The Forclaz MT900 Minimal Editions trekking pole tarp tent is an easy-to-use and impressively lightweight shelter void of any unnecessary bells and whistles. It performs very well in a variety of conditions – and does it all for an incredibly reasonable price.
Small pack size
Easy to pitch
Color is not subtle
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Forclaz MT900 Minimal Editions trekking pole tarp tent: first impressions
The Forclaz MT900 Minimal Editions trekking pole tarp tent is a super-lightweight and easy-to-pitch trekking pole tent from outdoor powerhouse Decathlon. Designed to be lightweight and intuitive to use, this one-person tent (there’s also a two-person tent version available for £179.99) doesn’t come with any built-in support poles itself, but instead relies on the user mounting the fly over trekking poles (or similar), which helps to keep total packed weight down and reduces the pack size – especially if you’re using trekking poles on your trip anyway.
• List price: £129.99 (UK) / Not officially available in the US
• Style: Trekking pole tent
• Weight: 920g / 2lbs
• Waterproofing: 2,000mm
• Rooms: One bedroom, one vestibule
• Compatibility: Three-season tent for all but the most extreme weather
Available in just one color – an almost shocking white – the tent has been designed from the ground up to be as simple, lightweight and environmentally friendly as possible. In fact, by removing dyes entirely from the manufacturing process, Decathlon claim to have reduced the MT900’s CO2 emissions by up to 18%. The result is a straightforward and stripped-back shelter that’s void of any bells and whistles whatsoever – and one that’s very easy to spot in most landscapes, unless you’re camping in winter whiteout conditions.
Weighing in under a kilogram, the tent is incredibly lightweight, and thanks to the fact that there are no long support poles to pack (the type you’d normally get with a tunnel or dome-stye tent), the pack size is also tiny. Seriously, this packs down to about the same size as the Big Agnes Three Wire Hooped Bivy, yet the MT900 still comes with bags of room inside – plenty for one person and gear – and only costs an incredible £129.99 in the UK.
While any metric regarding the tent’s weight are super impressive, however, you mustn’t forget that you need poles. If you’re the type of hiker or fastpacker that would use them anyway, then – great! Two birds, one stone. But if you would only pack poles purely for the purpose of putting up this tent, you might be better served by looking at other options, such as a bivy tent like the Big Agnes Three Wire Hooped Bivy or the Outdoor Research Helium, or another similarly lightweight and packable tent like the Robens Chaser 1.
Forclaz MT900 Minimal Editions trekking pole tarp tent: in the wild
I tested the tent on several occasions out on Dartmoor National Park in England. Twice I used it on a school night where I didn’t walk a huge distance from the car, then I used it on one final trip with a friend where we walked around 15km across the moor, camping in some light rain and wind.
Each time the tent impressed, being easy to put up, a cinch to take down, performing well in the wind and rain and packing down so small that I was able to get my pack size down smaller than ever before – everything fitted into a sub-30L pack. The most impressive thing has to be the price, though: whenever I used it, I had to constantly remind myself that this thing costs less than many hiking pants, which continued to surprise me almost as much as the color.
While we’re on the subject of color, let’s talk about the elephant in the room. This tent is white. Toilet bowl white. To the degree that it made me feel almost sterile, like I was sitting in a hospital waiting room. But I’m not sure whether that’s down to the bold choice, or purely down to the fact that I’m not used to seeing such striking silhouettes of white sticking up from behind a muddy tor. Either way, it took some getting used to, but I praise Decathlon for being one of the first brands to do away with dyeing fabrics for the sake of preference and going with such a ‘loud’ choice.
And once it’s up, it’s a tent like any other. It can get quite bright inside, so it might not be a great choice if you plan on going to bed before the sun sets, and it did seem to attract an ungodly amount of insects (which may be down to how bright this tent glows when there’s a headlamp on inside). But the muck it inevitably picked up out on Dartmoor didn’t really make any difference; aside from a few patches of dirt, it stayed mostly toilet-bowl white.
Inside the tent, there is a ton of room, especially when you consider how small this thing packs down. The vestibule is fairly generous, offering you plenty of space to store kit and to cook (in good conditions), and the inner gives you more than enough space to roll around, to unpack the essentials and to even sit up. Again, for a tent weighing below 1kg and costing £129.99, I think you’ll struggle to find another that checks so many boxes – as long as you’re happy to take trekking poles.
For comparison, consider the Lanshan 1, one of the most renowned tents in recent years and one that is very similar to the MT900 Trekking Pole Tent. They weigh almost the exact same (910g versus 920g), yet the MT900 offers more liveable room inside thanks to the fact that it’s pitched with two trekking poles instead of one. The MT900 also comes with two raised corners, which make the tent feel substantially more stable than the Lanshan and seem to do a better job at keeping you safe and comfortable (and confident in the tent’s performance) in windy and rainy conditions.
In fact, the only downside I noted when using this tent was the fact that the zip on the vestibule only goes in one direction. This might be down to weight saving in an effort to keep the tent very minimal, yet while the inner door comes with two zips, the vestibule can only be opened from the bottom in one direction. This prevents you from cooking in the vestibule in rainy or windy conditions.
Seemingly based on concerns from the wild camping community, Decathlon also retroactively wind-tested the MT900 and proved its strength in winds of up to 70km/h. While this isn’t huge – the Robens Chaser 1 can comfortably withstand over double that, for example – it should be ample for the types of conditions you’ll face if you camp sensibly and out of the wind, and avoid using it on top of summits or on any exposed ground through the winter. In my experience, it actually does a much better job in the wind that you’d likely give it credit for at first glance, and it certainly outperforms any expectations you might have based on its low price.
Overall, I really enjoyed using the Forclaz MT900 Minimal Editions trekking pole tent. It outperformed my expectations based on the price and design, and proved to be a very comfortable shelter once I got used to the striking white fly sheet. Easy to pitch, a cinch to pull drum tight and performing well in wind or rain, it’s an outstanding three-season backpacking tent that can comfortably be used on any trips where you’d plan on taking trekking poles anyway, be that thru-hikes, fastpacking trips or multi-day treks.
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.