Gear Guy

The Quarter Dome T1     Photo: courtesy, REI

Q:

What’s the perfect tent for a new Boy Scout?

My son is completing Cub Scouts this spring and moving on to Boy Scouts in the summer. I searching for a sturdy tent for his use in the Boy Scouts, who average about a three- to four-mile hike in on most of their trips. I would like to find a one- or two-person tent that would allow for his gear to be stored inside and still have some room for dressing and sleeping. The weather in our area (Southeast United States) is hot, wet summers with thunderstorms and moderately cold, dry winters. Cost is a consideration because I expect this tent to be replaced at least once before he finishes Scouts. Jack Charlotte, NC

A:Yeah, that is a bit of a tall order, Jack. Heat, rain, Scout abuse, cold weather. Need a tough tent! Probably a three-season model, one that is well-made but not a ton of dough.

Look to "house brands" first—REI, L.L. Bean, companies such as that. Good quality, very affordable. REI's Quarter Dome T1 ($199) is light (under three pounds) and sturdy, a great one-person tent. L.L. Bean’s Microlight ($149) requires stake-out for set-up, but that is no hardship. It’ll hold two and weighs under four pounds.

Eureka! also offers very good value. The Backcountry 1 ($165) is a bit heavy for a solo (four pounds) but has good build quality and lots of room. Also better weather-proofness than some lighter tents by virtue of less mesh.

Sierra Designs’ Clip Flashlight. Again, you need to stake this securely for set-up, but in return you get a large (two person), light (under four pounds), extremely rugged tent that sells for $199. I just love that tent.

Look to Kelty as well. Its Teton 2 offers good quality, room for two, excellent weatherproofness, moderate weight (just under five pounds), and, at $150, it's a good buy!

Check out all of our tent reviews in our annual Summer Buyer's Guide.

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