Sea to Summit reverses its pole on roomy ultralight backpacking tents
Australia's Sea to Summit has a three-decade history of creating lightweight, compact and high-performance gear for travel and outdoor sport. It offers virtually every camp sleeping product you can think of — hammocks, tarps, mosquito nets, sleeping bags, sleeping pads — but up until now, no freestanding tents. It didn't take the task of developing its first lightly, working on them over the course of three years with help from tent pole specialist DAC. With an inverted "Tension Ridge" roof pole, Sea to Summit's new Alto and Telos backpacking tents maximize living space and ventilation at camp while minimizing size and weight on the trip there.
If you close your eyes and picture a "curved tent pole," you'll likely end up with the inward-curving poles of the popular dome tent. While such poles are optimal for tent wall construction, pulling the fabric away from the occupants inside, they result in a compacted space at the peak of the ceiling, where the various poles cross and converge.
Sea to Summit worked closely with DAC founder and design chief Jake Lah to engineer a new pole solution that would open up the ceiling area to increase livable interior volume and improve ventilation. What they came up with is rather simple but effective: an inverted roof pole they call the Tension Ridge.
Instead of curving in the direction of the tent roof, the Tension Ridge curves upward, away from it. It utilizes a small hub in angling the poles up like a pair of gull wings. These poles, in turn, pull the tent fabric up to expand the peak, increase volume and give air more space to expand and escape. The design also contributes to a more vertical wall structure and taller entry doors for more comfortable ingress/egress. Fly vents near the base and roof ensure that air circulates freely inside.
"While the solution was simple, engineering the Tension Ridge presented significant challenges,” explains Lah. “By inverting the angle of the brow pole, we achieve best-in-class interior space and ventilation, without adding weight or bulk to the tent."
Sea to Summit's new Alto tents weigh in as little as 2.4 lb (1.1 kg) for the single-person TR1 model. The larger Telos lineup starts at 3.6 lb (1.6 kg) for the two-person TR2. The Alto is a semi-freestanding design that relies on a single structural spine and stakes. The Telos series is a fully freestanding design with a larger structural pole system that forks out at the front and rear.
Another thoughtful feature of the Sea to Summit tent lineup is its "Fair Share" packaging. Instead of packing into a single sack, multi-person tents split up into multiple sacks so that everyone who'll be sleeping in the tent can carry some of the weight. The translucent tent pole case even doubles as a diffuser for turning headlamps into an ambient tent light.
Each tent includes a separate removable rain fly that can be affixed in multiple positions to balance weather protection and views of the starlit sky. The Telos fly even removes from the tent to set up as an independent, open-air sunshade shelter using trekking poles or Sea to Summit's available Hangout Mode pole set.
Sea to Summit previewed the Alto and Telos tents last fall (Northern Hemisphere) ahead of a more complete introduction today. They will go up for preorder on March 15, with prices starting at $399 for the Alto and $499 for the Telos. The Alto comes in both one- and two-person sizes, the Telos in two- and three-person models. All Alto and Telos models come with buyer's choice of a full-mesh three-season tent body or solid-fabric three-plus-season body.
Source: Sea to Summit