NightHaven Tent Beach West Coast Trail

Outdoor Research NightHaven Tent

This is the first lightweight shelter I’ve ever purchased. I picked it because it was a light, compact two-person shelter at a good price.

What is it?

The OR NightHaven is a bright orange floorless tarp tent that weighs in at 1060 grams. The optional floor adds another 430 grams. It is a single wall shelter made of silnylon with mesh paneling for ventilation.

NightHaven Tent Beach West Coast Trail
Outdoor Research NightHaven on the Beach

The main feature that attracted me to this tent is that it uses your hiking poles for support rather than having to carry separate tent poles. I love the idea of a lightweight tarp shelter with the added bugproof features and the dual use of using your trekking poles for support; however, the drawbacks of this design are significant.

How do I use it?

NightHaven Tarp Tent Beach
Ally and I packing up

The longest trek I’ve used the NightHaven on was six days on the West Coast Trail sharing it with my girlfriend. I’ve also used it as a solo shelter and there is plenty of room for my gear and my dog.

It sets up very quickly and easily, but does require a bit of spot picking as it has a fairly large footprint for a 2 person tent. We also brought the floor addon as we were concerned about moisture on the trail.

With the footprint attached the tent will not fit back into its stuff sack and I can’t see the efficiency of detaching it after each use to store both separately. I was using a 6 L mesh sack to store both rolled up, but on my next hike I am going to try storing the tent on the outside of my pack with no stuff sack.

What’s good?

The NightHaven is lightweight, packs up small (about the size of a rugby ball), and uses your trekking poles for support. It easily fits two people and some gear. Despite not having a true floor, it does a good job of keeping out bugs and moisture from the ground. The full-zip mesh door also makes it much more bug resistant than I expected from a tarp-tent.

NightHaven with trekking poles
The mesh door and floor make this a habitable tarp-tent

I was concerned that the design would be difficult to set up in sand as it relies on tension between the ground pegs and your extended hiking poles. However, as you can see, it can be done. You just need to weigh down the corner pegs with rocks or logs to keep them weighted in the ground.

What’s not so good?

The main downside to this tent is the amount of condensation that collects on the roof throughout the night. This is likely a problem in any single wall shelter, but it’s more significant in this tent for a couple of reasons:

  • The ventilation at the front of the tent is good, but we found that leaving the front flap completely open was essential to reduce condensation. This works as long as it doesn’t rain, as the door design allows water direct entry into the tent while open due to the lack of an entry fly.
  • The other issue in this design is the slope of the roof. The tent is quite wide, but the roof is so low near the sides that a large portion of the tent is completely unusable. I also found that due to the low roof I would frequently brush up against the top and find my sleeping bag damp from condensation in the morning.
  • The mesh panels along the sides and at the back of the tent are not big enough to get rid of the condensation.

    Outdoor Research NightHaven Interior
    Poles make it hard to cuddle

Due to the need for tension between the pegs and poles, this shelter would not work on rock as a freestanding tent could.

Having the trekking poles located in the inside of the tent does not allow you to use the highest, roomiest area in the center. It also does not allow you to cuddle with your hiking partner (this could be a good thing or a bad thing depending on if I’m hiking with my girlfriend or hiking with Rob).

So…

As it stands I continue to use this tent as I can’t justify an expensive shelter purchase at this time, but I continue to search for an acceptable alternative without adding much weight.

Outdoor Research TarpTent
NightHaven in the trees

On the plus side, we did find out that the tent can be set up without hiking poles (we forgot them on an overnight canoe trip) by using some rope to either string up the tent or use a cantilever design over some taller exterior sticks (thanks to Rob’s out-of-the-box thinking). This allows for some of that cuddle room.

The design could be improved by possibly adding an entrance fly so that the front could be open even in the rain. Also, the roof design could be tweaked, possibly by making it higher in the center to create a steeper slope and skinnier, but more usable footprint.

Bottom Line

Although the NightHaven is priced well and performs as advertised as a lightweight, yet durable, single wall shelter, I would not recommend this tent without the above design fixes.

In looking for a replacement shelter I am considering either a full tent such as the MSR Hubba Hubba or possibly one of the tarp shelters from some of the lightweight-backpacking cottage gear makers.

Manufacturer’s Website: http://www.outdoorresearch.com/site/nighthaven.html

MSRP: $215 Cdn, Footprint: $65 Cdn

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