When looking for a tent for backpacking, I want something that is light. That is not the only thing that is important. If it is light but doesn’t last than it is not worth a sense. Also if the weight of a tent was all I cared about I would just take a tarp. Some key features for me are: durability, size, and weight, weatherproof and ease of setting up. In this review I will be going over these key features.
Durability: How well does the tent hold up after repeatedly be used? Does the zipper continue to work or does it get snagged easily? This can be one of the hardest things to be able to test when reviewing a tent. If you had years to test before you wrote the review then this would be easily done. But with a couple months you do your best. Luckily I have a secret weapon for checking durability. It is actually three weapons, called my kids. I have a 1, 3 and 5 year old who love tents. Their favorite thing is to go in and out of a tent and then playing inside. It about puts me over the edge as they open and close the door as well as squeeze in through a half open door. But this is one way to test the durability of a tent. The Swiftlite held up to everything my kids could throw at it.
Size: Is the tent roomy when set up? Does it pack down small? I don’t know about you but there have been many times that I climbed into a two person tent with another adult and thought this is a big one person tent not a two person. Well the Swiftlite is truly a two person tent. One night my kids wanted to go camping, but I had a commitment the next day so that wasn’t going to work so we slept in the backyard in the Swiftlite. So I slept in the middle and had a kid on both sides of me. There was plenty of room for us all. I was surprised at how roomy the tent is. This is nice as there is not a vestibule so all your gear has to go inside with you. Packing small is also a great feature of this tent. It easily packs down to about 16” long and 5 inches thick. I am sure if you need it a little smaller you could compress it even more than 5. I feel that this would be a great tent to use while bike touring.
Weight: This might not be all that important if you are just car camping, but other than that weight matters. The Swiftlite is light. At about 2 lbs. 14 oz. you will love the weight to size ratio of this tent. I have sleeping bags lighter than this tent but I have bags that weigh a lot more too. Also you will be hard pressed to find a tent this light at this price.
Weatherproof: Does it keep the rain out and hold up during windy weather? This can be one of the hardest features to test as I cannot make the wind blow or rain to start falling. This can also be one of the most miserable night’s sleep when testing a tent and finding out in the middle of a storm that the tent doesn’t keep the water out. As luck goes sometimes, the one night I was sleeping in the tent it did rain and the water did stay out. It also was blowing that night and the tent held up. I wasn’t able to ever test this tent in a crazy storm but it did hold up in anything that I was in.
Ease of Setting it up: How quick can you set the tent up? Are the instructions complete or do you need them at all? Can one person set it up or does it take a small army? It helps when setting up a tent to read the instructions beforehand but to be honest most of the time I just try to set it up without them the first time. Sometimes I succeed and other time half way through I start scrambling for the instructions. In either case I always set up a tent at home before taking it out. One reason for this is to familiarize myself with the tent so if I have to set it up in the dark or in bad weather it is a lot easier. But another reason is to make sure you have all parts needed. It would really make a bad trip if you got to your destination and the tent poles are missing.
How easy was the Swiftlite to set up? Easy. It has three poles, one at the back and two up front. The tent does have to be staked down and is not free-standing but it stakes quickly and is very easy to do with one person. When setting it up the first time I did feel a little uneasy about putting the front poles in as it was a tight fit. But after that it was easy and worry-free. I didn’t want to rip anything the first time up. The guy lines are easy to adjust and keep the tent tight all night long.
I have been impressed by this tent. It was been a quick set up and has worked well the few times I have used it. With two vents that run the length of the sides of the tent and a mesh screen at both the front and back, the tent breathes well in hot conditions. Also with the single wall construction you don’t have to worry about the rain fly while setting it up. One of the downsides of this tent is that it is not free-standing. If this is not a big issue for you then it will work well. But if you camp a lot on real sandy ground or the snow you might want to find a free-standing tent.
Overall I have really enjoyed reviewing this tent. It has kept me dry and comfortable and makes getting into the outdoors easy and quick. If you are looking for a lightweight tent that doesn’t break the bank this is a great choice. Below are the specs and info right off of High Peak’s website.
Following the ultralite trend, the Swiftlite is a roomy, two person shelter that weighs just 2 lbs. 14 oz. This single wall tent can be fully enclosed to keep out the elements and features a durable seam-sealed Ripstop nylon construction. Two 7.9 mm 7000 series aluminum poles support the structure. Ventilization is acheived through two, built-in side vents, a zippered door and open foot area with No-see-um, seam-taped bug netting.
• Size: 85″ x 54″ x 43″/43″
• Trail Weight: 2 lbs. 14 oz.
• Pack Weight: 3 lbs.
• Material: 100% Nylon Ripstop
• Flysheet: 20D 400T Silicon PU 1500mm, Nylon Ripstop, Seam Taped, F/R
• Floor: 33D 230T PU 3000mm Nylon Ripstop, Seam Taped, F/R
• Frame: Aluminum 7.9mm
• Ultra Lite Weight
• Silicon Coated Ripstop Nylon
• 2 Built0in Mesh Side Vents
• Zippered Front Door
• Foot Area with No-see-um, Seam Taped Bug Netting
• MSRP: $255.00
Product provided for free by the manufacturer for review purposes.