Feathered Friends 300x250
Superior Down Sleeping Bags & Clothing

Ultralight Adventure Equipment (ULA)    

Lite Gear Talk

BCG Holiday Sale

Backpacking Forums
backcountry gear

---- Our Gear Store ----
The Lightweight Gear Store

Bivy Bags
Sleeping Bags
Sleeping Pads
Snow Sports
Winter Kitchen


Avalanche Gear
Hats, Gloves, & Gaiters


Ultralight Backpacks
Ultralight Bivy Sacks
Ultralight Shelters
Ultralight Tarps
Ultralight Tents
Ultralight Raingear
Ultralight Stoves & Cookware
Ultralight Down Sleeping Bags
Ultralight Synthetic Sleep Bags
Ultralight Apparel

the Titanium Page
WM Extremelite Sleeping Bags


Sleeping Bags


Ropes & Cordage
Protection & Hardware
Carabiners & Quickdraws
Climbing Packs & Bags
Big Wall
Rescue & Industrial






Men's Footwear
Women's Footwear


Mens Apparel
Womens Apparel


Black Diamond
Granite Gear
La Sportiva


Top Brands
All Brands

 Backpacking Equipment 

Sleeping Bags
Water Treatment

 Backcountry Gear Clearance

Stay Healthy--Eat Well


Mary Janes Farm Organic Backcountry Meals


Natural High


Topic Options
Rate This Topic
#195107 - 04/26/16 05:19 PM Can't find a tent for me and the Mrs.
edfardos Offline

Registered: 04/26/16
Posts: 34
Loc: CA
Okay, I've given up on finding a tent -- perhaps you can help me out here?

Using the forum rules/suggestions on requirements, here's my info:

I'm a trail hiker looking to take the wife along on a trip now and then for a weekend.

We need a tent for both of us and our gear (lady things). Which rules out a two-person tent, putting us in the 3-4 person tent category.

I don't keep packs in vestibules (snakes/scorpions/ants/coons/ chipmunks/meth-heads/etc).

I'm not a weight fanatic, and willing to sacrifice 4-7lbs.

This would be used on sand, pine-needles, solid granite.

Three-season only, Sierra Nevada 2000 to 8000 feet. 32F and up.


I'd like something durable and willing to accept the weight penalty if it means it'll last many seasons. This will double as our car camper.

I like double walls, I like the inner wall to be solid nylon h alf way up, no mesh near the ground (no drafts, no rain splash). Freestanding is important (for when she changes her mind on the location).

I'm 6'2", and she's 5'10". My current solo 88" tent isn't long enough in that my bag's foot gets wet if there's condensation, or I'm slapped in the head by nylon if there's a wind.

Privacy is required. I'll make a tyvek footprint.

No hammocks, no see-through, no bugs.

Fly zipper should be a diagonal (from stake to peak), and not require me to lay in the mud to reach the zipper.

Rain fly should extend close to the ground for the entire perimeter, and a high-want would be a way to roll it up "half way" for rain protection, yet be able to look out the mesh in the summer.

This is my current list, none of which meet all of my requirements (in order of best to worst):

The North Face Talus 4 $299 list
pro: FOUR person, 50x80x90", diagonal zipper, footprint, loft
con: low walls on ends, 7lbs 3oz

Marmot Limelight Tent - 3p >=2016 $289 shipped, amazon (tax?)
pro: square walls, good headroom 48x68x90" long
con: flyzipper on ground, orange fly, 6lbs 10ounces

MSR Mutha Hubba Tent 3p < 2015 $374 shipped, REI outlet (tax?)
pro: diagonal fly zipper, 5lbs
con: expensive, short length (68x87)

Big Agnes Copper Spur UL3 $429
pro: 4lbs, 44x70x90" long
con: durability, flyzipper on ground, expensive

Big Agnes Lone Spring 3 $215 discontinued (amazon)
pro: big headspace 73"x93", 5lb 5oz
con: flyzipper on ground, one door

Kelty Grand Mesa 3 $167 discontinued
pro: flyzipper diagonal, 74x88"
con: two-pole design, 6lbs 6oz, one door, one vestibule

MSR Elixer THREE-Person $299
pro: flyzipper diagonal, less mesh, vertical walls
con: expensive, short 68"x84", heavy 6.8lbs, not-tall(41"), slanted corners

MSR Elixer FOUR-Person $399
pro: flyzipper diagonal, 88"x88", less mesh, FOUR person
con: expensive, heavy 7.8lbs

Big Agnes Jack Rabbit 3 $??? discontinued
pro: flyzipper diagonal, 5lbs
con: LOW WALL on one end, 70x88 headroom,

Please be gentle... I'd like to spend the money, but not on something that doesn't meet all my requirements.


Edited by edfardos (04/26/16 06:15 PM)

#195108 - 04/26/16 06:32 PM Re: Can't find a tent for me and the Mrs. [Re: edfardos]
Glenn Roberts Offline

Registered: 12/23/08
Posts: 1454
Loc: Southwest Ohio
You've got a good list already - all of my go-to recommendations are on it except for the Big Agnes Fly Creek/Seedhouse/(I forget the model) - They're all basically the same tent, except that the weight and price reflect the type of materials used. These series are all single-door, end-opening tents, so I don't know if that's part of your criteria (I noticed that a lot of the tents on your list have two doors, opening on the sides of the tent.) I also didn't look up the tents or prices - I vaguely remember the Fly Creek being all-mesh with a low sidewall - maybe 6 or 8 inches - so you'd need to see whether the fly came low enough to prevent the splash effect. They aren't fully free-standing, but they're close. I use a hiking pole at right angles to the tent pole to connect the two foot corners of my solo tent to make it freestanding - not sure if that will work with a 3-4 person model.

Your next step is to take your wife to the gear store, and try them out - with your sleeping bags, sleeping pads, and packs (and maybe other gear that won't be in the pack at night). If you can't go to a store, order from a dealer that has a liberal return policy and try them out inside your house, until you find one you like.

#195109 - 04/26/16 07:06 PM Re: Can't find a tent for me and the Mrs. [Re: Glenn Roberts]
edfardos Offline

Registered: 04/26/16
Posts: 34
Loc: CA
Great info - thanks! They need to make "long" versions of tents, much like they do for bags smile.

Vertical walls help with the length requirement (ie, an 88" tent might be just fine if walls are vertical at the head and feet).

The Big Agnes flycreek and seedhouses are close except for the fly zipper is on the ground away from the tent on one, and the mesh comes all the way down on the other.

I'm okay with a single door (no preference), especially if it's at the head.

Some of these are soooo close to being perfect, but then they blow it with a single key feature. For example, the NorthFace-Talus4 would be perfect if the mesh wasn't so low, and the Marmot Limelight3 would be perfect if the fly zipper wasn't on the ground away from the tent (I dislike the day-glow orange fly as well -- do your eyes ever recover from being exposed to that kind of light?)


Edited by edfardos (04/26/16 07:17 PM)

#195110 - 04/26/16 08:04 PM Re: Can't find a tent for me and the Mrs. [Re: edfardos]
BZH Offline

Registered: 01/26/11
Posts: 886
Loc: Torrance, CA
I think you have a pretty good list. You have pretty specific criteria, I'm not sure I could do a better job finding matches. I will say when viewing the "length" of a tent... not all tents are equal. Wall height at the ends can play a big role in how long the comfortable length is for you. Also, if you are comparing to the length of your single tent, the additional room of a 3/4 person tent may make length issues less apparent (you can lay somewhat diagonally). It would be a good idea if you could stop by a retailer (such as REI) that has some of these tents set up for you to check out how spacious it feels inside.

I will throw out a suggestion that does not hit some of your criteria but nails several others: Tarptent Hogback

It is a 4-person 4 lb tent. It would be spacious for the two of you (if you are ok with the length), but it has very small vestibules. That means it is going to have a smaller footprint than some of the other tents you are looking at. I often find it challenging to find a large enough spot to setup big tents. It is double walled, but not a quasi 4-season tent like you are interested in. The rain fly can be rolled up half way to give you views on rainless nights. Tent sets up much more taut than other commercial tents I have seen (I don't think the rain shell could touch the inner tent during wind gusts). It is free standing with the optional crossing pole. I'm not sure what you mean by diagonal zipper, but the zipper is easy to reach because the vestibule is very small.

#195111 - 04/26/16 08:09 PM Re: Can't find a tent for me and the Mrs. [Re: edfardos]
Glenn Roberts Offline

Registered: 12/23/08
Posts: 1454
Loc: Southwest Ohio
Unfortunately, unless you have the skill, patience, and free time to indulge in making your own gear, you will probably never find your "perfect" any piece of gear. I don't believe I have any gear that exactly meets my preferences. Some have features I never use (but can't bring myself to cut off), or have all but one or two of my "want list" items. In the end, you prioritize your wants, and get the item that comes closest - and it's amazing how quickly the missing or extra items fade into the dim mists of memory.

#195114 - 04/26/16 08:46 PM Re: Can't find a tent for me and the Mrs. [Re: Glenn Roberts]
edfardos Offline

Registered: 04/26/16
Posts: 34
Loc: CA
Tarptent looks interesting -- setup might result in divorce however. I may investigate that for my solo shelter.

Based on your advice, and the fact that the perfect tent doesn't exist, and perhaps I can come to terms with that, I'm leaning towards the:

Marmot Limelight 3p (2016 version with vertical walls)

The only problem with this one is the fly zipper (ground level, a long reach from the tent). The fly cover is dayglow orange (unnatural light inside tent). The fly zipper actually has a zipper on each end to allow for quick peeks or even getting out of the tent without having to lay across mud to reach the lower zipper. The day-glow orange isn't a showstopper.

Anyone have experience with the tent from a durability perspective? It's a brand new design with no reviews.


Edited by edfardos (04/26/16 08:48 PM)

#195121 - 04/27/16 12:12 AM Re: Can't find a tent for me and the Mrs. [Re: edfardos]
balzaccom Offline

Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 1752
Loc: Napa, CA
I'll add one more to the list, only because we bought one about ten years ago and have used it from time to time for three people. It's a Eureka Apex 3 man tent with the aluminum poles. Apparently they no longer make this model---they only make this in a two-man tent. But if you can find a used one for sale, it would work well for you, I think.

it did for us.

check out our website and blog: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/home

#195124 - 04/27/16 01:52 AM Re: Can't find a tent for me and the Mrs. [Re: edfardos]
WVhiker Offline

Registered: 03/30/16
Posts: 28
Loc: West Virginia
You mentioned that you will be making your own footprint> So why not just include the area under your vestibule that way when you lean out at night you don't have to worry about getting muddy. As long as you take care not to track in a lot with your shoes you should be just fine.
Leave nothing but footprints
Take nothing but pictures
Kill nothing but time

#195137 - 04/27/16 04:07 PM Re: Can't find a tent for me and the Mrs. [Re: WVhiker]
edfardos Offline

Registered: 04/26/16
Posts: 34
Loc: CA
Originally Posted By WVhiker
You mentioned that you will be making your own footprint> So why not just include the area under your vestibule that way when you lean out at night you don't have to worry about getting muddy. As long as you take care not to track in a lot with your shoes you should be just fine.

*fantastic idea* -- will do.

Marmot Limelight 3P ordered!! (from omcgear.com $239 otd )

#195157 - 04/28/16 02:28 PM Re: Can't find a tent for me and the Mrs. [Re: edfardos]
Rick_D Offline

Registered: 01/06/02
Posts: 2802
Loc: NorCal
Don't have specific model recommendations, there are so many, but will caution that big tents become harder to find a spot for the higher into the Sierra you go, because the flat spots seem to shrink with altitude. Down lower in the woods it's usually not as much of a challenge. When evaluating the pitched area look at the guylines you may need, especially for the fly. If there's no soil for staking, you can tie off to a bush or create a deadman, but that all takes time. Simpler designs usually have fewer guylines and total stakes.

Happy shopping,

Edited by Rick_D (04/29/16 07:09 PM)

#195161 - 04/28/16 08:28 PM Re: Can't find a tent for me and the Mrs. [Re: Rick_D]
wandering_daisy Offline

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2792
Loc: California
Totally agree! Do not go larger than a 3-person tent. Two side doors in a 2-person or 3-person tent make it seem a lot bigger. Large tents not only are hard to find a site, they are quite unstable in winds. My husband and I do fine in a 2-person, 2-side door tent, but had to go to a 3-person because of the dog. I would not want to deal with anything bigger.

#195172 - 04/29/16 07:46 PM Re: Can't find a tent for me and the Mrs. [Re: edfardos]
edfardos Offline

Registered: 04/26/16
Posts: 34
Loc: CA
Okay, here she is, based on your feedback and coments!

The Marmot Limelight 3P, new design for 2016:

It's epic in size, bigger than I thought: 90"x68". My big ass can completely stretch out length wise, with my arms above my head if I so choose. Note the mostly empty 12oz beer bottle on the floor, for scale, that's about how long it took to pitch.

The only things I'd change (and these are minor). Is an option as to which side of the fly to open. As it stands, it's the right side or nothing. It only comes with six stakes, but also six strings. I'd add a gear loft too. It might be wobbly in the wind, but with all the guy-wires deployed, it's not going anywhere. It wouldn't support any snow load, but that's not a requirement.

It comes with it's own footprint also.

The fly zippers, while low, are easy to reach from within the tent, since the vestibule doesn't kick out very far.

It comes with a pole-repair sleeve also.

I already replaced the stake loops with black bungie cord, so that's about as tight as she pitches.

It's a bit over six pounds, and $230 OTD. With the vertical side-walls it feels gigantic.


Edited by edfardos (04/29/16 08:00 PM)


Shout Box

Highest Quality Lightweight Down Sleeping Bags
Western Mountaineering Sleeping Bags
Lite Gear Talk - Featured Topics
CNOC Vecto 2L Water Bag
by Bill Kennedy
04/17/18 12:00 AM
Sawyer and Platypus Threads Not the Same
by Bill Kennedy
04/11/18 09:19 PM
Need a new cookset!
by steve-in-kville
03/30/18 04:32 PM
Backcountry Discussion - Featured Topics
Salomon vs. Danner...what am i giving up?
by willie1280
04/06/18 08:44 AM
Does anyone carry a side arm in wolf country?
by toddfw2003
03/27/18 09:21 PM
backpacking tent blew away or got stolen
by toddfw2003
03/26/18 06:36 PM
Make Your Own Gear - Featured Topics
Ripstop - NOT!
by Bill Kennedy
Yesterday at 09:46 PM
Need Suggestions for Pack
by Bill Kennedy
04/15/18 01:44 AM
Tyvek or polycryo DIY tarps- worth it?
by clueless
06/26/16 03:13 PM
Featured Photos
Breakneck Ridge, New York
May 2012 Eclipse, Lassen Park
New Years Eve 2011
Trip Report with Photos
Seven Devils, Idaho
Oat Hill Mine Trail 2012
Dark Canyon - Utah
Who's Online
0 registered (), 24 Guests and 0 Spiders online.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Newest Members
Axel999, hungodd94, trailmix, Rosscoe T, TrailElder
12557 Registered Users
Forum Links
Site Links
Family Hiking
Lightweight Gear Store
Backpacking Book Store
Lightweight Zone
Hiking Essentials

Outdoor Gear Daily Deals
Outlets, Sales, Bargains

Our long-time Sponsor, BackcountryGear.com - The leading source for ultralite/lightweight outdoor gear:

Backcountry Forum

Since 1996 - the Original Backcountry Forum
Copyright © The Lightweight Backpacker & BackcountryForum.com