Let’s talk about the back-country! Specifically I want to talk about shelter today or otherwise known as tents. No, I am not an expert by any means in any of this gear stuff, but I do love gear and I do try out lots and lots of products from just about everyone. I have been a backcountry elk hunter for the better part of a decade and I have learned a lot about what works for me and what doesn’t, and learned about stuff that needs to be quality and stuff that Walmart specials will do just fine.
Your backcountry tent is definitely a piece of gear that should be high quality and very lightweight. This was one of those lessons that I learned the hard way and took me a few years to find the better products. First, you have to understand that floorless tents are not my thing. Why do you ask? Honestly, I hate SPIDERS! A bear brushes my tent at night, ehhh its fine, a spider in my tent, NOPE! LOL… I will sacrifice weight in my pack so that I do not have to deal with those creepy-crawly-nasty things. So finding the right floored tent that is lightweight, durable, and provides room is not the easiest task. I have tried tents from Northface, to Big Agnes, to a cheapo from Cabelas, and this last year I took out Klymit’s new Maxfield 2 three season tent.
At first glance, I was a little skeptical about the Klymit Tent. My main issue was that for a three-season tent, the top was all mesh and didn’t have a solid top at all which I like to keep heat in during my fall hunts. This is also my first experience with a tent that is shaped more like a mummy sleeping bag, and I was worried about space inside the tent. I’m not a very big guy but I’m also not a small person. I’m 6 ft 200 lbs, and other 2 person tents I have tried did not fit 2 people comfortably. From a weight standpoint the climate is actually the lightest weight tent that I’ve had at 4 lbs 3 oz fully packed, which is fantastic for the idea of weight but then raises questions about durability.
How did it perform? Awesome!
My first go around with this tent was September last year (2019) during my elk September season which involved packing in 6-10 miles with myself and a camera man. The hunt was filmed and you’ll be able to watch it as part of the Full Draw Film Tour this year and see the conditions we had the tent out in. Often times it’s warmer in September and nicer weather, but I sure did not get that benefit this last year! We hunted for eight days and six of them it either rained or snowed, and the temperature really never got above 35°F. When I said it was miserable, that is exactly what I mean. The Maxfield however didn’t mind the weather conditions at all. Caleb and I both are over 6 ft tall and over 200 pounds, and this is the first two person tent I didn’t feel like I was cuddling with the other person next to me, without the tent walls basically touching my head and sleeping bag trying to sleep. This was a pleasant surprise. The rain fly (which I have had issues with on past tents) is somewhat lifted off of the main body of the tent to the point where you don’t have to worry about condensation inside of the tent. The Northface that I had for example, if it was raining outside it was raining on the inside, and even if it was dry outside a lot of times it would hold the moisture in and when you moved the tent would drip water everywhere on the inside. Not pleasant at all.
The rain cover of the Maxfield I couldn’t be happier with. It connects to the base of the tent poles and the same stakes that anchor the tent with straps that easily cinch down to pull the edges of the cover all the way to the ground. This is big to help keep cold draft from coming in and retaining heat in the tent. Other tents I have taken out have not been nearly as efficient in this manner. Often times I would have to build up dirt or snow around the edges of the tent to avoid draft and retain heat. That was a huge plus to me, because if it’s super cold and you cannot keep any sort of warmth inside the tent on a 3-season tent, it can make for a rough experience.
When it comes to set up and take down, Klymit did it right by organizing the tent poles in a color-coded fashion so you know exactly where they go and speeds assembly up. One thing I figured out after setting it up a couple times is it is best to anchor the tent with only one stake and then put the poles in before you actually put the rest of the stakes in. I say this because you are never on flat ground, and you want to be able to have the front of the tent put together tightly so the door does not have slack, which will make the bottom of the door fold over onto the ground. That is important to keep the dirt and junk out of the inside of the tent.
The Maxfield is very quick to set up and take down and has never taken more than 10 minutes by myself in the rain, snow, and wind. Also, what may be the biggest plus is how easily the tent is to take down and pack back up. If you’re in a hurry, lay the rain cover flat on the ground, throw the tent flat in the top and roll it up. It will fit back in the pouch easily. No Tricks. No F-Bombs dropped trying to stuff the thing into the bag like when we are trying to fit into last years jeans! This design part is PERFECT! The way that they designed the cover/bag you can pretty much fold it into any sort of a ball/roll that you want and it will piece together just like it came out of the box.
Now I would be giving an honest review if I didn’t list what I don’t like. Honestly there are only two things and one can be avoided. The first is the ‘T’ brackets where the poles cross. I like to compare these two brackets to a USB plug where you have a 50/50 chance to get it right but you get it wrong 100% of the time, especially when it’s cold out! LOL. Maybe some sort of a snap in bracket might be better. The second is going to be how the tent holds up to heavy wind. The tent is sturdy but will blow almost all the way over to have the side hitting you if the wind is blowing hard. The kicker here is that this only happens if you are set up in the wide open without trees or anything close by. Why? Well the rain fly has extra strings attached to the middle of the tent on both sides and you can tie those off on both sides to stuff close by and it will keep the tent from moving an inch if you do it right. You could probably use extra stakes and do the same thing but I lose about one stake per outing (my own fault) and I only tried to tie it off to a rock on the ground. I failed. I’m sure you could do better than me if we are being honest here.
Just to keep this from going too long, Klymit has a winner here with their first venture into tents with the Maxfield. I have had it out 10 times, set it up on invisible rocks that ruin your night’s sleep, twigs that try to poke holes in everything, temperatures under 15 degrees, relentless rain, snow, and wind and the tent has held u flawlessly. I can’t say the same for myself but if there is anything to say about how I roll on the mountain it is that I am hard on gear and I would never back something that won’t hold up to my madness. Setting up and taking down spike camp has been great with this tent and I am actually willing to do that now with the Maxfield. Other tents I hated doing this so once they were set up that is where they stayed. If you’re in the market for a new backcountry tent option, give Klymit a look. They are doing good things over there.
-Review written by Built4TheHunt CEO Jeff Moran (@relentlesshntr)