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October 2005

Tent Review: New-School Shelters

Slash weight, not weather protection, with this year's top new ultralight tents.

©Mitch Mandel

Tarptent Rainshadow

Score: 3.0

The lightest tent in this field is big enough for three.

We almost used a smaller version of this tent, then realized we could get the three-person model and still carry less than 3 pounds. The floor is the test’s longest and the widest, letting one hiker sleep comfortably inside with his wife, toddlers, and 70-pound Lab. Headroom is impressive considering the nonfreestanding design, but the entrance is the only place to sit up straight. Pitching the single-wall requires practice; do it in your yard a couple of times first. And use a trekking pole to prop up the front; it’ll be stronger than the pole provided. The Rainshadow’s guy system requires only six stakes, and the tent didn’t leak a drop during a 24-hour deluge in Pennsylvania–despite a skimpy awning and plenty of ground-level mesh. Just be sure to pick a site that drains well, because it doesn’t have a bathtub floor. Biggest complaints? There’s no vestibule; condensation collected on cool, calm nights; and there’s little protection from chill drafts. The mesh door hangs loosely, making its tiny zippers a hassle to find in the dark. And overall construction is inconsistent, as evidenced by a couple frayed seams. In the end, this tent is best for hikers who crave space over weatherproofing, or tarp fans who want bug protection. $265 (with

sewn-in floor); 93″x92″x48″; 2 lbs. 9 oz. (650) 743-7148; www.tarptent.com.

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