Sea to Summit Specialist Duo tent

By Matt Newton 21 March 2014
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This compact yet roomy tent will keep your weight down.

When you first see the Specialist Duo you can’t help but think it is tiny. Rolled up, it’s only slightly larger than a Nalgene bottle. The thought after “tiny” is, “How could this possibly work?

At 846g, the Duo is by far the lightest two-person tent on the market. Which makes it perfect for a kayak trip, where space is always a premium. As I was headed for the Herbert River in far north Queensland, the Duo seemed to be the perfect choice.

My mates are very free with their, ahem, feedback and never miss an opportunity to let me know what they really think of my gear selection. So, keenly aware of their almost cultish love for the bivvy bag, it was with some trepidation that I slid this absurdly small tent into my kayak.

Set up, the Duo looks small, but once you climb inside it’s surprisingly roomy. This is because of the single-skin design – unlike a double-skin tent, what you see is what you get. That’s good. Two doors make access easy and provide loads of ventilation, which takes care of condensation, another obvious concern in a single-skin tent. At this point, I was feeling pretty confident about fending off the jibes from the “Bivvy Boys”. Then it started to rain.

To say the fabric of the Duo is sheer is a massive understatement. As I lay in the tent I could see each fat drop hit the nylon above me. Actually, I could practically see each drop as it left the cloud, the fabric was so thin. But it shed water fantastically. As the rain came down, I stayed dry, and in a degree of comfort previously unknown on a trip requiring use of lightweight gear.  That’s also good.

The key issue with all ultra-light gear is durability and I admit the Duo looked like a “one use only” option. When I first set it up there were plenty of comments about what I was going to sleep in the next night. But the quality of the fabric and the build means the tent just keeps on giving and, with care, shows no sign of wearing out any time soon.

The Specialist Duo has performed far better than I expected and I am continuing to take it on all trips demanding lightweight gear.  Because, let’s face it, you can’t do the “star fish” in a bivvy bag.

Rrp $499 (ground sheet $59)