Gear Guide 2009: Exped Aries Mesh Tent Review

This tent matches ultralight values with tough design.

Tough and Light

If you value weight savings and bomber design, here’s your bunker. The hoop-style Aries Mesh is made to withstand rough use and the wettest conditions. Ultra-rugged fabrics, like 210-denier nylon in the pole sleeves, showed zero wear after a full summer of use. The interior is plenty roomy for waiting out a storm, as a pair of testers did in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains, and the single huge vestibule (16 square feet) easily absorbs a pile of gear without blocking the door. A full five inches of air space between the canopy and fly eliminates even the hint of condensation.

Setup is lightning-fast, because the tent body stays clipped to the fly–a great feature if you do a lot of wet-weather camping, as it keeps the interior dry when you pitch it in a storm. More rain-friendly features: A smart mesh pocket stores wet clothing in the vestibule, and a clothesline runs along the ceiling inside. Downsides: It’s not freestanding, and has only one door. $325; 4 lbs. 14 oz.

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