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January 23, 2011 Comments (0) Gear & Equipment, Reviews

SnugPak Scorpion 3 Review

Scorpion3-016While I enjoy just about all types of outdoors gear, I’ve always had a leaning to the stuff that’s got a military feel or look to it.  Whether it’s packs, clothes, or shelters, a quite of bit of gear that I’ve acquired falls under that category.  That must be at least part of the reason I was so excited to try out the new Scorpion 3 tent from Snugpak over the past few months.


 

My heroes have always been cowboys…That’s how the song goes, and it’s pretty much true.  But, I’ll have to add soldiers to the list as well.  While other kids were going to the mall for their birthday and Christmas gifts, one of my favorite places to visit (besides the comic book store) was the Army/Navy surplus store.  I can still remember my first trip when I was six years old and I’ve been hooked ever since.  Over the years, I’ve picked up duty belts, jackets, tents, knives, first aid kits, and of course the ubiquitous BDU pants as well.  The list just starts with those items.  There are far too many others to list.  Yes, there’s a lot of quality outdoors gear out there with some of the prettiest, most flambouyant colors you can imagine.  But, when I was growing up if it wasn’t black or olive drab, I didn’t want it.  Now a days, we’ve got more color options that have been inspired by the military including Coyote and Foilage green among others, but I’m still a bit sentimental for the older styles.  So, you can imagine the quick pitter-pat in my chest when I got to try out the Scorpion 3 tent from Snugpak.

Scorpion3-001aThe Scoripion 3 is a sleek and stylish Olive colored tent that has enough room for 3 people to sleep, so it’s not quite what you would call an ultralight affair.  But, it’s perfect for those adventures where you can share gear with friends and family members.  For those small families with just a small child or two, it’s just about perfect for them as well.  It might be a little snug for two adults and two small children, but you can make it work.  The overall length of the Scorpion 3 is just a hair under 108 inches, but that includes the vestibule area as well.  The sleeping area is right at 80 inches long and is 78 inches wide at the widest point.  Packed weight of the Scorpion 3 including the stakes, guy ropes, etc. is 7.5 pounds.  So, though it’s not a featherweight, it’s still quite manageable for those times when there’s going to be more than one person along for the trip.  And, the weight becomes less of a mental issue once you have a chance to handle and use the Scorpion 3 and start to appreciate the quality of its build.

One unique aspect that makes the Scorpion 3 an appealing option is that it’s a fly-first design.  This simply means that instead of pitching the tent and then throwing on the fly, you set up the fly first and then pitch the tent while under the fly.  The biggest selling point for that kind of design is that you can keep your tent dry if you have to set up while it’s raining. There are large panels of No See-Um Mesh on the tent itself, and if you were trying to set up the tent first during bad weather, it would be real easy to get a bunch of water in your sleeping area.  At that point you’re either stuck with the wet tent or you’re spending some time trying to wipe it down and get it somewhat liveable. 

Scorpion3-003aScorpion3-002aOn the other hand, we’re not going to care if the fly gets wet, so we set it up first, crawl underneath it and then set up the tent where it’s nice and dry. Setting up the fly is pretty much like setting up most tents today.  With the included TH72M aluminum poles, the fly actually works as the framework for your sleeping quarters rather than the tent.  On the exterior of the fly, there are three pole sleeves.  Just match the color pole to the sleeve that is marked with the same color, slide the poles through the other end of the sleeve and then snap the ends of the poles into the grommets in the nylon straps at each corner.  It’s that easy.  Unlike a couple of other tents I’ve tried out and reviewed, the Scorpion 3 was very easy to set up and very fast as well.  In fact, when I pulled out the poles and looked at the sleeves on the fly, I knew immediately how to set it up and didn’t need to look at the instructions.  The picture to the right shows the fly set up without the tent set up inside of it.

Scorpion3-004aScorpion3-005aAt this point, you’ve already got a place to duck in from the rain.  I like this because there are times when you’re out during the day and the rain starts pouring down on you.  You might not be ready to set up camp or pitch the whole tent, but you can quickly set up an expedient shelter where you can rest and dry off for a couple of hours if needed.  But, if you are ready to set up camp, pull out the actual tent, and orient it so the door matches up with the door of the fly.  From there, you simply hook the toggles attached to the top and sides of the tent to the loops attached to the underside of the fly.  If that doesn’t make sense, just check out the picture to the right.  I found that it’s best to start with the toggles at the rear of the tent and just work your way towards the door.  By the time you’ve got all of them done, you’re ready to slide inside the tent and get some well deserved rest. 

Scorpion3-006aOnce all the toggles are finished, the last step of actually setting up the tent is clipping together quick-release buckles at the bottom.  These add a little more security to the mating of the tent and fly and you can adjust the straps to increase or decrease the tension.  Now, this might sound like a lot, but it’s really not.  These steps go by pretty quickly and I was able to completely set up the fly and tent in under ten minutes with my first try.  It got easier and faster each time afterward.  Though the tent is now all put together, you still need to secure it, and you’ve got lots of options.  This tent is designed to hold up to severe weather and you can tell from all the lashing and staking options that you have.  The Scorpion 3 comes with 20 stakes (18 + 2 spares) and multiple guy points (rope included–see the picture in the next paragraph) along the top of the tent that you can attach to trees/stakes to stablize the top of the tent.  It’s built Hell for stout, so if that severe weather hits, you’re not going to worry a bit.

Scorpion3-009aScorpion3-008aI’ll be honest and tell you that after having used the Scorpion 3 on four occasions, I never used all the stakes and the guy lines.  Only on one occasion did I get a good amount of rain while using the tent and it held up quite nicely.  Had there been heavy winds along for the ride, I would have stabilized it more, but it just wasn’t necessary the times that I used it.  That said, I was quite impressed with the build quality and how easy it was to assemble.  We’ve got a bit of land where I live and I actually waited for a day when it was raining and I had the time to try out the tent during some inclement weather.  The fly-first design lived up to its billing and I’ve got a much better appreciation for it now that I’ve had a chance to try the design in bad weather.  Setting it up was a breeze and the actual tent stayed dryer than one with a regular design would have.  Believe me, I’ve got 3-4 regular style tents and I’ve never enjoyed the hassle or mess of setting them up in the rain.  It’s still not fun, but it’s a lot more tolerable with the fly-first assembly method. The picture to the right shows how it looks once the tent is set up under the fly.  The picture on the left shows the set up from the bottom side.

Scorpion3-015aScorpion3-013aAs mentioned earlier, there is a vestibule area to stow your gear out of the weather when you’re holed up in the tent.  You can see the two wings that protrude from the front of the Scorpion 3.  When you’re settled in for the night, you can flip down a center panel that bridges the two wings after you zip it shut.  Other add-ons include three vents (the rear vent is shown in the picture to the right) and 10 mesh pockets that line the interior sides of the tent.  I appreciate those very much because I tend to lose things at the end of the day when I’m shedding my gear and it ends up being scattered all around the tent.  The pockets help keep things organized and keeps it out of your way while you’re doing other things as well.

I’ll admit up front that I’m not particularly educated about the various materials on the market and which performs better than the other as far as tent construction goes.  But, for your edification, I’ll list them.  The fly is made of 210t polyester ripstop with a 5000mm polyurethane waterproof coating.  The tent is made of 190t nylon with Polyester mesh and the No-See-Um mesh is made of 50D polyester.  What does that mean?  I couldn’t tell you.  All I can do is report my observations on the build quality of the package.  From what I can tell, it’s very well put together and I haven’t experienced any issues thus far during the various outings that I’ve used the Scorpion 3.  One thing that was a definite plus for me is the fact that all seams are taped and sealed from the factory.  So, your first task doesn’t have to be a chore when you use the tent for the first time.

Scorpion3-010aAll in all, I enjoyed my time with the Scorpion 3.  Though I’m just one person, I’m a bit of a gear hound so I’ve usually got quite a bit with me that I’d like to keep out of the weather.  The extra room in the Scorpion 3 is perfect for that purpose, and it also gives my dog Jethro all the room he needs as well.  I received the Scorpion 3 in the late fall, so by the time I had to try it out a few times, the temps had gotten a bit chillier.  The vents seemed to do the job pretty well since I didn’t notice a significant amount of condensation inside after a night in the cold.  There was a bit, but nothing to wring my hands about.  The only thing that gave me a bit of pause was the material used for the actual tent–specifically for the bottom.  It seemed to be a bit lighter than the fly material, so I investigated on the web.  The higher number (210t) of the fly means there’s a higher thread count, so it’s a little more durable.  Just what I thought.  My main concern had to do with the bottom of the tent and the wear it would receive.  Since it’s not quite as heavy as the fly material (understandable since the fly essentially makes the frame), I made sure to use a footprint for the tent to prevent anything from gouging through the bottom.  This isn’t a knock on the quality of the construction in the least.  I just figured an extra bit of protection wouldn’t hurt.

I’ve heard about the great products made by SnugPak in the past, but this is the first time I’ve had the chance to try any of them out.  They didn’t disappoint.  The Scorpion 3 is a rugged but sleek tent that has a bit of innovation behind it with the fly first design.  It packs down into a fairly compact stuff sack given it’s a 3 person design, and it won’t break your back if you pack with a little care.  If you’re in the market for a tent that will shelter you, a friend or mate, and maybe a child or two, then give the Scorpion 3 a good look.  I think you’ll be impressed with their new offering!

Visit: http://www.snugpak.com

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