I will be touring around Australia by bike and can't decide between MSR's Hubba Hubba or Velo for my tent. Do you think the Velo is worth the extra cash for the "garage," or should I just bring along a bike cover? I will be touring in Canada as well, so the Velo may be more suited for the climate. Stuart Adelaide, South Australia
I really like the MSR Velo ($400; www.msrcorp.com), a big two-person tent with the unusual feature that each of its vestibules will shelter a bicycle. So two riders and their bikes all stay dry! But it's a big tent so is decidedly on the heavy sidenearly nine pounds. If you're touring solo, that's a lot of extra weight to carry. MSR's Hubba Hubba ($290), on the other hand, comes in at a much more svelte four pounds, two ounces. It's also a two-person tent, but that's OK in my bookit just means more room for you. However, the Hubba Hubba also has a canopy that's almost entirely mesh. That's likely great when pedaling around Australia, but less ideal for cooler Canada.
MSR Zoid 2
So, for the tent, I'd simply purchase an inexpensive poly tarp and when the weather is bad fold it over the tent like an upside-down taco. That's what I always do when I'm bike-touring and it works fine. For you, unless you want to purchase a second tent for Canada, I'd shop for a more all-purpose three-season tent. In the MSR line, the Zoid 2 ($200) is a fairly roomy two-person tent that weighs just four pounds and is a bit more versatile, weather-wise, than the Hubba Hubba. Note, though, that it's a non-freestanding designa common tradeoff in very light tents. Marmot's EOS 2P tent ($260; www.marmot.com) is a freestanding model with lots of mesh but good weatherproofness and plenty of room for one. It also clocks in at about four pounds.
Lastly, a really intriguing choice would be Black Diamond's Firstlight tent ($299; www.bdel.com). It's a single-wall tent that uses Epic Nextec silicon fabric to create a tent that's for all intents and purposes waterproof, breathes better than the current generation of coated-fabric single-walls, and weighs a mere three pounds.
For more expert reviews of the best shelters out there, check out Outside Online's Tents Buying Guide.