What’s better: tent-pole sleeves or clips?
I've been reading mixed reviews about tents recently, with some raving that their tents are virtually bombproof, others demeaning theirs as utter crap. I'm after a tent for multi-season camping, something that will keep me dry and includes decent vestibule space, maybe even two doors for easy-exit toilet breaks. Any suggestions? And could you possibly explain the pros and cons of pole sleeves versus clips? Jim Toronto, Ontario
Well, all I can say is: Sometimes people expect too much. After all, your average two-person, three-season tent is a lightweight confection of nylon and thin aluminum tubing. I’m constantly astonished at the abuse they take, but I guess some people are astonished when they reach a breaking point, as all do.
As a rule of thumb, any tent out there made by a recognizable outdoor gear maker will be at least adequate, and probably more than that. For your purposes, you might consider a so-called “convertible” tent, which is designed to bridge the gap between late fall and early winter. Sierra Designs’ Omega ($289; www.sierradesigns.com) is one such tent. It has one big door at the “bow” end, a design that expedites access without adding the weight of doors on each side. Marmot’s excellent Equinox ($259; www.marmot.com) is technically a three-season tent, but it’s rugged and roomy, with a superb two-door design.
Pole sleeves seem to make for a sturdier tent as they put a continuous line of stitching across a pole line, reducing the stress at any single point. But, sleeves add some weight, and can be a little trickier to set up (although the sleeves also suggest where the pole goes).
These days, a lot of tents use both. The Equinox combines clips and sleeves, for instance. The Omega is an all-clip tent, but I’ve used Sierra Designs tents for years and never had a clip pop, so I trust their designs plenty.