Gear Guy

REI Hobitat 4 Tent, shown with rain fly     Photo: courtesy, REI

Q:

Which tent can hack it on a Grand Canyon raft trip?

Which tent should we bring on a Grand Canyon rafting trip in August? And should we include a sun shade? Lindsay Durango, Colorado

A:Within reason, you can take just about whatever you wish—after all, you’ll be floating down the river, not carrying a big pack. That said, there is no point in packing way more than you need. So I’d take two things: a decent three-season (or lighter) tent, and some sort of sun shade or awning.

How large is your group? If you have four, then REI’s Hobitat 4 ($249) is an excellent choice in a large, cabin-style tent that’s not too big or heavy (15 pounds). Quite raft-able. Also, it has good ventilation and is rugged enough to withstand a thunderstorm.

If you have two or three people and want something more compact, then take a look at Marmot’s Aeros 3P ($369). It’s a backpacking tent with room for three. It’s very light (six pounds) and super well-ventilated, as the entire canopy is mesh. And of course it has a full-coverage rain fly in case the skies open on you.

Or, for two people, there’s Mountain Hardwear’s Meridian 2 ($200), a nice, basic backpacker that weighs less than five pounds, has lots of ventilation, and is weathertight.

I think for meals and standing around admiring the view, a sun shade or rain shelter of some sort is in order. MSR makes a big one called the Parawing 19 ($250) that can keep eight or nine people out of the weather. It sets up with two poles and multiple tie-downs and can be configured in a variety of different ways. Or, for something a little more compact, Kelty’s Sunshade ($150) covers about 50 square feet—enough for a half-dozen people. It’s a popular item on Grand Canyon trips.

Sounds like fun. Send us some pictures!

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