My girlfriend and I are planning to hike the John Muir Trail this summer (starting late June). Do you recommend a three- or four-season tent? Any specific recommendations for a six-foot-two guy like me, hopefully with two decent-sized vestibules? Joshua Denver, Colorado

How are tents, and the way you pitch them, best designed to withstand wind? Last weekend my husband and I cped on the tops of the Ruahine Ranges here in New Zealand, but we were up all night worrying gale-force winds were about to blow us over the nearby precipice. I wanted to re-stake the tent (we'd done a sloppy job) but my husband insisted that the slacker the pitching, and the more flapping, the better. He argued that making it more taut would put us at more risk. Surely tents aren't designed to be pitched badly. Can you help settle our dispute? Karen Wellington, New Zealand

Your worldliness, I would like to hike around Mount St. Helens in May or June. As this is your backyard, would you recommend a three- or four-season tent? I await your wisdom. Christopher Santa Fe, New Mexico

I will be touring around Australia by bike and can't decide between MSR's Hubba Hubba or Velo for my tent. Do you think the Velo is worth the extra cash for the "garage," or should I just bring along a bike cover? I will be touring in Canada as well, so the Velo may be more suited for the climate. Stuart Adelaide, South Australia

In response to the devastating earthquake in Kashmir, we are looking to donate two truckloads of heavy-duty family-sized tents and sub-zero-rated sleeping bags. Could you suggest some reasonably priced gear that we can buy directly from the manufacturer? This is very urgent. Irfan Hornell, New York

Do I need to buy a freestanding tent for above-timberline and desert conditions? I currently own a solo MSR Zoid and a Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight, which pitch well in nice forest soil. I have had some problems pitching these on rocky, soggy, or sandy terrain. These tents also get crowded if I pack for colder weather or if I bring my girlfriend (which is more often nowadays). What additional tent would make life complete for me and my significant other? Harry El Paso, Texas

I need a tent that's very easy to assemble. I camping alone in Alaska next summer and need to put it up myself with no experience! Linda Indianapolis, Indiana

Is there such a thing as a mini-tent for gear storage? Jim Roswell, Georgia

I on a quest to build my own tent, but where to begin and where to buy all the doodads? Nicole Fort Wayne, Indiana

The gear world's global Big Tent returns to Salt Lake, and things get dirty. The Gear Guy reports.

My husband and I have five kids, so we need a large waterproof tent with standing room. We're so tired of having to take back tents that leak after mild, short rains, especially through the flooring. What would you suggest we try? Tina Kingston, Tennessee

While camping near Havasu Falls, a rock fell from the side of the canyon, shattered, and bounced through my tent fly and the tent itself (and then bounced out), putting an eight-inch tear in each. My sleeping sister and I fortunately both escaped unharmed! Can the tent be repaired or shall I take my friends advice and frame it—and go buy a new one? If repaired, will the fly ever be truly waterproof? Meg Covington, Kentucky

The makers of adventure gear and apparel had utility dialed long ago. Now R&D types are zeroing in on style.

What reasonably priced, lightweight two-person tent would you recommend for backpacking on the AT? We usually hike during the off-peak months and rely heavily on the shelters, but this year we will be hiking during the peak season. Chris Anderson, Indiana

Now that my children are getting bigger, our three-man tent just isn't big enough after several days on the river. Can you recommend a good family tent? I'm looking for roominess, easy setup, and something that's not too heavy. What about those tents with inflatable bottoms—do they work? Michelle Steamboat Springs, Colorado

I'd like to do some lightweight backpacking without a tent. What type of sleeping system/setup would you recommend to keep me warm and dry? Matt Orem, Utah

What kinds of tents are there other than freestanding, and what is the difference between them all? I keep hearing "freestanding tent" and I don't know what that means, much less what the other kinds are. Charlie Easley, South Carolina

What's the best excuse to keep my wife from borrowing my expensive backpacking tent when she takes a group of teenagers to a four-day music festival this summer? Nick Maryville, Missouri

I'm taking a trip to Moab in the spring, so I in the market for a one- or two-person three-season tent, around five pounds or so. I’m surprised by the number of tents comprised mostly of micro-mesh, like the MSR Hubba Hubba. As nice and ventilated as these tents are, I can't see them being well situated for use in a dusty, dry climate like Moab’s. I’ve also looked at Mountain Hardwear’s Hmerhead 2, which looks to have lots of ventilation, plus the ability to seal out dirt and dust. Is micro-mesh better at keeping dust and dirt out than one would think, or can you recommend some other tents to look at? Heather Dallas, Texas

I going to a three-day concert and will be sleeping in a tent. I have heard stories of people breaking into tents, so how can I protect mine from burglars? Are there lockable tents that are stab-proof? Chase Oxford, Georgia

Your Most Exalted Gearness: Please help me pick out a tent, ideally sub $200, that would be suitable for year-round solo backpacking in the Rockies. Do I really need a four-season tent, or are there some three-season models that might suffice? Or should I break the bank and get separate shelter systems for winter and three-season use (not something the wife is likely to accept without a fight)? I await your wisdom as the grass awaits the sun... Ben Pocatello, Idaho

I looking for a lightweight solo tent that is particularly well-suited for wet conditions. My budget extends to $150. Aaron South Shore, Kentucky

The solo tent has become a roomy palace of personal space

My wife and I are going to Torres del Paine in March, and we're debating between bringing my Sierra Designs Orion (light, small, not strong), my SD Prelude (solid, roomy, very heavy), or buying something new like the SD Comet, MSR Fusion 3, or Walrus Warp. Do you think any of these tents are strong enough for the Patagonia winds, or do you have any other recommendations? Alexandre Toronto, Ontario

The Gear Guy Reports from Outdoor Retailer 2004

I've been looking into the new Superlight series of tents from Black Diond, specifically the Lighthouse. The listed weight is astonishing, but I have concerns with the merely "water-resistant" fabric and the long-term durability and water repellency of such a lightweight tent. What's your take? Would it be smarter to get something like Mountain Hardwear's Waypoint 2, which offers a similar weight while being waterproof? Bryan Manhattan, Kansas

Have you tried Henry Shires' Tarptents? I need to replace my old and heavy Eureka dome tent, and I find two-person tunnel tents to be a little crped, especially with my six-foot-one-inch boyfriend sharing the se space. I'm tempted by the ultralight weight of the Tarptent, in addition to its still-adequate rain and bug protection. But it seems just too good to be true. Do you have any other roomy yet lightweight tents to suggest? Carla Toronto, Ontario

I know this is a huge question, but I'm going on a six-month backpacking trip across Europe and was wondering if you could give me some suggestions for a good backpack, tent, and sleeping bag. I've been doing a lot of research on my own, but I would love to compare what you have to say with what I have found. Ricky Powder Springs, Georgia

Oh Great One, ne for me several tents that keep out the weather. I'm not talking a drizzle, but an almighty downpour of hail, sleet, and snow. The best waterproof tent I have ever owned is a Cabela's Alaskan—you could use it as a boat—but it's 18 pounds and has some design issues I don't like. So, please give me a list of backpacking tents that float. Jeff Moscow, Idaho

I interested in purchasing a Bibler Fitzroy tent. Do you know anything about this tent, or have any experience with it? Is a single-wall tent breathable enough so as to alleviate condensation? Is it as easy to set up as they say? Willi Sussex, New Jersey

Thanks to smart design and engineering, today's tents deliver high-altitude performance at a low-elevation price

Camp overnight or camp all week. We've got the gear to let you go fast and light under blue skies or gray.

There's nobody more qualified to drag you to the top of the world than Babu Chiri Sherpa. And he'll gladly do it. But when he's through, he's got some business of his own to attend to. Namely, obliterating every last climbing record on Everest, shattering the myth of his people as high-altitude baggage handlers, and taking the Sherpa brand global.