[lightweight expedition palace]
Stable. Light. Livable. “This is the best four-season tent I’ve ever used,” said one tester after his 2012 Everest expedition. Even at 26,000 feet, with winds routinely topping 50 mph, he proclaimed this six-pole dome (plus a pole for the fly) quick to pitch and solid as a rock.
“It’s so taut that I could set my 40-pound pack on top without any sagging,” said another tester after a weekend in Colorado’s Indian Peaks Wilderness. “And the pre-rigged guylines self-equalize, making it a breeze to guy out at nearly any angle.” Of course, there are other bomber tents out there. What sets the Katabatic apart is low weight paired with high marks for livability. The shelter is cavernous for two winter-equipped mountaineers and adequate for a trio; it fits three pads with no overlap, thanks to two side poles that draw out walls to near-vertical.
Two vestibules provide enough space for three expedition duffels, while 14 large interior pockets let testers organize gear; smart vertical panels help with drying layers. Other features are equally dialed: Two vents in the canopy limited condensation when nearby tents frosted up; door and vestibule zipper pulls glow in the dark for easy access; and both vestibule doors allow venting at the top so you can cook safely. Bonus: “In stormy weather, the green and white walls are downright cheery compared to darker flies.” $599; 10 lbs. 5 oz.; firstascent .com
Taking the unique pole configuration of the award-winning Losi series and combining it with elements necessary for desert travel, the Losi Sandstorm series is a new genre of NEMO shelters. The pole configuration provides exceptional strength and nearly vertical walls for maximum space. The mesh of the inner tent has been replaced with a breathable nylon ripstop that blocks blowing sand from entering the tent. Two doors and two vestibules eliminate jostling for position and gear storage. Offered in subdued tan, Losi Sandstorm blends in with its environment.