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Advice for a light 2 person, 3 season tent.
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David Vo
Advice for a light 2 person, 3 season tent. on 03/04/2012 16:09:11 MST Print View

Hi everyone. I have been slowly accumulating gear but the one big piece I don't have is a shelter. I just went (car) camping this past weekend and I had a blast. I slept in my friend's REI Half-Dome 2 person tent from early 2000 and it worked great. It was a big crowded with her dog inside but it was perfectly fine. I am 5'8" and there seemed to have been at least 20" of spare room length wise. As long as it's roughly the size of the Half-Dome, I don't need it to be much more spacious.

I don't think I ever intend to hike solo so being ultralight is not a huge concern. I am packing pretty lightweight though and I do intend to do backpacking, so not just car camping where weight is not a concern. I'd actually like a solo tent but to be honest, I don't see a situation where I'd go solo. I just hate the idea of being in a situation where I am sleeping alone and have to deal with the weight of a 2 person tent.

Anyway, I live on the Central Coast of California. The coldest it got this winter is probably low to mid 30's. I am not planning on camping in Alaska or anything.

I am looking for a lightweight (4 pounds or less, preferbly) 2 person tent that can comfortably fit two people. I want a real tent, not a tarp or anything requiring some funky setup like the use of trekking poles. I'd like it to be free standing. I am looking to spend $300 or less if possible.

P.S. I did see other threads with similar requests but I didn't want to intrude on their topic.

Thanks for your help.

Edited by sygyzy on 03/05/2012 12:39:28 MST.

Ben F
(tekhna) - F
Re: Advice for a light 2 person, 3 season tent. on 03/04/2012 16:19:02 MST Print View

The Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2 sounds like it would fit the bill pretty well. You can find them for 279 on sale right now, and at about 2 pounds, they're a great option.

Edit: Or there's one on Gear Swap for 190--
That's a great deal.

Edited by tekhna on 03/04/2012 16:22:03 MST.

David Vo
UL2 too tight for two people? on 03/04/2012 16:33:56 MST Print View

Hi Ben,

Thanks for the quick reply. I have always had Big Agnes products on my wish list but I see notes I've made to myself that the rule for BA tents is they are supposedly very cramped and you have to get the next size up to be comfortable. For example, the Fly Creek UL3 is what you'd need for two people to sleep comfortably. This is echoed on the REI reviews for the product. What do you think?

Ben F
(tekhna) - F
Re: UL2 too tight for two people? on 03/04/2012 16:42:05 MST Print View

I can't actually speak to the size of the Fly Creek, but I think it just depends on how the walls pitch in. 86*52 is a pretty standard 2P tent size, but the usable space could be less. The walls look pretty steep so it may be cramped. If you've got an REI or something near by, I'd set it up and see how you fit in it. Others here might be able to comment on it as well.
Another good option is a Mountain Hardware Skyledge 2.1. That thing is absolutely rock solid, but heavier. I use a Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2, but that's mostly because I'm 6'4". I need the size, so I take the weight penalty.

Yuri R
(Yazon) - F

Tent on 03/04/2012 16:48:04 MST Print View

Hi David,
I was also in the same situation: Needed two person, 3 season tent, light, inexpensive, not too cramped. I've ended up buying Stoic Arx 2 XL from - the price was half of the retail and it is a great tent all around. I wouldn't pay full price for it, but if you can score a deal like i did - you will enjoy it a lot.

I've used it on a trip to Mammoth Lakes when temps dropped below zero and there was snow around us. We had no issues and it performed well. It is not as light as BA UL2, but the price, size and features made up for the difference in weight.

If not Stoic - then go to REI and take a look at the tents they have in store - sometimes they have good lightweight options available.

Curtis B.
(rutilate) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: UL2 too tight for two people? on 03/04/2012 18:08:17 MST Print View

I have two of the Fly Creek UL2 tents and am considering selling one of them. I quite like them. They are plenty long enough for me at 5'10". As a solo tent it is awesome. My daughter and I slept in it in pretty cold weather and did just fine. To change clothing, though, I had to have my daughter move all the way over to the side so I had enough headroom to maneuver in the center. As long as you're comfortable being a bit cozy with each other it is a good tent.

Interestingly, my three kids shared a Tarptent Rainshadow 2 and had room enough for all their gear inside. It only weighs 1 oz more than the UL2 w/o footprint. This tent has more headroom and more space.

William Johnsen
(sixoclocknews) - F
Re: Fly Creek on 03/04/2012 19:00:11 MST Print View

I think you're right about sizing up. My girlfriend and I used it and it was crammed, like so much so that it's not our present tent. It depends on the length of your trip (how much gear you have), but it's pretty much a tent you slide into when you're ready to sleep and are excited to escape in the morning.

Dale Emery
(emeryd) - M

Locale: Montana
Re: Advice for a light 2 person, 3 season tent. on 03/04/2012 21:18:35 MST Print View

I have a Big Agnes Fly Creek UL3, it will sleep 2 people. There is no way you could sleep 3 people without serious spooning. It weights 4 lbs, 0.8 oz with everything, including optional ground cloth. That's 2 lbs per person if you split the load.

David Vo
Thanks on 03/04/2012 21:40:14 MST Print View

I love the BPL community. Thank you so much for the great advice and feedback everyone. I think right now I am crossing the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2 off the list. I am OK being a bit cramped but it really just sounds like they are pushing it too much.

Yuri - I have a Stoic sleeping pad and sleeping bag. Maybe I should make it a triple. I will check out your suggestions.

I am ok with a tight-ish fit for two but not that much. I am being greedy in wanting a lightweight tent that can fit two but will still be light enough that it makes sense carrying it even on solo trips.

Has anyone tried the L.L. Bean Microlight FS2?

Yuri R
(Yazon) - F

Stoic tent on 03/04/2012 21:59:03 MST Print View

By the way - i'm 6'3" and my dad is about 5'11", so two of us fit fine in the tent. We even put some gear inside (mostly clothes, flashlights, etc). Two vestibules stored our packs, boots - that extra space was absolutely essential. I would have to put my boots/pack inside the sleeping are or outside of the tent completely.

I also have Stoic Somnus sleeping bag and their air-pad. While stoic may not have the same following as some other brands - i find quality and utility to be on par with more famous and expensive manufacturers.

Diana Nevins
(artemis) - MLife

Locale: Great Plains
Add the Lunar Duo to your list? on 03/05/2012 12:01:58 MST Print View

I know you said you didn't want any "funky setups", but you might want to consider the Six Moon Designs Lunar Duo. It's an extremely roomy two-person tent, and while it's designed to be set up with trekking poles, you can buy regular poles from Six Moon Designs to use with it instead. Right now the original model is on sale (look in the Bargain Bin), and the new Outfitter model (which is heavier by about a pound) can be had for a very reasonable $160 (not including poles).

David Vo
Re: Add the Lunar Duo to your list? on 03/05/2012 12:24:25 MST Print View

If I go with the Lunar Duo and use the SMD poles, how much extra weight does it add? Is the new packed weight size still considered light? And the poles collapse or do I have to carry around 3 foot sections like a tripod or trekking pole?

Also, I see the Explorer listed as $310 and the bargain bin version at $260. Did you make a typo or is there something I am not seeing?


Edited by sygyzy on 03/05/2012 12:28:25 MST.

Ben F
(tekhna) - F
Re: Re: Add the Lunar Duo to your list? on 03/05/2012 12:34:19 MST Print View

I don't know if it matters to you, but I don't think the Duo is freestanding.

David Vo
Re: Re: Re: Add the Lunar Duo to your list? on 03/05/2012 12:38:46 MST Print View

Oh, it does matter to me :( Thanks Ben

Diana Nevins
(artemis) - MLife

Locale: Great Plains
More Lunad Duo info on 03/05/2012 12:52:06 MST Print View

The poles are segmented and held together by shock cord, like regular tent poles. There are two versions, the carbon fiber poles, which are lighter but much more expensive (3.6 ounces for a pair, total cost $60), and the aluminum versions, which are heavier but cheaper (6 ounces for a pair, total cost $28).

There are currently three models of the Lunar Duo available. The $310 version of the Lunar Duo is the new 2012 silnylon model, which features a few minor improvements over the older silnylon version which is now on sale in the Bargain Bin for $260. The inexpensive Outfitter model is a polyurethane coated fabric rather than silnylon, which is why it's both heavier and cheaper.

And, as Ben mentioned, the Lunar Duo isn't a freestanding tent. Most people don't find that to be a must-have feature, but of course that depends on what sort of surfaces you pitch your tent on. Bear in mind there are ways of making a non-freestanding tent pitchable on most hard surfaces; it just takes some know-how (and a bit of work). And in general, you still want to stake freestanding tents for safety's sake. But if you really need a freestanding tent, then the Lunar Duo won't work for you.

David Vo
Re: More Lunad Duo info on 03/05/2012 14:07:37 MST Print View

I just realized, embarassingly, I don't really know what free-standing means. Well, I do know what it means but what are the practical pros/cons for it? Does a non-freestanding tent require BOTH soft ground to stake and a tree for support?

Edited by sygyzy on 03/05/2012 14:08:17 MST.

Kevin Babione
(KBabione) - MLife

Locale: Pennsylvania
Lunar Duo on 03/05/2012 14:24:34 MST Print View

As mentioned above, the Lunar Duo is NOT freestanding - that is, it requires stakes or some sort of anchor to the surface to be set up properly.

It's a great tent and very roomy even for two - the double doors and vestibules are really nice for that. You will not be able to set it up in a parking lot - I had a friend who was sleeping with his son in the outfield of the local minor league stadium and he couldn't use this tent either because stakes were not permitted. I've set it up successfully on a platform (there are some of those along the AT - this one was) but it required a little extra work and some extra rope in my case.

I didn't know SMD was offering the Lunar Duo in different flavors (like the SkyScape). Brilliant move!

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
Advice for a light 2 person, 3 season tent on 03/05/2012 14:56:22 MST Print View

Take a look at the Tarptent DR.
I have recommended that to solo users that want a double just in case.
At 41 oz with pole and stakes (6) it is light enough and packs small enough (20"x4") to compete with solo shelters.
If you want, with trekking poles you can have a freestanding set up but it is easy enough to erect on platforms (for example) just using the tie out points.
This is my short video on the DR :
TT Double Rainbow
Note the dry set up,dry entry and rain porch , nice when you are stuck inside on a bad day

Tarptent Downunder

Diana Nevins
(artemis) - MLife

Locale: Great Plains
Freestanding Pros and Cons on 03/05/2012 14:57:52 MST Print View

With a freestanding tent, the pole structure gives the tent its basic shape. A nonfreestanding tent generally has fewer poles, and thus depends on the stakes to pull the tent into its proper shape. Accordingly a non-freestanding tent needs an alternative way of anchoring the tie-out points when you pitch on a surface where you can't drive in a stake, since staking the tie-out points is needed to get the tent to hold its basic shape. Fastening the tie-out point to trees (or any other fixed structures) is one alternative. Another alternative is to push a stick through the tie-out point, pull that corner of the tent taut, then stack a pile of rocks on top of the stick to hold the stick in that position. Or you can use a snow anchor ( instead of a regular stake, and put something sufficiently heavy inside the anchor to hold it in place.

If you regularly pitch on very hard ground, such as slickrock or asphalt parking lots, a freestanding tent is more convenient (although you'll still want to find some way to weight down the corners to keep a wind gust from blowing your tent away!). If you don't, and are willing to get creative on those occasions when you do find yourself on such a surface, then a non-freestanding tent works well.

Diana Nevins
(artemis) - MLife

Locale: Great Plains
And yet another suggestion on 03/05/2012 15:15:46 MST Print View

You might also want to look at the TarpTent Scarp 2, which is freestanding if you get the optional crossing pole setup.