Gear Guy

What’s a good tent with two doors?

Oh Great Gear Voice of the Heavens, What's a nice, dry, two-person, three-season tent with two doors and vestibules? My current tent is a Sierra Designs Orion AST. It's a very well built tent and stayed completely dry in a very wet trip to Deer Lake in Olympic National Park. I like being able to use only the rain fly and ground sheet as well as the window in the fly. The problem is that the very slanted door lets stuff collect in the tent entrance and makes zipping and unzipping tough. It also makes the vestibule useless for anything but boots. I hope to get a new tent with two doors that are straight up and down, but don't want to lose the high quality and rain-proofness. I willing to give up a little in weight if I could get a ground sheet that covers the floors of the vestibule as well. Chris Barnes Bremerton, Washington

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Well, you’re definitely going to gain some weight. Double doors add weight because of the extra zipper, and zippers are perhaps the single heaviest piece of a tent. Also, a more upright design that allows near-vertical doors requires more tent material, hence more weight here as well.

Still, I understand your point. I’ve used the Orion myself, and like it very much. But the slope of the fly over the vestibule limits its usefulness for much more than boot storage, and also can create a mini rain shower if the fly is wet and you unzip the door. So it’s not a perfect tent, although one can counter, “What is?” and be perfectly correct.

So, two doors, more storage, three-season functionality, right? Then how about a Marmot Loft ($299)? Unlike the Orion’s single, front-mounted door, the Loft has doors on each side, near the head of the tent. That helps with ventilation, while also giving each occupant his or her own door. The Loft also has a large vestibule at each door, so if you have a camping Odd Couple there’s no risk that Felix will get angry when Oscar simply tosses boots and gaiters into the vestibule, rather than aligning them neatly. And its fairly steep sidewalls help rainwater run off quickly, so there’s less chance of an unwanted shower. Weight is quite reasonable, too —- seven pounds, and in good weather the fly alone can be taken and set up, paring more weight.

The North Face’s Peregrine ($319) employs a somewhat similar two-door configuration, although it adds “wings” to either side that create an interior alcove for each camper, in addition to separate vestibules. Its downside is that these wings also add to its footprint -— it requires a large site for setting up. But a nice tent. MSR’s Sidewinder 3 ($379) is a BIG two-person tent with the same basic design —- door on each side, vestibule on each side, and fairly steep sidewalls. So it’s another good candidate.

You get the drift of where I’ve been going with this. I think most any tent that’s designed with doors on either side will work well. Take the time to compare a few side by side —- climb inside, imagine getting up in the morning or storing your gear outside, think like rain and see where it might collect on the fly then pour inside. But overall, any of these three tents would work well.

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