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Reviews: Tents & Shelters

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Eureka Spitfire 1 (thread)
Rating: ****_   (Average: *****  from 2 votes)
By Jerry Harp on Mon 16 Oct 2006 21:32 (US/Pacific) Edit Delete   Reply (4)   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
I have used the Spitfire 1 since 2005, on all my tours. The Spitfire design is great for Texas summer camping due to the extensive use of mesh fabric. The 1 is most useful for the shorter, budget and weight conscious cycler. It can accommodate a person up to about 5'10" tall, be bought for about $90, and weighs 3 lbs 4 oz packed. Set up is quick and simple. There were no leaks during a couple of heavy thunderstorms I've experienced. The 40" peak height is a definite plus. With the fly attached, there is a small vestibule area where panniers can be crammed.

Tent poles are aluminum and collapse to a length of about 20". I've had no problem with the poles, zippers, mesh, or fabric.

I recently(2008)discovered that, with a full length Thermarest, the tent is actually free standing if the rain fly isn't needed. Very useful when pitching under a pavilion.

If over 5'10", or you just want a lot more room, the Spitfire 2 is recommended. Size of the 1's vestibule area and it's relatively short length are the reason it didn't get a 5 rating.

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Addendum by Jerry Harp on Sun Nov 7 13:56:19 2010 PST:
A footprint is highly recommended, and is now available thru several online merchants. I made mine from tarp material and have it attached to the tent with velcro strips I sewed on to make a double bathtub floor. The tent and footprint stay together when I pack, making it very simple to just lay them out as a pkg. If the tarp gets puncture, Duct Tape to the rescue.

Addendum by Jerry Harp on Tue Nov 9 04:49:30 2010 PST:
It keeps getting better. I've recently realized another reason I like this tent so much. You can step into and out of it. No crawling. If there is another solo tent where you can do that, I haven't found it.

Addendum by Jerry Harp on Fri Jan 28 12:55:16 2011 PST:
The more I use this tent, the better it gets.

With a bit of ingenuity, the fly can be pitched first. The easiest way I've
found to do this is a cord with loops in each end, spaced to maintain correct
pole flex for the fly. Does a great job. Very simple.

Lay out the flexed poles, throw the fly over them, stake each end, elevate the
poles. Adjust one of the stakes for proper tension. Go inside the fly with the
inner tent and attach the hooks to the poles.

Easy, and very useful if raining, or if all you want is the fly. Practice
before needed.

Addendum by Jerry Harp on Sun 30 Sep 2012 17:43 (US/Central):
How to enlarge the Spitfire living space and reduce the bulk and weight. Refinement of other posts on this review.

http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/hackingSpitefire

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#2: Re: Eureka Spitfire 1 (thread)
By Pete Staehling on Mon 28 Mar 2011 13:13 Edit Delete in reply to #1     Reply (2)   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
I just bought a Spitfire 1 and am super impressed with it. I will refrain from giving it a rating until I have used it some, but so far it seems close to perfect for me for touring. For backpacking I think I'd like a little bigger vestibule, but for touring I leave my panniers packed and on the bike so think it is probably going to be completely adequate.

Jerry, your hints about pitching in the rain are helpful. I was trying to work that out. It has never been a big deal to me before because my other tents never had so much mesh.

      
#3: Re: Eureka Spitfire 1 (thread)
By Jerry Harp on Mon 28 Mar 2011 14:11 Edit Delete in reply to #2     Reply (1)   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
My notes about pitching the fly first are confusing, mostly because of the non-edit feature of Reviews. The simplist I've found is loops in the ends of cords to maintain flex until the pole ends can be put in the grommets. If you come up with an easier way, let me know.

All the seams do need to be sealed, and I have added additional stake points for fly tensioning. 0.4 mil plastic now for the footprint.

Enjoy.

      
#4: Re: Eureka Spitfire 1 (thread)
By Scott Little on Mon 28 Mar 2011 16:09 Edit Delete in reply to #1     Reply (1)   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
Thanks for the review.

You can step into and out of it. No crawling.

Come to think of it, every tent I've ever owned required that I crawl in feet first and crawl out head first. How nice it would be to have a tent with a full length, side opening door!

      
#5: Re: Eureka Spitfire 1 (thread)
By Pete Staehling on Tue 29 Mar 2011 04:26 Edit Delete in reply to #4     Reply   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
Funny, It is so ingrained in me to crawl in that it never even occurred to me to do otherwise :)

      
#6: Re: Eureka Spitfire 1 (thread)
By Pete Staehling on Tue 29 Mar 2011 04:28 Edit Delete in reply to #3     Reply   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
"My notes about pitching the fly first are confusing, mostly because of the non-edit feature of Reviews."
No worries, it was pretty easy to follow.

      
#7: Re: Eureka Spitfire 1 (thread)
Rating: ***** 
By Pete Staehling on Mon 30 May 2011 07:56 Edit Delete in reply to #1     Reply (1)   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
I finally got to use this tent on a backpacking trip and it fully met all my expectations.

This tent tends to get dinged on length for taller folks, but I am a bit puzzled that folks find this tent too short. I guess it depends on how willing you are to have your head or feet near the pointy ends or whether you want to put gear there, but point to point this thing is 9' long. I am about 5' 10" and think I would be fine if with this tent even I was 6" taller. It might be an issue if you have a huge sleeping pad, particularly if it didn't taper at the ends. I have a feeling that something like the large NeoAir at 25"x77" might not fit well due to tapered ends of the tent. I have not tried it though so I am not sure.

The vestibule space in minimal, but I am fine with that for bike touring since I always leave most of my gear in the panniers and on the bike. For backpacking it would be nice to have my pack fit more easily in the vestibule, so for backpacking I might have rated it one star lower.

The weight, price, and quality all seem to hit the mark perfectly.

I found it roomy enough for not only me but for my 50 pound dog as well. It helped that she is very well behaved, but we didn't feel even slightly crowded.

It is well ventilated and didn't condense up even in very wet conditions with me and the dog.

As Jerry mentioned the side door allows you to just step right in without crawling. That is a very nice touch.

I usually like a freestanding tent so I can sleep in a picnic pavilion or other shelter. That is nice because you can leave the fly off and have fabulous ventilation on a hot night while still be protected from the bugs. This tent will work almost as well since it can stand nicely with only two anchor points. So two picnic tables, poles, or even a stake outside the pavilion can work fine.

      
#8: Re: Eureka Spitfire 1 (thread)
By Jerry Harp on Mon 30 May 2011 11:06 Edit Delete in reply to #7     Reply (1)   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
Glad it's working for you Pete. Your 50 lbs dog?:) Nice touch.

As for panniers and in place of a dog, I've actually had 3 of mine inside with me, and one in the vestibule.

In the review: I recently(2008)discovered that, with a full length Thermarest, the tent is actually free standing if the rain fly isn't needed.

Bit floppy, but works on concrete. I bet the NeoAir will provide the necessary tension.

I keep hoping for a 25 sq ft model of this tent, but doubt that hoping is gonna get results.

      
#9: Re: Eureka Spitfire 1 (thread)
By Pete Staehling on Mon 30 May 2011 14:40 Edit Delete in reply to #8     Reply (1)   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
Jerry, do you happen to know the dimensions of your full size thermarest?

One other thing... If you wanted to have panniers or whatever where you could keep an eye on them, the vestibule on the side opposite the door would work if you didn't need easy access to them. As I said I just leave mine on the bike though.

I think the odds of them making an in between sized one are pretty unlikely.

      
#10: Re: Eureka Spitfire 1 (thread)
By Jerry Harp on Tue 31 May 2011 07:41 Edit Delete in reply to #9     Reply (2)   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
20x77".

The need for panniers inside the tent is so rare as to be a non-issue. The vestibule accomodates my shoes and one pannier nicely.

      
#11: Re: Eureka Spitfire 1 (thread)
By Pete Staehling on Sat 11 Jun 2011 17:04 Edit Delete in reply to #10     Reply   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
Thanks for the followup. I do wonder how the huge size (25" X 77") of the NeoAir large would be with this tent.

I agree completely that the need for panniers inside the tent is so rare as to be a non-issue for me.

That said apparently there are folks who would not agree and want to bring everything in at night. We met a guy who took his bike, trailer, and all gear in every night. This tent is not for them. For me it is pretty close to perfect though.

      
#12: Re: Eureka Spitfire 1 (thread)
By Eddie Glayzer on Wed 15 Jun 2011 07:28 Edit Delete in reply to #10     Reply (2)   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
I am confused after reading a review of this tent from another website. That author seemed to indicate that there were actually two vestibules on the tent but only one had a zipper for access. This sounds weird. So, the tent body takes two stakes and the fly takes one? Three stakes total for minimum setup?

      
#13: Re: Eureka Spitfire 1 (thread)
By Pete Staehling on Wed 15 Jun 2011 07:54 Edit Delete in reply to #12     Reply (1)   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
Really four stakes is the minimum if you want the fly staked out. The tent stands fine with two though.

Edit: Just to clarify... The stakes for the fly are on each side at the widest part of the tent. The vestibules are small and on each side and the one on the side opposite the door is only available from outside by lifting the fly. I have only used the one on the door side.

      
#14: Re: Eureka Spitfire 1 (thread)
By Jerry Harp on Wed 15 Jun 2011 21:19 Edit Delete in reply to #13     Reply (1)   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
Pete, my Prolite is actually 25x77, the large. Your Neoair should tension the inner enough to hold it up in a pinch.

      
#15: Re: Eureka Spitfire 1 (thread)
By Jerry Harp on Wed 15 Jun 2011 21:24 Edit Delete in reply to #12     Reply   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
Ed, Pete's right on about the minimal staking.

I have added some stake points to the fly to make it very taunt in case I expect rain. About 8 total for inner and fly. Withstood 40 mph gust on a tour in Oklahoma last year.

      
#16: Re: Eureka Spitfire 1 (thread)
By Pete Staehling on Thu 16 Jun 2011 03:42 Edit Delete in reply to #14     Reply (1)   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
Thanks. I assume that you mean the large NeoAir "should tension the inner enough to hold it up in a pinch". I wondered about the large (25x77), but mine is actually the regular (20x72). I assume that it will not.

      
#17: Re: Eureka Spitfire 1 (thread)
By bob cable on Mon 20 Jun 2011 16:40 Edit Delete in reply to #16     Reply (1)   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
i have a spitfire 1 & love it. have used it well over 100 nights while bike touring & several nights backpacking. two additional things i've learned are that if set up on hard ground in a heavy rain, water can splash up through the mesh, staking out the sides farther reduces the splash. and in warm weather i'll put the fly on, then unfasten the 3 clips at the foot & peel the fly all the way up & over the tent to the ground at the head. that way if it starts to rain, get cool or you need privacy getting dressed in the a.m. it takes a few seconds to pull the fly over.

      
#18: Re: Eureka Spitfire 1 (thread)
By bob cable on Mon 20 Jun 2011 16:47 Edit Delete in reply to #17     Reply   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
oh, also, i labeled the head & foot loops for the stakes with whiteout & usually pack the tent so the head end kinda sticks out. the two top clips are also marked with whiteout. it's amazing how much time that saves.

      
#19: Re: Eureka Spitfire 1 (thread)
By Jerry Harp on Tue 25 Oct 2011 07:39 Edit Delete in reply to #2     Reply (1)   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
Darn that Spitfire Pete.

I recently bit on a REI Quarterdome for $100 on sale. It is a very fine tent with a 28 sq ft floor vs 18 for the Spitfire. Step in/out. Packs nearly as small with a 1.5 lb weight penality. Figured to take it on our tour in OK last week. NOT.

Inspired by your packing light thread and my recently acquired KISS philosophy, carried the Spitfire instead. Heck, may never use the Quarterdome.

As there were no mossys or rain, I pitched fly only a couple of nights. Nice. I've taped grommets to a plastic footprint to tension the poles. With the fly properly staked, rain protection would be adequate, tho not quite as good as it would be with the inner tent in place due to possible splash in. The extra room under roof is a plus.

Fly only is of little practical value to me due to mosquitoes and other unwanted visitors, but good to know how simple it is to do should I ever become a serious gram weenie. Not likely.

Ditching the kitchen worked out well as we were never far from food sources, and no cooking sure fit with KISS. All in front panniers and a rack pack, provisioned for cold weather.

      
#20: Re: Eureka Spitfire 1 (thread)
By Pete Staehling on Tue 25 Oct 2011 08:12 Edit Delete in reply to #19     Reply (1)   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
I have sometimes been intrigued by the notion of just pitching the fly only, but never have actually done it. I might consider it if I was to tour somewhere that there was unlikely to be biting insects. The weight savings would be less for me since I would have to add a footprint in order to leave the inner tent home (I normally use no ground sheet), so I will probably not do it.

If I went into full on gram counting mode with the goal of taking the minimum possible I might consider it, but I think I can get to 15 or 16 pounds of gear weight and still have some frills. I figure that once I get to 40 pounds total including the bike the benefits of further reduction are probably not worth pursuing. In fact if I manage to get below 40 including the bike, I'll probably add some luxuries like my middle sized camera in place of the tiny one.

Ditching the kitchen works fine, but I am inclined to continue to carry a minimal one (I'm down to under 10 ounces for cooking and eating gear since I eliminated the sierra cup).

      
#21: Re: Eureka Spitfire 1 (thread)
By Jerry Harp on Fri 2 Dec 2011 09:01 Edit Delete in reply to #20     Reply (1)   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
Pete, here are pics of the fly with netting added, staked for maximum size and ventilation. 3 stakes minimum otherwise. Footprint and mesh are from an old tent. 0.4 mil clear plastic provides better ground water protection, but doesn't pack as tight. Interior space is easily big enough for 4 panniers and me.

Fly, ground cloth, poles and stakes(8)- 2.70 lbs.
Fly, inner tent, poles and stakes - 3.9 lbs. Eureka says 3.4 lbs. Less about weight and more about pack volume, half of full setup.

Eureka now has a footprint for the 1 that they say weighs 4 oz and has grommets to tension the poles. Looks good for fly only pitch.

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Shows grommet from old tarp and cord used to tension pole.

Addendum by Jerry Harp on Thu 17 May 2012 09:29 (America/Chicago):
How to attach the fringe netting to the fly: staples. Yeah, I know. Sounds crazy, but it's simple, quick, and effective.

Addendum by Jerry Harp on Sun 27 Oct 2013 14:43 (US/Central):
https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?doc_id=11309

      
#22: Re: Eureka Spitfire 1 (thread)
By Pete Staehling on Fri 2 Dec 2011 09:20 Edit Delete in reply to #21     Reply (1)   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
Interesting. That gets interior space to closer to what you said you preferred, doesn't it. Have you used it much yet? If so how has that worked out for you? Do you know what the whole setup weighs in that mode?

      
#23: Re: Eureka Spitfire 1 (thread)
By Jerry Harp on Fri 2 Dec 2011 10:07 Edit Delete in reply to #22     Reply (1)   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
Edited weight in a few minutes ago. Will sleep in it tonight.

      
#24: Re: Eureka Spitfire 1 (thread)
By Pete Staehling on Fri 2 Dec 2011 11:23 Edit Delete in reply to #23     Reply (1)   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
Thanks. I probably will not go that route myself, but it is interesting and I will keep the notion in the back of my mind.

I probably won't do this either but...
The Spitfire 1 is cheap enough that you could even pick one up and butcher it to make a single wall tent by sewing netting on to the fly and to the footprint. With 4 light weight stakes like MSR Needle stakes and no storage bags it should come in at something like 2.5 pounds. Not sure if it is worth the trouble for bike touring, but it would be nice for fast packing trips. It would be bug proof if you also put netting in the top vent and with the mesh all the way around the bottom and the top vent open it should be pretty good about not getting too much condensation build up in most conditions.

      
#25: Re: Eureka Spitfire 1 (thread)
By Jerry Harp on Sun 4 Dec 2011 12:55 Edit Delete in reply to #24     Reply   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
Ha, had forgotten about the roof vent. Are mosquitoes smart enough to get thru that? I bet not. Easy enough to fix should their IQ prove higher than I think.

First night under fly only pitch went just fine. I do want a wider ground cloth. Conditions were not right to test for condensation. No mossies, no rain.


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