-inclusive weight of my pack under 20 lb (9 kg) even in the winter.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
|Mons Peak IX 43 (Top 3 P mode -- Bottom 4 P mode)
Manufacturer: Mons Peak IX, LLC
Year of Manufacture: 2017
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.monspeakix.com
MSRP: US $699.95
The Mons Peak IX is a 2-in-1 Backpacking tent that converts from a 3-Person to a 4-Person tent by exchanging the tub/floor of the tent. Detailed information on the tent, including various specifications in the differing setups is listed below.
3 Person Listed Packed Weight: 6 lb 14 oz (3.1 kg)
3 Person Listed Trail Weight: 6 lb 3 oz (3.1 kg) *
3 Person Listed Fly-Footprint weight: 4 lb 8 (2.1 kg)
My Measurements: 7 lb 1 oz (3.2 kg) -- Entire 3 P kit in bag w/out footprint
My Measurements: 7 lb 12.2 oz (3.5 kg) -- Entire 3 P kit in bag with the footprint
3 Person Dimensions: LxWxH - 84x74x46 in (213x188x117 cm) -- 2 Vestibules @ 10.5 sq ft (0.98 sq m) each
4 Person Listed Packed Weight: 7 lb 13 oz (3.5 kg)
4 Person Listed Trail Weight: 7 lb 2 oz (3.2 kg)
4 Person Listed Fly-Footprint weight: 4 lb 13 (2.2 kg)
My Measurements: 7 lb 13 oz (3.5 kg) -- Entire 4 P kit in bag w/out footprint
My Measurements: 8 lb 10.4 oz (3.9 kg) -- Entire 4 P kit in bag with the footprint
4 Person Dimensions: LxWxH - 94x82x55 in (239x208x140 cm) -- 2 Vestibules @ 14 sq ft (1.3 sq m) each
Listed Full Kit Weight: 8 lb 15.8 oz (4.0 kg)
My Full Kit Measurements: 8 lb 15.04 oz (4.0 kg)
*The Listed Metric Trail Weight appears to be a typographical error on the website
|3 P mode is Green--4 P mode is Yellow
Also Included for testing were the following items. These items all must be purchased independently of the Trail 43 tent.
3 Person Footprint: - MSRP: $65.95/Listed Weight: 11.0 oz (312 g)/My measurements: 11.2 oz (318 g)
4 Person Footprint: - MSRP: $84.95/Listed Weight: 12.7 oz (358 g)/My measurements: 13.4 oz (380 g)
Gear Loft: - MSRP $19.95/Listed Weight: 0.6 oz (17 g)/My measurements: 0.6 oz (17 g)
Repair Kit: - MSRP $24.99/Listed Weight: N/A/My measurements: 3.2 oz (91 g) -- Including the packaging
The tent materials are made from rip-stop nylon. The fly is a 40 denier product treated with durable water repellent (DWR). The canopy is made with 40D nylon and a 15 denier nylon No-See-Um mesh. The floor is a 40Dnylon taffeta.
The poles are 9.5 mm DAC aluminum, all zippers are YKK brand and it includes twelve aluminum (7075) Y-stakes and four guy lines with adjusters. There is also a kit bag, a pole bag and a stake bag.
The Mons Peak IX Trail 43 Backpacking tent is a unique design I've personally not seen before. I find the idea both intriguing and enlightening. It allows a tent to switch from a 3-person model to a 4-person model by only exchanging a few key parts and thus saving a backpacker from having to purchase two complete individual kits. The tub (or floor) of the tent unzips from the upper canopy allowing for a smaller 3-person or larger 4-person setup. The tent uses the same rainfly for both modes, but has differing clip connections based on which mode I am using. The poles are unique in that there are two main poles the have extenders added, again in varying lengths...shorter for the 3P mode and longer for the 4P mode. The extension poles merely connect into the longer poles.
|Entire Kit as Sent - Notice Color Coding
Everything concerning the varying modes is color coded. The fly is a combination of yellow and green, but all else for the 3P setup is green and everything related to the 4P mode is yellow. This includes the tub, the footprint and the aluminum pole extenders. Again, green for 3 and yellow for 4!
|Unused 3P clip/Zipping 4P tub to canopy
I'll have to admit when I made the request to test the tent I didn't realize it was merely the tub that was switched out. I found it ingenious personally! The company founder, Bimal A. Kalvani is an engineer by trade and it shows in his design. I anonymously called the number on the website and personally reached him before receiving the tent to ask a few clarifying questions about the two models that Mons Peak IX offers. Mr. Kalvani was very polite, thorough and well informed on the product. He was a pleasure to speak with. He even politely called my number back a few days later to answer some questions he'd researched after our original discussion.
When the package arrived I inspected all the items and they appeared to be well made with impeccable stitching and craftsmanship. I find the bright and vivid colors pleasing. I weighed all the items individually and together as noted above. The 3-person setup was zipped together, so I first put it together first using the green footprint and the green pole extensions. I hopped in and added the optional gear loft the manufacturer provided. It's a nice feature, but there are four large mesh pockets in the sides and gear hanging loops should someone decide not to purchase it. I then put the fly on and intuitively used the green connector clips to snap it to the tent.
There is also a fly/footprint option to conserve weight, thus both the tent and the footprint have connection points. Should I decide to go with this option there is only a 5 oz (142 g) weight penalty going with the 4-person route, so I could see myself using the larger route. However, one feature if using fly/footprint option in the 3-person mode is that all four sides of the fly go directly to the ground. I could see a benefit being a little more protection from the elements and less opportunity for critter access. To clarify to the reader, in the 3-person mode with or without a tent body all four sides of the rainfly come to the ground and in fact the excess on green sides need to be tucked inside the vestibule. When in 4-person setup the green sides of the fly extend all the way to the ground, but the yellow sides leave a sizable air gap off the ground. Notice the first image in the report for comparison.
|A few Views of the Mons Peak IX Trail 43
After trying the initial setup, I changed out the tub for the 4-person mode. I did watch a short animated video, but again pretty self-intuitive. The zippers are 'beefy' and look like they will hold up to repeated zipping and unzipping. All the zippers from the upper canopy and the tub converge in a corner door area. In 3P setup the door is merely a half-moon arc that folds over. In 4P it may also be unzipped beneath as well for a more 'door-like' feel. See my second image of the tents without the rainfly to see the contrast in entry from the varying setups. The change in setup also involved changing from the green pole extenders to the longer yellow ones. Once again, I found the color coding to simplify the entire process.
Shortly after I had it set up in 4P a thunderstorm popped up and things got wet. Only on the exterior! Everything inside stayed nice and dry, and we had a deluge for a bit. I left the ten up overnight and out until I came home the next afternoon to ensure everything was good and dry. The footprint was still a little damp, as expected, so I hung it up for an hour or so to dry out.
The tent isn't the lightest I've used in either mode, but the versatility is amazing in my opinion. I'm an avid hammock camper, but I'm involved in Scouting with my son and there are many times when we have to go to the ground. I like to sprawl when I'm using a tent and prefer a 3-person when occupied by two people and thus a 4-person for three folks. My daughter also loves to go with us from time-to-time, so I believed this 2-in-1 setup would be ideal for my family ground camping needs.
The Mons Peak IX Trail 43 appears to be a well-designed and nicely made product. I really like the idea of integrating two tents into one, thus saving the purchaser from having to purchase two individual kits. The entire setup still isn't the cheapest in my opinion. If someone were to purchase the tent, both footprints and the accessory items it closes in on $900 US. However, compare this to having to purchase a two separate kits and it is likely comparable.
|A great shot before the skies opened!
I like the vivid colors. The tent is quite breathable. I found it comfortable from inside the tent on an afternoon in the mid-80's F (~ 29 C) with the rainfly on and one door open on either end for ventilation.
Both setups are plenty roomy for my preferred uses! I do find the tent a little heavy, but if it were to be broken up between several individuals it would be minimal. In fact, I hypothesized in the 4-person mode a crew could unzip the canopy from the tub and one person could carry the canopy, another the tub, a third the fly and the fourth the poles, lines and stakes. This couldn't be accomplished with a traditional tent! The weight would be my only potential thorn concerning this product. All else based on my Initial Report is roses! In fact, I've already had an opportunity to get the Trail 43 out on two occasions...but I'll save that feedback for my next portion of the report!
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
26 May, 2017; Wooded pond, Arrington, Tennessee. The evening I set the tent up for the Initial Review created a stir in my children and they were fired up to give it a test. As weekend activities were busy for the ensuing Memorial Day holiday we couldn't get to the backcountry, but the great thing about our neighborhood is that there are plenty of woods and a pond where one would think they are 100 mi (161 km) from nowhere. It was clear, but a heavy dew fell and the nighttime temperatures dropped to around 60 F (16 C).
2 - 4 June, 2017: South Cumberland State Park, the Fiery Gizzard Trail near Sequatchie, Tennessee. This was a three-day/two-night outing with my wife and two children to the Small Wilds area. The hike covered a 6 mi (10 km) stretch with a relatively consistent 1700 ft (518 m) elevation, save when we entered the Gulch or went to the base of Foster Falls for a swim in the natural fall pool. Temperatures dropped to 61 F (16 C) at night and were as high as 86 (30 C) during the day. It sprinkled a little on the third day, but was dry and clear for the majority of the weekend.
|Plenty of Room for 3 in the 4-Person Configuration
1 - 3 July, 2017: Smith Mountain Lake, Moneta, Virginia. This was a three-day/two-night island camping (glamping) adventure near my brother's lake home. There was some coming and going from the island with days spent on the lake motoring about and swimming and evenings spent camping at night. Evening temperatures averaged around 75 F (24 C).
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
To date I've been really impressed with the tent! The very night I set it up for the reporting in the Initial Review, my children we begging to sleep in it, but rains came up and I couldn't get gear into the tent without getting everything wet and nasty and I promised them we'd go out by the weekend. The next evening my daughter had a friend over and begged to sleep in it in the backyard. I ceded and allowed the two of them to sleep in it in the 3-person mode and I slept in my hammock on the back deck. This was a week night for me and I had to get up and go to work in the morning, between that and them wanting to have 10-year old girl time I decided to let them have it alone, that is why that evening isn't listed in testing. I didn't actually stay in it.
I did sit in there and I had plenty of head room while laying out the air mattresses and sleeping bags. The 3-person mode was very spacious for 2 people!
|Notice the Amazing Reflective Properties
As the weekend arrived, we had Saturday afternoon commitments, but I promised them a trip so we made do and went into the woods near the creek and pond in our neighborhood. Honestly, it is remote enough you wouldn't realize there are well over 100 homes within a 1/4 mi (1/2 km) We saw a herd of no less than 19 deer walk by as dusk was coming on. We fished some in the pond and everyone caught a few brim and tossed them back, had a small campfire and headed into the tent around 10 PM. I'd changed it to 4-person mode and it was extremely spacious for the three of us! It breathed well and with temperatures dropping to around 60 F (16 C) I had no issues with it being too warm. Again, the walls are not mesh, rather solid nylon. This could prove to be different when lows never get out of the mid-80's F (30's C) or higher, but I had no issues at any point during the Field Test portion.
A week later my entire family went on a weekend trip up to the Cumberland Plateau and the weather couldn't have been more perfect! My wife is not much into the outdoors unless the conditions are ideal like this. The hike was around 6 mi (10 km) and I carried the entire tent alone. It wasn't too much of an issue as my wife carried some gear and the kids did as well, but I was certainly a little heavier than I normally would be when out backpacking 15+ mi (24 km) days with my buddies. In situations like that I've have to split the tent up! However, it was great to have all the space on this short trip! My wife, asked to sleep in a hammock overnight, so it was just the two kids and I in the huge 4-person setup! I really love the extra room and there is even more head room in that configuration!
That evening I really began to take notice of some nice features. The door zipper glows in the dark and the guy lines and tie points are very reflective when wearing a headlamp! I really liked this and never tripped over a line once! Notice the reflective nature in the images. Also, since I haven't encountered rain I've slept with both vestibule doors open every night I've spent in the tent!
|A Family Night in the Woods
We used it one other time on the island outing and this time I did actually have four bodies in the tent. Two were children of course, so it is plenty of room for our family at this point. Although I know it can physically handle four adults, I likely wouldn't enjoy spending the evening in the Trail 43, or any other 4-person tent for that matter, with three other grown men. The quarters would be a little snug for my liking!
It's a nice tent and I still find the design amazing, although I've used the larger setup more often to date. The very second afternoon I put it up for my daughter and her friend a few neighborhood boys and my son asked to get in it and I allowed them. My Australian Shepherd puppy that was five months old at the time was in there also and wanted to get out to see me and tore tiny hole in one of the mesh doors! I was devastated...the tent was brand new. I checked out the repair kit and notice both a large rectangle piece of No-See-Um mesh with an adhesive tube as well as a Gear Aid Mesh Patch Kit. I decided to try the round patch kit and found it was amazing! It blended in so well and is so unnoticeable I honestly forgot about it and failed to even take an image to see. I am surely adding several of those to all my field repair kits moving forward!
There was also another thing I found very nice. When I came home from the Cumberland trip, it had been a heavy dew that last morning so I needed to air it out when I made it home. I notice the floor of the tent was filled with debris...kids! So instead of getting on my knees and sweeping for a 1/2 hour bent over in a tent I merely unzipped the tub and shook it out! I nice little perk for a customizable tent!
So far I've been pretty impressed with the Mons Peak IX Trail 43. I like the flexibility, although I prefer to go up to the larger configuration even if there are only three of us! I have found it quite breathable to date. Granted I leave the fly doors open and the evenings haven't been too hot. I'll test this further in warmer temperatures in late August/September on some kayaking trips. I'm happy with the headroom and ease of set up.
The reflective material and the little features like glow in the dark zippers are just nice in my opinion. Honestly the only thorn I have at all with the tent is the overall weight, and for the primary style of camping I'm using the tent for it really hasn't been an issue.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
22 - 23 August, 2017; Bear Island on Percy Priest Lake, near Nashville, Tennessee. This was a quick overnight paddle trip to a popular island on a local lake with a handful of kayakers. We paddled around the island in the evening, hung out, grilled and told the usual tall tales that go along with this sort of trip! Temperatures were around 86 F (30 C) in the day and dropped to around 75 F (24 C) at night, it was dry and comfortable.
9 - 10 September, 2017; Fiery Gizzard Trail, near Tracy City, Tennessee. It was cool and nice before the effects of Irma began making her way north, so on a whim my buddy pinged me to do an overnight on the trail. We covered 6 mi (10 km) of hiking and had a dry but seasonable cool night of 52 F (11 C) for early September in Tennessee.
6 - 8 October, 2017; Henry Horton State Park, Chapel Hill, Tennessee. This was a three-day and two-night Cub Scout camping trip for the entire Pack. The group camped in two of the three Group campsites that consisted of large flat fields surrounded by tree lines. The first 24 hour period was amazing weather, and the first evening temperatures dropped to around 60 F (16 C) near midnight and actually began to climb progressively through the middle of the night as a weather front was approaching. The second day was amazing and sunny with a high near 80 F (27 C) which allowed the 50+ boys to embark on adventures, hikes, games and more! The front finally hit around 8 PM local time on the second evening with torrential downpours that drove everyone into their shelters for the evening and it still continued to rain as we arose on the final day. Temperatures that second evening never dropped below 75 F (24 C) and the humidity was nearly unbearable!
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
I had the opportunity to use the Trail 43 on three more occasions during the final phase of the test series and I continue to remain impressed. On one occasion, I paddled to an island on a local lake with all intentions of trying out the tent in fly/footprint mode as setup in 3-Person mode as I was using the setup alone. When I arrived on the island and moved inland and away from the breeze I quickly realized that was, not going to be possible on this outing or the mosquitos and other insects would carry me away before the night was over! Therefore, I went ahead, set up the tent itself, and had more than enough room as I was using it alone. I realized this was the first time I had used it alone and it felt more like a hotel than a tent in this instance! I left the fly open on both sides of the vestibule, had plenty of airflow that evening, and stayed bug-free.
|Fall Cub Scout Campout
In early September on a whim, a buddy reached out and asked if I could meet him on the Cumberland Plateau for a quick overnight, as it was one of the first weather snaps we had with that feeling of autumn in the air. Sadly, the weather disappeared shortly after that outing for the remainder of September, but I did get in one good weekend. On this instance, I ensured I was going to go with fly/footprint mode and didn't even carry the tent. I often backpack up there and rarely if ever have had serious bug issues, thus this setup was ideal! I left both sides of the fly open for airflow and had no bug issues. I used the 3-Person footprint and shared the ground space with my gear and my 50 l b (23 kg) Australian Shepherd, Scout. In hindsight, I believe if I use this setup again I will go with the 4-Person footprint. Primarily for the additional headroom it gives and less so for the square footage.
Finally, I used the tent with my kids on a Cub Scout outing. I was again in 4-Person mode for this outing although there were only three of us using the tent. I like my space! Also, I needed every inch this time because I was personally using a Luxury Lite Cot to aid in my comfort since we were essentially car camping. Between the cot and all the gear, clothing and more the kids had...it was a filled up space! We didn't have to store any gear in the vestibule space, save shoes. Although this was a car camping outing it was likely the truest test of the tent so far. The first evening was nice, comfortable and dry, even with the temperatures beginning to rise after midnight. It was the second evening that the true test came...when the skies opened up! It poured and poured all night long and we stayed completely dry. As dry as one can in intense humidity with temperatures inside the tent reaching 84 F (29 C)!
We were definitely sticky and everything was damp, but it was the nature of the weather. I was just happy it didn't storm as they forecasters had suggested. The vestibule area stayed completely dry. The overlapping fabric above the zipper on the fly worked perfectly...and I finally realized the luxury of the two-way zipper on the fly as I unzipped from top down a few times to sneak out while still keeping it closed. I've never been in a tent with a child that isn't compelled to touch the wall of a tent, specifically when it is raining! Doing so and allowing the inner tent wall to touch against the outer fly can often lead to a wet tent. Of course, one of the grasshoppers had to do so before I could correct him! Fortunately, and I hadn't noticed this in the Trail 43 prior to this, the gap between the tent body--the poles--and the fly is substantial enough to ensure doing so will not allow for the tent body to touch the fly. I was impressed! I'm not sure of the actual gap, but I'd estimate it to be 2 to 2.5 in (5-6 cm).
I mentioned it was wet and sticky and we were miserable to start with because the humidity was just so oppressive. Again, it was 75 F (24 C) outside, but it reached 84 F (29 C) the tent based on my digital thermometer and everything was so damp. Then from the mouths of babes...the same one that had to touch the tent wall! He suggested unzipping the tent doors for fresh air. I did so on both sides and there was an immediate flow of fresh air! Within a few minutes the temperatures inside the tent dropped by nearly 4 degrees F (2 C) and that minimal airflow made it bearable. Not pleasant, but certainly bearable! Again, it was so wet we had no bug issues and the complete open door was much better than the combination of mesh and nylon taffeta on the door. Overall, the stickiness of that evening was certainly not a measure of the tent, but the conditions. There were nearly a dozen tents that decided to stay and brave the second evening and everyone experienced similar issues. Those with the connected door/mesh window style tents couldn't get any airflow and were in a much worse situation than us!
One of the primary purposes of any tent is to keep the occupant safe and dry in wet conditions, and based on that final evening I have zero concerns taking the Trail 43 into extremely wet or windy conditions! I'll add windy as it was very much so on the evening of the rain and with additional ways to secure the tent fly with guylines and attachments to the poles (that I did not use) I know I'd feel pretty secure to stay dry and in place on a windy bald should the opportunity present itself!
Overall, I've been quite impressed with the Mons Peak IX, Trail 43. It keeps me dry and it is quite versatile!
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2017. All rights reserved.
There are so many well thought out features on the tent that amaze me. From glow-in-the dark zipper pulls to reflective material on the exterior. The gap between the tent and the fly are ideal for weather protection! Of course, the ability to change a tent from a 3-Person to a 4-Person setup is ingenious in itself!
For those that know me, or read my other reports on a regular basis, they know that I am primarily a hammock camper whenever the situation presents itself! Before embarking on this test series I'd probably spent less than a half dozen nights 'on the ground' in the last decade. However, I could not pass up a test like this and I was thoroughly impressed with this tent. As I have a son that likely has 9+ years of Scouting ahead of him I'm fully aware there will be multiple occasions that I am required to sleep on the ground and not in a hammock and I see the Trail 43 fitting into those occasions.
Given a perfect world where I could suggest any changes, they would only concentrate on the overall weight of the tent. If my son and I go to Philmont Scout Ranch in a few years and backpack for nearly two weeks I'm not sure I'd go with a tent of this weight...even if we had a third person to split up the weight. If there were a way to design a similar modular tent with ultralight materials and cut some of the weight I could easily see it being a tent I'd use on long distance outings! However, as with most gear...the lighter the weight the costlier the product. That's understandable and nature of ultra-lightweight gear! None of this a true thorn with the Trail 43, it's a tent that simply may not fit into my higher mileage outings. It will definitely be in my gear kit for Scout outings that involve short-to-no mileage hike and for my kayaking trips that require me to sleep on the ground! Overall, I find it to be a great product!
This concludes my test series on the Trail 43. I'd like to thank BackpackGearTest.org and Mons Peak IX, LLC for the opportunity to test the Trail 43.
Read more reviews of Mons Peak IX gear
Read more gear reviews by Steven M Kidd