Choosing a Tent

We originally anticipated starting our journey with our existing tent, a Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) Tarn 3. The Tarn has been a fantastic tent for over 10 years, we have used it for backpacking and kayaking trips but when it comes down to living out of for the next few years, well let’s just say we weren’t keen on the idea. With only one door and therefor one vestibule and limited space we felt we’d be better off looking for a new one. With help from  MEC’s Expedition Support program, we were able to make that happen!

 

Since our tent will be our primary residence over the next few years, we feel it’s an essential decision that requires a lot of consideration. The following is a list of attributes we wanted our new home to have:

– 3-person tent;

– 2 doors;

– large vestibules – for storing gear;

– waterproof;

– good ventilation;

– free standing;

– neutral colored fly (for stealth camping);

– light;  and

– easy to set-up.

 

Looking at several tent designs we narrowed it down to two models that fit the above criteria:

 

  1. MEC Apollo, and
  2. MSR Mutha Hubba.

 

Both of these tents also allow to set-up the fly and footprint alone, without the actual tent for a quick shelter. In addition, both of these tents were actually pretty comparable in set-up time, about 7 minutes (fresh out of the bag). With practice I am sure future set-up will be sub-five minutes! MEC carries both tents and upon receipt of funding and said for us to choose any gear we’d like so we didn’t feel obligated to look solely at MEC brand tents.

 

Here’s what we thought of these two tents …

 

 

Side Note: this is out first attempt at making a video.. bear with us!

 

  MEC Apollo MSR Mutha Hubba

Pros

  • neutral fly (grey)
  • quick set-up
  • thick floor (10,000mm)
  • 2 vents
  • vestibules on the sides
  • windows
  • large interior space
  • can pull fly away from tent
  • includes patch kit material
  • less expensive
  • neutral fly (green)
  • quick set-up
  • more waterproof footprint
  • allows for gear loft
  • lighter footprint

Cons

  • doesn’t allow for gear loft
  • stakes seem flimsy
  • heavier footprint
  • less waterproof footprint (2000mm)
  • thin floor (3000mm)
  • no vents
  • no windows
  • vestibules at head and feet
  • smaller interior space
  • no way to pull fly away from tent
  • no patch kit materials

 

Overall we felt that the pros for the MEC Apollo outweighed the pros of the MSR Mutha Hubba. We felt the major positives for the MEC Apollo tent included the vents, better floor (i.e. higher waterproofness rating), larger interior space, windows and the vestibules being located on the side. We weren’t crazy about the fact that there isn’t a place to secure a gear loft,  small internal pockets, and what seem to be flimsy stakes, but we felt that all these factors were livable and/or substitutable issues. In addition, the actual storage bag for the MEC Apollo is more durable than that of the MSR Mutha Hubba as it’s made from the same material as the floor.

 

MEC Apollo and MSR Mutha Hubba

Two Tents Set-up: MEC Apollo (left) MSR Mutha Hubba (right)

 

packed tents

Packed tents: MSR Mutha Hubba (left) MEC Apollo (right)

 

Below is a more detailed spec. comparison between the two:

 

Specifications

MEC Apollo

MSR Mutha Hubba

Price

$329.00

$389.00

Weight

3kg (7 lbs.)

3.14kg (7 lbs.)

Number of Vestibule(s)/Door(s)

2

2

Vestibule Location

Side

Head/Foot

# of Vents

2

None

Free Standing

Yes

Yes

Allow for Gear Loft

No

Yes

Footprint Price

$27.00

$34.00

Footprint Weight

510 g

300 g

Footprint Waterproofness

1500mm

2000mm

Canopy Fabric

40-denier nylon ripstop

40-denier nylon ripstop

Floor Fabric

70-denier HT-Seal + nylon

40-denier nylon ripstop

Floor Waterproofness

10,000mm

3000mm

Floor Area

4.5sq. m

3.7sq. m

Interior Peak Height

1.17m

1.2m

Fly Fabric

30-denier nylon ripstop

40-denier nylon ripstop

Fly Waterproofness

1500mm

1500mm

Floor Width

1.9m

1.7m

Floor Length

2.3m

2.1m

Window(s)

2

None

Pole Type

DAC Featherlite NSL 7001 T6 aluminum

DAC Featherlite NSL 7001 T6 aluminum

Repair material

Patch material for all surfaces, Pole sleeve

Pole sleeve

 

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