Through Deserts and Mountains, the Tarptent Cloudburst 3 Was My Reliable Friend
It's light and roomy, but is this tent durable enough to survive the Pacific Crest Trail? Let's find out.
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The best gear is the kind that lasts. In 1,000-Mile Test, our reviewers return to favorite pieces of gear to see how they perform on the trail after multiple years and hundreds or thousands of miles.
My husband and I probably could have picked a smaller tent for our five-month thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail in 2014. But the Cloudburst 3’s generous 36 square feet of floor space meant we could fit his 6’3” frame and our gear with room to spare. The decision paid off: At just over 3 pounds the Cloudburst was light enough to carry for 2,650 miles, and the 30-denier, siliconized ripstop nylon used for both the bathtub floor and the single-walled shell easily withstood the pounding downpours of central Oregon, furious winds on California’s San Jacinto Peak, and a summer snowstorm in the North Cascades. (We were glad we brought along the optional third pole that runs along the middle for that last one.) When we finished the PCT with the tent—and our marriage—intact, we realized the Cloudburst was durable enough to keep on chugging. Even the zippers didn’t need maintenance until we were closing in on the 3,500-mile mark, right after completing the 486-mile Colorado Trail. (Tarptent has since updated the zippers to #5 waterproof.) Our only ding after seven years and multiple thru-hikes is that this tent doesn’t breathe as well as other minimalist designs, making overnight condensation an issue in some climates (the newest version comes with an optional condensation liner). Thankfully, plenty of headroom from end to end means we can usually avoid brushing against the sides in the morning. While our thru-hiking trail family once marveled at how easily we could fit a third person in there, we didn’t try it out until our daughter arrived in 2019. Once again the Cloudburst came through, and we’re looking forward to using it for another 4,000 miles. $385-450; Buy the Tarptent Cloudburst 3 Now