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Gear Guide 2011: Big Agnes Jack Rabbit SL2 Tent

A lightweight, freestanding, stable tent with adequate space.
GG11_BigAgnes_JACKRABBITSL2_445x260Big Agnes Jack Rabbit SL2 (BP Photo Department)

[best all-around]
Name the key features most campers want in a tent, and the Jack Rabbit nails them all: It’s lightweight, freestanding, stable, and has adequate space, making this double-wall shelter an easy pick for backpackers who want all-around versatility at a reasonable cost. The Jack Rabbit inherits the best designs from Big Agnes’s ultralight (and pricier) tents, but uses more affordable, average-weight materials (such as DAC Pressfit poles* instead of Featherlite, and 30-denier nylon instead of 15).

The secure pole structure—one hubbed section and a short brow pole—and taut fly never bent or leaked during a three-day storm in New York’s Adirondacks. Through wet and dry conditions alike, ventilation was outstanding: Condensation didn’t even accumulate inside the fly, thanks to substantial mesh panels on the tent body and broad vents at the fly’s head and foot. Large vestibules (nine square feet apiece) cover both side-entry doors, and provide more than enough storage space for gear (or a mid-size pooch).

The 29-square-foot floor proved adequate for two and, combined with the 38-inch peak height and steep walls, let our tester change clothes without an unplanned yoga session. Length accommodated his 6’2” frame, but he noted that taller guys would max it out. The vestibule zipper is located near the tent door, making it easy to reach—but also allowing water to occasionally drip off the fly and into the doorway (our tester concluded the convenience is worth the infrequent drops). Bonus: Reflective zipper tabs prevent nighttime stumbles. $280; 3 lbs. 13 oz.

*DAC PRESSFIT POLES They rely on pressure-fitted end pieces (rather than glued or crimped ones) for maximum durability. Tradeoff: a slight weight penalty.

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