Coleman Kraz X
Every so often, somebody builds a piece of backpacking gear so good that the product ought to be placed in a National Registry of Treasured Items and kept in production forever. Sadly, my favorite tent was not — discontinued about ten years ago, all that is on the market now is only similar. While the Coleman Exponent Kraz X1 is almost the same, there are a few improvements I could live without. It’s still a good tent, and I’d consider it if my old Coleman lightweight met some terrible misfortune.
In the Kraz, an extra support hoop provides more clearance for your feet and the shape of the rainfly is a little more abrupt. I liked the streamlined shape of my old tent better, and the extra room under the rainfly that lets me stow my backpack in the dry space is trimmed out of the Kraz, but–oh, who I am trying to kid? I do like the old model better. When they changed the shape of the rainfly they took out that critically important storage space that kept your gear dry but technically not in the tent with you. I can put my boots, my pack, my cooking gear and everything else I partly disassemble for camp under the rainfly in the extra head space of my old model. The Kraz lost that. It’s not a huge deal–you can compensate with a nearly weightless trash bag or a light tarp–but this was one of my favorite quirks of the old design.
Everything else of importance is still here. This particular design is one of the driest, warmest and coolest backpacking tents I’ve ever tried. Fold the rainfly back on warm cloudless nights and sleep with nothing between you and the stars but a mosquito net and the billions of bugs that can’t quite get to you. In wet weather pull the rainfly snug to the ground and both wind and water stay away–condensation troubles in the sleeping area are as minimal as it gets. In the cold you’ll need to make a debris barrier on the windward side of the rainfly if you intend to keep out the drafts, but the little bit of extra work that takes makes the Kraz a snug little nook on a frosty night.
Setup and takedown is fast and straightforward, with no puzzles or tricky assemblies to confuse you if you’re caught in the dark. The hoops nearly put themselves together, strung on bungees that make alignment and fitting instinctive. At about three and a half pounds it’s not an ultralight, but it’s a practical and durable single person tent that will keep out all sorts of weather in comfort.