Looking for an inexpensive 3-season 2-man tent.

10:45 a.m. on August 13, 2007 (EDT)

I have always wanted to get into backpacking, and have recently bought a pack. I now want to get an inexpensive tent, because I am not sure yet how much I will use it. I think I have narrowed the choices down to:

Kelty Teton 2 about $120
Kelty Gunnison 2 " $140
North Face Tephra 22 " $150
North Face Rock 22 " 170

I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions or experience with the tents I mentioned or recommendations for different ones. I have never owned a tent before and do not know if the extra price will really get me much more for the money.

Thanks in advance for any help and advice. I'm looking forward to getting out on the trail as soon as I get all my gear.

12:33 p.m. on August 13, 2007 (EDT)
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This isn't on your list, but as an inexpensive 'starter' tent, you might consider the Eureka Timberline. I had one for a number of years before upgrading to one by Mountain Hardwear.

The Timberline was reasonably weather resistant, pretty easy to set up, and worked out pretty well. You should be able to find one for under $100.

12:57 p.m. on August 13, 2007 (EDT)
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The Timberline IS a great tent. Extremely storm proof.

But....it is really heavy - even the two man version weighs in at about 7 lbs.

Check out this example as a good intro into backpacking tents:


4:11 p.m. on August 14, 2007 (EDT)
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Take a look at the Kelty Pagosa 2 also. It has the same footprint size as the Kelty Gunnison, but a different pole arrangement and lot's of cool features that the Gunnison doesn't have. It's also lighter - but does cost a little bit more. I wrote a review here about it - I'm not a fanatic, just very pleased with mine.

12:10 p.m. on August 15, 2007 (EDT)
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Hi, Groundhog.

I know you asked about specific tent models and got some useful suggestions already, but I'm going to take a different tactic first.

If you haven't done much backpacking, you might want to try borrowing tents to discover your own preferences and needs first. Could you borrow from friends, so you can discover what you personally like/dislike about different models? Some outdoor groups (such as college outing clubs) have gear to borrow or rent for members. And if you get into backpacking by going on trips led by outdoor groups or stores, the tents may be supplied, so you’ll have the chance to try some without any commitment.

Of course, in these scenarios you wouldn’t have much control of what tent you get to use and you’ll have a lot more freedom and possibilities owning your own tent. It’s just something to consider before you plunk down your money if you’re just starting out and aren’t sure how or when you’ll use your tent or what you like best.

If you haven't read it already, we have some general info about tents in Trailspace's "Guide to Tents": http://www.trailspace.com/gear/guide/tents.html

Good luck with whatever you choose and let us know how it goes.

5:19 p.m. on August 15, 2007 (EDT)
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Maybe not the best idea to follow the editor-in-chief, but here's my 2 cents. All of the tents mentioned above are pretty good for the money; my son has a Teton 2 and it does the job. Careful, though, if you will have two grown-ups in it; they had better know each other pretty well. I use it as my solo tent. Another option, and with more floor space, is the Eureka Pinnicle Pass 2XTA. Very light and well-made, super-easy set up and a better value than TNF tents.
The one thing I will say is that you want to avoid fiberglass poles at all costs. They will break, period. Now, go have fun!

11:15 a.m. on August 20, 2007 (EDT)
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I own the North Face Rock (pre-2door version) and would like to testify that this tent is absolutely bomber! Superlight, easy to set up, and takes on the elements. Its snug for two people, but after all you ARE backpacking. I've had this tent shed off a light monsoon. Love it!

8:05 p.m. on August 24, 2007 (EDT)
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I use the Marmot Limelight 2 person and it has served me well for car camping and backpacking. It is freestanding, very well ventilated, and reasonably priced at around $165. I think it is a little under 5lbs. Some of the other tents people have mentioned might pack down smaller, but the Limelight is generally larger I think. Hope this helps.

6:25 a.m. on August 26, 2007 (EDT)
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I have a Sierra Designs Lightening tent and my wife and I like the tent a lot.It's light,easy to set up and is of the right color to keep one cheerful on an overcast day.If you have ever been stuck in a dark color tent on a dreary day,then you know what I am talking about,it is even more dreary inside the tent.Right noe REI has a great sale on them for about $169.00,I gave about $250 for mine when I got it.Worth checking out.http://www.rei.com/product/732070

11:35 p.m. on August 29, 2007 (EDT)

Thanks for the advice everyone. I have an update. I got a Sierra Designs Electron several days ago(avg min wt 5lbs 5oz). I got it on sale for about $110.00 with footprint.

Now that I see the deal on the Lightning (avg min wt 3lbs 15oz), I wonder if I should return the Electron and buy it instead. With the footprint, it will be about $195. This is almost double the price of the tent I bought.

Do you all think the 1.5 pounds I'll be shedding will be worth the extra $85? The other features seem comparable.

Thanks again for all of your help.

11:55 p.m. on August 29, 2007 (EDT)
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Groundhog, tents, like everything else, follow the rule "there is always something 'better' out there". Tents don't have quite the fanatical following of some other gear (like stoves, boots, jackets of different varieties, ...), but there will always be a tent with a feature you wish you had. Question is what else goes with saving the 1.5 pounds. You know about the $85. What about durability, usable space, placement of the doors, the way the zippers work, how hard it is to set up, and on and on. A lot of this is just personal preference (color, for instance - does it really matter, as long as it isn't too garish and annoy your fellow campers and backpackers?)

My advice is to use what you have on at least a half dozen weekends of use, including a long backpack or two. You can always find a way to shave 1.5 pounds from the other stuff in your pack. After a dozen nights in the tent and 8 to 10 setup and takedowns, you will know a lot more about what you want in a tent and what annoys you about tent designs. 10 nights works out to $11/night for your Electron - a lot cheaper than Motel 6 and a lot more fun, too. Count it as a learning experience.

11:55 p.m. on August 30, 2007 (EDT)
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I looked at the Electron and it appears that it has more vestibule space then the lightening.You will like that feature ,I am sure.The lightening doesn't have that much vestibule space so I usually have to cover things up with my poncho to keep the rain or dew off of them.I carried a North Face VE 23,( I think it was a VE 23,24,25)oh,oh,there that old guy thing again, around for years and that bugger weighed 8 pounds.It is a 4 season tent and a mighty good one at that.I had to repair the screen door as my dog chewed her way out during a storm.Other then that the tent is in fine shape and when the weather got nasty and the temps fell to 20 below,I never gave the 8 pounds another thought.I was cozy inside my 4 pound -20 sleeping bag too.Yep,I think you'll enjoy your new tent.

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