Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Lighter than average tent tested, no drip front door, most durable floor in class could be useful if a dog is inside the tent.
Cons: Fabrics are less durable and less strong than SilNylons and cuben fibers used in ultralight shelters, no mid-height side guy point means panel can blow into inner tent, no vents, foot area can be cramped.
Best Uses: Three-season backpacking and camping.
The Mountain HardwearSuperMegaUL 2 is a top-tier three-season tent that provides slightly more interior space than the lightest tents we've tested. It weighs in at 2 lb. 9 oz. without stakes, that's four ounces more than Mountain Hardwear claims and nine ounces more than the lightest tent tested. Although this tent performs well for a variety of activities, our testers generally reach for lighter tents for weight conscious trips and slightly more spacious tents for longer trips or for remote basecamps. See how the SuperMega compares to all tents tested in our Backpackign Tent Review.
Consider and ultralight tent for ultralight backpacking.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The SuperMega competes most directly with the Brooks Range Foray. Both tents employ a reasonably lightweight self-supporting pole design that’s the closest any tent we’ve tested under 50 ounces comes to being fully freestanding. A rear cross pole makes the rear end stand up better by itself and, more importantly, increases the strength and interior volume of the rear end. Both the SuperMega and Brooks Range Foray also extend the primary pole beyond the door to create a “no drip front vestibule.” This design is slightly stronger and considerably heavier than the simple and classic ultralight pole design used by the Big Agnes Fly Creek and Terra Nova Solar Photon, among others. The SuperMega’s vestibule is taller and easier to sit up inside, but also require some yoga moves to get in and out of. Duck down, spin around, and sit down to get in. Like downward dog, it’s not so bad after some practice. On the whole, however, the SuperMega’s pole design increases livability and strength and adds weight; it’s most beneficial if livability is more important than saving weight. In light rain the vestibule door can be left open for a view, which could be beneficial in a few situations.
The SuperMega’s interior floor measures 85” long by 56” wide at the door and 35” wide at the foot. This is smaller at the foot than many similar tents tested (compare specs here. The foot end of the SuperMega can be cramped, especially if you are around or over six feet tall. The tent’s two supportive pockets are better than those found on many lighter tents. There are no hang loops inside.
Like all double wall tents, the SuperMega offers excellent protection from all of the elements. The waterproof floor extends up the sides higher than the lightest tents we’ve tested but not as high as some that weigh slightly more, such as the Hilleberg Anjan. The Super Mega has a four-inch-ish tall strip of solid nylon that lies above the waterproof walls and serves to block wind, splashback, and spindift, and make the tent slightly warmer. This is an advantage over the Big Agnes Fly Creek, Easton Kilo, and Brooks Range Foray. The Terra Nova Solar Photon and Hilleberg Anjan, however, all have solid nylon walls that increase weather resistance even further, a definite advantage over the SuperMega.
The SuperMega uses a unique toggle style connector to attach the fly to the four corners. Insert a plastic rod through a hole in a plastic part on the inner tent’s pole connection and tighten the cord with a lineloc on the end of the inner tent (see photo below). So far our testers have been very impressed with this feature. We believe it’s more secure and easier to use than the DAC Jake’s Feet connectors found on too many tents. It’s also an interesting alternative to the classic plastic buckle style clip. This feature doesn’t necessarily make the SuperMega better, but rather by not using Jake’s Feet the tent is not put at a disadvantage compared to others.
The SuperMega comes in an excellent dark green color that’s stealthy anywhere you pitch it. Though we don’t take color into account in our ratings we believe this is an excellent bonus. Many other ultralight tents, even grey ones, are not as stealthy. And stealthy is good.
Weight and Packed Size
The SuperMega weighs 43 ounces, or 2 lb. 11 oz. on our scale with stakes. That’s four ounces more than the weight Mountain Hardwear lists in their marketing material, a deceptive move as four ounces is a big difference when comparing lightweight tents. Without stakes the tent weighs nine ounces more than the lightest tent tested here. The SuperMega packs reasonably small, but it still considerably larger than the most compact tent we’ve tested (see photo below). If ultralight backpacking is your objective we highly recommend considering an ultralight tent.
Our tests show that it’s more important to have a stronger and more durable fly material than a stronger and more durable floor material. Thoughtful campsite selection reduces the need for a waterproof floor. By not camping on pointy rocks, pine cones, and sharp objects found in deserts, there’s little need for a durable, puncture resistant floor. Yet the SuperMega has the most durable floor of any lightweight tent we’ve tested and an ultralight and ultra thin fly that’s made from a 10D ripstop nylon with a thin polyurethane coating. We believe the tent would perform better if the additional weight (durability) put into the floor was used instead to increase the quality of the fly material. Silicone impregnated ripstop nylons are much stronger and more durable than polyurethane coated fabrics. Although we haven’t had any problems with the SuperMega’s fabric yet we expected more from a very expensive top-tier tent. See our Buying Advice Article for more info on tent fabrics.
We were surprised to see that the SuperMega has no mid-level guypoints on the sidewalls. This is a feature that’s found on all of the other “ultralight” tents we’ve tested and its plays the important role of preventing the sidewalls from blowing in as much in high winds. It’s not absolutely critical, but it does help to make the tent more comfortable in storms.
The Super Mega can be “fast-pitched” with the poles, fly, and an optional footprint. For reasons stated in our Buying Advice article, we do not believe this is a viable setup for serious backpacking. Therefore, the tent has very limited adaptability and much be pitched in the same manner regardless of environmental variation.
The SuperMega has no vents and is very good at producing condensation. Other similar tents, like the Terra Nova Solar Photon and Brooks Range Foray, have multiple vents that address this problem.
The weakest point on many ultralight, double wall, front entrance tents is the
seam above the door by the pole. This receives a lot of stress when people lean against the walls or the end. The small area inside lightweight tents makes it important to select level campsites where you will not slide down and put pressure on a wall or the end of the tent. Our SuperMega started to show some signs of wear at the “above door seam” after about ten days of use. We’ve heard of similar complaints from others and we’ve seen similar problems on other lightweight tents we’ve tested. This is likely to be an inherent drawback to this type of tent.
The tent’s vestibule/inner door closures are made of thin strips of the fly/floor fabric and a spring loaded cord clamp. These are harder to use than simple elastic toggle style closures found on the Hilleberg Anjan and others.
Solid mesh walls would insulate better (warmer in cold weather, cooler in hot weather), block blowing sand and snow, and would make being inside the tent feel more indoorsy. Several of our top rated tents have mostly solid nylon walls or an optional insert.
Lightweight three-season trips.
See how how the SuperMega compares to other backpacking tents in our Price versus Value Chart.
— Max Neale
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Most recent review: June 14, 2013
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