Mont’s brand new 4 season tent offers burly winter protection in a super light package. Tim took it out for a windy long weekend on the range to see how it held up.
What do you think of when I say ‘dragonfly’? Insects darting around a pond? Daenerys ordering her pets skyward? For me, the word dragonfly brings on the warm fuzzies from my brief affair with entomology in second-year uni. Turns out I’m no scientist, but that doesn’t stop facts like ‘dragonflies were one of the first species to evolve flight’ and ‘some dragonfly fossils have a 750mm wingspan’ from bubbling to the surface.
Dragonflies are pretty damn good at flying for a bunch of creatures who were winging it. I reckon their speed, maneuverability, and the fact they’re a mishmash of two excellent words, is why a bunch of outdoor brands have named their products after them.
But as usual, Australian outdoor brand Mont Adventure Equipment have been doing it longer than most. Their brand new Dragonfly tent is named after an early 2000s tent of the same name, but it’s right on the forefront of modern tent tech.
I heard that the Mont Dragonfly had been released only days before what was likely to be the only backcountry campout of a particularly strange winter. I begged our Gear Editor Mattie to see what he could do and a few days later I was picking it up for a loan as we blitzed through Canberra. To the range!
Size and Weight
I was genuinely surprised when I first picked up the Mont Dragonfly – rarely have I seen any tent this small, let alone a 4 season one designed to shelter a mate and I in alpine conditions. Once we split pegs, poles, fly, and tent between us it was easily one of the smaller key items in my pack, but at 44 x 18cm fully packed I don’t think I’d mind carrying it solo either.
Nuggety, it is, especially so thanks to the handy compression straps built into the tent bag. But just as nuggets range from chicken to gold, weight can vary immensely. The Dragonfly tips the scales at 2500g, which is pretty damn light in a world where getting under 3kg is mighty impressive. My current 4 season tent (an Exped Venus II Extreme) is already at 2800g, so I was pretty keen to see where Mont shaved the grams.
It’s worth noting that the tent is ‘free-standing’, which means that in nicer weather you can get away with just two pegs, bringing you to 2350g. Phwoar. Free-standing tents are also excellent in real-world situations like tent-platforms, hard ground, or concrete slabs behind abandoned petrol stations, that traditional ‘tunnel-tents’ really struggle with.
This was good news – I was hoping the Dragonfly would be as adaptable as possible. $1000 is a reasonable RRP for what’s on offer here (I’d go as far as saying that’s it’s a good price), but it’s still no small amount of money for the dirtbags among us.
Ease of Use
Mont’s Dragonfly uses a pretty traditional setup, i.e. tent inner held up by poles, with a fly over the top. From here though, things got a little techy. The poles locked into eyelets on matching sides (lengthways) but crossed over twice.
A click-lock system on each end secured these crossover points and boom, a sturdy structure was born. I could pick it up with one hand and it wouldn’t deform.
The next step was to clip in a final short pole that increases the headroom and makes it even more sturdy, one of the features that sets it apart from other Mont tents like the Moondance.
Finally, clip the tent to the poles, and chuck the fly on. Honestly it was all dead easy. Symmetrical designs are good at that. I particularly enjoyed the guy lines at each end that attached to three parts of the tent and self-equalised.
In a storm, this method can be a little tricky. Some dedicated 4 season tents have the fly attached to the tent to make things a little easier (and keep things a lil’ drier), so I was eagerly looking forward to the storm forecast for day four of our trip. True to form, howling winds gusting to 80km/h gave us a packdown challenge worthy of a proper test, but nothing out of the ordinary reared its head, just keep it all pegged down and don’t let go!
At such a light weight I was expecting absolutely minimal creature comforts, but Mont didn’t skimp on the necessities. Count’em up: 4 internal wall pockets, 2 roof pockets, 2 vestibules, 2 doors, 2 internally accessible vents and 3 (three!) baby carabiners to clip stuff to. I was shook, how did they cram all this stuff in?
What I know is that it made using the Dragonfly as my home for four days in a pretty inhospitable environment quite delightful.
You can look up measurements on Mont’s site but here’s how it all feels:
– The vestibules are small, but you get one each so it’s fine. I put on ski boots, made coffee, and stored gear, with no dramas.
– The tent fits two people comfortably. I’m roughly 180cm tall and there was room to store gear at my feet. However I’m pretty skeptical of the claim that it fits three. Maybe if you all spoon and stack your gear in the vestibules – but this would be an emergency option, at least for me.
– Internally accessible vents are the best, especially when temps plummet overnight or moisture starts to build up at 2am.
– The zips on the doors go away from each other to close (instead of meeting). This allows better control of ventilation, but meant that the zip was always kind of far away. Classic Mont to prioritise that kind of functionality.
– The vestibule doors can be pegged open at quarter intervals to fine-tune ventilation, pretty neat for year-round use. We were in the snow so we had it locked down.
– One note is that the doors are designed to open in opposite directions. Great if the wind swings around, but for our situation it just meant that Aidan’s door opened into the wind and a terrible view (I had a view of Mt Kosciuszko out of mine. What? I am the reviewer).
– The headroom is really decent – an underrated feature – especially if you’re stuck inside.
Man, materials are getting impossibly thin nowadays. I was quickly aware that this is where Mont made the bulk of its weight savings with the Dragonfly. While I can’t give you a real breakdown of the durability (as much as I’d love to have been snow camping for the last two months), I can talk about the quality of the materials and how it held up in pretty bad weather.
Again, head to the product page for a full numbers breakdown, I’m gonna focus on what stood out.
The ‘tub’ floor is 70 denier nylon (pretty tough stuff) with a waterhead of 20,000mm (waterproof as heck). This is super important because in Australia when it rains, it often pours. Mont reckons its waterproof lamination is: ‘far superior to PU [polyurethane] coating. Our lamination is totally waterproof, durable, lightweight, more resistant to chemical damage (sunscreen, fuel etc) and almost impervious to hydrolysis [a chemical breakdown of the materials].’
Moving up from the tub and we’ve got 15 denier ripstop nylon and mesh. 15D is pretty light on, you could see it stretching and you wouldn’t want to hit it with a spork, but as long as you set up the tent properly I reckon you’ll be fine.
Finally, the fly. The fly on the Dragonfly uses a PU-coated 30D nylon. Mont’s reason for this choice was its waterproofness, which they valued enough to avoid the other popular fabric of the moment, Sil Nylon. Sil Nylon tents are great for well-below-zero snow camping, but I reckon it’s a great choice for Australian conditions. The fact that the tent comes tape seam-sealed from the factory is testament to this approach. Plus, I’ve seam-sealed a Sil-Nylon tent before by hand after finding out that my expensive new 4-season tent wouldn’t even keep out a bit of rain. That sucked.
Mont really set out to make this an all-seasons tent, and that’s evident in the way they’ve balanced conflicting choices with the Dragonfly. So the final test was the weather rolling in over the Western Faces.
Read more: Get Your Arse Into (Aussie) Gear
With the wind picking up on Monday arvo we spent Monday morning reinforcing our snow walls. By nightfall we had 180 degrees of protection, higher than the peaks of our tents, from the prevailing wind racing through Albina Pass. Two sturdy guy lines, four other pegs on the fly… I’d camped in worse.
But at 1am I woke up to an incessant flapping. My snow peg that was holding the vestibule down was loose. Strange, I thought, I checked that before I went to sleep. Outside the stars were putting on a show, all the way to the horizon in the west. Horizon in the west… shit, where were our snow walls?!
What I’m able to provide, dear reader, is an assessment of how the Mont Dragonfly holds up in a warm alpine gale with bugger all wind protection. The answer? It’s steady as a rock.
Our vestibules were having a fit without proper anchors, and we tied them down as best we could, but the core of the tent was super solid. There are way more guy line attachments available (we were only using two!) so it’s safe to say that the tent is certified bomber.
It didn’t rain on us out there, but I’d love to get the Dragonfly out in a real rainstorm. For the reasons stated above under the durability heading, I reckon it’d be peachy.
Mont have designed and constructed a super adaptable tent with the Dragonfly. There’s not an Aussie environment that it couldn’t tackle and it deftly balances performance, weight, ease of use, durability and cost to excel in every category. There are trade-offs – at 2500g the material isn’t rough-as-guts – but with proper care I reckon you can count on hundreds of epic nights under nylon.
Tim was lent the Mont Dragonfly tent for testing. He was allowed to say whatever the heck he wanted about it in this review.
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