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best 4 person tent

Old 04-07-14, 09:38 PM
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best 4 person tent

Hi All,

I want to buy a high quality 4 person tent...which will routinely house 3 people. After much online reading, I like the Big Agnes Copper Spur UL4 and the MSR Papa Hubba NX. I need something light, durable, well-ventilated, and livable. What do you recommend regarding these, or other, tents?
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Old 04-08-14, 05:38 AM
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The BA has more floor space (but smaller vestibule space), is lighter by .75 lbs., packs smaller and offers more headroom. I like my BA Seedhouse UL2 more than I like my MSR Hubba Hubba.
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Old 04-08-14, 08:38 AM
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Copper Spur and Papa Hubba are excellent freestanding tents. If you want something more durable look at Hilleberg tunnel tents. You'll need to prioritize your needs, of course. "Light" might be better characterized as your unique utility set versus weight as the tent weight can be distributed among your group. The Keron 4GT at 12lbs/2oz also has two entrances for ventilation/egress, a cubic interior, huge vestibules, and realistically will last far longer (>1000 nights). The Kaitum 3 at 7lbs/8oz would probably be the least Hilleberg you can get away with. And there many other tents with intermediate (and more extreme) characteristics. You'll need to decide between tradeoffs for yourself. And these tents are pricey.

I have several hundred nights solo in a 2-person freestanding Allak.

Hilleberg the Tentmaker

Last edited by Cyclesafe; 04-08-14 at 08:53 AM. Reason: the pricey bit....
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Old 04-08-14, 08:59 AM
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OP, I take it you don't require standing height? Another Hilleberg to check out in that case would be the Nallo.

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Old 04-08-14, 09:36 AM
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I've had a BA Emerald Mountain SL3 for about 6 years now. Great tent, no problems, lots of use. It packs small and very light for a 2/3 person tent. I definitely recommend Big Agnes tents. MSR's are supposed to be good too, but I have no personal experience.
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Old 04-08-14, 10:09 AM
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Golite and Black Diamond megamid,megalight? single pole teepee types considered ?


GoLite Shangri-La 5 Tent - 2014 ... Mega Light Tent - Black Diamond Gear

Hand made in New Hampshire USA [not sewn in China and shipped back)

http://warmlite.com/products-page/tents

They make a hoop tunnel tent, superlight 7075t6 pre curved poles, syl nylon.

2, 3 or 5R uses alumninizsd fabric in double wall ... Note custom options list

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Old 04-08-14, 06:21 PM
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I'll second the recommendationa for a Hilleberg tents.
Mine is a well worn Staika,,used winters,,and summers.
Not the lightest or cheapest,,but versatile.
Need to really read their web page to understand.

or the Golite,with the xtra bug screen.
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Old 04-08-14, 09:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Cyclesafe View Post
Copper Spur and Papa Hubba are excellent freestanding tents. If you want something more durable look at Hilleberg tunnel tents. You'll need to prioritize your needs, of course. "Light" might be better characterized as your unique utility set versus weight as the tent weight can be distributed among your group. The Keron 4GT at 12lbs/2oz also has two entrances for ventilation/egress, a cubic interior, huge vestibules, and realistically will last far longer (>1000 nights). The Kaitum 3 at 7lbs/8oz would probably be the least Hilleberg you can get away with. And there many other tents with intermediate (and more extreme) characteristics. You'll need to decide between tradeoffs for yourself. And these tents are pricey.

I have several hundred nights solo in a 2-person freestanding Allak.

Hilleberg the Tentmaker
My regular partners will be my girlfriend and son (now 9 years old). All things being equal, which they aren't, I'd take a little lighter tent and little less durability...but I definitely don't want a $600+ tent that will fall apart or rip easily.


Originally Posted by Juha View Post
OP, I take it you don't require standing height? Another Hilleberg to check out in that case would be the Nallo.

--J
I've not had good luck with standing height tents, although I've never had a high-quality one. In my experience with any of them built "light": they catch too much air and flap around too much because of the lack of structure necessary to keep the weight down. Do you know of any standing height tents that maintain their structure, but are still light enough bike tour with?


Originally Posted by Tim_Iowa View Post
I've had a BA Emerald Mountain SL3 for about 6 years now. Great tent, no problems, lots of use. It packs small and very light for a 2/3 person tent. I definitely recommend Big Agnes tents. MSR's are supposed to be good too, but I have no personal experience.
Thanks.


Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
Golite and Black Diamond megamid,megalight? single pole teepee types considered ?


GoLite Shangri-La 5 Tent - 2014 Mega Light Tent - Black Diamond Gear
That GoLite Shangri-La 5 is very interesting. How well does it hold up to wind? How well does it ventilate? Most of my tent-time is spent in weather that is hotter than I'd prefer, so I need good ventilation.


Originally Posted by flash63 View Post
I'll second the recommendationa for a Hilleberg tents.
Mine is a well worn Staika,,used winters,,and summers.
Not the lightest or cheapest,,but versatile.
Need to really read their web page to understand.

or the Golite,with the xtra bug screen.
What, specifically, should I "really read"? To understand what?
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Old 04-08-14, 11:08 PM
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Originally Posted by @Jason View Post
I've not had good luck with standing height tents, although I've never had a high-quality one. In my experience with any of them built "light": they catch too much air and flap around too much because of the lack of structure necessary to keep the weight down. Do you know of any standing height tents that maintain their structure, but are still light enough bike tour with?
I've no experience with them, I was just asking to narrow down the options. For some people a tent isn't "livable" if they cannot stand up inside. From what I understand, the teepee design ventilates well, but the bigger ones tend to be heavy. The models fietsbob linked to are definitely interesting, though the Black Diamond especially is very basic (no floor, no netting) so direct comparison to e.g. Hillebergs is not valid in that regard.

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Old 04-09-14, 12:26 AM
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Originally Posted by @Jason View Post
Hi All,

I want to buy a high quality 4 person tent...which will routinely house 3 people. After much online reading, I like the Big Agnes Copper Spur UL4 and the MSR Papa Hubba NX. I need something light, durable, well-ventilated, and livable. What do you recommend regarding these, or other, tents?
Of those two I'd pick the Big Agnes (lighter and bigger interior). But it would be good to decide on what kind of conditions you expect to realistically encounter on bike tours. Backpacking tents require more ability to withstand extreme conditions since their users will often be multiple days away from better shelter - bike tourers are far more likely to have the option to switch to a motel or other lodging if the weather turns unexpectedly bad. And backpackers are also more likely to go out in winter conditions than bike tourers - but again, the question is really about your own inclinations in that respect. The Hilleberg tents mentioned strike me as reasonable choices for backpacking, but I wouldn't choose them for bike touring - unless you plan to be in very remote areas in winter.
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Old 04-09-14, 05:03 AM
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Originally Posted by prathmann View Post
Backpacking tents require more ability to withstand extreme conditions since their users will often be multiple days away from better shelter - bike tourers are far more likely to have the option to switch to a motel or other lodging if the weather turns unexpectedly bad.
It might just be my personal choices of locale, but in my experience the opposite has been true. I have never had a tent destroyed by a storm, but have come close a few times and even had to quickly take the tent down. That was always on a bike tour. I have found that when bike touring I am more likely to camp in exposed places without shelter from the wind than when I backpack. Usually storms come without much warning when I am already in camp and when there is reason to expect storms they often pass by without impacting where I am, so I'd be getting motels for storms that would have blown by and be caught out in others.

For me getting a motel to avoid bad weather has more often been an option when on a bike, but for the all day rain/sleet/snow rather than the afternoon/evening thunderstorm and the accompanying high winds that might destroy a tent.
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Old 04-09-14, 08:36 AM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post

For me getting a motel to avoid bad weather has more often been an option when on a bike, but for the all day rain/sleet/snow rather than the afternoon/evening thunderstorm and the accompanying high winds that might destroy a tent.
The only times I've had concerns about my tent not standing up to the weather it's been because of heavy snow and sleet loads. I'd trust most of the Hilleberg designs to handle that condition better than lighter tents with fly designs that don't extend down as far. OTOH, I don't cycle tour when I expect such conditions and if a real snowstorm rolls through anyway I'll look for alternate shelter. And then I prefer the advantages of more interior room, better ventilation, lighter weight, etc. with tents that aren't designed for full winter conditions.
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Old 04-09-14, 09:12 AM
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Originally Posted by prathmann View Post
The only times I've had concerns about my tent not standing up to the weather it's been because of heavy snow and sleet loads. I'd trust most of the Hilleberg designs to handle that condition better than lighter tents with fly designs that don't extend down as far. OTOH, I don't cycle tour when I expect such conditions and if a real snowstorm rolls through anyway I'll look for alternate shelter. And then I prefer the advantages of more interior room, better ventilation, lighter weight, etc. with tents that aren't designed for full winter conditions.
First let me say that I don't use or advocate using really heavy duty 4 season tents for travel where it isn't a necessity. For me that means I don't use one for any of my bike touring or backpacking regardless of season. Still, I do think that a tent that can stand up to a good bit of wind is a good idea.

I can recall staying in a state campground at Brownlee Dam ID where the wind roared down the canyon at sunset with great ferocity even with no storm present. We quickly knocked the tent down flat and dragged it to a spot where a tiny rise offered some shelter or it certainly would have suffered serious damage. I'd estimate that 70% of the tents in camp were patched up with blue tarps, duct tape, and splints on their poles already before that point, so I assume it was a frequent occurrence there or at least had occurred in the recent past.

I also recall several other times where my tent was buffeted bad enough to prompt concern during thunderstorms, but it always survived. Maybe I am just lucky, but I've never felt like wind was close to damaging my tent on a backpacking trip, largely because I can almost always find a sheltered spot.

I agree that winter camping and snow/ice loads are a different matter though.

All that said I have mostly converted to using a bivy or a bug bivy and small tarp so the issue has become kind of moot for me. A bivy is low enough to the ground that I can find natural or man made shelter from the wind just about anywhere and the wind isn't going to damage it any way. When using the tarp that can be a little trickier, but most of the time the tarp is just in case of emergency and I seldom actually pitch it unless it is raining.
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Old 04-09-14, 09:18 AM
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Originally Posted by prathmann View Post
The Hilleberg tents mentioned strike me as reasonable choices for backpacking, but I wouldn't choose them for bike touring - unless you plan to be in very remote areas in winter.
Hilleberg has addressed this issue by introducing a "yellow label" line of tents that are unsuitable for winter. You get less durability, lighter weight, and lower price versus their traditional models, which admittedly could be overkill for most cycle touring situations. Specifically the new Rogen would meet my needs better than my five year old Allak.

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Old 04-09-14, 09:34 AM
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Originally Posted by @Jason View Post
My regular partners will be my girlfriend and son (now 9 years old). All things being equal, which they aren't, I'd take a little lighter tent and little less durability...but I definitely don't want a $600+ tent that will fall apart or rip easily.
I think neither of the tents you mentioned will disappoint you. You'd probably get 150-250 nights out of either of them: failure will come from UV degradation of the fly and/or from zippers.

Another perhaps more long-term viable alternative would be to get a spacious two person freestanding tent and a solo freestanding tent and "join" them together with a tarp spanning the two.

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Old 04-09-14, 09:37 AM
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bug screen is it's own floored tent.. ventilation depends on how far up the pole height , makes the bottom off the ground.

there is a peak vent .


It took Black Diamond a generation to think about a peak vent ..
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Old 04-09-14, 05:31 PM
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Jason Hilleberg tents are designed just a bit different.
What most call the "fly" is by Hilleberg,,the outer tent.
Which can be used without the inner tent,,ie less weight.
But the inner tent can be used also by itself,,great for warm weather,,bugs or other crawlies.
Or combine them for serious weather.
A very versatile system.
Often use just the outer,or inner by itself.
But I am also at 6000 ft elevation,,Roaring Fork Valley Colorado.
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Old 04-09-14, 06:10 PM
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Either tent will work well, as will most from other well know manufacturers: REI, Sierra Designs, North Face, Eureka, Kelty, Marmot. I prefer a free standing tent, and one that is more rounded, better to withstand winds. A good tent is a good investment. We've had our Sierra Designs for almost 11 years and it has been outstanding.


We encountered winds strong enough to blow down several of these large cottonwood while riding through eastern Oregon. The same windstorm drove a wildfire, closing the road behind us to the west. Between the trees across the road and the fire, traffic was stopped until the next morning at the small RV park we were camping at. No tent problems.




This cafe did more business in one night than they do in two weeks!


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Old 04-09-14, 08:41 PM
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Just a thought for the OP - within the 3 season tent class there are some that both offer the full mesh first layer for ventilation as well as a zip in lining for a full double wall tent if you ever need it. I have had a Mountain Hardwear Hammerhead II tent for a few years (haven't used it in the past 2 - went to a hammock) that is exactly that set up. If you ever find yourself in the elements or cold weather it is really nice to have that extra layer. Just a thought.

For warm fair weather with the occasional threat of rain either of your choices are great. My riding buddy has an MSR Hubba Hubba (2 person version of the Papa Hubba) and it has held up on our trips just fine - really well built and simple.

I am a firm believer in the extra room in a tent too. My Hammerhead II is the perfect size. I've had 2 people in there before and it is too small. As a solo tent its great. The hammock on the other hand is a different ballgame - all the gear goes underneath and the necessities on the shelf inside, not much room inside but the comfort is a world of difference than sleeping on the ground. Under the tarp (equivalent to a fly on a tent in tent-language) I have more room than in the tent and vesibules combined - and can cook dinner under there without fear of burning the floor since there is none.
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Old 04-09-14, 11:44 PM
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Thanks for the feedback. Very helpful.
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Old 04-10-14, 01:29 AM
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BTW: I emailed Big Agnes, and asked what was "updated" for 2014. They replied "The new copper spur ul tents received a new poleset that is lighter and saves the tent weight about 3 ounces of weight."

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Old 05-14-14, 02:54 AM
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After much more reading, I'm seriously considering the Nemo Losi 3p tent. Does anyone have experience with it?
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