Quarter Dome UL
A case in point: REI's Quarter Dome UL ($219; www.rei.com). It's a two-person tent that weighs just under four poundsand it's still a freestanding design. At 28 square feet it's not a huge tent, but it's adequately roomy and has two doors and two vestibules, which eases access and gives each occupant room for storing boots and other wet, dirty stuff. It's very well-ventilated, too, so an excellent choice for those warmer "peak season" months.
Another worthy candidate: the Sierra Designs Lightning ($250; www.sierradesigns.com), new in the line as of last year. Just a few ounces heavier than the Quarter Dome, but also a little larger (31 square feet). It's also a freestanding design, and SD tents are invariably sturdy under assaults from wind and rain. It also is made of fabric impregnated with fungicide, reducing the risk of a mildew attack. On the downside, the big side door and vestibule are adequate, but one camper still has to climb over another if answering the call of nature at 2 a.m.
And if you really want to save weight, Black Diamond's Firstlight ($299; www.bdel.com) does just that. It packs out at around three pounds (not a typoand that's for two people). How does Black Diamond manage this feat? By making the Firstlight with a single layer of Epic fabric, a material with threads that have been soaked in silicon before being made into fabric. That helps keep breathability up, while keeping you dry in all but steady, hard, long-term rain. I'll be honest, I've never been a fan of Epic in clothing, but it makes perfect sense in tents where the need for really fast breathability isn't as great. This is really a wonderful tent. BUTno vestibule at all, so you'll need to carry plastic bags if wet boots are to come inside.
Read more tent reviews in Outside's 2004 Buyer's Guide .
Support Outside Online
Our mission to inspire readers to get outside has never been more critical. In recent years, Outside Online has reported on groundbreaking research linking time in nature to improved mental and physical health, and we’ve kept you informed about the unprecedented threats to America’s public lands. Our rigorous coverage helps spark important debates about wellness and travel and adventure, and it provides readers an accessible gateway to new outdoor passions. Time outside is essential—and we can help you make the most of it. Making a financial contribution to Outside Online only takes a few minutes and will ensure we can continue supplying the trailblazing, informative journalism that readers like you depend on. We hope you’ll support us. Thank you.