Need New Tent. Ideas?

12:08 a.m. on September 18, 2007 (EDT)
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Hey guys, the time has come when I'll be needing a new tent. I really don't know to much about tents, so I'll leave it to you guys to help me out. I thought the best information to give you would be my needs of the tent, so here they here:

1. Needs to fit two or more people with gear in the tent, or vestibule.

2. Needs to be weather resistant (waterproof, sturdy in wind, etc.)

3. Needs to be semi light, I don't need something ultralight, I am not a fast packer, but it would be nice.

4. Needs to be easy to set-up.

5. Needs to be compact when packed to not take up all the room in your bag.

6. Durable, I have heard of tents ripping because of poor material or or wind. I don't want ANY of that.

7. A floor that doesn't leak (I have heard of tents needing a footprint because rainwater on the ground was seeping in on the floor)

8. Good venting.

Thats it for now, thank you all so much for the help.

4:49 a.m. on September 18, 2007 (EDT)
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What have you been using up to now, and how did you like it?

10:50 a.m. on September 18, 2007 (EDT)
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I really do not know, but it is at least 10 years old, heavy as heck, 2 person tent. Also hard to set-up. Some tents that I am looking at now are the hubba huuba, mutha hubba, and the tarn 3. I'm welcome to any other recommendations also.

12:06 p.m. on September 18, 2007 (EDT)
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Although I have no personal experience with them, my understanding is that MSR makes a good tent. Personally, I have been really happy with my Eureka! tent, the Pinnicle Pass 3xta. Lots of space (over 48 square feet) for about 6 lbs. Very good in the rain. Lots of space in the two vestibules. Super-easy for one person to set up. You may want to look at the 2XTA for your needs. Oh, and you can't beat the cost. Kelty also makes a good, reasonably priced tent, but beware the size. Their "2 man" tents are fairly small. But so are most, now.

1:02 p.m. on September 18, 2007 (EDT)
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Eric, look at the gear reviews on this site. You can narrow down from the large number of tents listed by using the "search" window. You could also get more specific responses here if you specified the conditions you will be using the tent - are you hiking in desert/eastern woods/Sierra or Rockies below timberline/above timberline in the West/Cascades rain forest? Is your season mainly summer/winter/3-season? You said ultralight isn't necessary, though you want it light (don't we all? I want a 3-person expedition tent that will stand up to Alaska Range and Antarctic winds, hurricanes, blizzards, is ventilated enough for Deep South summers, weighs less than 3 pounds, will withstand avalanches, etc. No such tent so far).

You didn't mention price range, which is an important factor. Some people prefer "free standing" (which still has to be staked if there is any breeze), some like the simplicity and room for weight of "hoop" or "tunnel" tents. Single wall and double wall (with fly) tents each have their advantages and disadvantages (conditions you camp in make a difference here). If you want the vestibule, make sure it is really usable. I had one tent that claimed to have a vestibule, but the "vestibule" didn't even have room to leave my muddy boots in it. Vestibules generally dictate a tent with a separate fly, but not always (Hilleberg has some tents with roomy vestibules that are single-wall tents). If you only need a 3-season (or less), you don't need 2 doors (or 2 vestibules), but if you are going winter camping in snow, I concluded long ago that having front and rear doors (and two vestibules) is important (means a lot more weight, though).

As rexim asked, what have you been using? To which I would add, what have you seen out on the trail that others have used that you liked?

There are several brands out there that make excellent tents, each of which has its advocates (and fans in the "fanatic" sense). I personally have and like tents by Eureka, Mountain Hardwear, Sierra Designs, and Bibler/Black Diamond, plus tarps and bivies by Integral Designs, as well as used tents by Hilleberg, North Face and Integral Designs. These cover a wide range of prices, but each has its applicability in the backpacking and expeditions I do (like the 3 Sierra Designs tents, 1 very light, 1 "3-season" with lots of mesh, and 1 expedition). If you don't mind the price, give a close look at Hilleberg's tents - really excellent and very well designed. I also like the Marmot tents, some Kelty tents (but some Kelty's are a disaster as far as I am concerned), and the new guys, Big Agnes.

6:44 p.m. on September 18, 2007 (EDT)
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Alright, I live on Vancouver Island, so it is pretty wet here. The winter isn't that cold, but could be a little chilly up on the mountains. I won't be hiking above the treeline very often, or never.

11:51 p.m. on September 18, 2007 (EDT)
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I have narrowed my choices down to a few, tell me what you guys think based off of my needs for the tent. Here they are:

MSR- Hubba Hubba-2.1kg-2 People-$299.95
MSR- Mutha Hubba-3.3kg-3 people-$399.95
MSR- Zoid 2-2.1kg-2 people-$229.95

Black Diamond Vista-2.7kg-3 people- $349.95 US
Black Diamond Mes-2.08kg- 2 people- $298.95 US

I am also welcome to any other suggestions.

4:57 p.m. on September 19, 2007 (EDT)
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It looks like all of your choices have tent walls constructed primarily of screening. I'm not sure if they have zip-shut fabric panels behind them, but it didn't look like it.

I like the open screening (especially without the fly in dry weather), but would prefer one with panels that close, for cooler weather.

That's just me - others probably have differing opinions. And I haven't researched tents lately, so I don't have any particular suggestions as alternatives.

5:46 p.m. on September 19, 2007 (EDT)
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If it was me and another person, I'd get two good smaller tents, one for each of us, and keep the homespace separate. This will help in trip longevity and morale(even for husband and wife). Otherwise, go with one big tent(bigger than a 2-person)and like Bill S said, know what features you want first. I always thought the VE 25 would be a perfect 2 person tent for long term camping as divided it would come to 6 pounds each and is big enough and strong enough. The Hilleberg tunnels are great for two(Nammatj 3, Nallo 3, etc)and are even lighter than the North Face. I know a professional outfitter and his wife who use the Mt Hardwear Trango 3(or is it 4?)for their winter trips and love it. I saw a nice yellow Marmot Swallow set up for two recently and it seemed big and strong.

6:06 p.m. on September 19, 2007 (EDT)
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Yeah. I have been asking around about the hubba's. It seems that they are just a bug net... I'll look up some of the tents that you recommended.

6:30 p.m. on September 19, 2007 (EDT)
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a.k.a. Jeffrey Chandler, Jeffrey C.

I started with a Hubba Hubba with the 2 doors and everything. It is a well made tent and performed flawlessly. But I have gotten the lighter is better mentality and have since moved to a Henry Shires Tarptent. I know what you are thinking when you see tarp in the name but the only thing tarp like is the fact that they weigh about the same as a tarp.

Here is the website to check them out www.tarptent.com
I think for your needs you could have something that fits your needs and is lighter and less expensive with all the features of a normal tent.

I wrote a review on trailspace on my contrail if you have questions. I set it up first time ever in the dark in about 5 minutes. now it takes me about 2 and my tent is one of the more complex to set up.

8:11 p.m. on September 19, 2007 (EDT)
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I'm intrigued! While not in the market for a tent right now, these are something I'd look into more when I am. I must admit, I'm in that group who thinks "tarp" and says "no way" (I like an enclosed space to keep the crawling & buzzing critters at bay while I sleep:).

The tarp tents, at a couple pounds, are making my Mountain Hardwear Skyview 1.5 seem pretty heavy at something over 8 lbs, packed with footprint & fly.

Soooo many things to buy - so little money!

8:39 p.m. on September 19, 2007 (EDT)
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We bought a Tarptent Rainshadow 2 earlier this summer. I've only used it a couple nights so far, but it's got a lot going for it: light weight, lots of interior space, relatively simple setup with one or two trekking poles and just four stakes. There's plenty of ventilation (although shires warns to keep the front beak and even the mesh unzipped to avoid condensation in humid conditions). The "tarp" overhangs the outside of the bathtub floor (a floorless model is also available) enough that it kept things dry during an overnight downpour, despite our having pitched the tarp pretty high.

I haven't used it enough to speak to the durability, but the design and construction both seem to be high-quality. The Tarptent designs are a nice cross between the bug protection and ease of setup of a tent and the light weight and simplicity of a tarp.

Inside the tent you do feel pretty exposed to the ouside. I personally find this a good thing, but if you like the feeling of being hunkered down in a tent, or if you do a lot of campground camping, I'd probably look for something with a bit more coverage.

9:40 p.m. on September 19, 2007 (EDT)
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I'd like to second the vote for Tarptents. I've used one for 3 seasons in the Sierra now. It's kept me dry and bug-free in all kinds of weather.

Mine, a Virga for 1, is very easy to pitch. A buddy of mine has the Rainbow for 1 and loves it. I've camped near a Cloudburst during a cloudburst -- actually, a whole night of rain -- and its occupants said they stayed dry.

In spite of its minimal weight and fragile appearance, it's really very strong. The design provides excellent air circulation; I've never had condensation problems in this tent.

One thing I'd advise in buying a new tent: DON'T get one with a weirdly-shaped floor. Go for a rectangular floor. People are basically rectangular when lying down; so are their sleeping pads. My 2-person Sierra Designs Hyperlite tent has a very strange, 6-sided shape. I HATE it. Supposedly it holds 2 people, but the shape is so awkward that it's really only good for one person. The weird shape also makes the tent a pain to pitch. I use it only for car-camping now. If I were writing its review on this site today, I'd give it one star, not three.

That said, I've had some good Sierra Designs tents, too, like the Meteor Light. I think there's a 3-person version of the Meteor Light that would be very nice for two.

I'm not sure a Tarptent would suit British Columbia, but Tarptents are certainly worth looking at, considering all the weight you'd lose compared most other tents.

Happy tent-hunting!

11:28 p.m. on September 19, 2007 (EDT)
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I think I'll just try and find a cheap hubba hubba now on ebay. Unless I can find a better two person tent.

8:29 p.m. on October 4, 2007 (EDT)
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Don't over look GoLite tents. I have a Hex3 with a Nest and love it. It is light and roomy.

12:44 a.m. on October 5, 2007 (EDT)
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Since I live on the BC coast and have 43+ years of pretty intense BC backpack camping/wilderness living plus major tent time on northern Van. Is., my suggestions amy help you.

Forget Tarp Tents, etc., you NEED a tent that will withstand very severe winds, harsh rain and extreme conditions, even in summer. Spending the money to get ONE really GOOD tent is VERY sound practice and such a rig will last many years, IF, you look after it.

Forget MEC level tents, the major brands of off-shore made stuff, such as North Face, Marmot and whatever, they AIN'T what they were in the '70s, this from personal experience in conditions such as those you will encounter.

BUY a Hilleberg, period, these are the BEST tents I have ever seen and then buy Integral Designs Primaloft sleeping bags to use in the tent. With Thermarests, BA-IACs or Exped Downmats over Ridgerests, you can camp in safety and comfort in ANY BC weather and the cost of this gear is worth it.

I buy my Hilleberg stuff from Charlie at www.bearriveroutfitters.org, a very decent guy to deal with. I seriously doubt that I will ever buy any other tent than a Hilleberg or an Integral Designs singlewall for winter backpacking, do it and you will be ecstatic that you did!

12:33 p.m. on October 5, 2007 (EDT)
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Forget Tarptents? With all due respect, I own a Hilleberg Akto and yet have successfully used a TT in windy conditions. Would I use it above treeline in a gail force wind storm? No. But I wouldn't use the Akto in those conditions either. I would find natural wind barriers and pitch behind. TT's can't be ignored because of their massive weight savings and their small packed size.

I love ID gear, but the bag you mentioned is a veritable 'pig' on weight and does not compress well. There are many, many alternatives to that bag that will be have the weight and compress down much better. If one is worried about their down bag getting wet, then use a 6 oz waterproof bag / bivy cover.

12:50 p.m. on October 5, 2007 (EDT)
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Well, having used a Chouinard Pyramid quite a bit in BC conditions I have very little use for tarp tents of any kind here.

ID Primaloft bags certainly are not difficult to compress at least mikne are not and they provide a measure of safety as mine did when a tarp ruptured in a snow/rain storm two weeks ago and dumped about two gallons of H20 on it. This was about 20K into the Chilcotin on horses, they had trailed out and we were alone for a week, the bag simply worked better than any of my down bags have and I have Feathered Friends, Western mountaineering and Integral Down bags, as well.

I don't use an Akto, I do have a Saive and would use a Jannu where the orig. poster is camping, after having the experieces I have. My ul WM bag, a Alpin Super is fine for dry conditions, but, severe gales happen every month there and having gear that will perform is a wise idea, IMO.

6:18 p.m. on October 5, 2007 (EDT)
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Two words: Hennessy Hammocks

My wife and I are in our early 30s and are tired of hauling around a bunch of heavy stuff. I bought two of these Hennessy Hammocks and they are wonderful. They are constructed such that you can lay perfectly flat from corner to corner (opposite corners), even on your side! No need to take a sleeping pad or heavy tent poles and stakes.

I have never had a hammock before and did not think that they were for me. They are, however, the most lightweight, wonderful thing to ever happen to our camping experience!

Check them out--seriously.

Richard

7:08 p.m. on October 5, 2007 (EDT)
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Those would work well above treeline ; )

Seriously, I have heard that you can actually pitch them to the ground as a tarp shelter. Is this correct?

11:34 p.m. on October 6, 2007 (EDT)
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#1 - He said that he wouldn't be hiking above the treeline very often (or never).

#2 - Absolutely. It is not the optimal configuration (and I would definitely use a tarp or piece of plastic underneath as the bottom is not constructed out of tent-bottom material) but they can be setup as bivvys (or single-person tents) in a pinch.

Issue #1: It is wise to keep some basics in the tent. I.e. flashlight, bottle of h2o) but not all of your gear. We take a piece of parachute cord to tie the food in a tree nearby and bring a garbage bag to put the packs in at night. We put them in the bag, twist the end, and lay it down so that the weight of the packs keeps the garbage bag closed. I have had it rain like hell and the pack were still dry. If in doubt, tie them shut with a 6" piece of twine.

8:40 a.m. on October 9, 2007 (EDT)
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This past weekend, the winds in the area that the original poster plans on camping in reached speeds in excess of 100 kpmh and severe rain also pelted down. This is normal winter weather in this region and will continue for the next six months.


This requires a level of gear that ALWAYS works and you cannot always depend on sheltering behind natural features. I would not trust a Tarptent or a Hennesy Hammock in these conditions.

8:15 p.m. on October 12, 2007 (EDT)
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Kutenay and I must be on the same wavelength or at least we must have spent the same amount of time outdoors. I pretty much agree on all of his points, I even spent a winter living in a Chouinard pyramid(1986-7)in the mountains of North Carolina and in the winter of 1981-2 I carried a different kind of tarp(10 below zero, high winds)and WILL NEVER use a tarp type tent again.

When push comes to shove and when living outdoors for extended months at a time, a tough four season tent and a quality down bag are a must and will save many future frustrations(and dollars).

My current tent is the Hilleberg Staika and at 8 pounds it is a joy to carry because I know with this thing I can go anywhere at anytime. It's called freedom, and for the backpacker, freedom is what it's all about.

2:47 p.m. on October 13, 2007 (EDT)
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Not sure how you can compare a tarp to a tarptent. Having used a tarptent in exptremely foul conditions in the Rockies, I can attest to the robust nature of these products. Would I want to be above treeline in one with 60 mph winds? No....but I wouldn't want to be any any tent in those conditions (i.e. find some natural wind breaks).

Hillebergs are nice, but the Staika is unnecesarily heavy for the majority of users. In fact, it was first designed as a shelter for kayakers and boaters that set up their shelter on rocky ground and where weight was not as much of an issue.

5:11 p.m. on October 13, 2007 (EDT)
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I have both down ( Integral Designs, Feathered Friends, Western Mountaineering) and synthetic bags ( Integral, Exped) and have spent many months living solo in the wilderness all over BC and Alberta since '67, backpacked here since '64.

For solo wilderness living as in the 9 day trip I just did, I will take an Integral Primaloft bag over ANYTHING else, no question.

For backpacking, I prefer and use highend down bags and for REAL cold, I use Dryloft or Endurance shelled down bags with a VBL.

On fly-ins where it can rain/snow constantly, I much prefer the easycare aspect of synthetics and ID is the best I have found.

12:50 p.m. on October 20, 2007 (EDT)
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If you're on a budget like me, and want a slightly roomier tent than a 2 person--remember 2 person means, 2 people shoulder to shoulder, your gear goes in the vestibule or in a tarp--you may want to take a look at the Seedhouse 3 (5lb+) available at REI's outlet for about 200 including footprint. Take a look at the reviews at backpackgeartest.com. We just got ours recently and have used it once so far, and are quite pleased with it. Another option we liked was the Mountain Hardware lightwedge 3, a little heavier (6lb), but that much more water resistant--the floors have 5000mm coating as opposed to 1800 for the seedhouse. Have not tried it, but have a friend who loves his. Costs a little more. Also, the REI Ultralight 3 person (under 5lbs) also looked good, but is much more expensive 300+ with footprint.

If you're not expecting much rain, the Sierra Designs Sirius 3(under 5lbs) is not a bad choice, but has small vestibules, and part single wall, so expect some condensation. We returned ours for those reasons.

All the best.

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