This robust, feature-packed tent from established mountaineering brand Salewa is at home from the Daintree to the Dolomites.


If I owned no other outdoor gear, I would first buy a tent. Obviously, shelter is a basic human need, a lynchpin of the foundational level of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, which, incidentally, is suspiciously tent-shaped. But a tent is much more than just a shelter. A tent gives you the wild, untameable freedom to roam wherever the trail takes you, to sleep wherever and whenever you want.

It’s the bulwark against driving rain, sleeting snow, maelstroms of mosquitoes and midges, and anything that goes bump in the night. It’s a welcome embrace that gathers you in at the end of the day without judgement; dirty, dusty, tired, muddy, in tears or with eyes wide from wonder.


Salewa Denali II, Joel Johnsson, tent, water, view


A tent is an emancipation from all the unspoken rules of society that tell us to buy a house, settle down, stay in one place, shut out the world. Instead, a tent is an ever-changing window into wild places – like Narnia’s wardrobe or the magical doorway of Howl’s Moving Castle, on any given day you can unzip your tent fly and peer out into the towering cathedral of a Gondawanan rainforest; or over a sweeping coastal sand dune to an isolated right-hander peeling away in the distance; or across a silent, sparkling wonderland of rime ice blanketing the Main Range.

As a degenerate gear-head, I’ve slept in almost every type of shelter available on the market – bivvies, camping hammocks, swags, tarps… but the one I reach for almost every time is the tent. For all of the advantages of other shelters, after a long day of hiking, or kayaking, or snowshoeing, a tent will always be a cosy little cocoon of safety and comfort. Had a bad day? You can zip yourself inside and shut out all of the navigational blunders, blisters, bugs and general discomfort of the day.

Had a great one? Open up the doors and let the cool night in, with all its strange sounds, and the gentle sweep of moonlight, and the smell of eucalyptus filling your nostrils. And there is no better feeling than waking up to soft rain pattering on the fly, snug and warm and comfortable, without needing to go anywhere or do anything.

A tent is a home that you carry with you, and just like a home, it is so much more than simply walls and windows.


It’s no surprise then that a mythology has built up around brands of tent – and MSR, Hilleberg, Nemo, Mont, Wilderness Equipment (and others) all hold a special place in the bushwalking psyche because of it.

But Salewa isn’t necessarily a brand you’d associate with a great tent! Climbers will already be familiar with the brand, which has been around since the 1930s and is synonymous with mountaineering and alpine exploration with its range of helmets, ice screws and crampons.

More recently, Salewa have made a name for themselves through their footwear, which is where I first encountered them, owning a pair of their snazzy Mountain Trainers for years and having recently tried their more aggressive Wildfire shoes, which I use for moderate day hiking, sawing through light timber and signalling passing cargo ships (they’re pretty bright).


Salewa Denali II, Joel Johnsson, tent, sand dune, sunset, tent door


So how does gear that is at home in the South Tyrolean Dolomites fare in Australian conditions? Well, it turns out that their Denali II tent actually looks perfect for Aussie summer conditions, so I got my hands on one to put it through its paces…

Size & Weight

The tent has a crossed-pole design with a transverse ridge pole to square up the walls, which is optimised for length and headroom. Inside it measures a roomy 210cm in length, so even if you are as tall as you claim in your Tinder profile, you’ll have plenty of space to stretch out, and 95cm of headroom is more than enough to sit up comfortably.

The living space is also supplemented by two sizeable vestibules which are large enough to cook in and store any gear, an arrangement which many prefer over having everything inside the internal area.

The Denali II weighs 2.4 kg (2.6kg with the optional footprint), which puts it at the heavier end of the two-person tent spectrum. In terms of dimensions, headroom and layout, it’s similar to the wildly-popular MSR Hubba Hubba/Mont Moondance format, and while the Denali II has a weight penalty of almost a kilogram over the MSR, it’s also selling for half the price, with an RRP of $449.95.

You could pick up a bright new pair of cargo-ship signallers and a whole lot of dehydrated meals for that chunk of change!


Salewa Denali II, Joel Johnsson, tent, close up, detail, features, packing

Design & Durability

There’s still a lot to love about a tent with a few extra grams (who doesn’t love a dad-body?!), and Salewa have clearly focused on longevity, functionality and practical features instead of ultralight minimalism.

If you’ve ever been to the Dolomites, you’ll have heard of the power and ferocity of the alpine summer storms, and it’s clear that this tent has been designed with robustness in mind. The Denali II is a 3-season tent, with aluminium poles, a double-walled dome design and a 68D Polyester Ripstop PU fly.

Some of the extra tent weight comes from the use of polyester which has a lower tear strength than stretchier nylons, meaning a heavier, thicker polyester is needed to achieve comparable strength.


Salewa Denali II, Joel Johnsson, tent, sand dune, sunset


However, the advantage of polyesters is that they are much more stable when pitching (with less likelihood of sagging in wet conditions or lay-over in windy conditions). And with a hydrostatic head (waterproofing) rating of 3,000mm (5,000mm for the floor), this is definitely a tent that will stand up to some gnarly weather.

One of the most unique features of the tent is an integrated internal clothes line for drying or airing out wets. It’s an added creature comfort which does double duty on the days when you’ve been caught in a rainstorm, as well as when you’ve eagerly volunteered for a dunking under a waterfall. In case you’re concerned about condensation, the tent also features large vents at either end which can be accessed from the inside via three layers of zips.


Salewa Denali II, Joel Johnsson, tent, sand dune, sunset, tent door


The Denali II is also a ‘proper’ two-person tent – not just in terms of floor size, but in terms of having two doors and two vestibules. I’m all for sharing everything with my partner… until it’s 3am when one of us has to climb over the other to take a leak. Separate doorways for the (relationship) win!

If you’re the kind of person who is rough on their gear sleeps in rough places, a footprint is available for purchase separately. Not everyone uses one if packing light, but it can be a good investment over the life of your tent.


Salewa Denali II, Joel Johnsson, tent, close up, detail, features, poles, storage

Pitching & Setup

The freestanding design of the tent is perfect for pitching on hard ground and rocky terrain (another thing the Dolomites and Australia have in common) or fine-tuning your positioning to ensure a laser-level slumber. While it’s become popular for freestanding tents to sport an all-in-one pole system, the Denali II keeps it simple with 3 straight tent poles. This means that there’s no need for proprietary tent poles when replacing parts – standard pole segments available from any good retailer can be used with a quick adjustment to the length.

Pitching the tent is quick and easy with the standard pole sleeves and clips, and can be done by one person (if you’re travelling ‘fast and light’!). There are two guy lines at either end of the fly with quick-lock tensioners, and the included tent pegs are the wide style that grip particularly well in sand, snow and soft ground.

The roll-top stuff sack is quite generous and doesn’t feel like you’ll burst a blood vessel, while compression straps help to reduce bulk as much as possible.

Who’s it for?

The Denali II would suit someone who doesn’t mind carrying a bit of extra weight for a versatile do-everything tent. It’s robust in a rainstorm with a serious fly, spacious vestibules and a mini clothes-line. It’s also breezy and comfortable on humid summer days, with a full mesh inner, plenty of venting and large double doors (which zip away into dedicated storage pockets).


Salewa Denali II, Joel Johnsson, tent, close up, detail, features, poles

Free Yourself From the Forecast

With all the wet and wild weather on Australia’s East Coast, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that we need to give up blue-sky fanaticism and embrace a few hairy forecasts as part of the adventure. If you don’t have the luxury of waiting for the weather, pack some peace of mind with the Denali II.

Not only will it stand up to whatever Mother Nature spits at you, you’ll ride out the storm in spacious comfort, ready for the moment that the clouds part, the doors clip away and the tent transforms into a breezy summer shelter.


Salewa Denali II, Joel Johnsson, tent, sand dune, sunset


You can get your hands on the Salewa Denali II at any of these Australian stockists: