Much More Info about the Tectite 2


Here are the main dimensions of the Tectite 2. Two people fit easily with room to spare. At a pinch (depicted in the bottom, plan view), three athletically built persons - even as tall as 185cm - can find room in this tent to lie down and have a few personal items at the head.

Tectite Evolution

WE Tectite tents are a completely new concept in lightweight shelter. These hybrid, single-skin tents combine the best of simple fly camping with the essential security and comfort of double-skin tents without the use of expensive, high-tech laminated fabrics.

Our concept evolved from the need to find an effective, light-weight shelter for multi-day backpacking trips with our (then) young children. A simple tarp is fine away from the coast in wooded or forested areas where the wind remains mostly at the tree tops and rain falls more or less vertically. Otherwise it is difficult to rig a tarp against swirling wind and rain. We started using the outer tent from the Shadow model. It nicely accomodates two adults and two children. With a simple ground sheet and a supply of insect repellent it did the trick. The idea to join the ground sheet to the edge of the canopy with a mesh band followed, then came the tensioned elevation (off the ground) of this whole 'floor'(a key development), and then the various enhancements up to the detachable ceiling panel that all now combine into the Tectite 4 model. It is an ideal family backpacking tent. It didn't take much imagination to then develop single and two-person models. Development models of the Tectite concept were in use for nearly 5 years. 

Tectite Tent Design

All Tectite models share common design elements: 

The framework is a single, full-arc, transverse pole. Four corner pegs erect the tent. This is lighter, simpler, stronger and more stable than a semi-free-standing hub pole system - with or without a cantilever ridge pole and an outer skin requiring two or more pegs to erect. In the end, all tents must be secured in wind. We have always managed to improvise with cord, nearby bushes or rocks to erect any tent on a rock surface.

The floor structure is a full-span, suspended membrane with built-in side walls and a full-perimeter mesh ventilation gutter making the connection to the edge of the canopy fabric. The floor suspension combines with the short side walls to minimise ground splash and grit entry. Tectites are designed for and MUST be pitched at taut as you can manage, every time.

The fully seam-sealed canopies use high-tech, polyester fabrics with durable silicone elastomer face and polyether back coatings. They are provided with two large vents up on the pole arc. With correct tent alignment the four guys provide excellent stability in high wind. By avoiding the use of 3-layer, laminated, moisture-vapour-permeable fabrics - like Gore-Tex® or similar - weight and bulk can be minimised and acceptable, main-stream price levels can be achieved. (A section, further below, that gives a full explanation of canopy fabric choices and the practical realities of their use).

A detachable ceiling panel hangs under the flatter centre region of the canopy. This provides separation and protects against condensation drips in exactly the same way as the inner tent roof panels of conventional double-skin tent. This ceiling is simple and very light-weight. Its tension is adjustable and it need only be fitted when a combination of high humidity and cold are expected.

The mesh perimeter around the tensioned floor structure provides quite excellent 360 degree ventilation through the tent space, unobstructed by further layers of inner tent fabric. No matter what the wind direction is, air can flow through the whole tent space. The mesh also serves as a drip-through gutter when conditions make condensation inevitable. The moisture runs down the steep side panels of the canopy and off the ends of the ceiling panel.

Tectites are incredibly spacious. Until now 'light-weight' has also mean't 'cramped'. The floor structure occupies all the usable area of the tent making it possible to have all the contents of a backpack on hand, within the living space. Alternatively, an extra person can be accommodated in the single and two-person models. On a weight-per-occupant basis this makes any Tectite model an extremely light-weight shelter.

Performance Notes

All Tectite models are effectively '4-season' with respect to wind and rain performance. The floor fabrics (70d and 100d nylon) are NOT the flimsy 30d or 40d fabrics used by some brands to get the minimum weight figure down to a 'gossamer' level. Tectites do not require back-up ground sheets to ensure reasonable durability. The seam-taped canopies are completely rainproof. Ventilation is excellent. These tents are ideal for all general backpacking, particularly in sub-tropical and temperate conditions. When colder conditions might suggest the need for full double-skin tent a lighter-weight alternative is to take a Tectite and a warmer sleeping bag. Like any tent using open mesh panels Tectites can admit wind-borne snow and dust. Whatever WE tent model we may be using, in conditions of heavy condensation we use a simple, absorbent square of cloth to wipe off wet door panels and deal with wayward drips. Tectites can resist strong wind when the pole plane is aligned along wind direction with all guys are deployed. With just a single pole Tectites are not equipped to carry more than a light snow loading. 

Please follow the link at the top of this page for product instructions and other notes on use.

Canopy Fabrics, Condensation and You

Most single skin tents use expensive, moisture-vapour-permeable (MVP), laminated fabrics for their canopies. Todd-Tex® and Gore-Tex® tent laminates are examples. Tents and bivibags employing such fabric have been part of our product range in the past. We have used them for ski-touring expeditions and sea level backpacking trips alike. To optimise their effectiveness these laminated fabrics invariably use a 'hairy', non-woven polyester backing layer. It adds considerably to the bulk of the fabric and tent package but it does, up to a point, capture condensation moisture, help disperse it laterally and thereby reduce drips and runs. But... the problem with any tent skin is that it is simply too far from the body heat of the occupant/s for condensation to evaporate, permeate the fabric and escape. The MVP laminated fabrics can not work the way they do in a shell garment worn close to the body where body heat can drive moisture out through the fabric. Ironically, applied to tents, they really work best in sub-zero temperatures where 'condensation' freezes directly as ice crystals in the hairy surface and then, when the warm sun eventually strikes the tent, evaporates out through the fabric. Before sunrise the ice crystals really are not much of a nuisance. This is a very narrow effective performance band for such expensive fabrics!

The alternative is to simply use a conventional, light-weight coated tent canopy fabric for the single skin. For such a tent to be comfortable over a wide range of weather conditions it must mimmick the essential functions of a conventional double-skin tent. By far the most important contribution to comfort is good ventilation. It is also the best way to reduce condensation but can not help when the air is still, laden with water vapour (common near water-bodies or when the ground is wet) and a clear night sky causes the temperature to plummet. Heavy condensation is inevitable but the nuisance and danger of having a tent canopy that is dripping wet inside can be minimised by the innovative design used for the Tectite tent range. The detachable ceiling panel, exactly like the roof of an inner tent, shields occupants from water dripping directly off the flatter, central canopy panels. On the steep sides of the canopy condensation runs directly down and out through the mesh ventilation gutter. The conventional tub floor defines the tent 'interior' and provides identical protection to that on a full double-skin inner tent. Only the walls of the inner tent are missing (and along with them goes the weight and bulk of many metres of zip). Two compromises result: It is possible for spin-drift snow or dust can enter the tent but such conditions are relatively uncommon in general backpacking. Also, a conventional inner tent 'cell' can provide extra thermal insulation. The fact is, weight for weight, a slightly warmer sleeping bag will be much lighter than the metres of zipping and fabric required to complete a full inner tent. Double-skin or single-skin, in any compact tent it is impossible to avoid some brushing against fabrics when moving in and out of the tent. In this regard the Tectites perform like any other backpacking tent.

To summarise, you can think of Tectites in two ways. In terms of the evolution they are five-star fly camping with a built-in, effective ground sheet and insect protection. Alternatively, you can start with a conventional double-skin tent, then strip it down to all but the essential functions: Protection against rain, wet ground and insects. In the quest to create these unique, spacious, ultra-light tents the trick has been to eliminate all unnecessary zipping and fabric. This is the reason we have resisted the addition of mesh door panels. The weight gain would be considerable and the improvement to ventilation only slight.

Economy Model of the T2

Some of our retailers have chosen to order an 'economy version' of the Tectite 2, particularly aimed at use in the field of outdoor education. This differs from the UL (ultra-light) model only in that it uses less expensive and somewhat heavier duty canopy and floor fabrics and less technical poles, also a little heavier. That all makes sense for equipment that will not be personally owned and cared for. The economy model is 18% heavier than the UL model, has a sky blue 75d polyester canopy and 100d floor.