Dec 19, 2019 at 4:30 am #3623403
Looking for some input from those with more experience than myself in selecting my next tent.
The wife and I have begun getting much more serious about our backpacking and camping – and are preparing for our first big trip this coming summer. As it stands, looking at doing 4-5 days in Glacier National Park for my birthday – followed by a few days in Colorado climbing Mt Elbert and checking out the surrounding area for her birthday (she wants to summit Mt Elbert on her birthday). This trip will by the last two weeks of July.
Generally speaking, though, looking for a tent that can handle trips like that AND serve us well when we go camping on the weekends here in Iowa.
Our primary use case factors:
- Just the two of us most of the time, but we sometimes bring our 40lb blue heeler along for local outings. If this tent is durable enough to support that, sweet, but we have a Nemo Galaxi 3p if not (that thing is nice, but to heavy and bulky for any serious trips).
- Big factor #1: We both enjoy a little extra elbow space. For us that means enough floor space for 2 x 20″ pads and then a little extra. For the wife, the feeling of a bigger space is more important than actually being bigger.
- Big factor #2: Does well in inclement weather. Iowa gets some pretty intense thunderstorms for most of Spring and Summer – and in fall if it does rain, it rains for 3 days straight. Also, most of our planned big trips involve the mountain west, so a tent that does well in windy conditions is important.
- Minor factor: Would like something that on nice nights we can strip down and do some bug free star gazing, but lets be real, long term I will likely end up with another tent for ideal conditions if this one doesn’t support that.
- Minor factor: Would like something that does not require trekking poles / and if it does we will end up getting dedicated non-trekking poles for setup. In case you are wondering, on our weekend trips we usually setup camp, then do day hikes around the area. We also plan on doing a similar style, potentially, for some of our mountain climbing trips
- Price: Anything under $1k fits in our budget – but the less we spend on this the more money we have for trips and other gear.
- USA made is ideal, though you will see I am considering options outside that.
What I have found in my own research:
Dec 19, 2019 at 7:02 am #3623452Rex SandersBPL Member
- Tarpten Cloudburst 3 or Stratospire 2: Like a lot about both of these. Biggest question is how well do they do in wind AND how ‘big’ does the Stratospire feel on the inside? If I had to make a decision today I would get a Stratospire 2 with the standalone support poles.
- Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL3 or Copper Spur UL3: We have tried these out in person, UL2 versions are a little smaller than we would like, and concerned the material is a bit thin.
- Zpacks Triplex: Kinda speaks for itself – again would get standalone support poles.
- Insert anything else from Sierra Designs, Nemo, MSR, et al that is a ‘3p’ tent in the 4lb or less range… there are a TON of options – but preference is USA made.
- Suggestions for any obvious options I have not stumbled upon / overlooked?
Consider some of the larger pyramid tents. They’re roomy feeling, can handle high winds and storms really well, they have inner net tents that can be pitched alone for starry nights, most can be ordered with tough floors, and most require one stout pole for setup. For example:
Probably many more out there, and many made in the USA, like MLD and HMG.
— RexDec 19, 2019 at 8:40 am #3623455
The StratoSpire 2 was specifically designed to give a mid type shelter but with more usable inner space for the footprint size.
These two photos might give a better idea
This is the inner
as you can see there is room for two long wide mats (77″x 25″) and you would still have room for the dog inside.
Plenty of sit up shoulder room, no pole in between and no sloping walls towards the apex.
With the fly on ,it looks like this
so you have two large vestibules with the inner inside the drip line even when the door is open.Dec 19, 2019 at 8:54 am #3623456
this is a frame from one of the clips on the TT site.
Should give a better idea of the usable space having two 6′ people inside.
The two vestibules are of the exact same size,
(there is an add on mesh inner that fits in the vestibules designed to hold a pre teen child or a dog)Dec 19, 2019 at 9:13 am #3623458
(would be nice if we could still edit…)
I have just seen that on Reddit you mentioned it would be nice if the tent sripped down to inner only or something like that.
If you open the 4 door panels of the SS2 you get a pretty good view without having to jump out and set the fly up if it gets windy or starts raining.
This is mineDec 19, 2019 at 2:18 pm #3623468
“the feeling of a bigger space is more important than actually being bigger.” I think I might know what she means. Almost all the tents made these days are side entry, which means the ceiling of the tent is apt to be less than 12″ from your head when laying down. This can be overcome at the expense of some weight; the Copper Spur is about as good as it gets. So, your first question is front entry or side entry. If you choose side entry you have lots of options with 2 doors, and 2 vestibules. Just find a tent with lots of headroom lying down. Go for the 3 person model, it’s not that much more weight split between 2 people.
If you decide front entry there are hardly any options to look at. Getting in and out is definitely harder. Might be a killer for 2 people. (Anybody make a front and rear entry tent?) But once you are in, the ceiling is way up there, and your head is pointing toward the window/door. Also, your steamy breath (think condensation) is aimed at the outside.Dec 19, 2019 at 3:18 pm #3623477
I will take another look at those, but generally speaking a single center pole mid doesn’t have a ton of appeal to us. If this was just for me, though, they would be very high on my list.
Thanks for those pictures and video – they really help give more insight to the size and performance of the SS2.
Do you have much experience / input you can lend regarding the Cloudurst 3 and its performance in windy conditions?
You are spot on with what it is that gives the feeling of a bigger space. That is one of of the big driving factors in looking at a tunnel style. The Cloudburst 3 does have doors at the front and back – and look to be wide enough I don’t think it would be a big issue getting in and out compared to side doors.
Our biggest hesitation is the Cloudburst is a single wall, so it doesn’t give the option of pitching just the inner for star gazing nights. Its also a lot of broadside surface area for wind to catch – which third pole and setting up well should help – but high wind performance is a question I don’t know the answer to for it at this time.Dec 19, 2019 at 6:23 pm #3623501Mary MBPL Member
we have a Tiger Wall 3 and I love it! It is very spacious for 2 people (compared to previous copper spur 2). good headroom and dog would definitely fit. You can also star gazing. We are in the east (lots of rain) so we really wanted to double wall tent.Dec 19, 2019 at 9:23 pm #3623528
I have only fiddled about with the CB3 in my backyard.
sets up nice ant taut , adding the 3rd pole and using the extra guylines looks like a sound design to me.
light for the space provided if you don’t use your trekking poles as you could with the SS2.
have a look at some of the reviews :Dec 20, 2019 at 1:00 am #3623577GarrettSpectator
TT Scarp 2 can be opened (cross poles), non trekking poles, wind worthy, spacious when the floor is widened, and weights 58oz or 75oz with cross poles. Seems like a candidate to me.Dec 20, 2019 at 4:08 am #3623596Paul SBPL Member
The stratospire 2 is great. roomy, and very study. The fabrics are more stout than the super thin stuff that companies like Big Agnes Use. And the trekking poles make it very study.Dec 20, 2019 at 6:41 am #3623606
I’m glad I have participated in this thread. The Cloudburst looks very good to me. 1.6 lbs each… and this is the tent I would like to share in a storm. The rear entrance is a real plus for 2 people in a front entry tent. Avoids kicking your partner in the head when re-entering the tent.
One thing about Tarptent, they have so many designs sometimes it is hard to sort out which is which. I see they offer a 3 person Rainshadow which is quite a bit lighter, but doesn’t have the rear entrance.
There is quite a bit about Hilleberg tunnel tents for extreme conditions on BPL. Looks like the Cloudburst is way at the lightweight end of those options. You can add a liner later or at the same time if you like double walls. I way like double walls if it is below 35 F. But, they do make the tent less spacious, and I don’t mind wiping down the condensation occasionally in a single wall tent.Dec 20, 2019 at 6:42 am #3623607Eric BlumensaadtBPL Member
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
Patrick, one of the big items you will want in a tent is the ability to set it up IN THE RAIN without getting the inner tent wet. That means:
- Preferably a tent that permits the inner tent to remain attached inside the fly when setting it up and taking it down.
- Or at the least being able to set up the fly and poles first then crawling inside and attaching the inner tent to the poles. This works but is more of a PITA.
Tarptents with inner tents are all made so you can have the inner tent pre-attached, my 1st choice as mentioned above.
Also having generous vestibules are great for storing gear and (well ventilated) cooking. Tents with TWO vestibules/doors give you a “his & hers” door and preserves peace. ;o)Dec 20, 2019 at 3:16 pm #3623629
Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL3 or Copper Spur UL3: We have tried these out in person, UL2 versions are a little smaller than we would like, and concerned the material is a bit thin.
Either would be my choice. My wife and I use the CS UL2, and have found it ideal. Fabrics are not a problem.Dec 20, 2019 at 4:49 pm #3623643Scott SmithBPL Member
@mrmuddyLocale: Idaho Panhandle
My wife and I use a CS3 and love it !
really nice (!) if you get delayed by rain. And/ or need some non sleeping tent timeDec 20, 2019 at 5:10 pm #3623646Rob PBPL Member
The Cloudburst has so much usable space in relation to its footprint…I don’t know if any of you are Dr. Who fans, but it’s kind of like the Tardis…bigger on the inside than on the outside!Dec 20, 2019 at 9:17 pm #3623690Dec 21, 2019 at 2:55 am #3623724
Thank you all for the continued replies and for taking the time to share your opinions and expertise. As expected going into this, it is re-affirming that this is going to be a choice with a lot of right options, which is maybe the best part about shopping for this stuff.
To further refine what we want – incorporate the info shared so far – and write it down which helps make a decision:
- Want a tent under 4 pounds.
- Want a tent that is USA made (this is a really big factor for us, wife is a tattoo artist so supporting local business is personal to us)
- Want it to be a 2+ person tent (which for most brands means a 3 person tent).
- As a couple, we want a design that allows for cuddling / a two person sleep system, so middle pole pyramids.
- Ideally would like a tent that is a double wall, not because of condensation though – every tent has condensation – but because this would allow us to setup without rain fly on perfect nights.
- Ideally want this tent to setup fly first so when setting up in rain less issues with inside getting wet.
- If a trekking pole tent, we will get dedicated support poles instead. We often setup a ‘base camp’ then do day hikes when doing weekend trips in Iowa, so being able to leave tent setup and take trekking poles means not using trekking poles for the tent. There are a lot of options to get poles dedicated to replacing trekking poles, and they are not terribly weight prohibitive.
- Because we want this to be solid for mountain west mountain climbing, ie 14ers in Colorado, above tree line in Glacier, etc – and Iowa gets some crazy storms that we can’t always plan around, we want solid performance in wind and rain.
Tarptent Stratospire 2: Solid inclement weather performance. Is silnylon, so will sag in rain, which means we would need to re-tighten the guy lines on occasion. Is a 2 person tent, but is a proper and spacious 2 person with potential to have up to 3 people. With dedicated support poles, weighs about 3.25 pounds. The trekking pole design is a dual pole design that allows easier in and out, also allows cuddling.
Tarptent Cloudburst 3: With the 3rd arch pole it has very solid weather performance. Silnylon so will sag in rain, which menas will need to re-tighten guy lines on occasion. Is a proper 3 person tent, and most spacious of the options. Weights 3.75 pounds fully loaded. Is a front and rear door, which some might not like. Is a single wall, but can get a liner to help with condensation. We don’t care much about condensation, all tens experience it, but having a barrier between inside of tent and it is nice, ie the liner OR in a double wall tent the inner.
Zpacks Triplex: Much like duplex, has solid weather performance if setup right. Dynamee is superior to silnylon for wet weather – it doesn’t sag, is more ‘waterproof’, and stronger – so won’t need to re-tighten guy lines, and don’t need to worry about it wetting out. Space wise, this 3 person is a larger 2 person, like most 3 person tents. Can fit a 3rd if you must, but we only need 2 people and elbow room / a dog, which this will do. Trekking poles setup in the middle of the doorway, which does create some inconvenience, even if it goes unnoticed. Vestibules are small. Weight is just a hair over 2 pounds when including dedicated poles and stakes, etc.
The rest: Mids with center poles were ruled out because can’t cuddle / dual person sleeping system won’t fit – but should still be considered by those that don’t have this requirement. Big Agnes was ruled out because it is not made in the USA.
Decision we have made: Going to get a Stratospire 2 and Cloudburst 3. Our budget allows it, and there is a lack of info on both of these, so might as well get both and then provide feedback on both. If we were getting just 1, it would be the Stratospire 2. Ultimately, for the benefits of the Dynamee in the Zpacks triplex, the two Tarptents excite us more (which is an emotional thing and not logical) – but they also both fit our needs and then some.Dec 21, 2019 at 6:34 am #3623730Mark VerberBPL Member
@verberLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
It it was me, I would go with the Tarptent SS-Li. I love the cuben lack of sag and that there is typically less condensation.
With a pyramid you can often the pole and have plenty of room for two to sleep together. This is how we use the old GoLite Hex3 for years in all sorts of weather.
I would vote against the Copper Spur. I love it in mild conditions… but if you are expecting extreme weather it’s not up to the job. I have had the fabric tear and had one of the poles crack in a surprise storm.
Somewhat similar to the CloudBurst but more $$ and better in nasty weather are the classic tunnel tents from Warmlite. I used to borrow a friends for winter trips a few decades ago. Was amazing then, and I believe are still weight/performance competitive today against other sil-nylon tents. Downside is that it’s priced as if it was made from cuben.
Zpacks TriplexL It seems like a lot of unsupported fabrics… but I have no personal experience.,, you could be right that performance is ok.Dec 21, 2019 at 7:16 am #3623731William ChiltonBPL Member
The Stratospire Li has a narrower inner than the Strat 2.Dec 21, 2019 at 12:17 pm #3623734
I hear that if you use elastic tie-outs (like bungees) on a silnylon test, you don’t have to worry about re tightening when the temperature drops or it gets wet. The whole length of the tie-out doesn’t have to be elastic, just part of it.
The sidecar for the Stratospire 2 looks perfect for the dog.
I’ll be interested to hear if the Stratospire with the little pitch-loc poles has enough headroom when you are lying down. My side entry Z-Packs tent has the ceiling about 9″ above my head. Not pleasant during a rainstorm.
I’ve learned lots about tents during this conversation. Thank You all.Dec 21, 2019 at 11:30 pm #3623784Rex SandersBPL Member
I added bungie cord loops to guylines on my silnylon TarpTent Moment, and that definitely helped with overnight sagging. But it didn’t help with silnylon’s amazing ability to retain water and attract dirt & mud like a magnet.
— RexDec 22, 2019 at 1:14 am #3623791
This is a 6′ dummy on a std 2′ mat
where the forehead is (dummy laying down) from floor to fly it is about 23″ , the inner is (on my set up) about 6″ from the fly.Dec 22, 2019 at 7:43 am #3623811ed hyattBPL Member
@edhyattLocale: The North, Scotland
I’ve used the UL3 and SS2 a fair bit. My choice would somewhat depend on expected ground conditions.
The semi-free UL3 was great in the harder pitches of, for example the Sierra. But poor peg placement choices for non-freestanders can usually be fettled with careful use of rocks.
The SS2 is a fine tent for two and would be my choice for must conditions, it’s very liveable. I’ve just bought a Strat Li too, but yet to use it.Dec 22, 2019 at 10:34 pm #3623873TOU-47BPL Member
I know it’s a bit heavier at 64 oz (4#) but I’m kind of surprised that the TT Hogback hasn’t made it atleast into the conversation. (4P tent but = 1#/person). My needs are maybe a bit different but I was looking for a tent that was cost & weight effective for 2 adults & a dog up & 3 adults…on rare occasion have 4 adults. (No dog.) The weight ratio is awesome, the space is awesome! I looked at all the tents you mentioned & more but settled on this one as most 3P tents are near the same weight. Only thing I don’t like as much is the length of the struts when trying to pack inside my pack horizontally.
Just some thoughts…
- You must be logged in to reply to this topic.
Our Community Posts are Moderated
Backpacking Light community posts are moderated and here to foster helpful and positive discussions about lightweight backpacking. Please be mindful of our values and boundaries and review our Community Guidelines prior to posting.