8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
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This review is from: ALPS Mountaineering Zephyr 2 Backpacking Tent (Sports)
I feel like this tent is a great value for a small, lightweight, two-person, freestanding backpacking tent. I compared many different brands and models (such as Kelty Grand Mesa 2, Kelty Salida 2, Marmot Titan, and REI Passage 2) and this seemed to be the best for the price. I've used it a few times and been very happy with it.
I had used a Kelty Grand Mesa 2 a few times on backpacking trips and it seems to be a good tent with a few deficiencies. One is that it was a little short (82 inches). This is 88 inches. I'm 6'3", so the extra length is good. I find that when I lay on my back my feet still barely rub the tent wall, but it's not even noticeable in a sleeping bag. The width is 58 inches, which is a little wider than some. It is tight for two people, but this is normal for small backpacking tents (contrary to another reviewer--it is a two person tent). This does narrow at the feet to 42 inches (the new Kelty Grand Mesa narrows at the feet as well). While this is probably done to save weight there are possible downsides. One is that when you set the tent up you are locked in to putting your head in a certain direction. Just be sure you know where you want your head when you set it up and be aware of any ground slope. Secondly, I use a large Thermarest Prolite 4, but if you had two of these pads they would slightly overlap at the feet (the large thermarests are 25 inches wide at the head--which fits fine). The headroom is less than some at 38" and concerned me, but I can sit up in it fine. The Zephyr has 31 sq. ft. of space compared to the Grand Mesa's 29 sq. ft. Another thing I looked for on size was pack size. The Zephyr pack size is officially listed as 6" x 18". However, you can pull out the pole bag with poles, and get it to more like 6" x 14" -it packs very small. It's no trouble getting it back into the stuff sack, but it would be nice if they had compression straps on the bag (the REI Passage 2 does) to keep it compact.
I was looking for something under 5 lbs and this comes in at 4 lbs 12 oz. The Grand Mesa is slightly lighter at 4 lbs 10 oz. You can get lighter with other brands and models, but they are priced much higher. Many of the other comparably priced models (such as the Marmot Titan) are over 5 lbs. I wanted a tent with at least mesh on the top for leaving the fly off on a clear night. This one is all mesh except the floor, so it should be good on hot nights.
This tent has good features. Two doors and vestibules is a big one for me. It's a pain to be climbing over someone to get in or out. There are openings on both ends of the fly to help with ventilation. They also put a clear area in the fly so you can see out without unzipping it. There is a handy gear loft in the top and a gear pouch in the middle on the head end--both handy for flashlights and stuff that you need easy access to.
The tent seems well built. The poles are nice aluminum. The materials seem well made. Zippers work well--no snagging. I've had it in the rain and it hasn't let any water in. Set up is easy and quick. You do have to put the poles through two sheaths on the tent which prevents you from pitching up the fly first then the tent. There are plenty of guy points to keep it stable in wind. One thing that they could do to improve is give reflective guy lines. They also give you a few pieces of material for repairs if you ever need them. I bought the floor saver to go with it with gives you a lightweight option of using the floor saver with the fly and leaving the tent home. The floor saver slides into the stuff sack easily with the tent.
In summary, this is a well thought out, high quality, full featured tent that is priced right.
--The pro's: good size to weight ratio, dual doors and vestibules, good ventilation, see through spot in vestibule, high quality materials, and cheaper than most others (I picked it up on Amazon when it was one-hundred and ten dollars cheaper than the "retail" price).
--The con's: shape and small size at feet could cause issues, have to slide poles through sheaths on tent for set up, and no reflective material on guy lines.
Since purchasing this tent I have become aware of two other tents that are worth considering. One is the Mountainsmith Morrison which is even longer, but maintains a low weight (and costs a little more). The other if you are on a budget is the Kelty Zenith. It's basically a cheaper Kelty made for Target--it lacks a lot of the features of this one, but is only 60 dollars