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Jeremy Drobnick Please Read - Re: OWNER REVIEW - Wenzel StarLite Tent

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  • chcoa
    PLEASE READ THIS EMAIL IN FULL. IT IS MOST IMPORTANT! Thanks for your Owner s Review. It has been added to the Owner Review Queue and will be picked up by an
    Message 1 of 6 , Dec 1, 2006
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      PLEASE READ THIS EMAIL IN FULL. IT IS MOST IMPORTANT!

      Thanks for your Owner's Review. It has been added to the Owner
      Review Queue and will be picked up by an Edit Moderator soon. Do
      not worry if nothing happens with it for several days. All our
      Editors are volunteers and your report will be subject to an
      official edit within fourteen days. If you have not had a response
      from an Edit Moderator via the Yahoo Groups list within this
      timeframe, please let me know directly at jdeben@....

      To assist in this process, if this is your first Owner Review we ask
      that you post only ONE Owner Review for edit at a time. Our
      experience is that it is more efficient for both the Editors and
      yourself, if you post your first review, have it edited, approved
      and uploaded before you post your second and subsequent reviews.
      This way we can work with you on addressing any standard BGT policy
      edits which you can incorporate into your second and subsequent
      reviews before submission.

      If you are new to BackpackGearTest.org, welcome to the community!
      The Editors will work with you, within their own time constraints,
      to get your first two Owner Reviews approved and upload in a timely
      manner. Once these first two Owner Reviews have been approved and
      you have submitted your Tester Agreement you will be eligible to
      start applying for Tests. If you'd like more assistance or guidance
      with the process you can request a mentor by sending an email to
      Jennifer P, the mentor coordinator, at (jennifer.pope@...).

      You may receive edits or comments from other members of the group.
      These edits and comments, while not official, should be considered
      carefully, and if you find them substantial, revise and re-post your
      review. Incorporating member edits and re-submitting to the list
      will usually result in a better review, as well as making things
      easier for the official Editor. Please put REVISED in the subject
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      changes to your review BEFORE the review has been taken by an Edit
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      Additionally, it is important for you to monitor the Yahoo Groups
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      If you'd like to keep track of the progress of your OR, the entire
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      If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to ask via
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      Regards
      Jamie DeBenedetto
      Edit Administration Manager
    • edwardripleyduggan
      Dear Jeremy, Please don t misunderstand--BGT has no problem with negative reviews. Despite the various edits, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. However, the
      Message 2 of 6 , Dec 7, 2006
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        Dear Jeremy,

        Please don't misunderstand--BGT has no problem with negative reviews.
        Despite the various edits, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this.
        However, the problem I see here is that your use constitutes one trip
        in one example of the tent, predictably disastrous because unsealed,
        and another trip in a sealed version. Even counting this as two uses,
        this is really under our usage criteria. It hardly seems fair to
        subject you to a third round of torture!

        With the second trip, it's unclear to me if the leakage was again
        along the seams, or elsewhere. Or was it an unacceptably high level of
        condensation? In any case, in addition to the usage criteria, you
        don't have anything on ease and method of setup, and much other
        information that is standard in a tent review.

        I will consult first with my editorial colleagues, but I feel it
        likely, with some regret, that we must reject this review on the usage
        criterion. I will get back to you on this, but I'm virtually certain
        that this will be the consensus.

        At the same time, I do think you write amusingly, and I would love to
        see you as part of the BGT team. I'd like to suggest that, working
        with a mentor, you submit an OR for another piece of gear. It doesn't
        have to work well, but it should have more than two uses in the field.
        To get assigned a mentor, contact Jennifer Pope

        jennifer.pope@...

        our esteemed head of the mentor program. I don't think it will take
        much to get you on track. Please do go over my edits, and (if you have
        not done so) take a look at

        http://www.backpackgeartest.org/lesson.php?lesson=BecomeTester&page=1

        Best,

        Ted

        BGT OR EDITOR



        >
        > Wenzel StarLite Tent - Ultralight Solo

        ### EDIT:

        Heading should be



        Owner Review
        Wenzel StarLite Tent - Ultralight Solo
        Date: November 28, 2006


        >
        > Reviewer Information
        >
        > Name: Jeremy Drobnick
        > Age: 30
        > Gender: Male
        > Height: 6' 0" (1.83 Meters)
        > Weight: 190 Pounds (86.36 Kilograms)

        ### EDIT: since you use abbreviations elsewhere (as we prefer) please
        use them above, e.g.
        Height: 6' 0" (1.83 m)
        Weight: 190 lbs (86.36 kg)



        > Email address: jeremy.drobnick@...
        > City, State, Country: Charlotte, North Carolina, US
        > Date: November 28, 2006

        ### EDIT: Date may now be removed from here

        > Backpacking Background: I started backpacking eight years ago.
        What initially started as frequent, relaxed weekend trips has evolved
        into more aggressive backpacking in increasingly harsh weather
        conditions, trails, and duration. I love winter camping; the more
        snow and ice, the better. I am gaining a growing appreciation for
        lightweight backpacking, but am not afraid to pack on additional
        weight for extended and/or winter trips. The equipment I use has to
        be tough; I will treat it well, but expect it to perform to high
        standards. I usually hike between 50 and 300 miles each year.

        ### EDIT: If you could list your packweight, before consumables, this
        would be helpful for readers (please put in both lb and kg). Also, "50
        and 300 miles" needs to have a conversion after it: (80 to 480 km)

        >
        > Product Information
        >
        > (Note: Purchased from Campmor. Since the Wenzel site does not
        have specs on this tent, the product information provided below is
        according to Campmor)

        ### EDIT: This is a problem. I would prefer that you omit all the data
        except that which you have measures, unless you can get confirmation
        from Wenzel or by measurement. In other words, omit listed weight,
        tent dimensions, tent area, internal height and pack size. All of
        these, BTW, would need metric conversions. The only exception would be
        the fabric specs. There should be no mention of a retailer, be it REI,
        Campmor or whatever, in the review.


        >
        > Manufacturer: Wenzel
        > Year of Manufacture: 2005
        > Manufacturer URL: http://www.wenzelco.com/
        > Listed Weight: 4 lbs. 8 oz. (pkg wgt); 3 lbs. 8 oz. (min wgt)
        > Weight as Delivered: 4 lbs min

        ### EDIT: Please provide a metric equivalent in kg. Also, specify what
        you mean by "min" in this case. What's included in this weight?

        > Tent Capacity: 1-2
        > Tent Dimensions: 4 ft. X 6 ft. 10 in.
        > Tent Area: (Sq. Ft.) 25
        > Internal Height Front: 3 ft., Rear 2 ft.
        > Pack Size: 6 in. X 19 in.
        > No. of Poles: 3
        > Pole Size / Material: 9.5mm, fiberglass
        > No. of Doors: 1
        > Hooded Fly: Yes
        > No. of Windows: 2
        > Floor Material: 1.9 oz. Nylon Taffeta with 600mm Coating
        > Wall Material: UV Armor 1.9 oz. polyester 600mm Coating
        > Roof Material: UV Armor- 1.9 oz. Polyester with 600mm Coating
        > Netting: 40 Denier No-see-um
        > Color: Silver Grey Roof/Walls, Black Floor
        > Style: Single Wall, Frame Bivy

        ### EDIT: small point, but the words don't have to be capitalized in
        this manner. The first in each line, maybe.


        > Use: 3 season
        > MSRP: $30

        ### EDIT: MSRP: US$30

        >
        >
        >
        > Field Information
        >
        > As I have "evolved" in my approach to backpacking, I have sought
        lighter and smaller items to replace my traditionally heavy/bulky
        items from the days of shorter hikes, and general apathy about the
        amount of weight on my back.

        ### EDIT: I'd drop the "and general apathy about the amount of weight
        on my back." Alternatively, put that thought as a separate sentence.

        The Wenzel StarLite Tent - Ultralight Solo (hereafter referred to as
        Wenzel, StarLite or tent) tent was one purchase made as I began to
        consider this better way of backpacking. I bought the Wenzel in
        summer of 2005 for three reasons: relatively lightweight, small pack
        size, and economics.
        >
        > When I personally need to make a purchase, I generally approach an
        unfamiliar arena by seeing what I can get for the least amount of
        money. Sometimes that approach is beneficial and sometimes it isn't.
        Having only owned one tent prior to this one (also a Wenzel tent) and
        having no problems with it (note: all previous experience was
        fair-weather camping), I was plenty content to avoid more expensive
        brand names and see what I could get for $30.
        >
        > Sometimes I am destined to learn things the hard way. That would
        be the case on my StarLite.
        >
        > Upon receiving the tent from Campmor,

        ### EDIT: drop "from Campmor."

        I was disappointed to find that it appeared to be a good deal smaller
        than anticipated. I went back to the website to double check what I
        saw. First, the information provided above comes from the product
        specs table – traditionally on the right side of the page. This is
        what I had used to make my decision. This data appears to be
        supported by the graphic of the floor plan – 6' 10" x 4'. However, in
        the information bullet points (on the left side of the same page),
        there is a specific piece of information that bears attention: Floor
        size tapers from 4 ft. in the front to 3 ft. 1 in. at the rear. The
        rear of the tent is just 3 feet wide and 2 feet tall!

        ### EDIT: Because of the exclusion of the Campmor data, the paragraph
        above is going to have to refer to your own measurements. Sorry about
        this.

        >
        > As I looked at the tent set up in my living room, I felt somewhat
        dismayed. Anyone who might have considered using the 1-2 person
        capacity for 2 persons – including me – would be at a dreadful loss.
        This tent was absolutely not suitable for anymore than one 6-foot
        person. I pondered the return-to-Campmor option,

        ### EDIT: returning it to the retailer,

        but since I had actually paid less than the MSRP during a sale, I
        rationalized that perhaps I couldn't expect anything more than what I
        received. Into the closet it went to wait for a solo trip.
        >
        > Seven months passed and in January 2006 the first opportunity
        arose to make use of my StarLite. I headed to the Smoky Mountains
        (NP) on a winter trip. The forecast in Bryson City, NC was 30% chance
        of showers and mid-30s. I planned to head to Gregory Bald – roughly
        4000ft higher in elevation (5000ft)

        ### EDIT: metric equivalents, please. Space between measurement and
        unit. Also temperature needs to be stated as "mid-30s F (around -1 C)"
        F and C DO get capitalized because the units are based on names.

        – where I had a good chance of snow. While this tent was clearly not
        a winter tent with its fiberglass poles, I figured a few inches of
        snow would be no problem (considering the short length of the poles).
        >
        > Upon arrival at the bald the wind was blowing hard, it was near
        freezing and nearing dusk, but there wasn't a cloud in the sky. So
        much for the chance of precipitation – or so I thought. The tent
        setup was fairly easy – four stakes, three poles and four guy ropes.
        The wind had little impact on the tent with the low profile.
        >
        > All was well until 10pm that night when I woke to the sound of
        steadily falling rain. The temperature remained just above freezing
        and a very, very cold cloud cover engulfed the mountain. As I
        listened, I heard an echo-drip to the raindrops on the tent. I
        flipped on my flashlight to investigate. To my utter horror, I
        watched tiny droplets of water soaking through the seam down the
        center ridge of the tent above me, and falling onto my sleeping bag.
        I looked around further and found to my amazement and disgust that
        each and every single seam on the entire tent was absorbing rain and
        spewing a fountain of water into the tent.

        ### EDIT: A comment here. Most tents (including some that are
        expensive) need seam-sealing. This is pretty standard procedure. I
        would not have expected a tent in this price range to be seam-sealed,
        nor would I assume any tent to be seam sealed unless explicitly
        stated. Though somewhere, in the recesses of a closet, I own one that
        I use for car camping with my kids, I am no fan of Wenzel tents.
        However, it's unreasonable to expect that an unsealed tent would not leak.

        >
        > Additionally, as the weight of the rain bore down on the tent, the
        center of the tent sank down and matted against my sleeping bag like a
        wet blanket. The two guy ropes on the side of the tent did little
        more than contribute to this sagging process. Upon trying to
        stabilize the tent several hours later, the upper front fabric pocket
        (for the poles) ripped and I was left with further leakage and sagging.

        ### EDIT: This seems to be fair criticism. It sounds like the fabric
        saturated, and that is a valid issue.
        >
        > The whole experience was quite illuminating, and while it gave me
        the opportunity to test the waterproof-ness of many articles of my
        camping equipment (more stories for another time), it qualified
        hands-down as the single most miserable camping/backpacking experience
        of my life.

        ### COMMENT: I bet!

        Needless to say I have a new appreciation for the value of a
        quality-made tent. At least in the category of tents, I have revised
        my economic approach. Money may not be able to buy happiness, but
        spending some extra cash can certainly buy a dry patch of fabric and
        avoid the fallout of a saturating experience on an unexpectedly rainy
        January weekend in the Smokies.
        >
        > Postscript: In an effort to validate whether or not the seams
        simply needed to be sealed, I decided to submit myself to another
        potential round of torture. I purchased and applied liberal coats of
        seam sealer – 3 external coats and 2 internal coats to be exact – to
        every seam on the tent. Four weeks later, I went back to the Smokies
        with my father and faced another weekend of winter weather. He, too,
        had purchased the same model tent (before my previously-described
        experience) and now sealed the seams on his tent. Once again, the
        results were terrible. While the leaking was less (maybe just because
        it rained less), everything in my tent was thoroughly soaked. My
        father's tent performed slightly better (better sealed or inconsistent
        results from the factory?) but still let an unacceptable amount of
        water into the tent.

        ### EDIT: This, perhaps, should have been the experience you were
        reviewing. If a tent leaks after sealing, that's a bad business.

        >
        > Post-postscript: For those of you who are new to backpacking and
        find yourselves impressed with all the fancy names (i.e. 1.9 oz. Nylon
        Taffeta with 600mm Coating) for tent fabrics, consider this fair
        warning. Not all tents are created equal. And features such as
        factory taped seams and bathtub floors are critical in wet weather.
        While more expensive tents may also leak, my experience with this tent
        is that it arguably keeps out about as much water as a sieve.
        >
        >
        >
        > Summary
        >
        > Based upon my experience, the Wenzel StarLite Tent - Ultralight
        Solo is unacceptable for inclement weather and is truly a solo tent,
        rather than the 1-2 capacity listed on a popular reseller's website.
        >
        > Pros –
        >
        > Relatively lightweight
        > Small pack profile
        > Economic savings
        > Possibly a good choice in drier climates
        > Cons –
        >
        > Not for inclement weather or situations where there is a chance
        of inclement weather
        > Materials (i.e. seams, fabrics) are not suitable for any
        moderately rough treatment; this is a fair-weather, light-treatment
        shelter
        > Floor size tapers
        > Middle of tent sags; guy ropes do not help (even in fair weather)
        > Getting in and out of tent is difficult due to front guy rope
        > Rear "window" of tent is a triangle about 3" height x 4" width
        > Not freestanding
        > No bathtub floor
        > No factory-taped seams
        > Somewhat claustrophobic without more window coverage (only about
        2sq ft of window)
        > Single-wall design
        >
        >
        >
        > ---------------------------------
        > Check out the all-new Yahoo! Mail beta - Fire up a more powerful
        email and get things done faster.
        >
        > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        >
      • edwardripleyduggan
        Jeremy, Just to confirm, the owner review isn t acceptable in its present form. The main point is not enough use. Also, unless Wenzel neglected to state that
        Message 3 of 6 , Dec 7, 2006
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          Jeremy,

          Just to confirm, the owner review isn't acceptable in its present
          form. The main point is not enough use. Also, unless Wenzel neglected
          to state that seam sealing was required in the accompanying
          literature, that disastrous first trip is not what we would consider
          fair use of the product (the point I made in my edit of that section).
          It's such a standard procedure, unless the literature informs one that
          the seams are taped. Few are.

          Please don't be too discouraged. At least a couple of us got a chuckle
          out of your vivid account, and that speaks to the fact that your
          writing style is lively and interesting. Again, get a little
          mentoring, draw up a new OR (not a tent or pack--these are technically
          demanding), and you'll be ready to roll. Try to choose something that
          is still in manufacture, too. Good luck!

          Ted.
        • jeremy.drobnick
          Ted - Thanks for your feedback. Looks like I bit off more than I could chew this first round. While I did actually use the tent a third time (I did not
          Message 4 of 6 , Dec 7, 2006
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            Ted -

            Thanks for your feedback.

            Looks like I bit off more than I could chew this first round. While
            I did actually use the tent a third time (I did not mention it in
            the review due to perceived space constraints), it sounds like there
            are several other reasons not to attempt a revision on this product
            (no longer manufactured, seams not taped/fair use, etc).

            Back to the drawing board. I will get a mentor as suggested and
            give it another shot, with another product.

            Thanks again.
            JD




            --- In BackpackGearTest@yahoogroups.com, "edwardripleyduggan"
            <erd@...> wrote:
            >
            > Jeremy,
            >
            > Just to confirm, the owner review isn't acceptable in its present
            > form. The main point is not enough use. Also, unless Wenzel
            neglected
            > to state that seam sealing was required in the accompanying
            > literature, that disastrous first trip is not what we would
            consider
            > fair use of the product (the point I made in my edit of that
            section).
            > It's such a standard procedure, unless the literature informs one
            that
            > the seams are taped. Few are.
            >
            > Please don't be too discouraged. At least a couple of us got a
            chuckle
            > out of your vivid account, and that speaks to the fact that your
            > writing style is lively and interesting. Again, get a little
            > mentoring, draw up a new OR (not a tent or pack--these are
            technically
            > demanding), and you'll be ready to roll. Try to choose something
            that
            > is still in manufacture, too. Good luck!
            >
            > Ted.
            >
          • edwardripleyduggan
            Jeremy, Thank you for taking my edit and suggestions gracefully! I really don t think you will have too much trouble getting a good OR together, especially
            Message 5 of 6 , Dec 7, 2006
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              Jeremy,

              Thank you for taking my edit and suggestions gracefully! I really
              don't think you will have too much trouble getting a good OR together,
              especially with the help of a monitor.

              Best,

              Ted.


              --- In BackpackGearTest@yahoogroups.com, "jeremy.drobnick"
              <jeremy.drobnick@...> wrote:
              >
              > Ted -
              >
              > Thanks for your feedback.
              >
              > Looks like I bit off more than I could chew this first round. While
              > I did actually use the tent a third time (I did not mention it in
              > the review due to perceived space constraints), it sounds like there
              > are several other reasons not to attempt a revision on this product
              > (no longer manufactured, seams not taped/fair use, etc).
              >
              > Back to the drawing board. I will get a mentor as suggested and
              > give it another shot, with another product.
              >
              > Thanks again.
              > JD
              >
              >
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