GearCamping
Q:

What's the new standard for a lightweight summer tent?

I looking for a lightweight tent for summer camping and have considered the Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight. But it seems like I can get a larger tent without sacrificing weight. Any suggestions? Chris Helena, Montana

A:

Sierra Designs has long been an excellent default choice for a lightweight two-person, or even solo, tent. New poles have cut the weight to just over four pounds, and at $179, it’s a terrific bargain (sierradesigns.com). I’ve recommended it highly a zillion times, and continue to do so.

Mountain Hardwear Airjet 2 tent

Airjet 2 tent

But you’re right, Chris. Tent technology has changed so much in recent years that a four-pound, two-person tent is no longer that big of a deal. REI’s Quarter Dome UL ($219; rei.com), for instance, offers two vestibules and a free-standing design (the Clip requires stakes for support, although of course all tents require stakes so they don’t blow away) at a weight of right around four pounds.

What’s really interesting is the evolution of single-wall tents. These make perfect sense when weight is an issue, as tents such as the Clip Flashlight and Quarter Dome rely on two layers of fabric—a canopy and fly—to provide shelter. Mountain Hardwear’s Airjet 2 ($285; mountainhardwear.com), on the other hand, uses a single waterproof fabric layer and employs clever venting designs to ensure air flows through the tent and takes condensation-causing moisture with it. The Airjet offers a little more room than the Sierra Designs or REI tents, plus a super-sturdy design. Yet it tips the scales at just under four pounds.

New fabrics also make possible single-wall tents that vent without the aid of fancy draft systems, and weigh next to nothing. Black Diamond’s Lighthouse ($379; bdel.com), for instance, uses Epic fabric, which is more breathable than laminates found in the Airjet. So while it is not billed as 100 percent waterproof, you can sit out many, many hours of rain. It’s a roomy, tall tent that offers decent space for two, although its design obviates a vestibule, which may be an issue. Weight is fabulous—only three pounds, six ounces.

The Gear Guy reports from 2007 Winter Outdoor Retailer, the bi-annual gearapalooza in Salt Lake City. Check out his top picks for gear to watch in 2007.

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Filed To: Tents
Lead Photo: courtesy, Mountain Hardwear
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