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Old 04-20-08, 03:13 PM   #1
gerv 
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3/4 person tent

I have been pondering buying a tent for some weekend touring. I'm basically looking for a tent that would fit 2 people and maybe have the gear in the tent.

While I'm trying to go as lightweight as possible, I notice that REI has some good deals on 3 and 4 person REI brand tents. Most of these are stated to weigh in the 7/8 pound vicinity, whereas similar 2 person seem to weigh in around 4 or 5 pounds.

Any thoughts about the difference between lugging a 5 pound tent and a 7 pound tent? Is the extra roominess worth the extra weight?
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Old 04-20-08, 03:42 PM   #2
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Everyone has different ideas on this, but this is what has worked for us.

We carried a 9 pound 4 person tent for the three of us on the Trans America. It was a lot of weight and I wouldn't dream of carrying nearly that heavy of a tent for less than three people. If I hadn't already owned it I would have bought a 3 person tent.

I don't see much point of taking much gear into the tent at night. We pretty much just took in our handlebar bags and the clothes we planned to wear in the morning and left everything else in the panniers on the bikes, except in bear country where we had to use the bear boxes or hang our food.

If you really don't want to leave the gear on the bike, consider a tent with a large enough vestibule, but to me it seems like extra trouble and I prefer to leave loaded panniers outdoors attached to the bikes at night.
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Old 04-20-08, 03:48 PM   #3
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Yes, the room is worth the weight. 2 pounds extra is nothing. You'll be glad to have extra room.
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Old 04-20-08, 03:49 PM   #4
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When backpacking, my preference is a 2-man tent just for myself and my backpack. This lets me unpack everything in the tent, and leave it out. I might also point out that I have an internal frame pack, and finding that one widget that I need can involve pulling everything out of it.
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Old 04-20-08, 04:32 PM   #5
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There is a good link to a discussion about tents for bicycle camping at:

http://www.bicycle-touring-guide.com...ing-tents.html

It gives you some ideas on which features you may want for bicycling and how much weight and space per person that you may need.

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Old 04-20-08, 04:50 PM   #6
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Check out the offerings from Big Agnes, they have a couple of sub 5 lbs three person tents. www.bigagnes.com
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Old 04-20-08, 04:54 PM   #7
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http://www.tarptent.com
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Old 04-20-08, 05:46 PM   #8
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Yes, the room is worth the weight. 2 pounds extra is nothing. You'll be glad to have extra room.
Maybe and maybe not...

It depends on a lot of factors including where you tour, what pace you ride, etc. I like to tour in the mountains and find 2 pounds to make a very big difference when climbing. Witness the almost universal habit of transcontinental cyclists mailing all kinds of stuff home. I know that we mailed a batch of stuff home numerous times during our TA ride and I found the difference VERY noticeable each time. In flatter country a couple pounds is hardly noticeable and across eastern Colorado and Kansas we had a few things (most notably my daughter's huge fluid dynamics textbook!) sent to us from home. We mailed them back home before we hit the mountains again though.

Also how valuable the extra space is varies from rider to rider. I know that I am happy if I have enough space for my sleeping pad and bag to lay out along with my handlebar bag, shoes, and the next days clothes. I like to have headroom enough to sit up. Beyond that more space would not offer me much additional comfort. Once I am in the tent for the night I might read a little, but am more likely to go to sleep pretty quickly. In the morning I am likely to either read a bit or be out and underway right away. That just doesn't require much space.

That said a few riders we met took all kinds of stuff in the tent with them at night. One guy even took his bike and trailer into a two man tent! Pretty much all of the riders we met seemed to be ready to sleep by the time they went to their tents. Riding all day will do that to you So it isn't like there is a lot of time spent hanging around in the tent.

So you need to figure out what is important to you, but I strongly recommend that you do not downplay how important watching the weight is. I know that my TA would have been a lot easier with a 2-4 pound lighter tent.

BTW: I would stay with freestanding tents even if a bit heavier though. We found that often it was hot on the TA and we were often staying in city parks where we could pitch a tent under a pavilion usually on a concrete floor. The ventilation was much better since we could leave the fly off and still not worry about getting rained on. If the tent wasn't freestanding it would have been hard to pitch on concrete.
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Old 04-20-08, 06:18 PM   #9
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Yes, the room is worth the weight. 2 pounds extra is nothing. You'll be glad to have extra room.
Frankly I wouldn't carry a 5lbs tent on a tour. If you are buying a new one invest in an ultralight tent. I have a Big Agnes Seedhouse SL2 which comfortably sleeps 2 adults and only weighs 3lbs. I could go lighter smaller when traveling solo, but you hit some diminishing returns as you get lower than 3lbs.

The problem with carrying a heavier tent is now you've got 4lbs more on your bike. If you use the same decision making process with the rest of your gear you are suddenly carrying 15-25lbs more than you need to. Trust me you'll notice that every time the road goes up.
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Old 04-20-08, 06:37 PM   #10
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I think it really comes down to personal preference. We use the REI 4-person tent and are very happy with it - but then we have four people. We would love a bit more space, and are toying iwth the idea of taking a one-person tent as well, but we really don't want to carry all the weight. In all honesty, I think a four-person tent for two people is overkill, but a 3-person for two would be very nice.

As for the ultralights - they are nice for some things, but are pretty fragile so aren't ideal for an extended tour.
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Old 04-20-08, 06:55 PM   #11
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Frankly I wouldn't carry a 5lbs tent on a tour. If you are buying a new one invest in an ultralight tent. I have a Big Agnes Seedhouse SL2 which comfortably sleeps 2 adults and only weighs 3lbs. I could go lighter smaller when traveling solo, but you hit some diminishing returns as you get lower than 3lbs.

The problem with carrying a heavier tent is now you've got 4lbs more on your bike. If you use the same decision making process with the rest of your gear you are suddenly carrying 15-25lbs more than you need to. Trust me you'll notice that every time the road goes up.
I kind of agree with you based on the amount of gear I haul every day commuting to work. Even a 3 or 4 pound difference is very noticeable as soon as you hit a hill.

Also, this the type of touring probably makes a difference. If I were heading out for 2 weeks on the road (if only I could ..) , I think a 3-pound tent would be as close to ideal as it gets.

However, this is a short haul, less than 100 miles, where I'm travelling with my son.... who is about 6'4. I can go light on some other luggage but thought a heavier tent might be worth it.
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Old 04-20-08, 10:08 PM   #12
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Just got a Big Agnes Emerald Mountain SL3 from www.topsleepingbags.com. Super easy setup, a natural color, real roomy 5lb 10 oz / 11 oz for footprint / 3lb 15oz fast pack, Backpacker Magazine award winner. If you get the optional vestibule you can stick your bike under it...it's huge but it adds 1lb 4oz.

I was going to get it from REI because I had a 15% off coupon. The tent is $399 at REI so it would have been $340. I looked online and founf the other site. The tent was $246 and shipping was $40 (I got a gear loft and the optional vestibule too). They have a bunch of nice tents...the sleeping bags are kind of limited.
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Old 04-21-08, 08:22 AM   #13
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I agree that this is a very personal decision. I limit my space and weight, therefor, i can't afford a bigger tent in my space/weight budget.
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Old 04-21-08, 12:53 PM   #14
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I have a Big Agnes Seedhouse SL2 which comfortably sleeps 2 adults and only weighs 3lbs.
Is that 2 people in one sleeping baq, perchance?

My tent is a little larger than the SL2, and I can't imagine how you fit two people (who aren't married, that is) inside without someone bumping the sides of the tent sooner or later. Probably more of an issue in northern CA than Death Valley, of course.....


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The problem with carrying a heavier tent is now you've got 4lbs more on your bike. If you use the same decision making process with the rest of your gear you are suddenly carrying 15-25lbs more than you need to.
In general I agree; "two pounds here" and "two pounds there" does add up.

However, you can be judicious about your weight allowances, e.g. get a heavier tent, but get lighter cooking utensils, leave other stuff behind etc.

Also, my 4.5 lb tent costs about $200 less than the 2 lb Seedhouse SL. Is there a more cost-effective way to drop 2 pounds from your gear?
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Old 04-21-08, 01:44 PM   #15
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Is that 2 people in one sleeping baq, perchance?

My tent is a little larger than the SL2, and I can't imagine how you fit two people (who aren't married, that is) inside without someone bumping the sides of the tent sooner or later. Probably more of an issue in northern CA than Death Valley, of course.....



In general I agree; "two pounds here" and "two pounds there" does add up.

However, you can be judicious about your weight allowances, e.g. get a heavier tent, but get lighter cooking utensils, leave other stuff behind etc.

Also, my 4.5 lb tent costs about $200 less than the 2 lb Seedhouse SL. Is there a more cost-effective way to drop 2 pounds from your gear?
I've slept in that the Seedhouse SL2 with two different people between 5'5" & 5'10" - in separate sleeping bags. Haven't had any issues at all. I find it quite a roomy tent for its weight.

I haven't price compared tents in a while as I expect I'll have my Seedhouse SL2 for many years, but my philosophy is to save up and buy quality gear that meets all my needs and will last a long time. The $315cdn for the Seedhouse SL2 seems like a reasonable cost when I amortize it over its lifetime and take into account the size, weight & quality of the tent.

In order to get your weight down on tour you really have to drop the excess weight in all areas. Part of that is just taking less and the other is choosing lightweight items.

Bottom line though there is no specific weight you need to hit to have fun on tour. Some people tour with the kitchen sink others go so minimalist they make me look like I living large with my kit....there are no rules as long as you are happy with your setup.
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Old 04-22-08, 08:35 AM   #16
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It's not so much the weight but the volume a large tent in my opinion. Those things folded take up a lot of space, if that isn't a problem, then don't sweat it. Also when you fold up a large, the water and dew it will have collected adds up also, it can add a few pounds to the weight of your tent.

Bottom line though, it's really a matter of personal preference when it comes to tents.
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Old 04-22-08, 10:50 AM   #17
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Check put the black diamond pyrimod tents there lighter then most 2 person tents and big enough to sleep four people. the only draw back is the floor and and mesh tent are saperate and alomost double the price so i would recamend a water proof bivy for wet or buggy nites. i plan on taking mine w/ me on my trip in july and eather drowning myself w/ bug spray or making a nosee-um bivy to craw in to at night
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Old 04-22-08, 01:17 PM   #18
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I guess I was the only one who saw the topic and thought, "three fourths person tent?" Then I imagined a tent where the camper's legs stuck out from the knee down.
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Old 04-22-08, 02:48 PM   #19
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I have a Big Agnes Seedhouse SL2 which comfortably sleeps 2 adults
I've got one of them too, and, uh, I wouldn't want to share it with anyone haha. That said, it's an amazingly great tent (for me and only me to sleep in lol)
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Old 04-24-08, 09:05 AM   #20
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What about something like this?

http://www.rei.com/product/761895

We have an REI Taj 3 which is similar but an older model. One of us carries the tent and the other both sleeping bags so the weight is pretty even between the 2 of us. Weight on this tent is closer to 5lbs, not 7, so looks like a good option to me. I went with the largest and lightest for the money. Sure you can get lighter but the extra 2-300 bucks wasn't worth it for me.

We like the extra space for both of us. We usually take 2 bags into the tent with us so we have some food and clothes and such with us. Plus if it's ****ty weather or real cold we enjoy having the room to sit around in the tent more comfortably and stay out of the weather.
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Old 04-24-08, 09:34 AM   #21
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There are only two places I'll yeild to extra weight; my bike and a tent. I want my bike (especially wheels) to be as strong as possible, and I'm willing to throw in a few extra pounds for the comfort of a larger than absolutely necessary tent. Everyone has their priorities; these are mine.
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Old 04-24-08, 10:36 AM   #22
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I've got one of them too, and, uh, I wouldn't want to share it with anyone haha. That said, it's an amazingly great tent (for me and only me to sleep in lol)
Clearly you are not picking the right tent-mates....
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Old 04-24-08, 07:03 PM   #23
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What about something like this?

http://www.rei.com/product/761895

We have an REI Taj 3 which is similar but an older model. One of us carries the tent and the other both sleeping bags so the weight is pretty even between the 2 of us. Weight on this tent is closer to 5lbs, not 7, so looks like a good option to me. I went with the largest and lightest for the money. Sure you can get lighter but the extra 2-300 bucks wasn't worth it for me.

We like the extra space for both of us. We usually take 2 bags into the tent with us so we have some food and clothes and such with us. Plus if it's ****ty weather or real cold we enjoy having the room to sit around in the tent more comfortably and stay out of the weather.
Actually, I just bought a Taj 3 from REI-Outlet. It hasn't arrived yet, so nothing to report, but I believe the weight is close to 8 pounds. On the plus side, the price was just under $160...
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Old 04-25-08, 12:04 PM   #24
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I didnt want to make anew thread, so I was jsut also wondering if there are any 3 person tents that are very cheap, light and roomy. I want to avoid spending a fortune on one, but i dont want to waste my money on a piece of crap.
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Old 04-25-08, 03:45 PM   #25
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I didnt want to make anew thread, so I was jsut also wondering if there are any 3 person tents that are very cheap, light and roomy. I want to avoid spending a fortune on one, but i dont want to waste my money on a piece of crap.
I looked around a bit. On the Internet, both REI, Campmor and Sierra Trading Post seemed to have handle on some reasonably priced, quality tents. There are a lot of cheaper tents available. However the combination of cheapy and light does not seem to intersect. I also wonder if some of the cheaper tents at the big-box stores would fare well in rain.
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