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Gear Review: First Ascent Stargazer 2 Tent

The First Ascent Stargazer is a highly livable shelter for backpackers who spend tons of time in wet weather.
first ascent stargazer 445x260First Ascent Stargazer (Courtesy Photo)

Best All-Around
This tent’s designers set out to create a highly livable shelter for backpackers who spend tons of time in wet weather—and the result nails it. The Stargazer’s coated, 40-denier bathtub floor* (read: ultradry in wet, muddy conditions) and generous dimensions make for a comfortable haven in sustained storms. The tent balances those heavier features with light-but-strong 15- and 20-denier ripstop nylon in the fly and canopy and DAC Featherlite NSL poles. “The perfect combination of low weight, huge space, and solid performance in a wide range of conditions,” declared one tester after using the Stargazer through two seasons of drippy nights on the Olympic Peninsula and heat waves in Washington’s eastern desert. The roomiest and lightest shelter in our test also drew cheers for its ease of use.

“The Stargazer feels palatial compared to my usual two-person tent,” says one tester, praising the 36 square feet of living space and 43-inch peak height. A single hubbed pole with a center brow pole steepens the walls to near-vertical, creating space to comfortably seat four adults. But the height doesn’t sacrifice stability: “There was no wind when we set up camp, so we didn’t bother to stake out the guylines,” reports one North Cascades tester. “But when surprise 30-mph gusts blew in at midnight, the tent held strong.” The mostly mesh canopy and ample space between tent body and fly eliminate condensation. The two 8-square-foot vestibules fit packs and boots, but vestibule doors are steeply angled, making egress tight. $299; 3 lbs. 11 oz.; firstascent.com

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