Mountain Hardwear AC 2 Review
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Mountain Hardwear AC 2
|Price||$750 List||$900 List||$614.81 at Amazon|
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|$449 List||$450 List|
|Pros||Lightweight, durable, easy to pitch, small foot print, stormworthy, small packed volume||Bomber, great durability, compact footprint, lighter than average weight, fantastic balance of strength, weight, and livability, ample guy points||Versatile, lightweight, double wall design works far better in rain than single wall models, handles condensation well, big vestibules, easy to pitch||Lightweight for a double wall tent, inexpensive, versatile, easy set-up, interior fabric handles condensation well, and longer-than-average dimensions make this a better option for taller people||Crazy lightweight, most packable in our review, fits anywhere two people could lay down, features bug netting|
|Cons||Little internal space, poor breathability, poor ventilation||Poor ventilation, slightly tricky setup, insufficient guy lines included||Isn't as strong as other 4-season models, offers a good but not excellent packed size||Tiny vestibule, one of the weakest 3(.5)-pole designs in our review, only one door||Not waterproof, not as strong as many other options we tested, small interior living space|
|Bottom Line||While not versatile, this weight-focused tent is strong and perfect for lightweight alpine missions||All-around uses are this model's forte, but it's still robust enough for when the weather turns gnar||The ski and summer mountaineering focused design perfect for almost any trip you can dream up||A solid 4-season shelter at an excellent price. Great for summertime mountaineering or winter camping near treeline||A fantastic bivy tent for alpine climbing or multi-day ski touring, as long as the weather is decent|
|Rating Categories||Mountain Hardwear AC 2||Black Diamond Eldorado||MSR Access 2||REI Arete ASL 2||Black Diamond First...|
|Weather/Storm Resistance (25%)|
|Ease of Set-up (10%)|
|Specs||Mountain Hardwear AC 2||Black Diamond Eldorado||MSR Access 2||REI Arete ASL 2||Black Diamond First...|
|Minimum Weight (only tent, fly & poles)||3.5 lbs||4.5 lbs||3.80 lbs||5.75 lbs||2.8 lbs|
|Floor Dimensions||81 x 45 in||87" x 51 in||84 x 50 in||88 x 57/60/44 in||82 x 48 x 42|
|Peak Height||45 in||43 in||42 in||43 in||41 in|
|Measured weight (tent, stakes, guylines, pole bag)||4 lbs||4.9 lbs||4.1 lbs||6.25 lbs||3.15 lbs|
|Type||Single Wall||Single Wall||Double Wall||Double Wall||Single Wall|
|Packed Size||6 x 11.5 in||7" x 19 in||18 x 6 in||6 x 6 x 20 in||6 x 9 in|
|Floor Area||25.3 sq ft||31 sq ft||29 sq ft||32.9 sq ft||27.3 sq ft|
|Vestibule Area||N/A||9 sq ft (optional)||17.5 sq ft||8.7 sq ft||N/A|
|Number of Doors||1||1||2||1||1|
|Number of Poles||2||2||2||4||2|
|Pole Diameter||9 mm||8 mm||9.3 mm||8 mm|
|Number of Pockets||Side: 0 Ceiling: 0||Side: 4 Ceiling: 0||Side: 2 Ceiling: 0||Side: 2 Ceiling: 2||Side: 2 Ceiling: 0|
|Pole Material||DAC Featherlite NSL||Easton Aluminum 7075-E9||Easton Syclone||Aluminum||Aluminum|
|Rainfly Fabric||main body: 50-denier ripstop nylon, floor: 30-denier ripstop nylon||3 layer ToddTex||20D nylon ripstop||Nylon ripstop||NanoShield|
|Floor Fabric||30D ripstop nylon||Unknown||30D nylon ripstop||Nylon taffeta||70-denier polyester|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Mountain Hardwear AC 2 puts as much weather protection as possible into a lightweight and compact design. One of the lighter and more compressible models we tested, the AC 2, can hold its own in inclement weather, but its light weight does come at a cost, and that is versatile and comfortable. The AC 2 is nearly the absolute smallest model we tested when it comes to internal floor space, and it handles condensation among the poorest. We found it perfect for summertime mountaineering adventures or carry-over alpine routes where you are primarily bringing a tent for warmth and shelter and aren't doing much in the tent outside of sleeping. It isn't a great option if you think you will have to spend a fair amount of time in it or want to use it for more-three seasons of applications.
This tent is made to perform well in poor weather and performed slightly above average among single-wall models. It is constructed with a thicker-than-average 50D ripstop nylon fabric and features robust pole sleeves (versus clips) that help distribute the load from wind and snow along the entire pole, helping it to hold up to the elements. The ample guy points and included guylines help it to withstand a beating when camped in exposed areas. It is also designed with a slightly narrower profile than most that, when pitched with the door-end, is leeward and held up to stronger winds quite effectively. We also found this narrow profile greatly assisted in minimizing how much snow stays on the tent itself during snow storms, instead allowing most of the fallen snow to "sluff" off of the tent.
The AC 2 has many noble qualities, but comfort is not the first among them. At a scant 81 inches long, it is one of the shortest tents in the category, and its 45-inch width is also one of the narrowest. Its 25.3 square feet of interior space is also the smallest in our review, so it almost goes without saying that this model is designed as a "bivy-tent"; enough space for two full-length pads to sit side-by-side and two people but without any extra.
This model features a 45" peak height which is very similar to most other 2-pole models and is just enough for most people to sit up in but two people "getting ready" inside the tent feels tight. As a "bivy tent," it is comfortable enough for summer-time mountaineering objectives or carry-over alpine routes but wouldn't be a model we'd recommend if you knew you were likely to log some time with another person in. While this tent is spacious for one person, so are all the other tents in our review.
One word of caution here is that this model is heavily sealed, so it's important to stay mindful of ventilation to minimize condensation. Among single-wall tents, this model does not breathe as well as most and does not pass moisture through its fabric as effectively as the Black Diamond Eldorado.
It offered similar breathability to The North Face Assault 2 FUTURELIGHT but Assualt offered far better ventilation options, and managing moisture in that tent was far easier than with the AC 2. This model does offer two top vents, but if we were forced to zip the main door all the way we would certainly notice a build-up in condensation. Lastly, it should be noted that while there is no built-in or included vestibule, vestibule attachment can be purchased separately.
Ease of Setup
This tent is surprisingly easy to set up, particularly if it isn't too stormy out (AKA too windy). This model features two full-length pole sleeves that are only open at one end on the front side of the tent. This means to pitch the tent, you simply have to thread the pole into the start of the sleeve and just push until the pole runs into the end (and closed) side of the pole sleeve.
Like most models that feature pole sleeves, this model does take more care when pitching in windier conditions. This is because the tent can act as a "sail" when only one pole is inserted, and care should be taken not to lose the tent and to support the single pole as it is quite vulnerable at this point during pitching.
Even with a little more care is required when pitching during windier conditions, the fast and easy nature of pitching this tent with its continuous pole sleeves that only require fixing at one end and the incredible strength the pole sleeves provide, we felt like pole sleeves (versus clips) was a good decision on a tent of this weight and overall this model was among the easiest and fastest single wall models to pitch being equal to The North Face Assualt and far easier than the Black Diamond Eldorado.
With a 3lbs 8 ounce minimum weight (no guylines or stakes), a 3lbs 12 ounce weight (guylines and a few stakes), and a 4 lbs for everything (All including stakes, guylines, stuff sack), this tent is quite respectable but and is similar in weight to the North Face Assualt (compared without the Assualt's included, removable vestibule) or MSRS Access 2 but lighter than the Black Diamond Eldorado(but smaller and less breathable).
The AC 2 is also similar in packed volume to most other 2-pole bivy style tents save for the MSR Advanced Pro (no mesh door), Black Diamond Highlite, and Frist light which both use a high water resistant but not waterproof fabric, which is a little lighter and more compactable. The AC 2 is notably more compact (25% smaller) than the Mountain Hardwear Outpost II, the Black Diamond Eldorado and similar in size to the MSR Access 2.
This model is not particularly versatile. It is great for summertime mountaineering routes where weight is paramount, and the goal of the tent is to keep you out of the elements for the evening, and you don't anticipate any "extra" time in the tent. That makes if perfect for many summertime mountaineering adventures in the lower 48 and Southern Canada. It is also a great option for an on-route shelter for carry-over alpine routes. While it is certainly light and strong enough for multiday ski tours, its so-so ability to handle condensation means it works but isn't our first choice unless your adventure is in a drier climate (not the Chugach, Western BC, Washington Cascades, etc.).
Should You Buy The Mountain Hardwear AC 2
This tent is perfect for those who want one of the lightest and most compact 4-season shelters on the market while still offering a very weather-resistant fabric and built-in bug netting. While not the most versatile model in our review, the AC 2 is amongst the lightest, is completely waterproof, and offers a full-sized mesh door. While there are a handful of lighter models, all lighter-weight models sacrifice something when it comes to liveability or storm worthiness. Our review team found this model perfect for summertime alpine climbing or technical carry-over style routes where the AC 2 proved small enough to be pitched where other options don't have a hope of fitting. While perfect for weight-focused alpine adventures, this isn't a model we'd want to take on most three-season backpacking due to its poor performance in more humid environments and overall "cramped" interior space. If you want a versatile 4-season tent, this isn't it. If you want a weight-focused model that offers solid strength and storm worthiness, then this is certainly a good one to consider whether you are summer alpine climbing, sleeping on big routes in the greater ranges, or on a multiday ski tour. If you want a fairly light 4-season tent but want something a little more versatile (AKA can be used in 3-season conditions) we'd recommend checking out the MSR Access 2, MSR Remote 2 or Mountain Hardwear Outpost 2.
What other 4-season tent should you should consider besides the Mountain Hardwear AC 2
If you want a 4-season bivy tent as light as they come, it should be noted that both the Black Diamond Firstlight and the MSR Advance Pro 2 are both lighter weight and more compact. However, each of these models has a major disadvantage, the Firstlight is not completely waterproof, and the Advance Pro offers no bug netting and manages very poorly. If you like the AC 2 but wished it was just a little bit more versatile, we'd recommend looking at The North Face Assualt FUTURELIGHT 2, which offers more ventilation, the Black Diamond Eldorado with its Tod-Tex fabric which handles moisture far better, or the double-walled Mountain Hardwear Outpost 2 or the MSR Access 2. All of these models are heavier but offer a more "livable design" and are more versatile.
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