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FR - MontBell Thunder Dome 2 - Lyon

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  • richardglyon
    For your editor s blue pencil. Complete html version in the Tests folder at http://tinyurl.com/384zdn. Richard FIELD REPORT January 2, 2008 Prior to taking
    Message 1 of 5 , Jan 2, 2008
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      For your editor's blue pencil. Complete html version in the Tests
      folder at http://tinyurl.com/384zdn. Richard


      FIELD REPORT
      January 2, 2008
      Prior to taking the Thunder Dome into the field I pitched the tent
      in my yard in MontBell's "Light and Fast" configuration, using the
      ground sheet as a floor. I believe that MontBell intended this
      (though it's not included in the contents listed on the website), as
      adding the weight of the ground sheet almost exactly corrects the
      discrepancy between its listed and measured weights in my Initial
      Report. Also the webbing strips on the ground sheet's corners,
      identical to those on the tent body, can be used to set the poles.
      In this set-up the guy lines are helpful in maintaining tension on
      the fly.
      During this exercise I noticed one design detail I missed when
      preparing my Initial Report. The underside of the fly has four
      small hook-and-loop fasteners, one for each arm of the pole. These
      allow me to secure the fly to the tent poles in the Light and Fast
      configuration. When the tent body is used its hooks make these
      superfluous. The fasteners are sewn on to small fabric tabs which
      in turn are sewn to the tent seam, presumably to reduce the
      likelihood of condensation seeping through the seam and onto the
      pole and to allow a bit more flexibility when attaching the tent
      pole.
      FIELD CONDITIONS
      I've taken the Thunder Dome on two two-night backpacking trips,
      using it as a two-person shelter in the Texas Hill Country in late
      October and as a solo shelter in the Kiamichi Wilderness in Oklahoma
      in mid-November. On both occasions I used the full tent, with
      stakes and ground sheet. I followed MontBell's ground sheet
      instructions by placing the shiny side down with the small MontBell
      tag in the front. The favorable conditions prompted me to stake
      only the corners of the tent and the left side of the vestibule (two
      stakes), six stakes in all, making a hybrid between the full tent
      and MontBell's "minimum weight."
      We had wonderful backpacking weather in the Hill Country, with
      daytime temperatures that didn't exceed 70 F (21 C) and chilly
      evenings at 40 F (5 C), very light wind, clear and dry weather, and
      a full moon. This was an easy two mile (3 km) hike and we set up
      camp in a meadow at the edge of a small forest. Our tent site was
      on flat grassy ground. With the cloudless skies we added the fly
      only when we were ready to retire for the night, and removed it in
      the mornings at breakfast.
      In mid-November I did a three-day, two-night backpack on the
      Oklahoma section of the Ouachita Trail, from Pashubbe trailhead to
      the Arkansas state line, starting at about 1000 ft (300 m) with a
      net 1200 ft (350 m) elevation gain over fourteen miles (22 km). It
      was overcast the entire time in camp and on the trail, with
      occasional pockets of ground fog. Also it was warm and humid, up to
      80 F (27 C) during the day and not much below 60 F (16 C) at night.
      We had two brief rain showers the second night. On this trip I used
      the Thunder Dome as a solo shelter, pitching it on dirt with a small
      amount of leaves and forest duff.
      A non-backpacking night in the Thunder Dome is addressed
      under "Condensation" below.
      OBSERVATIONS
      Size. The Thunder Dome provides enough room for two adult campers
      and a moderate amount of gear. Though my hiking partner on the Hill
      Country trip had car-camped and was used to sleeping in a tent, she
      is new to backpacking; this was why we selected a short and easy
      route. She carried only a day pack, which we stored inside the
      tent. Also inside, in addition to our sleeping pads and bags, each
      of us had a rain jacket, a small stuff sack with spare clothes and
      socks, a water bottle, and a book. We weren't unpleasantly cramped
      sleeping side by side; there was sufficient room even at the
      shoulder point not to require head-to-foot arrangements. The
      vestibule was used to store my pack and boots and her hiking shoes.
      I think my 6'4" (1.91 m) height may be the maximum for comfortable
      two-person use, though, as my head or feet occasionally brushed a
      tent end through the night. A very little bit taller and I'd have
      had to do some poaching. Even at this limit, though, the high side
      wall angles meant that the side of the tent didn't extend over my
      face. I'm mildly claustrophobic but didn't feel at all confined.
      On the Oklahoma hike the Thunder Dome was spacious for one, with
      weekend pack, boots, and camp/water shoes in the vestibule.
      Design. The two-man tent that has been my favorite for ten years
      has, like the Thunder Dome, a canopy design, a term I use to
      describe shelters that have a door along the "long" side. Also like
      the Thunder Dome, that other tent has only one door. This makes me
      all too experienced at sleeping parallel to the door and, when
      necessary, climbing over a prone colleague at night to get outside
      to answer nature's call. If my backpacking partner is another guy,
      I exercise owner's prerogative to sleep next to the door but,
      gentleman that I am, I yield pride of place to a female companion as
      I did in the Hill Country. Not that it matters much in terms of
      disturbance. Speaking as one also experienced in being climbed over
      in these close quarters, it's a rare occasion that the inside
      camper's leaving his sleeping bag and carefully crawling out of the
      tent can be done noiselessly enough to avoid awakening his tent mate
      even if actual physical contact is avoided. So it proved to be in
      the Thunder Dome, even though we carefully chose to sleep with our
      heads at the end of the tent corresponding to the open side of the
      vestibule and left the vestibule door open. The large tent door and
      relatively high vestibule ceiling made this task as manageable, but
      it remains an inconvenience.
      That said, I've been very favorably impressed with the Thunder
      Dome's design. There's little wasted floor space and every one of
      the tent's few features is useful and easy to use. High walls
      angles and a 40+ inch (1 m+) ceiling mean ample room for two people
      to sit up comfortably, even to change clothes inside at the same
      time. I used the loop at the top of the dome to hang a battery
      lantern. The storage pockets are large and allow each camper to
      store numerous small and oft-needed items in one place. The pocket
      on the front of the tent can be used to stash the door when it's
      unzipped. If I haven't completely staked out the vestibule I can
      stow its short section (on the right when facing the tent) between
      the two walls.
      The mesh tent body makes a great sitting or napping area during the
      day – views, breezes, and bug protection. I'm looking forward to
      taking advantage of this next summer for a screened sleeping
      chamber.
      The single pole has been no more difficult to assemble than any
      other shock-corded pole, and it makes pitching the Thunder Dome a
      snap. No fumbling to screw in sections or frustration from color-
      coordinating or other gimmicks that require more than my limited
      mechanical skills and more patience than I usually have. Even when
      I had to do it at night on the Oklahoma trip I was able to pitch the
      entire tent in a very few minutes. Because it's so easy to attach
      the fly with the buckles I have had no worries leaving the fly off
      for daytime ventilation when I'm in or near camp. So far the pole
      has shown no signs of bending out of shape and the arms bend easily
      to fit into the corner grommets.
      Ventilation/Condensation. Really good. No condensation between the
      walls when used for two of us at 40 F (5 C), which was below the dew
      point, or, more surprisingly, with the rain and humidity in
      Oklahoma. The second rain shower woke me that night at about 2.00
      am; four hours later the tent was dry, inside and out, without any
      help from the sun. Some of my fellow campers with similarly-sized
      tents complained of condensation. This speaks well of the fabric in
      the Thunder Dome. On both trips I left the vestibule door unzipped,
      but as noted in my Initial Report with the fly attached I am at
      least partially dependent on the fabric's breathability for
      evaporation.
      Taking advantage (?) of a rainy Saturday night at home in December,
      I slept in the Thunder Dome in my backyard to see how well the
      fabric breathed in cooler temperatures, a low of 36 F (2 C) to be
      precise, with a few scattered rain showers. I was by myself (having
      yet to find anyone else who'd pass up a readily available warm, dry,
      indoor bed for backyard camping in the rain). I left only a couple
      of inches (~5 cm) of the outer door open at the top. My night's
      sleep was undisturbed by any leaks in the tent thanks to MontBell's
      seam-sealing. When I awoke at about 5 am I noticed a thin film of
      condensation on the underside of the outer tent wall, none of which
      had reached the beading stage or fallen on to the mesh of the fly.
      I left the tent up while I gave my dogs and myself breakfast and a
      walk. At 8 am, temperature up a few degrees, though the morning
      remained muggy the film was gone.
      This staged overnight disabused my expectation, stated in my Initial
      Report, that I could not set up the Thunder Dome in the rain without
      getting some precipitation in the tent. Because the pole goes
      between the fly and tent body I cannot store the two walls
      connected. Some indoor practice led me to an acceptable alternative
      that worked on the rainy Saturday night: pitching the fly with just
      the ground sheet, taking the tent body inside and then, starting
      with the ones at the dome, attaching the hooks to the poles. This
      was actually fairly easy to do once I aligned the tent body with the
      fly. There's enough room under the fly to clip the hooks on three
      arms of the pole without leaving shelter. I then stepped outside to
      attach the hooks on the front right arm. Once the hooks are
      connected I can move the pole ends from the ground sheet grommets to
      the tent body grommets and then stake out the tent. There are
      several inches/centimeters of open space between the hem of the fly
      and the ground, allowing me easily to switch three connectors from
      inside the tent, saving the right front one for after completing the
      hook connections. I couldn't figure out a way to manage a dry floor
      without the ground sheet, whose buckle receptacles are needed to
      hold the fly in place while setting the tent body.
      LIKES
      Size. I'm a big man and my habit of using two-man tents when solo
      camping has spoiled me; I like to stretch out in a tent. So it's a
      real compliment when I say that a two-man tent suffices for two.
      Weight. A true shelter for two at just over four pounds (1.8 kg)
      including ground sheet.
      Mesh tent body.
      Exceptionally easy to pitch and strike.
      WISH LIST
      A means of avoiding the midnight crawl-over. Now that it's turning
      cooler a pee bottle should reduce this problem. A second door would
      solve it but add the weight of two long zippers.
      I like to be able to see out. There's no visibility if the
      vestibule door is closed. If not a door on the rear wall, I'd like
      a window on the fly.
      * * * * * * * * *
      This concludes my Field Report. Check back in late February for my
      Long Term Report. Thanks again to MontBell and BackpackGearTest.org
      for the testing opportunity.
    • Mark Wood
      Richard, Here are your official edits for your MontBell Thunder Dome tent. Try as I might, I couldn t find a single. Great report and it sounds like it s
      Message 2 of 5 , Jan 6, 2008
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        Richard,

        Here are your official edits for your MontBell Thunder Dome tent.

        Try as I might, I couldn't find a single. Great report and it sounds
        like it's working out great for you!

        Upload when ready!

        Mark Wood
        MontBell Thunder Dome 2 Monitor
      • richardglyon
        Mark, Can you delete my current Test Report so that I can upload the IR/FR combined? I guess with the Christmas recess it s been too long. Thanks and regards,
        Message 3 of 5 , Jan 6, 2008
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          Mark,
          Can you delete my current Test Report so that I can upload the IR/FR
          combined? I guess with the Christmas recess it's been too long. Thanks
          and regards, Richard
          --- In backpackgeartesters@yahoogroups.com, Mark Wood <mwood_bgt@...>
          wrote:
          >
          > Richard,
          >
          > Here are your official edits for your MontBell Thunder Dome tent.
          >
          > Try as I might, I couldn't find a single. Great report and it
          sounds
          > like it's working out great for you!
          >
          > Upload when ready!
          >
          > Mark Wood
          > MontBell Thunder Dome 2 Monitor
          >
        • Mark Wood
          Could some moderator delete Richard s Montbell Thunder Dome Tent report located at:
          Message 4 of 5 , Jan 6, 2008
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            Could some moderator delete Richard's Montbell Thunder Dome Tent report
            located at:

            http://www.backpackgeartest.org/reviews/Shelters/Tents/MontBell%20Thunder%20Dome%20Tent/Test%20Report%20by%20Richard%20Lyon/

            Thanks!

            Mark

            ps. Richard -- I'm the monitor but not cool enough to have the power to
            delete things. Hopefully this will take care of it for you.

            richardglyon wrote:
            > Mark,
            > Can you delete my current Test Report so that I can upload the IR/FR
            > combined? I guess with the Christmas recess it's been too long. Thanks
            > and regards, Richard
            > --- In backpackgeartesters@yahoogroups.com, Mark Wood <mwood_bgt@...>
            > wrote:
            >> Richard,
            >>
            >> Here are your official edits for your MontBell Thunder Dome tent.
            >>
            >> Try as I might, I couldn't find a single. Great report and it
            > sounds
            >> like it's working out great for you!
            >>
            >> Upload when ready!
            >>
            >> Mark Wood
            >> MontBell Thunder Dome 2 Monitor
            >>
            >
            >
            >
            >
            >
            > Yahoo! Groups Links
            >
            >
            >
          • rayestrella1
            ... Got it Ray
            Message 5 of 5 , Jan 6, 2008
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              --- In backpackgeartesters@yahoogroups.com, Mark Wood <mwood_bgt@...>
              wrote:
              >
              > Could some moderator delete Richard's Montbell Thunder Dome Tent

              Got it

              Ray
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