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Aztec Rapido Lightweight Backpacker Tent Review

It is a subject that is much discussed among camping enthusiasts: whether to buy a single-skin or a double-skin tent.

There is a reason why most tents have an additional layer beneath the outer flysheet: it reduces the effects of condensation.

Tent flysheets are typically not breathable, so moisture that escapes from the body at night creates a humid internal atmosphere. When you wake up in the morning, water vapour will usually have condensed on the inside of the tent, making it wet to the touch.

Having an inner breathable layer does not prevent the flysheet from becoming wet inside, but does make this less of a problem, as you make contact with the dry, breathable inner layer instead of the flysheet.
By contrast, if you stretch out in the morning in a single-skin tent and touch the inside, you – or your sleeping bag – will get wet.

And the single-skin Aztec Rapido is no exception: on a recent two-night trip, this reviewer found the tent suffered from severe internal condensation, despite there being mesh vents to improve airflow. Indeed small pools of water had formed at each corner of the tent by the morning.

However, single-skin tents have their advantages, which is why many people are quite happy to use them.

Key among these is weight. By having just one layer, single-skin tents are usually lighter than similarly sized double-skin shelters that cost about the same. Equally lightweight double-skin tents may be available, but they will often be more expensive.

The Aztec Rapido hits the scales at just 1.75kg, including poles, pegs, flysheet and bag, which is remarkable given that the tent is a massive 2.4 metres wide and 2.2 metres long. There is also plenty of headroom, making it is easy to sit up straight inside, an essential factor during bad weather when you have to remain inside the tent for extended periods.

Thanks to its vast internal size, the Aztec Rapido could probably comfortably sleep three people, although a couple of them would have to squeeze up next to the walls and would, therefore, find their sleeping bags getting wet from condensation. There would not be much extra space for backpacks and other gear with three inside.

As is typical with single-skin tents, the Aztec Rapido does not have porch area, so there is nowhere to leave muddy boots or to cook. It also means that, when the door is opened in wet weather, water splashes down onto the tent floor. So while the tent is waterproof, with a polyurethane-coated polyester flysheet and taped seams, it can be challenging to keep the inside of the tent and belongings dry.

But there is a mesh screen beneath the door, so in better weather, the door can be left open without letting in midges and other insects.

Four guylines help to stabilise the tent, but nonetheless, it is probably not built to stand up to severe winds. There is a single long pole that curves over the front, plus a small straight pole at the tail end, which is entirely adequate to keep everything standing in modest weather but, especially given the tent’s large area, would probably not be sufficient if storms were raging.

The Aztec Rapido’s flysheet is made in a strikingly bright orange colour. Many wild campers prefer to remain discreet to avoid being asked to leave their camping spot (it’s often known as stealth camping), and they may be put off by the colour, which certainly does not blend into the landscape. But the bright colour keeps things light inside and, coupled with the dramatic shape – the large width and the spectacular sloping design – it means that the tent is attractive to look at and probably never fails to catch the eye. The floor of the tent is grey nylon.

If you are prepared to live with the condensation and the colour, the Aztec Rapido is worth considering thanks to its modest weight and vast internal space, especially as the tent can be bought online for less than the equivalent of $60.

There are some other single-skin tents available new or secondhand, among them the Coleman Rigel X2, which is much lighter than the Aztec Rapido at just under 1kg. It offers far less space, however, and the limited headroom is a particular downside.

A more appealing option regarding space is the Ultralite 200, a single-skin tent that used to be made by the Scottish company Vango. This 1.3kg shelter, which occasionally surfaces secondhand on sites such as eBay, is a good compromise between weight and space, its width of 125cm making it very roomy for a single person and adequate for two. The tent also has plenty of headroom. The Vango Ultralite 100, strictly for one person, crops up secondhand occasionally.

The Chinese brand Wolfwise has recently launched a single-skin two-person tent that offers very similar internal space – including headroom – to the Vango Ultralite 200, yet for a weight of fractionally over 1kg. This is impressive and the price, about $90 online direct from the manufacturer, is very reasonable.

While double-skin tents are more common, some single-skin shelters are also available, offering low weights to those who are unfazed by the inevitable condensation.

I bought the Aztec Rapido tent for his personal use and was not provided with it for free in return for a review.

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