Lightweight 2-3 Tent Advice

Posted by: bamudd

Lightweight 2-3 Tent Advice - 11/30/13 03:16 AM

Hi all,

Looking into a 2-3 person lightweight tent for backpacking. The sort that's comfortable and roomy for 2 people, and can maybe run 3 in a pinch, or maybe a super light true 3.

Currently considering either the TarpTent StratoSpire 2 or Rainshadow 2, but would like any other recommendations that the hivemind might have (starting to hear good things about the Lunar Duo?). Looking for weight under 3 lbs (closer to 2 preferred) and minimum packaged size. 3 season rating is fine . . . it'll be used in the winter on occasion, but we'd rather spend the extra weight on 0 degree bags than a heavier tent.

I think at this point, the StratoSpire is my frontrunner.

Budget is approximately $300, but I'd say the hard cap is probably $350 with a bit of saving and scrounging, which I'd be willing to do for just the right shelter.

Posted by: bamudd

Re: Lightweight 2-3 Tent Advice - 11/30/13 03:29 AM

Oh, extra information fyi from the "before you post" thread which I read after I posted:
--Experienced backpackers (Eagle Scout here)
--Durability, weight, water resistance key factors inside price range
--Maximum height to worry about 6'
Posted by: Rick_D

Re: Lightweight 2-3 Tent Advice - 11/30/13 01:12 PM

Largest Tarptent I have is a snug fit for two, so doesn't qualify. The Easton Kilo 3P is very roomy for two and will fit a third, and quite a decent weight for a traditional tent (largely because of the carbon poles). A teepee shelter like the Golite Shangri-la 3 is another option--I use one once bug season is over. It too is roomy for two, but for three I think you'd need to suspend it from above and eliminate the pole (or use to poles in an inverted "V."

Posted by: bamudd

Re: Lightweight 2-3 Tent Advice - 11/30/13 02:38 PM

Thanks Rick.

I haven't been super impressed with what I've seen of Easton Kilo's quality. Only have money for one tent right now, so I want to get one that I'm going to like for a good long while . . . and while I've been tempted by things like the Golite, I would like to be able to use it during bug season also.

I know, I know, I'm a demanding customer.
Posted by: wandering_daisy

Re: Lightweight 2-3 Tent Advice - 11/30/13 03:47 PM

Depends on where you will be backpacking and in what seasons. Some of the light weight tents are fine where condensation is not a problem, single wall tents(almost all you would consider will be single wall if you want to stay under 3 pounds) tend towards more condensation. Also must consider wind-worthy. If you are going to do high altitude mountaineering condition camping, many the ultra light under 3 pound tents would not survive the conditions. In this case, a floorless tent may be better- save weight by no floor. A well set up floorless teepee can be surprisingly steady in storms. If on the other hand, you are in very rainy areas, I would not like to do without a waterproof bathtub floor. And if you are planning on lots of mosquitoes and creepy crawlies, I would not use a floorless tent.

A tent is for shelter, suited for the environment you intend to camp in. At a MINIMUM, it must stand up to these conditions. Weight is secondary. Price is even less of an issue. Roominess and other bells and whistles are less important. I do not care how well a tent rates on any other category, if it is not 10 out of 10 on weather-worthiness for the intended conditions.

Seriously, I would take price out of the consideration. The time to look at price is when you have a short-list of 2-5 tents that would really work. Then you can choose the least expensive.

Depending on your needs, you may also want to look into tarps or hammock if you will always have trees for set up.
Posted by: Rick_D

Re: Lightweight 2-3 Tent Advice - 11/30/13 06:31 PM

FWIW the ShangriLas are now only available with the "nest" as a complete package, not canopy-only as I got mine, so you'd be covered, bugwise. It's not a "light" shelter configured that way, though, but plenty flexible (and surprisingly stormworthy).

Posted by: rockchucker22

Re: Lightweight 2-3 Tent Advice - 11/30/13 08:29 PM

I'll second everything WD said and would look into a MLD duo mid.
Posted by: bamudd

Re: Lightweight 2-3 Tent Advice - 11/30/13 10:16 PM

Haha good point WD, I suppose I should have specified environment. It'll mostly be for use in the Southeast and Midwest, most weather 3 season and good weather winter. Red River Gorge, Smoky Mountains, AT. By most conditions, I mean, I don't tend to stay in the field for forecasts of tornadoes or massive storms. Lots of bugs and humidity in the summer, lots of rain in the spring. Winds can be relatively high, but nothing like alpine conditions.

I want the light, hi-tech version of a basic, versatile boy scout tent for backpacking in the woods. Bathtub floor and full netting enclosure are necessary, not just a shelter.

A stormy night at Iceberg Lake (that was fun, for masochistic values of the word "fun") is not a consideration for this purchase.
Posted by: rockchucker22

Re: Lightweight 2-3 Tent Advice - 11/30/13 11:18 PM
Posted by: bamudd

Re: Lightweight 2-3 Tent Advice - 12/01/13 12:57 AM

Well that's interesting. Very interesting. I hadn't seen that. I think that is now edging out the TarpTent Stratospire for top place on my preferences. Anyone got any thoughts between those two? Hard to argue with lighter, packs smaller, and less expensive unless there are other drawbacks though, and BA usually has good quality construction (although I've seen flaws in some of their previous designs).
Posted by: rockchucker22

Re: Lightweight 2-3 Tent Advice - 12/01/13 10:16 AM

A lot of people didn't like the BA scout because it has no vestibule and kind of a large surface of which could catch the wind. The latter has proven to be totally false, it handles the wind just fine. BA is coming out with a couple of new scout models that have a vestibule. I personally don't care if it has a vestibule, if it's raining I put my outside gear under my rain jacket. The scout has a ton of very usable room and I love it for my son and I.
Posted by: OregonMouse

Re: Lightweight 2-3 Tent Advice - 12/02/13 07:05 PM

With Tarptent, the Stratospire 2 is a 2-person, double wall tent. The Rainshadow 2 as a 3-person single wall tent (with this specific tent, "2" refers to the model number, not to the number of persons.) They also have the Cloudburst 3 which is basically a tunnel tent (you can add a third "rib" in the middle for greater wind resistance). It also has a liner you can add to reduce condensation. With the extra configuration (third pole and liner) it should do fine in winter. Their Scarp 2 is a two-person, 4 season double wall tent which would be fine for winter. Their Hogback holds 4 and is a 3 season, double-wall tent.

Of these, I have the Rainshadow, which is palatial for two adults plus dog, and plenty of room for two adults and a kid---some have even slept two adults and two kids in it. It will take three adults but is a trifle cramped at the sides. I've had no issues with condensation in it, even at the Olympic National Park beach in fog and drizzle. It is quite weather resistant as long as you use the "optional" side guylines and keep the foot of the tent pointed into the wind. You do not want this tent for winter camping, though.

You can get large pyramid tents from Mountain Laurel Designs (their "Circus" tent), Oware or GoLite. With those, you'll need an inner net of some sort to keep off the bugs.

Lots of two-person tents out there. The lightest is probably the new ZPacks Duplex tent, 21 oz. including stakes. Of course it's made of cuben fiber so is way, way over your budget.

Important: If you're using the tent in the winter, it needs to shed snow easily and stand up to quite a bit of weight from said snow and generally higher winds than a summer tent. The heavier tent is not for warmth (it really isn't any warmer) but for the needed strength to withstand more wind and at least 6 inches of snow without collapsing. Pyramids are good for this as are tunnel tents.
Posted by: bamudd

Re: Lightweight 2-3 Tent Advice - 12/03/13 02:05 PM

Hmmm didn't know that. I guess that's what I get for living in the south, not really knowing what winter tents are for haha. I mean, we do GET 6 inches of snow in one day . . . but it's rare, like not even most years.
Posted by: rockchucker22

Re: Lightweight 2-3 Tent Advice - 12/03/13 06:02 PM

Looks like BA have a few new scout tents
Posted by: bluefish

Re: Lightweight 2-3 Tent Advice - 12/08/13 02:19 PM

Interesting tent. We have a fly creek and have put it through its paces from 6" of snow to wind gusts of 50 mph, to driving rain. It's done its job. Not perfectly, and the door design/vestibule leaves lots to be desired, but overall it gets high ratings from us. The scout seems to correct some of the faults, like too quick a taper in the rear of the tent and the vestibule opening being over the inside of the tent floor. Like it.
Posted by: bamudd

Re: Lightweight 2-3 Tent Advice - 01/15/14 11:29 AM

So! Here's a bit of an update.

I ended up taking that $300 tent budget and buying an HMG Echo II insert . . . and then with a little bit of higher pay from a recent and unexpected raise stretched it a bit lot to pair it with an 8.5'x10' Cuben tarp. Big? Yes. But for that little weight I'd like to have that huge vestibule to sit and cook under on nasty days.

Mostly as a thought experiment, I'd like to make something like RayWay's batwing or HMG's beak to enclose the front vestibule. I don't know if or how much I'll use it, but I'd like to make it just in case I ever do want it. Any thoughts on design? I emailed RayWay to ask about adapting his batwing pattern for a pure rectangular tarp (his appears set up to go with an overhung tarp), but if that doesn't pan out, I'll be designing my own I guess and would appreciate any ideas.