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Wenzel Outdoor Products has recently made a change in their product line, replacing their Starlite model with the Lone Elk Hiker/Biker tent. The tents in this range are lightweight, and compact for hiking or cycling. Will this transition in products show improvement?

FEATURES
Model #: 36418
Base: 6.5 ft. x 4 ft.
Center Height: 36 in. F / 24 in. R
Area: 23 sq. ft.
Sleeps: 1

The new Lone Elk tent is one of the lightest tents in its pricepoint, and rivals other more expensive tents in features. In fact, at 1470g (3.25lbs), this tent is ideal for cyclocamping, s240’s, or weekend backpacking… as long as the weather is fair.

Wenzel Lone Elk Hiker/Biker Tent

The tweaked design of the Lone Elk has increased weight by four ounces, but has also included an additional bit of length and width for added comfort. While these attributes are key, a tent needs to be durable too. Keep on reading, in order to see how it stood up to its predecessor.

Once again, this tent is not a self-standing structure. The two shockcorded fiberglass poles are easily guided through the tent supports and mount to the base with a pin and ring system. Three guy lines are used to allow the tent to stand. A complaint of the Starlite tent was that the guyline setup made entering the tent less than optimal for taller or larger users, this tent allows easy entrance without complications.

The tent itself comprises of three different materials, not including the mesh vents. The top part of the dome is a thin, grey nylon which does well at keeping heat in, and blocking wind. The seams are in places which are at optimal angles in the event of rainfall. The second material is a thicker batch of nylon, and lends itself to maintaining the support and tension of the tent. The tarp material used at the base of the tent is thin, but clearly waterproof. I still use a footprint under the tent to keep another layer between the ground and I; this may not be necessary depending on what kind of pad you use under your sleeping bag.

Inside the rear of the tent, there is a vent flap which can be zipped  open or closed. The three nights that I spent in the tent for testing, I noticed with both the rear vent flap and front door vent (front only slightly open) open, condensation did accumulate, and took about two hours to evaporate after awakening. I attribute this to the nature of sleeping in a backpacking tent, not a flaw in design or architecture of the vents. The tent kept me considerably warm, and did everything else it was intended for.

Review:

This tent is 3lb4oz, and can be found for $20-25 online. It fits one person, and a backpack inside, and has a small vestibule-type overhang for a pack or shoes at the rear. It does not have a rain fly, therefore is solely meant for fair weather conditions. Tent setup takes ten minutes when done casually, and is quite sturdy with the design.

Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Inexpensive
  • Well Stitched
  • Small Pack Size
  • Availability

Cons:

  • Lack of true Vestibule, Porch, or Rainfly.
  • Tent Pole Length of 23″ makes them awkward, but not difficult to pack.

Once again, if you are not in the market for a $200 tent, this will do you well as long as you understand and accept its limitations. Since February, I have spent five nights in this tent provided to me by Wenzel since February, in weathers as cold as 20*F, and even bailed out on a sixth night that a thunderstorm sneak attacked me. As stated before, this is an ideal cyclocamping or backpacking tent for people who are already light in the wallet. The Lone Elk tent fills a very important role/genre in the area for people who are not yet willing to invest big money in camping gear, but still want to get their feet wet, figuratively… not literally.

4 / 5 Stars.

Buy Wenzel Lone Elk Hiker / Biker Tent

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I Purchased this tent in 2008 at Walmart.com for a little camping trip that my friends had set up to go to. At first I thought, “Starlite? Who in their right mind puts LITE instead of LIGHT?” I then kind of understood the play on words for STARLIGHT as in

Light emitted from stars other than the Sun

instead of:

Haha, you are camping under the STAR(S), and this tent is LITE, as in the fast food or butter-spread version of the word lightweight meaning ‘of comparatively little physical weight or density.’

The abundance of Irony included with this tent only just began…

Specs:

Wenzel Starlite Hiker/Biker Tent

  • Lightweight, compact, and easy to set up so you’ll be enjoying the campfire and scenery quickly
  • Lots of interior space allows you to keep your gear out of the weather and keeps you dry all night long
  • Size: 82″ x 48″ x 36″
  • Lightweight nylon taffeta flooring
  • 3.4 lb. carry weight
  • Rear vent for added ventilation
  • Easy set-up design
  • Zippered compression stuff sack

Isn't it amazing how unwrinkled the tents look with company photos?

Opinion

What I like to imagine this tent as is a boyscout’s first tent if he is too lazy just to use a tarp to make a lean-to. The kit is minimalistic, keeps you warm, and does these things well as long as it isn’t raining since a fly nor footprint is included; what can you really ask for when we are talking $28.00 these days?

The weight and dimensions are pretty accurate. The tent tapers in width and height at the rear, which I assume your head is supposed to be right next to the tent door. This is the exact opposite that I typically camp, but maybe I am just the one in the wrong. I think after cutting a few things out of the tent (printed labels, tassels on the zipper pulls, mesh pocket pouch [who uses this???]) the tent came out to an even 3 pounds +/- 2.0 oz. This weight category places it into a category for a great good weather camping tent for a backpacker or cyclist. I mean, it is a pre-made complete enclosure with only five feet of tent pole and a few  guy lines and stakes.

Unfortunately the tent is not a self-standing structure. The rear pole to keep the rear footing area up is just a piece of folding pole that props the tent up and rests on the ground. I consider this a minimalistic compromise which is quite easy to swallow.

P.S. One time, we fit six people in this tent just to see how many could get in... It did not feel right at all.

For the pricepoint that this tent falls under, it is difficult to compare it to other tents provided by REI, MSR, Kelty, etc… This tent costs as much as some other tent’s footprint; which makes me believe this tent fills an important void for people who are willing to compromise in order to reach a certain desired price.

Summary

I had originally created several minutes of video footage showing utilization and reviewing of this tent, but the footage was too dark to really tell anything which was being done 😦 I should have expected this. Overall, I would get this tent if you are comfortable with your enironment, but still want some wind protection and warmth. You cannot beat the price, and it is durable enough to last many s240’s

3.5/5


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I love the idea of bike camping, cyclocamping, velocamping, or whatever you want to call it. I’ve even bought special gear to go out and ride as far as I want to and settle down for the night. The only problem is that I’ve only gone out a few times.

It not because I am not experienced at camping, nor is it that there is a lack of places I could set up camp at… it’s just camping isn’t fun all by yourself. And really… who the hell wants to just go ride somewhere with twenty or thirty pounds of supplies so you can sleep on the ground and cook hot dogs.

Bringing people creates comradely and great stories  This post is becoming Grant Peterson’s wet dream in the making. Proof of this Here and Here.

Surprisingly enough there are a lot of sites with sections dedicated to bike camping. These dudes are pretty extreme. I chatted it up with a few of them a few years ago. They have logged many hours and miles doing things like this. Like I said, I’m savvy and interested… but still wet behind the ears. Some people live out on their bikes with camping supplies enough to be misjudged as homeless folk. Seriously, and they love it. I don’t think I want to be one of these guys either. I just want to be able to bring an overnight backpack and be able to drink and chill with some friends.

Take a look at how many places there are around here:

(more…)

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