3 Ways To Save: Trail-Tested Tents

Three tents that'll save you money, weight, your friendship, and your head

[YOUR FRIENDSHIP]

Mountain Hardwear Mountain Jet 3

Unlike some three-person tents, this shelter is made with three full-size adults in mind, so partners can share it without getting on each other's nerves-or sleeping pads. Two large doors make it easy to come and go, and the six-sided footprint has plenty of nooks and crannies-in addition to four stash pockets and two modest vestibules-for stowing gear. A modified single-wall/integrated-rainfly design keeps weight low, and makes set-up a snap. Ventilation is excellent; credit four ceiling vents, mesh doors, and mesh strips along the floor's perimeter. The peak height is a bit low, which is good for shedding wind, bad for sitting tall. Stargazing demerit: The fly can't be removed on clear nights. $265; 89"x88"x39"; 5 lbs. 15 oz. (800) 953-8375; www.mountainhardwear.com.

[MONEY AND WEIGHT]

Sierra Designs Sirius 3

We expect to pay more to carry less, so testers did a double-take when they discovered that this test's lightest tent was also the cheapest. What's the secret? The two-pole, partial-fly design requires less material than the others, and with little sacrifice in interior space. Our 6'2" tester shared the Sirius with two kids and a 100-pound golden retriever. Despite much panting and damp, freezing conditions, there was very little condensation. Two doors facilitate exits, and headroom is second best in the test. So what's the catch? The modified fly doesn't protect against the worst blowing rain. The vestibules are small (boots only), and while the floor space is adequate for average adults, it will feel cozy for three big guys. $160; 84"x71"x44"; 4 lbs. 12 oz. (800) 635-0461; www.sierradesigns.com.

[YOUR HEAD]

The North Face Bug 33

Tired of low ceilings that require advanced yoga skills to avoid knocking heads with your partner? The Bug 33's ceiling peaks at just over 4 feet, making this the best choice for tall hikers who want to sit up straight for a change. The full-coverage fly and stable, three-pole structure provide excellent three-season protection. Testers experienced only minimal condensation during the dampest nights. The extra long floor (nearly 8 feet), stash pockets, and spacious vestibule make gear storage easy. There's only one door, but it's so big we had no complaints. For the weight we wish the floor were a bit wider. You'll want the middle person to sleep face-to-feet. (Upside: The long, narrow floor allows a child to sleep widthwise at the bottom.) $229; 95"x66"x50"; 7 lbs. 6 oz. (800) 447-2333; www.northface.com.