Naturehike,3F UL Gear and Big Agnes

A place to chat about gear and the philosphy of ultralight. Ultralight bushwalking or backpacking focuses on carrying the lightest and simplest kit. There is still a good focus on safety and skill.
Forum rules
Ultralight Bushwalking/backpacking is about more than just gear lists. Ultralight walkers carefully consider gear based on the environment they are entering, the weather forecast, their own skill, other people in the group. Gear and systems are tested and tweaked.
If you are new to this area then welcome - Please remember that although the same ultralight philosophy can be used in all environments that the specific gear and skill required will vary greatly. It is very dangerous to assume that you can just copy someone else's gear list, but you are encouraged to ask questions, learn and start reducing the pack weight and enjoying the freedom that comes.

Common words
Base pack backpacking the mass of the backpack and the gear inside - not including consumables such as food, water and fuel
light backpacking base weight less than 9.1kg
ultralight backpacking base weight less than 4.5kg
super-ultralight backpacking base weight less than 2.3kg
extreme-ultralight backpacking base weight less than 1.4kg

Naturehike,3F UL Gear and Big Agnes

Postby havanainthebush » Thu 13 Jun, 2019 11:48 am

Hello everyone,

I'm looking for advice about a particular tent style I would like to buy. It resembles the Big Agnes Fly Creek tent.

First off, I am on a strict budget and can't afford to go abroad. Therefore, I go camping for a holiday. In the past, I used a cheap dome tent from Rays Outdoors $60 which lasted me for 5 years with no tears or problems (and still going strong!). I've used it in the outback, snow at the top of Feathertop, severe wind and rain as well as on beaches. It's a tough cookie, just heavy at 3kg.

Now I want to upgrade! (I carry 20kg in my pack sometimes and I'm only 5ft2!) I like to do alpine trips where most of the time, I am camping on granite or places with limited soil to put stakes in. So I'm looking for a cheap but reliable freestanding tent.

I like the sleek tunnel entry design of the Big Agnes however, it's $500+ and I can't afford that. My limit is $200. A few hiking friends mentioned how impressed they were with Naturehike's Cloud Up 2 (20D Nylon version) Improved version seems to be very resilient in the wind and storms when pegged out. They also noted a little condensation but it wasn't an issue because it quickly dried.

When I looked up this tent on Aliexpress, I also found a very similar tent by 3F UL Gear. I've not heard of them but I saw good reviews about their Lanshan tent. However, the tent I am interested is the Zhengtu 2 which seems to be an improved version of Cloud Up 2 as it has added vents at the front and back. They also come with a 4 season inner which is basically an Autumn inner with 50% nlyon and 50% mesh, another improvement on design compared to the Big Agnes. The cost of one is under $200 compared to $500+. It also comes with a footprint.

Now, I also have had some bad experiences with expensive popular tents. I did spend 3 weeks in Hotham during summer wild camping with a MSR Elixir tent and the Big Agnes Copper Spur UL HV 2 I borrowed from a friend. The MSR did the best and lasted for about 2 weeks until we had severe winds that it flattened, got wet inside and the poles started bending. I was still able to use it though, no rips except maybe tiny holes in the foot tub which I don't think was me. Luckily another friend was able to meet me during our hike to drop off another tent that was lighter too, Big Agnes Copper Spur UL 2 but again, wasn't happy as it sagged so much in the rain so it made the inner tent wet whenever the wind blew onto it and then a few days later when it dried up, it developed a rip from the guy lines being too taught in the strong winds. The fabric on these expensive tents are soooo thin and fragile! I'm just not cut out for fragile gear! I'm still paying off the damage to my friends's tents doing free garden work! Never had these problems with my trusty $60 tent!

So, I'm very reluctant to buy any form of UL Nylon tent and luckily, the cheaper versions come in 210T Polyester. The Naturehike and 3F UL Gear both weigh about 2kg for the polyester version, between $150-$200 and roomy inside for myself and all my gear.

However, a few hikers suggest that I should stay away from these cheap Aliexpress tents and invest in more expensive tents like the Marmot Tungsten but they are heavy and the space inside a 1P is too small but the 2P is just too big! If they made a 1.5P tent then I may have been swayed as they make theirs from good quality Polyester too. I looked at the Vango tents too, again too heavy and not many are freestanding.

Does anyone have any experience or advice about tents that would suit my needs?
I'm wiling to buy a tent that is less than 3kg, I'm happy to have a reliable tent that is cheap but a bit heavier.
It seems the more popular brands have their problems and they are NOT cheap!

At the moment, I'm leaning towards the 3F UL Gear Zhengtu 2 tent as it seems to be better constructed and the design of 2 vents instead of 1 may help with condensation. The Cloud Up 2 has been tested the most and there is a growing popularity in my hiking group for them.

Will I be making a fatal error?

Cheers. :)
Images of the tents below:

The ZHENGTU 2:
Image
Image
Image

NATUREHIKE CLOUP UP 2"
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Re: Naturehike,3F UL Gear and Big Agnes

Postby Nuts » Thu 13 Jun, 2019 1:25 pm

I'm not going to be much help on those. For wind I like tunnel tents, we trialed these with in mind a cheap hire tent: https://www.millets.co.uk/tents-camping ... -tent.html and a lighter/solo version (which isn't really a tunnel). They are around $180au for that polyester version. Not a lot of use here but positive feedback if a bit on the short side..
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Re: Naturehike,3F UL Gear and Big Agnes

Postby wildwanderer » Thu 13 Jun, 2019 3:12 pm

3f UL tents are decent quality for the price. I own a 3F teepee (sil). Bought for low land camping with the GF. Its only been put up in the park so far as Im struggling to motivate GF to put a pack on :?
But I was quite suprised how good the quality was, lots of room for 2 including packs and 1.6kg.

Most people have the sil versions of the 3F tents. the poly seems to be a bit of an unknown. Check the water rating as its often less than the sil.

One aspect I would consider if using in high wind is how the fly conects to the inner. Does it have a robust connection?

Can you pull the fly down low? Otherwise the wind gets under the fly and you can have problems.

Its often worth searching on the forums. There has been alot of tent discussion over the years and many different models of tents discussed. (including inexpensive ones). You may find some good sugestions there.

I will say however if your aiming to use your tent reguarly in alpine conditions (and it seems you are) and you want light weight then you really need to spend a bit more.

Bit heavier but that Berghaus that Nuts linked looks pretty good.
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Re: Naturehike,3F UL Gear and Big Agnes

Postby johnrs » Thu 13 Jun, 2019 4:05 pm

Hi HINTB
3F UL stuff is very good for the price.
Your Zhengtu will be sturdy enough but is single door
At 5'2" you might be happy with a Hubba clone
Or the Lanshan 1or2 2019 build
John
https://www.aliexpress.com/item/3F-UL-G ... 61b16bfdab
or https://www.aliexpress.com/item/FLAME-S ... 43233.html
or https://www.aliexpress.com/item/2018-La ... 49e4b834a7
Last edited by johnrs on Fri 14 Jun, 2019 2:13 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Naturehike,3F UL Gear and Big Agnes

Postby ricrunner » Fri 14 Jun, 2019 1:09 pm

I have a Companion Pro Hiker 2person, tent that I use for cycle touring and camping, it weighs 2.7kg, and sells for $169 at Wild Earth. I have had it since 2016, and done about 140 nights in it. It has 2 roof vents, is still in good nick, , has Aluminium poles, , the floor has not worn out yet, though I do use a builders plastic footprint, to protect it. I think from memory the floor has a 5000mm water rating, with the fly have a 3000mm rating. It has gone through some seriously bad storms, with out breaking poles or even collapsing. It has an free standing inner, and only 4 pegs are need for the fly, 6, if you peg out the centre of the north/south part of the fly. , Has 2 vestibiles, so makes cooking in bad weather great. I cannot recommend it enough, and when it does finally let go, will be buying another.
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Re: Naturehike,3F UL Gear and Big Agnes

Postby havanainthebush » Fri 14 Jun, 2019 6:42 pm

Cheers everyone. Looks like I could be a guinea pig for this Zhengtu 2 for us Aussies then; couldn't find a single peep across all forums here and online, only the reviews off Aliexpress. I did find a similar tent on Amazon which had mostly positive reviews and a few noted they were better stitched in comparison to Naturehike.

Yes, I saw the Companion Pro, looks solid and very much identical to what I have now. At the moment, I'd like to try something lighter if it's possible. I might give this Zhengtu 2 a go and report back after 6 months of vigorous use since I camp almost every week and sometimes for weeks at a time, throughout the year. My gear gets through a lot of rough handling, I'm not a delicate type of person, I like to stuff things in a sack for example, not roll it in. If it can survive my cumbersome ways, it could probably survive a nuclear storm! :)
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Re: Naturehike,3F UL Gear and Big Agnes

Postby ribuck » Fri 14 Jun, 2019 6:55 pm

I have the Cloud-up 2. It's inexpensive, is well made, and has stood up well to 50 night's use. The only reason I don't use it much anymore is because its entry is at the head end, and I find side entry much more convenient.

But! I bought the lightest fabric option. 15D nylon has stood up well, even on the Larapinta end to end without a groundsheet.
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Re: Naturehike,3F UL Gear and Big Agnes

Postby havanainthebush » Tue 18 Jun, 2019 10:54 pm

Excellent! Yes, I also like the Cloud Up 2.

How did you find the ventilation and condensation?

Because I'm buying the 210T Polyester version, naturally it would have less breathability because this material doesn't absorb water as much as Nylon does. So I'm guessing the condensation would be more compared to a Nylon. This is why I chose the 3F UL Gear because the 2P version has TWO vents rather than ONE on the Naturehike version.

I won't know if this makes much difference until I test it out. In summer, because the door panel and back panel is partially covered in Nylon, it makes it more private to have it set up with just the inner compared to the Naturehike which has visible mesh on the whole front door and small panel at the back. I will test it out in summer with the fly on and see what it's like to be inside with the two vents open. I don't tend to stick around in a tent during the hottest time of the day anyway, but will see how it withstands the heat. There is an option to buy a full mesh inner with the same tent which I may order for the summer to compare for an extra $95.

I also heard that the floor material of the Nylon versions tend to be quite thin so a good footprint is necessary. The 210T polyester version is a bit tougher and has a rating of 6000mm compared to 3000mm. I hike in lots of rain and cold climates so this was of interest to me.

Will keep you all posted periodically and do a review once it's gone through the works.

At the end of the day, my opinion is that the expensive UL Nylon tents are built pretty similar to the Chinese knock-offs, just the customer support can be quite bad. I don't believe any of the UL tents are designed for rough handling so if you want a light tent, it comes with limitations. When the stats are pretty much the same across the board, I'd rather give the cheaper tent a go, don't care what brand it is. If the design looks good and the materials make sense, the name and price shouldn't dictate its quality. Perhaps those who have a MSR or Big Agnes or Nemo take better care of their tents because they spent so much on it. I know I just throw my $60 tent without a thought but it's survived a lot and probably would be even better if I took the same amount of care if it were expensive. But I also wonder how many people who own expensive tents had them first or feel too embarrassed to buy cheaper tents or try so hard to justify their $1000+ purchase to like it?

Coming from a place where I believe the outdoors is for everyone, including kids who can be rough with their gear and those who want to camp with their pets in all kinds of weather, tents should be able to withstand all this but not cost a kid's life savings to buy it. I want my 14 year old nephew to come pack and carry with me but his parents can't afford the popular UL tents and the cheaper ones are a bit too heavy so I have to carry it. Being outdoors shouldn't be a fashion statement nor should it be limited to those who are wealthy. So I thank the Chinese for making it more accessible for everyone even if it rips off other people.
Last edited by havanainthebush on Tue 25 Jun, 2019 10:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Naturehike,3F UL Gear and Big Agnes

Postby ribuck » Wed 19 Jun, 2019 3:11 am

havanainthebush wrote:Cloud Up 2 ... How did you find the ventilation and condensation?

Condensation was not a problem inside the tent, since the tent is double layer. The inner has plenty of mesh through which the moisture escapes. But when there was a lot of moisture around, the condensation in the vestibule was annoying. If I wasn't super-careful when exiting the tent, my head would touch the vestibule roof and all that condensation would rain down on me. It's probably better to leave the vestibule door open whenever possible.

There wasn't much clearance between the fly and the inner, so it's important to pitch it carefully, otherwise strong winds will bring the fly into contact with the inner and some of the condensation will pass through.
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Re: Naturehike,3F UL Gear and Big Agnes

Postby CBee » Wed 19 Jun, 2019 7:41 pm

I have a couple of Naturehike. Good tents for good weather. Once winds and rain pick up, they are worth just the $ you spent on them.
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Re: Naturehike,3F UL Gear and Big Agnes

Postby havanainthebush » Tue 25 Jun, 2019 9:44 pm

Just a quick report.

I took my 3F UL Gear tent up the Grampians for a few nights and it rained like cats and dogs.
So how did the tent do? It stood up pretty well actually. I had to tie out all the guides though to get a taught pitch when it got gusty but the rain was not a problem.
My gear stayed dry. There was a bit of condensation as expected in the mornings (I got the same when I tested the MSR and Big Agnes tents) but the 2 vents really helped with the airflow. It's better than the Cloud Up 2 as it has one lower vent at the back and a higher vent at the top. So as long as I had the lower vent facing most of the wind, it went straight through and up the higher vent and took most of the condensation out, compared to the Big Agnes which seemed to 'mist' on me during windy rain.

The floor seemed pretty tough alone so I didn't use the footprint all the time, only when I felt it was necessary. Sometimes I had to pitch without pegs as was sometimes on the rocks so used stones to pull out the tent. This seemed to work well and tent stayed up and dry.

The only thing I don't love is when I try to get out of the tent on a rainy morning, the zip is a bit of a reach and a little water does drop on my head because I'm poking out to open the door. I didn't get any in the tent but if I'm careless, I can see it can easily wet whatever I would have in the vestibule so I keep everything inside to be safe, with shoes tucked to the side.

The inner nylon walls were great at keeping cool air off my body during the night, including protection from the draft outside the door which is great.
There seems to be a good 2 inches of space between the fly and the inner tent, maybe I am pitching it fine. It never sagged and always stayed taught but that might be because I have the 210T Polyester version. I can see this being a problem if I had the SilNylon version.

So far, I am very happy with it.

Heading to Wilsons Prom to see how it performs there at this time of year.

Will update.

Cheers.
Last edited by havanainthebush on Wed 26 Jun, 2019 11:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Naturehike,3F UL Gear and Big Agnes

Postby havanainthebush » Tue 25 Jun, 2019 9:51 pm

ribuck wrote:
havanainthebush wrote:Cloud Up 2 ... How did you find the ventilation and condensation?

Condensation was not a problem inside the tent, since the tent is double layer. The inner has plenty of mesh through which the moisture escapes. But when there was a lot of moisture around, the condensation in the vestibule was annoying. If I wasn't super-careful when exiting the tent, my head would touch the vestibule roof and all that condensation would rain down on me. It's probably better to leave the vestibule door open whenever possible.

There wasn't much clearance between the fly and the inner, so it's important to pitch it carefully, otherwise strong winds will bring the fly into contact with the inner and some of the condensation will pass through.


Did you have the updated version with vent at the back or the older model with no vents? I heard about the condensation on the Naturehike tents because they copy the American designs rather than the European design (more vents). This was what swayed me to get the 3F UL Gear version instead as it came with 2 large vents.
Not much condensation, only when it was cold in the mornings did I notice a little but I suppose that's pretty normal with most tents.

Cheers for that. That maybe because your fly sagged when it rained? So it was closer to the inner? Or it could be the design of the Naturehike itself.
So far, I don't have that problem with my 3F UL Gear Polyester version.
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Re: Naturehike,3F UL Gear and Big Agnes

Postby havanainthebush » Tue 25 Jun, 2019 10:03 pm

CBee wrote:I have a couple of Naturehike. Good tents for good weather. Once winds and rain pick up, they are worth just the $ you spent on them.


Thanks for that. Yes, I believe the Naturehike tents do have flaws, especially the older silnylon versions. I am hoping this 3F UL Gear version is better and so far, it is delivering.
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Re: Naturehike,3F UL Gear and Big Agnes

Postby havanainthebush » Tue 25 Jun, 2019 10:05 pm

I should also note a big difference between the Naturehike and the 3F UL Gear tents is that the 3F UL Gear has velcro straps that attach to the poles. The Naturehike is purely attached to the clips at the tarp end. This hasn't made much of a difference to me yet as I tie the fly down pretty good but I can imagine might help in extremely windy conditions should the clips fail.
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