The tunnel is a classic tent design that has been proven as ideal for backpacking since the 1980s and while perhaps less fashionable today, the two-pole tunnel still provides many benefits. The Gelert Apex 2 boasts a large front porch and is an outer-pitched-first design unlike many modern tunnel tents that are pitched inner-first.
The Gelert Apex 2 has just two poles and these are colour-coded to match the sleeves that extend around the outside of the flysheet. The inner comes pre-attached inside the fly, but you can easily remove it to keep it dry while striking the tent in the rain. The tunnel design requires that the tail is pegged into the ground into the wind, from which position the tent is extended forward and secured with more pegs. This is a pretty easy and logical process that is hard to get wrong. To make it even easier you do get some ladder-lock adjustment at the rear and also where the poles are located into the webbing around the base. Guy lines are pretty essential to keep the poles stable and prevent sagging, and so unlike some tents you do need to use them on the Apex 2. The entry to the tent is via the front porch, which is nice and big. The inner tent has a zip covering over the midge net so you can vent the entire front of the inner if needed on a hot night. But one of the greatest features of this tunnel design is that headroom is maintained throughout much of the length, because the tent does not taper down as steeply as some others in the test.
On the hill
I grew up using tunnel tents and I still like their combination of features, mainly because they are incredibly spacious for their footprint. While in most tents you have to position yourself carefully to benefit from the headroom, in the Gelert Apex 2 you have plenty of it around the front the tent. Two campers can easily sit side by side at the front in comfort, and enter and leave the tent without clambering over one another. The porch is pretty big and so you can stash two people’s gear here and squeeze in some cooking space. But the door could be a little better as this only opens from the bottom at the front. Some modern tents have far more functional doors than this, which allow you to vent the top of the door or open the sides too. There are external vents at each end of the tent, though, which are good. The main problem is that this tent weighs in at 3.15kg, which by modern standards is pretty heavy. But in terms of design it is great, and certainly for general backpacking and camping it makes for a very comfortable and stable outdoor shelter.
Design two-pole tunnel
Poles shock-corded alloy
Materials outer: PU-coated polyester, 2000mm hydrostatic head; groundsheet: PU-coated 210d Oxford polyester, 5000mm hydrostatic head; inner: polyester
Internal dimensions length 220cm; width 140cm; height 80cm
Packed size 54x15cm
Made in China
Stockist details – tel. (01766) 512412; www.gelert.com
The Gelert Apex 2 is a good price; good space throughout due to tent not being as tapered as others; large mesh door to inner allows good ventilation; very easy to pitch.
But it’s relatively heavy compared to others; low headroom; outer door cannot be unzipped from top which limits ventilation. Overall, it’s a well-priced, spacious tent that is easy to pitch but relatively heavy by modern standards.
Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine August 2011