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ZeroGram PCT UL 2 MF Tent
ZeroGram PCT UL 2 MF Tent
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Just received my order over a week early, so I'm pretty happy about that-- est. ship date 8/17, shipped 8/8, arrived 8/12. Since I just received it, I haven't yet taken it out camping (only slept in it at home), but will try to remember to update when I do. Since this is my largest Massdrop purchase to date, and since Zerogram is a relatively new kid on the block and doesn't have a lot of public feedback yet, I thought it would be worthwhile to write up my thoughts on the PCT UL 2 so far.
I'm very satisfied with the tent based on my first impressions, and this seems like a great value in terms of cost, weight, durability, and comfort. It might not suit everyone's needs, especially for those aiming for a more austere and minimal sleeping setup, for whom a name like "PCT UL" might invite some unfair comparisons and raise some hackles at the 3 and a half pound total weight. For me, though, I think this happened to be just what I was looking for.
The included setup instructions are only in Korean, but the visual part of the instructions were informative enough. The single-pole design is very easy to assemble, and I like that the crossbar is attached so it's not easy to lose.
I do have concerns about the plastic hub that connects the crossbar to the main pole and the plastic clips that fasten the crossbar to the canopy, but time will tell if they are durable enough. Also, I am slightly skeptical of its claim to be a 4-season tent, but I don't plan on doing winter camping anyway, and all the other tents I was considering were 3-season, so this isn't an issue for me. Also, it does seem to boast fairly impressive wind resistance.
While Zerogram doesn't offer a footprint specifically for this tent, a simple Tyvek or polycro groundcover should work just fine if one is needed. I picked up a 5x7ft (152x213cm) Tyvek sheet with included tabs & grommets I found on Amazon, which, with some alterations, is just about the right size for this tent.
My main intent for this is to take it bikepacking, which this seems like a good fit for. The 43x15cm packed size would fit in most seat packs, handlebar rolls, or even in the triangle of the bike (using a boss-mounted cargo cage like the Salsa Anything Cage).
It's just about the right size to fit snugly between my drop bars. Note that drop bar widths can range from 38-44cm, so for narrower ones, the tent poles would need to be taken out so the pack could be compressed a bit more lengthwise. I will probably end up packing the tent in a handlebar harness, and the poles in a frame bag (Revelate Sweetroll and Tangle, respectively).
Of course, for a heavier touring setup, it would also easily fit stuffed inside a pannier, strapped to a top rack, proudly displayed atop your Flextrek Whipsnake, or just about anywhere else.
Room for Two?
I was originally planning to use this as a single-person tent, but after trying it out, I'm strongly considering trying it as a 2-person tent. There is adequate clearance to sit up, and enough room to sleep side by side, as long as it's with someone you're comfortable getting a little cozy with. My spouse and I are 183cm and 180cm tall and a combined 147kg, and we felt like it was snug, but just enough room for the two of us.
The floor dimensions are just about the perfect size for two sleeping pads to fit side by side. In my case, it's two of the Klymit Static Vs (183x59cm).
For other Kylmit pads, pretty much anything except two of the Luxe pads (193x76.2cm) would fit. One of the doubles (188x119) would be just about perfect. For Therm-A-Rest pads, most of their lightweight, regular-sized pads should also work. For example, the NeoAir XLite and XTherm (183x51cm) would fit, but the large size of either (196x63cm) would be a bit too wide.
Obviously none of this is an issue when using this as a single-person tent.
Other Camp Shelter Options
I spent quite a bit of time researching possible sleeping setups, ranging from more minimal (tarp, bivy, hammock, rock pillow + forest duff blanket, etc.) to more luxurious (freestanding options, larger cuben fiber shelters, bouncy castle, etc.). I finally decided that for my purposes, a lightweight(-ish) freestanding tent would be a decent compromise between comfort, weight, and cost. Maybe in the future, as a more experienced bikepacker and/or backpacker, I might experiment with a more minimal option, but I'm pretty settled on this category for now.
Comparable Tents: Stats
That being said, it probably makes sense to compare this tent only with other similar freestanding, double-wall nylon tents. Here is a rundown of the basic stats of this tent vs a few popular ones in the same category:
Zerogram PCT UL 2:
* MSRP: $390 (w/o the significant discount on this drop)
* packed weight: 1630g
* floor dimensions: 212x130-118cm
* peak height: 100cm
* floor/fly/canopy weight: 30D/15D/15D
MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2P:
* MSRP: $400
* packed weight: 1720g (+90g)
* floor dimensions: 213x127cm
* peak height 100cm
* floor/fly/canopy weight: 30D/20D/20D
Marmot Force 2P:
* MSRP: $400
* packed weight: 1585g (-35g)
* floor dimensions: 104x218-132cm
* peak height: 96.52cm
* floor/fly/canopy weight: 30D/20D/15D
Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2:
* MSRP: $450
* packed weight: 1400g (-230g)
* floor dimensions: 224x132-107cm
* peak height: 102cm
* floor/fly/canopy weight: 20D/20D/15D**
Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL2:
* MSRP: $390
* packed weight: 1005g (-625g)
* floor dimensions: 218x132-107cm
* peak height: 102cm
* floor/fly/canopy weight: 15D/15D/15D**
Nemo Hornet 2P:
* MSRP: $370
* packed weight: 1000g (-630g)
* floor dimensions: 216x128-108cm
* peak height: 101.5cm
* floor/fly/canopy weight: 15D/15D/10D
Naturehike Cloud UP 2
(the previously mentioned tent from Aliexpress)
* packed weight: 1240-1500g (-390-130g); depends on version, and doesn't include pegs/ropes/footprint
* floor dimensions: 210x125cm
* peak height: 100cm
* floor/fly/canopy weight: 20D/20D/20D
Please let me know if any of these numbers are incorrect.
** BA claims to have proprietary ripstop nylon that makes it up to 20% more tear-resistant compared to other equivalent-weight nylon fabrics, so take that for what you will.
Comparable Tents: Thoughts
A few thoughts on the PCT UL vs other tents:
* In terms of weight vs cost (especially with the discount from this drop), this tent seems like a great value. There are, however, lighter options.
* A lot of the discussion about tent weight seems to be focused on shaving off a couple hundred or even tens of grams, with little talk of durability. On the lightest end of nylon tents, getting into the 10-15D range seems like making a pretty big sacrifice in durability (especially for the floor). Personally, I'm happy with getting more durable fabrics at the cost of a couple hundred grams.
* The Naturehike tent appears to be a Chinese knockoff of the Fly Creek, which brings with it the same concerns as the other knockoff products on sites like Aliexpress. If you're on a tight budget it might be worth a try, but if you care about quality manufacturing and supporting worthwhile companies, I'd look elsewhere.
* Aside from the Marmot Force, these tents don't seem to have more than 2cm of variation in peak height. At least on paper, it seems that all of these tents would be equally easy to sit up in, although differences in geometry and total volume might disprove that assumption.
* If sleeping two people, the slightly narrower footwidth of the Copper Spur, Fly Creek, and Hornet might further limit the selection of sleeping pads (either 2 singles or 1 double) that would fit. Most of the regular-sized Therm-A-Rest pads (51cm) whould be fine, though.
* It might also be worth noting that the Hubba Hubba, Force, Copper Spur, and Hornet feature side entry, while the PCT UL and the rest have front entry. The narrower front entry might make it a bit less convenient for getting in and out when sleeping two people.
* The wind resistance of the PCT UL tent is noteworthy, sustaining up to 33m/s in the wind tunnel test. I don't think any of these other tents have comparable wind resistance, or at least haven't yet proven it. As mentioned elsewhere in this thread, a standardized test for tent wind resistance would be a really useful metric, if it caught on with other manufacturers.
If you are going to list the lighter weight tents from BA, you should also probably list the lighter (not heaviest) tent from MSR, the Carbon Reflex 2. There is a 737 grams / 26 oz / 1.6 pound difference between the Hubba Hubba NX 2 and the Carbon Reflex 2 tents. Just seems fair if you are going to list the Fly Creek HV UL2 you keep things comparable/fair on the MSR side of things.
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