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Gear Guy

Q:

Which tent is perfect for beach camping?

I’m an avid hiker, and now I’m expanding my horizons to the water via a kayak. I’m thinking about getting a new tent for these trips. Which tent works well on the beach? Andy Baltimore, Maryland

I’m an avid hiker, and now I’m expanding my horizons to the water via a kayak. I’m thinking about getting a new tent for these trips. Which tent works well on the beach? Andy Baltimore, Maryland

A:

It depends. Are we talking about a tent for use on a warm sandy beach in Baja, or something for more serious conditions when kayaking in, say, Alaska’s Prince William Sound?

Mountain Hardwear Casa 4

Casa 4 Tent

If the former, then definitely something big and airy. Kelty’s Screenhouse 10 ($200; kelty.com) offers protection from bugs and sun but lets in plenty of warm breezes. It’s roomy—six feet, four inches tall at its peak—and has drop-down interior panels that you can position if you want some privacy for changing into swim gear. It doesn’t have a floor, so you’d probably want to get some cots if you plan to sleep in it.

For a little more shelter, I like REI’s Hobitat 6 tent ($339; rei.com), new last year. As the name suggests, it can sleep six pretty comfortably. It’s a tall tent—again, six feet, four inches—but fairly sturdy thanks to its aluminum frame. It offers good ventilation and protection from the rain. It could use a bit more of a front porch/vestibule, and the four poles are enormously long when unfurled for set-up. But it’s a well-made and good-looking tent. It’s great for the beach or other family-camping situations.

For somewhat more severe conditions, choices range from lower-profile family style tents to more traditional backpacking models. A good choice for sea kayaking, for instance, would be Mountain Hardwear’s Casa 4 ($320; mountainhardwear.com). It’s a big four-person tent, but one that can be staked out and could ride through a pretty severe storm. And at around ten pounds, it’s manageable for stowing into a boat. Or, if you really expect some stormy weather, Kelty’s Pagosa 4 ($260) sleeps four but has a turtle-like profile to shed rain, plus a full-coverage fly. But it also has good ventilation for warmer nights.

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.

Filed To: Tents

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