If you’re touring or bikepacking you know how important it is to shave as much weight as possible. The Big Agnes Slater UL2+ is light and fast, but offers extra floor space across the board. Whether you’re flying solo or bringing a dog or partner, the extra space comes at little cost in these minimalist free standing shelters. We’ve replaced the mesh walls on the tent body with lightweight breathable nylon rip-stop for that extra bit of weather protection and privacy or just to keep the sand and wind out when you’re headed to the desert. The large vestibule is perfect for storing all your gear while out on multi-day bikepacking missions.
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The appeal of a single-wall tent is easy to see: with today’s advanced textiles, it’s possible to create a tent that is waterproof and breathable, cutting down on weight and increasing its steadiness in high winds. Most tents used in mountaineering are single-wall for this reason.
The $599 Covert 2 is a two-person, single-wall tent made from 100 percent breathable, waterproof DriZone nylon from Sierra Designs’ mountaineering lineup. Its packed weight is 6 pounds 12 ounces, and it offers up 29 square feet of interior room.
The only entrance is through a single door at the head of the main body, designed to be pitched facing downwind. With 29 square foot interior, I’d likely rate the Convert as a “real world” one-and-a-half person size rather than two with room to relax. Be prepared to get to know your roommate very well. The vestibule is large enough to fit a full-size backpack or your panniers, but not much more since it would be in the way of getting in and out. If you want to travel light you can remove the vestibule entirely.
Editor’s note: This review originally appeared in Issue #31 of Bicycle Times. To make sure you never miss a gear review, order a subscription and you’ll be ready for the everyday cycling adventure. Issue #34 will focus on bikepacking!
If the wind is really blowing you can install the patented Jake’s Corners, which are small poles that reinforce the corners of the main body. Something designed for and tested in some of the harshest high-altitude environments.
While the pitch looks straightforward enough, like any new tent you’re going to need to practice pitch a few times get the hang of it. It took me a few minutes to find the pole sleeves, and that was in the daylight. I also broke the heads off three of the included stakes on my first pitch, so I can’t help but recommend bringing some spares. It can also be pitched from inside, but a practice pitch (or three) becomes even more important when it’s dark and cold.
While the material is breathable, you’re going to want to make sure those roof vents are open, no matter how cold it is. A night spent short of breath convinced myself and another tester of that. In retrospect it seems obvious that the vents should be open, but trying to “batten down the hatches” left me gasping for air.
While the simple design of a single-wall is appealing for touring and bikepacking use, the Convert still clocks in at nearly seven pounds and is large enough to fill an entire touring pannier. While it performs well in its intended function, it’s likely overkill for most casual touring cyclists.