The fine folks at Easton Mountain Products originally let me borrow a bomber four season Expedition tent for my ice climbing trip up to Canada, where we planned to camp in The Ghost. As we did not end up camping, I decided to take advantage of the recent winter weather we have had in Northern California and head to the Yosemite backcountry with my tent.
The original plan was to snowshoe for a couple of days along the South Rim around Glacier Point and Ostrander Lake. As with all good plans, this one was foiled when I arrived to find that access to Badger Pass shuts at the end of March (why don't they warn you about these things on the Yosemite website!).
After chatting with a nice ranger down at the valley floor visitor center in order to obtain my wilderness permit, I decided to head up to the North Rim, where I had been the year prior, to access the snow and avoid the Spring Break crowds. It still amazes me that as soon as you leave the valley floor, you pretty much have Yosemite all to yourself. I saw less than a handful of people as I climbed up out of the valley on the extremely steep Snow Creek trail, then not a soul during the days I hiked around the top.
The Easton Expedition tent is designed for four season camping, expeditions, or mountaineering. The whole package includes the inner tent, 5 poles (4 for the inner tent and 1 for the fly vestibule), fly, stakes, guy lines, and stuff sacks.
The four season tent is extremely easy to put up. Color coded poles slip into color coded sleeves and anchors. You will appreciate the color coding when it is cold or stormy outside and you just want to get inside your tent. The fly slips over the top and clips into each anchor point.
As the forecast was for mild winds during my time in Yosemite, I did not attach the guy lines to the fly. You can cinch the fly down pretty tight by just using the strap and buckle clips at each anchor and by staking the front and rear vestibules. If you are headed someplace extremely windy, rainy, or snowy, I would definitely attach the guy lines.
If you think you are going to be camping on wetter ground, you might want to bring some sort of tarp or think about buying the matching Easton Expedition tent footprint. The floor was starting to wet through after a couple nights on ground that would freeze over night but turn a bit wet during the day. A footprint will help keep your tent clean and increase the life of your tent floor over time.
The Expedition tent has enough room for 2 people if you store gear in front and back vestibules, or it would make a palatial base camp tent for 1 person on extended expeditions. The pole supported front vestibule is huge, perfect for storing your backpacks, boots, and other gear. If you are in a snowy place, it is nice to dig out a little trench in front of the door to use as a kind of bench for taking on and off your boots.
The bucket floor keeps snow and wind from getting in under the fly. Snow flaps at the bottom of the vestibules make it easy to pack snow or even rocks on top to help further keep out the weather. Mesh front and back door panels enable you to let in some air if you happen to be using the tent during the day. Internal access vents on either side of the tent help you cut down on condensation and frost build up.
I found the small storage shelf at the top of the four season tent a great place to hang my lantern or store my headlamp and dry out my socks. Two side storage pockets are great for storing stuff sacks or other personal gear. Little windows in the front vestibule let you have a quick check of the weather without having to fully unzip the fly.
As the Easton Expedition is a storm ready, four season tent, it is not going to be among the ultralight crowd (8lb 8oz packed). However, the Expedition is about one pound lighter than say the Mountain Hardwear Trango 2 expedition tent, in large part thanks to Easton's carbon fiber poles with AirLock connectors and ultralight stakes. If you have two people in your party, you can easily split the tent up between you to carry.
You will be happy to be sleeping in this tent when the temps drop or a storm hits. With the temperatures in the teens or even lower during my nights in Yosemite, I was warmer in my Easton Expedition tent than I was in my ultralight single person tent during my trip there last June.
Bottom Line: Designed to be the last one standing, you could not find better than the Easton Expedition tent for your cold weather or harsh environment adventures.
The Easton Expedition four season tent retails for $750 and is available now.