Owner Review by Arnie P
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Echo II Ultralight Shelter System
I first backpacked in 2005. In 2011, I learned I had back problems. If I were to continue backpacking, I needed to lighten my load. This is how I found the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Echo II Ultralight Shelter System.
My search began for an ultralight tent. I looked for a double wall tent, 1 or 2 person, under 2 lbs, durable, made in New England. Over the years, I have hiked and camped in many areas of the US and eastern Canada. Through experience I have learned what to desire in a tent design. With that in mind, I also wanted this tent to protect me from insects, including tics, and to be good in high humidity at most temperatures. After a lot of INTERNET researching, I found that Hyperlite Mountain Gear, in Biddeford Maine, designed and manufactured tents. They seemed to have what I was looking for in a tent. Since it was an expensive product, I made a visit to the factory.
My trip to Hyperlite Mountain Gear (HMG)
It is about 100 miles and about a 2.5-hour drive to Biddeford. I located the Hyperlite Mountain Gear company on the ground floor of a large brick building. The first person I met was Mike the owner-designer of HMG and my email contact person. He set up the Echo II ultralight shelter system within minutes. I had looked over their website before my visit, but seeing the product and being able to get answers to my questions was what I needed. The tent was modular based and being able to look at this tent from all angles left nothing to my imagination. I could now see how this shelter could function as a stand-alone tent or tarp. I looked at scrap samples of the material used and I could see and feel the toughness of this material. Since it was a small manufacturing facility, I could see the sewing operation which was the most active part of the manufacturing process. High-pressure air provides the power for his state-of-the-art sewing machines. Being an engineer, I could tell they were using top quality sewing machines. I was impressed when I found out the tents and backpacks are designed and tested by someone who uses them in the same mountains where I hike and backpack. He told me of a recent backpack he made to the Bonds in New Hampshire. This brought back memories of my doing the Bonds a few years ago. We exchanged a few stories about equipment and some tips about more efficient backpacking. I now knew if I had problems, I could get fixes to equipment or valuable advice from someone who would experience the same conditions I would, and with the same equipment. I purchased the HMG Echo II Ultralight Shelter system along with several items that day including a backpack, day-pack, and a few accessories.
Material HMG products
The material used in the construction of Hyperlite Mountain tents is various types of Cuben cloth. Cuben cloth comes in several grades and is waterproof, strong, lightweight for its strength, and resistant to the sun.
This tent with lines weighs about 29 oz.
The Hyperlite Mountain website gives a very good explanation of the technology used in their products.
Setting up the HMG Echo II
Setting up a tent on a flat surface looked easy. Now I was in my backyard with a sloping lawn and ground that had some rocks. My lawn is not rock free and in many ways is like to the ground in the forest. The instructions suggested setting up the tarp first then inserting the shelter under the tarp and last to add the beak.
Setting up the tent is easier with 2 people, but I wanted to be independent and set it up by myself. With practice, I could set up this tent in 10 minutes, but usually, I take my time and then the total time is 15 minutes. I go backpacking to get away from the fast-paced environment that surrounds me in the suburbs.
Once the tent is set up, I check again and make changes for improvement. The ground is never the same and there are too many adjustments to mention. With a little practice, one can achieve desired results.
My tent is ready to bring my gear inside and get out my air pad, sleeping bag, air pillow and personal items. The one minor item I miss is a small pocket in the tent to store small items I may need during the night. Most of the time I reach my destination a few hours before sunset. I find it amazing that there is more light inside the tent than outside. The first time I noticed it I was at a the tent platform which I prefer not to use and was talking to a fellow camper. It was getting too dark to read. I walked to my tent and the white tent does stand out, I could not see inside the tent, but once inside there was enough light to read. It is strange when the moon is bright, I was able to read inside this tent and not be able to read on the outside or even see into the tent.
This tent uses your adjustable hiking poles in setting up this tent. I did use a tree one time because the location I liked best put a small tree in the way, so I used it instead of a hiking pole. It is a lot easier to have adjustable poles, one for the front and the other for the back.
I have been using this tent for all my backpacking trips since June of 2011. I have never had any problems with any of the zippers. On my first set up, I had not checked over the zippers and had to make a small change to lines securing the tent. There are only 2 zippers one for the tent and the other is for the Beak which provides a small sheltered space at the entrance like a vestibule. There are 12 stakes, 6 are about a quarter inch in diameter and 10 inches long with a string at the non-pointed end. The other stakes are titanium and wire size with a partial circle at the non-pointed end. Due to the color of these stakes, I have always worried about losing them in the leaves. I have used a bright fingernail polish on them to make them easier to spot. Colored stakes may be available now. In some ways, taking the slight extra amount of time to be careful relieves the necessity of becoming worried. In my first season with this tent, I did spend a few minutes searching a few times. This has not happened for several years now.
Rain and humidity
I have experienced light to heavy rain for up to several hours and never had any noticeable moisture problems. I have tented on some nights with humidity as high as I have ever experienced. I could sense the humidity but what is important is that I did not have a problem sleeping. As far as that goes I have never had a problem sleeping in this tent due to environmental conditions. I do remember having an allergy problem one time. I always dreaded packing my tent after a night of rain. I have packed this tent several times after a rain and it has always been at most a little damp when I unpack. My method is to detach the insert, shake it to dislodge any debris, and put it at the bottom of my backpack Then the fly and Beak are separated, shaken, and stored in my backpack. I store any moisture sensitive items in a plastic trash bag. One time when I returned from a backpack, I did not have time to unpack and it turned out I finally unpacked after a week. The tent had been damp from rain but was now dry and did not have any mildew smell. I have had some mildew odor with storing a tent overnight. I always try unpacking as soon as possible upon arriving home.
Space inside the tent
I decided to buy a 2 person tent because weight and cost were not that much more. I have shared this tent and there was still more space than was actually needed. In theory, you would be carrying less weight but in the real world, we add something we would not usually bring. When I am alone I use my backpack as a foundation for my air pillow. I cover the air pillow with a micro-mesh cloth as I don’t like the feel of the synthetic material on my face. I am also a side sleeper and use less width in a tent.
I don’t think there is a universal tent that fits every occasion. My first tent was a cabin tent which I used car camping with my 3 young children. That worked well. My car camping evolved from a single tent to using a tent for sleeping and a screen house to cover a picnic table for cooking, eating and sitting. It is best that food is in screen house during meal time and then stored in a safe place, usually my transportation vehicle. Animals are smart if they can’t get at the food they soon learn to look elsewhere.
I don’t think there is a perfect tent, but for this period in my life it the best tent of many that I have used in the past 30 years. If I go back to car camping I will use this tent along with a screen tent. I have no need to stand up while sleeping. I have used the HMG Echo II for 7 seasons and I can see no evidence of any wear. There is a slight bruise(cosmetic) in the fine meshing. It is not obvious and not easy to find. This tent is still in production, the price I have seen on the website is $695. I have no regrets in having bought this tent. If you liked this article please leave a comment and check out my other equipment reviews and articles found elsewhere on this website.