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Hillwalking & Navigation, Climbing, Caving. Courses & Expeditions, Peak District. Derbyshire

Mountain Hardwear Optic 2.5 Tent

We have been trying out the Optic 2.5 and 3.5 tents for a year now, so I have had plenty enough time to formulate some opinions. This tent is a bit of a departure on the design front, I think it is the first backpacking tent I have ever seen that has doors on adjacent sides rather than opposite. It is fairly unusual to have manufactures try out really different designs so it was interesting to see how it worked.

 

So what do you get, well the Optic is as the name suggests a 2.5 man tent. This in effect means 2 people and gear in comfort and they aren’t wrong. The interior space is excellent with the pole structure giving really good headroom all the way across the footprint with steep walls. The tent goes up and comes down in the regular MHW way inner first, clipped to the the poles and then fly on top. Its easy and fast to put up, which is good because putting the inner up first in a storm is always going to leave you a soggy inner if there is any faff.

 

Mountain Hardwear Optic VUE 3.5 Tent from Mountain Hardwear on Vimeo.

 

Once up and the doors battened down the tent is good, stable and waterproof, no flappy fly touching the inner no leaks in the fly or decent bathtub inner floor. there is a couple of problems though. Every time you have to get in or out  the steep sides that gave you all the headroom allow drips at best, a torrent at worst, to enter the tent. This is less of a problem with the main door but a real issue with the second door to the point of making it unusable in heavy rain. If you only open the bottom third of the doors its ok but then you loose the advantage of really good size doors which in dry conditions allow really easy access. Dry conditions is where the new door system starts to make sense allowing both doors to be opened and give you a 180 degree picture window view. While thinking about the door layout the porches need to be considered as well. Again unfortunately while the main porch give decent useable space the second porch is limited due to the angles of the fly above it. Thankfully the interior space is such that this is less of an issue.

 

Construction wise the tent is just as I have come to expect from MHW after using Trango tents for years. Well stitched and sealed, great DAC poles and tough materials. So far no durability issues at all. I wonder if perhaps the tents could have been made slightly less bomber as the weight is on the high side, 2.6Kg, for a tent you are going to have on your back. This is always somewhat of a trade off between weight, durability and space.

 

All in all I feel this is a tent suited to dryer climates than the UK. In the prevailing conditions in the UK I think I would prefer the tent to have two of the main doors, on opposite sides of the tent. This is where the new MHW Ghost Sky tents come in. I think they will be a winner!

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