Two Person Backpacking Tent

1:18 a.m. on November 3, 2015 (EST)
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I'm just getting started in the world of backpacking and I've been looking at picking up a two person tent. So far I've narrowed it down to the Eureka Apex 2XT or the Kelty Salida 2. The Apex 2XT I can get for about $108 plus tax at my local sporting goods store, as for the Salida 2, Massdrop has it for about $105 estimated shipping and tax. So as for the price I'm considering them equal, my main comparison is between the tent's area and its weight. The Apex has about 36 sq ft of sleeping room and 28 sq ft of vestibules but weights 6 lbs and 5 oz. The Salida is on the lighter end at 4 lb 9 oz but a much smaller 30.5 sq ft of sleeping area, and just over a third of storage at 10 sq ft. Most likely I will be sharing the tent with someone else but there is the chance I might use it as a solo tent and I'm in no position to buy two different tents to meet both requirements, so is the extra room worth the weight? And are there just better aspects of one than the other, such as better material or extra accessories? And lastly I am open to other options, but I would like to keep it around the same price as these, about $120 is my limit as I still have other gear to purchase (sleeping bag, stove, etc...). Also open to other gear recommendations since I don't really have anything yet.

5:48 a.m. on November 3, 2015 (EST)
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For that price you have limited options on new tents. You might want to look at sites like Geartrade for used tents...You can sometimes get a really good deal on a lightly used tent of much better quality or lighter weight.

2:33 p.m. on November 3, 2015 (EST)
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pretty sure the kelty was a backpacker editor's choice a couple of years ago.  if  you can get a tent for $120 or less, go for it.  i have had good luck with REI tents, but absent a sale, even the most economical 2 person REI tents cost more than your budget.  

3:53 p.m. on November 3, 2015 (EST)
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I guess depending on who you will be sharing with you may want the extra space but that decision often depends on what you intend to do; i.e. how much time you'll actually be in the tent. You may not care about the extra space if you'll be hiking all day and only in the tent to sleep.

When I do longer multi-day trips with a lot of rain (that I choose not to hike in), more space is really nice; it's good to have somewhere to be.

Just FYI, many folks that really need a two person tent often wind up getting a three person tent as most manufacturer ratings are overly generous in that regard.



8:26 p.m. on November 4, 2015 (EST)
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I used to own a Salida 2. Andrew is right, is was a Backpacker mag editor's choice about 3 years ago, but two things you really need to consider about it:

  • First, the floor tapers so while it lists as a 55" width it is narrower than that at the feet, so very little room to roll around (it should be fine for 2 who both sleep straight in one position all night).
  • Second, it has only one door and it's on the side, which means if the person on the side without the door needs to exit while the other person is lying near the door then one has to crawl over the other.

I don't know if the Eureka floor also tapers, but I do know it has 2 doors.

9:03 p.m. on November 4, 2015 (EST)
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I like ALPS Mountaineering tents, I've put my Jagged Peak II 2P 4S to the test over the past few years and it's handled -15F temps, torrential downpours, and 40mph winds with no trouble. I can set it up by myself in 10 minutes without moving quickly, probably about 5 minutes if I was sufficiently motivated. It's a little heavy for one person to carry, but not impossible.

If a 3-season tent is all you'll need, Steep And Cheap has a bunch on clearance for another 3 days. I just bought an ALPS Lynx 4 4P 3S tent for $90ish, it'll be nice and roomy for car camping and is about 4lb split between 2 people. The Lynx 2 has some pretty nice numbers, good reviews, and is under $80.

9:08 p.m. on November 4, 2015 (EST)
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What is adequate room in a 2P tent?  Many would consider 36 sq ft as sufficient, but I find that somewhat crowded.  Six more sq ft makes a world of difference.  Now as for a 28sq ft sleeping space, well you will be verging on spooning your tent mate, and I am not surprised, as NF tents tends to run on the claustrophobic side.

My first venture beyond pup tents was a made in China name brand knockoff dome of about 42 sq ft with a 42" ceiling.  It cost $99 in 1980.  The additional space on the outboard sides of the sleep area made a big difference in the sense of roominess. While what passes as adequate room for a tent hasn't changed, what one can get for their money has.  Cost of living increases has made the cost of the same tent more - just under $400.  My point?  You may want to wait a while and save up more to get a decent tent.  I camped for almost 15 years before buying that dome tent; in the meantime I borrowed and rented my shelter until I could afford a tent that met my needs.  As others point out you should be able to get a good used tent on the internet.  


12:43 a.m. on November 5, 2015 (EST)
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...But if I were to choose between the two tents considered by Hunter, my #1 consideration is keeping me dry. The entry door of the Eureka Apex 2XT exposes the interior to a wet entry, whereas the entry of Kelty Salida 2 is more protected, considered  typical of dry entry designs.  This is but just one of the design solutions you may consider.  And then there is workmanship. 

It doesn't matter how amazing the drawing board tent configuration is, if it is executed with low quality craftsmanship or materials.  I prefer to have a physical inspection of the tent I will take home.  Don't choose a lemon. One anomaly of tents in this market segment is quality can vary significantly, even between individual tents from the same model line.  You can still risk owning a poorly made tent. Therefore many brands, including NF and Eureka, have refunded or replaced tents that have materials or workmanship issues. 


9:57 a.m. on November 5, 2015 (EST)
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By today's standards, 6 pounds for a backpacking tent is a lot. I would consider spending a little more and getting under 4 pounds or less which is easy to do.

7:07 a.m. on November 8, 2015 (EST)
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I've looked at the 2 tents you listed; below are my findings of the differences between them. The Pros and Cons are my opinion.

The Kelty Salida 2 -


- Aluminum poles, Pack weight: 4lbs 9oz


- 1 door, Interior dimensions (Max): 88 x 55 x 43, Vestibule: 1, Packed size: 13 x 15, No footprint included (approx $30 if purchased separately).

Eureka Apex 2XT -


-2 doors, Interior dimensions (Max): 90 x 59 x 46, Vestibule:2, Gear loft, Packed size: 5 x 24


- Fiberglass poles, Pack weight: 5lbs 11oz, No footprint included (approx $30 if purchased separately).

The above specs are from each respective manufactures website. It really comes down to which of the above specs are the most important to you. About 95% of tent recommendations that I have read, most recommend aluminum poles over fiberglass. I personally have never owned a tent with fiberglass poles, so I can't comment on them.

An alternate to the 2 tent you listed, is the tent that I own and really like, it has 2 doors and vestibules, aluminum poles, interior dimensions: 88 x 54 x 43, packed size: 6 x 19, and it comes with a footprint.... It is the Kelty Teton 2 w/footprint. This tent cost me $120.

January 19, 2020
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