Whats 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
Those are all pretty solid choices. The North Faces Vario 23 ($289; thenorthface.com) weighs about five pounds and has room for two, plus a generous vestibule. Its also pretty tall48 inches at the high pointso you wont feel too constricted inside. And its free-standing. The MSR Hubba Hubba ($300; msrgear.com) is lighter still, at just under four pounds. But its 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.
Mountain Hardwear Helion 2 Tent
Helion 2 Tent
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 youre 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 Diamonds 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 tents light weightthree pounds, six ouncesand rugged construction.
The 2008 Winter Outside Buyers Guide is now online. From snow sports to trail-running to camping, get reviews of more than 300 new gear must-haves.