TFS Dawn Tent Review

As a quick overview I wasn't a huge fan of the tent to be honest, and was surprised that seemed so highly rated by others. Although I think that a few of my issues with the tent would probably be fixed by using Dyneema Cuben Fibre or another more rigid fabric. Also media around the web and from TFS show it pitched more like a tarp, without the mesh insert which would make it a lot more spacious when sleeping.

I'll start with the things I liked about the tent...

I thought the tent had a pretty convenient packed size, it comes in three separate packages, one for the outer, inner and floor which made for pretty easy packing away. I liked that you can put up the outer first and then arrange the rest inside out of the weather, this is something a lot of people appreciate and is currently an unfashionable concept in tent design. Although the obvious con to this is that you can't really pitch the inner alone as a net tent which can be nice in great weather.

Great looking tent

I really like the footprint with the semi-circle cutaway - I think it would be great for storing wet or damp shoes, without creating puddles on a groundsheet, it also allowed me to pitch the tent with the central hiking pole on the ground, rather than put pressure and potentially piercing the tent/groundsheet. TFS say it's ideal as an area for cooking I don't quite see the logic of that in practical terms. If its raining enough to want to cook inside, you would have to have the door closed otherside the groundsheet would collect loads of water. Then if you shut the door, you would never want to cook inside as the tent doesn't actually have much ventilation.

I like this design of tent - whilst I didn't experience very wild weather, the pyramid seemed like it would be really good at shedding wind and the central pole would keep everything upright and in place. It wasn't the easiest to pitch however, taking upwards of five minutes the first time I tried it. I imagine it might be a fair challenge for a single person to pitch in wind.

It only takes 6 pegs for a minimal pitch, and another 6 for all the guy lines which is pretty standard. It also only required a moderate area to pitch in so would happily fit in most backcountry spots. The porch is enormous. Ample room for all your equipment to stay covered overnight, however you would have to close the door if you're using the groundsheet. I personally would only deploy half the groundsheet under the sleeping area so I can leave the door open overnight. The overhang is enough that even driving rain probably wouldn't get in and the ventilation/views would be great.

It is a very good looking tent when pitched... I am not sure how important this is, but might be a good feature for some.

Internal struggles

And some things I was not keen on...

Its fairly heavy for a one man tent - I weighed it at 993 grams with the groundsheet included (no pegs or pole). It seems comparable to the SMD Scout in terms of internal volume (although the FST Dawn has the massive porch), but considering both with a groundsheet, the Dawn is a fair bit heavier. The Dawn is also fairly pricey as it comes from a very small manufacturer.

Although there is a lot of floor space, the angle of the walls means there isn't much usable space inside. One of the photos shows me lying on an uninflated thermarest with my head close to one end of the sleeping compartment. I'm only 5'10", so not massive, but my feet were pushing into the far wall, so would have got a pretty wet sleeping bag overnight. That being said, using it without the sleeping compartment installed could be a good way to go, but space would still be fairly limited because you'd still have to work around the central pole.

Final thoughts

I was only able to play around with it briefly, but my initial impressions were that it has some great ideas, but I think living with it for me would be a little frustrating. The limited overhead space in the sleeping compartment is tolerable if it was super light, or a budget tent, but with it being fairly heavy for a tent targeted at 'ultralight' hikers, and not that cheap I would not choose it for myself. I think this design could be great for use with Dyneema Cuben Fibre fabric - I've got experience of pitching a few DCF tarps, and the non-stretch aspect makes designs like this really work well.

Reviewed by Chris Reeve