Outdoors

Sea to Summit reverses its pole on roomy ultralight backpacking tents

Sea to Summit reverses its pol...
Sea to Summit already offers a large variety of light, collapsible backpacking gear, and now it tries its hand at tents
Sea to Summit already offers a large variety of light, collapsible backpacking gear, and now it tries its hand at tents
View 16 Images
Sea to Summit already offers a large variety of light, collapsible backpacking gear, and now it tries its hand at tents
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Sea to Summit already offers a large variety of light, collapsible backpacking gear, and now it tries its hand at tents
Getting an early start on breakfast outside the Alto TR2 tent
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Getting an early start on breakfast outside the Alto TR2 tent
Sea to Summit's Alto and Telos tents launch for preorder on March 15
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Sea to Summit's Alto and Telos tents launch for preorder on March 15
The Tension Ridge pole design provides for tall doors with plenty of entry space and more roof height spread across the tent
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The Tension Ridge pole design provides for tall doors with plenty of entry space and more roof height spread across the tent
The Telos rain fly sets up as a sun shelter when secured to trekking poles or the available pole conversion kit
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The Telos rain fly sets up as a sun shelter when secured to trekking poles or the available pole conversion kit
Sea to Summit Alto TR1 with three-season mesh body
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Sea to Summit Alto TR1 with three-season mesh body
Pulling the fly off Sea to Summit's Alto TR1
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Pulling the fly off Sea to Summit's Alto TR1
Sea to Summit Alto TR1
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Sea to Summit Alto TR1
Sea to Summit's "Lightbar" pole case doubles as a headlamp diffuser that creates ambient tent lighting
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Sea to Summit's "Lightbar" pole case doubles as a headlamp diffuser that creates ambient tent lighting
Sea to Summit worked with tent pole specialist DAC to create the volume-expanding Tension Ridge roof pole
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Sea to Summit worked with tent pole specialist DAC to create the volume-expanding Tension Ridge roof pole
Sea to Summit's stakes use a serrated edge to deliver a more stable bite into the ground
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Sea to Summit's stakes use a serrated edge to deliver a more stable bite into the ground
Sea to Summit Alto TR1 packed up and ready to hike
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Sea to Summit Alto TR1 packed up and ready to hike
Sea to Summit's Fair Share packing splits the tent into multiple sacks for more organized weight-splitting between group members
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Sea to Summit's Fair Share packing splits the tent into multiple sacks for more organized weight-splitting between group members
Plus models like the Alto TR2 Plus pictured feature a more weather-resistant solid-fabric body in place of mesh
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Plus models like the Alto TR2 Plus pictured feature a more weather-resistant solid-fabric body in place of mesh
Sea to Summit Alto TR2 Plus
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Sea to Summit Alto TR2 Plus
Sea to Summit Telos TR3 Plus
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Sea to Summit Telos TR3 Plus
View gallery - 16 images

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.

Sea to Summit worked with tent pole specialist DAC to create the volume-expanding Tension Ridge roof pole
Sea to Summit worked with tent pole specialist DAC to create the volume-expanding Tension Ridge roof pole

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."

Getting an early start on breakfast outside the Alto TR2 tent
Getting an early start on breakfast outside the Alto TR2 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.

Sea to Summit's "Lightbar" pole case doubles as a headlamp diffuser that creates ambient tent lighting
Sea to Summit's "Lightbar" pole case doubles as a headlamp diffuser that creates ambient tent lighting

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.

The Telos rain fly sets up as a sun shelter when secured to trekking poles or the available pole conversion kit
The Telos rain fly sets up as a sun shelter when secured to trekking poles or the available pole conversion kit

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

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