Big Agnes Seedhouse SL2
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $206 including footprint.
The Seedhouse SL-2 is a simple, well-designed, easy to set and take down tent. I have used it in the summer and fall and really like the door at the end of the tent (instead of the side) design. Though the tent is rated for two, I use is as a solo tent.
I specifically looked for an affordable two-person tent that would work for car camping and backpacking, intending to be the only occupant. I really enjoy the luxury (and functionality) that extra space provides. I have done quite a bit of research and though there are possibly better tents now available (for considerably more money), I still this this is a great tent—a classic really—especially when you can find it on sale.
- Simple and well designed, easy and quick to set up, even the first few times. Easy to tear down and stow.
- Light weight.
- Good headroom and vestibule room. Tight for two people, just right for a claustrophobe and gear.
- Easy to get in and out.
- Not entirely free-standing.
- Fly will merge with the mesh top after a lot of rain, leading to some condensation.
- Entrance will allow minor dripping in the tent in significant rain
The thing I like most about this tent is that everything is exactly what/how/where you expect it. That's what makes it so easy to set up even the first time, without instructions. I have read so many tent reviews that say you need the instructions, diagrams, or it takes some figuring out the first few times you set it. Not a problem with the Seedhouse SL-2. No instructions needed; everything is obvious and intuitive.
The tent pitches tautly, though in high wind and rain, it will slacken.
I have been ins some light to moderate rains in the tent and it performs well. I have not felt like the tent would collapse in wind, though I have not been in high wind with the tent. It's a super light, after all, and there are some limitations.
The tent vents reasonably well, though there is nearly always some condensation overnight even without rain, but not too bad.
It has great headroom—43 inches. It is rated as a two-person tent, but I use it solo. I like the extra room for gear and elbows. It would be tight for two large adults. Width and length of the interior are just right for me with gear. I do tend to bring a lot of gear and extras and bring them all in the tent with me. Minimalists would find it roomy I believe.
It stows as easily as it pitches and doesn't take a shoehorn to fit everything in the stuff sack, and that includes the footprint. I generally hate taking a tent down, but I have no complaints with the Seedhouse. I use it primarily for trailhead camping for Colorado 14ers.
I have had the tent for a few years and do not use it a lot or in rough conditions. It has held up just fine for my use. Everything works as it should. Again, i like the simplicity of the tent. I think it would go up relatively easily in wind and/or rain.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $190
This is a great tent for lightweight backpacking. It is easy to assemble, effective as any double wall tent, takes up little space in the pack and is very light.
- Light weight
- Easy assembly
- Easy to clean
- Small pack volume
- Small for a two man tent
- Small vestibule
This tent has been great for my solo backpacking trips. I bought it as a two man tent for me and my wife, but have used it quite a bit for myself when backpacking with buddies.
It packs down to a small size. It is as light as my one man tent with twice the room. It is double walled and the fly can be used with just the poles and footprint for an ultra-light fast fly configuration. The tent, fly, poles and footprint are all well made and rugged for such a light tent.
There is a nice balance between weight and construction features. The weight is 3 lbs 11 oz, including footprint. That is not in the ultra-light range, but considering the size ( 28 sq ft ), the fact that it is double walled and it's durability I saw a good trade off between weight and function/feature. There is reasonable headroom to sit up and dress in the tent, due to the configuration of the pole support.
I re-rigged the stay lines, and swapped out stakes for lighter ones. I also bought small ultra-light weight ditty bags since the tent only has one small pocket.
One warning, this is a two person tent only if the people are small to average in size, height and weight. If you are a couple of small to average size you will fit well enough, but you will have almost no room for extra gear in the tent, and the vestibule is smallish. Note that if you decided to buy the newer and lighter Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2 it is lighter than the Seedhouse, but the footprint and profile are almost identical. In fact the small vestibule is even smaller on the Fly Creek.
With all that said, I love this tent, and although I may buy a super lightweight 3 person tent eventually for me and my wife I will use this two man tent for some time. It is a great tent for me.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: going rate
Superlight freestanding tent. Small footprint and stealthy color.
- needs a ventilation flap in the fly
- fragile material and zipper
Simple enough, after a few trips I could put this tent up in the dark. Superlight — watch out it will blow away...though in the wind it's usually good enough just to use 5 stakes for the fly. I usually camp with just the freestanding screen body and no stakes.
Fly is totally weatherproof as it arrives. Fly well ventilated at the bottom if staked out properly, but condensation can be a problem if the fly door is totally zipped up, like you have to when it rains — I use a spork to prop it open at the top.
I use the two-person as a one-person. I'm 6' and it's a good fit. Two people and you have to store everything under the vestibule.
Quite compact, fits in a backpack or pannier or kayak easily.
fly zipper sucks up the adjacent nylon flap if you're not careful.
Nice soft green color, blends right in to most landscapes. Esp without the fly, it's very stealthy at night.
Smallish footprint as compared to two door models.
The material is lightweight — that means you can't manhandle it or it will be full of holes. If you are rough on gear, get a heavier tent.
I'm on my second Seedhouse, third if you count a warranted replacement on the first one — after a 2-month river expedition, it shipped water — might have had something to do with a little wind driven tumble through the brambles.
Still the first tent I grab for backpacking in the Sierras or kayaking in Baja.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $275
I highly recommend this tent for most all 3-season backpacking trips. It has proven very durable and I have no regrets after four years of use. IT looks as good today as when I first bought it. Numerous trips on the AT have made this tent earn its reputation!
- Tight fit for 2 adults
I have used this tent for three years now. The longest trek was an 11-day trip in the mountains of New Mexico at the Boy Scout Philmont Ranch. We hiked over 100 miles on this trek, and this tent worked wonderfully — as it always has.
It pitches so easily. Even with high humidity, there was never a condesation issue. Headroom is limited, but the lightness of the tent compensated for this. Plus, with two people sharing, one person carried the poles and the other carried the tent/fly. Practically no weight at all for each and made it very packable.
Design: Rectangular, ridge-pole Dome
Ease of Setup: Quick & easy--max space requires two, side guy-outs
Weight: 3 lbs 14 ounces (w/ ground cover & stakes)
Price Paid: $280
I got everything as advertised. Number one, the weight: _including_ ground cover and minimum stakes (6) this tent is under 4 lbs. Number two, is size. This is a two-person tent--spacious for one person, cozy for two. Nice vestibule size--just big enough for a compact-sized backpack, or two sets of boots, camp shoes, and then some.
Setup is better than the one-person version. The one-person relies on stakes to open up the foot of the tent, requiring an extra two stakes to setup. On my scale, there was only a 5-ounce difference between the one- and two-person models equipped for the trail--for me the 5 oz was a small concession compared to the loss of space and extra setup on the one-person model.
The Seedhouse series uses a single-pole with several hubs that form an inverted 'V' at each end of the ridge-pole. It is easy to assemble the pole. Once assembled, place the four, pole ends into the grommets on the corners of the body of the tent, clip the body to the pole, and buckle & stake-out the fly. The whole setup takes me less than 10 minutes. To save the bottom of the tent with minimal weight, I recommend the BA footprint.
The tent performed very well under adverse conditions. The factory seam-sealing kept everything dry inside during a three-hour downpour, and the tent was solid during windy conditions partially-guyed (gusts to 30 and two other guy-out points I hadn't used yet). Although the tent is well-ventilated you can adjust the fly to reduce drafts.
Speaking from experience (I have led over fifty backpacking-trips over twelve years for Sierra Club), I recommend this as the best three-season, two-man backpacking tent I have seen yet.
Update: November 28, 2011
Since owning this tent for a few years now, I'd downgrade the rating to four stars. As a one-person tent, I'd still give it five stars, but I have found the space in the tent too cramped for two people.
The biggest complaint is headroom. It is nearly impossible to sit up straight if someone is lying next to you. This creates difficulty for the second person entering or first person exiting the tent. Some gymnastics are involved as a two-person tent.
As a one-person tent, I'd still say it is very spacious! It weighs what many single-person tents weigh (true tents here, not bivvys or tarps!).
Ease of Setup: Very easy for one person
Weight: under 4 lbs
Price Paid: $315 including BA footprint
First off let me tell you I definitely recommend this tent. I've only had the tent a week, so I will update accordingly if my experiences change, but after one 3-day camping venture, it tested out nicely.
I'm a pretty big guy at 6'5" and close to 320-lbs, an old Georgia Tech FB lineman, so I did a lot of research to find accommodable gear.
While this tent was designed for 2, I used it by myself, and was very comfortable, would have been a tight squeeze for 2 but definitely possible. I was able to lay out my Therm-a-rest Prolite-4 Large sleeping pad easily, and kept my pack inside as well with plenty of space. Also room to sit up inside to review maps, change clothes and adjust items in my pack.
The first night we set up camp at Osceola National Forrest, there was a major storm coming in so I staked it off well. Might I add these are the nicest stakes I have ever used, very sturdy, and easy to install in solid ground with no major force. Super light as well.
As far as the set-up goes, this was a breeze. I never even looked for directions (I did a trial set-up in my living room the night it arrived). I purchased the footprint in hopes of protecting the floor better due to my size. I set it up easily under 10 minutes myself taking my time.
The storm had very strong gusts and hard rain for 8-10 hours straight. Not a drop got inside! Actually I did zip the vestibule door to the top instead of the bottom at first and realized I didn't zip it completely, so one or two drops got through but I adjusted right away, and was good to go.
The vestibule had a decent amount of room. I could have left my pack and shoes under easily. Just make sure when you come out after rain, to open the door to where the rain runs off outward instead inside on you and your stuff. Also if still raining and you have to get out, don't open the fly door all the way so it doesn't get inside the tent.
The bottom tub style design, held up nicely, as no water penetrated. I had no moisture build up. It also reached into the 40's, but with the low-profile fly design it blocked most of the cold wind.
The pocket features inside are useful. I put a forehead light in the pocket above the tent door, and it was perfect as it gave plenty of light throughout to do whatever needed. The bottom side pockets were ideal for my watch, so that i could hear the alarm.
I conclude with the fact that this tent lived up to all the reviews and I am very impressed "so far"... Best tent I've ever owned!
Design: three season freestanding
Ease of Setup: EASY!!!!
Weight: 3 lbs. 1 oz.
Price Paid: $315 Canadian
This tent is the absolute best tent I have ever owned and I have owned many over the last 20 years!!! It is a great tent because it is lightweight and you can set up in the dark with no problem!! It is awesome in humid, wet areas because the condensation does not build up inside because of the mesh interior.
It might be a bit snug for two people but because of the nicely sized vestibule most gear can be stored in the vestibule. I also bought the footprint ($55.00 CDN.) which is invaluable for a tent made of the light weight material and I also spent $3.00 CDN. on a gear loft which is awesome for stowing my GPS and other assorted items as well it works great for laying out a couple of pairs of wet socks!!
I have used the Dyad 22 (single wall) tent for many, many trips and it performed well, including one trip last year (CDT Trail) as all I had to do was fold it up and put inside my pack, however, the Dyad 22 cannot withstand severe, rain downpour compared with the Big Agnes, as my trips this year have all been wet. I chanced a mountaineering trip by taking the Dyad 22 because I really do love the Dyad. However, I wish I had the Big Agnes as the Dyad starting receiving puddles of water on the floor and I had to wipe it down inside fairly often in order to keep my gear dry, I would not have had to do this with the Big Agnes.
So,I would say the Big Agnes is the ultimate best 3 season tent, but if you don't want fuss around with packing it up then a single wall is better however if you get stuck in an area where the weather is continually raining and snowing or doing a trip in the coastal mountains and especially in Alaska in summertime, I would recommend the Big Agnes over any other tent on the market. (With the fly/gear loft the pack weight for the Big Agnes is about 4 lbs.)
Ease of Setup: Very easy
Price Paid: $300
I bought this tent for the 2007 OMM (Original Mountain Marathon) in the UK. Mountain marathons are running events, for teams of two, usually over two days with a camp in the middle, 10 to 30+ miles per day, and all gear must be carried. Weather in UK hill/mountain areas is unreliable and can be very wet and windy. A good MM tent must be light, strong, waterproof and easy to put up.
The benchmark MM tent is the Terra Nova Laser: the lightest models are around 800g. However, they are not long enough for a tall man like me: I didn't fancy not quite being able to straighten out all night. I've also read that they're fiddly to erect. The Seedhouse SL is significantly heavier (about 1.5kg), but still pretty light between two people. I'd seen them on the internet (they're practically unheard of in the UK) and a tall friend recommended them to me.
The night of our MM camp was wet and windy, as is often the case! The tent was a doddle to erect, didn't move about too much in the strong winds and kept us completely dry. It's about as roomy as my North Face Westwind, which weighs twice as much and is no more stable in bad weather. So, we had a good night's sleep and ran all the harder on day two for being well rested!
It doesn't get a lot of use, but I've had no reliability problems.
I don't know of another tent that offers so much space at this sort of weight (there may be other US makes I'm unaware of), and I'm very impressed by the weatherproofness and stability.
Ease of Setup: easy
Price Paid: GBP200
Very light, easy to set up and spacious inside for something weighing c1.5kg.
Set up is a piece of cake; I did one dry run in my lounge and then was able to set it up easily, at midnight, in the dark, in the pouring rain on arriving in The Lakes (UK).
Everything about the tent is logical; no zany systems or fasteners to get your head round. It does what it says on the tin.
Very stable and watertight, withstood a lively storm in Ennerdale, with no visible leaks. Vestibule area provided sufficient cover to cook if need be, and also a good space to store rucksack and other gear.
Plenty of room for one, cosy for two, with decent head room too if you need to change gear or pack inside.
Compact size carries easily, and it looks good too when set up. Big Agnes seem to be onto a winner here.
Price Paid: $229
A very good tent, and very lightweight, but a few downsides that are a little annoying. For sleeping one person, you can set it up in an instant, but to get the full size you really have to put in all 10 or 11 stakes and attach hard to reach clips from the underside of the fly to the outside of the tent sides.
Other than that, it's stable in moderately high winds and has been surprisingly durable. I have several months of nights in the tent and no problems with the thin fabric.
Ease of Setup: Very easy to set up.
Weight: I think around 3 or 4
Price Paid: $350
I have hiked most of the AT with this bag. I prefer to tent out then use the shelters, so I use my tent every single night when I'm out. Rain, sleet, snow, bugs, heat, cold. You name and I've slept through it in this tent. I couldn't be more of an advocate.
It's a good weight, but I've consistently woken up in the morning with the tent soaking went from condensation. It breathes horribly with the fly on. It's also a bit scrunched for two people.
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