Name: Mark Verber
Height/Weight: 5'10" (1.8m) / 180lb (82kg)
Region: San Francisco Bay Area, CA
Date: Aug 29, 2003 [slight update March 2006]
Review Item: Europa SilNylon Tent
Manufacture: Six Moon Designs
Listed Weight: 930g (33oz)
Weight as delivered: 930g (33oz)
MSRP: $190US (close out price $135?) now discontinued
NOTE: The shelter now sold by Six Moon Designs under the model name "Europa" has significant differences from the original Europa this review is about. There is significantly more mesh which greatly reduces the condensation and the odds that the condensation drips on you. It is also easier to get a good pitch with the urrent Europa. The original Europa was replaced by the Europa II and then the Europa 05 (which is what the current "Europa" is).
The Europa is a single walled tent constructed using silnylon. The bathtub floor of the tent uses an opaque black 1.9oz silnylon for extra durability while the body of the tent is a translucent yellow 1.3oz silnylon. The seams were not sealed, instructions were provided. It took be approximately one hour to seal the tent. The delivered weight was 33oz, plus I carry 6 stakes (2oz) and guy-lines (~1oz). Note: only 4 stakes are "required", but 6 are "useful" if you want to stake out the front corners and the side pullouts. A shock-cord hoop pole is used at the foot of the tent, and you supply a hiking pole or use a nearby tree to secure a single tie out of a cantilevered front of the tent. The foot of the tent contains a large window made of noseeum mesh and an integrated overhang to protect the inside from blowing rain. The front door covers nearly the entire front of the tent. The door uses a zipper closure, and has a silnylon cover which can be zipper over the door, or rolled back.. The manufacture advertises 35sq feet of floor space which is appropriate for 1-2 people. There is enough head room at the front of the tent for me to sit up, and adequate height at the back to prevent contact between the sleeping bag and the roof. [Don't put any gear at the bottom or your will block the ventilation.]
I can set up the Europa in just a couple of minutes by myself. The basic setup is simple: You stake out the front corners, use one stake to secure the back, insert you hiking pole in the front grommet and stay out the front guy-line (or tie the guyline to a tree). At this point the tent is standing, but the pitch is most likely not tight. You will want to stake out the side pullouts. Ideally you want the guy lines going up and away from the tent rather than going directly to the ground. Now you need to fiddle until the tent is reasonably taut which can be bothersome.
If you don't use the side pullouts flapping is really annoying in ~20MPH winds, and in stronger winds (>30MPH) the walls of the tent bow in significantly (e.g. the side wall hitting a significant portion of my sleeping bag... not just the side of bag, but also the top!), and the fabric flapping was very noisy. If you attach guide lines to the pull outs in middle of the tent, taking the guys lines up by tying them to a tree, or threading the guys through trekking poles and then back to the ground made a significant improvement. Doing this also gives you a more vertical sidewall which allows you to practically use more of the floor space. Once the sides were staked up the flapping was not bothersome in 15-20mph winds, but was still annoying with 35-45MPH gusts, but at least the walls did not bow in significantly. Ron Moak has indicated that the CAD tools used to design the Europa II has significantly addressed this issue.
The Europa has kept me dry during a number of serious rain storms, one of which had sustained 25mph winds with 40mph+ gusts. I was able to leave the door open for a number of the storms, but at least twice I had to close the door (both screen and the cover) because the wind drove the rain into the tent. This was my first floored shelter made from silnylon. I was amazing how quickly it can dry and also how quickly water can roll from one place to another. When water was driven in by the wind it balled up and rolled to the lower side of the tent in a matter of a few minutes. I found it almost impossible to keep my pad in one location. I have since added some small patches of seam sealer which allows my pad to have a bit more "grip".
The final issue is ventilation. I have mostly used the Europa in cool, windy locations. In these conditions ventilation / condensation has not been a problem. Of course if the temp drops below the dew point you will get a little condensation on the tent. I found this was very easy to remove with a cloth and was a complete non issue except when a hard rain hit and the condensation was shaken free (a moderate annoyance). In still conditions with the noseeum door shut (but the silnylon cover open) had modest condensation (e.g. a very light sheen of water, no obviously balls of water.) Condensation was a significant issue when I used this tent with two people, even with the door open. With two people in the tent is was impossible to keep the sleeping bags from coming in contact with the sides of the tent resulting in damp bags. The later version of the Europa (the Europa II, and the Europa 05) do not have the same problems with condensation.
The Europa is an decent solo shelter which will protect you from bugs, rain, moderate winds, and minimal snow fall. I have found the tent luxurious for one, though I would favor the Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo(e). It is very difficult for two people to use this tent without coming in contact with the side walls resulting in getting condensation on your sleeping bags, so I don't think this tent is really appropriate for two full size adults. I would recommend not using the Europa with two people, and look at the updated Europa II/05 or the Tarptent Squall.