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RE: 'OWNER REVIEW', REI Arete ASL 2, Valentin Romanov

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  • vromanovaus
    Good Morning, I am sorry to bump my own review however I am not sure of the etiquette in this case. I would really like to contribute to the body of
    Message 1 of 2 , Oct 1, 2013
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      Good Morning,

      I am sorry to 'bump' my own review however I am not sure of the etiquette in this case. I would really like to contribute to the body of knowledge and while I realize there was an electronics call for last month, unfortunately I have never used any on any of my backpacking trips. 

      I look forward to any feedback regarding this OR,

      Thank you,

      ---In backpackgeartest@yahoogroups.com, <vromanovaus@...> wrote:

      Dear Sir/Madam,

      Included is the owner review of the Arete ASL 2 tent.

      Thank you for your time in evaluating this review.

      I look forward to your feedback,


      ================= Review =============================


      Valentin Romanov











      City, State, Country:

      Salt Lake City, Utah, USA

      Backpacking Exp:

      I started hiking seriously about 3 years ago, however I have covered a lot of miles in those 3 years. One year was spent backpacking the length of South America while subsequent trips have mostly been to the national parks of the USA




      The Specs:

      • Manufactured by REI
      • Manufactured in 2011
      • 3 - 4-season
      • 2-person tent
      • Packed weight of 5 lbs. 14 oz (2.27 kg).
      • Floor dimensions of 88 x 60 inches (224 x 152 cm)
      • Aluminum DAC Featherlite NSL as pole material
      • Ripstop nylon/mesh for canopy fabric
      • Coated nylon taffeta for floor fabric
      • Coated ripstop nylon for the rainfly fabric


      • High-strength pole architecture, lightweight materials, fully sealable interior and roomy floor plan combine to create a low-weight, weather-worthy tent
      • 3-pole extended dome structure is designed for strength; compact footprint and single front vestibule? are ideal for setups in tight spots
      • Asymmetrical shape keeps the weight low while allowing an efficient use of interior space; it provides nice roominess around the shoulder area
      • Large, multidiameter DAC Featherlight® NSL Combi poles increase interior volume and structural stability
      • Dual AirLift rainfly vents channel wind to increase tent's strength; fully adjustable, these ceiling vents create cross-flow ventilation that mitigates condensation
      • Dead End pole sleeves? and color coding facilitate a quick setup
      • Speed-pitching option allows tent and fly to be semi-permanently attached for a quick setup that protects the canopy from precipitation
      • Arete can be used in a variety of seasons and climates: inner tent is fully closeable, with zippered panels that cover the mesh doors and vents
      • Hybrid floor combines sealed seams and bathtub curves to create a waterproof, taut floor; tautness enhances door-zipper operation and maximizes volume at end walls
      • Vestibule? overhangs tent door so rain stays outside
      • Multiple storage options include corner pockets, roof pockets and hang loops; use the door pocket to hold door out of the way or for storage
      • Siliconized 30-denier? ripstop nylon fly is lightweight, highly water repellent and tear resistant
      • No-wick welded construction ensures that moisture won't sneak through susceptible areas, such as guy-out points, pole wraps and zippers
      • Comes with guylines? and tighteners, stakes, pole and stake bags, pole repair tube, and tapered, easy-to-fill compression stuff sack


      • $349

      A Description of the tent

      The Arete ASL 2 (referred to from here on out as simply the 'tent') was designed to bridge the gap between light weight and pure robustness. The tents as such while not being ultralight is light enough for any backpacking style while remaining sturdy enough for any outdoor activity.

      Having used the tent frequently over the last two years, in a number of different environments, the quality of the materials and construction is just outstanding. In order to give the reader a better idea of just how much backpacking action this particular tent has seen, a graphical representation has been created. Essentially the tent has been used for a NCC (Conservation Crew) outfit for 5 tours of 8 days each. From there, we took the tent to South America for 8 months where we used it pretty much every single day. Upon coming back to the US, the tent saw action in half a dozen national parks and a 16 day trip to the Grand Canyon.




      Setting up the tent, in my opinion, is extraordinarily easy. This was the very first tent that I had ever owned and had no issues with figuring out how to pitch it. Once each pole section has been snapped in place, it's a matter of carefully feeding in the contraption into each relevant sleeve. The reason I mention carefully is that a number of things may happen if one as to rush the process. One, the pole structure may get caught on the underside of the sleeve, two the poles may simply come apart within the sleeve (which very rarely happens) and three, there is a specific order in which the poles should be inserted (which is clearly marked).  Once the poles have been inserted it is just a matter of applying some force  to round out the poles. Ideally, two people should be doing this however one strong person can also manage. Once the inner structure is erected, the poles are attached into guide hoops and a tent is born. The great thing about this tent is that it can be pitched absolutely anywhere. It does not need any type of staking in order  to set up.

      From there, the rain canopy is velcroed in place to the outside pole sleeves. Putting on the rain cover in the rain will get you fairly wet as it's not a fast process requiring velcroing, clipping and eventual staking. The hardest part about the rain canopy is setting up the ventilation window as it requires the insertion of the pole through one loop and then the push and pull action of both hands to get the other end of the pole in. I have performed some serious heavy lifting in my day and I have to say that this is up there in terms of strain. In order to properly stake out the rain canopy one will require at least four stakes.


      Each zipper lining has two different set of zips that one can use. The quality of the material and the construction is definitely solid however some minor adjustment should be made. Since this is a 4 season tent that houses two people (very snuggly) any kind of storage room will inherently be small. This is where the front vestibule comes in really handy. Once staked down there is space for two backpacks (stacked on top of each other) and shoes. However in order to properly stake out the vestibule a good amount of tension is required. At times we found that while the vestibule was really tight (helping to provide structural integrity against wind and a shelter against rain) it was hard to operate the zipper. It would simply not go or required us to pull from both sides of the material in order to create some slack.<p>

      Furthermore, a similar issue was noticed with the zippers on the inside of the tent. Forgetting the rain cover, the inner tent includes one entrance. As mentioned earlier, once the tent was staked out properly it became hard at times to operate the zippers, often requiring one of us to pull the material inwards while the other zipped. However, that being mentioned, the zippers performed very well our entire trip. It was only towards the end of the trip (in Brazil) did we notice that the zippers would half the time not zip, they would splay as any kind of tension was applied. This is not really an issue with the tent but more of a reflection of how much it was used. We did not always have the ability to properly clean out the zipper lines so it makes sense that fine sand particles eventually helped to dull the runners.

      Air ventilation/ Condensation

      Even thought REI describes this tent as the cross bridge between 3 season and 4 season tents, I would say that this tent still errs on the side of 4 season. This is quite obvious when one looks at the tent without the rain fly. The material is of fantastic quality, however not quite breathable. There are however two zipper controlled openings located on the ceiling of the tent  and in theory the cross ventilation provided between both would help with cooling down the interior of the tent. Unfortunately, in practice these little opening dont really work all that well.

      Hot Climates

      In the jungles of Colombia and the tropics of Brazil the tent was akin to a portable oven. The temperatures were often in the mid 30's C (90ish F) however when adding 100% humidity the heat effect is amplified. Of course leaving off the rainfly would yeild a much better night of sleep, however when in the jungle the heat is mixed in with torrential rain. The rainfly is a must, however when neither the rain and the rainfly is present the interior can still get quite hot.  While one may stay dry from the rain, with the fly on they would be soaked from the sweat. Further, opening the little windows and the fly front door did nothing to help with ventilation.

      Cold environments

      The tent was really in its element when in the high Andes. Camping at well over 15,000 is definitely not an experience to be missed and if I was to do it all over again, this tent would be right there with me. The same issues that cause it to be such a pain in hot climates suddenly became its strength. The tent effectively trapped heat so that even if it was frosty outside we had no issues inside the tent. Further, the tent was amazing in snow conditions, not even the Grand Teton snow storms could subdue it. At extremely windy locations such as Patagonia in southern Chile the tent would not even budge. The structural integrity offered by the Aluminum DAC Featherlite NSL poles and the tent design was superb.  In terms of condensation, we did not experience anything significant.


      One of the greatest things about this tent is the fact that one doesnt require a football field in order to setup. In terms of width, the tent is 152 cm (60") so a width that I could practically hug. When coming up to a camp site with fellow travelers, ours would be the only tent that required little placement coordination. The opening to the tent is at the front, so it is much longer than it is wide resulting in a very small footprint. I think this is another great feature, it meant that we could setup the tent by clearing a minimal amount of underbrush in thick jungle conditions while it also meant that the tent did not stick out like a sore thumb when camping in areas with lots of people...well thats where the color of the tent came in, the bright orange is a bit hard to miss at times.

      Elbow Room and Storage

      At 74 kg (165lbs) and 185 cm (6"1) I am not a larger person and my wife is definitely much skinnier than I am. For us the tent felt very cozy. It would essentially house us and a few toothbrushes. The sleeping pads, placed side by side, would touch the walls of the tent when completely inflated. On many occasions we wished that we would have chosen the three person tent just to give a bit of wiggle room. The tent does come with a number of corner and roof pockets where one could store things such as books, head lamps and a few small items. The rainfly creates a nice vestibule but as already mentioned, its limited to two backpacks stacked on top of each other and not much more. The single entrance could be an issue at times, trying to climb over another person when nature calls at night is a fine balance of elbow and knee placement directly related to being sleepy.


      Having essentially used this tent for 8 months straight in all types of environments, I still cannot stop singing its praises. The price is (was) a direct reflection of the quality of construction and the durability of the materials. This tent proved to be a worthy backpacking companion. However if I was asked whether I would choose this tent again to complete another trip of South America, the only thing that would hold me back from unequivocally saying yes would be knowing that I would have to suffer through those really hot nights in the more tropical places. As such, I would look for something slightly different that would offer perhaps more breathability as I think that keeping warm is much easier than keeping cool.


      My reasons for buying another one

      Very sturdy

      Completely weather proof

      Solid design and easy setup

      Small footprint


      My reasons for holding back

      Not suitable for hot climates

      Snug for two people

      Not enough storage space




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