The Vault Regulars

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Kuiu Mountain Star 2P tent. 2015 model Review. (Short term).

This review is based on an extended weekend use in pretty foul weather, wet and windy with gusts no more than about 30mph. It is an extension to my first look review which can be found here. I would suggest that reading the first look review would be a benefit as i don’t propose to repeat details here.

The Kuiu Mountain Star 2P
Setting Up.
Setting up this tent is very easy even when windy and my proposed method which i gave detail of in the first look review is definitely better than the one that is supplied with the tent.
The main difference is that i feed the poles through the large “D” clips whereas the manufacturer suggests unclipping the “D” clips, locating the poles in position and then fastening the clips.
The trouble is that the spring clips are quite awkward to open and close and more so with a gloved or cold hand. The operation of opening and closing the 4 clips takes time and therefore my method is faster. You are inside quicker.

Stability.
The main body of the tent, that’s the grey section in the photo above is rock solid. The poles stretch both the inner and outer material at the same time and there is no adjusting necessary. The small roof truss pole adds extra rigidity and keeps the tent very firm. The guy lines (4 in total) are perfectly positioned to hunker down the structure in strong winds. We never felt the tent move throughout the weekend and is undoubtably the most stable tent we have been in.
It must be remembered though that this type of tent has to be pitched either end into the wind to gain the best stability.

Poles, pegs, D clips, quick clips and guy lines.
No issues whatsoever. Rock solid. Light weight and do the job.

Ventilation.
The 2 vents and the mesh inner would seem to give adequate ventilation. We had no condensation at all on either night although it may have had more to do with the inner temperature and the outer temperature being similar.
So the venting issue is still to be assessed properly under varying temperature conditions.

One thing i did notice was that i could see rain drops on the lip of the fabric which lies under the vent hood. Therefore swirling wind driven rain had found its way in. I don’t think it made its way onto the inner but it showed me that it is possible.
I would suggest that Kuiu review this area. Maybe making the vent hood slightly longer.
I agree the vent can be closed in heavy rain but then ventilation suffers.

Groundsheet.
I found the relationship between the floor and my Thermarest Neo Air mat to be a sound partnership. The mat never moved around like it used to do in the Tarptent Scarp 2. However Sheila’s Karrimor x-lite mat moved around badly. It looks like a new mat is the next purchase.
There was no water ingress through the groundsheet. I used a Tyvek sheet underneath the floor but it was smaller than a purchased footprint would be. I will get one to fit properly as i think it is a bonus to use one and Tyvek is so light that it doesn’t make that much difference to the overall weight.

Inner.
Brilliant. We loved the inner even though it is mesh and in the UK we like our solid inners or at least partial solid. The space to weight and the head room is fantastic and the almost vertical end walls make the room seem enormous. Sheila more than once picked up on how small the tent looked from the outside but how big it seemed on the inside.
The white mesh and the grey outer means the inside is very bright and whoever came up with the idea of a luminous logo on the inner roof should be applauded and taken out for a beer. This logo acts as a night light. It is bright enough to enable you to get your bearings on those black nights. You can see just enough to find things but its not bright enough that it will keep you awake or that you can carry out detailed work. This is the first time i have come across this detail but i’m certain it won’t be the last.

The four corner pockets are adequate, not huge.
The inner door zips are single way and although they don’t pose a problem i still would prefer 2 way zips. The door shape works well and allows you to sit and cook in the porch area without stretching the fabric.

Outer doors and porch area. 
Here i am going to open a bag of worms. I am not sure what happened with the door configuration but its wrong.

Look at the photograph at the top of the post.
Imagine that the end you are looking at is also the direction of a strong breeze. (It wouldn’t matter if the wind was on the other end, the scenario would be the same.)

You can see that the door on the right side is pegged out and it is protecting the occupants and the porch area from the wind.
Now look at the left side. The first door is tied to the tent, that's because there is no grosgrain loop and cord to peg out the door to the floor.?
The far LH door that does have the peg out cord is now funnelling the wind straight into the tent providing no protection for the occupants or the porch area and making cooking next to impossible.
So, if you only want to provide one door per side with a tie down point then it should be the same one on either side. Not diagonally opposite doors.

The only way to close the door without the tie down point is to zip it up and you only want to zip it up when either the rain is too much or your going to bed.

But why not simply provide all four doors with a grosgrain loop so that any door can be tied down. The cost would be miniscule.

Due to this “design” the flap that covers the zip on the RH door works with the wind, it stays closed and protects the zip from water ingress. But the LH door zip cover is constantly blown backwards off the zip and can allow water through the zip. They are not water resistant zips.

So how did we end up with a design like this when it has supposed to have been severely tested in the field. There are many possibilities of which i am not privy to.  I hope Shaun Ayers can answer the question.

1. Maybe because of CAD design the RHS of the tent was designed and then flipped to duplicate a LHS?
2. Because the design is for head to toe sleeping?
3. I wonder what the field testers thought and if it was raised at all?
4. Was it a Factory Production Method to keep the number of individual parts and assembly numbers down to keep costs down?
We all can surmise but it begs a question all the same.

The porch areas are an adequate size and a manageable space to cook/boil water in. (With care of course).
They are big enough to hold all your backpacking gear. And as i said in the first look review, the lack of two way zips on the outer doors is not befitting of a tent this good and in this price bracket. They need to be re-instated asap.

Flapping Door fabric.
From my previous post i mentioned that i was woken during the night to the wind being fierce and the tent door flapping noisily. The peg was secure and the tie tight so i couldn’t understand what was causing it. It was dark and raining so i didn’t investigate it at the time.
The next day just seconds prior to taking the tent down i noticed what i think is the problem.
Take a look at the photograph below.

The door is pegged out and its not fully taught because its not zipped to the other door.
(But for this exercise just think that it was.)
Now look to the right at the bottom of the pole. There is a black length of grosgrain tensioning the grey body of the tent and the orange door to the pole.
When the wind blows strong in the direction from left to right it pushes the bottom of the grey tent fabric inboard. This has the knock on effect that it slackens off the tension on the orange door material. Causing it to flap. The stronger and longer the gust the more the door will flap.
It cannot be resolved by increasing the tension or repositioning of the door guy line.

My opinion is that a quick clip needs to be fitted at the point where the grey and orange materials are sewn to the grosgrain and this should then be clipped to the pole. This will reduce the deflection caused by the wind and reduce the door flapping.
(I am going to do this modification myself and see how it works.)

Summary.
We purchased this tent with our own money and paid the duty etc etc. We wanted it to be perfection.
It’s not far off but its not perfect.
This is a solid, stable, robust and waterproof tent made of quality materials all round, except the zips which could be better, The space is just right inside and its a pleasant bright space to be in.
We have no waterproofing issues at this time and hope that we never do.
Its lightweight for a 2 person tent and the exoskeleton design gives options for those who just want a tarp.
It packs away small and fits into the mesh pocket on the front of my rucksack. (Mammut Creon Lite.)
Kuiu sacks are just a bit too heavy for my needs. Sorry guys.

Am i glad i bought it?
Without any shadow of a doubt. I would buy it again tomorrow. The things that i found that i consider let it down are easily fixed by myself but i hope Kuiu take some of the points on board and improve it closer to perfection for the next release.

Oh yes one last point. The 2014 model was all grey and the orange was added in 2015 to make the tent more visible from the sky for air drops in North America and Alaska. I can understand that.
In the UK we sometimes need to stealth camp and so the more the colours blend in with the surroundings the better. If a solid grey or green was available as an option i would have chosen that.

The review i posted on this tent which was “First Look”, straight out of the bag can be found HERE.


Disclaimer. 
The tent here was purchased by me using my own funds. All duties were paid by me.
I have no association with Kuiu in any way shape or form. They have no influence on this review whatsoever.





6 comments:

Dawn Linney said...

Good write up Alan, that door set up certainly looks iffy though.

AlanR said...

Yes its a strange set considering its point of usage. I have already modified mine so all 4 doors can be pegged independently. It will be interesting to see if i get a reply on it from Shaun. Stlll, as you know well Dawn, there is always some issue that can be contraversial.

afootinthehills said...

All in all an excellent purchase it seems. Quite a wild night of wind and rain you had Alan so good testing conditions.

AlanR said...

Hi Gibson, thanks for commenting. Yes, it turned out to be awful and so it was ideal conditions to see how it performed and to give us the confidence to know it will stand up to pretty much any weather. I’ve now completed all the mods which i have suggested so i just need to get out again and see if i was correct. Any excuse to get into the hills really.

John Sanderson said...

Both Tarptents I own (Notch and Stratospire 1) have the same diagonally opposing door set-up. But it's not so much of a problem with a 1 person tent and actually quite useful when the wind changes direction over night, I can just switch cooking and exit to the other side. Liking that luminous logo, inspired.

AlanR said...

Hi John, My Scarp 2 wasn’t diagonally opposing so i am used to that. I am not against having diagonally opposing doors as long as the other 2 doors have a loop of grosgrain on the bottom edge so that the user (of which there are 2) could decide which door he/she wanted pegged and so be protected from the wind which ever way it blows. The 2 people may want to cook individually. It’s such a simple and cheap addition it’s a no brainer in my opinion.
The logo as you say is inspiring.

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