A short time ago, two worthy and stalwart opponents dropped by to participate in a much heralded ‘tent-off’, organized to showcase a head-to-head competition between our home-team’s Hilleberg Staika and the away-team’s “Moss Stardome II“. The tension was palpable as the rivals rapidly erected their tents, each striving for victory!
Actually, the two ‘shelter-athletes’ were none other than our friends Sasha and Chris, and the “tent-off” no more than a quick get-together to compare and contrast a couple of expedition quality tents and to learn and reminisce about what was, until quite recently, a proud tradition of tent making in this country.
A lot of research went into deciding which tent to purchase in preparation for our global cycling adventure. Our search ultimately focused on the rugged offerings of the designed-in-Sweden and sewn-in-Estonia Hilleberg family of tents, but it was not for our wanting of a comparable domestic alternative. Although there are some high quality tents still being produced in this country, namely Stephenson’s Warmlite, Tarptents, a free-standing option, and, in Canada, Integral Designs, none incorporated all of the features we were looking for.
Features We Wanted:
- Double wall
- Twin vestibules
- Good ventilation
- Muted color
- Multi-pitch (ability to pitch the rain fly, ground cloth, and tent together, or the fly or tent separately)
- Four season
- Extreme durability
Moss Tents : Of the Past
I was sad to learn that tents sporting many of the features we’d searched for were once produced right here in New England, in Camden, Maine. Moss Tents were adored by legions of fans and supporters, many of whom to this day hold on tight to their nylon-coated dwellings. Our friends had even managed to retain a couple copies of original catalogs and so it was a melancholy experience to peruse their pages, getting caught up in the skillful marketing, only to be reminded that these innovative tents are no longer manufactured, even though their patents are retained by a large outdoor retailer. Not so long ago, Moss Tents became another casualty of our “global” economy that serves to uproot local manufacturing while depressing wages worldwide, ultimately driving down the standard of living for all. I shudder to contemplate the carbon footprint of our Hilleberg tent compared to a comparable tent that could have been produced two States away. If only Stephenson’s produced a free standing model!
More photos of our tents, as well as a brief homage to the recent past (Moss catalog pics toward the end):