Editors' Choice 2013: Big Agnes Scout UL2 Tent
This is the lightest two-person shelter on the market that offers big-storm and bug protection for less than $300.
During years of testing, we’ve learned that the absolute lightest shelters usually come with the biggest caveats. No bug protection. No floor. No headroom. Can’t handle wind. Too much condensation. Too much money. The Scout is the only two-person tent we’ve ever seen that weighs less than two pounds—a lot less, actually—and avoids all of these drawbacks. “I had room to spare, and that never happens, even with tents twice the weight,” says a 6’7” tester who praised the Scout’s 90-inch-long floor and 43-inch peak height after using it in Tasmania’s Tasman National Park. Our crew camped on the park’s exposed Cape Pillar that night, where wind and rain rolled in off the sea. The Scout’s old-school pup tent design—which initially drew skepticism—didn’t even shake.
The keys to success: trekking-pole support, well-placed guylines that secure “eaves” along each side, and effective ventilation (under the eaves and at the rear) that eliminates the condensation problems that plague so many single-walls. As with other trekking-pole shelters, you need secure staking for a taut pitch (it’s not freestanding), but we secured it in sand, on rocky soil, and in duff-covered forest without trouble. One tester, who used the Scout for eight days in New Mexico, says, “I set it up first try, fast, with no instructions.” Tradeoffs? You get a cavernous interior in lieu of a vestibule, which should only be a deal killer for hikers who expect extended wet weather. And the trekking poles sit in the middle of the single doorway and the 34-square-foot sleeping area; our biggest tester found the former made exits awkward, and the latter prevents couples from zipping bags together. $280; 1 lb. 10 oz.; bigagnes.com