Can't decide which budget but good 2-person 3-season tent to purchase

10:15 p.m. on February 6, 2013 (EST)
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Hi Trailspacers,

I am currently looking for a new tent for backpacking and I have the following search parameters:

2 persons (1.5m and 1.8m)
less than 2.5kg (the lighter the better)
weather proof (lot's of rain in BC)
max. $250 incl. footprint (the lesser the better)
two vestibules is an asset, but more importantly, the vestibule should be opened in a dry manner, so that rain won't enter the tent

I have done some research and am currently deciding between the following three tents:

Kelty Salida 2

Sierra Designs Zia 2

ALPS mountaineering Zephyr 2

Since all of them have positive and critical feedback, it's a tough decision. Did anyone test all of them, or can you rule out a tent because it won't hold in the rain. Are they ok to pitch even in rain, or would they get wet inside.

Thanks for your help,


9:55 p.m. on February 7, 2013 (EST)
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When you say lots of rain I take that you are near the coast and you are planing to camp in the winter. If that is the case the tents that you have selected are wrong for you.They are all inner first pitch. Meaning that you put up the inner tent then throw on the rain fly. To take down you take off the fly first. The inner tent gets very wet this way.

You need an outer first tent. You need a fly with at least a 3000mm HH. With the floor being 5000 or greater. The only one that I could find in your price range in the states was the Terra Nova Duolite. I think that Moosejaw still has one. If I remember right it has a 4000mm HH fly with a 6000 floor. Other than that you will have to shop for your tent over in the UK market.

How do I know this? I've been looking for sometime for a tent that I could travel with in the PNW. I found the Duolite. Its a great rain tent. And can withstand tons of wind.

10:31 a.m. on February 8, 2013 (EST)
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The Tarptent Double Rainbow might be another one worth looking into.

12:34 p.m. on February 8, 2013 (EST)
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I've been thinking about the Mountainsmith Morrison 2. I hike with my son so I carry most of the equipment so at 2.15kg (4 lb 11 oz) it is on the lighter side of low cost tents.  Ammazon has it right now for $140.

Have I missed something in thinking about this tent?

2:31 p.m. on February 8, 2013 (EST)
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With more tents than you can shake a stick at on the market it can be hard to decide!

I’m in Washington state were we get our share of rain, and I like tarps for rainy weather.

Even if you don’t use one as a sleeping shelter, a light silnylon tarp set up in the Diamond pitch will make a fine place to get out of the weather and cook up a hot meal –

But anyway, back to tents. If I may throw another one into the mix, how about a Eureka Zeus 2?

This is a simple freestanding single wall ”wedge” that is under five pounds. Like all single all shelters, be careful to ventilate it properly or you may get condensation.

It is smaller than the Mountainsmith tent mentioned above, costs more, and has only one door though. It’s only advantages are it is able to be set it up in the pouring rain wihout getting the insides wet, and it is lighter. Probably a better solo tent, if you ever think you’ll be hiking alone.  

I also like all things Tarptent, and have a Squall 2 ( single wall, non-freestanding, two pounds, two people ) and a Rainshadow 2 ( same thing only bigger,  2-1/2 pounds, huge three man tent ) but these will be pushing your budget - If you buy new.

Be sure to look at used tents for sale, you can find some great deals there. I found my Rainshadow 2 for 200 bucks, and it had been used only a handfull of times!


2:43 p.m. on February 8, 2013 (EST)
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The Mountainsmith sounded to good to be true - It is to big for such a low weight, especially for such a low cost -   so I did some digging.

Fine tent, but it's a six pounder, not a five pounder, and the vestibules are small, possibly to small to cook in, which may limit it's use as a foul weather tent. 

One reveiw I found said this -

Tent only 37oz
Rain fly 27oz
Each of the two tent poles is 9oz for a total
of 18.5 oz with the pole bag
Cargo net 1oz
Steaks in bag 5oz

When I
rolled everything up and put in in the tent bag I got a total of 5lbs 10oz



2:44 p.m. on February 8, 2013 (EST)
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everyone's got preferences for this tent or that tent due to their experiences and what not. I personally own and use the High Peak Enduro which has since been discountinued in manufacturing. However you can easily find it on many sites or ebay still, and I got mine for $70. It's a 4 season, double wall tent, but you can easily get plenty of ventilation with lots of zipper windows if it's a warmer season. 

I set mine up during hurricane Sandy, right in my 3 acre open yard with nothing protecting it from the wind or torrential rain. 60+ mph gusts of wind with sustained around 30-40 for 12 hours. I had it anchored into soggy, rain soaked ground. It didn't budge an inch and it didn't get a drop of water into it.

5:42 p.m. on February 8, 2013 (EST)
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Wow, thanks for replying so quickly.

I would definitely prefer and outer-first tent, but I haven't found any up here in Canada. I have the VauDe Mark 3, which I brought from Germany. It's an awesome tent, but with more than 8 lbs just too much to haul up during a hike for two people.

I am looking more for a three-season tent, but at the coast it's still quite likely to get into lousy weather in spring and fall. Also, I like the idea of having a two-layer tent due to the better ventilation.

What are your experiences with buying second hand? I was hesitating since the warranty will be lost, and the warranties of MEC or REI are just perfect...

7:01 p.m. on February 8, 2013 (EST)
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Only tent I ever got second hand is my Rainshadow, and it is like new, and a real bargan at 200 bucks. I love the silly thing, and even if my wife thinks it is a circus tent I know she likes the room...

Anway, buying used it gonna be taking a real chance yes, but if you buy from a resepected member of the forum the risk should go down considerably.


- I just that saw Golite has some new and interesting tents!

The Wolf Creek 3 ( a three man tent ) is 4 pounds 12 ounces ( I have some golite gear and I trust their weights ) and 40 sq. ft. That would be a very fine and livable tent for two in bad weather.

The two man version is 4 lbs, 2 ounces and down to 30 sq.ft.

For the extra ten ounces the extra ten square feet sure it tempting...

And this tent is within your price range ( just )

Bad news is they are not shipping yet, and it is a brand spanking new product, with little known about it.

Still, this is a company I'd expect to stand by their products and I know their quality is high. Tempting tents..., if you can wait a little to buy...


If the specs are true the three man tent is right up there wiith the MSR Carbon Reflex 3 and BA Copper spur UL3, at half the cost!


And Golite periodically discounts their stuff to very low prices. In a year or three this tent may go on sale at a surprisingly low price. Hmmmm.




9:50 p.m. on February 8, 2013 (EST)
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Heres a link:

If you look at the upper right hand corner you can change the currency. They also give you the shipping cost right on the page.

Now if you are looking for a spring though fall tent I would look at the Coleman Cobra 2. It has everything you are looking for. Outer first, 2 doors. good size vestibules. And ventilation is great. In the summer I use my trekking poles to hold open both rain fly doors, creating 2 awnings. But I have seen no international sellers. There is no harm in asking though. Find it here.

4:09 p.m. on February 10, 2013 (EST)
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The Easy Camp star is definitely tempting for that price, but with 2.6kg it's already on the heavy site of life.

Do you have experiences with the Coleman products? Since I'll go to Germany in May, the shipping is not that big of a problem.

9:20 a.m. on February 11, 2013 (EST)
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I have an older Coleman Peak 1 Cobra. The old rain fly was wearing out and started to leak. Now mine-you this was a tent sold here in the states and it had a coating of 800mm HH. So I checked out replacing it from Coleman. And there it was for $25. So I ordered it. Well when I got it, it was a newer one that needed a pole at the foot. I had to do some modifications to my inner to make it work.

This rain fly was made for a Cobra that was never sold in the US. The quality was much better than my old Cobra. And it has a vent on the top. The new ones sold in the UK look to have a vent at the foot too.

Personally I would buy one in a heart beat. But for some reason these Coleman products can not be shipped to the states.

Coleman USA is a poor match compared to Coleman UK.

7:56 p.m. on February 12, 2013 (EST)
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Sounds good, I'll take a deeper look into these products.

Does anyone have good experiences with these tarp-tents in bad wheather / windy conditions? Using a hiking pole to fix the tent sounds awesome due to saving weight, but it also sounds a little flimsy...

5:08 p.m. on February 13, 2013 (EST)
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There are a great many "tarp-tents" on the market these days.

By tarp-tent, I gather your talking about the newer hybrid single wall shelters with bug screens and floors and such - rather like tents but without the traditional rain fly and usually ( but not always ) made out of lightweight silylion?

The short answer is -They work fine.

But - It is also fair to say that they are more dependant upon proper setup and site selection than say, a traditional freestanding dome tent.

Many are made from silnylon, which isn't as waterproof as traditional tent fabrics, and tends to sag a bit when wet.

Note that not all "tarptents" are made equal, and they vary significantly in design, ruggedness, ease of use and weatherproofness.   

I own two, made by the company called "Tarptent", a Squall 2 and a very similar but huge Rainshadow 2. These are fantasticlly light tents, and my wife and I don't mind single entry tents a bit, so they work well for us.

You can see 'em here, as well as a pile of other tents including lightweight double wall tents -

I quite like my tarptents but I have been lucky and have yet to have them in nasty conditions.

Mine are non-freestanding designs, and like all such tents if a stake pulls out the tent comes down on you. Use the side stake outs and stake or tie 'em well, and I think these tents withstand bad weather fine - These have been used for multi thousand mile hikes, and many folk just love 'em.

But they are airy, and that may turm some folks off. To keep condensation to a minimum they are designed for max airflow, and you can't seal the tent tight even if you wanted to.  If you look at the Squall 2 on the Tarptent web site you'll see the door is just mesh, covered by a big beak.  Doesn't bother me, I like regular flat tarps and got started camping under those, I don't mind the open-ness, so to me the added bug screen and bathtub floor of my Tarptents is a fantastic bonus.  

One Tarptent that gets rave reveiws that you might want to look at and is  more like a "traditional" tent is the Double Rainbow. It is less than three pounds, about 30 sq. ft, double doors and great dual porches which makes it feel bigger and provides dry entry during the rain and a great place to cook over your stove ( WARNING! silnylon tents are very flamable! Much more so than traditional nylon tents. I'm not saying don't cook under the porch, but do be carefull ).   

You can even get a clip in liner making it a true double wall tent.

It is not a trekking pole tent and has a single big arching pole, making it quite weather worthy and easy to set up. If you do use trekking poles, the tent can even be set up as a free standng tent! 

It is $ 275 though, a bit over your budget but maybe you could find a used one.

Heh, can you tell I want one?




2:57 p.m. on February 15, 2013 (EST)
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Thanks everyone for the replies. In the end I decided to give the Coleman Cobra 2 a try, mainly because the outer first setup and the price (~$125 at

I'll get in in May and let you know if I'm happy with it. Still I'll give some thoughts in to these tarptents for future purchases :)

May 24, 2020
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