Quick and Dirty
Gear Type: Tent
Material: Rip Stop Nylon
Weight: 48 oz
Price: $300 (discontinued) / $249
Link: GoLite Imogene UL3 (discontinued) / MyTrailCo Tent UL3
Pros: Light, free standing, pop-up vent hole, seam sealed.
Cons: Small vestibule, shorter than competition, pointed roof, very little pocket storage, feels smaller than competitor.
We first did a quick overview of the GoLite Imogene UL3 (Imogene UL3) in May 2013. Since then we have taken it out on trips through the Sierras. The gear review will really take a quick look at the features and how they worked for us. We will also bring small snippets and comparisons between the Imogene UL3 and the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL3 (FC UL3), it’s primary competitor (I apologize for the bad pitch, I was fighting off mosquitos when I was pitching the tent).
Setting up the Imogene UL3 is easy and quick once you get the hang of the DAC clip type system. It feels more sturdy than the FC UL3 pole set up. In our first initial look, we really did not like the foot print bungee cord design, but after much thought, we figured out why this is better than a hub pole design, it was easier to pitch the outer tent then inner tent in rainy conditions. We primarily use non-freestanding tents, and the ease of setting up a freestanding tent is welcomed on a windy day.
GoLite rates Imogene UL3 as a three person tent. The Imogene UL3 offers 60 inches of space at the narrowest end and 66 inches at it’s widest, just enough for three 20 inch pads. The tent body is 87 inches long with a 36 inch vestibule. The vestibule barely has enough space for gear and storage inside the tent is adequate but leaves much to be desired. There are two pockets for small gear. Fitting three people in the tent will be tight, and I would rate the Imogene UL3 as a 2+ person tent.
Head room is adequate – at 44 inches, it is two inches taller than the FC UL3, but it does have a pointed roof, making head room tighter than the FC UL3. From our collection of tents, these freestanding tents tend to sacrifice usable headroom on the central spine.
The rainfly pitches easy and is made of very thin and rip stop nylon, similar to the fabrics used in the FC UL3. The rainfly protects against water very well, but like all rip stop nylon fabrics, the are prone to stretch in rainy conditions, more so because the fabric is so thin and can’t really hold up to weight.
The FC UL3 uses one single front entry door, which is standard on all ultralight tents. The door design is well thought out. Any part of the inner tent protruding outside of the rain fly is covered with rip stop nylon. The door itself sticks farther out at the top, protecting the inner tent and floor from rain. The vestibule door is a simple one sided entry and exit, once pitched, the vestibule makes a slightly more difficult for larger people to get in and out of the tent.
Similar to the FC UL3, the Imogene UL3 uses a high tub, but very thin rip stop fabric. A tight pitch is important for the inner tent to fully expand the tub, otherwise you have a sloppy pitch without utilizing the space offerred by the tent. Sharp objects should not come close to the fabric. We are always worried that our dog, Dakota may puncture the tent when she does her downward doggy stretch – so much so that she has to stay on her Ruffwear Sleep pad to avoid any unnecessary movement in the tent. We have also learned to store any sharp objects off the floor and leave our sharper gear like hiking poles outside the tent (actually, not even close to the tent for fear of it puncturing the sidewalls). It is very important to clean out the tent after use to avoid any rocks or sticks from puncturing the floor.
Air circulation is not a problem. We were first concerned with the inability to really open up the rain fly for air, but this is not a problem. The Imogene UL3 breathes very well, especially with the additional pop-up vent that pulls air directly into the top of the vent.
Structurally, the tent is very strong. The DAC clip in bases really provide a solid foundation for the tent poles and hold very well.
The Imogene UL3 is a great option for those looking for a inexpensive ultra-light 2+ person tent. It has most of the options that is offered by the FC UL3 and then some, but it does lack the vestibule space and inner space offered by it’s competitor. Headroom is adequate – almost making the FC UL3 boxed roof null in this comparison. I love it when manufacturers seal the seams from the factory, and because they use tape, it makes my life easier. Packed in it’s stuff sack, the Imogene UL3 packs smaller than the FC UL3, almost as small as the Fly Creek UL2. You get more bang for the buck with Imogene UL3 than the FC UL3. However, Sam and I felt this tent was smaller and more cramped than the FC UL3. If freestanding is an absolute necessity, the Imogene UL3 is a great affordable option.
Sadly, GoLite filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on November 2014. From what I’ve read so far, it sounds like the company is planning to restructure their debt. We hope they come back a stronger company because we do love their affordable light-weight outdoor gear!
UPDATE: The Imogene UL3 design been purchased by MyTrailCo and and is now sold as the MyTrailCo Tent UL3.