Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Alps Mountaineering Extreme 2 Backpacking Tent Review

With our recent 2012 Holiday Gadget gift Guide, we had a couple outdoor products included in a handheld GPS from Magellan, and a Sigma High Power LED Bike light.  It made us realize that not everyone uses their electronic gear indoors.  Cell phones, cameras, camcorders, iPods, and GPS receivers tend to come with us when we go camping.  So we are doing a crossover series of some gear that we would use camping, backpacking, or just outdoors.  I volunteer as an Assistant Scoutmaster for our local boy scout troop, and will be testing products while camping with them.  Today we will be reviewing the Alps Mountaineering Extreme 2 tent. There are a lot of options to choose from then it comes to tents. A couple of features that I look for are strength, and weight. After all, tents are made to provide shelter, and if it is rainy and windy, you want a tent that will stay up and keep you and your gear dry. And if I am going on a trek, I don’t want a tent that is too heavy to be carrying around. The Alps Mountaineering Extreme 2 is both strong and lightweight.  I also appreciate the lifetime warranty for my hard earned cash.
Features and Specs:
·        Free Standing 3 Pole Design with 7000 Series Aluminum Poles
·        Easy Assembly with Pole Clips that quickly snap over the tent poles
·        75D 185T Polyester Fly resists UV damage and stays taut
·        Factory Sealed Fly & Floor Seams give best weather protection
·        75D 185T Taffeta Floor with 2000mm Coating
·        Extra Large #8 Zippers on Doors and Vestibules
·        Easy Entry & Great Ventilation with 2 Doors (both with zippered mesh windows)
·        2 Vestibules for gear storage and extra weather protection
·        Weatherproof Fly Buckles on for maximum adjustability and protection
·        Multiple Fly Vents increase ventilation
·        6061 Aluminum Stakes
·        Pole Bag, Stake Bag, Tent Bag with Drawstring
·        Guy Rope
·        Repair Swatches
·        Gear Loft
·        Mesh Storage Pockets

The tent came shipped in a standard brown box, and was in their storage bag that also had images of the tent. My first impression was the weight. For a strong two person tent, the Alps Mountaineering Extreme 2 was fairly light. For backpackers, this is important. Their website lists the weight at 6lbs 8oz and I weighted it in at 6lbs 9oz. Opening the bag yielded the tent, fly, and two other bags. One bag held the poles, and the other held the stakes. Also included in the review is the separate floor saver, with its bag. Quality of the materials, and construction appeared very good.
It was time to pull it out and set up the tent. The separate floor saver was the same size as the tent’s footprint. Next I pulled out the tent and laid it out over the floor saver. Pulling out the aluminum poles, they were easy to connect and attach to the tent. The rain fly was next and easily connected to the tent. Being a winter campout, the tent was set up over some packed snow. It was also late at night when we pulled in and set up camp with my scout troop. Since it was late and setting up on packed snow, I decided not to use the stakes. And it ended up being a good test for the tent. Now let’s talk about some of the individual main components, after being able to take a closer look and inspection.

I was impressed with the quality of the poles. They were made of 7000 series aluminum, were light weight, but were also very strong. The pieces slid into each other for a perfectly snug fit. They seemed very durable. I also noticed that the end of each pole was color coded. One was blue, one was red, and one was silver. I noticed there were color coded ends on the tent corners, for blue and red. Couple that with the pole clips on the tent to hold the poles in place. This made for an amazingly easy set up. When setting up the tent in the snow, it was much appreciated.
I similarly really liked the rain fly. The corners of the tent and fly had plastic clips. Once the tent was set up, attaching the fly was as easy as throwing it on, and attaching the clips. The quality of materials and construction of the fly was also very good. I really liked the two large vestibules created by the rain fly.  Both ends of the fly also had a small plastic window, so you can peak out of the tent through them.

Now that the tent is set up, I got inside and took a closer look. The quality of materials and construction was very good. I saw no issues with the stitching, and there was no loose stitching. And areas that needed extra strength, such as where the pole clips for the poles were located, were double stitched. The floor of the tent was durable nylon, but also rather thin. So I would definitely recommend getting the ground cover, for extra protection. There were side pockets on the inside to hold loose items such as keys. And in case that wasn’t enough, a small mesh loft is included that attaches to the top of the tent with loops. It will also hold a few loose items. Across the top of the tent are three mesh sections. So when the rain fly is not needed, you can do some star gazing. I also like the fact that there are two doors, one on each side of the tent.  So if someone needs to get up in the middle of the night, there is no need for one camper to climb over the other.  The doors also had built-in mesh windows.  And as is the case with most 2 man tents....2 people will fit in, but it will be a bit friendly.  Zippered vents were also found in the roof of the tent, and all of the zippers throughout the tent were the larger size #8 and were very good quality.  But as with most 2 man tents, that would be expected to cut down on size, which would in return cut down on weight.
I was really impressed with the design of the tent. With the layout of the poles, the tent is quite strong. And with the rain fly snapping into place, the rain fly will not be going anywhere. The design worked perfectly for me. During our scout campout, a storm came in. We had about 7 inches of snow dumped on us during the night, with wind gusts of around 30-40 mph. With setting up the tent late at night, and over packed snow, I did not use the included tent stakes. Yet with the storm, the tent fly stayed firmly in place.   And I was dry and warm.

The Alps Mountaineering Extreme 2 tent exceeded my expectations. With the lifetime warranty, I was expecting a quality product. Alps Mountaineering delivered in spades, and the design, quality, and features really showed in its performance. With an MSRP of $249, the Alps Mountaineering Extreme 2 tent is a bargain. As solid a tent as it is, the Extreme 2 tent is technically considered a 3 season tent.  I can only imagine how good one of their 4 season tents would be.  I definitely hope to see more from Alps Mountaineering come our way for review. Based on its design, features, quality, and performance, the Extreme 2 tent has earned our Highly Recommended award. Kudos to Alps Mountaineering for such a great product at an amazing price.  For more info and complete specs, check out their website at