Gear Guy

Is there a durable two-person tent that won’t break the bank?

I would rank my outdoorsyness at a seven. I love backpacking, but I don’t get out as often as I would like. I did, however, recently backpack South erica and survived winter in southern Argentina with a cheap-o tent. Now I want to invest in a good two-person tent. What do you suggest? Alex San Francisco, California

I’d say your outdoorsyness rates a little higher than a seven, Alex. Not many people can blithely say that they just backpacked South America. I certainly can’t.

So, what you are after is an affordable, good-quality tent. We can do that. My own feeling is that the best buy in a tough, adaptable tent is the Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight. This design has been around, well, seemingly forever. It’s a two-pole, tunnel-type tent that does require some stakes in the ground for support. But that’s a small price to pay, because the Clip Flashlight sleeps two, is palatial for one, weighs around four pounds, and can take most of what nature can dish out. And all for $179. That’s a steal in a name-brand tent.

REI is putting out some really good tents these days, too. Its Cirque ASL 2 tent ($249) is roomier than the Clip Flashlight, has double doors for easier access, and is self-supporting. It weighs a bit more—a little more than five pounds—but it’s well-priced at $249, and is a proven, weatherproof design. You won’t go wrong.

I’m also a big fan of Marmot tents. That company’s Aura 2P ($299) is a nicely designed, roomy two-person tent that’s very well-ventilated (maybe too much so for wet, cool weather), with two side doors for easy access and a full-coverage fly. It weighs about four and a half pounds, which is great.

So there you go. I’d suggest you simply buy the Clip Flashlight and camp happy.

The 2008 Winter Outside Buyer’s Guide is now online. From snow sports to trail-running to camping, get reviews of more than 300 new gear must-haves.

Filed To: Tents

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