For our hike across New Zealand we discussed our options with Helsport and settled for their Storsylen X-Trem 2+ 4-season dome tent. We wanted a sturdy, freestanding tent that could easily be set up in all environments we walked through. Even though this tent is not ideal for thru-hiking due to its weight we’ve been happy with it, for it provided a spacious and comfortable refuge even when New Zealand was demonstrating the best of its notorious weather.
UPDATE: the Helsport Storsylen X-Trem is no longer in production and has been replaced by the Reinsfjell X-trem. For further information on this tent, click here.
Helsport Storsylen X-Trem 2+ is designed for use in 4-seasons. It is a free-standing dome model, easily set up by a 3-pole system. In case of snow or a rocky underground it is provided with storm flaps. Snow or heavy rocks can be put on top of these flaps to weigh the tent down and tighten the sail. The baggage compartment provides space for the storage of two large packs, while smaller items can easily be taken and stored inside of the tent.
- Packed dimensions: 20 x 50 cm
- Weight: 3,35 kg (sail, poles, pegs)
- Pole length: 1 x 310 + 1 x 347 + 1 x 396 cm
- Includes reperation kit (weight: 0,15kg)
- Entrances: 1
- Luggage storage room: 1
We spent 67 nights in our tent on the trail, more than 1/3 of the time we were out.
Point for improvement
We underestimated the importance of weight on a long distance trail, hence when we picked this tent we did not bother about the 3+kg it would put in our packs. Most tents we knew of at that time are around that weight, and this one had the advantage that it was all seasons and free-standing. The weight is the only reason we would not take it again on a long-distance hike.
There are a few aspects about it we believe could be improved. Two entrances would be very useful. The lack of a second entrance makes packing up in the morning slower, as the person sleeping in the back of the tent will have to wait for the other to get out before being able to access his/her pack and get out. We have only used the tent from spring to fall, but this would definitely useful in winter as well.
Other than that the ventilation on the back side of the tent should be placed higher up. As it is now the airflow is blocked by the person sleeping next to it, who will also get cold when the vent is open. The construction of the back side ventilation, with an additional sail forming a cap over the vent, makes this sail heavier and more prone to slacking. In wet and cold conditions this causes the outer sail to touch the inner sail which can lead to water inside the tent. This can be remedied by setting the back side of the tent out of the wind, but this takes away the advantage that a dome tent can be set up regardless of the wind direction. All in all this makes the construction of the back vent not very useful. A construction similar to the ventilation in the front would provide more airflow in the tent.
Why we still liked carrying this tent
However, even with this flaw, we had very little problems with condensation and ventilation of the tent. When comparing dome tents to tunnels airflow is their major down point. New Zealand’s climate can be very humid at times, and is often wet, yet except in extreme cases we were not bothered by this and both us and our gear would be dry inside the tent. On very hot nights the entrance can be opened top-down in order to provide more airflow in the tent. We found this the best way to circulate air inside.
On cool nights the tent keeps the heat well inside, which was great both in the beginning and the end of the hike when temperatures almost dropped down to freezing point during the night and especially the early morning. The inner tent entrance is lined with an extra layer over the mosquito net that can be opened or closed depending on the outside temperature.
The construction is very stable and the tent is strong. The sail survived a possum putting its claws in it while climbing to the top. Even on the stormiest nights we did not have to worry once about the tent failing us due to gusting gale winds. We hardly felt any of it inside, making us having those necessary hours of sleep to be fit enough for the next long day. Because it is a dome we did not have to worry about wind direction or winds turning over night, which proved useful at several occasions. It withstood New Zealand’s torrential rains, we never had any water inside. When the rain passes it dries up fast, especially when the entrance is left open and air can flow in between the sails.
Our favourite features about it are the facts that it is spacious and can stand free. On many occasions where our companions were struggling to get their pegs down on rocky surfaces we had no problems. We slept on everything from perfectly soft green grass to pure gravel surfaces. This made it much easier for us to find a suitable camping spot along the trail, for all we really had to think about was water. When it was impossible to pitch we used rocks, our poles and branches to tighten the sail by putting out the storm flaps.
Even then the tent remained spacious inside. As our tent was our home for most of the north island, it was great to have some space inside. We had plenty of room to get all essentials in and could comfortably sit and eat inside because of bad weather or to escape the bugs. And we were not crammed together while sleeping in our tent.
Even though the Helsport Storsylen X-Trem 2+ is not the best tent for a thru-hiking adventure, its space, stability, weatherproofness and free standing capacity makes it a very comfortable companion in the outdoors. In our view it is best fitted for winter and mountain usage, and for any trips of this caliber we will not hesitate to take it with us again.