Brand: Big Agnes
Model: Soda Mountain Superlight
With this best-of-both-worlds design, you get a tunnel tent’s interior livability—in the form of a high ceiling and steep walls that enhance elbowroom—with a freestanding pitch. Credit the H-shaped pole geometry, which uses two parallel poles (à la hoop tents) stabilized by a perpendicular brow segment. The result is near-vertical walls and a 40-inch peak height—and an airy interior that expands the volume all around, not just along the ground. “Forget the tape measure—it feels much roomier than its 29-square-foot floor suggests,” reports our Colorado tester, who shared this three-season shelter with her 5’11” husband.
The expansive headroom made the Lightning popular for more than just sleeping: “We played cards, passed the flask, and swapped stories without feeling cramped,” she says. “Now we hope for a little bad weather.” The spaciousness doesn’t extend to storage, however: The shallow vestibules barely contain packs and boots. (That’s the main difference between this tent and the Jack Rabbit, previous page, which is slightly smaller inside but has bigger vestibules.)
The double-wall’s all-mesh tent body and a structured vent on the rainfly provide good (but not great) ventilation; very little condensation accumulated on cool nights. Two centrally placed, D-shaped doors make for easy exits, and when rain and wind kicked up in Mt. Rainier National Park, the Lightning proved a dry, sturdy refuge. Downside: Testers wished for guy-out points on the head and foot ends of the fly, which would keep the fabric from flapping and further improve ventilation. $279; 3 lbs. 14 oz.
Three season, free-standing, superlight family backpacking tents