Q:

What’s the best three-season, ultra-light tent for Rocky Mountain backpacking?

What’s the best three-season, ultra-light tent for Rocky Mountain backpacking? I've looked at the The North Face Vario 23, MSR Hubba Hubba, and Marmot Aura 2P. Gabe Montana

Feb 22, 2008
Outside
Outside Magazine
Mountain Hardwear Helion 2 Tent

Helion 2 Tent

A:

Those are all pretty solid choices. The North Face’s Vario 23 ($289; thenorthface.com) weighs about five pounds and has room for two, plus a generous vestibule. It’s also pretty tall—48 inches at the high point—so you won’t feel too constricted inside. And it’s free-standing. The MSR Hubba Hubba ($300; msrgear.com) is lighter still, at just under four pounds. But it’s almost a summer-only tent; its canopy is nearly all mesh, so ventilation is great but heat retention is not so hot. The Marmot Aura 2P ($280; marmot.com) weighs about 4.5 pounds, and, like the Hubba Hubba, has a LOT of mesh in the canopy.

If you prefer a solo tent, get the MSR Hubba ($250). It has plenty of room for one person, and I like its super-light weight. Consider as well the Sierra Designs Velox 1 ($240; sierradesigns.com), which has a similar design to the Hubba and has the same weight and floor space. And the new MSR Hubba HP shaves a few ounces to three pounds, offers more weather protection, and costs $100 more than the traditional Hubba.

If you’re really after a tent for two, I like the Marmot Aura 2P by virtue of its two-door design, which gives each occupant a door. In the Vario, somebody has to climb over somebody else if nature calls. Also, take a look at the Mountain Hardwear Helion 2 ($395; mountainhardwear.com), which has one big door at the head end and a lot of high-tech features that make it very rugged while keeping its weight under four pounds. I also like (a lot) Black Diamond’s Lighthouse ($389; bdel.com), a single-wall tent that uses Epic fabric, a material that can take steady rain yet breathes well. It does have just the one side door, but I forgive that due to the size of the door and the tent’s light weight—three pounds, six ounces—and rugged construction.

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