Review: Mountain Hardwear Trango 3.1 Arch [ 3-man, 4-season tent ]

Product Description
This is the tent for the mountain professional who spends extended periods of time outdoors in extreme conditions. It is our strongest, most durable, four-season tent, and the only one equipped with our comprehensive internal guy system - the Tension Arch. Its four-pole design has seven pole crossings for maximum strength. The floor, also unique to this tent, is a 70-denier nylon taffeta with a 3-layer polyether urethane coating - the most durable, non-hydrolyzing, waterproof coating available. The front vestibule (with UVX window) has a full-length pole support for maximum space.

Retail: $699

Reviewed by: Jim, a Mountaineer from Vancouver, B.C. Canada
Date Reviewed: 6/21/2002 2:33:11 PM

Overall Rating:

The Mountain Hardware Trango 3.1 Arch tent is one of the strongest and well-designed tents on the Market!

Our McKinley 2002 expedition researched tents from all of the major manufacturers for size, weight, storage space, construction and price and found the Trango the overall winner. It is a strong tent; able to withstand anything Denali threw at us over the time we were on the mountain without even flinching. After completing the trip, I washed the tent and, after it dried out, could hardly tell it was not new (the smell in the tent before the wash definitely cast it into the "used" category - oh well, if you wear the same two pairs of socks over a 16 day period, they are bound to smell a little :).

Construction: The arches and tension straps pulled the tent into an extremely rigid structure. While other, lesser tents were blowing around, ours moved as a complete structure and never really lost its shape - even under fairly high winds. The only problem we found is the secondary vestibule was a pain to hold down and use - if we held it down fast, it was hard to get out of and if we held it down loosely to get out of, it flapped. I once fell on the tent (put my hand on it for support) and it didn't even phase the tent - it was like putting my hand on a cloth aircraft wing - no give what so ever.

Storage: Our tent held two climbers and all of our gear for a three + week trip to the top of McKinley. Everything fit into this tent - packs, food, equipment, sleeping bags and people. Since we had approximately 120 lbs. of gear at the start of the trip, this is an impressive amount of stuff to stick into a tent and still live in there. The arch pockets, side pockets, bottom pockets were cavernous and I could store six or eight full 1 litre water bottles in the side pockets without the tent deforming (that is almost 20 lbs. of water) or even slightly changing shape. The many loops in the tent were excellent for putting up a clothesline to dry our equipment (we even hung our sleeping bags from this line and did not deform the tent).

Weight: It is heavy for two people - but it is not a tent made for a weekend trip with the spouse. It was made to stand up on some of the worst places in the world (including McKinley). When the wind blows, it is comforting to know you lugged the extra one or two pounds of tent up when the other tents start to shake like a belly dancers navel!

Breathability: The tent vented quite well. We did have some condensation on the tent walls at the higher elevations (17,000 feet + ) and lower temperature but our tents did not seem to be as bad as the others in the same area of the camps. The floor is completely waterproof when I was drying the tent after washing it, I constantly had to bail out the floor for the moisture that collected there.

Price: Comparable with the other brands. A little more cost gives you a significantly better tent!

I would definitely purchase this tent for any major expedition or when I was expecting that the weather was going to be BAD! This tent excels when the others start to wilt.


  Reviewed by: Jeremy Burns, a Backpacker from Ann Arbor, MI USA
Date Reviewed: 3/19/2002 8:37:02 PM

Overall Rating:

I was going to write a big long review, but after reading Joe's review that pretty much sums it up. My opinions and experiences parallel his closely.

My tent has seen similar conditions... coldest it got was teens at night.

Windy conditions have only been up to 40 or 50 mph. I understand it can handle 80 mph without any guying out, and who knows what it could take with it. I'm guessing plenty.

The single thing I'm most anxious to test on this tent is its waterproofness. Nothing can ruin a good trip like water in a tent during a rainstorm. After several such frustrating occasions and cramped conditions in a 3-season, 2 man Eureka Pinnacle, I upgraded in a big way. Based on the specs, this tent should be maximum overkill for any weather conditions encountered here in MI, especially rain. I look forward to updating this review after our soaking spring season (just beginning).

  Reviewed by: JOE, a Mountaineer from Englewood, CO USA
Date Reviewed: 10/15/2001 1:45:27 PM

Overall Rating:

This is a great tent, but a bit pricy. I wanted a tent that I could use for tame 3-season use and extreme winter use in the Rockies. The tent has performed exceptionally well in the mild conditions it saw this summer. The only real punishment it saw this summer was 50-60 mph wind gusts which are pretty common on many Colorado passed. It stood its ground while barely flapping or deforming in the hard wind conditions. I have been praying for driving rain to test its bombproofness prior to me taking out this winter. It doesn't look like a I'll get that option, but I am pretty confindent this tent will withstand a couple feet of snow and gale force winds.

I would like to comment on a couple questions usually asked about tents:

1) Summer use: It doesn't get too hot if you have it placed in the shade like you should. It ventilates well with and without the fly. If you have it in direct sunlight, which I wouldn't recommend on any tent, this thing is likely to turn into an inferno. I used it last weekend where the temperatures were in the 30's and 40's and found the tent suprisingly warmer than outside.

2) Weight: This thing is a pig and soloing with it shouldn't be attempted by anyone less than Hercules. This tent is meant to be carried by two - four people. Two people - not bad, not too heavy or bulky. Three people - perfect. Four people - you won't even notice it, but it will get tight inside.

3) People Capacity: 2 people - This thing is bombproof condo. 3 people - Nice fit, still plenty of room with all of its storage spaces. All packs and boots fit nicely in the front vestibule. 4 people - It was tight and too close for my liking. My pack also hung out of the vestibule, luckily it didn't rain.

4) Constuction and features - A +++++, this is wear this tent kicks ass. Construction is BOMBPROOF!!! Attention to detail is remarkable, this will be the first thing you notice when you first assemble it. There is more storage space in this tent than in my apartment, and I have a big apartment. You'll have no use for an attic because of the abundant pocket space within the tent. Anything from your waterfilter to books can be conveniently put away and out of the way.

5) Ease of set-up: Easy, but practice first before your first outing with your partner or team. The plastic clips seem durable enough, but you may find them hard to latch when it gets a little cold. All of the poles are color coded and are easy to memorize where they go even when your exhausted.

6) Breathablity: There is a large space between the rainfly and the tent body. This tent vents well with the fly on and have not really notice any perspiration on the main body. There is always a little on the walls of the fly, but who cares, its not enough to get anything wet on the inside of the tent and dries pretty quickly. Opening the two doors and the moonlight and you'll be met with a comfortble breeze.

If you can afford the admission price, this is an AWESOME tent. I admit, to this day it hasn't seen any expedition-damaging use, but I am the last person that wants to be held back by the limitations of my equipment. This winter I expect to see conditions this tent was made for. If you want a tent that can handle the abuse above and below treeline, than this is tent is a worthy option and deserves a look.

Customer Service:
I own a lot of nut's and bolt's equip but have yet to have a problem that warrants customer service. SATISFIED CUSTOMER!!

Similar Products Tried:
Buddies' tents, but all of them are 3-season and don't fairly compare to this expedition tent.

  Reviewed by: Tom Ambular, a Backpacker from Sherwood OR
Date Reviewed: 11/29/2000

Overall Rating:

I trust this tent. I thought I would not enjoy it after being a North Face VE-25 owner but I really did. The footprint seems to work a little better than the North Face Dome. It is really strong and stable. The pole hooks seem to provide great venting between the tent body and fly. I was truly surprised. I hope the hooking system remains strong through many years of use.

Customer Service:
I had a live person answer my questions on my first call!

Similar Products Tried:
North Face VE-25 (good tent, poor service) and Bibler Eldorado (great,light well-made tent but expensive)

  Reviewed by: Mario, a Climber from
Date Reviewed: 9/19/2000

Overall Rating:

Increadible Tent. The best quality I've ever seen. Remarkable design features. The Tension Arch makes this tent bomb proof so to speak.

Setting the tent up is a no-brainer, piece-of-cake. It took about 3 minutes, incl. rain fly.

What else can I say. It sleeps three persons easily. What I like is the canopy vent and the excess of mesh pockets.

Customer Service:
My local dealer sold me a '97 model. Needless to say that I was very disappointed about that. I addressed the problem to MHW customer service. Their response came very quick. They made me contact the dealership and promised to help directly if the delaership would create any hassle.

Therefore: Very positive !

BTW: The dealer exchanged the tent without any question !

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