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One tent for a long tour

Old 02-07-11, 08:03 PM
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One tent for a long tour

If you were faced with the decision of buying one tent for a long tour to house yourself and your better half comfortably (2 people!) from the Pacific Northwest where it may quite cold and somewhat windy down to Central America trip (where it's hot and humid), which tent would you choose to take with you and why?

Same scenario could apply for someone planning a trip from Seattle down to Florida in the summer.

Money not a big issue since two of you may be living out of this thing, so no reason to think "cheap". As far as the weight you don't want to go overboard (the lighter the better), so let's keep it to 10 lbs. max.

This is the tent you think you'll use for many other tours in the future.

Alright, so let's hear it!

Last edited by Chris Pringle; 02-07-11 at 08:39 PM.
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Old 02-07-11, 08:25 PM
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For 10 pounds you can get 2 worthy tents, which is what I would do.
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Old 02-07-11, 08:25 PM
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There aren't any absolute right answers here - it depends on your preferences. Do you prefer a freestanding tent, or one that needs to be staked out to stand up? The former has more flexibility as to where you can pitch, but the latter style (e.g. tunnel tents) tends to give you more space for the weight, and can be easier to put up in high winds. Some people swear by freestanding and won't use anything else, while others swear equally that they will never use a freestanding tent. It's one of those big decision points when it comes to tents, and it's a personal choice.

If you're putting the limit at 10 lbs, that's pretty heavy - in which case, you might look at the Hilleberg Staika - it's an awesome tent for two, and will stand up to whatever you want to throw at it:

https://www.hilleberg.com/home/produc...ika/staika.php

Or, if you prefer a bit more space, and don't mind that the tent is not freestanding, then how about the Keron 3:

https://www.hilleberg.com/home/products/keron/keron3.php

Petra Hilleberg mentioned to me that the Keron is her father's favorite tent (he's the one that started the company).

Both the Staika and the Keron are made from Hilleberg's heavier grade materials - Kerlon 1800, 10mm poles, and #10 YKK zippers. These things are made to last. If you want to save some weight, then you could go for the lighter Kerlon 1200 versions - e.g. the Allak is the lighter version of the Staika, and the Kaitum is the lighter version of the Keron. Both are a little smaller, though - the Kaitum in particular has smaller hoops at the ends, whereas the Keron hoops are all the same size.

The nice thing about these tents is that they all have two doors, and so you can get a good thru-draft when it's warm and you need ventilation. But the inner doors also have zippable panels to cover the mesh, so you can close things down in bad weather. This makes these tents very flexible. The Keron 3 needs a bit more ground to pitch - it's pretty long. If you don't mind the extra size, then maybe even take a look at the Keron 3 GT - the GT version gives you an awesome extra size vestibule which can be very nice for ducking into to avoid weather, or insects.

I'm only going on about Hilleberg because I've done a lot of research on their tents recently, and so I kind of have their catalog coming out of my ears (just got a Soulo and Allak for myself and my wife - going for the lighter weight option for now, but I might go for the Staika or Keron for a longer trip, for the added durability). If you call them up, they will send you a paper catalog for free, which is pretty much tent porn - a lot of fun to browse through. The only downside is that they make it sound like any of their tents would be good for any situation, so it's hard to narrow it down. But for what you're doing, I would say Staika or Keron.

Of course there are other equally good options out there, I'm just posting my personal favorites.

Neil

Last edited by NeilGunton; 02-07-11 at 08:48 PM.
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Old 02-07-11, 08:33 PM
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I used a sierra designs tent for 12 years with no trouble at all. Heavy desert use, very little wear. A tough tent.

then it was stolen...

replaced with a big Agnes, which is quite a bit lighter, but nowhere near as robust (im sorry to say). I cant imagine the BA lasting very long- but i hope I am wrong...
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Old 02-07-11, 08:39 PM
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For an epic down-to-South-America trip, I'd carry something that could withstand howling winds and days of rain.

We used an Exped Venus II in Iceland and it was a champ. The Exped Andromeda II also looks like a winner. The Exped design is similar to Hilleberg but the tents are far cheaper. I love the fact that I can set up these tents without getting the inner tent body wet. Exped's tents don't get enough recognition, but you should definitely check them out.
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Old 02-07-11, 08:43 PM
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Originally Posted by valygrl
For 10 pounds you can get 2 worthy tents, which is what I would do.
Again, one tent for two. Most normal couples want to spend their nights together anyway.
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Old 02-07-11, 09:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Chris Pringle
Again, one tent for two. Most normal couples want to spend their nights together anyway.
I think they meant that for 10 pounds, you could have a bomb proof four season tent for heavy snow fall, and a lighter and bigger three season tent.

I think moisture management is going to be the toughest part of your tents job. In the PNW it's going to have to keep the fog out, and in south America, it's going to have to let your own moisture out. This calls for a tent that can be seriously bunkered down, or opened up wide.
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Old 02-07-11, 09:47 PM
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This is a Sierra Design Lightning. It weighs in at a hair over 4 lbs. It has about 6,000 miles of bike touring and a couple of dozen light duty mountaineering, ski trips, and backpacking. It has been a great tent. For heavier duty winter work or serious mountaineering we have a Sierra Design 4 season "Omega". It is a "convertable" tent; some of the panels zip out for increased ventilation. It is tough and only weighs a little over 6 lbs. The point is that more weight does not always equate to more durability.

PS. The first time we used it(Lightning) in the mountains, we experienced an one hour hailstorm with it. I expected it to be beat to pieces, but the event didn't leave a mark.



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Old 02-07-11, 10:03 PM
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Originally Posted by fuzz2050
I think they meant that for 10 pounds, you could have a bomb proof four season tent for heavy snow fall, and a lighter and bigger three season tent.

I think moisture management is going to be the toughest part of your tents job. In the PNW it's going to have to keep the fog out, and in south America, it's going to have to let your own moisture out. This calls for a tent that can be seriously bunkered down, or opened up wide.
Understood. Excellent points, BTW!

Looking at the Exped tents Niknak recommended and I'm digging the Andromeda II . It seems quite spacious for two. I also like the fact that it opens up since it has more doors and vents than the Hillbergs (e.g. Keron GT or Nammatj 2GT) which would be great in hotter tropical or desert climates. I like the price on Altrec.com.

Great suggestion!!

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Old 02-07-11, 10:57 PM
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I have an older Sierra Designs that looks veryn much like the one mentioned above with photos, good solid tent.
I would however recommend for whatever tent you get, to get one with doors on either side, two entries- just for the better cross ventilation aspect of it. Lets face it, you can zip all or much of screen parts of most tents, plus I am a big big recommender of small collapsible candle lanterns to hang from a top center ring or strung string inside the tent to take out the cold dampness .

https://www.mec.ca/Products/product_d...34374302888390

BUT when it is hot and sticky, for me a situation much more the case when camping than cold, having better ventilation is always better, two doors do that well.

and for all tents, top quality zippers, poles, tent floor thickness, using a good ground sheet to help protect floor, proper pole design for rain so that the fly doesnt "stick" to the breathable main body---all these things are factors that mean a tent will last longer than others (and not leaving any tent out in the sun for more than is necessary--UV light weakens the matierial.

my 3 person Sierra Designs (meaning really a 2 person with your bags) was about 7 lbs, so I am sure there are lighter yet just as good solid models available from many companies, and that would probably be in the 250-350 price range.

have fun going over options

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Old 02-07-11, 11:26 PM
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Since 10 pounds is rather generous for a tent, I think you could do well to have a tent to get you through the bad weather, and a light weight tarp for when it's nicer out. If you might be holed up in your shelter for a week straight, then it's nice to have something sturdy and spacious. However when it's nice out and you just want something to break the wind and keep off the morning dew, a tarp can be great.

Or, you can try a tipi. Add a wood burning stove and you could have one nice camping rig
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Old 02-07-11, 11:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Chris Pringle
Again, one tent for two. Most normal couples want to spend their nights together anyway.
Originally Posted by fuzz2050
I think they meant that for 10 pounds, you could have a bomb proof four season tent for heavy snow fall, and a lighter and bigger three season tent.

I think moisture management is going to be the toughest part of your tents job. In the PNW it's going to have to keep the fog out, and in south America, it's going to have to let your own moisture out. This calls for a tent that can be seriously bunkered down, or opened up wide.
Actually, I did mean it is worth considering bringing and (sometimes/often sleeping in) two separate tents. I suppose I should have elaborated more, and now I'm a little offended by "most normal couples".. but I'll just get over it. Just because you want to share a bed with a person, doesn't mean you necessarily want to share a tent.

I toured for 3 months with my then-boyfriend, in one tent. There were a number of down-sides to one tent.
- not enough space in the tent to bring panniers/bags in
- hard to change clothes/get ready in the morning with limited space & 2 people
- no privacy, yes even couples want privacy from each other
- compromise always needed if one person sleeps hot and the other sleeps cold
- waking each other up when someone has to go pee in the middle of the night
- if one person can't sleep, they can't read b/c the light bothers the other person
- two people breathing + less total volume = more condensation
- rainy day in a tent with 2 people = pretty cramped.

I also spent 6 weeks living in a tent with my now-husband (not bike touring) and really would have preferred to have my own tent sometimes, for the same reasons.

Admittedly, this was a small 2-person backpacking tent, so some of this stuff wouldn't apply if you were carrying a large 3-4 person tent.

A few more thoughts, it can be harder to find a spot to pitch a big tent, so another up-side of 2 smaller tents is you can pitch just one when you need to minimize your footprint. Also, generally, smaller tents do better in the wind.

If you have 2 tents you can have 2 slightly different ones, for different weather conditions, and sleep in one together if desired, or pitch both of them when someone wants some space.

If you have 2 tents, if someone is sick or hurt or you're sick of each other or you just want to take different days off, or someone wants to go on some side trip for a while and meet back up later, you can do that. If one of your tents fails, you have another tent.

Anyway, that's all the stuff I was thinking about. Seems like my suggestion of something outside your "one" tent requirement was not well received, but your very high weight limit of 10 pounds makes 2 tents, in my mind, a strong option.

Peace.
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Old 02-07-11, 11:44 PM
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Originally Posted by valygrl
Actually, I did mean it is worth considering bringing and (sometimes/often sleeping in) two separate tents. I suppose I should have elaborated more, and now I'm a little offended by "most normal couples".. but I'll just get over it. Just because you want to share a bed with a person, doesn't mean you necessarily want to share a tent.

I toured for 3 months with my then-boyfriend, in one tent. There were a number of down-sides to one tent.
- not enough space in the tent to bring panniers/bags in
- hard to change clothes/get ready in the morning with limited space & 2 people
- no privacy, yes even couples want privacy from each other
- compromise always needed if one person sleeps hot and the other sleeps cold
- waking each other up when someone has to go pee in the middle of the night
- if one person can't sleep, they can't read b/c the light bothers the other person
- two people breathing + less total volume = more condensation
- rainy day in a tent with 2 people = pretty cramped.

I also spent 6 weeks living in a tent with my now-husband (not bike touring) and really would have preferred to have my own tent sometimes, for the same reasons.

Admittedly, this was a small 2-person backpacking tent, so some of this stuff wouldn't apply if you were carrying a large 3-4 person tent.

A few more thoughts, it can be harder to find a spot to pitch a big tent, so another up-side of 2 smaller tents is you can pitch just one when you need to minimize your footprint. Also, generally, smaller tents do better in the wind.

If you have 2 tents you can have 2 slightly different ones, for different weather conditions, and sleep in one together if desired, or pitch both of them when someone wants some space.

If you have 2 tents, if someone is sick or hurt or you're sick of each other or you just want to take different days off, or someone wants to go on some side trip for a while and meet back up later, you can do that. If one of your tents fails, you have another tent.

Anyway, that's all the stuff I was thinking about. Seems like my suggestion of something outside your "one" tent requirement was not well received, but your very high weight limit of 10 pounds makes 2 tents, in my mind, a strong option.

Peace.
Very good and valid points, ValyGrl. Now we see exactly where you're coming from and why two tents could make sense even for normal or loving couples on a long tour.
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Old 02-07-11, 11:47 PM
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10 lb limit? Money not a big issue? Sounds like two tents to me. Or a single 3 season tent and a tarp to store the gear under and for one person to sleep under when somebody "needs a little space".

Valygrl's reasons for bringing two tents make a lot of sense to me. there's also the option of mailing one tent ahead if you're confident you won't need them both for a while, or mailing one home (or selling it) if it has served it's purpose.
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Old 02-08-11, 02:47 AM
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Backpacking, I like to have lower weight so take tent space = number of people.
Cycling, I find the weight less onerous so like 1 extra space for some gear. Just sold a Marmot Eclipse 1 person tent and bought a MSR Hubba Hubba 2 person tent for solo cycling, and backpacking in pairs. For cycling in pairs I have a 3 person tent.
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Old 02-08-11, 04:40 AM
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Another vote for the Allak or one of the Kaitums, free standing and not, respectively. You likely won't be cycle touring in conditions the heavier weight Hillebergs were designed for. And the Allak seems able to stand up to most anything. If conditions are really bad, you'll be seeking hard-sided shelter anyway. Also, with its double side doors and fine mesh screening revealed from the solid inner doors when unzipped, ventilation is no issue with the Allak either. The Kaitum has its doors at its foot and bottom, but is probably OK too.

I used my Allak on the GDMBR last summer.

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Old 02-08-11, 04:55 AM
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I spent almost a month looking for the perfect tent for mountaineering.

My result: North Face Mountain 25. Will stand up to anything and breathes great in warm weather (with the fly removed).

9.75lbs

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Old 02-08-11, 06:21 AM
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Personally I'd choose a light two person tent, something like the MSR Hubba Hubba maybe. I have toured with my daughter and one of her college room mates on the TA and with my daughter on the SC and we never found that it was a problem to share a tent. We are all pretty laid back though.

I carried a 10 pound tent on the TA for three of us and definitely don't recommend anything that heavy. I cussed the weight of that tent every day!
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Old 02-08-11, 07:14 AM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1
Personally I'd choose a light two person tent, something like the MSR Hubba Hubba maybe. I have toured with my daughter and one of her college room mates on the TA and with my daughter on the SC and we never found that it was a problem to share a tent. We are all pretty laid back though.

I carried a 10 pound tent on the TA for three of us and definitely don't recommend anything that heavy. I cussed the weight of that tent every day!
+1 to this. Spot on. If your tent were to eventually wear out you can always hop on amazon and order something new. Don't go over board and try to solve every single problem that might possibly arise. Just get a good quality tent 2-3 man, from a non-boutique tent maker.
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Old 02-08-11, 08:43 AM
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I'd take the Big Agnes SL3, roomy, high quality, and lightweight. I would not drag around an expedition tent that adds 4-5 lbs. You're not going to experience blizzard conditions so it's a waste.
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Old 02-08-11, 08:55 AM
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Lots of good tents out there. I would look for a light weight, three person (the extra room is important), three season tent with a full coverage fly and good ventilation on the interior wall.

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Old 02-08-11, 09:00 AM
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cyclesafe-re your tent in that really nice photo, I am a fan of tents with a seperate fly over the "poled structure with lots of screening" section. Like even more the ones that you have inner opaque nylon sections that can "close" up the screened sections, for when it is colder. Yours appears to be the other type, and in my experience, they are hotter and muggier than the type I desribed in hot weather--as others have mentioned, if you dont mind being flyless (for privacy) in hot hot weather, the comfort level is much much better when hot and muggy. (and even if rain occurs, it takes only a minute to get a fly on and pegged out.

also, as others have also stated, my general rule is to get a tent that is on paper, one person larger than you need for the people really sleeping in the tent. Allows room for stuff, and frankly, tent companies list a 2 person tent as for 2 people, but you are always cheek by jowel and hardly any room for bags. In my experience a 3 person tent tends to be fine for 2 people and their stuff (I would never leave my bags outside my tent)

as for quality, there is no reason a good quality tent (not a Rolls-Royce) should not last a 3 month trip, if you are careful of the surfaces you put in on, aren't hamfisted with it, take off your shoes before going in so less dirt etc inside etc (or any peculiar nightly self destructive incidents--sorry Zepp, couldnt help myself.....;-)

ps, I am a big fan also of tents with well thought out, simple putting up procedures. Single sleeve pole guides are nice (no screwing around getting the pole all the way through) , not too many poles and easy, one person "put up ability".
Day after day of taking down and putting up a tent, after a long tiring day of biking, will quickly show up a dumb design, and will piss you off to no end, especially if putting up as rain comes, or it is raining, or tearing down in the rain etc etc.

Last edited by djb; 02-08-11 at 09:08 AM. Reason: easy "put-up-ability" comment
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Old 02-08-11, 09:27 AM
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There are too many tents out there for me to recommend one. However, I would recommend getting one that was rated for at least 3 people. I have a Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight 2 - rated for 2 people. I barely fit. If my wife and I tried to squeeze in we'd be jammed like sardines! Also we would both be pushing against the sidewalls and the top would be in our faces. I have an L. L. Bean Microlight 2 which is a little bigger than the Clip Flashlight, but still too small for 2 to sleep comfortably. For my wife and I we have an REI Taj 3. It's heavier than the other two, but has enough room for us to not be on top of each other all night, and not be rubbing the sidewalls. With 2 people sharing the load it's still a net gain over one person carrying a whole tent.

Of course, I've seen other couples in tents I would consider too small for just me, and they seemed okay with it. If you're one of those kinds of people, you could save a lot of weight.

Lastly, tents are made for normal sized people. I'm 6'4". I'm not freakishly tall, but I'm tall enough that most tents aren't long enough. I can fit, but I have to curl up. Stretching out to read before I go to sleep means either my head or my feet is up against the end of the tent. Acceptable but not happy. That's what led me to the Microlight 2. It's 8 feet long. If you're more normal sized there are tons of options for you. REI's half dome is very popular, as are the Big Agnes tents, the MSR Hubba-hubba (is that the right name?) and many more.
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Old 02-08-11, 09:57 AM
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Originally Posted by djb
cyclesafe-re your tent in that really nice photo, I am a fan of tents with a seperate fly over the "poled structure with lots of screening" section. Like even more the ones that you have inner opaque nylon sections that can "close" up the screened sections, for when it is colder. Yours appears to be the other type, and in my experience, they are hotter and muggier than the type I desribed in hot weather--as others have mentioned, if you dont mind being flyless (for privacy) in hot hot weather, the comfort level is much much better when hot and muggy. (and even if rain occurs, it takes only a minute to get a fly on and pegged out.

also, as others have also stated, my general rule is to get a tent that is on paper, one person larger than you need for the people really sleeping in the tent. Allows room for stuff, and frankly, tent companies list a 2 person tent as for 2 people, but you are always cheek by jowel and hardly any room for bags. In my experience a 3 person tent tends to be fine for 2 people and their stuff (I would never leave my bags outside my tent)

as for quality, there is no reason a good quality tent (not a Rolls-Royce) should not last a 3 month trip, if you are careful of the surfaces you put in on, aren't hamfisted with it, take off your shoes before going in so less dirt etc inside etc (or any peculiar nightly self destructive incidents--sorry Zepp, couldnt help myself.....;-)

ps, I am a big fan also of tents with well thought out, simple putting up procedures. Single sleeve pole guides are nice (no screwing around getting the pole all the way through) , not too many poles and easy, one person "put up ability".
Day after day of taking down and putting up a tent, after a long tiring day of biking, will quickly show up a dumb design, and will piss you off to no end, especially if putting up as rain comes, or it is raining, or tearing down in the rain etc etc.
Hi DJB,

Yes, there is no perfect tent. In a very humid climate, full mesh with an easily installed / removed fly would be preferable. But there was no issue for me during the GDMBR.

I also agree that for two people, a three-person tent would be much more comfortable. I use my "two-person" Allak solo so I have plenty of room for me and whatever gear I choose to put in my two vestibules.

I also agree that almost any tent is good enough for three months. The only difference is that your risk of catastrophic failure, like a zipper malfunctioning where insects are annoying, is lower with a higher quality tent.

At 6'2", I am also taller than average. Unfortunately, most tents are made for the average person so I need a tent that will have enough room for me and the loft of my bag, top and bottom, plus a little more to avoid the possibility getting my bag wet from the inevitable condensation. Wrapping my rain jacket around the lower box of my bag helps insure that my down bag shell stays dry. But a person's height versus tent comfort is something that is rarely discussed.

Personally, I like the two two-person tent idea. You could even rig up a tarp covering both tent entrances to make a porch for cooking and storing stuff. After a three month trip, I would think that that set up would be plenty cozy!


Sure, Hilleberg's are overkill, but so are BMW's.

Last edited by Cyclesafe; 02-08-11 at 10:00 AM.
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Old 02-08-11, 01:48 PM
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With two people to divide the gear, assuming two bikes of course, I'd feel very confident in taking a Eureka Spitfire 1 and 2, 3.5 and 4.8 pounds respectively. These are inexpensive, tough tents. I have pitched the solo version about 175 times and it's still going strong. It's withstood a 40 mph blow. The 1 is 18 sq ft, the 2, 34 sq ft. Great peak height and you don't have to crawl into either. Down side is very limited vestibule space, but with two, no problem. Also, not 'free standing' but in a blow, nothing is. Both can be pitched fly first if need be.
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