by hike or bikefromBroke 3 of these modelsI was intrigued by these "3-4 season" tents and the design of the Arete ASL 3 seemed perfect as far as weight, area and overall function are concerned. I read all the reviews I could find and finally went to the local REI to set one up and examine the construction first hand, and here's where the fun began. The first time I went I was given an ASL 2 version to set up since there were no ASL 3's available. As I was setting it up a large tearing sound was heard and the REI guy helping me was astonished to find that an employee had fastened the security beacon through the sidewall of the tent to the bottom of the tent! So when it was pulled taught the beacon ripped the sidewall like butter. We shrugged it off and finished setting it up anyway just to get a look at it. The top vent pole was very difficult to insert and the employee had to pull the fabric quite a bit to get it on. The overall tent seemed great despite this tear which appeared to be just bad luck so I bought the ASL 3 version.
After receiving the Arete ASL 3 via mail I immediately began setting it up on the front lawn to check for defects and get used to its build before hitting the trail. All went well until the installation of the top vent pole (which the employee also had to struggle with). A few seconds after the pole had tensioned the fabric, I heard that same tearing sound. This time the little grommet tab ripped completely off the vent flap! For some reason REI only relies on the tent rain fly material and a small double stitch to hold a considerable amount of force that would only get worse under harsh conditions. This failed in the front lawn on a sunny day.
I returned the tent and talked with the desk employee and they said that it was probably just a defect and to grab another off the shelf. (REI's customer support is the best by the way). I brought this tent home and once again immediately went about setting it up. All went well... and then I put the vent pole in. This time I was extremely careful about it, and had friends come out and observe. As soon as I got the grommet to the end of the pole ... RIP! It was the same failure on the same side of the same model tent.
So I'm done with the Arete ASL 3, the thing never even made it to the trail. Maybe its just a manufacturing defect in the later version ASL 3's since the ASL 2 tab didn't rip and earlier ASL 3 reviews seemed fine. Or, maybe its just an inherent flaw in its design, either way its very disappointing that this type of problem made its way off the assembly line.
Date published: 2011-08-27
Rated 2out of5
by NorCalfromDecent, but beware......I picked this tent up after doing a fair bit of research and was very excited to try it out. I took it out for a test drive this past weekend and it earned a solid D/D+ on it's first outing.
The tent has some serious design flaws in its Fly, Vents, and Door Opening. The fly relies on velcro tabs for proper alignment. The vents seem too small and do not "suck" the hot air out like some other tents I've owned. The door opening can be confusing as the screen zipper and door zippers are identical. It took me a couple minutes in the middle of the night to figure out how to get out! It can be difficult to set up if your are caught in some weather (we got caught in some pretty heavy snow fall and strong winds). The scariest part was that there was some serious condensation inside the tent when I woke in the morning. Another thing to be careful with on this tent: go VERY slow when inserting the poles.... We had one of our poles rip through the sleeve it was being inserted in to.
I will say that the tent was pleanty warm and it did have a lot of space (enough for 3 people or 2 people with gear). Also, the packed weight was very light (good backpacking weight).
This tent will be used as a car camping tent from hear on out. I'm going to be looking at a simpler/sturdier tent for my backpacking needs.
Date published: 2011-05-15
Rated 3out of5
by Teri_Eric_Hudson_WillowfromNeeds larger window areasI am sure this is a great tent if you are a cold sleeper and like cramped quarters. For me this tent is only the size for two people as it's way too small for three.
The windows are too small and airflow is nil so it gets stifling and stuffy in there even when it's cool. It just needs larger windows or more of them.
Set up was ok, not great but passable. Personally I don't like the color combo but no choice there.
It's a sturdy good tent if you like it warm inside when you sleep.
Date published: 2010-07-29
Rated 3out of5
by velizd2fromhmmmmI must be a re-re because I've not mechanically challenged and have never had trouble setting up a tent... but I've been on it for 45 minutes now and cannot figure out how to get everything to fit right. The poles seem to have too much tension, actually, everything seems to just be too tight... pulling on the fabric too much. The directions are beyond poor. If everything actually worked and fit easily I'd say this tent was sexy... but with all the struggling, I'm tempted to return it if I can't figure out the issues in the next half hour...
Date published: 2011-03-26
Rated 3out of5
by andykrowfromIt's just okay... worse than old AreteI owned the original Arete for a couple seasons and was overall very happy with it. The main problem was it had zippers which were far to small and after two seasons with a lot of desert camping the door zipper was pulling apart. Unacceptable! I returned the tent regretfully...
That tent also had an annoying design flaw whereby the vent pole for the fly was three inches longer than the rest of the poles when folded up. Not good for backpacking.
Then, along comes the updated version and I was pretty excited about it in the store. They upgraded the zippers to something that's actually burly, and that vent pole was the right size. So I picked it up hoping for a great tent.
WRONG! While they fixed the zippers they changed some things that made the tent worse.
First, the sleeves are now full length rather than 3/4 like before. This sounds minor but now when taking down the tent the poles tend to come apart in the sleeve and that sucks.
Setting up is hard too - it takes a good deal of my strength to seat the poles - like they're just a touch too long. Sure this maybe makes it stronger but my girlfriend can't even set the thing up. This is really noticeable when it's below freezing.
Next, the old arete used to have clips for the fly at all points, whereas now it's just at the two rear pole spots. That's a minor quibble... the real issue, and why i returned it, was the annoying setup and tear down.
I will second what other have said that when wet the fly tends to sag into that vast pole-less expanse and ventilation suffers because of it.
I will say that for the weight and price this is a pretty bombproof shelter. I never got wet inside it or the old one.
Date published: 2012-03-23
Rated 4out of5
by WindRiverDocfromGreat performance at a good priceWe needed a three person 3/4 season tent for an extended trek through the high alpine wilderness in GTP/Jed Smith. We camped our first night on Death Canyon Shelf where we encountered torrential rain and 40 MPH winds. No leaks, wall compression, or significant noise from the fly. While it was very close with 3 adults (5'11" 170lb, 5'3" 105lb, 5'8", 125lb) it was not uncomfortable or cramped. Condensation with the fly on is noticeable with full occupancy. I say this knowing that it is expected given the 3/4 season bridge and minimal amounts of screen built into the tent. The fly vents on the roof that are accessible from inside the tent are nifty and worked well. Without the fly on the ventilation was more than adequate. The tent set up in about 5 minutes with full staking and guying taking slightly longer. The velcro stays for the fly are a nice touch. Given the versatility, weight, and price this is a winner.
Date published: 2010-08-03
Rated 4out of5
by ExploratorfromAlmost real good.Just returned from an eight day backpacking trip in Wrangell St. Elias N.P. in Alaska. Needless to say, weather conditions in Wrangell can change pretty quickly and in our case it did. We experienced snow, snow/sleet, rain and sunny days. In all cases the tent worked as expected with a few caveats. There were condensation issues. Nothing dramatic but I do feel the ventilation could be improved. There are two small vents in the roof of the tent and on protected (covered) sections of the fly that probably should be larger. Maybe another vent opposite the door. Another issue which I'm sort of surprised has not come up in other reviews is the lack if a way to tie back the vestibule door as well as the tent door. When unzipped, both just hang or flap around. Ought to be a real simple fix.
The tent is easy to set up and take down for one person. Indoor storage is adequate but don't plan on storing two full size backpacks in the vestibule. Though the tent is rated as a three person tent, it's really not. It's comfortable for two but would be hard pressed to ever get three normal size adults into it.
I'll give the tent four stars now, but if the issues are addressed, it would rate five stars.
Date published: 2010-09-13
Rated 4out of5
by nekodokenfromNice tent for twoI bought this tent with my boyfriend during a sale at REI in May, 2010. My boyfriend's old tent was a 6 ft x 6 ft square tent. It had a small star-gazing mesh panel on top, and mesh panel doors, both of these covered by a normal tent panel as rainfly (no vestibule). Since the tent was old, its (perhaps) once waterproof tent body was only water resistant. Since my boyfriend recently got a down sleeping bag, the possibility of a wet down bag meant it was time for a new tent.
There are several reasons we chose this tent:
1. I'm a cold sleeper, and we usually camp in spring and early or late summer, to avoid high heat during the California summer. Therefore, an all-season tent would be ideal. We liked REI's all-season-light (ASL) design, which saves us a few pounds.
2. All season or REI's ASL also provide privacy without the rainfly, which means during mild-weather camping trips, we can forgo the rainfly all together, saving us a few more pounds (we estimate the packed weight of the Arete ASL 3 to be around 4 lbs).
3. We chose the 3-person version fully anticipating that it would be comfortable for 2, or 2 with a small child or dog, but probably cramped for 3. Please note that backpacking tents are meant to be just big enough to fit the number of people marked. This does not account for bigger, taller people, more equipment, or comfortable elbow room. REI's backpacking tent "how to choose" article tells you that if you value elbow room, go one person up. And as always, when in doubt, go to a local REI or other sporting goods store to try out similar models of the same brand, to get a feel for them.
So far, we've set up a tent once indoor after purchase, and used it 4 times in mild-to-cold trips, one of which had persistent rain throughout the night.
What we like about this tent:
1. We were very satisfied with the amount of room we had, and now my boyfriend could finally stretch out his legs without touching the tent walls! The sides are just about as wide as my boyfriend's old tent, which gives us plenty of elbow room. The ceiling is also plenty high,and we can sit up fully without touching the top.
2. I like the tent's ability to keep warm at night. However, my boyfriend who's a warm sleeper, felt the tent was stuffy at night. We fixed this by opening the window panel on the tent door, leaving only the mesh panel in place (and the vents on top open as well).
3. The door does not have a tie-back, but this is intentional. If you look to either side of the tent door from within the tent, you'll notice that there's one more mesh pocket on the right than the left, adjacent to the tent door. I was joking about the injustice of the uneven amount of pockets on the sides of the tent when I realized that "this IS meant for the door"! When fully unzipped, the door can be tucked inside this pocket, and voila, problem solved.
What we didn't like about the tent:
1. While it's nice that the tent door can be tucked away easily, the same feature does not work so well on the rainfly. When you're trying to tuck the rainfly door into the mesh pocket on the rainfly, which is extended about 4 feet out from the tent door, you either need to put your shoes back on and step out on the footprint-less ground (while crouching), or stretch as far as you can to reach while avoiding falling face down into the mud. The remote pocket also means that in order to tuck the fly door away, it unzips to a corner close to the ground, while the rest of the door just flops - into the mud. I feel this design can be improved to have the door tucked somewhere closer to the tent itself, while preventing the door and the water collected on it to fall into the muddy ground.
2. While it seems that the tent is pretty solid, we have yet to put it into a high velocity wind test. However, during that persistently rainy night, we used a rope, threaded through the cloth loops inside the tent, and fashioned some clothes lines. While we knew the chances of them drying in a cold, wet night was slim, it at least prevented them from soaking up water in the corners of the tent. The next morning, while packing up, we noticed that one of the second segment of the tent pole from the ground, was curved. We're not sure if it's from the weight of the damp clothes (they were still very light), or from setting up the tent too forcefully. The damage is barely noticeable when the tent is set up, so we'll just keep an eye on the poles for now.
Overall, this is a roomy (for 2), light, warm, and easy to set up tent that should suit mild to cold weather trips. We enjoy it very much and hope to take it with us to plenty more adventures!
Date published: 2010-10-05
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