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Sea-to-Summit Telos TR2 Plus Tent Review

Sea to Summit Telos Tr Plus Review

The Sea to Summit Telos TR2 Plus is a two-person freestanding backpacking tent with numerous pitching options. The “Plus” version differs from the Standard Telos TR2 version by using a solid inner tent instead of a mesh one to block the wind and extend its use into shoulder seasons. We previously reviewed the Standard (non-Plus) version of the TR2 with a mesh instead of a solid inner (see review). Sea-to-Summit also sells a bikepacking version of the Telos TR2 with compact poles that are easier to transport by bicycle.

While Sea-to-Summit sells all three versions of the Telos TR2 separately, they share a common design architecture and can be converted into each other by replacing individual components. For example, you can replace the solid inner on the Telos TR2 Plus reviewed here with a mesh inner for use in warmer weather. You can also buy the compact poles of the bikepacking version separately and replace the standard poles that come with the Telos TR2 or Telos TR2 Plus to make them easier to carry on the frame of a bicycle.

Unfortunately, Sea-to-Summit has buried this modular capability, which would be a key selling point for four-season or multi-sport users. Why? Retailers lack the expertise to explain modular products to consumers. However, if you are interested, you can buy the individual components from the spare parts section of the Sea-to-Summit website. 

For the remainder of this review, we’ll focus on the Telos TR2 Plus version of the tent.

Specs at a Glance

  • Minimum Trail Weight (manufacturer): 3 pounds, 9.7 ounces
  • Minimum Trail Weight (tested): 3 pounds, 7.2 ounces
  • Total Packed Weight (manufacturer): 3 pounds, 12 ounces
  • Total Packed Weight (tested): 3 pounds, 14.9 oz.
  • Materials: Fly: 15 denier ripstop nylon, Silicone / Polyether Polyurethane (PeU)-coated, 1200mm hydrostatic head, Inner: 20 denier ripstop nylon, Floor: 30 denier ripstop nylon, 4000mm hydrostatic head, 6 inch tall bathtub design, Poles: DAC Featherlite NSL 8.5mm and NSL 9.0mm hubbed poles
  • Floor Dimensions (manufacturer): 84.5 x 53/43 inches (tapering head to foot)
  • Floor Dimensions (tested): 85 X 52/42 inches (tapering head to foot)
  • Peak height (manufacturer): 43.5 inches
  • Peak height (tested): 41 inches at the doors, 38 inches in the center (36 inches if the Lightbar is installed)
  • Included: 8x 7075-T6 aluminum Y-stakes in a stuff sack; repair patches; pole repair sleeve; 4x guylines with toggles for extra wind resistance and Hangout Mode pitch; 3x multi-use connectable stuff sacks for the poles, inner and fly.
  • Footprint sold separately
The solid inner is less breezy than a mesh inner and better for cooler weather
The solid inner is less breezy than a mesh inner and better for cooler weather

Solid Inner Tent

The Telos TR2 Plus is a freestanding double-wall tent with a solid inner tent to prevent breezes from chilling you. It’s optimized for use in cooler temperatures, such as early spring and late fall before it snows. A solid inner tent is a great way to extend a tent’s use into colder temperatures. The side panels are made with a solid, but breathable fabric, with mesh screening at the top to vent moisture. However, while a solid inner tent is great in the cold, you wouldn’t want to use it in the middle of summer or anywhere warm and muggy, limiting the utility of the TR2 Plus, unless you purchase the additional mesh inner tent.

The top of the solid inner tent doors can zip away to revel mesh for ventilation
The top of the solid inner tent doors can zip away to reveal mesh for ventilation

The Tension Ridge

The TR2 Plus comprises three pieces, each with their own stuff sack: a pole set, a solid fabric inner tent, and the tent fly. The hubbed pole set is shaped like two Ys connected to each other at their feet, with an additional crossbar pole called the Tension Ridge. The Tension Ridge is a key design feature of the tent; it forms a V shape, which lifts up the inner tent near each door to increase headroom. In this way, the tallest part of the tent is not in the middle but rather above the heads of each user. The poles are all connected to each other in one piece to prevent losing any of them.

The Tension Ridge is the V-shaped blue pole that creates extra height near the doors
The Tension Ridge is the V-shaped blue pole that creates extra height near the doors

Multiple Setup Options

The Telos TR2 Plus can be set up in six different ways, including a fly-first mode, which is useful if it’s raining because it keeps the inner tent dry. All six of these modes are also available with the all-mesh version of the tent and the bikepacking versions.

  • Classic Mode
  • Fly-Only Mode
  • Dry Setup Mode
  • Inner Only Mode
  • Partial Fly Mode
  • Hangout Mode

Classic Mode will be familiar to anyone who has set up a US-made freestanding tent that sets up inner first, fly last. This pitch is usually best for mild weather because it leaves the inner tent exposed to precipitation before the fly goes on.

The Fly-Only Mode is simple to set up and does not require a tent footprint. You assemble the poles, stake them out, and then connect the fly’s corners to the poles. When insect protection is unnecessary, you could use the rainfly as a freestanding tarp.

The Dry Setup is a common design of European tents, allowing the rain fly to be set up first and the inner tent to be added later. Some tents require a footprint to do this, but the TR2 does not need one, instead using hardware that can be used in various ways for different pitches. The Quick Connect Feet are C-shaped metal pieces that can either hook on to the Jakes feet of the inner tent when you set up the inner first or can function as a grommet for the pole tips when you set up fly first while still leaving enough of the pole tip exposed to insert into the jakes feet on the inner tent. While it’s a very creative design, it’s time-consuming to pitch, and I found the Classic Mode much faster.

You can roll up the fly to have it ready to deploy quickly if a storm comes
In the Partial Fly Mode, you can roll up the fly to have it ready to deploy quickly if a storm comes

The Partial Fly Mode is a neat feature where you stake out both vestibules, disconnect the rest of the fly, and roll it up so you just have a small tube of the fly arcing horizontally over the top of the tent, from vestibule stake to vestibule stake. It reminds me of snakeskins on a hammock tarp and serves the same function; it allows you to stargaze and have maximum ventilation in calm weather but provides the ability to quickly deploy the fly and batten down the hatches if the weather turns.

Hangout Mode is a fly-only pitch staked down at one end and lifted up 45 degrees to create a canopy to sit under. You attach the lifted end to trekking poles and guy them out, and you guy out the vestibules, too. However, it is pretty wobbly, and the tent manual book explicitly says not to use this pitch when it’s windy.

The Apex Vent runs through the top of the inner tent and the rainfly.
The Apex Vent runs through the top of the inner tent and the rainfly.

Apex Vent

The Apex Vent is another key design feature of the Telos Series, based on the idea that warm, humid air rises to the top of the tent, so putting a vent in that spot should reduce condensation. In our previous review, we found that the standard Telos TR2 let in rain through its Apex Vent. Unfortunately, on two separate rainy days, water still made its way into the TR2 Plus reviewed here

Rain comes through the Apex Vent and collects on the floor
Rain comes through the Apex Vent and collects on the floor

The instruction manual says that you can open and close the Apex vent from inside the tent–but this is misleading. The inner tent also has an Apex Vent–but its two layers are nylon fabric over mesh, so unzipping the inner Apex Vent just reveals the mesh. You cannot access the Apex Vent on the fly through the Apex Vent on the inner.

To open or close the external Apex Vent from the inside, you have to kneel inside the tent, reach your hand out the tent door over the inner tent, and grab the zipper pull of the Apex vent on the fly. If this sounds awkward, it is; very much so. If your arms are short, you may be able to open or close the Apex Vent just halfway before you have to open the other side door and repeat the process on the opposite side.

The fly and inner stuff sacks snap to the interior corners and make gear buckets--a great solution for water bottles and other miscellaneous gear
The fly and inner stuff sacks snap to the interior corners and make gear buckets–a great solution for water bottles and other miscellaneous gear

Packing

The Telos series uses three stuff sacks that fit together and have multiple uses. The fly and inner stuff sacks convert into “gear buckets”–cavernous pockets that snap into the corners of the tent and can hold a water bottle upright– is a great idea and the best solution I’ve seen for holding a water bottle upright in a tent and keeping stuff sacks from getting lost.

The Lightbar cuts into the headroom a couple inches (I'm only 5'4)
The Lightbar cuts into the headroom a couple of inches (I’m only 5’4)

The pole sack has a rigid piece of plastic inside that gives it the shape of a half-cylinder. Sea to Summit calls it the Lightbar because it can be snapped to the tent’s ceiling and take two headlamps to illuminate the interior. It gives the impression of a fluorescent light tube. However, I found that the Lightbar frequently disconnected from the snaps when adding or removing headlamps, and it cut into the headroom of the tent, which is the main benefit of the Tension Ridge Design. Additionally, if you like to read or check maps while lying down in your tent, your reading material will be dark because the Lightbar is at the tent’s peak instead of behind or above your head.

Additional Concerns

The stakes are lightweight and strong, made from 7075-T6 anodized aluminum, but the tops are sharp and hurt your hand, and the 3 teeth feel too small for the webbing stake loops. I’ve had the loops slip off the stakes numerous times.

The tent stake's teeth are small for the stake loops, which can slip off
The tent stake’s teeth are small for the stake loops, which can slip off

The vestibule fabric repeatedly caught on the zipper when opening and closing the tent, and the zipper chewed up the seam tape on the vestibule in the first couple of uses. Many loose threads of frayed fabric along the zipper weren’t cleanly cut before the zipper was added.

There were lots of threads of frayed fabric along the zipper that look messy and get stuck in the zipper teeth
There were lots of threads of frayed fabric along the zipper get stuck in the zipper teeth

Assessment

While the Sea-to-Summit Telos TR2 series tents, including the Telos TR2 Plus reviewed here, offer many innovative design ideas and features, they are overshadowed by the leaky Apex Vent, sloppy manufacturing quality, and an arguably fussy setup. We had hoped that Sea-to-Summit would have addressed the issues we raised in our earlier review of the standard Telos TR2 tent, in the updated Telos Tr2 Plus, but that does not appear to have been the case. Until then, we cannot recommend any of the tents in the Telos TR2 product line.

Shop at SeaToSummit

 

 Likes

  • The solid inner tent fabric effectively cuts the wind, making the inside of the tent much more pleasant on cold and windy nights.
  • Dry setup mode keeps the inner tent dry in rainy weather.
  • The fly and inner stuff sacks as “gear buckets” work great.
  • The stake loops are big enough to accept SMC-style snow stakes.
  • Freestanding design makes it easier to find good campsites.
  • If you use two 20-inch wide pads, there is good head and shoulder room for two people with ample gear coverage under the vestibules.

Dislikes

  • Poor manufacturing quality.
  • Leaky and hard-to-open Apex vent.
  • Tent stakes and guy line loops are mismatched.
  • The lightbar is insecure and reduces headroom when used.

Disclosure: Sea to Summit donated a tent for review.

SectionHiker is reader-supported. We only make money if you purchase a product through our affiliate links. Help us continue to test and write unsponsored and independent gear reviews, beginner FAQs, and free hiking guides.

About the Author

Greg Pehrson is an ultralight backpacker who was bitten hard by the MYOG (make-your-own-gear) bug. He repairs, tinkers, and builds gear, often seeking to upcycle throwaway items or repurpose things from outside the backpacking world.

3 comments

  1. Another superb review. SectionHiker uses tents rather than just setting them up in the backyard. Only way to properly assess and review a tent. I watched a bunch of glowing Youtube reviews of this tent and you have to wonder how much Sea to Summit paid them to be Schillls.

    • I think a lot of reviewers are too forgiving to be honest.

      For example inner first tents — I used to tolerate them until a stormy camping trip when I was a new backpacker; after that trip I consider inner first pitches to be basically a bug, or a design flaw. IMO the only time inner first is ok is when the inner is solid with a DWR coating… otherwise, it’s a fair weather tent.

      I did also read a couple of reviews that even forgave the Telos’ leaky vent, but that’s also a pretty serious issue; if you’re on a multi-day trip and get a day or more of rain, especially if as is so common in the mountains there’s also quite a bit of wind, that leaky vent could very quickly turn into much more than a mere annoyance.

      I’m also frankly surprised that Sea to Summit updated this tent without addressing the leaky vent. And not a good surprise.

  2. They don’t come cheap either. In europe these tents go for way over €600. For that kind if money a properly manufactured tent should not be to much to ask.

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