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Backpacker Magazine – Gear Guide 2012

Gear Guide 2012: More Tester Picks - Two-person Tents

Lightweight, durable, and spacious, these two-person tents offer comfortability while taking on the most foul-weather.

by: Kelly Bastone


More Tents
Find one-, two-, three-, or four-person tents
Big Agnes Fly Creek 2 Platinum
This lighter version of the Fly Creek 2 (a 2010 Editors’ Choice Award winner) shaves five ounces, thanks to thinner-diameter poles and low-denier, high-thread-count fabric. “It’s easy to pitch, bomber in storms, and surprisingly roomy given the weight,” reports our New Mexico tester. But the fabric requires some TLC. $500; 1 lb. 13 oz.; bigagnes.com

Black Diamond Stormtrack
Ample floor space and headroom make this mountain tent comfy for two big or tall campers, and the spacious vestibules hold plenty of winter gear. This double-wall weathered a month in Antarctica, but practice setup before pitching in a storm. $500; 6 lbs. 8 oz.; blackdiamondequipment.com

Brooks-Range Foray Tent
Downpours and winds assaulted this one-door dome in Idaho's Sawtooths, but the stable structure barely shuddered, and the dry entrance (with an outward-tilting front door) kept rain out during wet exits. Ventilation is above average, thanks to vents on the vestibule. Downside? The 28-square-foot floor is tight for two people. $425; 2 lbs. 10 oz.; brooks-range.com

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Echo II
This specialized ultralight is for gear tinkerers with a big budget. The trekking-pole system includes a Cuben Fiber tarp, an optional vestibule, and a bug-proof mesh insert. “Pitched tight, it did well in 20-mph wind on Utah’s Miners Mountain,” says our tester. $595; 1 lb. 12 oz.; hyperlitemountaingear.com

Kelty Salida 2
This sturdy, freestanding tent won a 2011 Editors’ Choice Award for making ultralight affordable: It kept testers dry during storms on Vancouver Island’s notoriously soggy West Coast Trail, and the simple, stable two-pole support exhibited no ultralight shudders in gusty weather. Tradeoffs: Interior space is tight, and there’s only one door. $160; 3 lbs. 12 oz.; kelty.com

Mountainsmith Morrison
This value-priced, freestanding dome stood strong through 25-mph gusts in southern Utah. Two crossing poles make for fast, easy setup. Despite the 43-inch peak height, though, the gently sloping walls limit headroom. $170; 4 lbs. 11 oz.; mountainsmith.com

MSR Nook
Hikers who prefer racking up miles to lounging in camp praised this lightweight, one-door tent, which merely shivered in the face of howling wind in Idaho’s White Cloud Mountains. The 28-square-foot floor just fit two broad-shouldered six-footers, and ventilation is excellent, thanks to a mesh top and two big side vents on the fly. Downside: small vestibule. $400; 3 lbs. 2 oz.; cascadedesigns.com

NEMO Meta 2P
“The sturdiest trekking-pole design I’ve used,” raves one tester. This two-door, non-freestanding shelter earned a 2010 Editors’ Choice Award for its impressive weather protection, cavernous interior space (36 square feet, plus 25 more in the two vestibules), and better-than-average ventilation. $370; 2 lbs. 15 oz.; nemoequipment.com

REI Half Dome 2
This standard-bearer earned two Editors’ Choice Awards (2002, and Gold in 2010) for its outstanding value and space-to-weight ratio. A “Plus” model is 10 inches longer and 4 inches wider. $189; 5 lbs.; rei.com

Sea to Summit Specialist Duo
“Remarkably stable given the limited structure,” says our tester of this ultralight trekking-pole shelter after using it in Zion National Park. "And it packs smaller than a two-liter water bottle!" Downsides: The 23-square-foot interior is scrunched for two, vestibules are small, and condensation accumulated even in arid environments. $499; 1 lb. 13 oz.; seatosummit.com

The North Face Meso 2
Get low weight and great ventilation from the Meso’s all-mesh canopy. Testers also praised the organizational pockets. But there’s just one door, and interior space is tight. $279; 3 lbs. 13 oz.; thenorthface.com

Wenger Rothorn 2
“Face it head-on into the wind, and you have the quietest tent ever,” says our tester, who weathered October storms in Alaska’s Chugach Wilderness in this freestanding mountaineering tent. He also called its ventilation “near-perfect.” Ding: weight. $450; 9 lbs. 13 oz.; wengerna.com

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READERS COMMENTS

JZAF
Oct 15, 2012

Kelty makes the monarch 2- an exact copy of the salida 2 in a different color- that you can get at sierra trading post for even cheaper. With one of their endless discounts offered I believe I got mine for right under 100 dollars shipped.

Eric B.
Oct 02, 2012

Really? REALLY? That's all the 2- person tents you could find? As a Backpacker subscriber I DO expect to see tent reviews that cover more than just the "mainstream" tent makers. We have a healthy cottage industry of tentmakers here in the U.S.

Six Moon Designs? Tarptent? How about those companies and more?

ric B.
Oct 02, 2012

BaldEaglePA
Oct 02, 2012

To John W.
Remember the old adage "You get what you pay for". If you pay $70 for a tent, you won't probably get a lot of durability or features, but will get more weight than you may want. Check out the tents rated in this article, check out Campmor online, consider renting some different tents before you plunk down your hard-earned $$. I have had a Eureka Timberline for more than 20 years, not the lightest but I've never been wet, and it's still going strong.
BaldEaglePA from MA

John W
Aug 29, 2012

I have been looking at some tents locally, and found one that looks good from Acadamy Sports. The No Limits* Kings Peak 2 two person tent, sells for $69.99, Packs down to 16x6, weighs in at 5.1 lbs, 3 season, 31 sq ft of floor space, Floor is about 7' long , 4' wide, 3.4 high. . . . Thoughts? I am a beginning hiker/camper, doing Over nighters in the Oklhoma & Texas area and my current pack is a Osprey Manta 30.

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