Review: Big Agnes Seedhouse SL2 Tent

The tent I use is a Big Agnes Seedhouse SL2 tent. This is a two-man ultralight tent designed for backpacking but works extremely well for motorcycle travel. I estimate I have spent more than 120 nights in this tent since the trip began, but I am using it less now in Mexico because I want to be in cities to be able to practice my Spanish.


Size
 ★★★★★ 


The size of this tent is perfect in every possible dimension. Packed, it fits easily in my left-side pannier, split into two bundles (one for tent/fly/ground-cloth, the other for poles/stakes). Setup I can easily fit my gear in the tent beside me and still sleep comfortably.


Versatility
 ★★★★★ 


This is an amazingly flexible tent. It can be setup in any of the following configurations/situations:

  • Normal: Ground Cloth + Tent + Fly staked out
  • Hot/Dry/Bugs: Ground Cloth + Tent
  • Hot/No Bugs/Light Rain: Ground Cloth + Fly (correct, no tent included!)
  • Very Cold: Ground Cloth + Tent + Fly not staked out
  • Windy: Ground Cloth + Tent with stakes + Fly staked out + extra stakes

This is technically a three-season tent because of the mesh top, however by not staking out the fly the tent becomes sealed and I have been comfortable to below freezing. I’ve used the tent in windy conditions that I know from experience would destroy many other tents and it never had any problems.


Rain Protection
 ★★★☆☆ 

The tent does a great job of protecting one against rain with one major flaw: If the door to the fly is open, the door of the tent is not completely covered. I consider this a major flaw and knock off three stars in this category for allowing even dripping water to get inside the tent. This is balanced only slightly by the ability to setup and take down the tent from underneath the fly, which keeps the inside of the tent dry.


Durability
 ★★★☆☆ 


Overall I am impressed with the durability of this tent. I do have two rips, one caused by me (oops) and a second I have no clue how it appeared, so I can only assume I was at fault. Both are repaired with duct tape and have not caused a problem. The one major flaw in durability is the zipper on the tent. The zipper is far too small for daily use and it began to fail the first time somewhere in Canada. The problem is that the clasp which pushes the zipper teeth together is far too small and weak for its task, and will bend open (and thus not work) under daily use. The first time this happened I just used pliers and some lubrication to fix the problem, but continual use wears on the zipper. I now am reduced to never using the zipper pulls, I instead must grasp the zipper from both sides so that no strain is put on the fragile metal of the zipper clasp. This is an inexcusable flaw in an otherwise great design for which I deduct two stars from this category.


Ease of Use
 ★★★★★ 


This tent is about as easy to setup as a person could hope for. The poles easily snap together and overall setup is as quick as can be expected.


Overall Rating:
 ★★★★¼ 


In spite of the problem with the zipper and the deficiency with the fly over the door, I really cannot complain about this tent. I would choose it again for this trip.

5 comments to Review: Big Agnes Seedhouse SL2 Tent

  • Elizabeth

    Great review. I would suggest you add a picture or two of the actual tent so people can see what it looks like. Or a link to a site with pictures like you have done before. It would be great to see it in the various configurations you mention.

    As far as the zipper, you may be able to find a local seamstress / tailor to do a repair of the faulty part.

    • Elizabeth

      *SIGH* I totally missed the link at the TOP of the page with photos of the tent. My bad… 🙁

      But consider a tailor none-the-less…

      • Grant

        Having watched him take up and tear down this tent, I must agree that it is a very nice design, and one that I have added to my list of “consider this when looking for a good tent.” Right now, I have an inferior pup tent of poor quality. It’s served its purpose, in that it kept me and my friend (also named David) dry in Yellowstone during a torrential rainfall, but it won’t last for many uses, is poorly sewn, and has little air flow for hot seasons. So sometime in the next few years, I will be investing in a /good/ tent. 🙂

    • othalan

      A seamstress could certainly replace the zipper pull, but that would be only a short-term fix as the size of the zipper is just too small for the constant use. Replacing the entire zipper is possible as well, but is far more difficult a task. From what I’ve read of others who have done this, it is really best to find someone with experience working with tents.

      Another possibility is that there is a company Flip an Zip which has zipper pull replacements which should be stronger than the original piece, however they are still working on the size needed for the tiny zipper used on the tent (#2 coil zipper).

      Review pictures: I will make the links easier to spot in the future. I may eventually include some of my own pictures, but it is more important to me to get my thoughts on each item written down first.

  • Mom

    Replacement slides would be handy, but eventually the small zipper coil will bend, kink, or break also. It probably was selected to withstand rolling storage, so a stronger zipper may cut the fabric or not roll as well. Though a nuisance, holding both sides of the slide is a good user friendly way to go.

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

  

  

  

*