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Brooks-Range Mountaineering Ultralight Rocket Tent

Brooks Range Mountaineering Rocket Tent
Brooks Range Mountaineering Rocket Tent

Brooks Range Mountaineering makes an ultralight 4 season tent that weighs under 2 lbs and has a vestibule. That’s right, under 2 lbs. It’s called the A2 Rocket Tent presumably because of the space age material it is made out of.

The first thing you notice about the Rocket Tent is that it has a metallic interior like a space blanket, and the skin of the tent is basically that, except it’s aluminumized cuben fiber. The tent is single-walled, includes a nearly transparent floor and has a solid zippered front door.

Rocket Tent - Hiking Pole Configuration
Rocket Tent – Hiking Pole Configuration

Weight Reduction Strategy

Structurally, the Rocket can be pitched with 2 hiking poles, set to 115 cm, and a 300 cm avalanche probe, which runs along the top of the tent in an enclosed cloth tube. The use of existing equipment like hiking poles and an avalanche probe is quite nice, and certainly the hallmark of an ultralight shelter design.

Minus poles and probe, the base tent weighs just 1 lb 6 oz. Brooks-Range also provides an optional summer pole set, including 2 side poles (5.4 oz total) and a 300 cm top pole (5.4 oz) if you don’t use adjustable poles or carry an avalanche probe all the time. These are included with the A2 “summer” model of the Rocket that I tested.

Although the Rocket virtually stands by itself with just the 3 poles as supports, you do need to stake it out to anchor it against the wind. In all, the tent requires ten anchors, three on each side, one facing into the wind, one for the vestibule, and two to pull the top of the sides out to create more headroom inside.

The eight ground level tie outs are extra long canvas straps that can be anchored using skis, axes, or pickets, or simply guyed out using dead men.

For this test and review, I used everything from an ice axe and snow shoes to plastic grocery sacks as tent anchors! Lovely stuff.

Rocket Tent Interior
Rocket Tent Interior

Interior Space

Though rated by the manufacturer for two people, the interior space in the Rocket feels more cramped than the floor plan dimensions would suggest (48″W x 87″L x 38″H.) This is because the side walls slope inward to the center ridge, starting at the floor seams and not higher up in the tent body. This can be mitigated somewhat by using the upper tie outs on the outside of the tent to create more interior space, but the available head room is still compromised by the A-frame shape of the tent structure.

The floor plan is pentagram shaped, with a rectangular area on the door side of the tent that is 64″ long, and a triangular area at the rear (23″ deep), where the ridgeline of the tent descends sharply and there is virtually no headroom. For maximum comfort, sleepers should orient their heads at the vestibule end of the tent where the ventilation and headroom are more tolerable.

On the plus side, the built-in vestibule is smallish (7 square feet), but an absolute luxury on a mountaineering tent, and imposes virtually no additional weight penalty or cost – which is unheard of, on tents in this category. While the vestibule can be used to store gear in, especially snow-covered gear, it can also be further expanded by digging a pit under it for more storage capacity, as shown in the top two photos, above.

Rocket Tent
Rocket Tent


To reduce condensation, the Rocket has four vents, three located to the rear of the inner compartment that perforate the outer skin and one above the front door, under the tent’s front peak. All of the vents are lined with mesh, and the ones in the back have external beaks covering them that can be zippered closed from the inside.

It would be nice if the vents were much larger and that the fabric covering the outside vents included a bendable wire in the rim to ensure that the vents stay open from the outside. Black Diamond provides this in the FirstLight  4 season tent, which is the nearest competitor to the Rocket, and it really helps control ventilation and rain splatter.

The only other way to increase ventilation in the Rocket is to sleep with the front door open and/or the vestibule sides rolled back. There are snaps on the tent sides to hold the rolled back fabric in place, but doing so will depend on exterior weather conditions.

Additional Features

In addition, to the features described, there are two additional holes in the sides of the tent which enable climber tie-outs in extreme conditions, such as on a ledge or in very bad weather.

Brooks Range Mountaineeering Rocket Tent
Brooks Range Mountaineeering Rocket Tent

Test Performance

I tested the Rocket in winter conditions in the White Mountains in New Hampshire, camping on a 50″ base of snow. Temperatures were in the single digits with winds gusting to 40 mph.

The biggest issue I had with the Rocket was interior condensation, even though I was sleeping alone.  While sleeping in the aluminumized compartment is perceptibly warmer, cross ventilation in this tent is very poor. So, when I awoke the next morning, there were water droplets on my sleeping bag, the floor was wet, and frozen condensation lined the tent walls. This occurred despite the fact that I slept with the front door and vestibule wide open all night.

Sleeping at higher altitudes in colder, drier environs may mitigate internal humidity somewhat, but I would expect that condensation will be even worse with two people in the tent, particularly since their sleeping bags will be in direct contact with the inner sides of the tent.

Other than that, the tent held up admirably. The fabric was fairly quiet and not rustly, even with snow fall at night, and the steep tent walls shed the snow without issue. The next morning, I did notice that the tent walls had relaxed somewhat overnight, losing the taughtness of the previous evening’s pitch, but not in any way that affected wind resistance or the stability of my snow stakes and anchors.

Set up and tear down of the tent is actually quite easy, although I didn’t have to do this in high wind. However, repacking the tent into the tiny stuff stack provided by BRM is nearly impossible, indoors or out, and you’ll want to use a slightly larger stuff sack in the field. Despite this, the tent compresses quite nicely in a mountaineering backpack and is roughly equivalent in size to a compressed down summit parka, making it an attractive shelter option from a compressibility standpoint.

Rocket Tent Interior

Range of Use

I wouldn’t recommend that you buy the Rocket as a base camp tent or even for ultralight winter backpacking. I feel that its condensation performance really limits its desirability as a shelter, particularly for multi-day treks where you may be willing to tolerate carrying a bit more weight, for more comfort and far less expense. Design wise, it’s very cleverly done, but probably exceeds most people’s needs for sub-alpine climbing, backpacking, or ski mountaineering, particularly in the eastern US.

Instead, I view the Rocket as a step up from a bivy sack in comfort, ideally designed for a 2 person climbing or mountaineering team, who want a very lightweight shelter for a fast and light summit attempt. For a 2 person team, this tent makes a lot of sense when compared to an 18-22 oz mountaineering bivy for one person, both in terms of weight and compressibility. While I wasn’t able to quantify the temperature benefits of the aluminumized cuben fiber, I suspect it would be possible to reduce the total insulation weight required by 2 occupants to stay warm (enough) overnight, before an alpine start, or to spend an extra night out in poor conditions.

Disclosure: Brooks-Range Mountaineering loaned a Rocket Tent for this review


  1. I know its not quite the same stuff, but it looks like one could come close with a couple of "space blankets and aluminum duct tape (or some better way to glue them together).

  2. Not that far off. Reminded me of the ID reflexion bivy – had the same safety blanket look.

  3. Comparing CT³ fabric with a mylar space blanket in any way other that they look similar is grossly inaccurate. Sorry, Rob, but the tear strength differences between these two fabrics is vastly different.

  4. That's for sure. Space blankets tear like tissue paper. Cuban is tough to tear.

  5. A comprehensive product review. I'm not into winter hiking, but even if I were, the price seems prohibitive.

  6. It is outrageously expensive, but if you have summit fever, you might pay for it. I doubt they sell very many of these.

  7. Whoa, I thought you were getting some high-end swag before I saw the "loaned" at the end.

    Anyway a tarp made of that stuff would be great with a campfire. I tried an aluminized "grabber" tarp lean-to-pitched near a fire and between wind gusts it was quite a pleasant place to be. But it was way heavy.

  8. Good news, Samurai Joe at Z-Packs said he's getting some reflective Cuben in soon and will be making products out of it. Living in Southen California I could use a lightweight reflective shelter. It was sunny and hot at the San Felipe hills today on the PCT.

    Carl in San Diego, aka; Mulestomper

  9. I estimate that BRM has sold about 140 of these tents. That doesn't sound like enough of a reason to start manufacturing more tents like this even if you're a cottage maker. I certainly wouldn't pay $600 for it, and Joe's stuff is not cheap.

  10. Mulestomper: Good to hear. Brooks-Range told me their rocket footprint was aluminized and I bought one and found out they were lying. Sent it back but got stuck for shipping both ways even though they were in the wrong. Not dealing with them again.

    Hope Z-Packs makes a reasonably priced tarp out of the stuff.

  11. I commented a while back about this looking like “made from space blankets”. Turns out someone has done it!

    has a link to his tent, which was duck-taped space blankets. Seemed to work well for Philmont (great fun but slightly aberrant backpacking).

  12. Lawson of is already selling tarps with reflective cuben fiber.

  13. He doesn't have any listed on his product page. Is he making them on a custom order basis? Why exactly would anyone need a reflective cuben tarp? Is it for desert use?

  14. Look a little closer. All his tarps currently use reflective cuben fiber. When wouldn't it be useful? It gives back a little heat when it's cold and blocks sunlight when it's hot and sunny. I would love to have ordered one, but funds are slim and I had a need for a big car camping tent. I suppose he'd do custom work if you asked.

  15. Why doesn't he advertise it then? Honestly, the CT3 he's using just looks like the green that everyone else is using these days. Have you been in contact with him or are you just guessing based on his site's photos?

  16. It's in the description and he has posted about in on No guessing.

  17. Indeed he has. Just announced a new line of tarps which he'll start producing as one-offs starting 5/12/2011. Thanks for the update. Sounds like he's having web site/name change issues. This is the guy who used to have a business called Mountainfitter. He's decided to stop reselling other people's gear and start manufacturing his own.

    Personally, I find this whole cuben fiber arms race a little depressing. Given how expensive this gear is and how few people can afford it, I'd say that anyone betting their business on cuben should learn how to use a spreadsheet.

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