by: Dave D’Abate
The Rocket Tent was designed by Brooks-Range Mountaineering in collaboration with Mount Everest summiter Dick Jackson and is a solid all mountain expedition tent. Brooks-Range Mountaineering is a smaller company that has been making pro-sumer level mountaineering and alpine equipment for a while and their Rocket Tent has been turning quite a few heads lately. The most defining feature of the Rocket Tent is the mylar-looking CT³ fabric developed by Cubic Tech. The special CT³ fabric is a strong and ultra-lightweight fabric that is translucent depending on the layering, is extremely compressible, and allows the 2-person Rocket Tent to weigh in at an astounding 1lb. 6oz. at its absolute minimum. If you include the summer pole set when you don’t have your trekking poles and avalanche probe, the weight is still a miniscule 2lb. 4oz. The entire tent fits into a stuff sack of comparable size to some of the smallest camping mattresses on the market.
Continuing with the CT³ fabric, I really liked the translucence of the fabric. The shiny, yellowish exterior helps to reflect the sun’s heat and keep the tent a bit cooler than you would expect but it also allows more light to permeate, giving a cheerier overall feel inside a slightly cramped tent. The material also traps in more heat in the winter, giving you a nice balanced temperature inside, year round. Calling the Rocket Tent a 2-person tent is a bit of a stretch. The tapered foot box helps with the aerodynamics of the tent in the wind but isn’t all to helpful for aligning two camping pads next to one another. The interior length also seems a bit short due to the tapered foot box. Luckily, the vestibule provides full coverage in the event of having to lay the door down flat for a bit of extra room.
A downside to having a metallic fabric is the breathability. The vents in the Rocket Tent are certainly required and the inside of the tent door even has a suffocation warning. The tent has the ability to seal you off from the elements, although maybe a bit too sealed off. I was happy to see that the Rocket Tent was completely waterproof when I was sitting out a rainstorm all day and into the night. Not a single raindrop passed through any seam. The air flows through the vents and door relatively well and everything seemed to work nicely. The only issue I had with ventilation was the condensation buildup on the interior of the fabric. No matter the weather conditions, cold and snowy, wet and rainy, or dry and dusty; the condensation buildup overnight was an issue. In the cold, this is expected. The condensation turns to ice and you wake up to a morning snow shower. However, during a rainstorm and being confined to the tent for the better part of the day, it is not enjoyable to have such high condensation levels that your sleeping bag is getting wet from touching the tent walls. Not too many issues in the dry areas of the country. Only an occasional light dew showed up inside the tent. The Rocket Tent is one bombproof shelter with the large vestibule secured all the way to the ground.
The only downside to this solid, ultralight, and bomber tent are its accessories. Let me start off by stating that the tent itself comes with nothing. Just the extremely well-built shelter. No stakes, no poles, no guy-lines. Any accessories are for sale separately. Although the excellent aerodynamic design of the Rocket Tent gives you different options for pole setup with the avalanche probe attachment and trekking pole compatible side supports, I think it should at least come with poles and stakes. The aluminum summer pole set is actually quite good. A solid construction that is very fitting with the tent. I had no issues using either the pole set or the combination probe and trekking pole system. Both were superb. The intended stakes are made by reputable manufacturer DAC. Using the tried and true V-Stake, the Rocket Tent wasn’t going anywhere. I was disappointed the tent did not come with some cord for use as guylines. I was never in any particularly windy situation but given the CT³ fabric being crinkly, I can see how the noise level in a windstorm could be maddening. The Rocket Tent pitches just fine without being guyed out but it would be a simple, and nice inclusion. The stuff sack is the perfect size for the tent to be mashed or rolled back up into but during that rainy trip, when I was packing up a wet tent the next morning to hit the trail, the moisture make the welded seam on the stuff sack literally fall apart at the seam. It might have been a defect but the seam was not water-friendly. Finally, I come to the footprint. The footprint is also made of a thinner layer of the CT³ fabric for lightweight compressibility and compactibility but it seems to have been designed as an afterthought and seemed cheaply manufactured. I found that the tie loops on footprint did not match up to the tie loops on the tent, making using one stake in both loops difficult. After only my second time out with the Rocket Tent, a loop on the footprint ripped from the seam with minimal tension, as I had yet to finish staking the whole tent down. A result of the tie loops not matching up correctly. I think the footprint could be the full length of the tent to include a floor for the vestibule instead of the door making up for that space when unzipped. Also, tweaking the sizing to make sure the footprint fits the tent better.
Accessories aside, you will be hard-pressed to find a lighter 2-person, 4-season tent anywhere on the market. The weight and minimalist functionality is really where the Rocket Tent comes shining through. The tent is a bit on the pricey side, even for 4-season mountaineering tents given that it doesn’t come with poles and stakes; a standard on every other tent I have used. Overall, if you are really concerned about your weight and compactibility of the gear you carry, the Rocket Tent may be the perfect fit for you to take on your next great adventure or expedition all the way up to Mount Everest.
Rocket Tent provided by Brooks-Range Mountaineering for review purposes
Brooks-Range Mountaineering Rocket Tent – $549 – brooks-range.com