Mountain Hardwear Optic 2.5 Tent Review
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Innovation in camping is high this season and Mountain Hardwear is a big player in this category. Most recently, we tested out the Mountain Hardwear Optic 2.5 tent which sets itself apart from other tents by offering a little extra room for a 2 person tent and it also provides views from within the tent far beyond other 2 person tents.
A year ago when Mountain Hardwear debuted the Optic 2.5 to the media and retailers, it was love at first site. To give you a better understanding of why, I think it is best to let you know my camping preferences. First, I have a large 80lbs Airedale Terrier so the typical 2 person tent can be a tight squeeze when my wife and I camp with our dog. My camping preferences also include both weekend trips and car camping( both primitive and campgrounds).
The View from the Mountain Hardwear Optic 2.5 Tent
Living in Colorado, I am very fortunate to have views outside of my tent that are sometimes magical (Yes, these photos are of Utah). Now I am biased because the view of the Rocky Mountains never gets old to me. The vestibules in the Mountain Hardwear Optic 2.5 offer an approximately 180 degree view. Typically you get a one angle view from the vestibule to see what’s outside your tent which is nice, but when offered the choice, I enjoy the panorama view from the Optic 2.5 tent.
It is important to note that these 180 degree views are with the rain fly on, which is a first of its kind as far as I know. In the past, I have tried to sleep without my rain fly on tents to take in the views, but after a few unexpected rain storms, I typically keep the rain fly on the tent all the time while camping. I say this all because you can often times get 360 degree views in most higher end tents, but this is only tent you can get the great views with the fly on.
How can you fit 2.5 people in a tent?
First, I recommend you take a careful look at the floor diagram in this review. You will see that there are only 2 people in the diagram, but if you look closely you will see one four legged friend. Given that almost everyone I know has a dog, I love that Mountain Hardwear is making an effort to really understand how people camp and making products to meet those needs. Taking my dog with me while camping is almost a must and in the past, I have always used 3 person tents because 2 person tents get a little too tight for me, my wife. The space in the Mountain Hardwear Optic 2.5 is the perfect amount of space for 2 people and a dog.
For campers without dogs, that extra space in the Optic 2.5 tent is good for storing packs and other gear that you want to keep inside your tent. This is also nice for when you want to have a little extra room if you like to spread out when you sleep or if you happen to be a little bigger camper.
Optic 2.5 for Backpacking
There are many backpacking gear preferences when it comes to backpackers, so I won’t say the Mountain Hardwear Optic 2.5 tent is great for all backpackers. The Optic 2.5 weighs in at 6lbs 3 oz. which is by no means a featherweight or ultralight. If it is ultralight you are looking for, Mountain Hardwear and many other high end manufactures make ultralight backpacking tents that would be a good fit. What I find this tent to be ideal for is the occasional backpacker that gets out 1-3 times a season and gets out for a couple nights on these trips. I say this because over the course of a couple days and nights, you typically aren’t covering 100 miles and an extra couple pounds isn’t going to make or break your backpacking trip.
Optic 2.5 for Car Camping
For the couple that likes to car camp, the Mountain Hardwear Optic 2.5 tent is a great fit. Or, if you are not a couple and you find yourself camping with a buddy, the Optic 2.5 offers up enough space for two males and two XL sleeping pads, without feeling like you are bumping into one another. Since weight is typically not important in car camping, the extra two pounds is a not a factor. Most of us take extra clothes and gear when car camping and the little extra room allows you plenty of space to store this gear. There are also plenty of pockets inside the Optic 2.5 to store all your phones, camera’s, cards, headlamps, etc.
Setting up the Optic 2.5 Tent
When designing this tent, the people at Mountain Hardwear made it a point to design a tent that was easy to setup. There are a total of 3 poles; 2 crisscross for the overall structure and there is one that goes across the top of the the tent to keep the fly from sitting on the body of the tent. The corners of the tent are super easy to attach the the fly to, thanks to plastic clips, as noted above. I was able to set it up in less than 2 minutes with a helper.
We had the opportunity to take the Mountain Hardwear Optic 2.5 camping while on a 4 day rafting trip outside of Moab, Utah. During this trip, we ran into some good spring storms that packed a punch. We ran into downpour, for 4 hours straight, and stiff winds that put the tent to the test. Through the adverse weather conditions, the Mountain Hardwear Optic 2.5 stayed dry inside (even without a footprint) and stayed upright.
At night, each vestibule offered plenty of space to stash our dry bag and gear, while allowing plenty of room to enter/exit. The tent features a hanging loop at the top of the tent for a hanging light or head lamp, which allows you to play cards in the tent at night, when weather isn’t cooperating.
As many outdoors people know, Mountain Hardwear is no stranger to making quality products for camping, backpacking, hiking, etc. I commend the designers of the Mountain Hardwear Optic 2.5 as they stepped outside of the box and created a 2 person tent that meets the needs of the everyday camper while keeping the price point very reasonable. For those looking for a 3 person tent with a little extra room, Mountain Hardwear also offers the Optic 3.5 tent. For more information, please visit www.mountainhardwear.com or www.backcountry.com/mountainhardwear.