Roomy, sturdy and simple to set up the Forclaz MT500 trekking tent does way more than you should reasonably expect from a tent at this price point.
Easy to put up and pack away
Inner and outer pitch together
Small pack size
Not the lightest
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Forclaz MT500: first impressions
The Forclaz MT500 is part of retailer Decathlon’s in-house adventure brand, Forclaz, which is behind many of the retailer’s top products for hiking, backpacking and camping. In general, Forclaz products are a slight step up from their more budget-conscious Quechua line, and I’ve always been impressed with the quality of the kit they make. In my experience, much of it rivals that produced by more premium brands despite being substantially cheaper – and this tent is no exception, and could well earn a place in the next update of our best two-person tents buying guide.
• List price: £119.99 (UK) / $219 (US)
• Style: Freestanding dome
• Weight: 2.8 kgs / 6.1 lbs
• Waterproofing: 2,000mm fly | 5,000mm floor
• Rooms: One bedroom, two vestibules
• Pack size: 39cm x 16cm x 15 cm / 15in x 6in x 5.9 in
• Compatibility: Comes in two or three-person models. The two-person will comfortably sleep one person and kit, though two would fit at a push
The Forclaz MT500 is a neat little tent. Packed away, it comes in a small red bag with compression straps that allow you to pull everything tight before stashing it in your pack. And at 2.8kgs (6.1lbs), it’s also reasonably lightweight – especially for a shelter at this price point and that promises to withstand winds up to 70km/h (40mph).
In the pack, the tent comes with two lightweight yet robust aluminum poles, plenty of pegs, four additional guy lines (which can be easily connected / disconnected via a loop-and-latch system) and a pre-attached inner and outer tent so that you can rapidly put this thing up in inclement weather. Thanks to the dome structure, the tent offers tons of space once up, and even comes with two doors. This is handy if you’re sharing (though it’ll be a very cozy night for the both of you) and it also gives you the option of using one vestibule as a gear store and the other as a cooking space.
Forclaz MT500: in the wild
I’ve owned the Forclaz MT500 for around six months now, and I’ve tested it in pretty much every type of weather imaginable in that time. My first trip out in it was camping on Dartmoor’s Great Links Tor in deep winter – a trip where I got to put this three-season tent properly through its paces. It held up impressively against driving wind and tons of snowfall and proved it can put up with some serious abuse.
Since then, I’ve slept in it in pouring rain and even more wind, and I even got to spend a few pleasant nights in it in Eryri National Park where the weather was remarkably forgiving. And the Forclaz MT500 performed valiantly every time: it’s never leaked nor weakened in the wind, and it’s never been anything but a joy to put up and take down.
Putting up the Forclaz MT500 is incredibly easy. The inner comes pre-attached to the fly so you don’t need to faff around when you’re losing sunlight and, thanks to large pulls on all of the zips and the ease with which the poles are mounted, the whole thing can be comfortably erected with thick winter hiking gloves on (which, considering this tent is designed for three-season use, continues to impress me).
For me, though, the thing I love most about it is the slick design of the guy lines. As with most tents, they come detached from the body as standard and need to be added when you first put the tent up. Instead of having to clunkily tie everything together, however, Forclaz have added loops to the sections already attached to the tent and latches to the remaining lengths of line that you need to add yourself. These easily clip together so you can rapidly guy out the tent in a storm and – again – all of this can be done with thick winter gloves on.
This feature really blew me away, especially considering the price of the Forclaz MT500. It feels like something that should only be found on much more premium brands and proves that the team at Forclaz has taken no shortcuts in making sure the design is optimized for the end user.
The inside of the Forclaz MT500 is massive. Seriously – there’s plenty of room for one person and kit inside, though you’ll probably end up storing most of that in one of the two vestibules. At around 108cm in height, there’s also more than enough space for anyone but a giant to sit up straight. In fact, it’s so roomy you can comfortably change, cook, stretch out and roll around inside the Forclaz MT500, something I was thankful for when spending one of the longest nights of the year in this thing back in December 2022.
When it comes to ventilation, the Forclaz MT500 inner features huge mesh panels to optimize airflow and there are two generous ports on the fly. I have always found this to be ample and have never had any major condensation issues, even when camping at very low temperatures.
Finally, I have to praise the design of the door zippers, which are tethered to the end of the doors themselves. This means the doors automatically roll away when you open the zip, preventing the door from flapping in the wind and minimizing the amount of rain that drips off the fly into your tent when opening or closing the vestibules.
In my experience, the Forclaz MT500 is a rugged little shelter that’s going to be tough to break. I’ve never used it with a groundsheet, nor have I been particularly careful with how I pitch it, and I’ve never had any problems. In fact, the tent looks practically good as new to this day, despite having been put through several rougher adventures. Online, however, some users have reported having problems with the top pole caused by the tightness of the fly. While I admit that getting that top pole in can be a bit of a squeeze, I’ve never actually damaged it, nor have I ever been concerned that it might break or bend at any time.
Overall, I think this tent is one of the best on the market at this price point. The thought that’s gone into the design is obvious, and its packability and reasonably low weight make it a solid option for budget-conscious backpackers. I’d happily camp out in it in a range of conditions, with the only exception being perhaps summit camps in winter or exceptional summer storms. But, with no plans to camp out in those conditions any time soon, the Forclaz MT500 might just be my new go-to.
Growing up just south of the glorious Brecon Beacons National Park, Craig spent his childhood walking uphill. As he got older, the hills got bigger, and his passion for spending quality time in the great outdoors only grew - falling in love with wild camping, long-distance hiking, bikepacking and fastpacking. Having recently returned to the UK after almost a decade in Germany, he now focuses on regular micro-adventures in nearby Snowdonia and the Brecon Beacons, as well as frequent trips to the Alps and beyond. You can follow his adventures over on komoot, or visit www.craigtaylor.co for more info.