Mountain Hardwear Hoopla 4 Longterm Review

muleman

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I already own and use both a GoLITE Shangri-La 3 and Shangri-La 5. I really like the Shangri-La shelters so you might wonder why mess with another similar shelter. Ever since I saw the Hoopla 4, I was drawn to it's siren song of better design. Specifically there were three features I saw as better and worth exploring.

  1. More usable floor space.
  2. More usable head room.
  3. Designed for one trekking pole.
When a deep discount on the Hoopla 4 presented itself, I ordered one in. Today the Hoopla arrived. I didn't have much time to play but I was able to set up the Hoopla and get some initial impressions. It was dusk and getting dark fast, but I managed to get a few pictures too.

The Hoopla isn't difficult to pitch. I did the American thing and just went to work after watching a video and not reading the instructions.
2012-08-29 20.31.55-SM.jpg

Here the Hoopla has the door and adjoining panel open. This would be a nice shelter to glass from if camp was positioned such that you could. There was ample head room.
2012-08-29 20.40.02-SM.jpg

I laid down to check the space. More room than the SL3 but no way I could get 4 adults like in Mountain Hardwear's diagram.
2012-08-29 20.34.31-SM.jpg

Only one small vent on the top.
2012-08-29 20.37.48-SM.jpg

Initial impressions:

  • Quality is good, good fit and finish
  • All Seams except hoop seem are taped
  • Complete package, includes fly, hoop pole, pole repair sleeve, 3 stuff sacks, 6, reflective guy lines, 12 stakes, and Seam Grip
  • Like the door on the SL3 better
  • Not as easy to tension Hoopla as SL3. Hoopla doesn't have adjustable stake loops
  • SL3 is easier to pitch high
  • Hoopla only has one small vent
  • Vent support is mailable
  • Vent is fairly horizontal and could allow water in
  • Has more head room around the perimeter than the SL3
I plan to weigh everything and set up the Hoopla, SL3 and SL5 to compare as well as do some field time before I pass final judgement.
 
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muleman

muleman

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I forgot to mention that with the default pitch the Hoopla is really tight to the ground. This can be both good and bad. Good in preventing spindrift or dust from blowing in. Bad if you need more ventilation. I will mess around to see how high I can get it to pitch.
 
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muleman

muleman

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Setback

In preparation for a mule deer scouting trip last weekend, where the Hoopla 4 was going to be the shelter of choice, I ran into an issue. The Hoopla 4 was setup to be seam sealed on the only seam that is not taped. This is the seam that runs around the top of the shelter where the Trussring (hoop) support shelf is sewn to the fly. My Hoopla 4 did not come with any instructions for seam sealing and only picture instructions for pitching. An unofficial youtube video stated that the Hoopla was to be sealed from the underside.

When looking at sealing the Hoopla 4 from the underside it became evident that if it was sealed from below then you would actually have to do two passes to properly seal both sides of the hoop shelf and you would be sealing a PU fabric and a Sil fabric and both fabrics require different sealers. I chose to seal the one seam from the top, like I have done on every Silicone Nylon shelter I've owned. Keep in mind Mountain Hardwear has not provided any instructions on seam sealing. There were no sealing instructions packaged with the Hoopla 4 and online http://demandware.edgesuite.net/aac...v1347284709314/ProductAssets/PDFs/Hoopla4.pdf the instructions are the same picture based pitching instruction packaged with the shelter.

Thursday afternoon I got started sealing the seam with the provided Seam Grip and brush head. Sealing went fast and it was very easy to seal the seam from the top. The Hoopla 4 was left setup until Friday afternoon when I was going to pack it to go out scouting.

2012-09-07 16.36.20-SM.jpg Before the Hoopla 4 was broke down I noticed that in several places the Seam Grip had not adhered to the fly fabric. I immediately took a picture and called Mountain Hardwear. Customer support didn't have much knowledge of the Hoopla 4 and admitted that fact. They transferred me to the warranty department. A picture of one area of the peeling Seam Grip was sent and it was decided that other people at Mountain Hardwear needed to look at the picture on Monday.

Monday morning I sent an updated email to the individual handling my claim. This update was that once the Hoopla 4 was broken down the Seam Grip peeled off of about 40% of the seam. The Seam Grip did stick to the threads but not the fly material. Sticking to the threads has created a mess that will require some time to properly clean up before resealing.

Shortly after emailing the update this morning I received a call from the person handling my claim. He stated that I should have sealed from below and sealing from the top was the cause of the issue. I strongly disagreed with this individual as the fly material is the same both top and bottom. If it won't stick to the top it isn't going to stick to the underside of the fly. After discussing this for awhile I was becoming mildly irritated. Here I've bought a relatively expensive and slightly more complicated shelter, when compared to others that are available in this class. I seem to know more about the shelter than the few employees I have spoken to at Mountain Hardwear and I can't seem to get an answer on what the fly fabric is coated with Silicone or Polyurethane. You see even the spec page http://www.mountainhardwear.com/Hoopla™-4/OU9615,default,pd.html for the Hoopla 4 is contradictory. It lists the fly material as 20D Nylon Ripstop 1500mm PU/SIL. Which is it, Polyurethane or Silicone? If it is PU then Seam Grip is the right sealer, if it is Silicone Nylon then SilNet is the right sealer.

As it stands now I have three options:

  1. Send the Hoopla 4 in to Mountain Hardwear for inspection on my dime.
  2. Try and return it to the online retailer.
  3. Seal it with SilNet instead of the provided Seam Grip.
  4. Buy a Megatarp!
Oh heck how did that fourth option get in there?

I really believe that the issue is with the provided sealer. The fly doesn't appear to be PU it appears to be Silicone. My guess is if I clean the Seam Grip off the threads really well and reseal with SilNet everything will be fine. I still think that sealing from the bottom is the wrong choice considering it is much more difficult to access the seams and the two different fabrics requiring different sealers.

I really want to like this shelter. The usable floorspace and headroom are better than the Shangri-La 3. However if I would have known I was going to have the sealing issue I would have skipped the purchase and just used the Shangri-La 3.
 
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HellsCanyon

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Interesting for sure! Keep us updated...

With all the gear options out there today, poor customer service is easily the one thing that will have me spending my $$$ elsewhere...

Mike
 
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muleman

muleman

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Here are a couple of pictures that show the Seam Grip coming off the fly.

2012-09-10 22.35.22.jpg

2012-09-10 22.35.36.jpg
 
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muleman

muleman

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Called McNett the makers of Seam Grip and asked how best to remove the Seam Grip from the exposed threads. The McNett representative stated "once Seam Grip is cured it is pretty impervious to solvents" and "don't pick at the threads it is stuck to." The McNett representative did state to try isopropyl alcohol and nothing stronger. Not sure I want to try alcohol at this point. Looks like I'll be sending the tent into the warranty department at Mountain Hardwear.

While on the phone with the McNett representative we discussed the seam design on the Hoopla 4 and the use of different fabrics in the seam. He stated "sealing from the top would be his preferred option."

It's too bad that Mountain Hardwear did not provide instructions on sealing the seam. I hope they stand by me on this. What I would really like is for them to cross-ship me another Hoopla and they can take their time on their analysis. This would be a win win for me and Mountain Hardwear.
 
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muleman

muleman

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Yesterday I sent an email, to the Mountain Hardwear representative handling my claim, explaining the situation in depth and requested a cross shipped Hoopla 4. I was called quickly in response to my email. During the call I requested again to have the product cross shipped. I was told that was against policy. I then told him that the two week evaluation, after receiving my damaged Hoopla, would not meet my schedule and requested him to seek approval from his manager for cross shipment. It was 4:00pm Pacific and the representative stated he would call me in the morning with an answer.

I also requested to speak to the Hoopla 4 designer that the representative had been working with. As I feel that their recommended sealing procedure is flawed and will fail in heavy rain. My position is based up my experiences Silicone Nylon, Six Moon Designs instructions, a McNett representative's opinion and McNett instructions for sealing silicone nylon tents.

Six Moon Designs Instructions:
"Most of seams on Six Moon Designs shelters are designed using butt seams. These seams keep the the threads on the inside where they are less exposed to dirt and grim. Butt seams must be sealed from the outside of the canopy. Applying sealer to the underside of the seam will not seal them.

Work in a well ventilated area, pour a small amount into a paper cup, and close the jar to keep rest of sealer from thickening. Use a small brush to apply a thin coat of sealer to all exterior seams. For butt seams, hold them open to allow the sealer to soak into the seam and coat the threads. If sealer thickens while applying, add some more mineral spirits.
"

TctRgTentsS4P1.jpg
The Hoopla seam in question is actually two seams. One is a butt seam as diagrammed above and the other is some sort of stitch through seam to join the Trussring shelf to the fly. My concern is that if sealed from below, water will be able to seep through the exposed stitch through threads and also through the butt seam. In my opinion both seams can be properly sealed from the outside, with SilNet preventing any water from seeping into the seam before it hits the Seam Grip on the underside of the shelter.

At 10:22am MDT I received the call back. The representative from Mountain Hardwear stated that both he and his manager feel that they need to get a Hoopla to me quickly, but they need my Hoopla before they can authorize a replacement. The estimated time was cut from two weeks down to one week. I'm not sure if the one week change was in response to me letting them know I was doing a long term review of the Hoopla 4 on Rokslide or not.

My request to speak to the Hoopla designer has not been addressed at this point. Hopefully we can speak before the new Hoopla arrives to be sealed.

I feel that Mountain Hardwear does care and is trying to provided the best service they can within their policies. Unfortunately I haven't experienced the bend over backwards service that I have with other companies. Speaking of great service Kevin from Kifaru just called to verify some details on a custom pack order shipping next week; but that’s for another thread.
 
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muleman

muleman

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Mountain Hardwear just called. They looked over my Hoopla fly and inspected the seam issue. They are replacing my fly. When I again asked to speak to the designer to discuss the seam sealing. I was told that the designer agreed with me and that using SilNet on the outside is the right way to seal this fly. I was also told on future production runs the seam in question would be factory sealed. While I really would like to still speak with the designer I am happy they are replacing the fly.
 

Shrek

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Mountain Hardwear just called. They looked over my Hoopla fly and inspected the seam issue. They are replacing my fly. When I again asked to speak to the designer to discuss the seam sealing. I was told that the designer agreed with me and that using SilNet on the outside is the right way to seal this fly. I was also told on future production runs the seam in question would be factory sealed. While I really would like to still speak with the designer I am happy they are replacing the fly.

Are they factory sealing your new fly seam ? Option 4 still sounds good to me. I see a for sale post in your future :)
 
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muleman

muleman

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Are they factory sealing your new fly seam ? Option 4 still sounds good to me. I see a for sale post in your future :)

No, I'm on my own to seal it, which is fine.

Option 4 should have also included a Seek Outside BCS. Once you add stake, pole and annex weight to the Megatarp the BCS is lighter on paper for a stove ready shelter.

It is hard to say without field time but it may be the SL 3 that goes for sale instead of the Hoopla.
 

Shrek

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No, I'm on my own to seal it, which is fine.

Option 4 should have also included a Seek Outside BCS. Once you add stake, pole and annex weight to the Megatarp the BCS is lighter on paper for a stove ready shelter.

It is hard to say without field time but it may be the SL 3 that goes for sale instead of the Hoopla.
They had a BCS demo for sale last week but I don't see it now :( Lots of good options :)
 

JG358

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No, I'm on my own to seal it, which is fine.

Option 4 should have also included a Seek Outside BCS. Once you add stake, pole and annex weight to the Megatarp the BCS is lighter on paper for a stove ready shelter.

Should be pretty close, my mega weighs just under 3lbs complete. That's counting a KU pullout to stick everything in.
 

wannahuntmo

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hope i have better luck with my six moons designs Haven. I put this tarp up this weekend and initial impressions were good. I will do a review in the future when i get time.
 

luke moffat

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Makes me feel like asked about something taboo that can't be talked about in public. Is BCS like a dirty word now or something?

Not at all. Both are great shelters. Just more in a reading vs. typing mood tonight on the computer. Easier to share thoughts/concerns for ones uses for a shelter via phone than a forum sometimes, thats all.
 
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muleman

muleman

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Should be pretty close, my mega weighs just under 3lbs complete. That's counting a KU pullout to stick everything in.

What poles and stakes are you using? How many stakes?
 

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