Camping: Bibler Escalante Tents

Outside magazine, June 1995

Camping: Bibler Escalante Tents
By Rod Willard

What happens when a legendary maker of single-wall expedition tents builds a model for those of us who don't spend our vacations in the Himalayas? We get the benefit of extreme-adventure experience in a light, roomy, and versatile three-season shelter.

The Escalante line from Bibler Tents consists of the two-person Piñon, shown here, and the three-person Juniper. Like Bibler's proven expedition tents, they feature single-wall construction, made possible with a proprietary combination of waterproof/breathable fabric and coated nylon. This translates into minimal weight despite large floor plans. The 47-square-foot Piñon weighs 5.5 pounds, and the Juniper offers 54 square feet for only 6.5 pounds. The poles are inside, so that the fully freestanding tents erect quickly to get you out of foul weather fast.

The Escalante series tents also have impressive ventilation. Dual vestibules can be rolled back to reveal large no-see-um mesh doors--or they can be left wide open for a bright, unconfining shelter. There are two mesh sides, a top vent, and a skylight for stargazing. When weather calls for serious protection, just batten down the hatches: The bathtub floor, single-wall canopy, and skylight hatch keep the elements out.

Bibler tents have never been cheap, and at $425 (Piñon) and $515 (Juniper) the three-season models are no exceptions. There's also a learning curve to mastering the routing of the center pole, which runs from one vestibule to the other along the ceiling of the tent. But these quality tents make the investment--and the fumbling--worthwhile. The vestibules are large enough to store gear or billet a wet dog, and each has a built-in shelf to keep your gear off the ground. Plus the two mesh inner walls have a dozen roomy pockets to keep things organized and to speed up the process of drying out--even while the storm goes on.

From Bibler Tents, 5441-D Western Ave., Boulder, CO 80301; 303-449-7351.

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