Exped Venus II Tent
Now that the camping season is over and I’m back from my last camping trip of the year Mr. UPS man delivered my new tent. It was initially scheduled to arrive Friday which would be in time for the Vintage BMW Central Cal Campout and BBQ. The delay was beyond the control of UPS. At least that’s what their tracking page said. Anyway, the tent was packed with a nice layer of protection to make sure it wouldn’t be damaged by impatient owners with a box cutter. Inside was the plastic wrapped tent.
The tent comes in a "burrito bag" instead of the typical end loaded stuff sack. It makes it very easy to get the tent into and out of the bag. The packed dimensions are about 21 inches long and about 7 inches in diameter.
The tent is partially wrapped around a very nice bag with zippered pockets for the three tent poles, lots of stakes, and some accessories. The "sardines" label for the stakes will become clear in a little bit. The bag has loop-and-T fastener if you want to attach it to something like your belt as you set up the tent.
The difference between this tent and many others is that the inner tent is hung from the fly. The tent is laid out with the rain fly up and then the gear bag is fetched to start feeding poles through flat sleeves in the outer rain fly. The poles are DAC Featherlites.
One end has an adjustable cup where the end of the pole sits. That is the near or starting end. Feed the pole without bothering to first put it together. The far end has a re-enforced cup that receives the end of the pole. With practice you might not need to walk to the far end to check that the pole is in place. I don’t have that much practice, yet.
The near end cup is thick fabric around an aluminum cylinder. The cylinder plus some tape can be used to repair a broken pole in the field. There is one in the accessory pouch so you don’t have to use any of the four that are part of normal tent use unless things really get bad. Once the end of the pole is in the cup a strap is pulled to place the proper tension between tend and pole. The second pole goes in the same way as the first.
There is a transverse mounted pole that goes across the top. It is fed into the sleeve section at a time. Then the far end is placed in a pocket and the near end in an adjustable pocket. When the adjustment is pulled tight the tent is free standing and can be re-positioned at will.
The tent is free standing, but I suspect most will stake it out, especially the portion of the rain fly that gives good vestibule space on both sides. The first picture shows the rain fly before the staking out the tent.
I decided to tie up one side and stake out the other to get a feel for the various options. The clips to hold the vestibule door out of the way are easier to use than the normal T-in-loop that I’m used to.
The tent comes with a dozen narrow V stakes and 6 wide V stakes… plenty for mounting in different kinds of soil. I used one stake to protect my hand while pushing in other stakes. This worked in the soft lawn of my back yard. I’ll have some kind of hammer or mallet when I’m traveling. The stakes look a bit like sardines, no?
When used in wind there are several extra tie down points. Guys are supplied in a holder to keep them out of the way when packed or otherwise unused. The holder acts as a daytime flag to locate the guys when deployed. The guys are reflective for night visibility.
‘The interior width is close to the exterior width, but the length is a bit shorter. I’m 6’0" and the tent is just long enough for me. Another inch or two would be nicer. I suspect anyone over 6’ would find the tent too short.
There is a gear loft plus 4 pockets, one on each side of both doors. The third photo shows how the tent is suspended from the rain fly. You could remove the tent from the fly and use the fly alone. Or you can move the poles and use the tent alone. I don’t think I’ll ever do that. In the last dozen years I’ve never pitched my tent without the fly.
At first glance the tent door looks like one piece. If you look at the zipper on the inside you see two rows. Unzip the inner row and the door will peal back leaving no-see-em mesh. The door is tied off using the same kind of hook used on the rain fly. There are also two ventilation eyes that can be propped open or velcroed shut in inclement weather.
The first picture is the tent from the side with the vestibule tied off. If used in a light rain the overhang might be enough to let you sit in the tent with the door open, cooking outside. The other picture is of the other side of the tent were I staked out the vestibule.
The accessories pocket holds more guy cords, some material to patch holes, a ferule for patching broken poles, and some zipper pulls. With luck I’ll never need any of the items.
To break down the tent remove any stakes. Then loosen the tensioning strap across the top and push the pole out of the sleeve. Don’t bother trying to pull the pole. All you’ll do is pull pole sections appart and stretch the shock cord.
Then do the same thing with the other two poles. Note that I left the vestibule tied off on one side. It doesn’t hurt to put the tent away like that as far as I know.
Make sure the rain fly is inside the boundary of the tent bottom them fold the bottom lengthwise into thirds. Fold into thirds again in the other direction.
Put the gear bag in the center and roll the tent around the bag getting the air out. When done put it inside the tent bag, flip over the rain flap, and tighten the cord. This tent packes up faster than any other tent I’ve seen. I like that.
The last image is a comparison of packed size between the Exped Venus II and my REI Half Dome 2 (the 2004 version). Neither tent is packed as tight as it could be. Both are small enough for my needs.