Mountainsmith Conifer 5+
- Lacks privacy w/o fly
- Color coding still ambiguous
The Mountainsmith Conifer 5+ is an extended dome style tent with lots of headroom, a generous vestibule and lots of tie down points to ward off fierce winds. The tent does take a little extra time to set up and despite the color coding there is still some ambiguity on orienting the tent and getting the fly attached.
Ease of Setup & Breakdown
At 17 minutes, the Conifer takes a little longer than the other tents in this test to set up, but the return on that time is a very stable and spacious living area. The high contrast color coding is great for knowing which pole goes where, but not for helping orient the tent. There is a large door (front) and a small door (back) and both sides of the tent are marked with yellow corner tabs. The way to spot the large door is to look for the black hooks on the large door side which will accommodate the black pole. This works fine in the calm of the day, less so in challenging weather and/or the dark. It takes a little practice to develop familiarity with the tent but it can be set up by one person. There are a few gotcha’s and inconsistencies in the instructions. One is to remember to thread the yellow main poles through the top loop (which is blue, a departure from their color coding system and the instructions describe this loop as a clip) to keep the inside of the tent lofted and to provide support for hanging a lantern. Also, the instructions mention black, yellow and grey color-coded webbing and buckles. There are no grey buckles or webbing.
Breakdown is very easy and the large stuff sack will easily accommodate the tent rolled up around the poles or simply stuffed in.
Livability & Functionality
The inside of the Conifer is a slightly elongated hexagon which allows for a number of sleeping arrangement configurations. Five sidewall pockets plus an included mesh gear loft provides a good amount of organization and four of those pockets are close to the floor for easy access while lying down. The gear loft is split to allow a lantern to be hung from the top of the tent and includes two pockets of its own to keep things organized and to prevent smaller items from slipping through the slit for the lantern. The tent includes two vestibules. The large one has sealed plastic windows (not mesh) in which two (three in a squeeze) full size camp chairs will fit for porch style hangout space while staying clear of rain even if the vestibule flap is open. The smaller vestibule does not have any windows and will hold a few bags or other medium sized gear.
Materials & Construction
As is often the case with companies who also make quality backpacking gear, the materials and construction of the Conifer is built to last. The Conifer uses some of the best materials seen in this test. While Mountainsmith uses the standard 68 denier fabric with 185 thread count, what stands out is the weatherproof polyurethane (PU) coating on the fly is rated to 2000mm (well above the average of the tents in this test). The floor is also 68 denier but with 190 thread count fabric. Although that’s on the light end of fabric it has a more substantial PU coating of 5000mm to resist superficial standing water under the tent from wetting through. Add in the optional (sold separately) 75D 2000mm footprint and the floor is very durable. The 7075 Aluminum J-stakes are bomber and you’re not likely to deform them if the ground proves resistant to driving them in.
Due to the superior materials used and the extensive guy out points, the Conifer is the most weather ready tent in this test. The double wall construction of the tent body and the 2000mm rated PU rain fly will ward off sustained rain storms, the 5000mm floor will keep the wet from coming up from underneath and the numerous guy out points plus the natural strength of the dome shape and aluminum poles provide excellent resistance to the wind, no matter which way it blows in from.
The Conifer 5+ is reasonably versatile. The vented rainfly, weatherproof fabric and guy out points provide excellent protection in more inclimate and cooler weather conditions. The fly can be removed to expose the mostly mesh tent body for warmer and sunny situations. But without the fly attached, the mesh provides very little shade and because the mesh comes to within 12 inches of the ground, there is very little privacy available in the tent if camped in a populated campground.
How We Tested It
The tents in this test were tested on extended car camping trips in the Rocky Mountains and set up in the yard to observe how they handle wind and rain. Tent setup times were measured by how long it takes one person, familiar with the tent, to take the tent from in the bag to being fully guy-lined out with the materials provided in calm conditions.
The products featured in this test have been loaned to the Gear Institute. For more on our policies regarding editorial objectivity and sample returns, see here.
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- Persons: 5
- Square Footage: 83.5
- Max Height: 74"
- Number of Doors: 2
- Max Height of Door: 59"
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