The Big Sky Chinook 1Plus is a freestanding, four-season tent that weighs 3 lbs 7 oz. It’s a double-wall, dome-shaped tent with three exoskeleton poles that can be pitched in a variety of different configurations. For example, you can set it up with three poles for maximum strength or two poles if you want to save weight, with or without its inner tent, and with a mesh solid-walled one for cold weather use or a mesh one, which will be available in summer 2019. You can also detach and pack up the inner tent on wet mornings in order to store it separately from the wet ran fly, or attach it after the rain fly has been erected, when you set it up.
The Chinook 1Plus has two side doors and a very spacious interior that’s a palace for one person, but it can also fit two good friends in a pinch. By default, there isn’t any covered vestibule storage, but you can detach one side of the inner tent from the fly to create it. Realistically, the only time you’d want to do this is in rain or snow, when you want a place to store wet or snow-covered gear, or you want to cook under the cover of a vestibule.
Specs at a Glance
- Type: Freestanding,
- Shape: Dome
- Range: 3 and 4 season
- Total weight w/ 3 poles: 56.1 oz (3 lbs 8.1 oz actual) (3 lbs 7 oz claimed)
- Total weight w/ 2 poles: 50.6 oz (3 lbs 2.6 oz)
- Poles (2): 13.6 oz
- Optional 3rd pole: 5.5 oz
- Rain fly: 17.6 oz
- Inner tent (breathable solid version): 19.4
- Optional fitted Tyvek ground sheet: 5.2 oz
- Poles: Aluminum. CF is also available. Contact manufacturer.
- Inner tent dimensions: 91″ long, 39″ peak height, diamond-shaped interior is 36″ x 65″ x 24″
- Minimum number of stakes to set up: 0
- Recommended minimum number of stakes: 6
- Internal pockets: 2 on interior doors
- Rain fly material: SuperSil (silnylon coated on both sides, 1500 mm)
The easiest way to set up the Chinook 1Plus is to set up the rain fly and the attached inner tent at the same time. This will keep the inner tent dry, even if it’s raining outside. The rain fly hangs from the tent poles with clips, while the inner tent hangs from the inside of the rain fly with tiny buckles. While you can set up the fly alone and then crawl around under it to attach the inner tent, there are over a dozen tiny buckles the have to be attached during the process, which can be a bit time-consuming. The same can be said for packing up the inner tent first and then breaking down the rain fly. It’s a valuable bad weather option, but a somewhat more involved process on the Chinook 1Plus than on the Hilleberg Niak or the Tarptent Moment DW, which provide an equivalent option.
The most important thing you have to know about the Chinook 1Plus tent is that it sets up drumhead tight, with the poles exerting considerable pressure on the rain fly, including the side door zippers. This is good because it counters the sag that normally occurs overnight or in rain with a silnylon shelter, so you don’t have to get up and tighten the guy-out points at night. However, it complicates the assembly and breakdown of the tent a bit, because it requires a fair amount of elbow grease (strength) to get all the poles into their grommets, fly hooks around the poles, and interior connectors attached. There’s also a certain amount of dexterity involved, which can be in short supply in cold weather, when wearing gloves interferes with fine motor skills.
The outer tent has two crossing poles the slot into color coded grommets. The third optional pole crosses then at a near 90 degree angle and slots into grommets at the bottom of the two door zippers. Despite the color coding, it can be a little difficult to get the orientation of the poles right, because the poles themselves aren’t color coded, just the grommets. You can tell which pole is which because the two crossing poles are straight, while the third has bends in two segments. The third pole is optional but strengthens the shelter and is a good add-on in windy weather or winter, if you’re expecting significant snow loads. Without it, you’d just stake out the doors, but you’ll experience some overnight sag in the fabric since the doors won’t be under the same tension as they are when attached to the pole.
There are two roof top vents in the rain fly that act like transoms and can be propped open to promote airflow across the top of the tent. They’re angled slightly down to prevent blowing rain from entering, but can also be closed, while you’re inside the tent.
The inner tent has two mesh windows at the top of each interior door to permit air from the transom to flow through the inner tent. They have breathable fabric flaps so you can zip over the mesh to eliminate any draft. The vents in the fly and the inner tent do a great job at reducing the temperature differential that can cause internal condensation. I’ve been very surprised at how little condensation buildup occurs in the Chinook 1Plus, even at sub-optimal tent sites where I would have expected it.
The inner tent has a diamond shape and completely fills the rain fly, so there is no vestibule storage space in the default configuration. If you’re using the tent for just one person, there’s plenty of space inside to store your gear. The interior is quite large and comfortable that way. If your gear is wet and it’s raining, you can create a vestibule are by detaching one side of the inner tent from the rain fly and sacrifice some of your interior space for vestibule storage. This is a standard option on this kind of tent, although you see it more on European brand tents than ones from US manufacturers.
You can also use the Chinook 1Plus without the inner tent to save weight, by releasing the clips and hooks that hold the inner tent in place. This can be a good weight saving option if you don’t mind sleeping on snow in winter, since the three-pole structure is so windy worthy and strong. Alternatively, you can sleep on the fitted Tyvek groundsheet that Big Sky provides with the tent, or use it with the inner tent to protect the floor from abrasion and punctures.
Inner Tent Options
The Chinook 1Plus’ inner tent is only available with a breathable mesh inner, usually reserved for cold weather or winter use. It’s quite effective at preventing wind, sand, and spindrift from blowing in under the catenary cut sides of the rain fly, but is uncoated so it breathes well. The inner tent floor is a 30D nylon silicone/PU coated and seam taped fabric floor with a 3000 mm hydrostatic head, so quite waterproof, with a high bathtub floor to prevent water entry.
A 1Plus mesh netting inner is not available because the Chinook 1Plus was originally intended as more of a winter and cold weather tent than a year-round shelter. However, due to customer demand, a 1Plus mesh netting inner will be available in summer 2019 for $50 less than the breathable fabric inner version. If you’d rather not wait, you can use the mesh netting inner for the Chinook 1 tent instead, since the outer rain flies of the Chinook 1 and Chinook 1Plus are the same. The Chinook 2P is also available with a mesh inner and the breathable fabric inner, but weighs substantially more than the Chinook 1Plus.
Why would you get the Chinook 1Plus instead of the Chinook 1P? It really comes to the livability of the 1Plus’ inner tent, which is huge, but can still be configured with two vestibules like the Chinook 1P. That extra space vastly improves the livability of the tent on long winter nights or if you have to sit out crappy weather. It really is worth a few extra ounces of gear weight.
Comparable 4-season Tents
|Make / Model||Type||Size||Doors||Min Weight||Price|
|NEMO Kunai 2||Dome||2 Person||1||3 lb. 15 oz.||$500|
|Black Diamond El Dorado||Wedge||2 Person||1||4 lb. 8 oz.||$699|
|NEMO Tenshi 2||Wedge||2 Person||1||3 lb. 14 oz.||$699|
|Hilleberg Soulo||Dome||1 Person||1||4 lb. 7 oz.||$694|
|Black Diamond First Light||Wedge||2 person||1||2 lbs 9 oz||$370|
|Hilleberg Unna||Dome||1 Person||1||4 lb. 7 oz.||$680|
|The North Face Assault 2||Wedge||2 Person||1||3 lb. 4 oz.||$589|
|Rab Latok Mountain 2||Wedge||2 Person||1||4 lb. 1 oz.||$650|
|Hilleberg Allak||Dome||2 Person||2||6 lb. 2 oz.||$990|
|Big Sky Chinook 2P||Dome||2 Person||2||4 lbs||$550|
The Big Sky International Chinook 1Plus is a great four-season tent that’s lightweight, storm-worthy, and comfortable to use. Weighing slightly over 3 lbs, it’s also a self-supporting freestanding tent that can be set up just about anywhere, on wooden tent platforms, rock, sand, and snow without having to be staked to the ground first. Plus you can set up the rain fly before you set up the inner tent guaranteeing that it stays dry when it’s raining, That kind of flexibility goes a long way when you’re camping at wilderness tent sites and you want to pitch up quick to get out of the weather.
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