My son and I are going to kayak Isle Royale. What is the best type of tent to take in a sea kayak? We are renting the kayaks in Copper Harbor. Sharen Columbus, Ohio
Really, most any kind of tent you can imagine will work, Sharen. Neither weight nor size is a terribly crucial issue. Not that you want a tent big enough to house Cirque du Soleil, but there's no reason to pack yourself into a nylon sardine can.
So even though there's two of you, think in terms of a three-person tent. One excellent choice: the Big Agnes Seedhouse 3 ($239; www.bigagnes.com), a well-made, well-priced tent that has lots of mesh for good ventilation (I assume it's a summer or early autumn trip that you're planning) and 39 square feet of floor spacevery comfortable for two. And it happens to be both light (about six pounds) and compactable, so it won't take up much room in your bow compartment or wherever you want to stash it in the boat.
Another excellent tent is the Mountain Hardwear Alcove 3 ($295; www.mountainhardwear.com), a new design for 2005. One appealing feature is that it has a door on each side, so it's easy to get in or out without disturbing your tentmate. And it's really big52 square feet of floor space, with very tall walls that are as good as vertical for a feeling of spaciousness. Lots of mesh but not quite as airy as the Seedhouse, so it'll be a little warmer in colder conditions. Its eight-pound weight would be a turnoff if you had to lug it for a backpacking trip, but this one is a perfect solution for a boat trip where counting ounces isn't quite as crucial. A similar tent is the Sierra Designs Comet ($300; www.sierradesigns.com), although the Comet has just the one door, marginally limiting access.
Lastly, if budgets are an issue, you can save money without losing much in the way of performance with the REI Taj 3 ($229; www.rei.com). This tent has a design I rate highly, with doors on each side of the tent's "nose" so they're right by your head and easily accessible. Two vestibules, as well. Fifty square feet and six pounds, so lots of room and a weight that won't punish you as you're making the final push to your night's cove.
Have a great trip!
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