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Gear Review: Big Sky Mirage 1P Tent

Goodbye bivy sack, hello headroom.
gear guide 2010 big sky mirage 445x260Big Sky Mirage 1P (Brooks Freehill)

Lightest
Goodbye bivy sack, hello headroom. This sub-two-pound, three-season shelter has a 41-inch peak height, yet it proved so light and compressible that our tester stowed it in her pack’s water bottle pouch—alongside the bottle. And while most solo tents have only one door, the freestanding Mirage has two, and each comes with a seven-square-foot vestibule. That makes it a dream during extended wet weather, says our tester, who used one vestibule for storage and the other for cooking.

The trick? Judicious use of silnylon and ultrathin mesh, plus optional DuraLite composite carbon poles (which are 4.6 ounces lighter and cost $100 more than Big Sky’s aluminum poles). The carbon poles feature a multidirectional “ripstop” weave and an elastomer bumper between sections to safeguard the strong—yet crack-prone—material. Since it’s a single-wall, setup is fast and doesn’t expose the inside to rain: Simply erect the two crossing poles and attach the external clips. While the headroom is extravagant, testers found the floor’s 84-inch length and tapered width snug (it narrows from 36 to 24 inches).

Opening both vestibules encourages airflow, but won’t eliminate condensation, which dripped from the ceiling during mild, dry September nights in Glacier National Park. And the ultralight fabric requires TLC: The Velcro on a tester’s pocket snagged and damaged the mesh door. Downside: the hefty price tag. $420 as tested; 1 lb. 13 oz.

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