Four- and All-season tents have a lot to live up to – they must be able to withstand strong alpine winds and heavy snow-loading, all the while staying small and light enough to be reasonably packable. Additionally, if it’s going to be anything more than a winter-only shelter, they need some adaptability so you don’t have to deal with winter features in the summer. It’s not a mix that every tentmaker gets right – there are a lot of strong tents that are very heavy, lighter “four-season” tents that just don’t live up to their promises, and tents that are too heavy and complex to bother with during the summer. However, Slingfin’s WindSaber strikes the right balance – light, strong, and modular.
Slingfin sent Modern Hiker their two-person alpine mountaineering tent, and one of the first things I noted when I opened it up is the clever detachable WebTruss system for attaching the poles to the tent. There’s basically two types of pole attachment – sleeves and clips. The sleeve style provides significantly better strength for wind and heavy snow, but is more difficult to use; the clips that allow you to attach the tent body after the poles are inserted in the tent aren’t as strong, but are much more convenient. The innovation for the WindSaber is that the WebTruss can be either, depending on your situation. The innovative feature sets a number of small buckles along the tent where you can either attach clips OR the pole sleeve. It’s a bit of work to attach each component, but since you’ll only do it once per season, that’s probably a non-issue.
I decided to take the tent up Mount Rainier to Camp Muir, the 10,000ft basecamp where summiters regularly stay on the 14,411ft volcano. It was the middle of October, but the weather report was spectacular and it’s just the spot to try out a mountaineering tent! The hike up is considered one of the tougher routes in the state – it’s only 4 miles up, but the 4,600ft of gain on snow and ice combined with the elevation make it a challenge. I was glad that the Slingfin came in under 5lbs (it just squeaks over the line to 5lbs 0.2oz with the WebTruss and optional footprint), it was going to be quite a walk and the less weight the better.
The morning of the trip came, and the conditions were just as predicted, but it didn’t last. As is often the case, mountains make their own weather. About a mile away from camp, perched on the side of a steep snowfield between two towering glaciers, a massive windstorm rolled in and we were pelted with gusts topping 100 mph. It quickly became dangerous, and we scrambled up that last stretch as quickly and safely as possible, reaching the camp just before nightfall. Because of the extreme wind and exhaustion, we decided to dig out the door of one of the concrete shelters that are mainly used in the summer and stay in there for the night. We didn’t think it safe to try to stay outside that night when we had another option. It’s worth noting, however, that the WebTruss would have come in handy here too – you can set up just the pole sleeves with minimal fear of it catching wind, and secure it before assembling the tent inside of those sleeves using the buckles.
Thankfully, the next day it was clear enough for us to make it down the mountain safely, and we stopped to check out the WindSaber. It has a lot of great features that mountaineers will love – one of the doors is a tunnel entrance to help keep the snow out in a storm and make it easier to tie down from the inside, lots of room and storage pockets for bulky winter gear, and thoughtful details like buckles to keep the fly flaps closed securely and not overburden the zippers.
We had a little trouble with the small plastic toggles on the bags and the small biners that attach the fly to the tent body – they were completely unusable with gloves on. However, that’s about the only negative I found – premium materials and construction abound, and the design details are smart and useful. With a great balance of weight and features, it’s definitely worth considering for your next adventure!