REPOST - Owner Review Bibler Ahwahnee 2 tent (revised)
- Name: Richard Lyon
Height: 6' 4" (1.93 m)
Weight: 200 lb (91 kg)
Email address: rlyon@...
Home: Dallas, Texas USA
Date: May 31, 2005
I've been backpacking for 45 years on and off, and regularly in the
Rockies, especially Montana, since I moved to Texas in 1986. I try
to do a weeklong trip every summer, and often take three-day trips.
I'm usually camping in alpine terrain, at altitudes 5000 to 13,000
ft (1500 - 4000 m). When I organize a trip, it's base camp
backpacking, a long hike in followed by day trips from camp, but I
do my share of forced marches too. The ultralight evangelists
haven't converted me yet; regardless of type of trip, I'll tote a
few extra pounds to have the camp conveniences I've come to expect.
Product: Bibler Ahwahnee 2 tent
Manufacturer: Black Diamond Equipment, Ltd.
Year of manufacture: 1998
Year of Purchase: 1998
Items Listed Weighed
Tent, six stakes, three poles, stuff sack* 6 lb 3 oz (2.8 kg)
5 lb 9 oz (2.5 kg)**
Ground cloth 11.3 oz (321 g) 8 oz (227 g)
Vestibule (see review; includes pole and two stakes) 1 lb 3 oz
(540 g) 1 lb 8 oz (680 g)
[* As indicated in the review, the 2005 model is listed as 8
oz (225 g) heavier.]
[**I believe the reason the tent weight is lighter is that
the listed weight includes seam sealer, syringe, instruction
manual, and packing.]
Dimension Listed Measured
Length (side to side) 88 in (2.25 m) 88 in (2.25 m)
Width tent body (front to back) 53 in (1.35 m) 52 in (1.35
Width - vestibule (vestibule door to tent door) 38 in (1.0 m) 36
in (0.95 m)
Height (tent body) 45 in (1.14 m) 45 in (1.14 m)
Floor area: 33.1 sq. ft. (3.1 m2). Vestibule area: 13 sq ft (1.2 m2)
MSRP: Tent $649; vestibule $127.50; ground cloth $35
The Ahwahnee is a canopy-style tent. Mine has a single door that
takes up most of one of the "long" sides. Campers sleep parallel to
the door rather than back-to-front. The rear wall has a no-see-um
window extending 18 in (40 cm) down from the top. This can be
zippered up with fabric from the inside. The roof of the tent
extends several inches beyond the front and rear walls as awnings
over the door and window.
As can be seen on Bibler's website, in 2005 Bibler redesigned the
Ahwahnee with identical doors on both sides, aiding ventilation and
ingress but adding weight. My yellow tent has become a classic, as
the new models are available only in green.
The Ahwahnee tent body is a single wall made of ToddTex, a
waterproof and breathable PTFE fabric used in all Bibler tents.
It's named after Todd Bibler, founder of the line. The floor is
seamless, treated heavy-duty nylon and extends an inch (2.5 cm) up
the walls. Bibler, now owned by Black Diamond (BD), offers tents
for the most extreme conditions (e.g., Everest), and many of its
tents have specialty applications. The Ahwahnee serves mere
mortals an all-purpose, all-season, two-person backpacking tent.
The nylon ground cloth, when used (I rarely do), is fitted under and
staked out with the tent body, with twine threaded through the
stakeout loops. I describe and picture the vestibule under "Setup"
All Bibler tents come with Easton aluminum poles and stakes, a stuff
sack, and a syringe and tube of seam sealer. The Ahwahnee stuff
sack is large enough for tent, poles, stakes, ground cloth and my
small repair kit. The vestibule comes with its own pole, two stakes
and stuff sack.
Why I bought this tent
The Ahwahnee is my second Bibler tent. Several years earlier I had
purchased a larger tent, the Bombshelter, for long trips and winter
camping. My experience with that tent made me a single-wall fan and
Bibler enthusiast for life. When I decided that my previous solo
tent, a Moss Netting Outland, was too heavy, I looked over Bibler's
line and found that the Ahwahnee weighed less than the Moss (a
double wall one-person tent) and could do solo and two-person duty.
I use it for both.
Like all Bibler tents, the Ahwahnee sets up with poles on the
inside, allowing pitching from inside the tent or, with a deft and
practiced hand, from outside as well. First I set the short pole
through the small holes in the canopy, then insert the two longer
poles through the door into the grommets in each corner, poles
crisscrossing at the top. The poles fit exactly, requiring some
manipulation at the peak where the three poles intersect. When the
poles are lined up, I set them with the "twist ties," flexible
plastic fasteners attached to the canopy that are easily cinched
(even with gloves on) to hold the poles in place. (There are no
pole sleeves; the twist ties show the proper path.) I then stake
out the tent at its corners. I can accomplish all this in two
minutes or so.
There are small loops on the corners and an extra hole in the nylon
strip that holds the canopy pole in place that could be used with
guy lines in windy conditions; I've never found that necessary.
Once set up and staked out, the tent is strong and stable despite
its relatively high profile. The door when open can be rolled up
and tied off easily with two attached hook and loop ties, as in the
photo above, to avoid stepping or slipping on it.
The optional (extra charge) vestibule has eight C-shaped clips that
hook into nylon loops located around the door. I find vestibule
assembly much more difficult than setting up the tent as the clips
are small and the sleeve holes smaller and difficult to find when
groping under the awning. Unless I have a special need for storage
I leave the vestibule at home. The vestibule is made of treated
nylon, and has its own pole to give something of a tunnel effect.
The vestibule door is about one-third the size of the tent door,
which can compromise ventilation. With the 2005 model it is
possible to use a vestibule with each door. Here is the Ahwahnee
I have used my Ahwahnee in all conditions except extreme cold. As
the Bombshelter remains my choice in winter (I don't take overnight
solo hikes in winter conditions), for me the Ahwahnee is a three-
season tent. Three-season use at 10,000 ft (3000m), however, has
included camping on snow, weathering a surprise early blizzard, and
temperatures down to 10 F (-13 C). I'm confident that I could use
it in winter, although the vestibule would be needed. With its huge
door and large window, the Ahwahnee is light and airy in high summer
when other single-wall tents might be too warm.
Functionality. This is the roomiest two-person tent I've ever owned
or used. The high ceiling and steep side angles allow two adults to
sit up naturally and render every square inch inside the tent
usable. For organized storage there's a small net pocket in each
back corner, ideal for flashlight-sized gear. Bibler sells ($14.95)
a small "attic" that is attached to the tent poles for additional
storage. I have shared this tent with another six-footer and we
slept comfortably with all our gear inside, not using the
vestibule. (In summer I usually hike in bear country and hang my
pack but I've stored it in the vestibule or tent on occasion.)
Ventilation is great even in a storm unless I'm using the vestibule;
then it's still satisfactory. I've found very few genuine two-
person tents that weigh much less, and none with as much room
inside. The full-side door makes entry and departure really easy
and provides a great view, weather permitting, two more reasons why
I prefer not using the vestibule.
Protection. Though seam-taped at the factory, Bibler recommends
seam sealing and provides a syringe and tube of sealer with the
tent. Door and window zippers are covered with flaps. ToddTex is a
remarkable fabric; I have never encountered a leak or a drop of
condensation inside the tent. Even when I bring wet gear or
clothing inside, there's no condensation on the walls or poles.
Durability and Maintenance. Both my Bibler tents are as
indestructible as fabric shelters can be. Another advantage of a
single-wall tent is that it dries out in the field much more quickly
than a double-wall, which tends to retain condensation between the
walls. As a result I'm rarely packing a damp tent, reducing the
chance for mildew. My Ahwahnee has withstood gale winds, a six-hour
downpour, sleet, hail, even the occasional flying tree branch.
After seven seasons it hasn't needed any patching or re-treating the
fabric. Maintenance is a thorough wash with soapy water followed by
a rinse and a couple of hours in the Texas sun.
Problems. The only technical problems I've encountered with the
tent are with the vestibule. As noted, it's a nuisance to set up.
The zipper won't detach at the bottom, resulting in a one-inch strip
of material at the bottom of the door that I constantly trip over
when going in or out. I reported this latter problem to BD, and the
good folks there promised to see if this could be fixed. The second
door in the new model should eliminate this problem unless two
vestibules are used.
The Ahwahnee draws many compliments from my backpacking comrades,
and one complaint: price. Even after BD moved production offshore
and dropped the prices of several models, all Bibler tents are
expensive. A fully loaded (vestibule, ground cloth, attic) Ahwahnee
lists for over $800. That's about $100 less than list price when I
bought mine. I have seen them (new and used) available for less on
eBay. Some online outfitting warehouses offer them at a slight
discount, especially on the now-discontinued one-door model. BD's
website occasionally has cosmetic seconds and demo tents for sale on
its "Specials" page.
Overall. For a premium price BD delivers unmatched design,
workmanship, and materials. The Ahwahnee really is my dream tent.
BD now sells a less expensive, lighter weight line of tents (also
single wall, made of Epic rather than ToddTex). One of these, the
Lighthouse, is based on the Ahwahnee design (but is smaller). I'd
like to try it, particularly for solo use in summer. For now though
I'll carry the extra couple of pounds and consider the extra dollars
very well spent for a spacious, expedition-grade shelter that I
expect to use for the rest of my life.