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Replacing An Old Friend

In 2007, I bought a used MEC Wanderer 2 tent for car camping and easy backcountry trips with only one or two short portages.  The extra room over my ultralight backpacking tent made it great for outings with family members.  The two huge vestibules with paired separate entrances made getting in and out easy, even with loads of gear, and provided great ventilation.

My Old Friend: A MEC Wanderer 2

Well, after countless trips over 15 years, in all four seasons, it needs to be replaced; it's now beyond simple mending and seam sealing.

Before pulling the trigger and making a purchase, I reached out to my Instagram community and asked for comments and suggestions.  Many people kindly took the time to engage, and I received great feedback and detailed comments.  I had a lot to think about!

I took a morning to do some research, collect information, and pull together a summary of the key attributes of the various tents I was looking at, based on what’s important to me.  

That last point is key: my ultimate desire is to find a tent with a specific design that I love, that truly works for me.  You might choose a different tent based on what’s important to you!

Here’s the data I collected, sorted by the “Total Combined Space * Height” column:

Data Table

I listed the Wanderer 2 as the first row in the table as it’s my “baseline” comparator.  If it wasn’t discontinued, I’d buy another one.

I put the Big Agnes/Blacktail Hotel 2 last, effectively in a separate category, as that tent has an unusual design (one huge vestibule, much like the MSR “Gear Shed”).  While it has the most combined space, it doesn’t have the symmetric floor plan/layout that I’m looking for.

Considering space alone, the Eureka/El Capitan looks like a great choice!  It’s roomy, offers good head room, and the weight is fine.  That said, the Hotcore/Mantis 2 is almost the same size, is a bit lighter than the El Cap, and is $134 less expensive, pre tax.  I would probably be very happy with either…. but I need to choose one!

From this data, and based on what I’m looking for in a tent, I'll be placing an order for a Hotcore/Mantis 2.  The layout, size, and price are just hard to beat.  Time will tell if it will have the same durability and “storm proof” features as my Wanderer 2, but I’m eager to find out!

Comments welcome.