If you haven’t noticed, the tent market in North America has been rather stagnant for the better part of the last twenty years. New designs are few and far between, most tent manufacturers content with the products they’ve had in their catalogs for ages. It’s for these reasons I started to spend more energy researching tents manufactured across the pond, namely those from Terra Nova and their sister brand, Wild Country.
It was just over a year ago when I started using a Terra Nova Laser Comp for my ultra-light adventures. You can read about that amazing tent: HERE. At under two pounds with a packed size scarcely larger than a loaf of bread, it has been my go-to for bikepacking, trekking, and those occasions when space and weight are of critical importance. It has been a fortress in bad weather, and one of the more impressive shelters I’ve ever used. As I searched for something a bit more, luxurious, the Wild Country Zephyros 3 Living Tent seemed like the way to go.
At only 9 pounds with a relatively small packed size, the Zephyros is not much heavier than some “lightweight” two-person backpacking tents. The Zephyros is however, a massive tent with regard to internal volume. The most noticeable feature is the 6 foot tall central peak which affords most users ample standing height. The main pole at the center of the tent also creates near vertical walls, again creating a useful interior space. The other nice feature is the large vestibule that wraps around three sides of the inner tent body. The vestibule can house mountains of gear, something I’ve come to appreciate when weather sets in.
Further adding to the sturdy architecture of the tent are two straight poles at either end. Those poles help elevate the two opposing ends for more headroom. Two large vents above those end poles create good air pass-through without compromising the waterproofness of the flysheet.
Inside there is ample room for three people with a secondary door making for easy entry and egress, particularly if the vestibule is crammed full of gear. For those occasions when wind and weather threaten the stability of the tent, a full compliment of guylines, a dozen in all, can be deployed to anchor the tent firmly to the ground.
I also like the ability to pitch just the outer shell for a cavernous shelter with an open floor. On a recent trip we used the Zephyros 3 as a dining area to escape an onslaught of thunderstorms and later to shield four mountain bikes from the weather. That type of versatility is hard to achieve with other tents.
In use the Zephyros 3 has been easy to pitch (with practice), rock solid in even the most severe winds, and given its pitched size, packs down to a compact bundle. I think it’s a perfect solution for those looking for a larger than average tent for truck or even motorcycle travel.
As good as it is, there are some worthy considerations to ponder before deciding if the Zephyros 3 is for you. Because the structure of the tent is provided by a main pole threaded through the flysheet, it is not possible to pitch just the tent body alone. This is primarily an issue for those people wanting a tent they can use strictly for bug protection while maximizing ventilation. And speaking of ventilation, the only way to get full air pass-through is to open the two main outer doors. That can make for stuffy nights if the rains come during warm nights. It’s also worth noting that the fly sheet, like many European tents, extends all the way to the ground, further blocking small breezes. These potential negatives are offsets for a tent designed to defend against weather’s worst. I concede the Zephyros 3 might not be ideal for desert dwellers where the threat of rain is secondary to the need for air circulation.
The competition for quality tents suitable for extended travel in harsh weather environments is tight. The Zephyros 3 Living Tent offers a departure from the norm. The quality of materials is superb and the unique architecture creates a very open and livable interior. Now, if I can just get away more often to put it to use.