At six pounds 13 ounces, the Reverse Combi is the heaviest of the eight new-for-2005 shelters we testedand is probably the most tent you'll want to carry. But this Gear of the Year's thoughtful design and creature comforts threw our usual light-is-right rules out the mesh window. Perhaps bigger is better.
1. When you're not obsessing over pounds, you can draw from a more appetizing menu of features: The Reverse Combi's color-coded webbing speeds setup; pole tips lock into grommets for stability; and doors tuck nicely into side pockets to stay clean and out of the way.
2. If the Combi feels roomier than its 4.5-by-seven-foot floor plan suggests, it's not the single-malt talking. Sierra Designs cleverly located varying diameter pole sections to create steeper walls and more living space than other similarly configured tents.
3. While many of today's tents are cut prosciutto-thin to shave ounces, this shelter's floor, body, and fly are made of heavier-gauge 70-denier nylon or taffeta nylon. With a new antimicrobial finishdesigned to head off potential stuffsack funkthe Combi conveys a reassuring air of solidity; I expect it will still be inviting abuse in 2015.
4. Many side-entry tents have just one door, and heeding nature's call can also mean waking up your camping chum. Luckily, the Combi gives each occupant an escape route. Another twofer: dueling 11-square-foot vestibules, each with a door that rolls up and out of the way.
5. With the rain fly staked out taut, the dome hunkered down like a tortoise, scarcely shuddering during a night of meteorological Sturm und Drang below Washington's Mount Stuart. One quibble: The vestibules have pretty small windows.