I'm curious to hear how you choose a tent for bicycle touring - particularly longer trips which may encounter a wide range of climate conditions (e.g. hot and humid in Virginia, all the way to possible snow and cold in Yellowstone etc). Do you favor lightweight over everything else, or do you prefer to have a bit of extra space at the expense of more weight?
I ask because I have the opportunity to get a couple of Hilleberg tents on a pro-deal, and I'm finding it next to impossible to figure out which ones to go for. They all seem to have their strong points - the tunnels have great space to weight ratio, whereas the freestanding ones have the convenience of smaller footprint and ability to pitch anywhere (including inside a motel room, for example, which can be useful for drying out or even as a bug net).
I'm thinking to get one tent for 2 person use, when I tour with my wife, and the second as a solo tent for when it's just me (or her). I'm 6' exactly, she's 5'3".
I confess to a slight preference for freestanding. The Hilleberg catalog talks about these tents mostly in terms of static snow load ability, but I see other advantages over the tunnels: You can pitch anywhere, obviously, and on a smaller footprint, and you can also hang the tent upside down or from a tree or put it up in a motel room to dry it out. You can also use it inside a motel room as a mosquito net, or dry it out there too. On the other hand, the tunnels have a lot more space for less weight.
I'm currently liking the Staika for couple use, because I do like side-by-side doors, and also two doors is always nice for cross-ventilation in hotter climates. It's a heavy tent, but a lot of positive features to justify that. Petra Hilleberg recommended this one when I said I wanted a tent that could "do it all" and also be reliable. She said that the heavier Kerlon 1800 fabric, YKK #10 zips and 10mm poles will last longer under the duress of long bicycle tours. The lighter weight Kerlon 1200 tents are fine, but obviously there's always a trade-off with weight and longevity.
I'm also liking the idea of the Akto as the second solo tent, though the Soulo is tempting... the Akto has a slightly smaller interior and larger vestibule, but it's obviously not freestanding... but it is light, and that makes it very flexible for solo use. I'm thinking the combination of the Staika at one end of the spectrum (heavy, two person) and the Akto at the other end (light, solo) might make for the least overlap. But another part of me wonders if I should segment this by going for one of the freestanding tents, and one tunnel - so I can compare these two types for myself. Something like the Allak and Kaitum - similar weight, different concepts.
The Kaitum seems a good option in terms of space/weight, and it has vertical end walls, so you can really utilize all the space, and with two doors it has excellent thru-draft potential. But it needs a lot of real estate. The Nallo seems to be well liked by many, though I've heard tales of broken poles there, and the sloping foot means your sleeping bag may touch the wall down there more easily, and the venting doesn't seem all that great (you can't adjust the foot vent from inside the tent). The Nammatj series look really nice (high vents, Kerlon 1800), but they are obviously heavier, and only one door. The freestanding Allak looks very solid, but it's a bit smaller than the Staika, and the Kerlon 1200 and zips won't be as long lasting. The Soulo has a smaller vestibule than the Akto, and it's heavier, though the freestanding aspect is attractive. The GT models of the tunnel tents all look awesome, with that huge vestibule. Great for getting your wet stuff off out of the rain before getting into the inner tent.
Part of me wonders if it's really worth going for the heavier 1800 tents - maybe it's "too much tent" for this application? Though bicycle touring can be pretty hard on gear, especially longer trips. I won't be seeing arctic storms, but thicker material, thicker poles and beefier zips will just last longer in any conditions.
There's all these conflicting thoughts going through my head, so I'm wondering if people can help me with what YOU see as most important in a bicycle touring tent. What criteria would you be using to decide here? I know it's personal, but I thought it might be interesting to compare approaches. It's a common problem with the Hillebergs, I think, because if you read their catalog then it looks like every one of those tents would be good for just about anything. I tend to get lost in the thought process, and I don't want to get (e.g.) a heavier tent that has all these awesome features (in theory) but then I find out on the road that weight really should have been my primary concern after all. So did you ever regret taking a slightly heavier tent that was otherwise wonderful, or do you feel that a couple of extra pounds is worthwhile if it's going to be your "home on the road"?
For me, my camping style seems to be that I pretty much stop at the end of the day, put up the tent, make dinner, and then turn in and go to sleep. In the morning, I get up, have breakfast, and leave. I don't seem to hang around much in the tent itself, so I don't know if they bigger space would be very useful for me. On the other hand I had an MSR Hubba on my 2008 tour, and I found it a bit small. I also didn't feel very safe in that tent with some of the high winds I experienced, which is one reason I'm keen to get a tent that can stand up to rougher weather. I want my tent to feel a bit more secure, then I'm more likely to use it rather than dive into a motel at the slightest suggestion of bad weather. I think the Hillebergs will do that.
I've also used an REI Half Dome Plus 2 (from 2003) which made me really appreciate the two door design and cross-draft that it encourages. And back in 1998 I was using an REI Sololite, which is similar in concept to the Nallo. It seemed ok then.
Apologies for the long post, and thanks for any insights.