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Backpacker Magazine – March 2008

March 2008 Tents Review: Three-Person Tents

by: The Backpacker Editors, Photos by

Greener Poles (*): Standard anodizing processes use hazardous acids. DAC Featherlite NSL poles are made with an eco-friendly anodizing process.
Dye-free fabric (*): White, dye-free tent canopies both brighten interiors and minimize pollutants during manufacturing.
Fly-only fastpitch (FP): In mild, bug-free conditions, you can pitch these tents with just the rainfly and poles, cutting down on bulk and weight.

Best All-Around
MSR Mutha Hubba *FP
It's not often an award-winning tent gets an upgrade, but that's exactly what happened with the Mutha Hubba (Editors' Choice Award, 4/06). The new version weighs 10 ounces less than its predecessor, but there's no corresponding drop in space. You still get plenty of elbowroom for three and the lofty 46-inch peak height that makes this three-season tent so livable; its weight loss comes from lighter pole hubs and two fewer air vents (which doesn't result in any significant condensation problems). The two vestibules shelter three hikers' full complement of gear, and with doors located at opposite ends of the tent, the middle sleeper doesn't have to crawl over his neighbors to get in and out. Fast, easy setup, bomber rainproofing, and excellent ventilation seal the deal. $400; 6 lbs. 2 oz.

Best Buy
Kelty Gunnison 3.1 *
At less than 2 pounds and $75 per hiker, this two-door, freestanding dome is a bargain in every way. And the low weight and price don't mean less space–it's a whopping 92 inches long and plenty wide for three. Color-coded clips help guide the hubbed pole system into place for fast setup, and the two 12.5-square-foot vestibules garaged a trio's gear and still left room to scramble in and out of the tent. "There was a bit of condensation on the fly every morning," said a tester who used it on Colorado's Continental Divide Trail, "but we stayed perfectly dry inside." Minor gripe: The gear loft must be hand-tied to the tent ceiling, which is a pain. $220; 5 lbs. 14 oz.

Best for Big Guys
Cabela's XPG Ridgelight XST 3

How's this for large and light: Our 6-foot tester could stretch out in this tent and still stash a pack at his feet, yet the Ridgelight weighs little more than some two-person tents. Credit the hybrid single- and double-wall design, which creates a great space-to-weight ratio. And with vents at both ends and in the ceiling, the sil-nylon Ridgelight dodges the condensation problems common among single-wall shelters; its interior stayed totally dry on chilly autumn nights in Utah's Wasatch Range. Two doors and vestibules allow for ample gear storage, and achieving a drum-tight pitch was easy once testers deciphered the antennae-like hubbed pole system. "It kept us warmer than super-meshy tents," said our Colorado tester, "which makes it first-rate for higher altitudes." $300; 5 lbs. 12 oz.

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