By Greg Chapman
Big, sturdy, durable and with that extra zest of class over your average family camping tent, the Mountain Hardwear Optic 6 is one of the best large tents we’ve seen. Its simple dome shape offers a cavernous home away from home, whilst the no-nonsense 3-pole construction makes for easy pitching in a bombproof mountain tent design. This all neatly packs away into a simple yet tough storage sack, which even includes an over-the-shoulder strap to help you carry it to and from your vehicle.
The unique selling point of the Optic 6 is its ability to offer a panoramic vista, via a clean uncomplicated design. A novel positioning of the two doors next to one another (rather than the traditional one at each end configuration) achieves this and means that when both doors are open, you can enjoy an almost unhindered 180° panoramic view. The tent also features mesh inner doors that can be zipped into place allowing you to enjoy the vista or a well-ventilated sleep without the intrusion of the local wildlife.
Despite being a large (8 m2) multi-person tent, the Mountain Hardwear Optic 6 will delight those from a backpacking or climbing heritage, thanks to its comfortably simple and rugged design. That said the living space certainly doesn’t feel like that of a mountain tent, providing acres of elbow room for up to 6 sleepers, whilst the high ceiling (190cm at the apex) means that even 6 footers can stand without stooping. Two vestibules/porches (1.5 and 1 m2) offer enough storage for all the gear and footwear of 5 heavily laden individuals without the overflow space of a vehicle or 6 people with a vehicle. This takes into account leaving one vestibule free for easy entry and cooking. Another neat feature we really like is the way the smaller vestibule can convert in to a porch-style awning, supported by trekking poles (sold separately).
Set-up is a piece of cake and most people will have no issues out of the bag. That said, whilst the tent can (just about) be pitched by a lone individual over 5’7” (170cm), shorter folk will need assistance to help clip the canopy to the apex of the poles. Reflective colour-coded starter tabs on the rainfly and canopy help make things even easier, whilst the neat twist-and-lock pole attachers are tough and simple to use.
The asymmetric dome, rather than a traditional tunnel, design means it will stand up to more hammer from wind than many other family tents, and the materials used are those of a much higher priced product; being stronger, more durable and with higher levels of water resistance - see Poles and Materials below.
A true 6-person tent the Optic 6 will easily serve as a spacious family base, no matter how much clutter the kids bring. The simple open design, features the signature twin, roll-back neighbouring doors of the Optic line, standing-height interior, and loads of room for all your gear - much of which can be stored off the deck using canopy pockets or an accessory divider (possibly sold separately depending on the package).
The Optic 6 comes complete with three DAC DA-17™ poles; some of the toughest alloy poles available.
The external flysheet is that of a 70-denier PU backed nylon taffeta, with an impressively high hydrostatic head of 1,500mm. Meaning any given area of the fly will withstand the unimaginable force of over 1.5 metres of water pressure before giving way to leakage. The inner is a durable 75-denier polyester taffeta for maximum breathability, this all sits aloft a sewn-in groundsheet of 70-denier nylon taffeta backed with a super tough PU backer providing a hydrostatic head of up to 3,000mm!
At a brilliant price point and with an uncomplicated versatile design, the Optic 6 is the perfect tent for families or groups of friends looking for the quality of a premium brand without the premium price tag.