GEAR REVIEW: Eureka Timberline Outfitter Six Tent
Eureka has been in the tent business for many years, and it shows. Their Timberline tents have been used around the world, and the design has withstood the test of time. This review is focused primarily on the Timberline Outfitter Six (TLO6) model.
The Eureka Timberline comes in several sizes; here are the stats on the various models:
|Model||Season||Center Height||Footprint||Weight||Packed Size||True Capacity|
|Timberline SQ 2XT||3||3'7"||7'3"x4'11"||6lb. 10oz.||6"x24"||1-2-man|
|Timberline 2||3||3'6"||7'2"x5'3"||5lbs. 13oz.||6"x24"||1-2-man|
|Timberline SQ 4XT||3||4'9"||8'7"x7'1"||9lbs. 13oz.||7"x26"||2-3-man|
|Timberline SQ Outfitter 4||4||4'9"||8'7"x7'1"||9lbs. 14oz.||7"x25"||2-3-man|
|Timberline Outfitter 6||4||6'3"||8'6"x10'3"||18lbs.8oz.||8"x30"||2-4-man
Though Eureka makes a variety of styles of tents, this discussion is limited to their "Timberline" series, which includes smaller single person tents, up to expedition models that can handle four people with comfort. The tent body itself is unique in that the sides are made of a breathable nylon material, but the end panels are totally waterproof. This is because the tent is an A-frame design, with the doors potentially exposed to rainfall. The larger models include double doors (one at each end), with full-length mesh mosquito netting for ventilation. The Timberline has a bathtub floor, with heavier waterproof floor fabric extending well up in the front and along the sides of the tent body. The coverage on the sides is especially applicable to Alaska trips, where wind-driven rain might otherwise blow up between the tent body and the rainfly, misting through the breathable side walls. The side walls are off-white in color, giving the inside of the tent a bright appearance, making it easier read that novel or perform other tasks on those days when the weather has you holed up.
The Timberline Outfitter Six has double, ventilated doors, making it easy for occupants to enter or exit on the downwind side easy even if the wind direction switches overnight. The tent has a bathtub floor, with two seams that must be seam-sealed periodically. The ceiling offers rings for two parallel clotheslines and there are four mesh pockets hanging above the floor level, two on each side. The rainfly on the Timberline tent is strong enough to hold up to heavy wind, however the rectangular shape of the sides don't shed wind nearly as well as a geodesic dome design, so care should be taken to pitch it behind terrain features or vegetation that can be used as a windbreak. This is particularly true of the Outfitter Six, which stands tall enough for a six-foot-tall person to stand up without hitting the ceiling with their head. The fly comes to within a few inches of the ground and can be secured tightly along the bottom edge, the middle, and the top via the attached D-rings. The Outfitter Six has D-rings located along the horizontal centerline of the sides, which clip into the tent body. When these rings are secured to tiedown cords and staked out properly, the effect is to pull the inside walls of the tent outward enough to eliminate sidewall sag and create substantial interior space in the tent.
The poles are made of shock-corded aluminum. That, combined with the four main poles being the same length, makes assembly easy, even in inclement weather. The only longer pole that's different from the legs is the ridgepole, which is swaged at each end, to accommodate its insertion into a junction yoke at each end.
The Timberline series tents are only available in Kelly Green for the rainfly, with the tent body a matching green in the door areas, off-white on the tent body itself and a chocolate brown for the bathtub floor.
A floorless vestibule is available, which is secured by tucking it between the tent poles and the rainfly, staking it down around the outer edges. This forms a floorless room large enough for storing bulky or wet gear, or for cooking. The downside of the vestibule is that the means of attaching it to the tent body is not secure enough to allow taut staking or anchoring with guylines (if you pull the lines or stakes too tightly, the vestibule pulls out of the tent). This makes the vestibule useful only in fair, calm weather.
As with all tents destined for use on remote Alaska expedition trips, the addition of a couple hundred feet of parachute cord and a variety of different types of stakes is highly recommended. The addition of a plastic tarp under the tent is also recommended, as a measure for reducing wear and tear on the floor. The tent can serve double-duty as an emergency rainfly in the unlikely event of a rainfly failure.
The primary negative concern with the Timberline tent is the shape of the side-walls, which do not shed wind as well as a traditional mountaineering tent does. This requires users to pitch the tent in a place that offers protection from the wind, an issue that may be a deal-breaker for tundra trips.
Some guide services in Alaska have used Timberline tents for over 20 years, with great results. The Eureka Timberline tent in all its sizes, is a great three-season tent for adventurers on a budget. As long as users are cautious to pitch the tent behind or in sheltering vegetation or terrain features that provide protection from heavy winds, this tent should last many years in the field.
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