First test: Eureka! El Cap 2 SUL (2012)

It’s easy to make a tent lightweight by trimming its dimensions and keeping its features to a minimum. What is far more challenging is making a lightweight tent that is also a joy to use, has plenty of room inside and can stand up to mountain weather.

The Eureka! El Cap 2 SUL tent weighs 2367g, although the manufacturer’s website says it weighs 2010g, so it is not as light as first impressions might suggest from surfing the Web. However this is still very light when its dimensions are taken into account, as this is a full-size two-person tent with porches on both sides and very good internal headroom.

The El Cap 2 SUL forms part of the Eureka! Elite series and is made from lighter materials to shave off the weight. In the range there are also 3-person and 4-person versions of the El Cap. All models have DAC alloy poles, a silicone-treated ripstop nylon flysheet and groundsheet, and a polyester mesh inner tent. Surprisingly however the pegs are standard alloy wire designs, which are very heavy, and if you wanted to save weight these would be an obvious place to start in my view.

Pitching the El Cap 2 SUL is very easy. There are two main poles, plus a third to give extra headroom in the porches, and these all easily attach to the inner tent. Attachment is achieved using small plastic clips, but these are a very loose fit and so pitching is not as slick as it could be. Once the inner is pitched the fly is tossed over the top and attached with ladder-lock adjusters around the base, and this does work well. A selection of guy lines and pegs completes the pitch to create a very stable design. As it is an inner-pitched-first design it is very stable in the wind, but it is not the best option for putting up in heavy rain as of course the inner gets wet in the process.

However, the main advantage of the El Cap 2 SUL is the living space. There are two entrances with a porch on each side and this space is enhanced by the inner-pitched-first design as this ensures the inner is taut rather than baggy, which leads to a much more usable interior.

The Eureka! El Cap 2 SUL’s entrances have zips at the top for extra venting, and when these are combined with the roof vents on the outer there is great condensation control. You also have a choice of how you use the doors, as they can be opened fully to expose the full side of the inner, or you can open just one half of the side to retain a sheltered porch for cooking and sitting.

These porches are plenty big enough for a couple of rucksacks while the space inside the inner is huge so you can easily sit up – and it is all this space that really sets this tent apart from many others in its class.

You also get a proper inner, rather than a mesh one, so it is not too chilly inside. But if you do want more airflow you can unzip the doors, leaving just a midge net door to keep bugs out between you and the outside world.

When compared to other tents of its size, the Eureka! El Cap 2 SUL’s weight of 2367g is pretty good; but at £460 it is very much a considered purchase as there are plenty of great tents around this price.

Price £460
Sleeps 2
Design dome
Poles 9mm DAC Featherlite shock-corded alloy
Material outer 20D ripstop nylon with PU coating and 1500mm hydrostatic head
Material inner 20D ripstop nylon; groundsheet: 33D ripstop nylon with PU coating and 2000mm hydrostatic head
Internal dimensions length 220cm; width 145cm; height 110cm
Packed size 15x40cm
Weight 2367g
Stockist details www.eurekaeurope.com

 

Verdict

The Eureka! El Cap 2 SUL is a very spacious tent whose two porches and two entrances are ideal for two campers; but it is heavier than the website suggests it is and at this price requires careful consideration.

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine October 2012