Zippers are one of the first things to go on a tent as the accumulation of dirt and grime continually erode the slider. Tent zippers not only fail, but are also extremely loud, especially in the middle of the night when natures call beckons. Though it may not stop your tent mate from shining his headlamp straight into your sleeping face, the new Fishhook SL tent from Big Agnes will definitely cut down on the midnight noise.
Big Agnes decided once and for all to rid the tent of any zipper hassles by replacing them all with magnets that supposedly last longer, are much quieter, and extremely easy to fix in the field. The question is, are you willing to sacrifice on weight for the convenience of a zipperless tent? The roomy 37 square-foot, rectangle base Fishhook SL 2 tent is not extraordinarily heavy at 3lbs 10oz., but with other 2-person tents coming in at closer to 2lbs these days, that could break the bank for the lightweight backpacking set.
Fifteen individual magnets line the Fishhook SL tent door, with magnets running along the length of the vestibule closures. An extended flap over the bottom of the door frame is meant to keep both the elements and the bugs out. No promise of repelling snakes, scorpions, ants, and other creepy crawlies that could easily slip through the spaces between the magnets to come check out your sleeping bag as you snooze away.
A zipperless tent is great in theory but the proof will be in the real world testing. Will the magnetic closure keep all rain, sand, and unwanted guests out? Will it be harder or easier to keep the door open with the constant magnetic attraction? Are the magnets stronger than wind? These are practical use problems that need to be evaluated.
The Big Agnes Fishhook SL magnetic tent will come in a 1-person (SL 1) and 2-person version (SL 2), available Spring 2013. The Fishhook SL 1 retails for $349.95 and the Fishhook SL 2 retails for $399.95.