When you’re choosing a tent, you usually run through a list of questions while shopping.
Is the tent three or four season? How many people can it hold? What’s the packed weight? Do I really need to buy a footprint, too? Now you can add, “Does the tent have built-in lighting?”
The Rattlesnake and the Pacific Ocean.
New for 2015, the Big Agnes Rattlesnake SL2 is a relatively lightweight three-season tent that features an easy, two-piece hub-pole setup and plenty of headroom for one person—or two people who don’t mind getting cozy. More interestingly, it also has a series of LED lights woven into the tent’s interior fabric—a feature Big Agnes calls mtnGLO.
LEDs inside the tent fabric.
The mntGLO lights in the Rattlesnake are positioned on the ceiling and walls near the tent’s headspace and are operated via a small switch box with three AAA batteries. Big Agnes estimates fresh batteries will give you around 96 hours of light. The switch box also has a USB hookup if you want to split your power.
On a recent beach camping trip, the tent was very quick to set up—even after the sun had set. Although I was hoping to enjoy the very generous amount of visibility on the main tent itself, I set up the rainfly to prevent waking up soaked from the marine-layer fog. Once anchored, the rainfly snaps to the tent body and protected us quite nicely against some surprisingly strong overnight gusts.
Snapped to the main tent.
The lights themselves are the main draw here, and when activated they cast a cool, moderate glow near the interior of the tent where your head would most likely be. The light isn’t necessarily strong enough to read a book by, but for getting ready for bed and general winding-down-in-camp it’s perfect—not to mention that you won’t ever have to worry about getting blinded by your tentmate’s headlamp.
The LEDs at night.
The LED lights are waterproof and can handle a routine washing of the tent by hand, although Big Agnes recommends removing the USB adapter before you start scrubbing. The construction is very solid and durable, but for me at least it seemed like the zipper on the rainfly kept getting caught in the tent fabric when I was opening or closing the tent doors.
Simple two-pole construction
The zipper on the rainfly of the sample tent I used had a tendency to get caught.
The visibility from inside the main tent is phenomenal.
When you’re breaking camp, the tent packs up nicely into its original neon storage bag—and you never have to worry about whether or not you’ve forgotten to pack your tent lights.
For numbers-minded campers, specifications are below:
- Trail Weight: 3 lbs. 9 oz.
- Fast Fly Weight: 2 lbs. 14 oz.
- Packed Size: 6.5″ x 21″
- Floor Length: 88″
- Floor Width: 42″–52″
- Head Height: 40″
- Foot Height: 28″
You can start illuminating your campsite now with Big Agnes Rattlesnake SL2.