Review: MEC’s TGV 2 Tent

I bought Mountain Equipment Co-op’s TGV 2 tent two years ago over the Labor Day 2012 weekend, just before the start of the Fall Camp that would officially kick off my career change. It was a bit of an impulse buy; as the second oldest person in the college program I was starting, I didn’t want to end up sharing a tent with someone half my age. After my husband got me settled into my little Pembroke cottage and headed five hours home to Toronto, I made the hour and a half drive east into Westboro for the first of many MEC Ottawa shopping runs.

That impulse buy has been my home-away-from-home through two September fall camps, a 4-day Algonquin Park backpacking trip in October, a 3-day PPJ Trail cycling tour in November, cross-country ski lessons at Mount Pakenham near Ottawa in February, a 3-day snowshoe-backpacking weekend through the crown lands of the Ottawa Valley during a bone-chilling March, a 4-day canoe trip on the Ottawa River when the Madawaska River was too high in April 2013, whitewater canoe lessons at the Paddlers Co-op in the month of June, a 9-day sea kayak trip on Georgian Bay in September, a 10-day road trip through Vancouver Island in October, and a 10-day portage-trail-clearing / canoe trip in Woodland Caribou Provincial Park last May. If you’re looking for a four-season tent, here are some things to know about the TGV 2:

Features & Benefits:

First, the specs: at 2.9kg (6.4lbs), the TGV 2 certainly isn’t a lightweight summer tent and nor is it meant to be. It is fairly lightweight for a four-season, mountaineering tent which is its intended purpose. It has one door and two windows. The tent is made of 40-denier nylon mesh. Its floor is waterproofed to 10,000mm, well-above standard. The bright orange fly (it is absolutely easy to spot, in case of emergency) is made of 75-denier polyester and is rated to 2,000mm in its waterproofness.

20150117 - my tent

At 2.13m (~7ft) long and 1.34m (4.4ft) wide, the TGV 2 is spacious for a solo traveler who likes to keep her gear in the tent with her overnight. It is also feasible to sleep two people head-to-toe with gear primarily in the vestibule. I tested this out on the 9-day sea kayak trip. Watch out for stinky, wore-water-shoes-too-long feet. At an interior peak height of 1.16m (3.8ft) tall, I can sit or kneel in the tent comfortably.

The TGV 2 is pretty inexpensive for a four-season tent at C$319. I bought its footprint for C$22 to protect the floor and would recommend doing so to anyone. I’ve saved the floor from pine sap, rocks, and twigs.

MEC color-coordinates its tent poles with the tabs (or sleeves depending on the tent purchased) on the tent, making it extremely easy to erect even under threat of foul weather.

This tent is my all-year long tent. I love camping in the shoulder seasons and during the winter, but I am not a mountaineer. If you’re looking for an alpine tent there are some very specific mountaineering specifications associated with the TGV 2 that you’ll want to check out on MEC’s website here.

Problems & Possible Solutions:

As noted above it is a tight squeeze for two people. This isn’t really a problem for me; that’s the reason I bought it. But for those of you who might want to fit a second person I would recommend packing a spare tarp, ground cover, or emergency blanket for the ground of vestibule. The TGV 2’s footprint only matches the foot of the tent and if you would like to keep your gear as dry as possible, a little ground cover for the vestibule is nice to have.

Because it is a four-season tent, it gets very hot inside the tent in warmer temperatures. If you’re lucking out with weather, by all means leave the fly off. If not, there are two internal vents and one external vent that will help with the air flow while still keeping the bugs out of your tent. I recommend leaving the vents ajar even in very cold temperatures or wet conditions: it helps reduce the internal condensation and lack of breatheability that inherently comes with a four-season tent.

The windows seem to separate from the fly fairly easily. They are glued rather than stitched. So far my duct tape seams seem to be holding up to the elements.

MEC's TGV 2 Tent at the Outdoor Adventure Show

Who Should Buy the TGV 2:

If you are a solo camper who loves being outdoors from mid-fall to mid-spring and are looking for a midweight, four-season, reasonably-priced tent, MEC’s TGV 2 is for you. As a sidenote, MEC is a member-only co-op. $5 will get you a lifetime membership.

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