Slumberjack Nightfall 2 Review
Our Analysis and Test Results
This tent is different from any other budget model that we tested. It has a vestibule that can be pitched out with trekking poles to create an excellent awning and its exterior-facing poles enable it to pitch under fly cover. It can even be pitched in fast-fly mode as is with no additional footprint. It's a Best Buy in our book, and we think the right kind of backpacker will think so too. The Nightfall 2 isn't the lightest or the easiest to set up, but its solid weather resistance, comfort, and durability keep it buoyed amongst the pack.
This tent offers more in the way of comfort than it may initially seem. Six-foot sleepers had no problems with the amount of space this model provides on the floor. Its 52" width is average, but because the fly tensions so far away from the tent, it almost feels like there is a little extra space because there isn't the fear of pressing the tent wall against the fly (and getting wet from condensation).
The single door is less convenient than two side doors, but we found the tent to be wide enough that two people don't have to climb over each one another to get out. Along with this width though is the caveat that the zipper is going to be far away from someone, so it could be a bit of a reach across the other person's face if you have to get out in the middle of the night.
The vestibule is a good size but, again, because there is only one, fitting packs and footwear for two is a tight fit. The vestibule is also long, so the zipper is a far reach if you are trying to unzip it from the inside. That is, of course, unless you pitch out the vestibule into an awning (with the assistance of two trekking poles — or maybe the right-sized sticks). Then you have an awesome area that is outside of the tent but still protected.
Storage pockets leave a little something to be desired. There are two small ones, one in each corner of the head. They fit most small items that you would want to keep on hand, but the opening is even narrower than the pocket itself, meaning that folks with larger hands could find it annoying to reach into the bottom to grab a headlamp, for example.
Ease of Set-Up
The set up of this tent is somewhat unique but still fairly straightforward. The poles attach to the fly instead of to the tent. Each pole slides into a sleeve at the front end.
Once they are secured in the grommets at each corner of the tent, there are clips on the backside that raise the tent up to maximum volume. Straight out of the bag, the tent and fly come connected so that speeds up set up time.
If you want to go into fast-fly mode by removing the tent body and using only the fly as cover, you just have to unhook the tent from the fly at several points and unclip the four corners. To roll out the awning mode of the vestibule takes just a little patience and practice. You have to adjust your trekking poles to the correct length then tension out the guylines (which we ended up just taking off of a couple of the guy points).
This tent performs well in the elements, and the fly tensions really nicely. Four guy points come with a pre-attached cord that increases the tent's stability in the wind.
The other nice feature of the fly is that in addition to the front vestibule, the sides also stake far away from the tent body so that there is plenty of clearance and no splash back on the tent itself. In a storm, we also love that the fly and the tent are already attached so you can pitch the tent without getting the inside wet. One downside of this configuration is that ventilation is limited since you cannot remove the fly to have just the tent pitched.
As much as we enjoy the tent awning, it does require some careful calibration in heavy rain. If it doesn't have any downward pitch, water will pool and sag the awning.
The Nightfall 2 has respectable durability, as well. The 68D floor and 66D fly are sufficiently burly. The stakes are lightweight but have a much more stable construction than most of the other budget tent stakes. They won't bend nearly as easily under a foot as a standard hook-shaped stake would.
There are just a lot more connection points on this tent than most, which increases the possibility that one of them will fail at some point, but we never had any issues during testing.
Our only headscratcher in terms of durability is the ends of the poles. Each time we broke down the tent and went to remove the poles from the grommets, a couple of the pole ends would pull out of the shafts. They are generally easy to snap back in because they are also attached to the elastic cord that runs through all of the pole segments, but when that elastic eventually wears out or snaps, it could just be an annoyance.
Weight & Packed Size
Coming in at 5 pounds, 10 ounces, this model is the second heaviest in the review.
It does come with the option of pitching without the tent body though, in which case it comes in at a very reasonable 3 pounds, 9 ounces.
The other benefit of the fast-fly mode is that the usable interior space all around is increased as well. Measuring 6.5" x 21" rolled up, the Nightfall 2 is bulkier than most.
If you ask us, this model is a great price and an excellent value for what you get when compared to other top budget backpacking tents. It has the flexibility to pitch with or without the tent body (no extra footprint needed), and the vestibule awning only adds to its versatility. We think that this tent is fairly priced and wouldn't hesitate to make the purchase.
The unique design and versatility of the Slumberjack Nightfall 2 are intriguing. It earns a Best Buy Award for its performance combined with its low price. Though we are a little disappointed that the ability to pitch the tent body itself is directly connected to the fly, we have a great appreciation for its weather resistance. We think that this tent is a great value and is worth a strong look for the backpacker on a budget.