Updated January 2021. The Cloud Up 2 from Chinese manufacturer Naturehike looks suspiciously similar to the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL. But at less than a third of the price. What is this budget tent really worth? I found out after more than 20 weeks of heavy use.
I got a grey 20D nylon Cloud Up 2 at the beginning of 2019. As of January 2021, that is still the current model sold by the Chinese manufacturer. My Naturehike tent was in action for around 120 nights in total over 7 months.
It spent over a month in the Jordanian desert, exposed to lots of sun, sand and the occasional torrential downpour. It then survived a month and a half in Turkey, including a few very windy days. This was followed by some trekking in the Tien Shan and Pamir mountains in Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. And finally it had to keep hordes of hungry mosquitoes out in Canada.
I always used the included ground sheet to reduce abrasion of the tent floor. Over the last months I’ve also met a lot of Cloud Up 2 users in Turkey, and included their feedback.
Weather Resistance 3/5
Water Resistance. The tent stays dry even in heavy downpours. The seam between the bathtub floor and the upper panels wasn’t factory sealed, and water would eventually enter when there was a lot of splash back. It was easily fixed with a tube of silnet.
When lots of water gets in between the groundsheet and the floor, the fabric eventually becomes saturated. The bottom of the camping mattresses got damp several times because of this. This is not dramatic, but the tent needs to be dried after prolonged rain.
Another shortcoming: the porch doesn’t protect the entrance well. When it rains, you have to get in and out quickly.
Wind Resistance. As long as the rear of the tent faces the wind, it can resist strong gusts. I had several occasions where wind gusts blew in excess of 60 kmh / 40 mph. The tent coped admirably. However, the sides are less aerodynamic. Site selection and orientation is important.
Naturehike claims 1.55kg for the 20D nylon model, which I can more or less confirm. I get 1.64kg, with the included ground sheet. And exactly 1.8kg with the stakes and guy lines. It’s not going to break any records in the lightweight category.
As a comparison, the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2, the apparent “inspiration” for the Cloud Up 2, weighs just over 1 kg. However it remains a reasonable weight, and you could strip it down to around 1.4kg for lightweight missions.
Condensation. There is one small ventilation opening in the fly sheet at the back, but it’s too low to have much of an impact. With a one way zipper on the front door it’s not possible to leave the entrance partially open either.
This results in a lot of condensation. However the walls are steep enough for the inner tent to stay dry. The newer 2020 Naturehike Cloup Up 1 and 3 models seem to include a much-needed vent above the door, but alas the 2-person version is still missing one in 2021.
Space. It’s small for 2. You can fit 2 narrow sleeping pads, but not much else. Maybe a pillow or a few things. Similarly, the porch will not take more than a medium bag and a couple of pairs of shoes. The only mesh pocket is located overhead. It’s easy to dislodge stored items which conveniently fall on your face in the middle of the night.
The Cloud Up 2 does score a few points with the high ceiling in the front. The pole design creates enough space to sit comfortably.
Bottom line: great and spacious tent for one, and acceptable for 2 on shorter trips with limited amounts of gear.
From 2018 onwards, the Cloup Up 2 is truly free standing. This makes pitching quick and easy on hard and sandy ground. And with its narrow profile it’s easy to find a suitable space.
However, it’s not all roses and peaches. The fly sheet sags a lot, and is difficult to tension properly. You have to use the guy lines at the base of the fly sheet. Or else, the sides will flap around in the wind. And condensation will drip through the mesh inner. This design choice is really puzzling. If you are cloning an established product, why make it worse?
I’ve heard this tent dismissed as “single use”. True, if you expose it carelessly to Patagonian winds its survival odds are slim. But I also vividly remember the fancy 500 bucks Big Agnes tents flattened by brutal gusts in El Chaltén and Rifugio Frey. As with any ultralight tent, you have to choose your campsite wisely.
Having said that, the tent has stood up well against the elements so far. Beyond a few broken pegs (my fault) there is little visible wear. The included ground sheet keeps abrasion in check. The 20D nylon is unlikely to last as long as heavier fabrics, but that’s the trade off with most ultralight models. I’ve heard similar good comments from several different owners. Overall, the Cloud Up 2 seems to be comparable to the competition.
We have a winner! The Cloud Up 2 in 20D nylon sells between 100 and 150$ on Aliexpress. If you are patient it’s regularly on offer at around 75-80$. For similar specs you have to typically shell out 300$+.
Naturehike Cloud Up 2:
For such a low price the Cloud Up 2 did an admirable job. And it’s still going strong. Yes, there are quite a few shortcomings. But it’s good enough for most situations. If you’re after a freestanding light budget tent and don’t mind finding sheltered campsites when it gets very stormy, this tent is a great choice.
Nevertheless, if you are 2 and camp a lot, then this tent is simply too small. If you expect gale force winds regularly, it’s too fragile. And if you are looking for truly ultralight gear, it’s still on the heavy side. Check out budget tarp tents for more lightweight options at a similar price.