Gossamer Gear DCF Two Tent Review

Gossamer Gear DCF Two Tent Review

The Gossamer Gear DCF Two is a single-wall, two-person ultralight trekking pole tent that weighs 20. 8 oz and costs $589. While it has a Dyneema DCF rain fly, the floor is made with a 7 denier Sil/PU nylon, an innovative combination that reduces the price of the shelter and makes it easier to pack, while giving you the sag-free performance and superior waterproofing associated with DCF tents. The DCF Two has two doors and two vestibules, making it ideal for couples, with all mesh interior sidewalls for three-season comfort. Internal livability is excellent with abundant vestibule storage and generous dimensions that will be appreciated by taller backpackers.

Gossamer Gear DCF Two Tent

Comfort
Ease of Setup
Weather Resistance
Durabilty
Weight
Packed Size

Ultralight and Packs Up Small

Gossamer Gear's DCF Two is an innovative ultralight two-person DCF tent that weighs an incredible 20.8 oz. It packs up super small because it has a nylon floor, while still providing the non-sag performance and ultralight weight of a Dyneema tent. It has two doors and two vestibules for ease of entry and extra gear storage.

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Specs at a Glance

  • Weight: 20.8 oz (590g) – includes guylines (21.0 oz – measured)
  • Dimensions (bathtub floor) – Length (81″), Head  Width (48″), Foot Width (42″)
  • Minimum number of stakes required: 6
  • Materials:
    • Rainfly: 0.51 oz/yd2 DCF
    • Bathtub floor: 7D sil/pu nylon ripstop
    • Guylines: 1.8mm reflective nylon sheath 1 mm dyneema core
    • Vestibule zippers: #3, waterproof
    • Tensioners: lineloc 3s on all main tie-outs
  • For complete details, visit Gossamer Gear

Tent Design

The Gossamer Gear DCF Two has a hybrid construction with a Dyneema DCF rainfly and 7d Sil/PU coated nylon waterproof floor instead of being made entirely of Dyneema DCF like the Zpacks Duplex. This has a number of benefits, not the least of which is reduced cost because only half of the tent is made with Dyneema DCF, which is quite an expensive material.

The DCF Two has two doors and vestibules. The vestibule doors close in the middle with a waterproof zipper
The DCF Two has two doors and vestibules. The vestibule doors close in the middle with a waterproof zipper.

Improved Packability/Reduced Bulk

In addition to its light weight, people buy Dyneema DCF tents because they don’t sag when they get wet and because DCF is vastly more waterproof than tents made with conventional fabrics. However, the downside of all-DCF construction is that tents that are made exclusively with it are surprisingly bulky to pack. By combining the materials, DCF and Sil/PU coated nylon, the DCF Two rolls up comparatively small, making it much more manageable to carry in a low volume, ultralight backpack.

The 2-person DCF Two packs up smaller than the 1-person ProTrail Li
The 2-person Gossamer Gear DCF Two (black, right) packs up smaller than the 1-person Tarptent ProTrail Li (silver, left)

As a point of comparison, here’s a side by side comparison of the one-person, all-Dyneema Tarptent ProTrail Li and the half-Dyneema DCF Two that illustrates how much bulk is saved by using a nylon floor. As you can see, the 2-person DCF Two packs up smaller than the 1-person ProTrail Li, which is pretty remarkable in my opinion.

Dual Doors/Vestibules

The DCF Two has two peaks corresponding to its two vestibules. The vestibule doors are split down the middle with a waterproof zipper, but you can roll back one or and both sides for added ventilation. These are fastened with conventional toggles that insert into DCF loops on the sides of the tent.

Both sides of the vestibules can be rolled back for added ventilation
Both sides of the vestibules can be rolled back for added ventilation

The tent requires 6 stakes to pitch, 4 in the corners and 2 for the ridgeline guylines which are staked out perpendicular to the sidewalls. In a break with convention, the ridgeline guylines run inside the vestibule when it’s zipped shut, rather than over it, with one half of the vestibule clipped to the base of the guyline with a buckle that decouples it from the tension on the ridgeline. The other half of the vestibule door does not connect directly to the ridgeline but is held in place by the zipper connecting the two halves of the vestibule.

Only one of the vestibule doors can be clipped to the Ridgeline guy line, not both independently
Only one of the vestibule doors can be clipped to the ridgeline guy line, not both independently

This has a number of ramifications worth considering:

First, you can only clip one half of the vestibule to the guyline with the buckle and not the other if you like to sleep with one half of the vestibule open and the other half-closed. Since you probably want to have the closed door facing and blocking the wind, this makes the setup of the tent “directional” as opposed to bi-directional, forcing you to “think” about the direction of the pitch, potentially in the dark. I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty stupid at that time of day.

Next, if the wind shifts direction at night, your only option will be to close both doors to block the wind, instead of switching which half of the vestibule is open and which is closed.

The left half of the vestibule door connects to a buckle on the Ridgeline, but the right door is just held in place by the zipper
The left half of the vestibule door connects to a buckle on the Ridgeline, but the right door is just held in place by the zipper

Finally, if the vestibule zipper, which is a tiny #3, fails, you’re going to have to rig something up to keep the door without the ridgeline buckle closed. It’s not obvious how to this because there isn’t any anchor point at the bottom of that door that you can attach another guyline or stake to. The use of a #3 zipper is a potential source of concern, particularly in sandy conditions. Mountain Laurel Designs and Seek Outside now use #8 zippers on all their zippered shelters. The weight penalty is negligible, especially considering the reliability that is gained.

Interior Space/Livability

The sidewalls of the tent, inside the vestibules, are made with fine mesh for insect and creepy crawler protection. L-shaped zippers open into the vestibules, which are well sized to hold gear. You can store quite a large pack in one half of the vestibule and still get in and out of the tent quite easily. There are large mesh pockets on each side of the tent for storing personal items.

The vestibules are large enough to store a large backpack without blocking the side mesh door.
The vestibules are large enough to store a large backpack without blocking the side mesh door.

When you set up the DCF Two, your trekking pole handles should be positioned in the vestibules and the tips inserted into the grommets that help stretch out the full width of the inner bathtub floor. The tops of the poles will be flared out slightly and not be perpendicular to provide more interior space inside.

The interior of the DCF Two is surprisingly long and wide, with plenty of space for taller hikers. You can also fit two wide 25″ sleeping pads inside or two 20″ pads if you want a little extra room for gear storage. The head and foot ends of the tent are tapered slightly (from 48″ to 42″) so you’ll want to orient the tent so that your head is on the wider end with the screen doors and that the head end is on higher ground if you pitch the tent on an uneven tent site. I always forget to do this when using asymmetric two-person tents, which is why I prefer ones where the foot end has the same width as the head end. Color coding the ends with different colored buckles or cordage would make it easier to tell which end is which.

The DCF Two is nice and long with plenty of clearance for your feet under the slanted ceiling
The DCF Two is nice and long with plenty of clearance for your feet under the slanted ceiling

I was pleasantly surprised by how long the DCF Two is because I was able to lie back on a thick 4″ sleeping pad without the tops of my feet or my face coming in contact with the ceiling. The tent also has panel pullouts that you can guy out to pull those areas out further if desired. However, the loops that you tie your cord to are impossibly small and hard to thread in the field, so you’ll want to probably want to add them at home and keep those guylines permanently attached.

Durability and Maintenance

The DCF Two is very well made with reinforced panel pullouts on all the guylines, seam-taped seams, and immaculate sewing. But it is lean and mean by design, so you’ll want to treat it kindly and maintain it after each use. For instance, the 7 denier floor is very thin and I’d recommend using a lightweight footprint with this tent if you camp one on the packed-earth or rock dust tent sites commonly found on prepared tent sites. Gossamer Gear sells a plastic sheeting called polycryo for footprints that is super lightweight but extremely tough or you can just buy window wrap on Amazon for the same purpose.

All of the guyout points are reinforced.
All of the guyout points are reinforced.

I’d also avoid putting too much tension on the #3 zippers on the vestibule doors when staking out the ridgeline and recommend cleaning and lubricating them carefully once or twice each year. Gear Aid sells a great zipper lubricant stick for this purpose and it lasts forever. I’ve been using the same one for over 10 years and it’s still going strong.

Recommendation

The Gossamer Gear DCF Two is an innovative two-person, single-wall, trekking pole tent that breaks the ultralight DCF tent paradigm by cleverly coupling a DCF rainfly with a nylon floor. The result is a tent that’s significantly less bulky but excels in terms of livability with dimensions that will delight taller hikers and couples alike. While I’d prefer to see Gossamer Gear use a heavier duty zipper on the DCF Two vestibules, the tent is quite well built and will perform well with the proper level of care and maintenance required to use an ultralight tent.

Comparable Tents

Zpacks Duplex: 19 oz, $599.

While the all-DCF Zpacks Duplex costs $10 more than the DCF Two, it has a symmetrical footprint that makes set up easier because there is no “head” or “foot” end of the tent. The Duplex has a more durable and zipper-free vestibule design that allows you to open or close either half of the vestibule. Its rainbow-shaped inner tent doors also let you enter and exit the tent easily without worrying which side of the vestibule is open or closed.

Gossamer Gear “The Two”: 23.5 oz, $375.

The nylon “The Two” only weighs a few more ounces than the DCF Two but is virtually identical in design.  It packs up even smaller (11″ x 5″ vs “19 x 5”) because it doesn’t have a DCF rain fly, and is less transparent, but will experience slightly more sag at night when if the rain fly gets wet.

Disclosure: Gossamer Gear loaned the author this tent for this review.

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12 comments

  1. Philip. This is a tremendously well crafted tent review. I think you’re by far the best backpacking gear reviewer out there because of your encyclopedic product knowledge and the fact that you’ve reviewed so many tents in the past. Keep up the fantastic work. I always check your site before buying products. My thanks.

  2. How does the interior and the footprint of the tent compare to the Zpacks Duplex?

  3. Hello,
    How would you compare this tent to the Tarptent Stratospire Li which is on your list of the 10 best UL Backpacking Tents?
    As always thanks for your excellent reviews.

    • The strat is a double-wall tent, so it will have a lot less internal condensation. It’s more weather worth because the doors nearly touch the ground and it has a more durable floor. It has much larger vestibules, it’s heavier, and harder to pack because it has carbon fiber struts in the corner. It’s also probably overkill for the AT (since I know that’s what you’re shopping for) where the weather conditions are fairly benign.

  4. The DCF Two has decent quality but I prefer the design, vestibules and useable interior space of the Tarptent Stratospire Li (2 person DCF). For a bit more weight you get a double wall but it can be used as a single wall tent if desired.

  5. Zpacks sells adhesive DCF patches with sewn in loops and toggles.Could be used on the free
    hanging door to secure to fixed door in case of zipper failure.They claim the patches adhere
    excellent to DCF.

    • They do. I put a set on my Plexamid so that I could roll one side of the door half way up and still have ventilation when its raining.

  6. Bill in Roswell GA

    I don’t understand why GG went with 81″ floor length instead of the common 84″. In the photo showing the foot end, it appears that the sleeping bag is partially blocking the vent. Splash back in a downpour could dampen the foot of the bag perhaps? Nothing to worry about in a Protrail….

    I emailed GG about the floor length. They replied that the next version will go back to 84″ length floor, which is good news indeed. I would invest in that DCF version!

    • It was a mistake in how the manufacturer interpreted the bill of materials they gave them. I actually pointed it out to them because I measure the tents I review. They hadn’t been aware of it.

      • Bill in Roswell GA

        As the saying goes, “stuff happens”. Another reason I love your reviews, Phillip – you actually measure and weigh the item, regardless of what the mfr. says!

        I was glad that GG said the next batch of tents will have 84″ floors. I’m 5’7″, so not a huge deal but I appreciate the room and not getting the quilt footbox wet.

  7. I noticed the length on the DCF version is a few inches shorter than the nylon version. Would this be adequate for someone between 6’1 and 6’2?

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