Brand: Big Agnes
Model: Seedhouse SL 1
This dome isn’t the lightest in its class—the freestanding Burn Ridge weighs four pounds more than ultralight options—but it costs half as much, making this two-door, four-person shelter a fantastic buy for families seeking an affordable backcountry shelter.
Our testers used it on paddling trips and short-haul hikes, and loved the generous space and headroom. The 60-square-foot floor measures 96 inches on the longer side, which keeps even the tallest campers happy. Using polyester instead of nylon fabric lowers the cost. (Poly is nearly as strong as more expensive nylon, resists UV damage better, and sags less when wet, but it’s not as abrasion-resistant.)
DAC’s 6000-series aluminum poles, which are heavier than Featherlite models, also keep the price down. Setup is simple, with an H-shaped hubbed pole that creates airy headroom and a soaring, 50-inch ceiling. Two 13-square-foot vestibules offer ample storage for boots, packs, or the family dog. One family of five used it for a weeklong float along Utah’s Green River, as well as overnights in the Rockies, and had no problem with condensation. Credit plenty of mesh and a taut pitch that encourages airflow between canopy and fly.
D-shaped doors keep mosquitoes out during entrances and exits (by unzipping only the bottom edge and keeping most of the door closed, testers sitting inside the tent could lace their boots in the vestibule). Downside: It’s bulky (24” x 8”) when packed, so hikers divvied the components. $300; 8 lbs. 8 oz.; bigagnes.com-DAC Featherlite NSL pole system—featuring eco-friendly anodizing, super light and strong poles with press fit connectors and lightweight hubs
-Fly is lightweight silicone treated nylon rip-stop with a waterproof polyurethane coating
-Floor is lightweight silicone treated nylon rip-stop with a waterproof polyurethane coating
-tent body is lightweight nylon and polyester mesh
-mesh body offers excellent cross ventilation
-single hub/pole design makes set up quick and easy
-plastic clips attach tent body to the pole frame for quick and easy set-up (SL1 features fabric loops instead of clips along the ridge pole to decrease weight)
-single D-shaped door with mesh pocket above
-storm flap over vestibule zipper
-all seams are taped