The Bottom Line: The Vasquez Peak 2 is, as you would expect from Mountainsmith, a stout creation. It is as heavy duty as you would want from a backpacking tent, and also quite roomy. These perks come with some extra weight, but that is well worth it to anyone who values dependability on the trail, especially when you consider this tent's affordable price.
Everything about the Vasquez Peak 2 is rugged and durable, from the silicon poly Ripstop fabric right down to the extra-thick nylon stake loops and guylines. Even the included stakes are extra sturdy, and unlikely to break in rocky or frozen ground.
This tent is also roomier than most. The floor space is more than enough two people, even tall people, and a brow pole makes ample head room. The vestibules, when extended with the rain fly, provide plenty of space to store packs.
This generous construction does make the Vasquez Peak 2 heavier than most others in its class, but that's a sacrifice I'm personally willing to make for a tent that can withstand a range of extreme environments. From the blowing sands of Southern Utah to the drifting snows of the Rocky Mountains, this tent is suitable for more than you might expect from a 3-season.
Most of the tent body is mesh, but the floor and rain fly are made from dense Ripstop with superior waterproofing, so you'll stay warmer and drier than in most 3-season tents. Be sure to open the fly ventilation windows, or you'll be dealing with extra condensation, however.
The full packed weight of 5 pounds 6 ounces may be more than you want to carry on long trails, but consider the extra room and dependability it offers and the possibility of splitting the load between two hikers and the weight becomes a lot more attractive. There is also the option of leaving the tent body at home and bringing just the poles, fly, and footprint for a backcountry shelter that weighs about 3 pounds.
I took this tent along on a multi-day rafting trip down the San Juan River in southern Utah, for which it was perfect. The extra weight didn't matter when carried on a raft, and the pack size was still small enough to fit easily in a dry bag with my other camping gear. I first set the tent up without the fly, falling asleep to a star-filled and bug-free night. Clouds rolled in sometime later, however, and an unexpected rain shower hit before dawn. I was able to quickly roll out of the tent and throw on the fly. Color-coded buckles made it easy to match up and fasten, even in low light, and I was back inside in no time, for another hour of sleep in the warm and dry.
This tent is what you want for versatility and longevity in a range of conditions as long as you don't mind a little extra weight. Another slight drawback I noticed is the lack of overhead storage pockets, which I would expect from a tent this beefy. Also, the footprint included with the tent doesn't fit very tightly onto the poles, so it's hard to move all the parts as a unit without the footprint dropping.
Another major advantage of this tent is the price. At only $279.95, it is much more affordable than many competitors. This an especially good deal when you consider that it comes with a footprint, which most tents do not. If you want a dependable tent at a reasonable price, you should definitely take a look at the Mountainsmith Vasquez Peak 2.