Model: Rainshadow 2
Usually you have to pay more to carry less. But this sub-two-pound tent is almost $100 cheaper than some competitors, and still delivers top-notch performance. “Livability is excellent, setup is simple, and it stood strong in 40-mph gusts above Winter Park, Colorado,” reports our thru-hiking tester, who carried this three-season shelter for 2,650 miles along the Continental Divide Trail.
Tarptent achieves the weight-to-cost ratio the old-fashioned way: low overhead. The company is a small operation that focuses on direct-to-consumer sales (with a few exceptions, Tarptent products aren’t available at retail stores). Setup is not ultralight fussy: A single pole arches over the midsection, and built-in carbon-fiber struts support the ends; two stakes complete the pitch (an optional crossing pole makes the tent freestanding, but compromises tautness by tugging the walls out of the smooth, curved shape).
While camped at treeline during fierce weather, our tester appreciated the 6.6-square-foot vestibule, which gave him space to shed soaked clothing before entering the tent. Headroom is above average (40 inches at the peak) and the 84-inch-long floor accommodates six-footers. And over four straight months, the 30-denier ripstop nylon held up to abrasive rock slabs and pine needles. Gripe: The two ceiling vents collapse shut during storms, making the interior muggy in prolonged wet weather. Still, testers deemed the minor condensation a fair tradeoff for this affordable ultralight. $215; 1 lb. 13 oz.
Best for three season, below timberline when in windy areas. Hybrid bathtub floor space expands to 51 square feet in good weather. Sets up with included stakes and one or two front trekking poles or optional 5-ounce front pole set. Made in USA.