Diarmuid Moriarty, biker aficionado testing the XTENT.
As a biker who has enjoyed motorcycle touring and camping for many years, I had been approached by Crua to try out a tent they thought would be suitable for motorcycle touring. The tent is the Crua Xtent Maxx.
A 2 to 3 person dome tent is the most popular for motorcycle touring. They are generally very compact when packed and they set up relatively easily. The most important aspect of a tent for a motorcyclist is the pack size as luggage space on a motorcycle is at a premium. However, the drawback with most dome tents is the sacrifice with room when erected. A low height and little in the way of storage space inside and little or no covered space outside means cramped conditions, especially if more than one person is sharing a tent.
The pack size of the Crua Xtent Maxx is surprisingly small when you consider the size of this tent. It is only slightly larger than the pack size of an average 2 person dome tent. The main reason is the pole sizes when disassembled make the pack short at 24 inches (61cm). But even the width of the pack is reasonable at only 9 inches (23cm) in diameter. It is a heavy pack, (6.5 Kg) but the weight would not be an issue on any bike as this weight is distributed evenly across the pack, meaning it can easily be mounted across a seat or rack on a motorcycle.
Setup of this tent is no more difficult than a run-of-the-mill dome tent, in fact, it is very similar to any dome tent I've used. However soon as you open the pack, you can see the high quality of this product. A robust flysheet that won't lose its rain resistance in a season and would probably last many years. Metal poles that when assembled are not under too much stress, as would be the case with fiberglass poles, which generally have a short life span. Again this makes for many years of service. The pegs are also of a strong metal alloy that will not bend. I thought these could be an issue getting into hard ground but not necessarily so, though a mallet would be advisable. The quality of material even continues with the drawstring catches, which are metal. Most others are plastic and with a two-hole system in these, they are much easier to use.
Once erect this tent has a number of variations in the way to set it up. Its real party trick is the option of two heights. At the lower height, it is still high enough to just about stand inside. In fact, a fellow biker when he saw the tent at the lower level asked was there two floors in it? I'm 6 feet tall and can stand up although I just have to bow my head a bit. I was able to dress standing, which is very handy when removing or putting on biking gear. But as they say "that's not all!". To raise the height, you simply add extension tubes to the bottom of the poles on the four sides. This gives comfortable head height while standing up straight. Although as the total tent height makes the tent more vulnerable to wind and because the skirt of the flysheet is raised, rain could get into the tent. Therefore it is not recommended to leave it at this height overnight if the weather could be changeable.
This is billed as a three-man tent. I've seen many so-called three-man tents which were really three kids' tents. This tent has enough room to sleep three full-grown adults comfortably with storage space to spare. It is especially a very roomy tent for a couple and their gear and even room for seating.
Another variable aspect of this tent is the awning. It is held up by two poles and can be raised to match the higher setting by extension poles. The awning also has an optionable extension to bring it out further. Or this extendable flap can be used to add a bit of shading by dropping and tieing onto the poles. Crua would like to promote this as a cover for a motorcycle. During the day this is feasible. However, leaving the awning up overnight wouldn't be recommended as it is also the weatherproof flap over the door. The equipment needed for all these alterations are included, there is no "optional extras" needed.
Well, the question is do I think this tent is suitable for motorcycle touring? I say without a doubt yes, particularly when you are in an area of questionable weather and you need a comfortable indoor space. It is especially ideal for two-up touring on a motorcycle. But that is only where I'm coming from and I wouldn't like to pigeonhole this as a bikers tent. It is a good all-round tent for many types of campers.