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Mountain Hardwear Tangent 2 Tent Review

Tangent 2, fully setup.

Tangent 2, fully setup.

 

The Mountain Hardwear Tangent 2 Tent is billed as a lightweight, 4 season tent for alpine climbing.  Double wall construction and lightweight materials create a tent that Hardwear calls "Expedition strength in three-season weight."  It is a great concept for climbers looking for a light tent that can deal with wet, stormy alpine environments.

Unfortunately, the Tangent 2 struggles to live up to the ideals of its design concept.  It looks good set up on the floor of your local REI, but extra plastic parts and attempts to reinvent the wheel compromise its functionality.  The Tangent 2 could be a standout double wall tent among heavy, double walls and minimalist single walls.  Instead, it consistently misses the mark with its overly complex design.

Stats and Layout:

tangent 2 layout

  • Weight Packed: 5 lb. 15 oz. / 2.68 kg.
  • Weight Minimum: 5 lb. 9 oz. / 2.51 kg.
  • Tent Capacity: 2
  • Number of Poles: 3
  • Number of Doors: 2
  • Number of Vestibules: 2
  • Height Interior: 39" / 99 cm
  • Length Packed: 22 in / 56 cm
  • Diameter Packed: 7 in / 18 cm
  • Tent Floor Area: 29 sq. ft. / 2.7 m2
  • Tent Vestibule Area: 10 sq. ft. 1.0 m2 / 10 sq. ft. 1.0 m2

Mountain Hardwear has always made great expeditions tents.  The Trango series is a gold standard for rugged expedition tents.  Although they are expedition-weight heavy,  they are as bomb proof as they come and made to stand up to the abuses big mountains throw their way.  Trango's are well thought out, easy to set up and properly guy out, and handle large snow and wind loads.

The predecessor to the Tangent 2 was the Spire 2, which was widely received as a great design, as evidenced in the Alpinist in 2007.  But, like many designs that perform well in the alpine, Mountain Hardwear's Spire 2 may not have appealed to mass markets of recreationalists.   Adding some flashy molded plastic and a few bells and whistles was probably the market-driven solution to low sales.  This re-design added 1 pound 7 oz and reduced the tents functionality.  This reinvented Spire is harder to repair in the field and harder to set up well (yes, you can set it up fast, but in order to guy it for a storm it is complicated!).

 

Tangent 2 body, without rain fly.

Tangent 2 body, without rain fly.

 

Here is what I found in the field:

 

Pros


  1. Double Wall Design.  This is a rare feature in alpine climbing tents due to the weight it adds.  The Tangent 2 is no exception to this rule, it doesn't blow away it's rivals in the light-ish double wall alpine tent category.  It certainly could be one of the lightest if it's  design favored simplicity and weight instead of flashy design features.  Removing gimmicks such as the "Trident Corner" and mandatory tent stakes at the corners of the tent would easily shave a half pound or more (the Spire 2 tipped the scales at only 4lb 8oz! about a pound and a half lighter!).
  2. Length.  Even with another tall person in the tent, it's fairly comfortable.  Cozy, but comfortable.  I am 6'2" and this tent fits me well with plenty of room at the head and toe for extra gear.  Many alpine climbing tents like the Black Diamond Firstlight or I-Tent force me to cram my head or feet against the tent walls.  This makes for cold toes and condensation soaking my sleeping bag.  I'm not saying the thing is roomy, but I don't expect that from an alpine climbing tent.
  3. Good Water Resistance.  The rain fly does a good job of keeping climbers and gear inside dry.  This is a distinct advantage over many alpine style tents, like the BD Firstlight, that are designed for camping in dry conditions (no precipitation or cold dry snow).  The double wall design also handles internal condensation well.

Cons


  1. Setup is difficult.  The design of this tent is clunky.  Using this tent in the alpine feels like going jogging in cotton cargo pants.
    1. The poles have plastic parts that were destroyed on their maiden voyage.  I expect things to break on tents being put to the test in the mountains, but the plastic parts joining the poles at the "Trident Corners" of the tent are very difficult to fix in the field.
    2. The corners of the tent require staking to properly tension the tent, which is an extremely annoying feature on an alpine climbing tent.  I can't remember the last time I actually used tent stakes.  Most free standing tents use guy lines to tighten the tent fabric and anchor it to snow or rock.  The guy lines are attached to solid blocks of rock or "dead-manned" snow anchors that are strong and don't require climbers to drag in specific gear for that purpose.  This saves the climber from having to carry in tent stakes that can only be used to set up a tent.  Tent stakes are also useless in most alpine terrain- it's either too rocky to place stakes or it's snow, where tent stakes will simply melt out.  There are solutions to this problem (using trekking pole sections anchored with rocks or buried as "deadmen" in snow), but they are time consuming and awkward at best.  This severely limits the usefulness of this tent.
    3. The rain fly relies on the strength of corner anchors (stakes).  The fly of the tent attaches to the tent stake with a 2:1 "pulley", prying even more on the weakest part of the tent: the stakes.  See ""Trident Corner" with rain fly on" Picture below.
Tent pole innovation at it's finest. The Tangent 2 Tent Corner.

Tent pole innovation at it's finest. The Tangent 2 Tent Corner.

Tent corner setup, strangle 2:1 pulley pulls hard on the tent stakes.

"Trident Corner" with rain fly on. The fly clips onto the ring above the stake effectively putting a 2:1 pulley on the tent stakes.

  1. Weight.  
    1. The weight of the Tangent 2 isn't terrible...unless you consider that its predecessor weighed 1.5lbs less.  It's right in there among other double wall tents (see list below), but it has a lot of extraneous weight that doesn't add anything to the functionality of the tent.  Single wall alpine tents like Black Diamond's El Dorado (4lb8oz, a bigger version of the I Tent) tip the scales at a pound less than the 5lb 9oz Tangent.  Most of the increased weight is due to it's double wall design, which as mentioned above, can be an advantage.  It also has two built-in vestibules, which if you require that feature, would add 1lb 6oz to the Eldorado as an add on.
    2. The the gimmicks that make this tent hard to set up properly, also increase it's weight.  The weird "Trident" corners don't do much but add weight, make a flappy pocket that is hard to guy down in wind, and create another plastic part to break in the field.
  2. Doors vent poorly.  While it is nice to have two doors on this tent, it would be nice if they were more functional.  They have tiny vents that don't do much other than increase weight.  It would have been nice to see bigger mesh windows that can actually vent or else remove the mesh to save the weight of the zippers.
Tangent 2 tent doors.

Tangent 2 tent doors.

 


 

 

2 stars orange 130x24Overview      

The bottom line, is there are a lot of fish in the sea.  Why go for the talapia when you could have wild caught salmon?  The Tangent 2 is a good concept with a poor execution.  I'm sure Mountain Hardwear will make some serious simplifications to this tent before they release a new model of the Tangent.  I don't trust this tent to stand up to heavy winds or large snow loads.  I have to depend on my tent to protect me from the elements and I need something I can trust.  For me, the Tangent 2 is not that tent.  Here are a few options that are more impressive:

 

Double Wall:

  1. MRS Fury (double wall, 6 lb 2 oz)
  2. Terra Nova Voyager (double wall, 4 lb 1 oz)
  3. Hilleberg Nallo 2 (double wall, 4 lb 7 oz)

Waterproof Single Wall:

  1. Black Diamond El Dorado (waterproof single wall, 4 lb 8 oz without optional vestibule, 5lb 14oz with)
  2. Mountain Hardwear EV2 (waterproof single wall, 4 lb 10 oz)

For comparison:

Tangent 2 (Weight Packed: 5 lb. 15 oz. / 2.68 kg, Weight Minimum: 5 lb. 9 oz. / 2.51 kg.  I couldn't find any documentation on what is left behind to make the "minimum weight") Mountain Hardwear Tangent 2 Tent Review

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