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Hulk
07-14-2013, 02:55 AM
I'm in the process of looking for a new (or possibly gently used) tent. My favorite tent is a Sierra Designs model that was new in 1992 and still works great. It's a 3-person tent made to use in 4 seasons. While it has plenty of mesh windows, all of them can be zipped closed with a cover of nylon, keeping in the warmth generated by our bodies while we sleep and keeping the wind out.

It seems that Sierra Designs and North Face are no longer making 4 season tents unless they are expedition class tents -- which is overkill for my purposes.

What I'm looking for:

3 person tent
reasonably lightweight materials (not ultra light, but light enough that I could carry it for a mile in my pack)
4 season use -- not all mesh


What brands do you recommend looking at? What is your favorite tent and why?

DaveInDenver
07-14-2013, 05:56 AM
Truck camping, backpacking, ultralight mountaineering? What ya using it for? When you say 3 people, are you expecting 3 burly mountain men with full packs in the vestibule or you and your kids with most of the stuff in the Cruiser?

From your description I don't think your current Sierra Designs is a 4 season tent. Maybe an extended 3 season, but you would not be complaining about heat retention in a 4 season tent, they are usually too hot around here in the summer even with the windows open.

Do you have a target budget? A true 4 season, 3 man tent is going to be heavy and expensive. They are made to take punishment of winds in the winter.

I've always like Hilleberg and Bibler/Black Diamond, but they ain't cheap. Big Agnes, Mountain Hardware, Marmot, Nemo, MSR, some of the North Face all make fine tents. Eureka and Sierra Designs still make tents, too. Sort of define your requirements, size, weight, price and shop around.

In general, the Mountain Hardware Trango (probably what I'd buy if paying full price) and EV2 are sort of go-to 4 season tents. Not necessarily the strongest, lightest, cheapest but a baseline anyway.

Anyway, saw this over at Sierra Trading Post the other day. Nemo Alti Storm, not a bad tent and really a good deal at that price:
http://www.sierratradingpost.com/nemo-alti-storm-tent-footprint-3-person-4-season~p~6092d/?filterString=tents~d~228%2F&colorFamily=01

A Black Diamond Squall, no experience but the reviews aren't stellar:
http://www.backcountry.com/black-diamond-squall-tent-3-person-4-season

Also maybe check out http://www.moosejaw.com, http://www.mountaingear.com, REI, etc. to see what's available. If you find a brand & model that you want, don't forget to check Amazon, they'll probably be the best price.

If I was you I'd check Wilderness Exchange downtown or Boulder Seasoned Exchange & Boulder Sports Recycler to see what they have on consignment. If your time frame isn't immediate (and unless you're planning a climbing trip to the Andes or New Zealand I'm guessing it's not), their stock rotates and eventually they'll have something.

MDH33
07-14-2013, 06:41 AM
Matt, some of my favorite tents have been the type you describe with the zip shut windows. I still have several 1 and 2 person Moss tents that I hope last forever. I recently needed to find something that our 3 person + dog family can fit in and after much research I picked up a Marmot Limestone 4P. It doesn't have the zip shut windows, but it does have less mesh and with the fly on and vestibule closed, it's not very drafty. I realized that I wouldn't be camping in this thing in really cold temps with the family, so it was a good sized, inexpensive option. It's also light enough that I could carry it backpacking. Many of the 4 season 3-4 person tents get pretty heavy.

Corbet
07-14-2013, 07:46 AM
I'm with Dave on Bibler and Hilleberg but they cost lots.

We had a very similar criteria for a tent when we first got married and ended up with a Mountain Hardware Hammerhead 3. Its been a great tent. http://www.mountainhardwear.com/Hammerhead™-3/OU9672,default,pd.html

It will sleep three fine and keeps some heat in. It will also fit a queen Coleman air bed plus a big dog.

Personally I don't think I'll ever buy another Sierra Designs product after my last tent experience. Definitely the worst outdoor product I've ever purchased.

wesintl
07-14-2013, 10:23 AM
problem i have with true 4 season tents is they are hot as balls in the summer.
A good 4 season is not good in the summer. Ya need a summer tent and a winter tent.

my 3 season + is even too hot with the fly off.

Look on craigs. there is always some Boulderite selling off a good 4 season exp tent for used 1-3x when they realized they aren't climbing mckinely and are going back to illinois. ;)

Hulk
07-14-2013, 11:30 AM
I think you guys are right -- I don't need a true 4-season tent. I just want a 3-season tent that will hold the heat in on a chilly Colorado night during the spring/summer/fall.

Fishy
07-14-2013, 12:01 PM
It might be worth it to look at some Cabelas tents. I've used a Trekker Dome for years and it's never failed me. You can sometimes get great deals by looking in the bargain cave at Cabelas stores. I bought the one I have in Hamburg, PA for like $45 brand new but opened. It's worth a shot to call the Sydney, NE store and see what they have for tents in the bargain cave. I've slept in it down to 33 degrees just this year. I did have my 20 degree bag, so that helped. When I opened the door in the morning, I felt the cold air rush in (or the heat rush out) so I know it holds heat with the rain fly on. And, it keeps the rain out.
$500-600 for a ground tent is too much to pay IMO. Although, I just camp with the kids or my dog, and if it's that cold, we'll sleep in the truck.

source3
07-14-2013, 02:02 PM
I always trust my Sierra Design - 3 person "Reserve Combi". Just go back from a quick over-nighter. Always holds up in a good rainstorm. Big Agnus is another reliable tent.

treerootCO
07-14-2013, 02:29 PM
I bought the North Face VE25 and the fabric faded and became thin after one week in the Utah desert. Figured you should know that the 'good' tents lost the quality battle over corporate greed...

http://www.thenorthface.com/catalog/sc-gear/equipment-tents-filter-category-expedition

DaveInDenver
07-14-2013, 03:37 PM
I bought the North Face VE25 and the fabric faded and became thin after one week in the Utah desert. Figured you should know that the 'good' tents lost the quality battle over corporate greed...
I don't doubt that happens and TNF is probably one of the worst sell-out companies. They do still make decent gear sometimes and I bet if you go on the climbing forums people would be bagging on the VE25 for being too heavy or bulky, so these companies can't make everyone happy. There's only so many fabrics out there and my guess is most of these tents are sewn in the same factories in Vietnam and China with mostly the same stuff.

source3
07-14-2013, 03:56 PM
Forgot to mention that I have winter camped in this tent. Not as warm as a 4-season tent, but do-able. A good sleeping bag kept me warm. I do not think you can buy it anymore.

I always trust my Sierra Design - 3 person "Reserve Combi". Just go back from a quick over-nighter. Always holds up in a good rainstorm. Big Agnus is another reliable tent.

farnhamstj
07-14-2013, 06:18 PM
http://www.backcountry.com/alps-mountaineering-lynx-al-4-tent-4-person-3-season

We've had one of theses for 4 years or so. We use it when not staying in the camper.
I like the simple 2 pole design. Enough mesh that it's not too hot. But fly offers good coverage. Has doors on both sides of tent. I figure when one zipper breaks, I've got a spare door on the other side.

slapdappy
07-14-2013, 10:29 PM
NF Peregrine on Denver CL for $80. Seller misspelled as Perigren. Roomy hammerhead design. More of a 2 person tent. Older so better built than new NF.

Hulk
07-15-2013, 09:32 AM
NF Peregrine on Denver CL for $80. Seller misspelled as Perigren. Roomy hammerhead design. More of a 2 person tent. Older so better built than new NF.

Thanks. Looks nice, but I'm looking for a tent that has mesh windows that can be closed or covered (and not just by the fly).

NoVaGator
07-17-2013, 09:58 PM
I would seriously consider any REI brand tent as their warranty is unquestioned at any REI store.

I do have an older North Face tent from the pre sell-out days... it's at NF right now getting the windows on the fly repaired at no cost to me. But if it was an REI tent, I'd take it into the store and they'd give me a replacement on the spot.

Seldom Seen
07-17-2013, 11:12 PM
I would seriously consider any REI brand tent as their warranty is unquestioned at any REI store.

I do have an older North Face tent from the pre sell-out days... it's at NF right now getting the windows on the fly repaired at no cost to me. But if it was an REI tent, I'd take it into the store and they'd give me a replacement on the spot.

Not any more. REI changed their "unlimited" warranty to one year from date of purchase and only for manufacture's defects.

DaveInDenver
07-18-2013, 05:35 AM
Not any more. REI changed their "unlimited" warranty to one year from date of purchase and only for manufacture's defects.
I understand that the new policy is not absolutely rigid and I suspect on REI branded stuff it's a fair bet they'll honor it somewhat longer than a year. The clerk also told me it was just like before, no questions on anything just that instead of forever it's now a year.

Not as generous as it used to be but too many people abusing the policy like a gear rental service, bringing back worn out tents and boots after 5 years and stuff.

NoVaGator
07-18-2013, 08:35 AM
Not any more. REI changed their "unlimited" warranty to one year from date of purchase and only for manufacture's defects.

well that certainly sucks

euroford
07-18-2013, 03:04 PM
what I run, i've been exceptionally happy with all of these.

Mountain Hardware Litewedge 3.

This is the go-to car camping tent. i've had it for 14 years and its still going strong. I lost count of how many days i've spent in this thing a decade ago and its never let me down. roomy, reasonably lite for a large tent. my wife and I use a queen size air mattress in it. just got done sleeping in it for 9 days in wyoming.

MH no longer makes this exact tent, but snap it up if you find one used. The current model Drifter 3 looks like an update of this.

Mountain Hardware Trango 2 and 3.

These are my expedition tents, and overkill for anybody not actually in the $hit. but... if you want to spend the dough, don't mind a bit of weight, and want bombproof security, they are awesome. Used them in Alaska, the Karakorum, Canadian Rockies, MI UP in winter, Cacades in winter and ice climbing on the north shore of lake superior.

MSR Hubba 2p.

Great lightweight two person tent for when you have to pack it in and aren't expecting epic weather. great for backpacking or climbing when you want an actual tent, split between two people it packs down to the size of a grapefruit and can be stuff in a camelback.

Black Diamond/Bibler I-Tent

lightweight four season mountaineering tent, just barely big enough to fit two tired hungry climbers. if we are way up high and actually intend to spend a couple of nights, this is the one we take. very warm, but can be prone to condensation, big enough to provide shelter, but not much comfort.

bivy sacks:

I have a couple of different BD sacks, if you are solo, or wanting to go extra lite and don't really need the company, this is an awesome option. i've never hiked a tent into the rockies on a climbing mission, the tent stays next to the car and i just do the bivy sack. if i'm in the backcountry with the boys... its bivy sack time. with my wife... bust out the MSR.

overall opinion: be realistic about your needs. 99% of what everybody does is car comping, buy a nice large reliable tent that will last you a long time. skip the hype and debate. I might consider a hilleberg for when its time to replace the MH litewedge... but honestly its probably not worth the significant up-charge and we've still got years of service to go on this thing.

beyond a solid car camping tent... everything else is a specialty item and its going to sit in the basement unless you NEED that specialty.

also, absolutely DO NOT discount the awesomeness of the bivy sack for actual backcountry use. my favorite setup is a BD Twilight Bivy combined with a MH ultralamina 35 bag and 3/4 length thermarest pro lite. all together this weighs about 2 pounds and fits in the bottom of your pack, sets up in 2 minutes and i sleep like a baby. if the weather is bad enough for this to not be comfortable, its probably time to hike out and go home.

Fishy
07-18-2013, 09:13 PM
Well Matt, no two people recommended the same tent. Some help we are!

euroford
07-19-2013, 09:10 AM
Well Matt, no two people recommended the same tent. Some help we are!

no kidding... :blah:

here's my final answer: awesome that these are still available, and a bargain at $250

http://www.sierratradingpost.com/mountain-hardwear-lightwedge-3-tent-with-footprint-3-person-3-season~p~5504f/?afsrc=1&gclid=CJiA5LLru7gCFRSVMgodpCgAig&codes-processed=true

Uncle Ben
07-19-2013, 09:22 AM
no kidding... :blah:

here's my final answer: awesome that these are still available, and a bargain at $250

http://www.sierratradingpost.com/mountain-hardwear-lightwedge-3-tent-with-footprint-3-person-3-season~p~5504f/?afsrc=1&gclid=CJiA5LLru7gCFRSVMgodpCgAig&codes-processed=true

He wants close-able vents. I have that same model and it is a great medium /small tent.

euroford
07-19-2013, 10:16 AM
He wants close-able vents. I have that same model and it is a great medium /small tent.

Try this out to regulate venting with the rainfly:

on the bottom side loops of the rainfly, rig up an 18" long stretch of cord with a peg tied permanently on the end. (i like the msr groundhogs).

in warmer conditions, pull these side pegs out to stretch out the fly sideways and pull it away from the main tent body. unzipping the top of the door on the rainfly also helps keep a breeze through it.

in colder conditions, thread the pegs down through the side loops on the bottom of the main tent body, and again stretch them out sideways. this pins the fly down to the main tent body securely and really seals up quite well.

during shoulder seasons where -maybe- i would have wanted an actual winter tent this has worked very very well. a good example is our annual thanksgiving climbing trip at indian creek. we've had it get subzero in the dead of the night, and close to 80 when sleeping in the next day. its been great.

i've just found the tents that i can fully close up (like the MH trango's) to be completely insufferable if the weather is actually nice, even with the vents open they just don't vent well enough.

we took the Trango 2 up the liberty ridge route on rainier and it just cooked us when the sun came out. it was like a greenhouse.

no surprise UB has one of these, the man has good taste and lots of toys.

Jenny Cruiser
07-19-2013, 10:29 AM
Keep your old tent! I have an old Kelty Typhoon 4 that's well used and over 12 years old, but still more or less looks/performs as it did the first day I got it. :)

Uncle Ben
07-19-2013, 11:24 AM
no surprise UB has one of these, the man has good taste and lots of toys.

Nice try but "NO" you still may not talk to my daughters.... :rant: :lmao:

Caribou Sandstorm
07-29-2013, 07:06 PM
I have an REI 2 man, 3 season you can borrow, if you don't find what your looking for. Barely used. It is a hiker's tent with a fly though. I would try stoping by the Kelty factory and see what they have on clearance. I love their stuff and why pay full price, when a Blem price is soo much better.

I have a 4 man but not hikeable. Also anotther 3 man and a Target 2 man (which cost me a pittance vs the others and I have used the most.)

You should just come over, drink beer and we will set them all up...lol

Hulk
07-29-2013, 10:40 PM
So after many hours of examination of the new tents that are currently available from a myriad of manufacturers, I gave up and turned to eBay. I am now the proud owner of a second Sierra Designs "Lookout" tent, this one from 1996. Cost was $100.79 + shipping. It's a slightly updated version of my 1992 model. Arrived in good condition. I'm pretty happy with it. :)

I think it's weird that the only tents that can be sealed up these days are the hard core, expedition-worthy 4-season tents. Must be global warming. :rolleyes:

Hulk
07-29-2013, 10:45 PM
also, absolutely DO NOT discount the awesomeness of the bivy sack for actual backcountry use. my favorite setup is a BD Twilight Bivy combined with a MH ultralamina 35 bag and 3/4 length thermarest pro lite. all together this weighs about 2 pounds and fits in the bottom of your pack, sets up in 2 minutes and i sleep like a baby. if the weather is bad enough for this to not be comfortable, its probably time to hike out and go home.

Tim, thanks for such a thoughtful reply. I think I will start looking for some additional tents, probably used, to add to my camping shelves. I've never considered a bivy sack, but I will now start looking.

NoVaGator
07-30-2013, 08:56 AM
I would try stoping by the Kelty factory and see what they have on clearance.

Does Kelty have an outlet store in Boulder?

Caribou Sandstorm
08-02-2013, 12:46 PM
Does Kelty have an outlet store in Boulder?

Not sure, they have a once a year factory sale, I heard you could go there and buy stuff, but I never have. I don't think they advertise it if they do, I just looked at their website. Worth giving them a call, though.

Jacket
08-02-2013, 12:53 PM
So after many hours of examination of the new tents that are currently available from a myriad of manufacturers, I gave up and turned to eBay. I am now the proud owner of a second Sierra Designs "Lookout" tent, this one from 1996. Cost was $100.79 + shipping. It's a slightly updated version of my 1992 model. Arrived in good condition. I'm pretty happy with it. :)

I think it's weird that the only tents that can be sealed up these days are the hard core, expedition-worthy 4-season tents. Must be global warming. :rolleyes:

Great choice. We have the same one from the same vintage (mid-90's). Still going strong and we use it all the time.

euroford
08-05-2013, 09:07 AM
Speaking of Kelty, one thing they make that i've gotten a ton of great use out of is the Noah's tarp. especially if you find them on sale or clearance they are dirt cheap and super useful.

i have a 12' and a 16' and its a great way to get some sun/storm shelter in a small and dirt cheap package. they are not flat in any direction, so if you rig them up correctly you can get them drum tight and they'll stay tight and solid through some horrendous weather.

the 12' model in this photo was used as our 'base camp' shelter for about 6 years doing about 20 days a year outdoors. it finally bit the dust when the grommets that the poles attached to failed. being stretched so tightly puts a lot of load on those points, even still it earned its keep and i've reinforced the 16' with steel plates. they are a bit of a DIY project though, ditch kelty's rigging for spectre cord, a lot of small quick links and a bunch of MSR groundhog pegs.

http://i42.tinypic.com/wlzwvs.jpg