Exped Mira II

Backpacking Tent
Exped Mira II
$379, 3 lbs. 14 oz.

Rain, hail, snow squalls, strong winds, temps below freezing, as well as dry, calm nights in the 40s and low 50s—I saw it all in this tent, from Washington’s stormy Olympic Mountains to Idaho’s City of Rocks and Smoky Mountains. It handled that entire gamut of conditions: keeping us dry though tempests and not bending in gusts of 30 to 40 mph, while ventilating well on clear, mild nights. But the real selling point is that it performs at this level—plus has decent interior space and two doors and vestibules—while weighing in under four pounds and setting you back less than four C-notes.

Exped achieved the low weight through reducing the pole structure at the foot of the tent without compromising stability, though we were careful to try to pitch the beefier end of the tent into the wind. The Mira II nonetheless has thicker, more durable nylon fabric (70-denier nylon in the floor, 30-denier in the rainfly) than many competitors in this class. Exped nailed other important details, too: The doors prevent rain dripping inside when you’re coming and going, and the vestibules are each big enough to store a pack and boots (we also cooked in one). While the 29.6 square feet of floor space is fairly average in this weight class—a six-foot buddy and I (I’m five feet, eight inches) found it a little cramped but livable—the peak height of 43 inches provides good head room. The color-coded poles and sleeves make setup easy; and while sliding poles through sleeves is slower than clipping up a tent, it is also sturdier. All in all, you get your money’s worth in this high-performance, lightweight, three-season tent.

NOTE: I’ve been testing gear for Backpacker Magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See all of my reviews by clicking on the Gear Reviews category at left or in the main menu. See more reviews of backpacking gear I like by clicking on the “backpacking gear reviews” tag in the tag cloud in the left sidebar.

—Michael Lanza