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Mountain Hardwear Hoopster Review

Mountain Hardwear Hoopster
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Price:  $600 List
Pros:  More spacious than pyramid shelters, highly protective and comfortable for its weight, very versatile, great value.
Cons:  Not enough guyline, not as large or as strong as $4000+ dome shelters
Manufacturer:   Mountain Hardwear
By Chris McNamara and Max Neale  ⋅  Aug 15, 2013
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Our Verdict

The Hoopster is a 6 person shelter that performs phenomenally well for fast and light travel or for use as a group cook tent. It fills a much needed gap in the tent market by allowing normal mortals to afford a comfortable group shelter that holds up well in bad weather. This not intended for use in the Himalaya but it performs well in remote areas with high winds and snowloading; our testers used it for a ski expedition in greenland and base camping across the Lower 48, among other places. On long trips or for basec amping the Hoopster is worth every penny. Whether you use it as a party tent, cook tent, or as your only tent for a five person mountaineer trip, it performs well and is a great value. This tent is a fun catalyst. Highly recommend.

Mountain Hardwear has discontinued the Hoopster.

Our Analysis and Test Results

Performance Comparison

Weather Resistance

The Hoopster uses a central pole that supports a circular "Truss Ring" pole that extends the roof out and creates steep walls. This design provides a ton of space for relatively little weight. The fabrics are high quality and the pole is very strong. We've used the shelter is some high winds and it held steady despite the fact that the sidewalls have no support. Having good stakes (perhaps snow stakes) and lots of guy cord is critical to achieving a storm pitch.

The Hoopster (orange) and Saitaris (red) with the Jannu in rear (green).
The Hoopster (orange) and Saitaris (red) with the Jannu in rear (green).


Mountain Hardwear claims the shelter can sleep six but we feel more comfortable putting five inside. It works very well as a cook tent for as many people as you can cram in there (six are comfortable): just dig down into the snow to create benches and a center platform to support the pole and host your stove(s). You can tie lies across the tent to things out, like smelly wet socks.

Inside the Mountain Hardwear Hoopster with the MSR Whisperlite and Whisperlite Universal stoves.
Inside the Mountain Hardwear Hoopster with the MSR Whisperlite and Whisperlite Universal stoves.


We haven't used the tent for years yet, but suspect that it will last a long time. The critical factor here is the quality of the fabrics. This Hoopster is not intended to withstand intense UV exposure at high altitudes, at least not for very long, like $4,000+ base camp shelters are bred for. We have been very pleased with the tent's performance over at least 8 weeks of constant use.

Weight/Packed Size

The canopy and poles weigh 85.6 oz or 5 lb. 6 oz. This is EXTREMELY LIGHT considering the space and weather protection!!

Individual components weigh:
2.5 oz stuff sack
60.6 oz fly
25 oz poles with sack

10.7 oz stakes with guyline and sack

Ease of Setup

The tent pitches reasonably easily after a bit of practice. No circular shelter is easy to pitch, but once it's up you're psyched.

Pitching the Mountain Hardwear Hoopster
Pitching the Mountain Hardwear Hoopster

Best Applications

There are many: fast and light winter travel, group cooking, party tent, beach hut, etc.


The Hoopster is a great value.


Few other tents create so much fun and as many lasting memories as the Hoopster. There's something fantastic about getting friends together outdoors under the same roof. All of the people that have used the Hoopster LOVE IT.

Hilleberg Saitaris and Mountain Hardwear Hoopster
Hilleberg Saitaris and Mountain Hardwear Hoopster

Other Versions and Accessories

The Footprint costs an astronomic $150 and weighs a substantial 27.4 oz. 99% of the time we used the tent without the footprint. Depending on your intended use it may not be necessary. Or you could get by with a cheaper alternative for occasional use. Consider cutting your own from painter's drop cloth plastic, for example.

Chris McNamara and Max Neale