What’s your pick for the best three-person tent out there?

I need a light tent that comfortably fits two people but can fit three in a pinch. I leery of single-walled tents because of numerous reviewers citing condensation problems. What is your recommendation? Mike Midland, Texas


I recommend single-wall tents. The technology really HAS changed, and today you can get a single-wall that’s light, storm-proof, has fewer condensation problems, and doesn’t necessarily break the bank. I’ve had Black Diamond’s two-person Lighthouse ($379; out on three trips this summer and like it a lot. It’s very light (under four pounds) and storm-proof. It uses Epic, a coated fabric that has just enough breathability to ease condensation issues, and has a design that encourages ventilation.

Mountain Hardwear Airjet 3

Airjet 3 Tent

But as you note, you need something larger. The Lighthouse is a bit friendly for two, let alone three. Black Diamond’s Skylight ($450) sits in that big-for-two-enough-for-three niche, and uses a combination of double-wall (for the front) and single-wall (for the back two-thirds) construction. Weight is around five pounds. Not cheap, I grant you.

I’d also recommend Mountain Hardwear’s Airjet 3 ($320; Mountain Hardwear uses a totally waterproof siliconized fabric and relies on ventilation to reduce condensation. In my experience it works pretty well, although on a still, chilly night, you’re still apt to find some moisture in the tent. The Airjet also comes in at around five pounds and has plenty of room for two with sufficient space for three. And the price is a bonus.

Double-wall technology continues to improve, too, with lighter materials and better designs. Marmot’s Aeolos 3P ($365; uses lightweight poles and fabrics to come up with a tent that holds three comfortably, and has bomb-proof canopy-and-fly construction. There still are advantages to such a design—you can remove the fly for better ventilation, and when compared with single-wall tents, double-wall tents are warmer in cool weather and cooler when in the sun. The Aeolos weighs about seven pounds, which isn’t bad for a three-pack tent.

You’ve seen our picks for 2007 Gear of the Year, and now the entire Outside Summer Buyer’s Guide is online. Check out this year’s more than 400 must-have gear items, including tents.

Filed To: Tents
Lead Photo: courtesy, Mountain Hardwear