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Wild Country Zephyros 1 Person Tent

Zephyros 1 Tent
Wild Country Zephyros 1 Tent

There’s a critical design flaw in most of the double walled tents sold in the US. If it’s pouring rain and you go to set up your inner tent first, it’s likely to be soaked before you can cover it up with the rain fly. I’ve seen this happen to people who don’t get much practice setting up their tents quickly – ranging from beginners to quite experienced backpackers – and it’s not pretty.

Contrast this with European tents from Terra Nova, Hilleberg, Vaude, Force 10, and others where the outer rain fly can be pitched first or the inner and outer tents can be pitched together. That seems like an elegant solution to the problem and one that would be embraced by US consumers. But with the exception of Tarptent’s double-walled Scarp 1, I can’t name any US-based double-walled tents, off the top of my head, where the inner tent will stay dry if the tent is pitched in pouring rain.

Sold in the USA

That’s why the introduction of the Wild Country Zephyros 1 tent to the US market caught my eye. The Zephyros 1 & 2 tents have an inner tent that can be pitched at the same time as its rain fly, or attached after the rain fly has been pitched. What makes it different from similar tents is the price. With an MSRP of $120, the Zephyros 1 costs one-third to one-four as much as its European competitors, making this hitherto premium (rain) capability much more affordable to backpackers abroad and in the US.

But there’s a catch. Designed for the UK, the Zephyros 1 is best used for backpacking in the cool, wet weather of England and other maritime climates that receive frequent rainfall. While it can be used during the cooler spring or autumn months, the Zephyros 1 doesn’t have the ventilation required to cope with the very hot and dry, or hot and humid weather that many of us experience during US summers. That’s a showstopper for most US camping and backpacking consumers, where the need for vast expanses of noseeum mesh and cross-ventilation are paramount.

Regardless, the Zephyros 1 will still appeal to US consumers who want to buy similarly designed (but outrageously expensive) Terra Nova or Hilleberg tents, but want to pay less.

Side vestibule space
Side vestibule space

Tent Design

Based on a hoop or tunnel design, the Zephyros’ rain fly is suspended from a collapsible alloy pole that is bent into a U-shape under tension.   The tent’s interior space is split in two between an inner tent and a vestibule which runs the length of the tent.

Zephyros 1 Floor Plan Diemnsions
Zephyros 1 Floor Plan Dimensions

The top of the inner tent is suspended inside the rain fly using wooden dowels that slip through plastic rings oriented underneath the reinforced center pole tunnel. The resulting air gap helps mitigate the transfer of condensation between the rain fly and the inner tent based on the standard design principles underlying double-walled tents.

Size-wise, the inner tent is long enough for someone 6′ tall to lie or sit up it, however the fabric at the ends looms a maximum of 18″ above one’s face and feet which is a little claustrophobic. The height of the ends can be increased or decreased by shortening or lengthening a webbing strap that connects the inner tent to the outer fly and is supported by a short fiberglass pole.

The vestibule, which takes up about 1/3 of the tent width under the rain fly, is simply open space. Tent vestibules are a very desirable in regions with inclement weather and substantially improve the livability of a tent in harsh conditions, providing space for wet gear storage or covered cooking in bad weather if done with good ventilation and great caution.

Stake out the four corners
Stake out the four corners

How to Pitch the Zephyros 1

First, stake out the corners of the outer fly. Next run the collapsible aluminum pole through the center pole sleeve and secure the ends in the side grommets on the tent’s center line. The grommets are located at the ends of a webbing strap that runs under the inner tent and keeps the hoop under tension. Before proceeding, make sure that the inner tent lies on top of this webbing strap.

Insert center pole
Insert center pole and restake inner and outer corners

Assuming the inner tent is already connected to the outer fly, reach under the fly and find the corners of the inner tent which are (also) guyed with elastic cord loops. Un-stake the outer fly corners and re-stake the inner and outer corners together using the same stake.

Grasp carbon fiber pole
Grasp carbon fiber pole

Locate the 2 fiber glass poles included with the tent that are used to provide more head and foot room at the ends. Insert a pole into the top and bottom pole sleeves sewn onto the outer fly and inner tent. Be careful not to lose these poles when dismantling the tent – I ended up losing one but replaced it with a piece of bamboo of the same length.

Insert the carbon fiber poles into the end sleeves provided
Insert the fiberglass poles into the end sleeves provided

After inserting the fiberglass poles, stake out the guyline attached to rain fly above the fiber pole, re-tensioning the corner stakes as needed. Repeat for the other end of the tent.

Tensioned outer fly
Tensioned outer fly

Finally, stake out the tie-outs along the center pole on both sides of the tent to provide better wind resistance and stability.

Switching to the inner tent:

There are two toggles on the outside of the inner tent floor, half way down each side. Insert these into elastic keeper loops attached to the webbing strap that runs under the inner tent. This stretches out the inner tent side ways for maximum internal space. In addition there are two webbing straps located at either end of the inner tent. Pulls these taught and stake them out, outside the protection of the rain fly, in order to ensure maximum inner tent length.

Carbon fiber pole pulley apparatus
Fiberglass pole – pulley apparatus

Next reach into the fiberglass pole and sleeve apparatus at the end of the tent and locate another webbing strap connected to the top pole sleeve. This webbing forms part of a pulley-like apparatus which raises or lowers the ends of the inner tent, providing more or less head room and foot height for the occupant. Pull it as taught as possible – don’t worry it will still maintain an adequate air gap between the inner and outer tent in order to prevent internal condensation transfer to the living quarters.

Next adjust the ventilation as desired by opening the inner tent door all the way and/or rolling one side of the rain fly up and attaching it to a toggle on top of the inner tent. If you require insect protection, keep the door of the inner tent closed. The top 1/3 of it is made out of bug-proof mesh.

Spacious Inner Tent
Spacious Inner Tent with NeoAir Xlite Pad and Down Quilt

The Inner Tent

The inner tent on the Zephyros 1 is a bit of a disappointment, but you need to keep in mind that this is an economy tent. While the pentagram shaped floor provides extra space beside your sleeping pad to lay out gear or maps, the inner tent has no internal pockets to organize gear, the height of the mesh window is fixed, and the inner tent does not have a bathtub floor with deep side walls, so you should probably use a groundsheet if you plan to sleep on wet ground.

Adding several small pockets to the interior walls of the inner tent or a zippered panel of solid material over full mesh door to regulate temperature would greatly improve the tent’s functionality. The same holds for the addition of a seam-taped bathtub floor several inches in height along the inner tent walls.

Component Weights

The total weight of the Zephyros 1 tent is 50.4 ounces (1435 g).

  • Collapsible Alloy Pole: 6.2 ounces /178 g
  • Pole Bag: 0.3 ounces / 10 g
  • Inner Tent: 16.7 ounces/474 g
  • Outer Rain Fly:  22.6  ounces/640 g
  • Tent Bag:  1 ounce / 30 g
  • 10 x Aluminum v angle Stakes: 3.5 ounces / 100 g
  • Stake bag: 0.1 ounce / 4 g

Recommendation

As a US-based backpacker, I’m not that impressed by the Zephyros 1 despite the fact that it can be pitched in pouring rain without getting the inner tent wet. Regardless of the price, it still lacks the minimal features that I need in a single person, double-walled tent including:

  • weight under 3 pounds
  • excellent ventilation for use in hot and humid weather
  • a fast pitch without a lot of fiddling
  • a waterproof floor without needing a ground sheet

I just can’t get excited about a tent that is missing these qualities or features, despite its other benefits, and I’d happily pay another $100 to $200 to obtain them.

That doesn’t mean that the Zephyros is a terrible tent, but I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone unless you’d already decided that you want one of the similar European tents referred to earlier (Laser Comp, Atko, PowerLizard, or Helium) but don’t want to dish out the large amount of money required to purchase one. If that describes you, then the Zephyros is a steal.

Likes:

  • Inexpensive
  • Inner tent stays dry when pitched in heavy rain
  • Reasonably lightweight considering the price

Dislikes:

  • Pitching the tent requires a lot of fiddling
  • Poor ventilation in warmer weather, even with the side door open
  • No bathtub floor. Requires use of a groundsheet
  • Rainfly zipper jams frequently
  • Only 1/2 of the rain fly can be rolled open
  • Tent stakes provided with the tent are terrible. Replace immediately.

Manufacturer Specifications

  • Capacity: 1
  • Peak heightL 37″ (95cm)
  • Floor area: 15.2 sq ft (1.4 sq meters)
  • Vestibule area: 8 sq ft (o.7 sq meters)
  • Packed Size: 5.5″ x 20″ (14 cm x 52 cm)
  • Poles: 1 Superflex alloy
  • Rain fly: PU 4000 mm
  • Inner floor: PU 6000 mm

Disclosure: Wild Country’s US Distributor provided Philip Werner (SectionHiker.com) with a Zephyros 1 loaner for this review. This post contains affiliate links. 

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28 comments

  1. good detail, good review. Fair-minded reviews like this are yet another reminder that this blog isn’t like so many of the other ones that never met gear they didn’t like, so that they can keep that free-gear gravy-train chugging along.

  2. Interesting. I do most of my camping in the UK and use a Wild Country Duolite. This is much easier to set up and has a bathtub groundsheet. It has kept me dry during nights of constant heavy rain. The main drawback is that it doesn’t pack down very small, but it cost a lot less than the tents that did.

  3. Very good review. Even though you got a free loan you still gave an honest view. Thank you for that. As Greg as said above not many bloggers given kit to review are quite so honest. Iv’e read other reviews on this tent that have said it’s excellent, go buy one. Your reviews however are not swayed be you being given more kit to test, hence an unbiased view.

    • Thanks. If you get a good review on SectionHiker, you’ve earned it.

      I don’t sell gear given to me by manufacturers to review, and prefer loaners when I can get them because they’re easier to return and get out of my house!.

      If a manufacturer gives me a product which is in usable condition after testing, I randomly raffle it off to readers.

      I decided on this review policy 5 years ago when I started this blog and have stuck to it ever since.

      I feel that it reduces my bias and it keeps my finances simple, too.

      As for other bloggers, I’ve been a staunch advocate for adding disclosures to all product reviews for a long time even though I got a lot of grief for it from other bloggers, particularly in Europe. They seem to have come around though and disclosures are now the norm. That’s good for readers.

  4. Thanks for including metric measurements :)

    In the same way that a lot of US tents are less than ideal in Europe, European tents don’t hit the mark for the US. In Europe all mesh inners and inner first pitching are not ideal.

    Ventilation on the Laser Comp (which I own and is similar to the Zephyros) can be improved by hooking up the ends http://blogpackinglight.wordpress.com/2009/05/04/more-tent-tinkering/

    Ironically, the Scarp is the best tent I’ve owned for European conditions and seem to have better ventilation with the roof vents. It also lacks decent pockets. I don’t understand why manufacturers skimp on decent pockets. Next to no weight penalty.

    • Thought you’d like those metric measurements. They do make things more accurate, don’t they….?

      Looking back I regret selling my Scarp 1, but the latest version looks even better than my old one so I’m glad I don’t have to upgrade. :-)

  5. The tarptent stratospire series is also doubled walled and can be pitched all at once. You can also leave the inner mesh at home if you don’t need it. I can attest that the bathtub floor is great! During one particularly bad thunderstorm in the adirondacks the floor around my girlfriends and my pad was floating because so much water was rushing by. Well, not a drop got in through the floor, or overhead. This held true for about 6 or 7 summer thunderstorms that we went through in the 12 days we were up there. It may look a little complicated, but the set-up is actually really simple. Lots of ventilation, loads of space, a very light weight, and multiple set-up options (fly and mesh, just the tarp, just the bug mesh for bug-free cowboy camping) make this an extremely versatile shelter.

    • Fantastic – I’m not familiar with the Stratosphere, but I’ve seen it and thought about looking into it further. Figures that it’s from Tarptent. Good job Henry!

      Is it freestanding?
      How does it do in 30 mph winds?

      • Unfortunately it’s not freestanding, but it shaves off a lot of weight because it doesn’t have an extensive system of poles. You just need two trekking poles (or two optional easton poles) and 6 stakes and you can get a tight pitch in about 2 minutes. One nice thing is that all of the stake-out points are close to the tent so you don’t have a lot of lines running all over the place to trip you up. The trekking poles are the preferred way to pitch it though because you can adjust the length to really get a taut pitch. With the optional poles you’re kind of stuck at one height.

        Not sure about the 30mph winds. Was always camped below treeline in the daks in relatively sheltered spots. Probably had some 15-20mph gusts and it seems very stable. There’s a few extra tie-out points that can really help secure it if it’d get too windy. Henry ships this out with the longer 8″ aluminum stakes so that probably helps too.

  6. Both the Gatewood Cape / Serenity NetTent and Haven Tarp / NetTent combos allow for the inner tent to be setup after the fly is set.

    The other thing that’s not clear is if the tent doesn’t have a bathtub floor, just how does adding a flat ground cloth make any difference?

    • Thanks for chiming in Ron. I need to catch up on Six Moon Designs newer products.

      The groundsheet wouldn’t really do anything if there was a lot of water or you were pitched in a dished out tent site other than slow floor wet out and flooding. It would help though if you were camped on wet grass, duff, or peat and not in the path of a flash flood.

  7. Double walled tents that come up with a footprint can be pitched in the rain without the inner tent getting wet. The technique requires setting up the footprint, poles and rainfly first, then inserting the inner tent under the rainfly and resetting the poles joining the rainfly, inner tent and footprint. This can only be accomlished if the tent comes with a separate footprint and the user chooses to use it. The footprint does provide extra protection from ground moisture and potential rips from sticks and rocks – but at the cost of an additional 7-8oz or more.

  8. I have often lamented the lack of reasonably priced options for tents that pitch outer first. I need to be able to get under shelter without an inner to change, hang out in muddy gear, and/or cook. Aside from weight this is the other half of why I prefer a tarp or mid. Great blog by the way I have really been enjoying it over the last few months.

  9. The Tarptent Notch, as well as their Stratospire 1 and 2, come with the same features–double wall tent in which the inner clips under the outer so you can set up all at once (or the outer first). I believe their 4-person Hogback also has this feature.

    As Ron Moak of Six Moon Designs mentions, he and several other designers have separate tarp/inner tent combinations that are sold separately but function as a double wall tent for which the outer can be set up first. MLD, Bearpaw, Hyperlite Mountain Gear are the others that come to mind.

  10. Hi. I borrowed and reviewed this tent on my blog some months ago – see http://litehikersblog.blogspot.co.uk/2012/01/review-wild-country-zephyros-1.html I’m based in the UK and it’s good for UK/Europe conditions, i.e. blustery and wet! Apart from the cheap pegs (which are easily replaced) and the weight, I believe it’s an excellent tent for the very modest price. I’ve got a Laser Comp which is similar but much lighter – and much more expensive although I grabbed one in a sale for £200 off MRP.

  11. Interesting review. Using only the outer as shelter could be fun. In sixth image, you called the short end poles carbon fiber. Also, were those fiberglass pole weights left out of itemized weight list?

    • Those fiberglass pole weights are probably included in the fly weight.

      • Good catch. The end pole weights are not included in the fly weight. From memory, I’m pretty sure they weighed under 4 oz total. I’m about 3000 miles from the tent so can’t tell you what they are now.

  12. Big Sky has a double wall solo tent that can be pitched without getting the inner wet: the Revolution 1P. Great shelter.

  13. SD new High Route’s fly goes up first, keeping inner dry if used.

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