On February 7th 2020 I evaluated the Litefighter – Catamount 2 Cold Weather Tent during an overnight bivouac. That night the temperature was a low of 13 ֯ F with a 5-10 mph wind and it snowed a total of 12”-18”. Although it is a 2 person tent, I slept in it by myself with a foam sleeping pad and three layers of the Army’s sleeping bag. I was cold but did get some solid hours of sleep. There are plenty of civilian 2-person 4-season mountaineering tents out there but not many specifically in subdued colors or made in the USA which could be important aspects for some. At $550, how did it perform and when would I use this tent?
The first time I set it up was in the dark in the snow and it was easy enough for one person to set up completely within 10 minutes. As I assembled it, something that I noted was the modularity. In warmer weather it can be set up without the inner tent, to make a waterproof shelter either with or without the waterproof floor. This means it can be tailored for the specific mission and weather conditions.
As a side loading 2 person tent, each person gets their own vestibule. This is convenient for keeping gear separate and being able to get in and out while pulling security shifts without disturbing the other occupant.
The tent itself is solid. I used the 2 horizontal “wind breaker” poles in addition to the all-in-one “spider hub” pole. It also comes with 4 guy lines along with stake points at all four corners. These anchor points would have added even more strength to the tent, but I didn’t feel the need to. It even came with material to put rocks (or something) into to make weighted improvised anchor points from.
The inside of the tent was pretty standard and had some hanging anchor points and mesh pockets for gear storage.
Overall the biggest asset this tent has is its durability and ruggedness. Nothing on this tent seemed like it would break even with heavy use over a couple of years.
That ruggedness comes with a downside, weight. It is listed as having a packed weight of 9.8 lbs. This is on the heavier side of 2-person 4-season tents. The weight can be alleviated by 2 people splitting the gear, but 4-5 lbs per person just for shelter seems heavy on long distance hikes or climbs when every ounce matters..
The tent did not pack in it very well in the provided stuff sack. In my opinion, it took up more space in my pack than it should have.
Trying to set this up in dense woods or while trying to keep a low profile is very difficult. The “spider hub” pole has six poles coming off of the hub, extending almost six feet in 4 different directions. It seems like it would be difficult to covertly set this up in position or move it into position as a “scout hide site” as Lightfighter’s website suggests it could be.
The vestibules did not have much room to keep gear out of the elements. The Army’s current one man tents has 8.5 square feet of vestibule space. The Catemount 2 lists 21 square feet of vestibule space, 10.5 per soldier. However, the vestibule is also the entrance and exit (unlike a one man tent), which effectively halves your space if you are going in and out. I only kept a nearly empty ruck in the vestibule and that alone took up half the usable space in the vestibule, and the other half was the ingress/egress route. If I had any more gear (kit, weapon system, climbing gear ect…) I would have had to bring them into the inner tent. It is a minor inconvenience but one worth mentioning.
The Litetfighter – Catamount 2 Cold Weather Tent has a couple of useful aspects like its durability, modularity, and 2 side vestibules.
I think there would be a lot of debate about when to use this tent. I think it is too big and heavy to carry on a long range patrol in any season other than winter. Even split between two people, 4 lbs per person is excessive in my opinion. Although it allows for a lighter weight configuration, in many cases I don’t think it replaces a $30, 1.3lb poncho and some training on how to make a poncho shelter.
However, I see two major scenarios where this tent would be most useful for. The first and most common scenario would be man-portable glamping. If you are on a small base with security but don’t have a hard building to stay in, this would be the warmest and most comfortable man-portable tent set up that I could think of.
The second scenario this tent would be best for is spending nights above (or away from) the tree line in the winter. It is a solid, windproof, free standing tent. With two people in sleeping bags it will definitely be warm and sturdy enough for the wind alpine.