As any multi-day hiker will know, it is incredibly hard to find the ‘one tent’ that is suitable for all the different types of long-distance hikes found in Australia (not to mention those across the ditch in NZ). With the variety of weather conditions experienced in different parts of Oz and the Shaky Isles – the wild and wet southwest of Tassie, and the dry and cold (at night) deserts, compared to the even drier (and wilder) high alpine of NZ’s South Island, for example – finding a tent capable of coping with this wide variance of conditions ain’t easy. Or is it? The Macpac Olympus, the NZ brand’s iconic four-season tent, puts forward a very strong case…
The two-person Macpac Olympus Alpine Tent (to give it its full title) has, in its many years on the market, garnered a bombproof reputation, similar to that of its slightly smaller two-person stablemate, the three-season-rated Minaret (see our extensive review here). Befitting its four-season rating, the construction of the Olympus is formidable: The UV30 flysheet (30-denier double-ripstop, silicon elastomer-coated nylon) offes excellent protection from the sun/wind/rain (3000mm HH waterproof rating), while the robust Torrentwear XP tub floor is rated at 10,000mm HH and claims high levels of abrasion and tear resistance (this combo of high HH rating and abrasion/tear resistance means you don’t need an additional footprint under the tent).
A hint regarding the tent’s four-season rating is seen in the three 9.6mm DAC Featherlite NSL aluminium poles, while there are two separate entrances in the Olympus, along with a large front vestibule that includes protective storm flaps, balanced with a smaller entrance at the rear. The double door at the front is brilliant for ventilation, especially in combo with the four vents and mesh panelling found throughout the inner tent. So yes, it is definitely up for providing reliable shelter in any conditions and – surprisingly – all that additional toughness only adds up to a weight of 2.8kg (minimum four pegs) or 3.1kg with all pegs and guy-lines packed.
Along with the rugged construction, that weight also accounts for the Macpac Olympus’s sizeable 2.97 square metres of internal floor area, along with that large 1.5 square-metre vestibule. The floor measures 2200mm in length and around 1300-1350mm wide (it ‘cuts in’ slightly at the rear). The interior height is generous at 1150mm, while the vestibule length of 1100mm is more than welcome, easily fitting two packs, boots and other gear. For two-up hiking, whether you’re a couple of just out with a mate, the generous interior space – and more importantly that overall toughness – makes that 3.1kg feel very light in comparison. And you can easily split the load between two packs, anyway.
In the field
The Macpac Olympus is a tunnel design tent that features Macpac’s all-in-one Multi-Pitch system. This means that it will need to be secured front and rear using pegs for it to be set up, but you can set it up with the inner already attached to the outer – an always welcome feature when it is pouring with rain so that you avoid the tent interior getting water in it. This also makes it very fast to set up; sliding the three poles through the pole sleeves, then simply pegging down the four corners, takes all of three minutes, with the only caveat on this being if you need to pitch on a solid-rock area or one with sand, where you may need to improvise with rocks/sand when pegging it down. Adding versatility, the Multi-Pitch system also allows you to pitch either the inner or just the outer as your shelter – something we will be doing more of as summer ramps up.
For additional stability there are spare pegs and guy-ropes included. These came in handy (along with ensuring the tent was aligned with the wind direction) on one particularly windy weekend while testing, ensuring the tent wasn’t budging. Being able to regulate ventilation using the four vents plus that double door was also found to be a huge advantage in the often humid conditions on Australia’s eastern seaboard. It’s worth pointing out that condensation has been barely noted during the three months in the field.
The Macpac Olympus: The final word
We’ve been testing the Macpac Olympus for around three months now and have found it to have, in general, more than lived up to its well-earned reputation as a reliable, robust four-season shelter – something that was confirmed more than once by other long-term Olympus owners (some have had their tent for more than a decade, with heavy use during that time).
The asking price is definitely up there (although if you become a Macpac Club member – it’s free to join – you are eligible for discounts on Macpac branded products) and it is not the lightest of hiking tents, but its genuine four-season rating needs to be taken into account when comparing others in this market segment. There is also the slight inconvenience of having to seal the seams of the outer, which entails separating the outer from the inner, sealing all the seams by hand (using the supplied sealant) and then waiting for it to dry (most tents come from the factory with sealed seams).
It is when you look at the comprehensive feature set, with its heavy-duty materials and over-engineered components (both pointing to longevity of service, and thus making the price more palatable) that the Macpac Olympus makes plenty of sense. Add in the fact that it does what it is designed to, every single time, and regardless of the conditions in which it is asked to do so, and we reckon it’d be hard to argue that the Macpac Olympus is pretty darn close to that ‘one tent’ we all dream of.
RRP: $1100 Available at Macpac