Big Agnes Seedhouse SL3 Tent REVIEW

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Home Forums Campfire Editor’s Roundtable Big Agnes Seedhouse SL3 Tent REVIEW

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    Benjamin Smith
    BPL Member


    Locale: South Texas

    Companion forum thread to:

    Big Agnes Seedhouse SL3 Tent REVIEW

    Brian James


    Locale: South Coast of BC

    I’ve been using this tent since the spring… my GF has claustrophobia issues (and camping dislike issues) so I went with the biggest tent I could still carry myself.

    For three it’s tight, but then again this is an UL tent… The vestibule is tighter than some as well, but I can’t help but wonder if the complaint would have been in the other direction?

    I find the tent to be “just right” sized for 3 ULers, and “just right” sized in terms of vestibule as well. (Being a Canadian I don’t cook in shelters.)

    The greatest criticism I have of the tent’s air volume. It’s cold! Something that hadn’t occurred to me when buying it is that there’s so much air volume that it’s hard to warm up with your body. The space is of course absolutely joyous when changing clothes or in the rain.

    But if you use it with 1 or 2 people in sub-freezing temperatures, remember that it’s effectively a single-wall tent (being all mesh inside) with a large amount of volume.

    Another neat feature is the option of setting it up with the footprint and no inner tent. That makes it a 3-lb 3-person freestanding shelter that’s strong enough in shape and material to be used below the treeline in winter. Now that’s versatility…


    Brett .


    Locale: CA

    Thanks for your comments. Have you used the tent in hot/humid or cold/humid conditions? It has no roof peak vent that I can see, and that has been a recipe for uncomfortable heat and humidity and condensation in my experience. Do you notice high levels of humidity which could vent if there was only a roof vent? I am returning my Sierra Designs Lightning to REI for just that reason, and replacing it with a HalfDome2HC.
    By the way, please explain, “I am Canadian so don’t cook in my tent”??

    Brian James


    Locale: South Coast of BC

    Re: hot/humid, I think that your definition of those terms would depend on your location. Here in south coastal BC (=the same region you call the Pacific Northwest) we get the kind of humidity that can cause condensation in any tent made. Just above-freezing, completely still, utterly moisture-saturated air that alternates between spitting light rain and hanging fog is quite common. In those conditions I’ve had condensation and I’ve wished for a peak vent.

    I do find it to perform quite well for three reasons:

    1) the inner wall is bug netting so any occasional drip from the ceiling would hit the netting and run off

    2) (this is the main thing) The fly can be staked very high off the ground on either side — or all the way around. This allows the lightest of air movements to bring fresh air into the tent. It’s airy to the point where I have to be careful to stake it *low* on sub-zero nights because otherwise it becomes a forced-air deepfreeze…

    3) The tent’s “substitute” for a peak vent is a double-zipped door that zips very close to the high point of the tent. Thus on any night where you don’t have a heavy vertical downpour or driven precipitation coming from all sides, you can crack the top of the door and let convective heat carry the condensation out.

    I don’t want to sound like a fanboy for the tent. I’ve had condensation in the SL3 but not often, and that’s pretty good for the conditions I’ve used it in so far.

    Now that we have (yards of) snow and a nice cold snap I’m looking forward to pitching it in “fast-fly” mode in a snowbank somewhere to see how it performs at -10C or so. I also have a cool Clikstand prototype that I’m reviewing… :D

    RE: cooking in tents in Canada, the bear situation is quite a bit different up here. Based on the stories I’ve read about bears down south, it seems that *in general* our bears are bigger, wilder, and more predatory. I don’t know about the east but in Western Canada we lose recreationists, forest service workers, and other professionals who work in bear country every single season. I’ve personally been hunted by a grizzly while in a group of 4… I’ve also walked up a cutline all morning, and then turned around in the afternoon to return and found black bear footprints in mine for a long way.

    It’s not like we’re running the gauntlet every time we go hiking, but we are generally *very* careful about bear awareness. Cooking within 100 yards of a campsite would be very embarrassing and offensive to other campers, as is keeping any food or cooking equipment anywhere near your campsite at night. Or at ground level for that matter.

    I know guys who’ve been going outdoors all their lives, and they think I’m an idiot for going hiking without a rifle. Farther North in BC and Alberta the bears stand 12′ tall and you supposedly wouldn’t want to take a crap without a rifle across your knees… I stick to bear spray and staying alert!

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