The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Brooks Range Invasion Review

With a low weight thanks to a unique design, this model is a good choice for weight-conscious users.
Brooks-Range Invasion Tent
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Price:  $600 List
Pros:  Lightweight, lots of space, pitches quickly from the outside, lots of tie-outs, reflective cord and zipper pulls.
Cons:  Weakest and least durable fabric in any four season tent tested.
Manufacturer:   Brooks-Range Mountaineering
By Chris McNamara and Max Neale  ⋅  Aug 17, 2013
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66
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Weight - 25% 10
  • Livability - 20% 5
  • Weather/Storm Resistance - 25% 6
  • Ease of Set-up - 10% 7
  • Durability - 10% 3
  • Versatility - 10% 6

The Skinny

The Brooks Range Invasion uses an innovative pole design and superlight fabric in order to provide a lot of covered space for only 3 lb. 7 oz. The tent pitches quickly from the outside and has a single wall of superlight 15 denier nylon to separate you from the elements. This is the lightest, weakest and least durable fabric used on any flysheet found in any winter tent we've tested. We like the Invasion because it is lightweight and spacious for its weight. However, when going light our testers prefer the Mountain Hardwear Direkt 2 because it is even lighter and is probably stronger and more durable, although considerably more cramped. We feel the Invasion sacrifices strength and durability in order to be slightly larger than many freestanding single wall climbing tents — a tradeoff that we don't believe is worthwhile. We would much rather be less comfortable in a tent that has greater weather protection.

Discontinued - September 2016
Brooks Range has confirmed that the Invasion tent is not longer in production and has been discontinued. You might be interested in the Black Diamond Eldorado, which is widely available and can often be found on sale.

Also consider a floorless tent — our testers' favorite type of shelter for 99 percent of fast and light trips — found in our Ultralight Tent Review.


Our Analysis and Test Results

Backstory


Brooks Range was one of the first companies to make a winter single wall tent from non-woven dyneema, a.k.a. cuben fiber, probably the best waterproof material for tents due to its incredible tear strength and super low weight. (Many of the tents found in our Ultralight Tent Review are available in cuben fiber.) Unfortunately, all 150 tents Brooks Range made — the model was called the Rocket — delaminated. The glue failed, probably due to UV exposure. Now, the Invasion replaces the Rocket tent as the company's fast and light winter tent.

(Oddly, many other companies have been working with cuben fiber successfully for many years with no reported issues of delamination.)

Performance Comparison


Ease of Setup


The Invasion pitches quickly with four poles that are connected via plastic hubs. This is a trick many three-season tents use but it's uncommon on winter tents. The tent is self-supporting; it holds itself up to some degree.

Weather Resistance


The 15 denier fabric is super, super light. For example, most hardshell jackets use 30-80 denier fabrics. Brooks range reports that the Invasion fabric has a tear strength of only 7 lb. This is very low. For example, the silnylon used in Hilleberg's Nammatj and Tarra breaks at 40 lb. Even more impressive is the tear strength of the cuben fiber used on the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Echo II and all Mountain Laurel Designs shelters: tear strength of 105 lb.!

We have used many ultralight fabrics that are similar to the Invasion's and have never been impressed. For example, Big Agnes uses similar materials on their UL line of three-season tents. It's so weak we accidentally tore the stuff sack while trying to pull the tent out! See the photo below.

To mitigate the low tear strength, Brooks Range uses tons of reinforcements for all areas where the pole connects to the fly and all tie-out points. When the tent is tied out it is drum tight


The Brooks Range Invasion uses the weakest fabric of all four-season tents tested. We accidentally tore the stuff sack while trying to pull the tent out.
The Brooks Range Invasion uses the weakest fabric of all four-season tents tested. We accidentally tore the stuff sack while trying to pull the tent out.
The Invasion uses a dinky swatch of velcro to relieve tension from the zipper. This gets iced up easier and even when dry is inadequate compared to the standard clips used by nearly all other tents tested.
The Invasion uses a dinky swatch of velcro to relieve tension from the zipper. This gets iced up easier and even when dry is inadequate compared to the standard clips used by nearly all other tents tested.

Livability


The Invasion offers plenty of space for a lightweight two-person single wall tent. The vestibule is small but much appreciated. This tent is much more comfortable than bivy tents like the Mountain Hardwear Direkt 2. We love that the tent uses lots of vents and that it has reflective zipper pulls.

Durability


We love Brooks Range, and have great respect for their many fine products, but their marketing department covered magazines with overconfident claims about the Invasion's durability. This is wrong. See the photo below. Based on our experience testing roughly 70 tents of all types, we feel the Invasion is the least durable four-season tent ever tested. The fabric is the primary driver of this opinion. Another factor is the lack of key durability-enhancing features. Almost all four-season tents tested have clips or hooks that relieve tension from the zipper when wind and snow press down on it. Not so for the Invasion. Though some might argue that such a feature is unnecessary due to the zipper's position along the right edge of the vestibule, we feel this is a significant drawback that might cause the zipper to fail faster than it would otherwise.

Ridiculously misleading advertising!! Plus  this photo is a crappy!!
Ridiculously misleading advertising!! Plus, this photo is a crappy!!

Weight/Packed Size


On our scale the Invasion's body and poles weigh 54.9 oz. The stuff sack weighs 0.9 oz., cord 3 oz., stakes 4.2 oz., and line locks 0.6 oz. Note that the tent needs considerably more line in order to be pitched in high winds.

Fifty-five ounces is very light considering the tent's size, so it scores highly in this metric. However, at 44 oz. the Mountain Hardwear Direkt 2 is considerably lighter. That tent also packs down smaller than the Invasion.

Three of the smaller packed size options in our review pictured here (in their included stuff sacks)  from left to right: the Direkt2  Invasion  and Warmlite 2R. Note the crampons for size comparison.
Three of the smaller packed size options in our review pictured here (in their included stuff sacks), from left to right: the Direkt2, Invasion, and Warmlite 2R. Note the crampons for size comparison.

Adaptability


The Invasion must be pitched the same way every time. That is mitigated by the fact the tent is narrow enough to fit on small ledges and in many cramped alpine sites.

Features


The tent has a lot of great features and many fantastic attributes. The major drawback is lack of vestibule zipper clip.

Best Application


It's difficult to estimate what the tent's best application is. It's too large and not freestanding, so it's not best for alpine climbing. It's not tough enough for high altitude climbing. Backcountry ski touring is likely the tent's best application. However, for that activity our testers like to use floorless pyramid shelters found in our Ultralight Tent Review.

Value


See our Price Versus Value Chart.


Chris McNamara and Max Neale