As a longtime user of Macpac products**, I’m always interested when they introduce a new product, like their Macpac Duolight 2 person tent.
For many years, their bombproof (4 season) Microlight 1P tent was the standard for many Aussie bushwalkers and served them very well. I was secretly jealous and always wanted one! But with the changes in fabric and manufacturing technology and a cultural shift towards lightweight walking, they developed their Macpac Sololight 1P (2 season) v1 which came in at 1.27kg. It has been my go-to 1P tent for the last 3 years and although it is sold as 2 season, I’ve had it stand up to some pretty atrocious wind and rain in places like Kanangra-Boyd NP (on top of a ridge), Tassie’s South Coast Track and along the Great Australian Bite. Maybe that’s because they’re designed for NZ 2 season conditions!
And then the angels sang…
And the unicorns danced along their rainbows…
And the cunning designer (that’s Macpac’s Holly) released their 2P version with the Macpac Duolight tent as a lightweight 2P alternative to their long-standing popular Macpac Minaret 2P. Here’s my review:
Surely is the final frontier and this tent has it in spades. At 3.08 square metres of internal floor space, my voice echoed inside when it was just me.*
I could feel the roominess not only when sitting up [1.05m ceiling height] (which for a tall gal is a good thing), but shoulder to shoulder [1.4m], (I reckon that at a pinch, you could fit 3 people and their mats inside), but importantly at my head or foot, with a whopping 2.2m of length.
Two doors and two vestibules makes for happy tent-mates and avoids that awkward airplane-middle-seat-to-get-to-the-loo maneuver.
But wait, if space is important to you, it gets better…
However, this leads into one of my favourite features of this Duolight. It’s a true Multi-Pitch Tent. This means that you can have yourself a fabulous fly-only shelter and go lightweight.
This is how I used it on my January trip to the Victorian High Country, bringing the weight down to 1.42 kg (fly, poles and pegs) and giving me an even bigger (is that possible?) personal space inside, pushing it out to a whopping 4.4 square metres – easily a lightweight shelter for 3 people. Additionally, this packed down size is significantly smaller than the full tent and was part of my 40L pack strategy for the 4 day trip.
The other great usage for a multi-pitch tent is being able to use the mesh inner in dry season up north in places like the Jatbula Trail, Larapinta Trail or in the Kimberly or Kakadu National Parks. When you know it isn’t going to rain, but the mozzies can carry you away in the night, you’d be able to enjoy the stars above in the knowledge that the ZZZZZZZ ain’t coming near you.
Where a multi-pitch tent can really come into its own is when you are using both the fly and inner and are trying to pack up in heavy rain. You have the ability to perform some excellent body contortion tricks within the tent to collapse and pack away the inner (keeping it dry), whilst leaving the fly until the last minute, to pop near the top of your pack.
Also, being a freestanding design means that it doesn’t rely on pegs for it’s structure. You can pick it up and move it if you need to and it’s great for camping on hard surfaces where you struggle to get pegs into the ground. Oh and speaking of pegs, I like this new design that they’ve included in the Macpac Duolight. They’re light aluminium and with a ‘folded’ style, they are stronger than the ones that came with the Sololight 1P.
For the generosity of space, you have to pay for it somewhere, but thankfully with the Duolight the cost isn’t too great. As with everything in product design, it’s always a compromise, but coming in at 2.17 kgs (1.42 kg fly only) is a price I’m happy to pay. Oh and that’s half price if you share it between two!
The truth is, that the tent could’ve been lighter – even Macpac admit that – if they’d used a less waterproof floor fabric. However, by going with a 40D Ripstop Nylon, rated at 10,000mm, they’ve created a tent with a durable floor that doesn’t need a footprint or ground sheet to keep the water out… oh and it’s better for those pesky little sharp rocks too.
By nature, I’m a pretty organised kind of person, so I love that the Macpac Duolight 2P comes with four generous mesh pockets in the inner and a handy hook in the roof to hang your torch or lamp.
A much needed improvement on the Sololight v1 is the introduction of two window vents that act like chimneys, allowing the warmer air inside to escape, reducing moisture build up. The condensation overall was dependent on location and outside conditions. Up high with a breeze, in drier air, I didn’t have any moisture, whereas camping beside a creek on a still cold night, you can naturally expect to have some moisture on the inside of the fly.
I struggled to find anything I didn’t like about this tent. Even though I’m a Macpac Ambassador, I feel strongly about giving balanced reviews on things, so if there’s something I don’t like… I’ll say so. However, with this tent, I think they’re on a winner. Oh and the colour? It was the most visible amongst my friends tents in low-light and doubles as a massive poncho*!
*OK, not really!
**Disclosure: I’m an ambassador for them too!