Mountain Hardwear Light Wedge 3

By Abhijit Menon-Sen <ams@toroid.org>

2009-05-26

In February 2008, Hassath and I got a Mountain Hardwear Light Wedge 3 tent. This is a review written after half a dozen trips, and just over a year of use. (This is the only tent I have owned, though not the only one I've used or pitched.)

The quick summary: I love this sturdy, roomy, lightweight, inexpensive tent.

Many thanks to Rai for ordering and bringing us the tent; and for his subsequent creative accounting that turned it into the best gift we've received.

Introduction

The Light Wedge is a simple dome tent, with two crossed poles from corner to corner, and a smaller brow pole above the single door and vestibule in front. The body has large mesh windows, and the D-shaped door is also mesh, so one must rely on the full fly sheet to keep the wind out.

The tent weighs around 3kg and packs into an 18×48cm cylinder, so it can be carried by one person even on a long hike (which I have done).

We ordered the tent and footprint (i.e. ground sheet) from Campmor.com, which offered free shipping (to Rai, in the US).

Pitching the tent

The Light Wedge is delightfully easy to set up. Stake out the footprint, spread the tent body over it, clip it up to the poles, attach the brow pole, drape the fly, stake the entrance, and you're done.

I have pitched it, alone, in howling winds, after an exhausting hike. We have pitched it in the dark after a twenty-one hour drive. It still took less than ten minutes each time.

It's a good thing that it's so easy to figure out, because the pitching instructions comprise a series of cryptic diagrams that I'm still not certain I have understood correctly.

The fly sheet has four guy cords which clip to the poles for added stability. There are extra tabs on the body and fly, but I have not needed to stake them down. There are also tabs on the inside of the body, which you can loop a cord through for stability in high wind. I have not needed to do this either.

Strangely, the tent comes with only nine stakes (it isn't a mistake: the manual says the package contains nine stakes). That is enough to secure the body and the fly, but only three of the four extra guy cords.

(The reflective tabs on the body and fly bear special mention, because I found them helpful at night, both to pitch the tent and find it later.)

It is possible to pitch only the footprint and the fly sheet ("pitch light"), but I have never done this.

The tent in use

At 4.09m², this is a fairly roomy tent, as three-person tents go. Three conservatively-sized people can fit in and be comfortable in dry weather. Unfortunately, at 1.93m, I am fairly roomy myself; and if I'm in there, any third person had better be skinny. Still, the tent can accommodate two people and their gear quite comfortably.

The tent body is 2.44m long, which makes it the longest tent we looked at by some margin. Although I have slept in smaller tents, the extra space is very welcome, and makes it a lot easier to avoid the walls.

The vestibule is quite small (1.1m²), but it stays dry and is big enough to stash boots and the odd bit of gear. The door has a small clear panel and two independent zippers.

The walls of the tent are not as steep as some other designs, but the interior is airy and comfortable. The ceiling is high enough (1.19m) that one can kneel or sit up easily. The big mesh windows are nice in theory, but I've never pitched the tent without the fly, so the view is lost on me. There are three pockets near ground level, and a large "shelf" overhead: more space than I've ever needed.

For the most part, we have pitched the tent in the evening and taken it down early in the morning, to avoid extended exposure to sunlight. But I have left it pitched for two days at above 3000m, with no obvious ill-effects (hardly surprising, I know).

The tent has seen fair weather in spring, summer, and winter; and it's weathered a couple of Himalayan storms, including a severe hailstorm. It has even been peed on by frightened Langurs; and I am, therefore, especially pleased that it has never let a single drop of water inside.

It has always been very stable in the wind; but, curiously, the storms it has seen have not been especially windy. If they had been, I suspect I might have needed to stake out the extra points on the fly to keep out the rain.

Our tent has never seen snow. Although I would expect it to cope with light snowfall quite easily, it is a three-season tent, and it would be inappropriate in heavy snowfall or extreme cold (because of the big mesh windows that make it breathe so well otherwise).

Conclusion

If I have any complaint about the tent, it is that the fly is a sickly cyan colour. But since that is the worst problem I could come up with, I think we chose very well for our first tent.