Head to Head: Basecamp Tents

Got a family to shelter or just want castle-like living space? Go light or go big with these two standouts.

Ultralight

REI Hoodoo 3

If saving weight is a priority, choose this affordable three-person shelter. The Hoodoo 3 is light enough for long treks–three hikers tote just over two pounds apiece–but in camp, the freestanding double-wall dome provides a surprising amount of space. Three sleepers can sprawl comfortably across the 47-square-foot floor, and the 91-inch length let even our tallest tester (6'3") stretch out. Setup is fast after one practice round with the hubbed poles, and the structure stabilizes the steep tent walls that give the Hoodoo its roominess. The sloped ceiling peaks at 45 inches near the door, yet that height doesn't compromise three-season weather-worthiness: An intense half-hour Colorado hailstorm didn't shake this shelter. Two vestibules, one at the tent's foot and another outside the large door at the head, provide adequate gear storage. But packs stacked there blocked the entrance, and when the vestibule was left open the drip line channeled water into the tent through the mesh door. $249; 6 lbs. 6 oz. (800) 426-4840; rei.com. Reader service #112

Spacious

MSR Mo Room 3

Unfurl your bag in the MSR Mo Room 3, then look around: It's as big as a dance hall. Two arching poles support the vertical walls of this freestanding double-wall, while a "bow frame" pole system attaches to the canopy's crown to stabilize the soaring ceiling, which measures 45 inches high from end to end. The result is interior space so expansive that our 5' tester got dressed standing up, and three big guys can easily stretch out comfortably. The tent has doors at foot and head, and two enormous vestibules totaling 21.8 square feet: The bigger one actually garaged a pair of bikes when two testers went touring. Floor-to-ceiling zippers let testers enter and exit without crouching. Rough weather is a breeze: Winds glanced off the tent's taut, rounded walls, and in steady rain we could open the vestibule door for improved ventilation without letting in water. Downsides? Weight and price. $500; 8 lbs. 14 oz. (800) 531-9531; msrgear.com. Reader service #113