Tag Archives: three-season tent reviews
By Michael Lanza
Looking back on many of the backpacking tents I’ve tested and reviewed at this blog, I realized this: They’re all weird. But I mean that in a good way. That is, none resemble the kind of tent most of us pitched in the backcountry even five or 10 years ago. The main reason is that the goal of making gear more lightweight isn’t “the new thing” anymore—it’s how everyone thinks, and it has transformed the world of backcountry gear, especially tents.
The other reason is that, in the very competitive marketplace of backpacking shelters, designers are innovating fast to find ways to distinguish their products from the constellation of choices out there. You’ll see that trend in each of the five singularly outstanding tents listed below. Continue reading →
Big Agnes Rattlesnake SL2 mtnGLO
$350, 3 lbs. 9 oz. (not including stuff sacks and stakes)
On the last night of a family backpacking trip on the Rockwall Trail in Canada’s Kootenay National Park, our kids announced to my wife and me that they had dibs on this tent; we had to settle for the tent without internal lighting. But the LED lights built into the Big Agnes mtnGLO tent series are more than a novelty; they elevate the livability of backcountry camping. Technologies like that change the way people perceive an activity by making “roughing it” seem a little less rough. For those of us who’ve been happily backpacking more primitively, lights in a tent certainly add a lot of convenience. Continue reading →
Exped Mira II Hyperlite
$379, 2 lbs. 14 oz. (without the included stuff sack and eight sturdy stakes, at least six of which are needed to pitch the tent)
On the first of two nights backpacking with my 15-year-old son in Idaho’s White Cloud Mountains, I got an immediate sense of what I liked about Exped’s sub-three-pound Mira II Hyperlite (besides its low weight): With darkness and rain rapidly approaching, we pitched the tent easily in a couple of minutes. We lived and slept comfortably inside, thanks to a design that maximizes space while minimizing weight. And when it rained through the night, we stayed dry despite keeping one vestibule door wide open to help ventilate the interior. Continue reading →
Sierra Designs Tensegrity 2 FL
$390, 2 lbs. 10 oz. (without the included stuff sack and nine sturdy stakes, which are needed to pitch the tent)
When I first saw this tent displayed at the Outdoor Retailer trade show a year ago, I wanted to test it in the backcountry. The whole concept behind SD’s new Tensegrity line intriguingly throws out the playbook on what backpacking tents are supposed to look like: Gone are the inward sloping walls, traditional vestibules, and poles, all with the goal of making a shelter that’s not just lighter but more functional. I took the Tensegrity 2 FL on a six-day rafting trip down Idaho’s Middle Fork of the Salmon River—and mostly liked what I saw in this unusual shelter. Continue reading →
Tarptent Double Moment
$349, 3 lbs. 4 oz.
With a preference for backcountry tents that are lightweight and stable, I’m willing to sacrifice capacious living space and the convenience of freestanding models, and I’ve seen tunnel-style designs that stand up well to strong winds despite their low total weight. Intrigued by the Double Moment’s space-to-weight ratio, I took it out on a five-day backpacking trip down Paria Canyon on the Utah-Arizona border in late March and a three-day backpacking trip on the Royal Arch Loop in the Grand Canyon, to see how it would hold up. Continue reading →