When it comes to your basic gear for backpacking or camping, I personally think that the most important items are your pack, sleeping bag, and tent. In each case, there are literally hundreds of options to choose from, varying greatly in design, features, and so on, and picking the right one can greatly impact the enjoyment you get from the experience.
Personally, I think selecting the right tent may be the most challenging of all of those pieces of gear. You have to weigh a number of factors, such as 3 vs. 4 season, number of people it can sleep comfortably, pack weight, and so on. And often times it is a real challenge to know if the tent will suit your needs until you’re actually out in backcountry, using it for the first time.
Of course, it helps if you go with a proven name in tents, and Eureka is certainly that. The company has been designing tents for more than 100 years, and once offered covers for horse drawn wagons as well. Back then, the products were mostly made of canvas, and they were heavy, bulky items.
We’ve come a long way since then however, as their Spitfire 2 backpacking tent is the epitome of high tech gear. The two-person, three season tent, is made of lightweight, but tough synthetic materials designed to wear well in a variety of conditions, and keep you dry in the heaviest of downpours. Its equally lightweight frame is constructed of aluminum, and when paired with the clip attachment system, it’s a breeze to set-up, and you’ll be lounging inside in no time.
Once inside, you’ll find plenty of room for two, as the Spitfire is surprisingly spacious. I”m rather tall, topping out over 6’2″, and I was still able to not only sleep comfortably, but also sit-up without fear. The sides of the tent are completely mesh, which allows for great airflow on warm nights, like those that I get here in Texas. It is also great for clear nights, when you can lie back and enjoy the stars overhead. And when the fowl weather does set in, the included rain fly can be added easily. I also appreciated that there were doors on both sides of the tent, offering easy access to both occupants.
The MSRP for the Spitfire 2 is $169, and I can honestly say that it is well worth the money. It competes quite well with much more expensive tents, and the entire package weighs just over four pounds. It also is easy to take apart, and return to it’s handy carrying case to drop back into your pack when returning to the trail. However, there are a couple of things to be aware of when buying this tent.
First off, this is not a free standing tent. You’ll need to stake it down to use it properly. That, in and of itself, is not a knock against the Spitfire 2, as I prefer a tent that is staked, but you’ll want to be aware of it so that you provide a bit more time for set-up. Once you have set it up however, it is rock steady and holds up to winds without any issues. You may also want to consider replacing the stakes with something a bit more heavy duty though, depending on the terrain you’ll be using it in.
The other thing to consider is that there really isn’t much of a vestibule on the tent, which could become an issue in heavy rains or snows, when it’s nice to keep your wet, muddy boots on the outside. That may sound like a small nit to pick, but it is definitely something to be aware of.
Those issues aside however, you could do a lot worse than the Spitfire 2. It is a great backpacking tent that is lightweight, easy to assemble, offers plenty of room, and is of high quality construction. For a surprisingly low price, you get a lot of bang for your buck, and a piece of gear that will last you for a long time. As long as you can live with the few limitations I mentioned above, you’ll have a home away from home on many adventures.
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