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Finally! Wife wants to come with me on longer section hikes. Need a bigger tent. Recommendations please!
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Cesar Valdez
(PrimeZombie) - F

Locale: Scandinavia
Finally! Wife wants to come with me on longer section hikes. Need a bigger tent. Recommendations please! on 04/16/2014 05:56:48 MDT Print View

After years of watching me go on my little adventures, my wife has only gone with me on occasional overnight trips to trail shelters. When we go car camping with the kids, we take two solo tents and sleep one adult and one kid in each.

But after seeing me do a bunch of pre-planning for Kungsleden, and seeing pictures of the trail, and hearing good things from friends that have been there, my wife sat me down and told me she wants to go with me. Great news for me, because this will be our first long section hike together (around 120km in 5-6 days). The only downside is that I was planning on doing it solo this summer, and will now have to hold off so we can do it together next summer (work and babysitting complications), but I am happy to wait until then.

So BPL couples, help us out. We have about 400-500 bucks to spend on a good, lasting 2-3 person tent. My wife insists on tent and not tarp/net tent combo or other such alternatives. Needs to be very rain and wind worthy, as this will be primarily be used in Scandinavia for long distance backpacking. But my wife has no interest in winter camping, so heavy snow is not an issue.

I'd like it, naturally, to be as light as possible--especially because I am going to be the one carrying it. We don't want any pyramid tents, as we'd also like to use whatever tent we get for family car camping trips, and don't want the pole getting knocked over by kids or in the way (plus not much head room in 'Mids).

We've look around online at lots of different lightweight tents, and the two that we like most so far are both from Tarptent: the Cloudburst 3 and the Double Rainbow.

There's not that much online about the Cloudburst 3 that I could find. Some good reviews on here, but no videos or long term reviews that I know of. Double Rainbow has rave reviews and is both slightly cheaper and lighter, but not as much space or ventilation/views. We're a bit split on these two.

Any other 2-3 person tents that can compete with the CB3 or DR for our wants/needs? And those of you that have either tent and use it frequently for two people, I'd love to hear feedback from you.

Edited by PrimeZombie on 04/16/2014 05:58:13 MDT.

David Maxwell

Locale: eastern, tn
Re on 04/16/2014 06:12:18 MDT Print View

We are in the same boat. I emailed tarptent to see if they will be at trail days in Damascus next month. Unfortunately they won't be there. We were hoping to see the cloudburst 3 in person. We think we are either going to go with it or the lightheart duo. But we wnt know for sure until we check out the vendors at TrailDays. .. Good luck on your search!

Nathan Watts
(7sport) - MLife
Big Sky on 04/16/2014 06:34:21 MDT Print View

I've got a couple of tents from Big Sky, one of which is a 3 person that I use with my wife and dogs. I highly recommend their products.

Edited by 7sport on 04/16/2014 06:35:04 MDT.

Nathan Wernette
(werne1nm) - M

Locale: Michigan
REI QD3 on 04/16/2014 07:39:13 MDT Print View

My wife an I bought the REI QD3. decently lightweight for two people to carry. You can try the QD2 if you don't need the extra space and the third vesty.

Christopher Graf
(cgraf) - M

Locale: So Cal
Big Sky on 04/16/2014 07:49:29 MDT Print View

+1 for Big Sky
I have the Rev 1p and couldn't be happier. Will probably pick up the Chinook 2p for hikes with my daughter and leave the third pole behind....will be used as a solo winter tent too. This design should do well in the wind.

Edited by cgraf on 04/16/2014 16:38:11 MDT.


Locale: Outdoors -MN
Consider Straospire 2 on 04/16/2014 07:52:30 MDT Print View

Consider adding the Stratospire 2 to your list.

Our family had this experience last summer. We actually had placed an order for the Cloudburst 3, struggled with the idea of the Double Rainboaw but ultimately went with the Tarptent Starospire 2. Thanks again to Mr. Shires for his patience

We could not be happier. The Stratospire 2 gives us protected space for 2 and all our gear plus a dog. We have the versatility to squeeze in 3 when the kids are along or eliminate the interior netting for rain protection for 4.

The geometry is attractive, set-up is quick and easy. Packs small and light. Side entry and two large vestibules make entry/exit in poor weather easy.

Best tent I've ever owned or used.

Stuart .
(lotuseater) - F

Locale: Colorado
Re: ...Need a bigger tent... on 04/16/2014 08:08:05 MDT Print View

The CB3's tunnel design is almost identical to the Hilleberg Kaitum 3 that I own. Shorter vestibules will limit gear storage, but for 3 season use that shouldn't be an issue. At less than 1/2 the weight of the K3 in standard configuration, the CB3 seems like a great modular shelter, with the options for a mesh liner and a third pole. Vertical doors and near vertical walls will make this feel very spacious for two, manageable for three. Ventilation is excellent when you point one end into the wind.

However, based on my experience with the K3, I will tell you it is long and site selection becomes trickier when not on snow. Also, some folks aren't keen on doors at the head / foot end, and prefer side entrances. Finally, it won't be quite as wind-shedding without the optional third pole if the prevailing direction changes and broadsides the shelter.

Have you considered the Stratospire 2? The offset trekking poles don't get in the way when entering / exiting, the vestibules are massive, and each of you will have your own entrance. You have the option of mesh or semi solid inner, and the inner if flexible enough for two or three sleeping pads. Finally the design sheds wind well even when the direction changes.

Yang Lu
Re: Finally! Wife wants to come with me on longer section hikes. Need a bigger tent. Recommendations please! on 04/16/2014 09:31:13 MDT Print View

I am also preparing Kungsleden trail now. I am thinking to bring Big Agnes Fly Creek UL 3. It is very comfortable for two.

By the way, when are you going? I am going on May 16th. Not sure if microspike is needed for the first section.


Bob Shaver
(rshaver) - F

Locale: West
another good tent for a couple on 04/16/2014 10:15:21 MDT Print View

My wife is somewhat claustrophobic, and two man dome tents are too confining for her. My Tarptent Squall II works great for her. Plenty of room for 2, and good view of sky from inside, plus its got a band of mesh all the way around, for openness. Its great in rain and wind, and lightweight.

To keep the wife interested and having fun, my suggestion is to not do too many miles, have good food, keep her pack light, get new clothes for her, provide opportunities for showering, and consider taking a camp chair for her to sit on. Don't let her do dishes and have her cook only if she wants to. Getting the wife on a longer trip is a once in a lifetime chance for a good impression. Don't blow it by being a macho jerk and going for maximum mileage.

Michael Barber

Locale: Western NC Mountains
Lightheart duo on 04/16/2014 10:19:49 MDT Print View

I own the lightheart duo and love it. It has a plenty of room for us plus gear. And it's pretty light. My setup is 34 oz including stakes, seam sealing and seam seal painted on the floor for extra grip. You can also order it with a "wedge" that would likely make a big difference to someone who can feel claustrophobic.

Rick Adams
(rickadams100) - M
scarp 2 on 04/16/2014 10:33:04 MDT Print View

Depending on your wife's comfort with "well ventilated" tents I'd be looking at an SS2 or Scarp 2 with solid inner. Both reasonably light for 2 and very much like traditional tents when inside. Some less experience folks prefer to be less "in touch" with nature when the sun goes down.

Steve Meier
(smeier) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
SMD Lunar Duo or SD Lightening 2 UL on 04/16/2014 11:28:41 MDT Print View

I recently bought and used a SMD Lunar Duo and I'm surprised it doesn't get more mentions on this site. At 41 oz in silnylon, it has a huge interior with 2 large vestibules and entrances. Really a great tent for $310.

And Sierra Designs is creating some neat product. I looked at their Lightening 2 UL tent this weekend at REI and for a 2-person double-wall tent, it's worth taking a look at it. It seems comprobable to the Fly Creek 3 in interior size and shape but it is unique in that it has two vestibules for gear, accessible from the interior through small zipped U-shaped accesses. At 3 lbs, 7 oz its not ultralight but for a wife new to backpacking, it would be very comfortable I would think. Price at REI is $360. I bet you could find it on sale somewhere.

Cesar Valdez
(PrimeZombie) - F

Locale: Scandinavia
Still a hard choice... on 04/16/2014 11:46:22 MDT Print View

Thanks for the feedback everyone.

David - Let us know which tent you go for and what your first impressions are! I have over a year to plan, so I can take my time on making the final choice on a tent.

Big Sky - They seem a bit on the heavy side, or at least heavier than the Tarptent choices. Plus if you get all the fancy extras, can cost a pretty penny. But I'll try and check out some reviews and keep it in consideration.

REI QD3 - Too heavy, if you ask me. 1.7kg minimum trail weight vs. 1.48kg of the CB3 is a significant difference, for instance.

DC - Yeah, the SS2 on the short list too. I like that it has a flexible design, with the separate inner and outer fly. But wife is not sure if she wants to take trekking poles, and I use them about 50% of the time. The CB3 also seems like it would be easier to set up, but seeing as I am only basing this on the videos, not really sure about this point. Anyhow, CB3 is still in the lead, albeit only slightly, but thanks for your positive review of SS2.

Stuart - Yeah, site selection with bigger tents is an issue. And I agree that the SS2 would shed wind better, but the CB3 does have tie outs on the walls to stake them out. The side entrance vs. front/back entrance for me is a wash in this case, because the CB3 has double vestibules and doors. Thanks for your insights on the K3. Less than half the weight! Yikes. I hope it has a lot of extras and such.

Yang - We are probably going in late May or early June. You might need spikes in early May, but it's pretty nice weather (spring in full swing) from what I have heard/read by late May.

Bob - Thanks for your insights on the Sq2, also seems like a nice tent. Wife vetoed it, however, because she likes the space of the CB3 (and recently, also the SS2).

As far as your other advice, thanks for that too. My wife has been on many trips with me before, just not longer section hikes. She walks/hikes quite a bit and 20km in a day is not an issue for her, and could do more too. I never force or even ask her to do the dishes, even at home! And both at home and on the trail, I am the cook 90% of the time. To me, "macho" is an essentialist concept, and therefore meaningless. But I digress...

Lightheart Duo - Seems like a nice tent too, but again there is the trekking pole issue. Plus it's not as spacious--but the weight (along with the Squall2) sure is nice.

SMD Lunar Duo - Again, trekking pole issue. But also seems like a good choice. I guess I should have put in the OP the whole trekking pole issue. I suppose my wife and I will have to discuss using them more, as they open up more options.

Didn't expect so much response, especially after the crickets in my last thread. Thanks a bunch guys, and keep the feedback coming!

Nathan Watts
(7sport) - MLife
Re: Still a hard choice... on 04/16/2014 12:16:53 MDT Print View

You said
"Big Sky - They seem a bit on the heavy side, or at least heavier than the Tarptent choices."

While I haven't shopped for tents in a few years I do recall the Big Sky options to be among the lightest available for the volume and type of tent back then. Big Sky tents tend to be double wall tents and include the weight of their poles, whereas Tarptents tend to be single wall and don't include the weight of the poles. Make sure you understand the trade offs made to achieve lighter packed weights. Tarptents and Big Sky tents tend to have plenty of volume, but you should definitely pay attention to the volume/footprint area that other manufacturers specify. You'll find that some 2P tents, while light, are better suited to single person use. Single vs. double wall, free standing vs. not, and dedicated poles vs. trecking poles are things you should be paying attention to as well.

Edit to note that you also thought Big Sky tents were expensive.

I won't argue with you there. They are. I think they're worth it though because I wanted the features they offer (free standing, easy to use, size, weight, etc). I thought they might fit the budget you outlined, but barely.

Edited by 7sport on 04/16/2014 12:26:34 MDT.

Derek M.
(dmusashe) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Finally! Wife wants to come with me on longer section hikes. Need a bigger tent. Recommendations please! on 04/16/2014 12:49:35 MDT Print View

"Double Rainbow has rave reviews and is both slightly cheaper and lighter, but not as much space or ventilation/views"

I was a little confused by the statement above. I think the Double Rainbow has fantastic ventilation and views. When there's fair weather, you just roll up the vestibules and tuck them away to afford yourself good views out either side and great ventilation.

Also, when it's raining but not storming, you can set the vestibules up in "porch mode" and maintain great ventilation and views while still staying dry.

Just keep in mind that in extended rain you will need to wipe down the inside of the silnylon roof every so often to keep condensation splash under control (this will be true for any single wall shelter). A little microfiber towel works well for this.

Edited by dmusashe on 04/16/2014 12:53:13 MDT.

Ron Moak
(rmoak) - F
Trekking Pole tents. on 04/16/2014 13:01:49 MDT Print View

You should note in your review of trekking pole tents. That everyone who makes and sells these tents also sell optional poles (either aluminum or carbon fiber) to use in place of trekking poles. Many of these tents are also used by cyclist, river paddlers and anyone else who don't use trekking poles.

Cesar Valdez
(PrimeZombie) - F

Locale: Scandinavia
More good points on 04/16/2014 13:57:56 MDT Print View

Nathan - You are right about weight to volume, but where Big Sky becomes competitive with other UL tents and hybrid tents is when you spring the extra dough for the fancy options, e.g. super UL silnylon, carbon fiber poles, etc. You are right about the double wall tent having pros over single wall, and of course what weigh is included and how 2 person tents are often 1 person tents plus gear. All good points, thanks for including them in the discussion.

Derek - Good to know about the DR, thanks! This is exactly the kind of feedback from people that own or have owned one of these tents I was after.

Ron - Funny. My wife and I literally just read over the tents on your site. Now we're considering Haven tarp/net tent now that my wife understands that it's pretty much like a tent. At around 1kg with stakes and stuff sacks, the Haven combo is pretty tempting. When are the silnylon Haven tarps back in stock?

Great point about poles, thanks for that. Don't know why I didn't mention that earlier. But now of course my wife is leaning towards trekking poles after all.

Edited by PrimeZombie on 04/16/2014 13:58:37 MDT.

robert van putten

Locale: Planet Bob
Rainshadow 2 on 04/16/2014 15:55:05 MDT Print View

I'll adda plug for the Rainshadow 2, TarpTents nifty three man version of the Squall 2.

I was amazed at the light weight and space of this tent from the start. It has all the room two people and all their gear could ever want and then some.

It is listed as a three-man tent and I feel that is an honest rating.

Only 43 ounces? This is less than half the weight of the tent I had been carrying, and it uses less stakes to boot!

This tent is very easy to set up. It uses a long multi-sectioned pole for the back arch, a trekking pole or two in front and just four stakes for the basic setup. It can be setup using one pole or two in the front. I have found that one pole is entirely sufficient and seems to leave more clear space to get in and out.

The front and back stakes are the critical. If these pull out, down comes the tent. The two other stakes are used to pull out the front corners. That’s it!

The tent does have two side tie–outs in the middle that are not ordinarily used. Get string, tie ‘em to these tie out points, and carry two extra stakes.

If you get any kind of high winds hitting the side of the tent, you’ll probably wish you had used these side tie outs. Two stakes and string is about an extra ounce, and with this tent you can afford the weight!

I believe the use of these side tie outs will greatly reduce the chance of getting rain blown in the sides of the tent through the mesh, because you can pull the sides out so they overhang the side significantly, and in practice I always use them.

My wife and I always carry an eight inch one ounce aluminum snow stake for use as a potty trowel. Now it serves double duty as a magnum tent stake for use in loose soil.

In the photo below we camped in sandy soil at a lake shore. The extra-long and wide snow stake firmly anchored the front cord, and I used two of the ordinary stakes supplies with the tent to nail down the back cord.


After several trips I stopped using a ground sheet with this tent. This saves an additional few ounces of weight but also saves setup and take down hassle. I am happy to report that the silnylon floor has held up perfectly well so far on more than a dozen nights use in various terrain. Tarp Tent says ground sheets are not usually needed and I believe them.

This is a big tent and at first I was worried about finding sufficient space to pitch it, but as I came to know it better such thoughts have faded away.

One time the only dry-ish flat spot I could find wasn’t quite big enough. The ground in front of the tent was muddy and sloped down. No problem, I simply pitched the tent right up against a small fallen log, ran the back cord over the log and tied it off to the base of a small bush.

Tying the front or back cords off to a bush is a great way to solidly anchor them if the soil is loose and you don’t have a big snow stake handy, and of course you don't need clear space for them. The front and back of the tent can be right up against trees, bushes or what-not. Simply tie off to them.

west fork lake

Another time we had hiked long and hard one day, and found ourselves nowhere near an established camp site at the end of the day. We simply moved off the trail to an area under mature trees with no undergrowth and with our boots scuffed, kick and built up a flattish area just big enough for our two sleeping pads side by side and pitched the tent over that.

The tent itself was not at all level, but the little dished out area in the center was good enough to sleep in. Thus, like a true tarp you need not find a level spot big enough for the whole thing, just big enough for your bodies to occupy.

The floor is connected to the canopy only by mesh, and you have plenty of leeway to play with.

You cannot hang the tent over obstacles and bushes as you can with a true tarp though.

Looks level but it ain't. One corner of the tent is up off the ground and the low end sags. So what? Where we slept in the middle was fine.

salmo loop

This shelter is somewhere between a tarp and a regular tent when it comes to privacy. Ordinarily this is of no concern to us, but on a recent trip to the Grand Canyon we found ourselves at a crowded camp ground. No matter, just face the tent in a private direction.

Bright Angle

This tent has one door, unlike some fancy tents with two doors. We don’t mind as there is more than enough clear space for two people to use the one door without having to climb over each other. Lots of elbow room.

BA camp

Last summer we spent two nights camped in an exposed location at 6,000 feet at Fault Lake Idaho, and one night a terrible storm blew in.

The performance of the tent in that nasty storm did a whole lot to boost our confidence in this tent. The high winds and rain hit the tent broadside, and the tent was pitched in an exposed spot on a ledge above the lake. This was the worst position this tent could have been set up in. We did ship a little water blown in the exposed side, but we and all our gear was bone dry. The silnylon floor with no ground cloth did not soak through, and the canopy did not mist in the heavy, wind driven, all night rain. This tent is serious shelter.

That morning I discovered the vestibule of the tent is plenty big enough to cook in, as I fed my wife and myself, then scurried out into the storm to feed the three other people we were with who were camped nearby. This is a big vestibule!

wind and rain

Condensation has not been an issue with us. I think maybe because it has so much square footage compared to the enclosed volume?

I have never had a stake pull loose, but then I well know the integrity of all non-freestanding tents depends upon how well the primary stakes are set, and I pitch accordingly. If in doubt I use our magnum snow stake or simply tie off to a bush.

This tent has become our standard backpacking shelter and has contributed greatly to our new lower pack weights, which is a good thing. It takes up little space in the pack ( but a bigger stuff sack might be nice ) and is simple enough to set it up that after a long days hike when I an fatigued I don’t have to fuss setting it up.

Edited by Bawana on 04/16/2014 16:04:52 MDT.

Bradford Rogers
(Mocs123) - MLife

Locale: Southeast Tennessee
Re: Finally! Wife wants to come with me on longer section hikes. Need a bigger tent. Recommendations please! on 04/16/2014 16:19:25 MDT Print View

Have you considered a big mid, like the Golite Shangri-la 5, Oware 9x9 or 10x10 mid, MLD Supermid, or Black Diamond mid with a custom net tent from BearPaw or similar? This allows for a roomy sleeping area with more headroom than most, as well as a large vestibule for cooking and gear. A mid should be able to handle wind well too.

Jon Fong
(jonfong) - F

Tent for two on 04/16/2014 21:36:11 MDT Print View

I had a Tarptent Rainshodow II. Excellent tent for the weight. The biggest isse for me was that it need a pretty large area to stake down. I also found it limited when pitching above treeline (hard surfaes and in super soft surfaces (sandy or snow).

I am now using a Big Agnus Copper Spur UL3. Heavier but free standing and can fit in a smaller patch. Additionally, a lot more headroom than the Rainshadow II. I also like that fact that once set up, I cam move it around to optimize the placement / location.

My 2 cents,