If you are new to backpacking or camping, one of the first pieces of gear that you need to purchase is a shelter. A tent is the route that most take. Tents offers 360° of protection from the elements and a sense of security that you are separate from the outside world. Yet the types of tents available and the price ranges that accompany them can be overwhelming. The good news? Unless you are attempting to get into something like mountaineering, most of this gear will be more expensive and over-engineered for your needs.
The main things to consider when looking into your first tent are; how many people are you intending to house? Will you be carrying the tent? What weather/environmental conditions will you most likely encounter? How quickly can you assemble and disassemble the tent? Is this a factor? For backpacking you want a lightweight tent that is easy to assemble and will keep you dry if it turns into a rainy trip. If you are only planning on car camping? Weight is no longer a factor, just make sure that your tent will keep you dry. The Eureka! Apex 2XT tent is a great option to meet beginner backpacker needs, without breaking the bank.
The Eureka! Apex 2XT is a 2 person, free-standing, 2 pole, dome style wilderness backpacking tent. Included with the tent is a gear loft, 4 attached corner mesh gear pockets, a set of 8 basic steel stakes, 2 fiberglass tent poles and individual stuff sacks for the stakes, poles and one large one for all tent components. The tent is listed on the Eureka! website at $139.99 MSRP, but you can routinely find it for as low as $105 on various other online retailers. You will be hard pressed to find a tent that includes all of these features for that price.
The Apex 2XT tent has a packed weight of 6lbs. 5 oz. When compared to other backpacking style tents without consideration for price, this is really heavy. The big difference is that while there are tents that weigh as little as 2 lbs (sometimes less), they are often 5x to 6x more expensive. If ultra-lightweight is a top priority you better be willing to drop North of $300. Also, in order to cut weight, many of these tents cut out features. No gear lofts, no gear pockets. Another difference is that many of these Ultra-light options are not freestanding and as a result are more difficult to set up and often require you to have multiple stake out points in order to maintain the proper shape of the tent. For a beginner I think that a tent should be idiot proof, so if caught in a flash rainstorm you can throw it up quickly.
The Apex 2XT measures 5” x 24” packed in the included stuff sack. Not great dimensions. This can be overcome if you disregard the included stuff sack and pack the tent into your trip back by component. It takes up much less space this way.
When set up the Apex 2XT has a 7’6” x 4’11” floor space and has 3’10” of head clearance at its center point. These specs are where this tent excels. Much costlier tents don’t offer much of an advantage in the livability category. The Apex 2XT is very comfortable inside for 2 people. Depending on your size you could even bring your packs in with you and still have room to sleep comfortably. If you are on the taller side the tent includes a full rainfly with 2 vestibules that give you 13.81 sq. feet of storage space to stash your boots, backpack or other gear to protect them from the elements as well. This is another stat where the Apex excels over more expensive options.
The entrances are “D” style doors with Hi/low ventilation and have a dual zipper system which allow you to either fully enclose yourself behind nylon or only zip up the no-see-um mesh door. The material that all components of the tent are made out of is 75D 190T polyester taffeta that is coated with 800mm waterproofing. Through heavy rainstorms and different levels of pressure in a variety of temperatures this tent has kept me dry. The only exception that I took with the materials would be that I did experience some issues with condensation build-up inside the main tent body in the morning. Ventilation between the main tent and the fly could be better.
The Apex 2XT is a great tent to get you started. It has kept me dry many occasions, it is very easy to set up, and it is manageable weight wise. Plus, it’s a two person tent so you could split the components between a partner. Effectively cutting the carrying weight in half. The two entrances are really convenient for when someone has to get out in the middle of the night to answer the call of the wild. If you are planning your next expedition to a high altitude environment, or putting in thousands of miles on one of the bigger through hikes, you may have graduated to greater needs than this tent provides. But if you are new to camping, backpacking or are more of a weekend warrior who prefers the feeling of a campfire and a cold beer in a lawn chair after good day hike, than this tent will fit the bill, start to finish.