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March 2008 Tents Review: Three-Person Tents

Bargain!
Eureka Autumn Wind 3XD

For car-camping families who occasionally head out on short-mileage overnights, the freestanding Autumn Wind 3XD is a great choice at a great price. A full 74 inches wide–14 inches broader than a queen-sized mattress–this two-door dome sleeps a family of four. The 52-inch peak height lets younger kids stand upright inside. One large vestibule holds a stack of gear, and a side door lets campers exit without tripping over packs and boots. Considering its generous dimensions, this crash pad is relatively light at less than 8 pounds. Downsides: Strong winds rocked the high-profile walls, and testers found the tent got a tad steamy when it was zipped up tight. $240; 7 lbs. 9 oz.

Bargain!
L.L. Bean Mountain Light 3 FP

Consider this your air-conditioned crash pad for hot, humid conditions. The two-door, two-vestibule dome funnels heat out and air in, thanks to an all-mesh canopy and numerous fly guy-out points that, when properly staked, keep air circulating. With 44 square feet of interior space, even big testers didn’t feel cramped, and our six-footer could sit up without head-butting the ceiling. Testers either adored the built-in clotheslines, which run vertically from ceiling to floor in the corners, or were skeptical: “Do I really want my tentmate’s dirty socks hanging in front of me?” asked one dubious hiker. All testers wanted a larger gear loft and mesh storage pockets in the tent’s headspace. $229; 6 lbs. 8 oz.

Marmot Aeros 3P FP
Carry less, stretch out more. That’s the take-home from the Aeros, a lightweight two-door dome with a 45.5-square-foot floor–plenty of room for three six-footers. Two generous vestibules store packs and boots and provide ample cooking space, making this a good tent for sitting out long stretches of wet weather. Stability, weather protection, and ventilation are all solid. With four poles–two crossing and two eyebrow poles that increase strength and elbowroom–setup isn’t lightning-fast. Minor downsides: Doors lack two-way zippers, and the fly-only pitch (with optional footprint) is flimsy. $369; 5 lbs. 5 oz.

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