Roman Cradle 2-Person Hiking Tent: Tested

By Mark Watson 29 March 2023
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The Roman Cradle 2P promises plenty of hiking tent bang for your bucks. We go into the wild to see how it stacks up.

Hiking tent choice, when you’re looking for a shelter for a solo hiker who likes a bit of space, or two hikers, is governed by a few factors, with durability, interior space and – often, but not always – weight, the three main considerations. That last factor is where you start realising you need pretty deep pockets; once a hiking tent (whether a solo unit or 2P) drops below around 2kg, it gets very expensive – and you start to lose some durability, which is a lot more important in the overall scheme of things than, say, half a kilogram or so. This is where the Roman Cradle 2P Hiking Tent comes in: a bit more beef but balanced with a seemingly robust build and – most appealingly – a very attractive price point, make it sound like a viable option for those searching for an economical shelter. Does Roman sacrifice much to keep the price on the down low? We headed to the hills with the Roman Cradle 2P to find out.

Design of the Roman Cradle 2P

If you like to head to the hills on a whim but don’t have a spare thousand dollars for a sub-1kg two-person hiking tent, then a Roman Cradle 2P might just do the trick. The Roman Cradle 2P Hiking Tent is a solid, sturdy and affordable two-person, four-season hiking tent, and offers a bunch of useful features for hikers, backpackers and car campers. Weighing in at 2.8 kilograms and measuring 45cm long x 17cm in circumference, the Cradle 2P is certainly no featherweight but is easily packable and can be stuffed into a backpack for multi-night adventures on foot. (See our guide to lightweight camping, here.)

The Cradle 2P’s geodesic design and fast setup, along with robust materials used throughout, make for a reliable shelter.

Its three-pole geodesic design and pivoting pole slider offers a reasonably quick setup and a burly shelter, while the PU 5000mm taped floor and PU 3000mm water-rated Ripstop® fly offer durability and reliable protection from the elements. A 215cm x 130cm floor space delivers enough internal room for one occupant with self-inflating mattress and gear, or two occupants with sleeping pads, and a 110cm roof provides enough room to change inside on a wet morning. The ridge pole creates a hexagonal footprint and streamlined profile, all while booting vestibule space so hikers can keep packs tucked out of the elements. Two side doors enable easy access to both sides of the tent and when combined with the large mesh upper, allow for increased ventilation to aid airflow and reduce condensation. The waterproof roll-top stuff sack with dual compression straps is a bonus for storing and transporting the tent.

In the field

There is plenty to both like and some to dislike about the Roman Cradle 2P Hiking Tent. Whether it suits your needs will likely be determined by budget and intended use. But in short, the Roman Cradle 2P offers a lot (features) for not much (money). There are far lighter, higher-tech tents in the two-person hiking category, but few that deliver such a sturdy and sizeable sub-2.8kg geodesic tent for under $250. We were big fans of the dual vestibules and the ridge pole that created a more windproof footprint and expanded internal volume. 

A dual-wall system and a decent amount of mesh allows for very good ventilation.

The 5000mm water rated floor with seam sealing is a must-have and the 3000mm water rated, quick-release fly sheet was easy to fit, with well-considered Velcro tabs at guy attachment points to aid rigidity. Once laid out this tent will handle some harsh conditions. The tent offered a common tried and tested dual-wall system, and when combined with large mesh areas offered plenty of ventilation through the fly sheet vents. The external pole attachment was of a clip-type, a method we are fans of with our ‘if-it-ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it” attitude. Small details like the off-the-floor internal pockets at both ends, a roof hook for light, along with non-foot-lacerating tent pegs and reflective guy attachment points all put a smile on our dial. 

Related: Best foot forward: A guide to hiking

What didn’t put a smile on our file was the pivoting pole slider that we discovered was both a blessing and a bane. The pole-slider aids strength and solidifies pole-placement but, it is also intended to aid ease of setup – we found the opposite. The pole-slider makes the assessment of which-pole-goes-where more difficult (colour-coding will fix this) and the pivot-points must be oriented correctly, with attention to detail, or may break (we managed to accidentally break a pivot, but fortunately, it just clipped back in place). 

We also weren’t massive fans of the loose door tiebacks, and oversized plastic buckles and guy ratchets. They all worked well enough but gave the tent a ‘cheap’ feel. Just a few more dollar for some alloy guy tensioners, reflective guy lines or higher spec tiebacks would have us smiling a lot more. 

The tent poles (and inner tent clips they attach to) are tough, but the pole slider was a challenge in the initial stages of the review.

All in all, though, the tent was a winner for the cost – it’s hard to knock the bits that allow it to be so affordable. However, if you’re looking for more perceived durability and less weight in a hiking tent, there are plenty of higher spec alternates that will deliver ‘the goods’ but be prepared to pay a decent chunk of change more.

The final word on the Roman Cradle 2P

While there are no doubt more advanced and lighter weight two-person four-season tents on the market, there are few that can offer such features at a similar price point to the Roman Cradle 2P Hiking Tent – it offers plenty of bang for those bucks. We recommend this tent to entry-to mid-level hikers on a budget who require a three- to four-season shelter, and where packable size and weight are less of a factor. 

RRP: $299 Click through to OZtrail for more info on the Roman Cradle 2P and other Roman and OZtrail gear.