Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Tadpole tents compared: Jetstream, Apexus, and the original TNF


Gear review by Cecil Morella (AMCI)
Equipment Adviser, PinoyMountaineer.com

As you build up your vertical mileage in mountain-climbing, you learn the hard way that certain things just do not mix: Tents and open flames. Rainfly and direct sunlight. Tents and washing machines. Fly and cat....

But for the marvelous invention called duct tape, the bored feline in a friend's home would have wrecked nearly a week's worth of sleeping arrangements on our Tawangan-Akiki traverse of Mount Pulag last year. In the end, the taped-up Apexus shell held up well in relatively dry conditions on the campsite beside the Eddet River, where our group's shelters were compared by another team to a "Baseco," the Manila slum notorious for its jobless men who sell their kidneys to the Japanese. But it had no answer to the deluge that swamped our Lake Tabeo camp, which thankfully came at dawn and not in the evening.

Dubbed as a "tadpole," the Apexus (Apexus Tadpole classic) and a similar model sold by second local outfitter, Jetstream (Jetstream Tadpole), are inspired by the iconic elongated, low-slung shelter produced by The North Face that gave the design its name - the TNF Tadpole 23. Two long poles intersect above the tapered rear end of the canopy, with a shorter third cross-pole creating headroom space at the wider front end, which has a single door and a vestibule. The design itself is now an anachronism in the age of avant-garde dome shelters with pre-bent, hubbed pole configurations and vast footprints that provide vestibules in pairs.

Built like caves and designed to withstand strong winds that would flatten shelters with plastic or fibreglass poles at high, open grassland campsites, the aerodynamic tadpoles hug the ground and their rectangular footprints come on their own in tight and narrow places where open space is at a premium -- think Tarak Ridge, where you are instantly under pressure to race to the campsite to claim valuable real estate if you had the misfortune of having packed a four-person tent -- or open grassland campsites like Pulag's Camp 3, where partial, "bikini" rainflies typical of beach tents could expose its occupants to hypothermia after sundown. My first ever tent was a Jetstream while I still frequently use a TNF Tadpole. Several friends of mine own Apexus, which comes in a variety of striking colours including hot pink that stands out even from several miles away. The local brands use clips to attach the tent body to the poles, ideal for fast pitching, while the TNF combines clips and sleeves for even more stability against the wind.

Given a choice, all of us would plump for the TNF in an instant, but at less than half the price, Jetstream and Apexus are real value for money (Gid's note: around P5,000+ for either). The Jetstream's livable area is about three inches shorter, an inch narrower and the headroom is four inches lower compared to the 26 square-foot TNF, while the Apexus is about an inch wider but four inches shorter and three inches lower than the TNF. Because I am taller than most my toes touch the radically sloping rear canopy of the 86-foot long Jetstream, forcing me to curl up or stretch out diagonally. That is why I usually treat tadpoles as solo tents, finding them a bit of a squeeze for two men. But a female friend said her Apexus routinely sleeps three women and sometimes four. She concedes "it's a bit tight" at the back, where their feet touch.

While the Apexus and Jetstream both have full-fly coverage like the TNF, care must be taken to pitch them properly and guy them tautly so the rainfly never sags onto the nylon mesh inner canopy, either through the force of the wind or loose guyout lines, which is sometimes a problem on uneven ground. Always pack string to give yourself flexibility with your pegs and guy lines. Both tents claim to weigh just under two kilograms minus the stakes, compared to about 2.3 kilos for the TNF version that I use, but you would need quite a few owing to their layout, and the pegs' collective weight swiftly adds up. To compensate, get a pair of scissors and trim the footprint if you use a regular-sized tarpaulin cut to conform to the tent's tapered shape, leaving about two inches or so for allowance.

My feet got wet for two nights' running from condensation while camped out in Signal Number 4 typhoon conditions in the forests of both Mosimus and Binulauan in Kalinga in 2006. All three tadpoles also let some rainwater through the door when you open the fly fully, even in the Apexus' U-shaped door which has two layers. My friend also said the seam seal of her tent started to unravel less than two years after purchase, which appears to be a common complaint with Apexus. There are of course do-it-yourself sealant remedies sold at outdoor shops, while at least one local shop actually accepts seam repair jobs along with broken pole replacements.

The other gripe for tadpoles is that the single vestibule cannot hold more than one backpack without blocking the door. Here you have a choice of tossing a coin with your tentmate or buying the TNF, whose long vestibule allows two packs to be stacked on one side.

Tent picture courtesy of Alex (alexskywalker.multiply.com)

45 comments:

Ezekiel said...

ma'am Cecil / Gid,

as you mentioned..

"while at least one local shop actually accepts seam repair jobs along with broken pole replacements."

kindly share naman with others kung saan thong shop na tho..

lam nyo naman tipiran ang laban ngayon sa mga gear natin..

thank's =)

-Ezekiel-

Anonymous said...

Expedition Plus at Mile Long Amorsolo accepts repair jobs for the Jetstream tents they sell.
/Cecil

Anonymous said...

"Baseco," the Manila slum notorious for its jobless men who sell their kidneys to the Japanese. ....prang d yta magandang pakingan to...racism po b to?...paayos nmn po...salamat...

Anonymous said...

mga sirs, question lang sa tnf tadpole23..more than a year ko na cyang ginagamit kaso d ko alam kung tama ba ung set-up ko especially sa fly sheet.
1. most of the times, dumidikit ung fly sheet at ang mismong tent especially sa likod na portion. may technique ba kayo d2?
2. ung flysheet assembly, may butas din (sa portion ng paglalagyan mo ng pegs) same as sa tent assembly. pag nka set-up ba, kailangan ko rin ipasok ang poles sa butas?

tnx...

gideon said...

@anonymous: guest columnists in pinoymountaineer are entitled to express their own opinion and i do not believe that the language used has anything to do with racism. in fact, if you will be scholarly about it, you will find out that there is truth to the kidney transplant black market:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-499486/Inside-transplant-tourist-trade-The-desperate-men-One-Kidney-Island.html

gideon said...

ezekiel, btw, it should be "sir" cecil and not "ma'am" :D

Anonymous said...

Try mo kaya habaan ang mga tali ng fly sheet mo bago ka mag-peg, para di katabi ng fly peg ang tent body at di magdikit ang fly at body. Sa condensation kasi ng fly usually galing ang basa.

Unlike sa Apexus/Jetstream, malaki at mahaba ang rainfly ng TNF Tadpole so wala dapat problemang dumikit sa tent wall. Pag Jetstream naman na medyo makitid, I usually peg the rear section of the fly first para siguradong di dumikit. Kung minsan, ang problema di maayos ang setup ng cross pole, o kaya nagkapalit ito sa isang long pole. Balutan mo ng duct tape yung maiksi pag hindi colour-coded ang poles mo para di magkapalit by mistake.
/C

Anonymous said...

the tadpole craze in the phils started with the tnf tadpole and the local makers imitated it. as cecil said nicely, the design is now an anachronism and the avant-garde thing right now are pre-bent pole configurations. like the hubba hubba and the marmot. i hope local makers will catch up too so we can have these designs at affordable prices.

Ezekiel said...

wahahaha.. nga pala Gid. nakalimutan ko na male nga pala yung Cecil of AMCI.. sorry mga sir =)

sir Cecil you mean kila Oca of Expedition Plus!. alam ko yung shop na yun sir, nga lang hindi pa ako nakakabili ng gamit dun.. hehehe..

thank's for the info..

-Ezekiel-

Ezekiel said...

@ Anonymous

"Baseco," the Manila slum notorious for its jobless men who sell their kidneys to the Japanese. ....prang d yta magandang pakingan to...racism po b to?...paayos nmn po...salamat...

strong words from you huh!!

dude, Gideon is the main blogger and author of this site.. pwede nyang sabihin kung anu man ang gusto nya!! the topic here is yung mga tadpole tents sa market today.. not those slum people & their for sale kindeys, which is infact very much true dahil sa kahirapan ng buhay today!.. go to ebay U.S. you may even find eyes, foot and ears na binebenta dun!!

site po itho para sa mga mountaineers.. hindi po tayo nag de-debate dito about social and racial issue..

sencya na poh and thank's..

-Ezekiel-

Anonymous said...

i bought my local version of tadpole a year ago,at nagsimulang matanggal ang seam seal nya recently .pero napaayos naman at yun nga lang at a certain fee.

Anonymous said...

the eureka autumn wind is good, cheaper and has more floor space than tnf

Anonymous said...

Hi we are selling tents at very reasonable prices, this includes the Eureka Autumn Wind 2XD. please visit us at http://www.xplore7107.com thanks!

Anonymous said...

hi

i just want to ask if eusebio tents are good?
beginner po kc ako and medyo tight ang budget that's why i opt to buy local muna.

thank you.

Anonymous said...

sir im a newbie planning to buy tadpole tent and i saw one from TREK at Quirino ave and the price is lower compared to those tent featured here, sir ok po ba TREK tents, the brand is not familiar to me...tnx a lot...

macky

Anonymous said...

Sir/Mam meron na pong available na tent sa CONQUER tadpole type ok din po ba yung quality?

edge said...

@anonymous, Sir Eusebio tents are good,i dont think me nilabas cla tadpole model,but their monodome tents are very much stable and breathable inside,medyo magaan din 2kgs.

@macky,trek tents Sir ok din po yan,medyo nipis lng ng rainfly nya.Pero magaan to sa bulsa^_^

Conquer tents are also well stable,medyo magaan to' compare sa eusebio. Maganda din flooring nito,di madaling mapunit and kaya ang windy atmosphere.Isa sa okey din po gumawa ang conquer.

hapi trek!

Anonymous said...

Can you compare conquer tadpole tent & apexus tadpole tent? Ano sa tingin nyo mas maganda lalo na sa quality?

Anonymous said...

Bibili po ako ng tent this week ano po sa tingin nyo mas maganda(quality) conquer tadpole tent or apexus tadpole tent?

Anonymous said...

pwede b iconvert ung nonfreestanding tent sa freestanding?
nahihirapan na kc ko sa tent ko e

Anonymous said...

hello po mga sir/ma'am. would you know kung san ko po puwede ipaayos yung nabaling tent pole? Side Out po siya, tadpole tent din.. thanks in advance po!

Anonymous said...

Gandang Hapon po mga sir, ask ko lang po opinion nyo about conquer tadpole tent and apexus, pros and cons po, balak ko pa kase bumili ng tent, inputs po sa dalawang brands, maraming salamat po in advance.

edge said...

ganito nlng Sir...
Kung kaya ng budget mo bilin mo apexus kc quality ang binabayaran mo dyan..
Kung bibili ka conquer ayus din,though ang quality di tulad sa apexus..

Para lang yan pandesal, ung isa sa Pan de Manila ung isa sa bakery lapit inio..ano pinagkaiba?

Kahit cnu tanungin mo mntr Sir, ang gugustuhin ung matibay,magaan,at masasayahan k tlg..

Bili Na!! :0

zuTiL said...

if you're in a budget but want a good tadpole tent, try to look for Doite tadpole tent... as good as the TNF when it comes to performance but way cheaper.

i got mine from TREK (Quirino Ave.) last 2003 and still okay until now. it survived a storm at the peak of Napulauan and Banahaw. also withstand heavy rains and strong wind at high peak.

Anonymous said...

i agree..medyo insensitive words.. and much more insensitive reaction from Mr. Ezekiel. to think that you have a biblical name.. it may be a mountaineers blog but still you can be more compassionate than that.. tsk tsk...



Ezekiel said...
@ Anonymous

"Baseco," the Manila slum notorious for its jobless men who sell their kidneys to the Japanese. ....prang d yta magandang pakingan to...racism po b to?...paayos nmn po...salamat...

strong words from you huh!!

dude, Gideon is the main blogger and author of this site.. pwede nyang sabihin kung anu man ang gusto nya!! the topic here is yung mga tadpole tents sa market today.. not those slum people & their for sale kindeys, which is infact very much true dahil sa kahirapan ng buhay today!.. go to ebay U.S. you may even find eyes, foot and ears na binebenta dun!!

site po itho para sa mga mountaineers.. hindi po tayo nag de-debate dito about social and racial issue..

sencya na poh and thank's..

-Ezekiel-

Anonymous said...

where can i buy tadpole tent in cebu which is not too much for my pocket? price? thanks!

Anonymous said...

nid ko po sana ng tadpole tents nasa budget po ng 4k tnx po kahit po 2nd hand basta d gaano gamit tnx po!!! 09212440797

angelica said...

side out tadpole tent vs apexus tent? ano mas ok sa dalawa...........? mga sir and mam...

Anonymous said...

mga sir san po nakakabili ng apexus tent? ty

Anonymous said...

@anonymous
kay sir terry villas.. nagbbenta siya ng apexus na mga tent.. e2 try mu contact no. 09194607150, 4345072.. facebook niya http://www.facebook.com/apexusoutdoor

Anonymous said...

Hi! Sir any comments for TNF Rock 22,which one is better yung TNF Tadpole or Rock 22 for Mt.Pulag climb?

jed said...

sir gid/cecil ask lng po kng saan po b pwd maka order ng apexus tadpole na ply?any contact number po? im frm davao kc..thanks

Anonymous said...

sir jed, parang nakontak mo na ako...hhehehe

Anonymous said...

where can i buy it? and how much?
-Dave

rakbons said...

Maa'm. where can i buy it, and how much?

David said...

mam. magkano po yan at san nkakabili nyn?
---

Anonymous said...

Hi guys,
Their website lists the contact details:
0919-4607150
apexus202@yahoo.com
http://apexus.multiply.com/
/Cecil

Joseph said...

@sir David:
sir try to visit this site, baka makatulong sayo
http://www.t3ckoutdoor.com/index.php?route=product/category&path=50

-artbreaker -GILAS-

Anonymous said...

try nyo po kay sir terry napakagaling nya mkipg negotiate sa customer.. sa apexus.. mas mura pati direct from manufacturer ah..

Anonymous said...

sir, magkano ngayon ang apexus classic tadpole? anyone?

davzkie said...

just recently purchased an apexus tent, its 3,900 for the tadpole tent direct from the manufacturer. Just call or text sir terry, he's very accomodating with regards to his products.

davzkie said...

Im really very sorry, its P4900 and not P3900.. sorry for the incorrect post.. 4,900 for the tadpole and 350 for the groundsheet..

Anonymous said...

Kasya apat na babae sa isang tadpole 23? ano sila, mga midget?

Anonymous said...

Conquer tents are good. bugbog yung tent namin for 3 years na yet everything is in working order with mild wear and tear.

Aldrin

Anonymous said...

try nio rn search brown trekker tadpole subok din un

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