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Tent Review: Six Top 2-3 Person Tents

Posted by Eli Boschetto at May 24, 2014 10:50 AM |
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Looking to invest in your first tent or replace an old one? WTA gives you the low-down on six great tents for 2-3 people: The Mountain Hardwear Optic 2.5, NEMO Galaxi 2, Big Agnes Fishhook UL2, Sierra Designs Flashlight 2UL, MSR Hubba Hubba NX (redesigned), The North Face Talus 3.

Looking to invest in your first tent or replace an old one? WTA's gear team gives you the low-down on six great tents for 2-3 people to help you decide.

Help create a pay it forward gear culture: If you are replacing an old tent, rather than let your old tent take up space in your closet, pass the tent along as a hand-me-down to someone just getting started camping in the outdoors.

Rampart Lakes Trail by Jason Reynolds.jpgPhoto by Jason Reynolds.

EDITOR'S CHOICE: Mountain Hardwear Optic 2.5

Billed as an entry-level backpacking tent, the Optic 2.5 gets high marks for its oversized interior space and large vestibule areas. Setup is easy with two main poles and a third peak pole for added headroom. Unique to the Optic, the two extra-large doors are situated in the front and on the side, with a fly design that provides a 180-degee view outside when open. At 6 pounds, it’s a bit on the heavy side, due in part to its solid construction and weather-resistant fabrics. This is an ideal tent for a couple with a small child, or for bringing Fido along. $250

Bonus Points: 180º view; roll-up side door

Score: 4.3/5

 

ENTRY-LEVEL: NEMO Galaxi 2

Nemo Galaxi 2
Nemo Galaxi 2

It may look like a typical tent, but the Galaxi 2 is packed with sweet features for extra trail comfort.

A smart hub connector keeps the poles together for a fast and easy setup. The interior space is roomy for two people, with two doors, large gear stash pockets and a ceiling Light Pocket for a headlamp. Under the weatherproof rain fly, two huge vestibules keep gear and boots protected from the elements.

At just over 5 pounds, it’s a choice weekend getaway or new-to-backpacking model at an attractive price point. $250

Bonus Points: Light Pocket; footprint included

Score: 3.7/5

ULTRALIGHT: Big Agnes Fishhook UL2

Big Agnes Fishhook UL2 tent
Big Agnes Fishhook UL2

Big Agnes continues its tradition of awesome backpacking tents with the zipperless Fishhook UL2. It sets up quick with a simple, color-coded pole and tab assembly on both the tent and the rain fly. Interior space is generous for two people plus gear, with good headroom and four gear stash pockets. Instead of using a typical zipper (eliminated to reduce weight), the single large door closes with easy-to-manage hook-and-loop fasteners. Weighing in at just over 3.5 pounds, it keeps pack weight down for light and fast travel. $400

Bonus Points: Color-coded poles and tabs

Score: 4.4/5

 

INNOVATIVE: Sierra Designs Flashlight 2UL

Sierra Designs Flashlight 2UL tent
Sierra Designs Flashlight 2UL

The Flashlight 2UL from Sierra Designs is part of their new design direction. The 3.5-pound integrated tent–rain fly assembly sets up as one unit, so there’s no fussing with separate pieces.

The pole structure is minimal, and the main poles can even be swapped out for trekking poles, further reducing pack weight. Interior space is roomy for two people, with lots of headroom.

The two side doors—protected from the elements by overhanging awnings—feature zip-up/down storm flaps for added protection or additional ventilation. $360

Bonus Points: Sheltered gear closets

Score: 3.1/5

 

REDESIGN: MSR Hubba Hubba NX

MSR Hubba Hubba NX (redesigned)

Completely redesigned this year, MSR’s classic Hubba Hubba is now smarter and lighter than it’s previous incarnation.

Weighing in at a scant 3.5-pound trail weight, the NX offers a roomy living space for two adults. The color-coded hub-and-pole system makes assembly a breeze so you can set up camp and relax. Two oversized doors and vestibules allow for easy entry and exit and lots of gear storage, with two large stash pockets at either end to keep essentials accessible.

For an ultralight alternative, just pitch the fly with the footprint (not included). $390

Bonus Points: Ultra-compact compression sack

Score: 4.7/5

 

FAMILY-SIZE: The North Face Talus 3

North Face Talus 3 tent

It’s a little on the snuggly side, but the lightweight, three-person Talus is packed with features for a great price tag.

The single-unit H-frame pole structure sets up with a color-coded tab system for quick and easy assembly. With the fly on, it features two generously-sized vestibules (each with built-in vents to keep condensation at bay) that provide plenty of room to keep boots and gear out of the weather. There’s lots of headroom thanks to the near-vertical walls, and two gear stash pockets for small items.

The Talus 3 is ideally-sized for a couple with a child or dog. $250

Bonus Points: Gear loft and footprint included

Score: 4.2/5

Tent ratings are based on size-to-weight ratio, ease of assembly, living and storage space, compression and durability.

Comments

Tents

Hi Eli,

Happy to see your positive review of the Optic 2.5 since we just bought our first ever backpacking tent - the Optic 3.5! (We have a big dog...)

Posted by:


Sunshine on Jun 03, 2014 11:31 AM

RE: Optic 2.5

Hi Sunshine -

I love having extra room in my tent for stashing gear and boots (especially when it's wet out) and just having room to stretch out, without having to size up to the next model, so the Optic 2.5 was a real treat for my wife and me. Plus the door configuration and view outside was awesome! Let us know how the 3.5 works for you. Cheers!

Posted by:


"Eli Boschetto" on Jun 03, 2014 11:31 AM