Thursday, September 15, 2011

New Gear for Costa Rica Outward Bound!

Having good equipment is an important part of having a good time in the outdoors. Nobody wants to have a trip ruined by malfunctioning or poorly designed gear. At Costa Rica Outward Bound we are always on the hunt for tools that work well in the often extreme environment of the tropics, while also handling the abuse caused by our rigorous course schedule.

Fortunately for us, we have been afforded the opportunity to field test and use some brand new, shiny tents from North Tek Gear! This start-up outdoor gear company based out of Ohio has generously donated six 3-man Orion tents to Costa Rica Outward Bound. We sent some to Nicaragua with our Tri-Country Semester students and will report back with their feedback.

But, patience isn’t always our strong suit. The base staff couldn’t bear to leave these new additions to the Costa Rica Outward Bound arsenal in their stuff sacks! So, we set one up. Our initial thoughts:


The Orion is a rather unique tent in that it does not have a traditional rainfly. The two main support poles run through the fly (rather than the tent body), with the main tent body suspended within by a system of small bungee cords. The Orion’s clever design allows you to disconnect the main tent body and set up just the rainfly as a kind of canopy-shelter with a floor (similar to a footprint setup that most tents sell separately)– lending tons of ventilation here in the damp but warm climate of Costa Rica. Though, the tent itself has a solid ventilation system at the top and in the corners. The other advantage of this suspension design is the additional space between the fly and the tent, meaning less rain will find its way inside. And, set up and break down is a breeze!


We love the healthy-sized vestibule for shoes or other gear needing a dry home (outside!). Inside, there is good storage space in corner pockets and mesh netting at the top – useful for placing a headlamp to brighten the interior.


The single door and 2+ tent pole setup keep the weight low. And, the unit comes with a nice compression sack.

All in all, the staff here is eager to grab a pack and test Orion’s unique design features in one Costa Rica’s more remote locales! Over the coming months, we will be checking in with updates, adding to what will be a long-term review of North Tek’s Orion tent. Stay tuned for more about the Orion!

The Orion 3 man

The gap between the rainfly and tent can be seen here, as well as the great side vents

The good sized vestibule is perfect for stowing gear

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