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Tent Advice
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Adam Littell

Locale: Ohio
Tent Advice on 01/01/2013 12:54:42 MST Print View

I've finally saved enough to get a tent and I'd love a little check to make sure I'm thinking it all through. Here's what I'm looking for:
Big enough for my son and I. He'll be 5. I'd love to fit my youngest in another year or two also, so a total of 2 now, and 3 in the future.
Double walled so that when he squirms at night he doesn't rub his bag on the tent and get all wet.
Big enough to hang out in when it's rainy. It's brutal being in a tiny tent with a 4 year old for 12 hours.
As light and compactable as I can get, while still having it cheap enough to afford, and big enough to hang out in. I have to carry all the gear myself for both of us.
We do carry hiking poles.
My budget is $300-$350.
My current top choice is a tarptent stratospire 2, but I just wanted to make sure I had looked into all my options. Any other options or advice?

Yes 1000
My view on 01/01/2013 13:01:37 MST Print View

Even I thinking about buying a really light weight (not Cuben) solo trekking pole based shelter. And after slicing and dicing all the manufacturers TT stands out from the lot by stating everything upfront including weight of the tent. I might buy a Notch for myself.

Richard Lyon
(richardglyon) - MLife

Locale: Bridger Mountains
Tent for you and the kids on 01/01/2013 13:25:57 MST Print View

You may find you want more room than you think with one or two small kids, who tend to scatter. I'd consider a TT Hogback (though it's a bit over your stated price range), which is at capacity with two adults and a nine-year old. If you are determined to stay small, take a look at the MontBell ThunderDome 2, at about $300. Easiest tent to use I've ever owned.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
OK... on 01/01/2013 13:44:07 MST Print View

1. double wall
2. a "big" 2 person tent
3. "light" for its size
4. $350. or less

Tarptent Tarptent Stratospire 2 or Scarp 2 can Both can (barely) handle 3 adults.

The Scarp 2 is about $60. over your budget.

BTW, both tents have two doors. Ya gotta ask yourself, "Do I want kids crawling over me at night to get to a door to go take a whiz?"

Edited by Danepacker on 01/01/2013 13:57:12 MST.

Bradford Rogers
(Mocs123) - MLife

Locale: Southeast Tennessee
Re: Tent Advice on 01/01/2013 13:51:36 MST Print View

What about a Golite Shangri-la 5? It is a 9.5' by 9.5' pyramid that is 73" high at the peak. The fly is 29oz and can be used alone when there are not bugs. The inner is heavy at 40oz but if you are hiking with a 5 year old you probably aren't pounding out big miles anyways. At a later time a inner could be made by bearpaw or others that would probably weigh in at 24oz or so.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Tent on 01/01/2013 14:30:24 MST Print View

I've got a StratoSpire2 and it's a great tent. Lots of space for the weight, and the dual doors and dual large/tall vestibule makes it nice to live out of in the rain.

However, I should mentioned that the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL3 is enormous for it's 3.4 lbs weight and if you're looking for a tent for 3 people to hang out (even if two are kids), I'd give this one a look. The StratoSpire2 is nicer to setup in the rain (protected inner already clipped in place) and nicer to live out of in the wet (ie. fly doesn't sag), but it's not as big as the FC UL3 and as these kids grow up you might want a little more space.

Dustin Short
(upalachango) - MLife
Re: Re: Tent Advice on 01/01/2013 14:48:09 MST Print View

I like Brad's idea, especially since you won't be traveling that far with two little kids. I'd still be concerned with any shelter that has a high fiddle factor during setup while having two little ones running around and exploring in the woods. Also don't underestimate the ability of children to knock down a shelter if it isn't freestanding (knocking down a center pole like the shangri-la or tripping over a guy line on the TTs). Then you're frustrated and tired and kids are crying because they feel bad for wrecking things and so forth...

Instead I'd look into a heavier and cheaper freestanding tent. Basically idiot proof and big and it's something you can pass on to your kids when they get older to start off their gear collection. Currently you could also save a ton of cash and pick up a simple REI Half Dome 2+ or REI Passage. Big enough for two grown adults so should be fine size wise. Freestanding, so near impossible to knock down in normal kid friendly weather. The Half Dome is bigger than the Passage but also heavier 4.5 and 5.5lbs respectively, and unfortunately. However they can be pitched without the inners for a 1lb savings depending on conditions.

Heck, at the current price of $160 for either, you could pick up an MLD Trailstar for yourself! Although now that I think of it the Trailstar is huge and could work with your kids if Eugenius's setup video is any indicator.

Adam Littell

Locale: Ohio
thanks on 01/01/2013 16:07:15 MST Print View

I appreciate everyone's input. I certainly see the benefit of a free standing tent, and I also love the Shangri-La tents. Another major concern of mine is pack size. We've got some fairly bulky sleeping bags, and as a compromise with my wife for even being allowed to take him camping which means that we bring along too many clothes, in case he gets wet. Can anyone comment on the comparative packed sizes of these tents? I had thought that by using our trekking poles, it would save space over a tent that required separate poles. I've got a bunch of old, heavy gear, and I'm taking inspiration from this forum to lighten it up a piece at a time.
Our longest hike together so far has been 6 miles, but with everything strapped to the outside of my external frame pack, it's a bulky way to hike.

Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
Re: Tent Advice on 01/01/2013 18:27:57 MST Print View

Hi Adam- I'm up to about 15 trips with my kids now. Henry is 6 and Lily is 3. When all four of us go, I use a ShangriLa 5 and I am extremely happy with this tent. The above advice regarding space to move is really good, and space to play during bad weather or bugs is a huge plus. Its tough, sets up easily, and can fit more kids ilater on.

When it's just Henry and I, I usually use a Tarptent Rainshadow. But I'd get the Golite if I we you and then pick up a pair of Enlightened Gear Kids quilts to drop weight and increase space. These are great bags- we've had 4 custom bags by Tim as the kids have grown up.

Have fun getting out with your kids! Henry and I just did our first father- son igloo trip!