Bear Creek 200 Tent by Paha Que' - Gear Review

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Paha Que' touts this as their first 2-person backpacking tent providing protection in all types of weather.  The featherlight design is one of the lightest tents I have ever had my hands on; at about 5 pounds it is barely noticeable.

Unboxing:
The tent comes in a carrying bag which, upon opening, was encased in a heavy plastic bag.  Inside these bags are the "floor," waterproof nylon rainfly, 3 poles (2 for the tent, one for the rainfly, also in a plastic bag), stakes, and tie-downs for the fly.  There are 3 bags total: 1 for the stakes and tie-downs, one the poles, and one for the whole thing.

Setup:
The directions for the set-up are attached to the pole bag, and the professed "5 minute or less" setup is true to its word.  Simply lay out the floor, stake in the 4 corners, insert the poles through the sleeves and into the grommets at the stake points and you have the "tent."  Insert the pole into the rainfly pockets, drape it over the floor, and secure it with the stakes and poles (you remove the poles from the floor grommets, insert them into the rainfly grommets put them back into the floor).  This is far-and-away one of the easiest tents I have ever put up.

Pros:
In addition to the ease of setup, the tent's foot print is extremely roomy.  At 6'3" I was able to stretch out without needing to be a contortionist, and there was plenty of room for another person next to me without being crowded.  The "bathtub" floor would definetly keep the rain from coming into the tent from underneath, and the rainfly provides a safety dome to keep just about everything else out.  I especially liked the vestibule the rainfly forms at the entrance.  It is perfect for getting out of the weather and taking your shoes off to avoid dirtying the inside of the tent, and it could provide some storage for gear.

Cons:
While the footprint may be roomy, the 36" height provides little head space.  You would have to be under 6' tall to sit up in this tent, and even then I think you would be pushing it. This seems less of a tent and more of a large bug screen with an optional umbrella.  The tent is designed for sleeping in the open (bug screen) or providing a bunker from the elements using the rainfly (optional umbrella).  If you aren't keeping an eye on/don't have access to the weather you could make a grave choice sleeping without the rainfly only to be awakened by rain (or worse) and having to hastily put it on. And there is no middle ground; using the rainfly keeps out the elements as well as no air movement to speak of.  I set this up lakeside with a strong wind from north of which not a whisp entered the tent.  Even pulling back the rainfly vestibule and exposing the tent did no good in the absence of a cross ventilation opening.

In the end you have two choices: comfortable and exposed to the elements or protected and stuffy. Overall this is a nice, light tent for backpacking or regular portaging.  It has plenty of room to sleep 2 people comfortably with a little extra room for gear.  The rainfly and Bathtub floor design will certainly keep you dry, but it provides no breathability making the tent stuffy.  This would be a great tent for early spring or in the fall.  In the summer you'll have to choose between comfortable sleeping or guaranteed dryness.  Unless you have regular access to the weather forecast you may want to skip this one for warmer trips. MSRP: $299

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