Sunday, June 9, 2013

Luxe Mini Peak 2 Tent - Review

Luxe Mini Peak 2 Tent
This is the story of my new tent - one that will give my Terra Nova competition as my go-to tent of choice.  I'd say that about 3/4 of my backpacking is during cold weather, between late September and late May; and about half of my outings are solo.  For those reasons my primary tent has been a Terra Nova Wild Country Duolite tent (read about it here) - it's spacious for one person (but fits 2 nicely), it's warm and bombproof for poor weather, and it's relatively light for a 4-season tent (<5 lbs).  However, the Terra Nova is a bit heavy and overly tough for warm weather backpacking, especially when hiking solo.

Great 1-2 Man Tent
So, I decided that I should treat myself to a good 1-person, summer tent.  I began researching the various options, and some preferences started to shape my list.  'Light weight' was near the top of the list.  Room for one person with gear was important; and I wanted the option to squeeze in a second person on occasion.  It should be well ventilated, decently strong in average wind, and would need a mesh inner for bug protection in warm weather.  I was open to a floorless design with a separate bug-bivy inner; and for warmer weather I would be fine with a single wall design.  Finally, comfortable sitting headroom would be awesome - I always seem to be sitting out a rainstorm or hiding from the sun in summertime.

I really liked the idea of a light, single walled tent; and started looking at various tarp-tent setups (including TarpTents, of course).  They ended up all being pretty pricey, or no-frills finicky modified tarps.  Then I started looking at teepee style tents...single walled, set up with a single trekking pole, floorless designs with options for inners, super light, stable in wind, shed rain, and excellent headroom...Hmmm.  There is the GoLite Hex/Shangri-La 3, the Nemo Pentalite, Sierra Designs Origami 3, MLD DuoMid, or the Black Diamond MegaLite.  Ohh, the choices...the options...the prices!  They all seem to fit the general bill- all very light, all stable.  But they do not all come with available bug-mesh inners; and if they do, it is a pricey option.  Also, to shave weight, many of these tents have very lightweight wall materials with low hydrostatic head pressures (i.e., potentially leaky in hard rain).  Granted, teepee-style tents are supposed to shed water quickly, so don't need as dense a wall fabric.

The Origami 3 was leading on price; the MegaLite was high on options, and the GoLite was looking to be the compromise tent.  I was starting to research whether any of the available bug-mesh inners would fit in the other tents (sort of a mix and match), when I came across a great alternative - The Luxe Mini Peak 2 tent.

Luxe Outdoor is a Chinese company operating out of Hong Kong.  Looking into them a bit, it turns out that they are a real outdoor products company (not just a contract manufacturer), and they cater to the asian and pacific market.  I read some promising UK reviews of some of the Luxe products, including a few on the Mini Peak itself.  Somewhat recently, these tents have been distributed by (somewhat of an expensive option if you consider shipping to the US), and they have some good reviews of the tent.

I love the teepee design for headroom!
When I was first starting to look at this tent, I found them occasionally selling on Ebay for about $100 - I should have snapped one up then.  By the time I had convinced myself to buy one and try it, they were going on Ebay for about $150 (with shipping).  I have also seen them advertised by for $100 + $59 shipping (when available).  So I ordered mine off Ebay (not knowing if it would be the green or orange color), and it arrived in less than a week (not a bad time from Hong Kong).

So, on to the tent details:  The box came wrapped in some rather cool, brown, shipping paper (I should have saved it).  The box itself was a small rectangle (5" x 5.5" x 15.5"); and  I had received the orange version (I would have been happy with either that or the green version).  Inside the box was a nice 15" long stuff-sack.  Inside the bag was the tent's single-wall outer, the one-man bivy-style mesh inner, and a small sack with the 8 aluminum tent stakes.  The tent also came with a small baggie with 4 spare Ti stakes - these extra stakes were very thin and short (I wouldn't expect much holding power from those).  The whole tent weighs in at just about a perfect 3.0 lbs.  The outer tent is constructed of 75D rip-stop polyester with a hydrostatic head rating of 1500 mm.  The mesh inner has a tub floor made of nylon taffeta with a hydrostatic rating of 4000 mm.  The tent does not come with a pole, as it is designed to be pitched with a single trekking pole.  Overall, the specs were comparable to the other teepee-style tents I was considering - maybe not the lightest; but it had amongst the highest hydrostatic ratings and was by far the least expensive considering that it came with the mesh inner included.

It arrived from Hong Kong!
The Mini Peak 2 is advertised as a 1-2 man tent; and it is possible to purchase a second mesh inner-bivy that can be installed with the first.  The tent has two doors, and a footprint of approximately 7' x 8'.  The peak height is listed as 137-140 cm; but I found that with my trekking pole I set it at about 135 cm (~53 in).  The included mesh inner takes up about half of the enclosed space, with a footprint of approx. 7.5' x 3'.  The tent appeared to be of very high quality, with excellent stitching, and factory taped seams.  The two zippers operated freely, and were equipped with velcro'ed storm flaps.  The outer tent's peak is also equipped with two generous vents that use velcro'ed extensions to hold them open (or they can be closed with the velcro).

Good things come in small packages.
Pitching this tent is simple.  First, spread it out.  Stake the four corners - the provided stakes are an excellent lightweight, aluminum, v-stake design; not too long, and provided with rope loops to help removal, and the stakes have indentations on the sides to help hold the tent ties.  Next, unzip one door and stick the trekking pole handle into the reinforced tent peak, place the pole tip in the center of the ground, and extend and lock the pole.  After this, you can tighten the included peg straps on the four corners, then add additional pegs along both sides and at the two entrances.  There are also two side guy-out ropes to help fill out the tent and provide more wind stability (but you will need a couple of extra stakes - two more stakes would be ideal).  Once the tent is set, you can easily clip the 4 corners of the mesh inner to the tent; and the top of the inner clips to a hoop at the peak of the tent.  It doesn't get much easier than that - I can pitch this tent is less than 5 minutes (probably much faster with some practice).

The tent has loops and toggles to hold each door open.  The tent and guy lines have reflective piping.  All of the materials and components seem very sturdy.  I was more than pleasantly surprised at how great this tent appears.  But, how does it work in the field?

It all fit inside, thanks to the small Mini Peak 2
I was heading to Wyoming at the end of May for work, and took the opportunity to backpack in the Cloud Peak Wilderness.  It could potentially get a bit cold at night; but I wanted a lightweight tent, so that was the impetus to finally purchase this tent.  Thanks to this small tent, I was able to fit all my gear (except my Z-lite pad which I strap to the bottom of by pack) into my Talon 44 backpack - including my food in a bear canister.  I spent two nights in the Mini Peak 2, and it worked out perfectly.

Go ahead and pitch it right over rocks!
Both nights that I camped, I was at high elevation (9,500 to 10,500 ft) and was on very rocky ground.  The ground conditions made it a bit of a challenge to peg-out a non-freestanding tent; but it also showed off the advantage of a floorless design.  The first night was spent on the shoulder of rocky slope - one of the few spots with some exposed soil and not all talus.  What was cool, was that I was able to find a spot that had a flat spot just big enough for my sleeping bag and pad; but that worked fine with this tent.  I pitched the tent with the flat spot under one side, and managed to plant all my stakes (I brought a few spare stakes, and used 10 total).  In very rocky terrain, I might think to bring some rock-slings instead of pegs in future; but I was fine on this trip.  I have to admit that I didn't get the most taut pitch because of the limits of where I could set my stakes.  I had a great view from within the tent, and I left the downwind door open all night.  Since there were no bugs, I chose not to use the mesh inner.  All I can say is that this tent seems huge inside...incredible headroom makes it a treat to sit inside; and without the inner-bivy there is plenty of room for two people plus gear (you could have a party in this tent).  In a pinch, you could probably even squeeze 3 people inside this tent to sleep (without gear); and 4 people can sit out a storm inside.

Just enough flat ground for my sleeping pad.
Although I set the tent on the southeast slope with some upwind protection, overnight the cooling air ran down the mountain slope and subjected me to some pretty strong gusts.  The gusts came in waves most of the night, and I could here them as they approached.  The gusts had to hit about 25-30 mph at times.  At first I was a little concerned about the stability of the Mini Peak; but I shouldn't have been.  The pegs all stayed put (I did have rocks on two of them), and the tension kept the trekking pole dead vertical all night.  The only problem was that because I didn't get a very taut pitch, the tent fabric flapped like a kite for a while, and it would occasionally press in almost a foot into the tent.  While I was a bit concerned at the time, it ended up being a great test of this tent and now I won't worry about this tent's stability again.

Testing out the mesh inner (plus an old 1/2 footprint)
The second night I camped a little lower - in a notch with a small lake and some lodgepole pines that formed a nice windbreak.  That night was super still - very quiet; and I can't say much more because I slept like a log for 9+ hours.  Again, I didn't use the mesh inner; but I did set it up as a trial.  The inner went in place with no issue, and I fit inside the bivy along with my full-size pad and sleeping bag with room to spare.  Instead of using the mesh inner, I used a small nylon footprint (that I pegged down with the 4 free Ti stakes that I received) to protect my sleeping pad because it was a little damp from the recent snowmelt.

While I might be afraid to use this tent in Winter, as being too cold (too much ventilation, and not enough insulation); I would probably push this tent into service from late April to well into October.  Size, weight, space and flexibility all make this a great tent.  If I ever get courageous and install a stove jack to make this a hot-tent, I may not need to use my Terra Nova except in severe weather conditions.

If you can find one of these tents, I would highly recommend picking it up.  And it looks like they are coming out with a SilNylon version for 2013.  Enjoy!  


  1. Not sure if this is still a live blog but I appreciate the detail and photos. Been looking for an ultralight with room (6'2") and a view. It's now 2015 so I'll be getting the latest version which I believe improves on this model.
    We've got a track in SW Australia that takes 52 days at a steady 20-30km/day. Doing it with my boys a section or so at a time so this will be perfect.
    Many thanks again & a great site.

    1. The newer model is constructed of Sil-Nylon, so it probably a bit lighter and just needs to be seam sealed. I think they also have a version now that is pentagonal instead of square, which gies a liitle extra room. I continue to be impressed with my Mini Peak; it is my go-to tent in almost all circumstances; and if there is no worry of bugs ten I leave the inner nest behind. Enjoy.

  2. I was wondering if you still own your Minipeak? Still working out for you? You may not be aware, but some of the Luxe product are now available in the USA via Luxe Hiking Gear out of Washington State. Thank you for helping to spread the word. Feel free to reach out at anytime. Cheers!