Brand: ALPS Mountaineering
Model: Zephyr 3
Initially, testers who received the Microlight feared for their comfort—and safety. “No way a tent this cheap and light can offer adequate space and real weather protection,” declared one tester, who then went out and promptly proved himself wrong by pitching the Microlight in Idaho’s Frank Church Wilderness, where it easily withstood 25-mph winds. That performance elevated the tent to a rarefied class: less than four pounds and less than $200, but with two doors, legit floor space, freestanding convenience, and three-season weatherproofing.
“Thanks to curved pole segments that maintain even tension on the fabric, the fly and tent body pitch without a ripple, so it doesn’t sag or flap noisily during gusts and heavy rain,” reports one tester. Setup is quick, with two Y-shaped hubbed poles and a brow segment that raises the crown. Two vestibules (each big enough to shelter two huge black Labs) deliver exceptional storage space for the weight. All-mesh walls virtually eliminated condensation, even on nights in the 30s in Idaho’s Sawtooth Wilderness. For additional ventilation in rainy weather, testers unzipped vestibules halfway (the design prevents rain from dripping in through the door). The 31-square-foot floor is long enough for six-footers, and the 39-inch peak height, while not the tallest in this category, let two testers sit up for a game of cards. Nitpick: You get just two small internal pockets. $199; 3 lbs. 15 oz.; llbean.com