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March 2008 Tents Review: Two-Person Tents

Mountain Hardwear Skyledge 2.1 *FP
Here’s a change that’s easy to like: The Skyledge 2.1, which had 41 inches of ceiling height and plenty of elbow room last year, now has 3 more inches of floor length and weighs 3 ounces less. And the changes didn’t alter this freestanding tent’s ability to withstand fierce weather. In Idaho’s Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness, our tester rode out a rainstorm of near-biblical proportions and awoke the next morning as dry as a good sauvignon blanc. Floor-to-ceiling mesh makes condensation a non-issue. The twin vestibules are each large enough to store a pack and boots. Crossing poles clip to the canopy and a short eyebrow pole crosses the top, making setup a breeze. $325; 3 lbs. 15 oz.

Best Tarp
MSR Twing

It weighs less than a full water bottle and packs down nearly as small, yet the Twing’s massive (68 square feet) coverage offers sleeping space for up to four, in a pinch. Our testers found a number of ways to pitch this versatile, sil-nylon tarp. Use two trekking poles and the six pre-rigged guylines and it’s an open-ended floorless tent (be sure to pitch its low end into the weather). Or attach the two center guy points to an overhead branch and stake it out for a spacious rainy-day kitchen. The twin-peak tunnel shape of the Twing makes it easy to tension a tight pitch; it held strong during a night of 30-plus-mph gusts in Idaho’s Pioneer Mountains. Only drawback: For a tarp, the price is hefty. $230; 1 lbs. 14 oz.

In the ever-shrinking world of lighter and smaller, this tent bucks the trend with luxurious space. Our tester, his wife, and their chocolate lab slept inside without feeling pinched. The combination of crisscrossing hubbed poles and a pair of shorter brow poles makes for steep walls and a lofty 46-inch peak. Two 13-square-foot vestibules accommodate a week’s worth of gear for two. Vast panels of mesh and scalloped vents on both ends of the fly keep air circulating, while the taut pitch easily sheds blowing rain. Bonus: The ingenious corner anchor system locks poles in place with a secure ball-and-socket system. Smart accessories include a machine-washable Pawprint liner ($49) that joins two sleeping pads together and carbon-fiber poles ($40), which save 2 ounces should you want to go lighter, not smaller. $325; 4 lbs. 14 oz.

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