Monday, August 9, 2010

Gear Review: Big Agnes Fairview 1

Tent
In the wind on Heart Lake, Montana

I was looking for a good lightweight solo tent that wasn't going to break the bank, and when I found this baby on REI Outlet for $150.0, I snatched it up. I admit I was hesitant at first because of the price, and the fact that I hadn't heard anything about it, but I trusted in the Big Agnes name, and pulled the trigger.

There is nothing fancy about this tent, it's just simple and functional. The cross-pole design is so easy to pitch you could probably do it with your eyes closed. I am 5'8" and broad shouldered, and this tent was very roomy for me. I had plenty of clearance on both sides and head-to-toe. I could sit up easy without touching my head on the top, and the inside pockets were perfect for my headlamp and bear spray. Unlike other solo tents I've seen, it's not like you're sleeping in a coffin. It actually feels like a tent.

It rained on me every night on a trip in Montana's Lolo National Forest, and not an ounce of water got in. It most certainly is waterproof. I was somewhat concerned about moisture on the inside due to the lack of mesh, but found it dry every morning. The very top of the inner wall is all mesh, and combined with the vents on the rainfly, it really circulates air well. Speaking of the rainfly, the vestibule is quite small, but should be just enough to cover your gear.

I also dealt with fairly high winds (30-40mph) camped on shore at a high mountain lake, and had zero problems. I didn't even guy it out all the way, and it held fast all night. In the morning my hiking companion's Kelty Crestone looked like it took a beating, but the Fairview was still taut and sturdy.

The bottom line is that I really love this tent. The only drawback with this tent (like almost all freestanding tents) is the weight, at 3lbs 8oz. If you're thinking ultra-light it is way too heavy. In fact, this tent is straight-up heavy. If ultra-light isn't your deal, and you would rather sleep soundly at night with the knowledge that you're protected from the elements, then I would highly recommend this tent. 



**UPDATE** 12/7/11

A lot of people have been reading this review so I wanted to throw out a quick update.

I have had this sucker for two hiking seasons now and my opinion of it hasn't changed at all. I LOVE it! Every time I take it backpacking I am constantly reminded of how awesome this tent is. The pitch is so tight and it's roomy. I still have had ZERO problems with condensation or leaking. Now, since I first wrote this review my preferences have shifted to more of an "ultralight" style so at 3 pounds it is on the heavy side. But if you are doing overnights and weekends and weight doesn't bother you, this thing is perfect. 

Tent
Without the rainfly on Cabin Lake, Montana

Tent
The vestibule is small, but still enough for one persons stuff.