SlingFin CrossBow 2 Tent Review

SlingFin CrossBow 2 Tent Review

The SlingFin CrossBow 2 Four-Season Tent sports an impressive balance of light weight, durability, and overall sturdiness. It’s made for winter adventures, alpine climbing, and backcountry ski touring, but is also marketed as a sort of quiver-killer. It’s light enough for 3-season backpacking if the weight is shared between two people, but it’s also capable of handling the gnarliest storms when need be.

The SlingFin CrossBow 2 Four-Season in the Wasatch Mountains.
The SlingFin CrossBow 2 Four-Season in the Wasatch Mountains.

While myself and most folks reading this probably have lighter tents we use for tame-weather trips, SlingFin is not wrong in making the claim that the CrossBow 2 Four-Season can do it all. Five pounds is pretty reasonable for a two-person tent if it’s going to be your only tent and do absolutely everything. I’ll tell you right now, I have nothing but good things to say about this tent. Read on to find out why I think the SlingFin CrossBow 2 Four-Season is a hell of a tent.
Specs at a Glance

  • Capacity: 2 person
  • Type: Double-wall, freestanding, four-season tent
  • Trail weight with WebTruss (no stakes): 4 lbs 4.5oz (1942g)
  • Minimum Trail Weight with DAC Twist Clips (no stakes): 4 lbs 1oz (1843g)
  • Measured Weight with WebTruss, 13 stakes, and guylines (included): 5 lbs 0.7oz (2270g)
  • Packaged Weight: 5 lbs 4oz (2381g)
  • Floor Area: 32 sq ft (975 sq cm)
  • Vestibule Area: 11 sq ft each (335 sq cm)
  • Interior Height: 41.5” (105cm)
  • Packed Size: 14” x 6” (36cm x 15cm)
  • Floor Length: 92” (234cm)
  • Floor Width: 50” (127cm)
  • Doors: 2
  • Fly Material: 20d Silicone Coated Nylon Ripstop
  • Tent Body Fabric: 15D Nylon Ripstop DWR
  • Floor Fabric: 20D Nylon Ripstop PE 1800mm
  • WebTruss Fabric: 20D Nylon Ripstop PE 1800mm
  • Poles: 3 DAC PL 10.65mm
  • Guy lines and tensioners: Included
  • Stakes: Included
  • For complete specs, see slingfin.com
The patented WebTruss is not a gimmick It works.
The patented WebTruss is not a gimmick It works.

WebTruss Structure and Setup

SlingFin’s patented WebTruss design combines the strength of sleeve-style tents with the ability to set up easily in high winds. The pole sleeves reduce flexion in the poles, keeping the whole thing very stable. If setting up in the wind, just unclip the WebTruss from the tent body and insert the poles into the WebTruss. Once the structure is set up and staked out, clip the tent body back into it. It is also possible to use the WebTruss in conjunction with the groundsheet and the fly for a light and strong shelter in bug-free conditions.

Bottom line: the WebTruss is not a gimmick, it’s a well-thought-out solution to several problems other similar tents fail to address. I was very impressed with this tent’s performance in high winds one night in the Wasatch Mountains this winter, and attribute my good night’s sleep partially to the WebTruss, which provided the structure and stability that kept the fabric from flapping. The tent body did not cave in at all, despite some swift gusts.

On the other side of each guyline is a clip that ensures the line is pulling from the pole structure
On the other side of each guyline is a clip that ensures the line is pulling from the pole structure.

Materials

The fly has been redesigned for winter 2020/2021 and is now made from a 20D Nylon Ripstop Sil/Sil. This fabric has a waterproof rating of 1500mm. Compared to other 20D silnylons I’ve used, this one is more stiff and crinkly than most. It has a robust feel and the characteristic slickness of silicone that is ideal for snow-shedding. I think this is the perfect fly fabric for this tent.

The tent body is made from a 15D Nylon Ripstop treated with DWR. It’s notably beefy for a tent body material, but it is a four-season tent after all, so the beefiness is probably appropriate.

Clips for making sure the fly is secured to the WebTruss.
Clips for making sure the fly is secured to the WebTruss.

The WebTruss, floor, and footprint are all made from a 20D Nylon Ripstop PE. It has a waterproof rating of 1800mm. The PE (polyethylene) means it will be resistant to rot, while also giving the floor a very slight tackiness that helps keep sleeping pads from sliding around too much. Again I think they chose the perfect material for these applications. The groundsheet doesn’t come with the tent but might be a good addition just to increase the longevity of the tent body. It can be purchased separately for $60.

The CrossBow 2 Four-Season uses 3 DAC PL 10.65mm poles. To make these poles light and sturdy, DAC made the diameter bigger and the wall thickness smaller. They have walls that are 40% thinner than many other poles. As well, according to DAC, “At about 75% of their breaking strength, they start to flex more – they literally get a little softer – so they can bend further without breaking.”

The Crossbow is roomy for one.
The Crossbow is roomy for two and a palace for one.

Tent Dimensions

The interior size of the CrossBow 2 Four-Season is pretty typical for a two-door freestanding tent with a width of 50” and a length of 92”. Two average adults fit just fine, but it’s awesome for one in the winter. I have slept diagonally in it with gear spread out all around me and was very comfortable. The vestibules are pretty large at 11 sq ft apiece. I have left my boots and gaiters in the vestibule, still had plenty of room to cook, and wasn’t particularly worried about scorching anything. One could fit a pack in the vestibule and still have room to cook. If traveling with a partner it could be a good idea to designate one vestibule as a garage and the other as a kitchen.

The through-vent and SlingFin’s unique internal guy lines.
The through-vent and SlingFin’s unique internal guy lines.

Ventilation

The CrossBow 2 Four-Season fly has a through-vent with a partial flap on the outside. It can be opened even in a storm without letting much of anything in. The tent body also has a through-vent with both mesh and ripstop closures. Open the ripstop closure, but close the mesh one in buggy conditions.

The doors can be cracked for ventilation, as well. Open the main door closures for optimal ventilation. In buggy conditions, just open the ripstop flaps and tie them back, leaving the mesh windows closed.

There are also two “kickstands” included which can be used to prop the fly open near the peak.

Each zipper has two extra sliders parked in a little slider garage for when the main sliders wear out.
Each zipper has two extra sliders parked in a little slider garage for when the main sliders wear out.

Features You Shouldn’t Overlook

This tent is chock-full of little details that make it more impressive upon full inspection than one would notice at first glance. One noteworthy feature is the extra zipper sliders on each door. SlingFin, unlike many companies, seems to be fully aware that most zipper problems are the result of worn-out sliders. When the first set of sliders wear out—and they will—simply slide new ones out of the little slider garages found at the end of each zipper. This feature adds minimal weight to the overall weight and makes the tent easier to use. This tent uses #5 zippers on the fly door, #4.5 sliders on the main door, and #3 sliders on the mesh windows. These choices of zipper sizes are perfect.

These clips are no problem to manage even when wearing mittens
These clips are no problem to manage even when wearing mittens.

Another noteworthy feature is the clips on each corner where the fly attaches to the body or the WebTruss, and where the WebTruss attaches to the body. At first glance I wondered why they were so gigantic, thinking weight could have been saved had they used smaller clips, but I found out pretty quickly. When setting up or taking down the tent with mittens on, I had no problem with the clips. Smaller ones would be fussy in the cold with mittens on. One would probably have to take their gloves off, risking cold hands.

There are eight mesh storage pockets inside the tent so you can organize really well. This increases the overall livability of the shelter.

Each vestibule is large enough for both gear storage and cooking.
Each vestibule is large enough for both gear storage and cooking.

There are internal guylines that increase lateral stability and snow-loading ability. The tent only comes with one set, but another could be ordered. On a windy night, I made sure these guylines were on the windward side of the tent and they seemed to keep that panel from caving in during gusts.

Yet another not-to-be-overlooked feature is the clips that allow the fly to attach to the WebTruss. These are located directly on the other side of each tie-out point on the fly, meaning each guyline is attached directly to the rigid pole structure, rather than pulling superficially from just the fly.

The Crossbow on top of an MLD Exodus Backpack.
The Crossbow on top of an MLD Exodus Backpack.

Packed Size

The packed size of the CrossBow 2 Four-Season is about 6” x 14”. This is pretty typical for many similar two-person, four-season tents, and even some semi-robust, two-person, three-season tents. It looks pretty funny on the top of a Mountain Laurel Designs Exodus but will fit vertically inside many larger packs.

Comparable Four-Season Tents

Make / ModelPeopleDoorsMin WeightPrice
Black Diamond First Light213 lbs 1 oz$400
Black Diamond El Dorado214 lbs 8 oz$730
NEMO Kunai 2213 lbs 14 oz$500
Marmot Hammer214 lbs 6 oz$599
Mountain Laurel Designs SuperMid411 lbs 10 oz$385
MSR Access 2223 lbs 10 oz$600
Mountain Hardwear Outpost 2225 lbs 3.5 oz$600
Big Sky Chinook 2224 lbs$600
SlingFin CrossBow 2224 lbs 6.2 oz$580
Black Diamond Beta Light211 lb 3 oz$220

Recommendation

The SlingFin CrossBow 2 Four-Season Tent is a truly amazing shelter. Every little detail has been considered to ensure that the tent is durable, light, sturdy, storm-worthy, livable, comfortable, and easy to use. $650 is a lot of money, no doubt, but when compared to other four-season, two-person tents it’s really pretty reasonable. I can’t recommend the SlingFin CrossBow 2 Four-Season enough.

Check out this video for even more information about this tent’s many setup options. !

Disclosure: Slingfin provided a sample tent for this review.

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About the author

Ben Kilbourne has been backpacking at least once a month every month for the last twelve years. His explorations have taken him all over the west, but especially the canyon country of the Colorado Plateau. The geography of the west has become familiar to him. He has developed a rudimentary understanding of its geology, and an awareness of the subtle changes in flora and fauna due to soil, elevation, aspect, and precipitation and how these elemental things interact with both ancient and modern humans. His experiences on the land, whether triumphant or thwarted by events either in or out of his control, have provided the foundation for the work he does. Find Ben’s paintings, songs, and essays here http://benkilbourne.com/.

3 comments

  1. I spent some time setting up this tent and examining it. My take was not quite as glowing. Yes, its a decent tent. What it lacks as far as an all season, bad weather tent are two main issues. One, it uses the outdated tent then fly method of setup. A far better method for inclement weather use is the tent suspended from fly method. TarpTent and Hilleberg among others shine there. Also, the fly zipper must be opened up right to the drip line of the entrance if you don’t want to crawl in on your hands and knees. This not uncommon problem is better handled by tents that have a fly extending somewhat beyond the lower opening of the doors, what I call the drip line. Sure, its an OK tent, but it did not rise to the level of one I’d take with me for inclement weather. Thanks for the review.

  2. We have one and have used it 3-4 times in the winter. Love it. While it is true that the fly-first tents (like hilleberg) for example set up faster and easier in winter, they are not easily split in half for two people to carry. Also, the inner tents in the Hilliberg style tents are not super tight, and flap a lot when it’s windy, keeping one up at night if the winds are blowing. The Slingfin is taught, inside and out, so it is fairly quiet in the wind. It is also light weight for a winter useable tent. The inner tent is made of DWR coated fabric. If it is exposed to the rain or snow for a couple of minutes (if you are setting up the tent in rain/snow fall) it won’t get very wet, and the inside will stay dry pretty much. It is very study with the 10.5mm poles and the way the guylines actually attach to the pole structure (because of how the fly secures to the pole structure). There is no other tent that offers this much bad weather protection and weighs this little. Hillibergs (like the nallo 2, for example) have a sloped end making them far from roomy if you are tall. Hilleberg Allak has way less floor space than the slingfin, and way less vestibule space, and weighs quite a bit more (~ 2Lbs more). Thumbs up for the crossbow 2!

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