Big Agnes Lone Spring 3
Simple structure, spacious interior, and durable materials.
Source: bought via a "pro deal"
Simple structure, spacious interior, and durable materials. Great for two and a dog during cool weather adventures. Highly recommended for car camping and the occasional backpacking trip.
- Easy to set up
- Great price
- Fly vents
- Many guy points (line included)
- Heavier than others
- One door/vestibule
- Aligning poles challenging
I picked up the Lone Spring 3 (LS3) to function as a car camping tent primarily and to be used for infrequent backpacking trips with my partner. I chose it because of the great price, the sturdy materials, and ample space. I really only found the weight, the single door, and finicky poles the only downsides: all things I can live with for a great, durable tent for two (and a dog)!
The LS3 is part of Big Agnes's backpacking collection. That being said, they have a Superlight and Ultralight collection. The LS3 is NOT the lightest weight tent they have in their assortment. But, it is sturdy with heftier fabrics and less mesh. This also means the price is great!
I would typically go for a lighter weight tent. But, my partner and I car camp more often than we backpack together, and I own a solo tent for when I backpack alone. (On a superficial note: I love the colors! The buff colored fly lights up with the sun, but fades into natural settings with ease. The orange and tan body are reminiscent of classic styles and remind me of my the tents from our family road tripping heyday.)
The floor space was great for two people. Three adults would be tight; but, two adults and a child would probably be fine. Our 25 lbs. Scottish Terrier and his bed fit at our feet and left plenty of room for entry and exit. The single door/vestibule made my exit from the back a bit awkward, but not a deal breaker. I'll take the weight penalty for tons of space for two, more durable fabrics, and a great price.
The LS3 is a simple half-dome tent with a brow pole that creates more vertical front and back walls. The main crossed poles are connected with a swiveling H-clip hub. The hub clip must face DOWN to connect to the tent body. The poles and grommets are not color coded, so it can be a little tricky if you're not paying attention.
Also, the poles can only cross in a particular direction or the hub stops the poles short and torques the poles. Don't do this — it will flex the poles incorrectly and could damage them.
The LS3 has four perimeter guy points and four from the pole edges. The pole edge guy points have velcro inner connectors to bind pole and fly. These make for a very taut and stable pitch. The tent comes with orange reflective guy line and plastic tensioners that can easily be replaced with lighter options. The corner stake out points are doubled-over webbing and seem very durable. The fly connects with simple side-release buckles with reflective tape.
The tent essentially blazes with reflectivity at night! A great feature when returning to camp after dark.
The LS3 has solid polyester walls half-way up from the bathtub floor where it turns to mesh. This makes the tent great for cool and cold weather. During the Labor Day weekend heat in north Texas, the still air and humidity made it a bit stuffy even with the fly off at night. Midday rain was kept at bay without any leaks. Condensation did collect in impossibly foggy weather at Balmorhea State Park in September and soaked the fly and mesh canopy. I do not knock the tent for this one as I feel any tent would have had condensation issues in fog too thick to see across the street in!
We stayed at Lake Cachuma in Santa Barbara County California while looking for a place to live in the area. The daytime temps were in the 80s and 90s and the lows at night were in the 50s. This is where the LS3 really shone! We stayed cozy and dry. The high walls kept the chill wind out but kept the upper canopy free from the condensation from our breath.
The fly has two opposing vents with mesh panels built in behind (I assume to keep bugs from being trapped between the fly and tent body). The vent stiffeners can really only be accessed easily from the outside of the tent, so if things get too blustery, you have to: 1) live with it, 2) pop out for an adjustment, or 3) try to work it closed through the mesh. I didn't find this too much of an issue.
Storage inside was adequate. The three mesh pockets were great for headlamps and glasses. I used an MSR Universal Gear Loft to add more storage. Big Agnes also sells a gear loft separately for this. The vestibule was a great size for shoes and water bottles. It may be challenging with two large trekking packs, but the internal floor space would probably be accommodating.
The packed size of the entire kit is not super small, but split between two or three people would be nothing in a pack! The drawstring bag is a bit small for the entire kit. I've struggled every time to get everything in. I usually roll the body, fly, and footprint around the stakes and poles to protect them. But, I had to keep the poles out; roll the fabric pieces; and, slide the poles and stakes in. This was the easiest way.
After eight nights of use over two months in prairie, desert, and mountain environments, the Lone Spring 3 still looks great! I have a feeling this sturdy tent will be with my family for many years to come thanks to the simple design and durable fabrics. Its few shortcomings are more than made up for by its great price, ample size, ease of use, and solid construction. A keeper!