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  1. #1
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Tent options for group of three

    I am thinking about an upcoming transam trip with three people and wondering about the pros and cons of various tent options. I am currently thinking of using a 4 man backpacking tent of some sort, but wonder if some other configuration of tent(s) might make more sense.

    General suggestions of types of tents and specific model suggestions are both welcome.

  2. #2
    Senior Member MNBikeguy's Avatar
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    Uhhh... How well do you know these people?
    Even in groups, I've always carried my own tent. Sharing is too darn cozy for my taste.
    Personally, solitaire's are too claustrophobic. I need to be able to sit up when it's pouring rain in the evening and nothing to do but read a book. I use Sierra Designs-Lightning; about the same weight as a solitare, free standing, and easy to set up. ( although you will probably get a lot of recommendations here. )
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    Senior Member CyKKlist's Avatar
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    If you're determined to have a 3/4 person sized tent, I can recommend the REI Half Dome 4 HC. I just used it last week on a mini-tour for the first time with my son. I bought it both for touring and for (car) family camping locally, so I know I'll be putting at least two kids in there with me at some point. For two people, it's very roomy and it will fit three comfortably, with two vestibules. It weighs about 8 pounds and is very easy to put up/take down. I carried it in an Ortlieb dry rack bag along with other camping-related items.

    FYI, there's a great sales at REI right now on their Half Dome 2, only $109. If you need a two-person tent, that's an excellent deal.

    Goodl uck with your plans.

    Ken
    Latest bike tour journal now posted -- PALM ride across Michigan!
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    Also -- NC Courthouse Tour, using Amtrak to Charlotte
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    We've used a North Face VE25 for years for three of us. I looked for the tent with the largest floor dimensions I could find. Found the tent on 1/2 price sale (ca. 325$) some years ago. Otherwise it's too expensive but man, what an excellently designed & constructed tent. Has kept us dry & warm in some serious mountain storms...

    The REI HalfDome recommended is an excellent choice for half the price. Floor area is adequate for 2, maybe 3 if not more than one Clydesdale is in the group...
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    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MNBikeguy
    Uhhh... How well do you know these people?
    It would be my Daughter and a good friend of her's (college appartment mate).

    The budget is somewhat tight and I figured that we were likely to be charged for multiple campsites if we have multiple tents in some locations, which on a long tour might add up. Can anyone verify how often multiple tents equal multiple campsite fees on the transam?

    I thought that when tentbound in bad weather or whatever it would be easier to pass the time talking, playing cards or whatever with one big tent. I also realize that in close quarters any personality clashes are magnified.

    I have been on fairly long trips with my daughter where we used a two person tent and it was quite pleasant. I have also shared a tent with casual aquaintances on canoeing and kayaking trips. I have not shared a tent with two or more other people for more than one night at a time though.
    Last edited by staehpj1; 04-13-07 at 11:13 AM.

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    One tent for each person. The extra privacy is more than worth the few extra pounds. Almost all campsites charge per site, not per tent, or if it's a hiker/biker, it's per person, not per tent. In a very few places, you might run into a 2-tent-per-site limit (yosemite). And if you have multiple tents, you can each go your own way for a little while, which could be good if anyone gets grumpy.


    anna
    ...

  7. #7
    Senior Member MNBikeguy's Avatar
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    That's fantastic!
    I hope my daughter will tour with me someday. My son does, and I have a hard time keeping up with him.
    Since you've already had good experience sharing in close quarters, it seems a toss up to whatever your preference. On tour, I can get kind of pumped up and sleepless, requiring a good book and a flashlight at night which wouldn't be fair to the others.
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    You've got good advice, so this is just adding to it. I agree about the charging for only one camping space (almost universal).

    Of course, it depends on how well you share each other's presence, but in my mind the ideal compromise is to have a 2+ person tent for the "talks and parties", and another smaller tent for one or two to retire to. The REI Half Dome is a good shape for 3 to sit up and swap stories. The other tent can be smaller, lighter (e.g., Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight -- roomy for 1 or 2, even sitting up. But not 3). The second tent also would be good for changing clothes, one at a time (unless you're REALLY close...)

    Of course, there are lots of tradeoffs -- weight, sit-up height, floor space, etc. -- but the highest priority for me, for a long tour, is the ability to sit out weather comfortably for a whole morning. Or even a whole day. I think having a second tent would give you lots more layover options. I imagine it would get awfully crowded, even in a 4-man tent, with three waiting out the weather in one shelter.

    -- Mark

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    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Thanks to all for the good advice. I will mull that all over some and discuss with the other two before deciding.

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    cup
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    At $109 each I would go with a pair of the Half Dome 2 tent and rotate who sleeps alone.

  11. #11
    Senior Member BigBlueToe's Avatar
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    I would get a 3-person tent for the two girls, and a small, single tent for you. I think the privacy it will afford will be worthwhile. You can pitch your tent close enough to "keep an ear" on them and protect them (most likely not something that will come up) or pitch yours further away to get some sleep when they're giggling and being loud (which they will if they're like girls I've camped with.)

    Sharing a tent between 2 people offers a weight advantage. Half of a 3 person tent will likely involve less weight than all of a 1-person tent. One girl carries the tent, the other the rainfly and poles. (The stakes go to whichever load is lighter.)

    I'm dubious that the Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight is big enough for 2, unless you're talking about the 3-person model. I have a Clip Flashlight 2 that I bought when I was downsizing. It's barely big enough for me alone, but the lightness factor more than makes up for it's crampedness, so I'm very happy with it. My previous bike touring tent was much more roomy, but weighed more than twice as much.

    Have a great tour. Your daughter and her friend sound great. All of you are lucky to have each other. (My daughter wouldn't consider touring with me. She's 19 now. Maybe when she grows up?)

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    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigBlueToe
    I would get a 3-person tent for the two girls, and a small, single tent for you. I think the privacy it will afford will be worthwhile. You can pitch your tent close enough to "keep an ear" on them and protect them (most likely not something that will come up) or pitch yours further away to get some sleep when they're giggling and being loud (which they will if they're like girls I've camped with.)
    I already have a single that I can use. I think I will check out the Halfdome for the girls, if it doesn't look big enough I amy have to shop for a triple.

    Quote Originally Posted by BigBlueToe
    Have a great tour. Your daughter and her friend sound great. All of you are lucky to have each other. (My daughter wouldn't consider touring with me. She's 19 now. Maybe when she grows up?)
    I am very lucky. My daughter never went throught the phase where she couldn't be seen with me. She has always hiked, biked, sailed, and paddled with her dad.

    I hope your daughter will be interested in touring with you at some point in the future.

  13. #13
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    This may be out of your price range, but if you are looking for a lightweight tent it doesn't get any better than the Tarptent Rainshadow. A three person tent for just over 2 and a half pounds. Of course, this tent is made to minimize weight. It is not super big and it costs $255. It is also a single wall tent, meaning you have to be careful about condensation. But TarpTent has a great reputation, I have their one man tent (Contrail) and I love it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BigBlueToe
    I'm dubious that the Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight is big enough for 2, unless you're talking about the 3-person model.
    Yeh, it's the tradeoffs I was talking about. My wife and I have used our Clip Flashlight 2 for long tours, and for camping. There's a lot of good things about the tent (#1=weather-capable), and to save weight it has one large hoop -- high enough to sit up, but the back 2/3 of the tent is out-of-bounds except for legs (it's low, which minimizes fabric and pole weight). Sleeping and sitting up are fine, but "living" in there wouldn't be, it would feel cramped if you're expecting that kind of roominess.

    We've got a lot of comments at campsites -- "There's two of you in there!?!?" -- but these are from car-campers with half-acre Colemans.

    There's room enough for both of us and all our panniers when we need to, stuffed in back. At that point, it's not roomy, but it's home. This wouldn't be true for every couple, but I'm 5'9" and my wife is 5'4".

    There's a ton of choices out there, and I'm not claiming the Clip Flashlight is tops. Just explaining that it's OK for two. But maybe only for a close couple

    -- Mark

  15. #15
    Senior Member BigBlueToe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EmmCeeBee
    There's room enough for both of us and all our panniers when we need to, stuffed in back. At that point, it's not roomy, but it's home. This wouldn't be true for every couple, but I'm 5'9" and my wife is 5'4".

    There's a ton of choices out there, and I'm not claiming the Clip Flashlight is tops. Just explaining that it's OK for two. But maybe only for a close couple

    -- Mark
    I didn't mention that I'm 6'4". The Clip Flashlight isn't really long enough for me to stretch out with my arms above my head while I sleep, but on my side it's fine. Lying on my back, reading, my toes are pushing against the end. I shudder to think of squeezing my wife in there with me.

    That said, the Clip Flashlight is close to perfect for me as a single tent (and I got it for $70 on Ebay - hard to pass up.) I've looked at the Big Agnes Seedhouse SL2. It seems like it might even be roomier and lighter than my Clip Flashlight, and it's freestanding (which the Clip Flashlight is not.) But I've already got an extensive tent collection; the $279 could be better spent elsewhere (like on a new bike!)

    I bought a Taj3 on sale at REI in case my wife is ever able to go on tour with me. It's a bit big and heavy, but I like room and we can share the load. Also, when we go backpacking we bring our dogs, and the Taj3 has enough room on the sides to squeeze them in too.

    Cheers.

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