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Gear Review: Hotcore Products Mantis 2 Tent

About a year ago, I decided it was time to replace one of my favourite old tents, a 16 year old MEC Wanderer 2.  After years of use and abuse, it was pretty much finished!

The only reason I had kept that tent for so long was that it almost perfectly met my specific needs.  So when I went looking for a replacement, I did my homework, studied a lot of specifications and gathered feedback from the amazing outdoor community.  My decision? A Hotcore Products “Mantis 2” tent.


Hotcore Products Mantis 2

I’ve now used the Mantis 2 for three seasons.  Am I happy with my purchase?  Did the tent fail me at the worst possible time?  Should you consider a Hotcore tent?  Read on for answers to these pressing questions!

First, a few caveats.  I do a variety of camping and already own multiple tents.  The tent I use most often is an MSR Hubba NX, a small, very lightweight but versatile solo tent.  The one I use the least is a Snowtrekker Canvas hot tent, Crew Model.  It’s large, heavy and I only use it in winter or a few weeks on either side of winter.  It’s like having a small cabin in the woods!

The Mantis 2 was purchased for use when car camping, or canoe camping with few portages.  This is another way of saying the weight of the tent wasn’t an important factor in my decision making.  I wanted something roomy, well made, with two large vestibules, and at a price even a poor photographer could easily handle!

Mantis 2 Before Putting on Outer Fly

My first couple of times out with the Mantis 2 this past Spring were uneventful.  I found the tent easy to put up, and it held firm in windy conditions, even exposed on the edge of a lake in Algonquin.

The tent is roomy and I especially like that there are multiple ways to organize my stuff inside, including mesh pockets in the walls and a “gear loft” in the ceiling - something which other tent manufacturers sell as an add-on.

My third time out with the Mantis 2 was a bit more “tense”.  I was car camping while on my way to a backcountry canoe trip.  It was late in the day and pouring rain.  I had to get the tent up fast and was stuck in a site that was “spongy” wet; yuk!  I got it setup fairly quickly and put my stuff inside with some trepidation.  Would my sleeping bag or other gear get soaked?

I soon started to relax as the floor remained cool but dry, and despite heavy rain, there were no drips or leaks inside.  I stayed dry all night, woke the next morning to better conditions and an improved sense of trust in my new tent.  This trust was further reinforced as I spent more nights in the rain as the year progressed.

The Mantis 2 Handled Heavy Rain Without Issue

In July, I went on a weekend trip with one of my daughters and her fiancé.  They used the Mantis 2 while I used my solo MSR.  They were able to fit all their gear into the Mantis 2 and slept snugly over the weekend.  When I asked them for feedback on the tent, they said they found it comfortable and had just enough room, but sometimes found it hard to close the outer fly before getting into the inner tent (you have to reach awkwardly behind you to reach the zipper).

I agreed, having experienced the same thing.  While the vestibule is a good size, it isn’t meant to fit a whole person.  If you get into the tent, turn around and then zip the vestibule closed, there’s no issue.  I see this as more of an annoyance than a deal breaker.

It’s worth noting here another small touch.  While most tents have an opening or two in the fly for airflow, the openings in the fly of the Mantis 2 have mesh screens in them!  This helps keep the bugs out, as bugs often come in though those opening and stay caught under your fly until either they sneak into your tent when the door opens, or when you take the tent down to change locations.  I like that someone thought of that and put the mesh there to prevent it.

This past fall, when the bugs were mostly gone, I was able to use the Mantis 2 in what I call “shelter mode”; this is when you set the tent up with the ground sheet and the fly but omit the inner tent.  It’s exceptionally roomy in this configuration, and you can also use it as a quick alternative to setting up a tarp.  Not all tents can be setup in this way, and it’s one of the factors that helped me to choose the Mantis 2.

Mantis 2 in "Shelter Mode"

Was there anything about the tent that I didn’t like or would change?  Two things come to mind, but they’d probably add to the cost of the tent.  

The first would be stronger and lighter tent pegs.  The tent comes with fairly thick, “old fashioned” pegs that bend easily.  I’d much rather have stronger and lighter pegs, and will probably buy replacements this winter.  

The second thing I’d change is the tent stuff sack.  It’s a standard stuff sack which gets the job done, but the result is bulky.  I’d prefer a compression style sack similar to the ones MSR provides with their tents.  It’s easier to fit the tent in that style bag, and it keeps the packed size down.  Again, it “would be nice” but isn’t a big deal to me.  

Overall, I’m very happy with my purchase.  I have a roomy, versatile tent that can withstand wind and rain.  It shows attention to detail in some areas (gear loft, mesh screens, reflective guy lines) that other brands miss.  When I purchased it, the price was under $220 dollars, and I’ve seen it on sale for even less.  When I think about how much it costs me to stay for just one night in a hotel or an Airbnb rental, the value is incredible!

If you’re looking for a new tent, I’d definitely recommend you check out Hotcore Products.

Final word: I am not associated with Hotcore Products in anyway, and I purchased this tent myself!