Three years of hammering pegs into earth up and down the east coast of Australia, James gives us his review of the Macpac Duolight 2p Tent.
‘Bro, I’m on a uni budget – if I only get one thing, what should I get?’
My mate is getting into hiking, which means dipping a toe into the vast ocean that is hiking gear. It gets expensive – real fast. So, this question arises. If you can only buy one thing, what should it be?
I’ve owned a Macpac Duolight Two Person Tent for three years, and it has accompanied me on every single journey – coast surf trips, summer alpine hikes, winter in the Blue Mountains, and most recently, a snow-flurry filled Six-Foot Track. It’s become my second home – or, actually, my first home, and my inner-city brick-and-mortar just fills in between adventures.
For me, the Duolight is the portable home-base that enables all other adventures. Without a tent, how can I do multi-day explorations? How do I escape off the grid? Access those places you can’t get to by car? It’s the one thing I always triple-check is in my pack before heading out. So, what makes it so great?
Liveability & Spaciousness
I’m a tall guy – 6ft 6” (198cm) – so small, tight spaces aren’t really my jam. Looking for a tent, loads of options were ruled out simply because I couldn’t lie down straight in them. The Duolight, at 2.2 m long, leaves ample space for me to lie down without getting condensation on my head all night! The Duolight has bucketloads of room – it’s 1.05 m high, meaning I can also comfortably sit up inside.
There are two doors, meaning none of this crawling over each other in the middle of the night for a leak stuff, and two vestibules each 60cm wide and spacious enough for cooking and storing gear. But, with the amount of space inside, I normally bring my gear in with me. In an emergency, I’ve slept three people in the Duolight before – snug, but absolutely doable. With just two, there’s plenty of room for belongings.
The fly can be adjusted to allow more or less ventilation underneath, and there are two airflow windows, allowing air in, and keeping water out.
The Duolight is the only tent I’ve ever owned that I would gladly enjoy being in if the weather stinks and I need to be inside all day.
You can chuck ‘light’ in the name of the tent, and that might fool some, but how does this thing really weigh up?
At 2.17kg, it’s on the heavier side for a 2 person tent – classic Macpac, aiming for durability over uber-lightweight. Cut out pegs and repair kit, and you’re down to 2kg already. But it gets lighter still – more about that later.
The Duolight packs down to a bundle 44 cm long, and 16 cm in diameter. I’ve never had issues packing this inside my bag, but you could easily strap it to the outside of your bag, too.
Where some tents will need a groundsheet, and so appear lighter when comparing in the shop, the Duolight needs no groundsheet. It’s built in, to combat the normal campsite in Australia – rocky, rough, where your floor needs to be tough. But, don’t think a lack of groundsheet is a compromise on waterproofing. The 40D ripstop nylon floor – rated to 10,000mm – is practically a bathtub!
The Duolight really comes into its own with the Multipitch system, which allows you to choose your ideal setup depending on the situation.
Hiking in the NSW highcountry with absolute minimum weight?
Just take the fly, poles and pegs [1.42kg].
Sleeping out under the stars and worried about pesky insects?
Just take the inner, poles and fly [1.6kg]!
In horrible weather conditions, with the Multipitch system, you can set up the fly and jump inside – keeping your gear dry while setting up the inner from inside. It sounds small, but it’s a game changer!
One downside to the Multipitch system are the clips – Macpac calls them Jake’s Foot clips – which the poles clip into, and connect to either the inner or the ground tape webbing [if you aren’t carrying the inner, or are trying to set up in the rain.]
If the clips are attached to the inner, and you decide to set up the fly first in the rain, costly time is spent finding the ground tape webbing and attaching the Jake’s Foot, before setting up the tent.
The problem is slightly avoided by clipping into both the inner and ground tape webbing simultaneously, but this is still pretty fiddly; I would love to see a more fast-paced and efficient solution to this.
While setting up the tent is easy and quick, there is another trick catching out new players. The main connective piece at the top of the tent can easily be put in upside-down, meaning the cross-beam pole is upside-down and won’t fit under the fly. Once you know, you know, and you’re fine, but you wouldn’t want to get caught out setting it up for the first time in a thunderstorm!
The Duolight really is a top tier tent. Three years on, it looks as good as the day I bought it. But it’s what it represents – a portable home base for endless adventures, that makes the Duolight the one piece of kit to get. Pitch it anywhere, and you have all you need – a home for any adventure.
James purchased the Macpac Duolight 2 Person Tent himself, the views are his own.