TheTentLab is a cottage industry company run by Mike Cecot-Scherer out of his home in Colorado. He’s a veteran tent designer and more recently has decided to design and manufacture his own tents to his own requirements and sell them directly using crowdfunding.
The tents Mike has designed are very high quality, very sturdy, very very spacious, and light enough to be used for backpacking (but we’re not talking fast and light). The first attempt was called the RugRat and came in 3 and 4 person variants, but the project didn’t reach its crowdfunding goal so Mike went back and tweaked the design into the MoonLight series which come in 2, 3, and 4 person variants that weigh and cost less than the RugRats. This time the project won enough backers that Mike was able to manufacture the tents, and almost a year later my MoonLight 3 arrived on my doorstep.
I bought the MoonLight as a motorcycle camping tent. As with backpacking, packed size and weight are issues when loading a motorcycle, and internal space in a tent is really useful to be able to stash everything off the bike overnight, including my riding gear. I tend to ride somewhere, like a National Forest or a State Park, set up camp, and then use that as a base to go day hiking.
The day my MoonLight tent arrived I put it up in my apartment. I was blown away by how much space there was inside, the near vertical sidewalls all the way around makes the usable space massive. The tent also has a number of novel features which make it rock solid once pitched. The polls interlock, and the inner attaches to the poll connectors which produce solid anchor points. The outer has little velcro loops at each guy point that wrap around the polls which not only keeps the outer aligned but reinforces the entire structure.
Last weekend I took it on its first trip up to Salt Point State Park off Highway 1. It had rained the previous day and was drizzly on the ride up but it wasn’t forecast to rain once I arrived. It did end up raining overnight and the rain on the tent woke me up (although sleeping with the sound of the rain on the outside of a tent, wrapped up in a warm sleeping bag, is one of my favourite things, being brought up on summer camping trips to the Welsh coast you get used to the sound of rain on tents :-). One of the notable features of MoonLights is that the tent fabric is entirely a waterproof polyester which does not stretch when it gets wet like the nylon fabric almost every other tent is made of. This means when it rains the tent stays as taut as it was when pitched, and the fabric doesn’t sag. The tent lived up to this promise and was rock solid all night (although admittedly this was mild a California shower).
All in all the tent is great, a huge upgrade from my previous motorcycle camping tent. The inside is almost embarrassingly large, and it packs down to easily stow on my motorcycle. The tent is definitely at the high-end, but I expect this tent to last, so in terms of value for money, if you intend to use it frequently, this tent will pay for itself over time. Pitching the tent takes a bit of getting used to, in particular the eye-poll. I look forward to many trips to come, and this tent makes me much less afraid of getting caught in the rain.