Brooks-Range Foray

Tent
Brooks-Range Foray
$425, 2 lbs. 10 oz. (tent, fly, poles)
brooks-range.com

This sub-three-pound, two-person tent defies preconceived notions of an ultralight tent: it has comfortable space, is strong and dry inside in rough weather, and versatile. I found the Foray especially perfect for backpacking with a kid who’s too young to carry much, if any, gear, because living space assumes a lower priority when your companion is a child, while having a lightweight, low-bulk tent makes a huge difference when you’re carrying most of the gear. Backpacking with my 10-year-old son for three nights in the Tetons and two nights in Idaho’s Sawtooths, I found the Foray’s 30 square feet of living quarters and 39-inch peak height adequate for him and me—or for two average-size or small adults, for that matter—and you can squeeze two mid-size packs into its six-square-foot vestibule. I also used it as a solo tent on a four-day, 56-mile hike in the Sawtooths, because it’s light enough, I like having the extra space, and it’s as compact as a solo tent when packed away.

Tents this light sometimes compromise on stability; not the Foray. In the Sawtooths, we got a night of hard rain and shifting winds hitting the tent broadside at times. The Foray never even bent under the onslaught, nor did gusts of 25 to 30 mph in the Tetons phase it, thanks to the low, aerodynamic profile, hubbed poles, and ample staking and guying points. Taped seams kept rain from penetrating the rainfly. The Foray also has a design detail that some tents lack: a front door that tilts slightly outward, and a vestibule whose top extends beyond the tent doorway, so that rain doesn’t drip inside when you come and go. The tent pops up and breaks down quickly thanks to quick-release clips. Ventilation is good, due to all-mesh walls and rainfly vents. I got a little condensation under the rainfly on a night that dipped below freezing in the Sawtooths—to be expected in calm, freezing conditions—but nothing inside got damp because the pole structure keeps the rainfly off the mesh canopy walls. Granted, headroom is good only at the front end, and it’s not for big people or anyone who likes a lot of elbowroom. That said, the Foray is one of the better lightweight tents out there.

—Michael Lanza