Here’s a formula that’s hard to refute: Low weight plus low cost equals high value. For a trio, the Drifter weighs less than two pounds and costs less than $70 per person. Credit less-expensive materials, like Press-fit 7001 poles (rather than the lighter Atlas poles that Hardwear uses on many of its tents) and polyester fabric instead of nylon in the canopy and fly.
“It’s storm-worthy, easy to pitch, and superdurable,” declared our tester after hiking with this freestanding, double-wall dome in Shenandoah National Park. He had no problems pitching it in the dark (two crossing poles and color-coded grommets make setup simple); the next morning, when he discovered he’d slept atop a briar patch, he admired the Drifter’s rugged, thorn-thwarting floor fabric (70-denier nylon taffeta). The three-season Drifter repelled heavy rain and moderate wind on Virginia’s Mt. Rogers, where testers found they could unzip the vestibule partially to facilitate ventilation without allowing rain in through the mesh door (condensation was never an issue). And the two doors let all three occupants enter and exit easily.
The 10-square-foot vestibules provided ample storage for packs and boots and even cooking. Bonus: A gear loft is included. Tradeoff? The weight savings is due at least in part to plain old downsizing. Its floor (83 by 88 inches) felt snug for three. Also, the heavier fabrics make the tent bulky when packed. $195; 5 lbs. 4 oz.