I admit it, I was brand-loyal. I put Big Agnes on a pedestal that cottage companies like Mountain Laurel Designs or Zpacks just couldn't break down.
Then I went with a budget tent, the Stoic Templum 2.1... and I couldn't tell the difference. It was almost identical, and only a few ounces heavier! Why did I ever pay $400?
So, that’s why I’m kind of in two camps at the moment with ultralight gear(no pun intended):
Option 1: Buy Cottage Gear. There are a ton of great manufacturers. Borah Gear, Mountain Laurel Designs, and Revelate Designs are some of my favorites, and there are many more. Here’s a list. This stuff is going to be absolutely minimalist, ultralight, custom fit to purpose, and the price will be un-inflated. Plus, you get to support American and Canadian businesses.
Option 2: Slash price by going with the lowest-common-denominator tent I’m comfortable with, and sacrifice some quality but maintain function. The Templum is functionally the same for me as a Big Agnes.
I used to have an Option 3. Option 3 was to go with the highest quality shelter manufactured by the big-box companies as a combination of quality and light weight, but after seeing this tent come so close for a fraction of the price, I no longer think that’s a good idea. I end up paying a lot for something that still can’t match the weight and packability of a cottage-made product, and I pay through the nose for the brand.
So, tourists... Do you pay out the megabucks for the big brands like Ortlieb or do you try and save with "imitation gear?"