Snugpak Journey Duo tent review
Snugpak are renowned for building solid, military grade, shelters and sleeping bags and in the latest offering, the Journey Duo, they've gone back to basics to produce a value for money, reliable two man tent. It's not lightweight, but to compensate for the extra weight you get a well-designed and durable shelter that's ideal as a 3-season step-up from entry level to serious backpacking.
The Journey Duo is a practical two person tent with a low profile design, excellent in high winds, with ample storage in its generous front porch. It has a large front door with a mosquito net ventilation panel. Constructed with a durable ground sheet in a bathtub style.
Supplied complete with a tailored tent footprint to help protect the ground sheet.
Highlights:
Weight - 3200g.
Windproof.
Fly first.
Footprint - Protects the floors and provides a groundsheet for your porch area.
One door - Mesh/nylon entrance point.
One vent - One scooped mesh vent for increased air flow that can be reduced for less air flow.
Repair Kit included.
Waterproof - Includes a 4000mm hydrostatic head flysheet to help keep you dry. Waterproof taped seams
Two person tent - Suitable for 2 people or 1 person with gear.
Two lightweight alloy poles with press fit connections.
Supplied with 18 lightweight Y pegs.
I got my hands on the new Snugpak Journey Duo for summer to review, trial and take it out in a variety of conditions.
As with any new tent, you should test it before heading out in to the hills. If something is broken or you are not sure how to build it. It's better in your garden you find these snags rather than 800metres above sea level in the cold and wet.
The Journey Duo is however very simple to put together. If you have previously used the Snugpak Scorpion or similar style tents to these, the Journey Duo is the inside out style to put it simply. Building the inner first with colour coded poles, followed by the outer waterproof layer. My first thoughts were okay, this could cause some issues if you are pitching in bad weather, so I tried experimenting with pitching the tent with the two attached. As you can do with the Scorpion tents.
Yes, you can do it but it's fiddly to be honest and you end up climbing all over the tent in order to do so. After a few more attempts doing this however the joint pitch became a little smoother as opposed to that first attempt.
The Journey Duo is packed with the inner and outer, three poles, dri-sak for storage plus a ground sheet for the doorway, pegs/stakes, repair kit and instructions. All of which are clearly labelled, and the instructions provided are very clear to follow. Taking out and putting away the tent in the dri-sak is very easy and never once have I struggled, even when the tent is wet.
The dri-sak has plenty of give and compression straps on the side to tighten once the tent is inside to reduce pack size.
As a whole this is a very simple tent for anyone to put together and is at home in multiple locations, but I foresee this tent being better use in a basecamp or field pitch scenario over camping on mountains.
The first proper outing with the Journey Duo was in Snowdonia, North Wales. The week before weather was looking glorious and in for a hot one. This changed very quickly on that Thursday/Friday bank holiday weekend and the rain, wind and storms came rolling in.
I know a few others braved that weekend but all of us abandoned ship because of poor conditions and safety. I attempted to pitch the tent, but it was so windy (gusting of 45mph) up near Llyn Ogwen, Cwm Idwal but I couldn't get the tent up in time without the tent becoming soaked as well as myself. So, I gave up with the tent and slept in the car.
Happy to report from this that the Snugpak Softie Osprey sleeping bag and new Basecamp airmat were very comfortable!
Despite poor weather, I would not be defeated and knew I had a month of solid outings in better conditions to see how this tent really held up.
Between Snowdonia and the Brecon Beacons I took the Journey Duo out around my local area - The Chilterns, nothing strenuous or difficult but it was a good opportunity to build the tent repeatedly and check the comfort levels. I found in our recent heatwave the tent does keep the heat in. There are a number of vents to help airflow, but the best means is to open the front door to the tent and allow the breeze to come through. Keeping the flysheet zipped up prevents any bugs from getting inside so if you aren't a fan of creepy crawlies this tent has the means to keep them out.
For the more adventurous campers who like to wild camp or longer treks then the next part will be of interest.
I have been visiting the Brecon Beacons for the past few weekends as it's a good location to get out, have somewhere remote and fairly wild with little people and get the conditions of a dark sky park for astrophotography.
The first night I spent on Pen y Fan, this first night was extremely windy but it wasn't an issue pitching as the wind died down. The lack of rain really helps!
With this tent you pitch the back to face in to the wind to keep the tent more stable and i'm happy to share it was tough and the style and construction of the tent sheds the wind very well.
During the night however, the wind direction changed from round the back to the front. This didn't cause any issues at all and the tent was stuck to the floor like glue and no pegs, guys or any fabric tears.
The Journey Duo can certainly cope with the means for more wild conditions, but it is heavy, coming in at 3.4kg which is rather heavy for some and having walked 16 miles in 32degrees over 6 mountains with the average of 700metres I could feel the pack on my back but in this heat any heavy work like this is tough!
The tent is somewhat heavy, but you can reduce the pack weight a small amount by not packing the groundsheet or by splitting the tent in two. As the tent is made for two people, you could split the inner and outer plus poles and pegs between two. This is something we regularly do with DofE expedition groups. Even with lighter tents, share the load out is the best means to reducing pack weight across teams.
If you are on your own, you could still split the tent in two and spread the weight out around the pack to make it even on the shoulders. As opposed to keeping it inside the dri-sak lashed on to one side of your rucksack.
As the name would obviously give away, the Journey Duo is designed to fit two people and it can very happily and some. It's very spacious with room inside the main sleeping area to fit two full length roll mats and bags with kit at the top or kept outside in the porch. For one person it's luxury and you can really spread out.
I had heaps of room and could happily sit up inside the tent or stretch out. At no point did I feel like I was squashed in, with the main doors left open it was really lovely with the view out over the lake and mountains.
With regards to the door, it's very simple and easy to use with just a straight old zipper that comes around the whole width of the door. Enabling you to wrap it up to one side to keep out of harm’s way. I did find closing it up it would catch on the tapered seams but nothing that would damage the material or zip. This is likely user error with me being in a rush.
Now a few will be looking at the colour and thinking why? The bright orange really stands out and you won't be missed that's for sure. I know for some who are trying to be discrete might not favour this new colour and would rather opt for the dark green of the Scorpion. As a whole I would recommend this tent is better suited to lower level conditions and campsites to match the basecamp theme Snugpak is going down. Couple this with the new Basecamp air mats and a few travel sleeping bags and you've got a nice set up.
It's nice to see Snugpak exploring new areas of the market and it's smart in my opinion as traditionally I would know Snugpak to be for the adventurous, expeditions and military background. It's nice to see the brand moving in a new direction and broader market, not alienating others.
The Journey Duo follows the same style and construction as the ever-popular Scorpion tents but at half the price - The Journey Duo is retailed at £170, compared to the Scorpion 2 which is £280. The key difference between the two is the Journey range is constructed inner first. This is my core reasoning behind it's better suited to lower level camping. Not that this tent can't take a bit of rain or wind. It can handle both extremely well, just you'd hope to have it pitched before the rain comes in for ease.
In all a tough tent which is perfect for three season conditions. If you are happy with a heavier tent for hikes, then this is a good tent to bring for summer and certainly a great tent for camping with two people looking to get away for the weekend. It's easy to cool down by opening up the whole tent and allowing airflow but equally it retains heat extremely well.
One last note regarding the orange walls, yes it does block out the light in the mornings, so you won't get rudely awakened by the sun.
If we look at the two man tents for now; the Journey Duo tent weighs in at 3.2kg, whereas the Snugpak Scorpion II trail weight is 2.2kg, or a total pack weight of 2.6kg. As you can see, their is some difference between the tents. Notice the Scorpion tents have the trail option as you can pitch the outer wall first, whereas the Journey range is constructed with the inside skin first (the mesh part) and cannot be built with the inside and outer fly connected. Although their is a trail weight option in which you don’t use the tent bag, extra groundsheet and minimal pegs which will reduce the Journey Duo tent weight to 2.4kg. (It is actually possible to build the Journey Duo with the inside and outside sheets, but it’s incredibly fiddly and run the risk of riping the tent).
This is a big reason why I was cautious when I first began using the tent. Certainly in adverse conditions, especially when it’s wet. As you have to build the Journey tents with the inside first and the mesh isn’t waterproof (of course, mesh has holes in to allow breathability). You might get the inside groundsheet wet which won’t be good for camping/sleeping on. So, it’s fair to say the Journey Range is better suited to fairer weather, or at the very least when it’s dry.
However, once constructed and pegged down the Journey Duo tent has been formidable and stood up to some sizable gusts, up to 45-50mph on the mountain summits. The weaker poles have a little more bend in them, compared to the Snugpak Scorpion tents which use DAC poles which are lighter and tougher.
Both tents use Snugpaks traditional cross stakes which you either love or hate. (That’s not a Snugpak issue but across the board with pegs). Personally, I prefer these cross stakes and use them throughout the year.
Further to this point and using the kit throughout the year. The Journey Duo in particular is usable for most of the year. Certainly a three season tent and will see you through from Spring to Autumn, however Winter may be a push. Certain times during Winter, certainly. Dry, cold and still days, I found the Journey Duo plenty spacious and warm enough with no moisture issues, with the structure and framing of the tent would lend itself to suit snow as well, the form is very similar to that of the Scorpion tents. However, it falls back to the issue of pitching the inside first and with no snow skirt make the Snugpak Journey Duo, not the best option for these conditions.
You may have noticed I have compared it to the older Snugpak Scorpion a lot. It’s Snugpak’s hardy and much loved tents which are affordable when you consider the four season, trail/back packing tents they are.
Now, the Snugpak Journey Duo is the cheaper option but for taller users the Duo is possibly a nicer option. I found being at 6ft 2 I had more space inside the groundsheet to stretch out and also more head room in comparison to the Scorpion tents, which is something I have always found a problem with the Scorpion tents, is the lack of head room when sat up.
Although the Journey Duo is pitched inside first, once the outer shell and inside are clipped together, the tent is a freestanding structure and you don’t neccassarily need to use pegs in order to pitch the tent out. In some circumstances I’ve had to use boulders around the guylines in order to prevent the tent from drifting away on solid ground where pegs are impossible to dig in. (For example Carnedd Llewelyn in North Wales).
Another benefit which the Journey Duo shares that with the Scorpion tents is the large front opening and porch, which is a huge benefit in poor weather as it means you can cook inside the doorway without the need to climb out of the tent. If you are going to do this, be sure that the flame isn’t near the material and that you have ventilation to prevent carbon monoxide building up inside the tent. In addition to the large porch, the Journey tents come with a groundsheet for the doorway should you want to extend the tents footprint.
So, two years since the Journey Duo launched is it a tent I would recommend? Ultimately it depends on the use and conditions you intend on venturing out with the tent. Although I personally have used it extensively, I have used the Scorpion tents far more. In comparison, for every outing with the Journey Duo I will have used the Scorpion 4 times and this is purely down to ease and construction in poor weather.
Does that mean the Snugpak Journey Duo is a bad tent? Not at all and in dry, calm weather I much prefer this tent and for a number of reasons:
More mesh on the inside, which means less moisture and is perfect in summer.
Higher pitch, as someone who is 6ft 2 this gives me more head room and this means more room as a whole inside. We will often cook or sit in one tent in the evenings, so this is only a benefit that you can sit three/four people inside comfortable.
In terms of pricing, the Snugpak Journey Duo is the middle man and often I find Snugpak to be this way across the board. At £190 their is cheaper tents but also much more expensive and ultimately it boils down to personal choice and whether you want to be replacing a tent every year or something that will last. At two years old now my Snugpak Journey Duo is showing no signs of age or effect from the weather or conditions.
MyOutdoors Rating:
Comfort = 19/20
Loads of room for one man and plenty for two with gear, the porch area is plentiful big to fit kit inside and even pitch up a gas stove just outside the doors to cook with.
Ease of set up = 15/15
Everything is colour coded and the instructions are super clear and easy to follow with a few simple steps. It’s difficult to get wrong and can pitch this tent in a matter of minutes.
Weather Resistance = 15/25
Would be higher if it were outer build first, this restricts when you can use it making it more suited to Spring and Summer.
Durability = 19/20
Once pitched its tough and withstands a lot but building it in poor conditions is very difficult with the inner built first followed by the outer.
Weight 9/20
It’s not the heaviest as tents go but 3.4kg for a two man is heavy and for backpacking it’s not suitable.
It is best suited on lower levels and for campsites.
Total score = 77/100
Transparency Notice: Please note that I am a Snugpak brand ambassador and receive the products for free to review from Snugpak or to use for marketing purposes. The review is no guarantee of endorsement. I receive no monetary gain from Snugpak from the reviews or content created.
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