Which tent?

8:48 p.m. on July 10, 2012 (EDT)
109 reviewer rep
66 forum posts

I'm looking to buy a new 2-person tent for my husband and I. I've been reading reviews on tents for a long time and their are just too many to choose from. It seems like every tent has plenty of "I love it" and "I hate it" views, so I'm coming to the experts.

Here's what we're looking for:

* 2-person (we don't mind being a little cramped we're bother under 5'9")

* Free-standing

* Under 5 pounds

* We're trying to stay under $250

* Excellent waterproofing, we live in the PNW

* We will be using it on a couple of trips in the backcountry in WY in October, so being able to stand up to a night or two of snow every now and then would be nice.

*We're trying to avoid the color white. We like the greens and browns, but this is the least important requirement. 

So, if you had $250 for a two-man tent, which would you spend it on?

We are considering The North Face Tadpole 23 or MSR Hubba Hubba, but we don't know....

11:06 p.m. on July 10, 2012 (EDT)
102 reviewer rep
2,979 forum posts

I like both of these tents.  The Hubba Hubba will feel more roomy due to wider shoulder room, more vertical walls, more area in the head room part of the tent, and where the high point of the tent is positioned.  The Hubba Hubba also provides a drier entrance in the rain, and the two entrances make getting in and out somewhat easier.  The Hubba Hubba is also over a pound lighter.  The Tadpole, however, is significantly less expensive.

I would not consider either of these tents for any more than a dusting of snow, as the light design and relatively flat, unsupported, roof will make these tents prone to collapse if more than an inch or two snow Cascade Concrete falls.


9:56 a.m. on July 11, 2012 (EDT)
109 reviewer rep
66 forum posts

Thanks for your response Ed. I was wondering about how well they would do in the snow.

Another one I am looking at is the Nemo Losi 2P. I found it on sale for $260. It looks a little more stable than the others. Anyone have experience with this tent?

11:37 a.m. on July 11, 2012 (EDT)
389 reviewer rep
1,124 forum posts

I have 2 tents with the same design as the Tadpole. My thoughts would be that the poles would be fine but the top of the fly would sag under the weight of snow. I have also used one like the Hubba Hubba. I think that the slopes of it's walls would be fine for snow. My only concern would be the strut pole could bend in a heavy wet snow. I agree with Ed of the two I think the Hubba Hubba gives more head room.

1:00 p.m. on July 11, 2012 (EDT)
280 reviewer rep
1,469 forum posts

I am hoping that this one would suit your needs, as described, real well.

It is on sale, so a lot of tent for your dollar.

If it is not a good fit REI has a great return policy.

MSR Hoop 2 Tent





1:03 p.m. on July 11, 2012 (EDT)
280 reviewer rep
1,469 forum posts

I know it blows your suggested budget by a little, but get a matching Footprint for this tent too.

MSR Hoop 2 Footprint



4:20 p.m. on July 11, 2012 (EDT)
1,500 reviewer rep
140 forum posts

Both of these tents we're awarded the Backpacker Magazine's "Editors' Choice" and both are well within you're budget and meets most of the criteria you have.

Kelty Salida 2 (REI sells it online for $160)

LL Bean Microlight FS 2 (LL Bean sells it online for $200)

6:16 p.m. on July 11, 2012 (EDT)
0 reviewer rep
30 forum posts

And in regards to mangus' post, there's currently a new LL Bean Microlight 2 going on ebay for about $40 (plus shipping, of course). Just sayin'...

6:31 p.m. on July 11, 2012 (EDT)
1,500 reviewer rep
140 forum posts

I just saw that ebay listing and it looks like the Mountain Light 2 and not the Microlight...difference is the Mountain Light 2 is a non-freestanding tent.

6:48 p.m. on July 11, 2012 (EDT)
1,711 reviewer rep
3,962 forum posts

Maybe a Sierra Designs Lightning HT 3? May be a bit nicer for 2 and comes in at 5lb 3oz.

Retail is $350 but you can snag this one for around $200:


The thing about 2 person tents is that they are typically a roomy solo.

For $27 more you can get this tent brand new from CampSaver.com:


9:55 p.m. on July 11, 2012 (EDT)
136 reviewer rep
623 forum posts

I like my highpeak tent a lot. Only requirement the Enduro wouldn't meet is your weight limit, as it comes in at about 9lbs. It's a 4 season tent, it can be used in warmer months, it has tons of ventilation, and it can stand up to any weather you throw at it.

It also doesn't break the bank. I got my Enduro for $75 and I think the typical going rate is just over $110.

11:07 p.m. on July 11, 2012 (EDT)
0 reviewer rep
30 forum posts

Might even look at the Mountainsmith Morrison.  I don't have any personal experience with one, but what few reviews I've seen seem positive, and it's relatively roomy for a 2-person tent.  If Mountainsmith's specs are to be believed, it comes in at around 4 lbs, 11 oz, and was going on Amazon for around $115 - $120 last I saw.

7:34 p.m. on July 16, 2012 (EDT)
353 reviewer rep
78 forum posts

  The REI Half Dome 2 is under $200, weighs 5 pounds, has good room, great protection, and is probably the biggest selling backpacking tent in the USA.  It's solid enough to hold up under considerable snow and has no problems with wind. Easy set up, 2 doors, a great deal.

10:12 a.m. on July 17, 2012 (EDT)
109 reviewer rep
66 forum posts

Thank you all for your suggestions.

I think we are going to go with the MSR Hoop 2. It seems to have everything we're looking for. We will see how it does.

1:46 p.m. on July 17, 2012 (EDT)
33 reviewer rep
85 forum posts

hate to barge in here, but all these suggestions are great. anyone have any for someone wanting a 2 person tent in the $100 range. i know i should probably step up my price range, but its what i'm going to be asking for my birthday, so got to keep it low. only a three season tent, as my wife isn't much for the cold. although, it may see a solo winter trek in the GSMNP.

2:41 p.m. on July 19, 2012 (EDT)
0 reviewer rep
913 forum posts


Take a look at Alps Mountaineering's Zephyr 2 or Chaos 2. I have both in the 3 person size. They are reasonable good tents fro the price. The sacrifice weight instead of quality. I don't think the Zephyr is an all mesh inner body and great for summer as long as you don't expect high winds (you should be fine if you are somewhat sheltered) I wouldn't recommend it for more than a light dusting of snow. The Chaos is a good bit more sturdy and seems more roomy inside but is heavier, not as tall and more expensive.

I found the Zephyr 2 for $121 on Amazon here.

I found the Chaos 2 for $165 on Amazon here.

Both the Zephyr and Chaos 3 person models only cost a little more than the 2 person models. If you are not hiking long distances you may appreciate the extra room. 

I also saw the Hybrid CE 2 for $119 on Amazon here.  I have no experience with this tent but it might make a good compromise between the Chaos and Zephyr.  

3:19 p.m. on July 19, 2012 (EDT)
25 reviewer rep
3,192 forum posts

New to the forum.  In my opinion backpackers are easily duped by good advertising.  Some of the new single wall tents are very appealing like the Appy Trails.  They have a tarp tent with one pole that you can stand up in.  It sleeps 5 or me and the wife and 3 dogs.  It weighs under 2 pounds.  It has vents with screens.  It opens in the front to be used with a fire in front.  A bug net can be added.  They may be best for country that isn't reallly wet, but are worth considering. They cost $125 or less.

I have used a tarp recently and really like it.  It is light, easy to set up and provides ventilation.  I can see out at night.  It can be changed to fit a tight campsite.  A tarp tent does all of these things and can still be closed up in a storm.  These solutions are unconventional but worthy options.

4:59 p.m. on July 21, 2012 (EDT)
5,616 reviewer rep
2,036 forum posts

for a good, inexpensive 3 season tent, the REI camp dome 2 is very good, very easy to set up, and around $100.  i would not recommend it for the winter, and i don't think you can find a decent light 4 season tent in your price range.  

if i were looking to go budget on a light tent that can handle some snow, i might look at the REI cirque asl 2.  

8:41 p.m. on July 22, 2012 (EDT)
72 reviewer rep
3 forum posts

Just some thoughts about the need to stay dry while allowing air to move through the tent. The new miracle fabrics allow this; however, the air flow will be minimized in a single wall tent-assuming the single wall tent is really 100% waterproof. In my experience the waterproofing single wall tents reduce the air flow %100 making the opening of vents an absolute. The unique technology involved in double wall (tent with accompanying rain fly) is that the rainfly sheds the water, and allows air flow through to the porous tent wall, all without allowing any water to leak into the tent. My Alps Mountaineering Extreme 3 Outfitter is constructed in this manner as are most if not all of the tents built by Alps Mountaineering, Mountain HardWare, Sierra Designs, Big Agnes  and others possibly unknown to me. Look for the rainfly to go as close to the ground as possible; my advice is to stay away from a design that does not allow the rainfly to come down to at about least an inch or less  to the ground.

An added bonus, with many of the designs is the ability to erect just  the rain fly and footprint (another necessity in my view for all tents) for a very open ambiance.

12:20 p.m. on July 24, 2012 (EDT)
25 reviewer rep
3,192 forum posts

People on this forum seem pretty sold on ultralight equipment, until it comes to tents.  Then 5 pounds seems like a reasonable weight.  At risk of being forward, I would like to bring up the fact that many people are a little skittish in the outdoors.  They really don't want to be able to see out, but cacooned in a little nylon world.  For trips early and late in the season when daylight is only 10-2 hours or less, it is a huge advantage to be able to see out, not mention having a fire in front.

Why is everyone sold on tents?  What is your opinion?


9:33 a.m. on July 25, 2012 (EDT)
109 reviewer rep
66 forum posts

Well, in my case, what my husband and I do during the fall months and early winter months is backpack into the backcountry to hunt, so we don't want a fire, because we want to be unseen and as quiet as possible. Also, sometimes you're in an area where fires are prohibited unless in a designated fire ring. What if there isn't one? Almost everywhere I backpack there aren't fire rings.

I'm also not skittish, I love the outdoors, but I still prefer a tent. I choose five pounds as a reasonable weight, because I can't afford a full tent under 4 lbs. I do however have a Bilgy Tarp tent that I made that is only about two pounds, but I made it with a bathtub floor and both ends have a mesh door and a nylon door as well. I want to be protected from the elements on all four sides. I live in the PNW, so the weather is quite unpredictable. You never know when it's going to rain and blow and when it isn't and I just prefer having four walls to be protected from the elements all of the way around. I also don't care for snakes and spiders, so having a floor is nice to me. If it's not raining, you can leave the fly off and see out, or you can leave your door open, so you're not stuck in a "nylon world." Plus, unless more than a drizzle comes through, all I do is sleep in my tent.

5:35 p.m. on July 25, 2012 (EDT)
280 reviewer rep
1,469 forum posts

MSR Holler 3 Tent


being a 3 person tent will make a huge difference to your comfort.

4:03 p.m. on July 26, 2012 (EDT)
5,616 reviewer rep
2,036 forum posts

my experience with UL sleeping, a while ago, i used a tarp (not a tarp tent) and a very lightweight hammock, plus a bug helmet to keep my face from getting destroyed.  a reasonably comfortable arrangement for fair weather or light rain, and i could definitely 'see out.'  hard rains and high winds, not a good solution.  i'm sure that tarp setups have improved since then, but i'm fairly confident they aren't ideal for the weather i'm at risk of seeing in the white mountains or the adirondacks, even in the summer. 

i also prefer tents of the fairly robust variety because about half my longer trips are in the winter.  i could envision a tarptent in combination with a snow cave, perhaps, but not as a stand-alone sleeping solution for winter. 

ps - not that i want to hijack this thread, but i'm not at all sold on ultralight in many respects.  that's for another day to talk about....   

4:21 p.m. on July 26, 2012 (EDT)
775 reviewer rep
2,162 forum posts

ppine said:

People on this forum seem pretty sold on ultralight equipment,  

 Speaking as a member, and not a mod, this forum is far, far less enamored with UL/SUL than most of the other forums. I would think the majority of the membership falls more into the "sensibly-light" category, with many "traditional" backpacker int the crowd as well. 

4:26 p.m. on July 26, 2012 (EDT)
775 reviewer rep
2,162 forum posts


I did a bunch of research for a friend a couple months ago. He wanted a 3P, 3+ season, 5lbs or less, good quality tent for under $250. Though these are the 3P models, the 2P available and only going to be lighter and cheaper. 

after a few weeks of looking, here's the list I suggested, in order of my opinion on value and quality.

 There have also some great deals to be had on Sierra Designs tents lately. 

10:25 a.m. on August 4, 2012 (EDT)
109 reviewer rep
66 forum posts

Gonzan - we ended up buying the BA Lynx Pass 2. We were going to go with   the MSR Hoop 2 on sale at REI for $250 and we had a $50 gift card, but we had $250 in gift cards to Cabelas and they carry the BA Lynx Pass 2, so we got it there for $200. It should be here in a few days. We can't wait to try it out.

May 24, 2018
Quick Reply

Please sign in to reply

More Topics
This forum: Older: Fire shelter in the cold Newer: Battle Erupts Over Whose Plastic Consumers Should Trust
All forums: Older: Removing odor from hands in the backcountry Newer: Easton Offers Foldable Compact AL5 Poles