Top 3-person Backpacking Tents for 2023?
Sep 29, 2023 at 1:56 pm #3790180
My family is finally ready to take our little guy backpacking in the Sierra Nevada. We currently use a Zpacks Duplex for couple’s trips, and I had the thought that it would be mighty nice if we had a 3 person for taking our son, as well as having more room for our couple’s only trips.
There are very few tents that are truly 3 person that are even remotely as light per person as the Duplex; really, the only name in the game as far as I’m aware is the Zpacks Triplex. I’m not a fan of how the Duplex handled stronger storms over the last few years, and don’t expect the triplex to improve upon that. Also, at a floor width that is 60″ wide, and with that tent geometry, it’s not exactly roomy enough for 3 people IMO.
I’ve sort of come to the conclusion that I should just buy a dedicated 3 person tent, regardless of the weight, for many reasons. Durability with a young child, cost, not limiting our 2 person trip tent (and my rainy weather solo tent), etc.
What are my options in the still lightweight, but fully 3 person category? The Tarptent Rainshadow 3 has caught my attention, and I’m still considering the possibility that a good old BA Copper Spur may serve us well.
What else am I missing that I should consider, fellow parents of BPL?Sep 29, 2023 at 5:49 pm #3790194
Don’t rule out Nemo Dragonfly or Dagger if you not too concerned with weight. And honestly, they are not that heavy or bulky, especially if the rest of your gear is dialed in. I can not vouch for the new versions with Osmo material but I have beard good things. I have and use the older version, a few years old.. 3p dagger and 2p Firefly. I would not hesitate to buy new ones tidaySep 29, 2023 at 9:34 pm #3790205
Thanks for the endorsement, I’ll give them a fair shake and look into some reviews. For trips with the boy, I won’t be going more than a few miles; I can handle a heavier tent if it means a better time all around!Sep 30, 2023 at 6:13 am #3790215
I also like the free standing tent when using it with someone else because its easy to pitch quickly and then I’m able to move it around and find that nice level spot for 2 or more people to lay comfortably, where as when using something like a duplex or triplex.. Trekking pole style tents, once it is pitched, it is a lot harder to move around and find that sweet spot for all to be comfortable.Sep 30, 2023 at 7:56 am #3790217drew dotyBPL Member
Mountain Laurel Designs SUPER Mid!Sep 30, 2023 at 6:27 pm #3790240
Saw your thread and posts today. Looked and was discouraged, so went to Black Diamond Gear, a three person dome weighing ~4.75 lbs. Nice blue color with double vents on top, named “Hilight.”
The rub is that the $549 price is 20% off at Moosejaw, but only until midnight, and they don’t give the time zone. The link is a long one:
Good luck!Oct 3, 2023 at 10:10 am #3790412
The Highlight! My favorite winter tent! If they made it in a more earth tone color I would probably buy another one for 3 seasons. I tried the Highlight 2P and loved it so much in winter that I upgraded to the larger 3P for my solo winter ( snow ) shelter! I wish they made it in a brown or olive greenish because the blue is fantastic for winter in white out conditions.. But I prefer not to stand out as much otherwise.Oct 3, 2023 at 10:11 am #3790413Oct 3, 2023 at 12:43 pm #3790416Kevin MBPL Member
Slingfin have brought out a 3 person (and 1 person) version of their Portal tent, a great 3 season tent that’s bomber enough to handle plenty of mild 4 season weather. 4lb 3oz fully packed,
Here’s the link to the video on the 2 person version which shows the features etc….. https://youtu.be/SMVL4zf6CRo?si=N80OjOm4tb-3WU-HOct 3, 2023 at 6:37 pm #3790433Bruce TolleyBPL Member
@btolleyLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
@Dirtbag. The HiLight is a single wall tent. Is the single wall waterproof breathable or just plain waterproof? I ask because I looked at some of the first gen single wall alpine tents from BD and others 10 plus years ago and there were multiple reports of the single walled designs with WPB fabric not holding up in rainy conditions but being just fine for snow near or above treeline.Oct 3, 2023 at 7:11 pm #3790434
@Bruce.. I got it strictly for below freezing and heavy snow conditions.. However , as with all of my shelters I always leave them pitched in my yard for a solid week or more thru some nasty weather conditions to see how they fare, especially Heavy rain and wind. The Highlight held up just perfectly. The new material is waterproof.. Rain and snow. I believe the older version Firstlights were not rain proof? Now using it in winter with heavy snow accumulation, I experience minimal condensation, plenty of ways to vent it, especially the 3p with both sides being able to fully open , where as the 2p only one side fully opens, the other half opens and has mesh that does not open. They both have 2 open vents at top also. If you use vestibule.. You are living large!!Oct 3, 2023 at 7:24 pm #3790437
The RS3 is an awesome tent. We have the 3 carbon poles and the liner. It’s huge inside, bigger than my gen2? (The yellow fly) Mutha Hubba. It certainly feels that way anyway. We use a exped hyper light duo M pad and it’s me, wife, dog (she’s on some unclipped crazy creek chairs off to the side of my wife’s feet). So I can’t speak the three adults, but my dog is 60lbs as thats like a middle schooler or something, right?Oct 4, 2023 at 6:25 pm #3790467
Bruce, I was concentrating on the OP’s need for a 3P tent, and the HiLight was the best in terms of weight, durability and price. But you are right about the single wall. Black Diamond says:
” The new Flow Manifold (patent pending) allows interior heat convection and exterior airflow to draw moisture vapor and stale air out of the tent.”
So waded into the reviews on the BD site, and while some were OK with snowy winter use, a number of reviews commented on condensation inside the tent during 3 season weather.
So you are right, and I must withdraw my recommendation. Especially because for me, a dry inner tent is a must. So try this one: Under $500, under 5 lbs., clear access inside, highly reputable mfg., and sil coated polyester that is far more resistant than nylon to wrinkling and flapping. And 3P with double walls and double vestibules.
But would like to know more about Jeffs Eleven’s RS3.Oct 4, 2023 at 6:45 pm #3790469
Not arguing about comments but I think any tent will accumulate condensation in the right conditions and definitely if its closed up. I live in North east and all 4 seasons condensation is a possibility. It is how you manage it when it happens. There are ways to prevent it and minimize it.Oct 5, 2023 at 1:41 pm #3790490
I was referring to the Tarptent Rainshadow 3. Maybe I was unclearOct 5, 2023 at 3:10 pm #3790492Eric BlumensaadtBPL Member
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
1st-> if you want a double wall tent get one that, like Tarptent, has the inner tent attached to the fly so they can be put op together in bad weather. Too many tents from the bigger fabricators are not made this way or, at best, require you to wet up the frame and fly THEN crawl under and attach the inner tent to the pole frame.
2nd -> a “2 1/2 person tent” may do you well for now. Ex. Tarptent SCARP 2. Three adults can easily fit if they sleep head-to-toe. Obviously plenty of room for two and their gear. Two entrances/exits/vestibules so no more crawling over your tent mate at zero dark thirty for a pee run plus a vestibule for cooking in bad weather and another to store packs and boots. And for winter this tent has optional “crossing poles” for fly support in case of high winds and snow load plus plenty of guy points. DISCLAIMER: I’m just a TT fanboy and own a SCARP 2, not a paid TT shill – unfortunately.Oct 6, 2023 at 1:07 pm #3790538
“I think any tent will accumulate condensation in the right conditions and definitely if its closed up.”
Dirtbag, please note that while there were problems with condensation in tents beginning in childhood; after becoming more familiar with a variety of tents that looked promising, and experimenting with modifications of those tents, condensation has been zero for several decades hiking in various parts of Colorado and northern New England, when ‘closed up’ in all kinds of weather. Several folks have posted suggesting they don’t believe me; so will just have to live with that.
More recently, have been working on a tent that addresses other issues, like lower weight as well as lower cost. Unfortunately, have not gotten the benefit of the latter because many tarps and even large ponchos had to be purchased in order to find and harvest the best fabrics. And am still not sure without more experimentation that a suitable inner inner tent fabric has been found that is very light, sufficiently durable, condensation free, and capable of resisting water during the time it takes to pitch in the rain. But since the goal has been to remain dry in wet weather, can assure you that my current tents both keep out the rain as well as preventing condensation. There are a number of design techniques that combine to make this possible. The problem IMO is poorly made products, which seem ubiquitous these days. Just reading the forums on BPL has shown me plenty of evidence of that. Am hoping to eventually complete and post about a next generation tent, if TarpTent, BigSky and Dan D have not done so already.Oct 6, 2023 at 1:19 pm #3790539
Thank you, Jeffs Eleven for responding. The TT RS3 appears to be made of nylon fabric that presents issues that are not present with the poly TT that was suggested.Oct 6, 2023 at 8:05 pm #3790583
I mentioned that I had good luck with my RS3 because the OP mentioned it in the first post.
Only one talkin bout sil poly is you.
edit- spellingOct 7, 2023 at 12:00 am #3790599
Well aware of how to handle condensation on my own, but throw in a very active and early rising 5 year old into a single wall tent and well.. you can picture the results! That’s my line of thinking currently.
Essentially I’m aiming for some intersection of lightweight, budget friendly (considering I plan on switching out multiple tents this year), user friendly for a kiddo, and maybe even freestanding so it’s easier to adjust for the sleeping area. Thanks for all the suggestions so far!Oct 7, 2023 at 9:13 am #3790611bradmacmtBPL Member
I’m still considering the possibility that a good old BA Copper Spur may serve us well.
In my mind, the Copper Spur has sort of become the industry standard for weight, comfort, roominess, etc., for a general purpose, freestanding backpacking tent. And they can be had at 20-35% off on sale fairly regularly. When I backpack with my wife, we use a Copper Spur 2P. It’s a 2018 model, but we’ve used previous iterations going back to around the first year they were introduced. Just a great all-around tent at a good price point if bought during a sale.
My only complaint is I wish it had a “squared-off” footprint (like the old MSR Hubba Hubba), rather than tapered . However, a 3P model makes that a moot point with two occupants.
I’m really interested in what TT and DD have to offer coming ahead.Oct 8, 2023 at 1:03 pm #3790682
Jeffs Eleven, am sorry if I stumbled off piste into silpoly. Did so because in wet weather I have found it does not have the issues raised by nylon, either sil or PU or PEU coated. In wet weather, nylon absorbs water and expands, making a tent wet inside and subject to wrinkling and distortion, plus greater weight. And once the weather improves, it may require hours before it dries out and can be stored dry in the pack. A good quality silpoly does none of these things, and that is a key reason for my second suggestion to Lenier A. Many of the other suggestions above are nylon tents, including the Big Agnes.
The issues with nylon have been discussed frequently on BPL, and discounted by some; but that has not been my experience over the decades. Nor have I found that coatings and use of different types of threads in the weave have made any significant difference. Others may not agree; however I will stick with my above suggestion of the Tarp Tent silpoly 3 person tent as the best choice in response to the OP’s inquiry, “What are my options in the still lightweight, but fully 3 person category?”
Note: Beyond the discussions on BPL forums, I have no connection with the makers, distributors, or promoters of any tents other than those purchased for my own use. For me, making and modifying backpacking tents is just an enjoyable hobby.Oct 28, 2023 at 2:28 pm #3792056
Hey Sam. No worries.
I was just poking around on Tarptent website and realized I said the wrong name anyway. I have the cloudburst 3 not the rainshadow. While it may be silnylon I use the 3rd pole so there aren’t big sections of unsupported fabric like the rainshadow may have. Also there are a bunch of tie-outs so stretch hasn’t been a problem for me, even in the pnw. Maybe it’s not truly UL but I don’t care anymore about what weight ‘class’ it’s in… it’s huge inside (bigger than my old yellow mutha hubba for half the weight) and and easy to pitch and sag hasnt been an issue for me so I’m a fan. Plus, I like H.
I haven’t bought a tent in years so I missed ‘the switch’ from silnylon to other stuff. But I haven’t had a problem with sag.
well I got an msr access2 for touring and that’s silpoly… but for normal camping I think the cloudburst 3 is a winner even if it’s not the textile du jour. 3rd pole and liner for the win. To me it’s worth the weight. YMMVNov 1, 2023 at 11:36 am #3792277
“I haven’t bought a tent in years so I missed ‘the switch’ from silnylon to other stuff. But I haven’t had a problem with sag.”
Jeffs Eleven; The age of your shelter could be why you’ve had no problems with nylon sagging. Or it could be avoidance of severe wind and rain storms. There has been discussion in the past on BPL suggesting that silnylon was at one time more impervious to moisture, with suggestions that regulatory agencies have forced fabric makers to make changes to ultra light nylon fabrics. Whatever the cause, silnylon is what it is these days. So much so that I’ve been stymied in tent making with the current nylons, whether “6,6”, mini-ripstop, or other attempts at improvement.
Using some best quality silnylon from Quest Outfitters, I built some prototype tent canopies that while remaining drum tight in my basement, became so slack that the canopies lost their tautness in ice storms, became distorted and unsteady, and could have easily been blown over but for the protection afforded by a walk in basement with concrete walls and a deck overhead. That is what led me to look for another tent fabric, and along came silpoly, which seems to have become quite popular, especially with the smaller tent makers.Nov 11, 2023 at 11:02 am #3792908
Are there even any “ultralight” aka sub 3lb 3 person silpoly tents on the market?
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