Hands-on Gear Review
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Street Price: Varies from $540 - $675 | Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros: Strong, lightweight, livable, good ventilation, integrated vestibule, snow port, two windows.
Cons: Canopy is hard to tension properly, only for winter use, no bug netting on doors.
Best Uses: High altitude mountaineering.
Manufacturer: Mountain Hardwear
The Mountain Hardwear EV2 is a well-designed, strong, and highly livable expedition-worthy single-walled winter shelter. Scoring well in all areas, the EV2 is our highest rated single wall tent. Three Atlas Scandium XL poles, 38 plastic clips, waterproof-breathable Conduit FR walls, and low stretch reinforcing panels make the tent very strong for its weight. Four pockets, two windows, five vents, translucent panels, and an integrated vestibule also make the EV2 the most livable and cheeriest single wall shelter we’ve reviewed. This tent is for high mountain, winter missions where strength, livability, and weight are of equal importance. Downsides include a canopy that is hard to tension properly and a fabric that is less breathable than those on other tents (you’ll want some wind to circulate air through the vents). On the whole, the EV2 is a marvelous shelter for demanding alpine pursuits.
The EV2’s most similar competitor is the Black Diamond Fitzroy ($700, 7 lb. 1 oz.). We much prefer the EV2, however, because it is lighter, easier to pitch, brighter inside, has better pockets, more vents, and is narrower, allowing it to be pitched on small ledges. It’s also $100 cheaper!
For fast and light alpine assaults of shorter duration the Black Diamond Firstlight ($300, 3 lb. 5 oz.) is paramount. While the Firstlight is neither livable nor waterproof, its low weight makes it a prime choice for alpine climbs of the hardest grade.
For the ultimate combination of weight, strength, versatility, and livability choose the Hilleberg Jannu ($735, 6 lb. 6 oz.). This double walled shelter, which weighs only 8 oz. more than the EV2, will endure the harshest conditions Mother Nature can dish out. We believe the Jannu is better than the EV2 in all respects except for when pitching options are limited to small ledges and very tight spaces.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The EV2 tent is the product of a successful collaboration between Mountain Hardwear and Ed Vesturs, a man well known for climbing the world’s 14 highest peaks. The EV2 is our highest rated single wall shelter. It strikes a fine balance between weight, strength, and livability, and provides stellar expedition worthy protection for bold winter pursuits, namely high altitude mountaineering.
The EV2 uses three Atlas Scandium XL poles that pitch from the outside with 38 locking and non-locking plastic clips. Low stretch reinforcing panels also contribute to the shelter’s shocking strength. Pitching the tent from the outside is very easy and equally quick. We prefer this design to tents that pitch from within because it’s easier and the inside remains drier.
The EV2’s integrated vestibule is a key feature that separates it from the competition. By incorporating the vestibule into the main tent body, the EV2 shaves off a few ounces and makes the interior much more spacious. Thirty-one square feet of floor space provide ample room for two people. The integrated vestibule also adds crucial length that makes the tent more comfortable for tall people and provides a space to store boots and other gear items. (The EV2 is 105 in. long while most other single wall tents are around 90 in.)
Five vents and a waterproof-breathable, fire retardant canopy fabric (Conduit FR), allow the EV2 to successfully manage condensation. The vents, which are all small, pop out with attached supports. Mesh netting covers each vent, making the tent completely insect proof and more comfortable for expeditions that cross multiple climates.
The EV2 is a very well designed and functional tent. It is spacious enough to be comfortable, but also small enough to fit on small ledges and in narrow spaces.
The EV2 has several drawbacks. The most significant of which is the tent’s odd canopy tension. The EV2 pitches like a jacket that doesn’t fit right: it’s tight in some places and baggy in others. Although the floor remains taut, we found it to be very difficult, if not impossible, to properly tension the walls. This is due, in part, to the partial bathtub floor that rises three-inches above the ground, and partly due to the asymmetrical pole design. We found that the floor doesn’t lie flat on level ground. This slightly reduces the level floor area around the perimeter, allowing some wind to catch at the base if the tent is pitched on bare ground. This problem sounds worse than it is. The tent performs well on any surface, but is best in snow, where it is meant to be.
While the EV2’s poles are strong, its flat roof tends to collect rather than shed snow. We found that this tent requires more maintenance (knocking snow off) than other single wall tents with shaped peaks.
The EV2’s integrated vestibule, one of our favorite features, is also worth discussing. As noted above, this provides a significant amount of interior space for gear storage without adding much extra weight. The EV2 is the only single wall tent reviewed here with this feature. When compared to a traditional vestibule on a double wall tent, however, the integrated design is less functional, but lighter weight. A separate vestibule is stellar for blocking wind, rain, and driving snow, and for keeping these unwanted invaders from your tent. The integrated vestibule is basically an extension to the tent, and less of a true vestibule. Driving snow (or rain if you choose to use the tent in such warm temperatures) will come in as you enter or exit. This is where another unique feature, a watertight snow port (in the floor), comes in handy. When snow and ice from our boots and clothes came inside we scooped it up and pushed it out through the zipper in the floor of the tent. You can get creative with this feature, too. One tester dug a small hole underneath the vestibule area and used it for storage. So, while the integrated vestibule isn’t as good as one of traditional design, it’s far better than single walled tents without this feature.
Expedition style mountaineering.
The EV2 has tons of features, high quality materials, a good design, and weighs relatively little. We believe the tent is a great value.
Other versions and accessories
While we haven’t tested it yet, the Mountain Hardwear EV 3 has a fourth pole that adds strength and likely makes the canopy more taut that the EV2. The EV 3 sleeps three people.
The EV 2 Footprint costs $52.
— Max Neale
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: January 3, 2013
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