Big Sky International Summit Convertible 2P
Tester: Bob Sanders
Up loaded to test folder: http://tinyurl.com/3zwtjt
Ready for editing...
July 1, 2008
The weather has most certainly warmed up. So my desire to do more cold
weather backpacking has been dashed. I have managed to sneak out for a
quick overnighter in May and a two day trip in June.
Overnighter: On May 17, 2008 the weather was pretty typical for a
Colorado spring day. The daytime high was 73° F (23° C) and the
evening low was 42° F (6° C). I packed everything up Saturday morning
and was on the trail by noon after a short drive. I picked a new trail
to try in the Cache la Poudre area and hiked along the Little South
Fork of the Cache la Poudre River. Elevations were between 6200 and
7500 ft (1890 to 2286 m) Very pleasant trip. The tent didn't receive
much of a workout but at least I did.
After an 8 mi (14 km) hike I camped for the night and hiked out the
next morning. The weather forecast was for a 30% chance of rain that
never occurred. Though I did experience winds of 25 mph (40 km). The
humidity was pretty low at about 20% so condensation was kept at bay.
Since the weather was so mild I packed the winter shell and the summer
interior. There were some spotty areas of snow but I found a dry spot
to set up camp. During the evening I slept with all the vents open and
both vestibule doors open. In the morning there was no condensation
inside or on the exterior of the tent.
Since on this trip I was going solo I had the tent all to myself. This
meant I had to carry everything but the accomodations were luxurious.
By the time I set up camp, explored the surrounding area a bit and
decided to cook dinner the bugs were beginning to swarm a bit.
Probably because I was close to the river. So I decided to see if I
could cook dinner and eventually breakfast while remaining (most of
the time) inside the tent protecting me from the bugs. First let me
explain that I was not cooking inside the tent (never recommended).
Nor was I even cooking inside the vestibule. The doors of the tent
open quite widely and can be secured with little elastic loops and
small plastic rods. I placed my alcohol stove at least 2 ft (0.7 m)
away from any part of the tent. It was actually resting outside of
where the exterior door would be if it were closed (but it was secured
open). I sat in the vestibule area and lit the stove and got
everything ready. I always have my water bottle ready in case anything
needs to be doused. I then slipped back inside the tent and closed the
screen door. I relaxed inside until the water boiled. All I had to do
was unzip the door, lean out far enough to reach the pot, take it off
the stove and pour the water over my dehydrated food concoction. My
main purpose for trying this was to see if it were possible during
rainy, drizzly weather or even in light snow. It obviously wouldn't
work in a down pour, with the door completely open, but in a light
rain or drizzle it would be quite doable.
Two day trip: On June 6th the weather was even warmer. The daytime
high was 80° F (27° C) and the evenings low was 48° F (9° C). And once
again there was a small chance of rain that never materialized. So
basically it was hot and dry. It was my sons birthday so the two of us
split the weight of the tent. I carried the fly and the stakes and he
carried the summer interior and the poles. It is not quite half but
hey, he is younger and in better shape than me. We decided to leave
the vestibule pole at home because the weather was so mild and the
extra support of the third pole was unnecessary. Most of my trips are
solo so it was a nice change of pace to have someone sharing some of
the weight. Plus I wanted to see how roomy the tent really is with 2
people. We are both 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m) and the tent is long enough to
accommodate both of our long bags. I am a bit of a sprawler when I
sleep so I choose a summer weight down quilt. My son was using a down
sleeping bag and tended to stay on his side of the tent. Because of my
sprawling, elbow room was at a premium. Thank goodness we know and
like each other. I didn't brush up against the ends but I did brush up
against the mesh sides on numerous occasions. Not a problem because
this is a double walled tent. Even if there was condesation (and there
wasn't any) I would not have come in contact with the exterior wall.
Both of us could sit up inside, and we played some cards for about an
hour while the bugs were out starting at around dusk. Although, if I
had to spend many hours or days inside of the tent because of bad
weather I would begin to feel a bit claustrophobic. The real saving
grace are the two doors. There was no climbing over each other at
night to answer the call of nature and the two vestibules really
helped with the storage and organization of gear. There is plenty of
room for our gear and a pair of shoes in each vestibule.
Summary: This test got started a little late in the year. So with that
said I have not being able to test this tent under snowy winter
conditions, which it was designed for. To be honest, I haven't even
exerienced any rain. So there are some testing criteria that so far
are missing. Short of testing the tent out in the back yard with the
sprinkler on full blast (which I might do) I have no way of knowing
how waterproof it is. Now that the weather is hot, being able to swap
out the full fabric winter interior for the all mesh summer interior
has been a blessing. It saves weight and the ventilation is greatly
enhanced. So far everything works as expected. All the zippers are
smooth but the vestibule zippers are just a little tight at the top of
the door. Set up has gotten so much easier after setting the tent up
for the first time. New instructions for set up were sent to us by the
owner Bob Molen. The instructions are now clearer but if he would add
some pictures that would really help.
Things I Like: The pitch is pretty taunt so there is no annoying
flapping of the tent walls while you sleep. The mesh pockets are good
sized and can hold a lot of gear. Enough room for 2 tall adults. Extra
room is always appreciated but would also add to the weight, which we
don't want. The marigold color of the shell adds a nice warm glow to
the interiorwhich makes for a pleasent morning when the sun comes up.
Things I don't like: Nothing so far. Except for the fact that I need
to carry a winter shell and heavy duty poles during the summer.
Quandary: At first I was pretty intrigued with the idea of a
convertible tent. Having the ability to swap out components to suit
the weather. Well for me, right now the jury is still out. For the
Summit 2P, the manufacturer offers a winter set up (winter shell with
snow flaps, full fabric winter interior and a 3 piece heavy duty
aluminum pole set to handle potential snow loads) and a summer set up
(summer shell, mesh summer interior and a 2 piece light weight
aluminum pole set. They even offer carbon fiber poles to lighten the
set up further. All of the components are interchangeable with the
exception of the 3rd vestibule pole which only works with the winter
shell (again for extra support). Here is my quandary, if it was cold
and I was expecting snow I would choose the winter set up and carry
the extra weight. If it was warmer and I wasn't expecting snow I would
carry the summer set up which is lighter. So for me this is 2 tents.
The convertible set up is just not a benefit to me.
Check back in 2 months for further testing.....
I would like to thank Big Sky International and BackpackGearTest.org
for the opportunity to test this item.
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