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Gear Review: Tents

Posted by Rachel Wendling at May 24, 2018 12:33 PM |
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Our gear experts review four of our favorite lightweight tents.

With so many tents on the market, it can feel daunting to pick the right one for you. Our gear experts tested these four great options to help you narrow it down.

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The Tarptent Moment DW is a one-person double-wall tent that’s made in the United States and sewn in Seattle. Unlike most one-person tents, the Moment DW has two doors and two vestibules, providing options for entry and exit and additional gear storage. Pitching is extremely fast: Just insert the arch pole into the rainfly sleeve and insert a stake at each end. The interior is clipped to the rainfly, so it stays dry during setup. Choose from two different interiors: an all-mesh version or a partially solid fabric version for four-season use—or purchase both and switch them out as needed. Add an optional crossing pole for a freestanding setup that can handle light snow loads.

The rainfly and interior floor are made using 30 denier silnylon, a waterproof fabric coated with silicone that is strong and abrasion-resistant. The Moment DW has excellent ventilation, with two vents at the top and two at each end that can be opened or closed depending on conditions. Additionally, the rainfly can be raised higher at the sides and clipped into place when more airflow is needed. Packaged weight: 2 pounds, 5 ounces. Tarptent, $295.

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The REI Half Dome 2 Plus is a two-person double-wall freestanding tent with an extra-roomy interior that can work well for either car camping or backpacking. With a symmetrical layout and interior dimensions of 96 inches by 56 inches, it has plenty of room for two people to spread out and store their gear. It’s also dog friendly, with durable 70-denier floor fabric.

Additional features include four vents in the rainfly to help prevent condensation, and six interior pockets for keeping smaller items within easy reach. In good weather, the rainfly can roll up to allow for airflow and views and can be quickly rolled back down for better protection. While it’s heavier than most backpacking tents for two, the durability and spaciousness of this tent make it a great option for those who don’t mind the extra weight. Packaged weight: 5 pounds, 7 ounces. REI, $229.


The Nemo Hornet Elite two-person tent is an ultralight, free-standing tent with two vestibules. While it’s a tight fit for two people, this tent is a winner for those who care about weight. It’s also light enough to be easily carried by one person. The tent is 85 inches long and 50 inches wide, narrowing to 42 inches at the foot. The vestibules are generously sized, leaving room to store packs and other gear outside.

The stuff sack has a clever design that packs the tent up small when the poles aren’t included in the sack, which makes it easy to split the tent between two people. The tent floor is lightweight 10 denier fabric, so a footprint is a good idea to extend the life of the tent. You can make one yourself or use Nemo’s Hornet footprint, which will add 7 ounces to the weight. Packaged weight: 2 pounds, 3 ounces. Nemo, $499.95.


The Sierra Designs Sweet Suite 2 is a two-person, double-wall tent with some unique approaches to balancing weight and maximizing interior space. The unusual tripod pole design works well for creating floor and head space. It will need to be pitched thoughtfully in strong wind, but with near-vertical tent walls and a soaring 41 inches of headspace (among the highest for this tent category and price point) it seems a solid design choice. It’s comfortable for a smaller couple (and a small dog) and cozy for a bigger couple. But the tent has two doors and vestibules, each large enough to stash boots, soggy raingear and a pack, which makes all the difference.

The tent interior, roomy as it is, is relatively bare-bones—only a few interior pockets and ceiling loops. But you won’t miss an extra stash pocket when you fall asleep under a sky full of stars. The Sweet Suite rainfly can be rolled up and secured for two different half-on configurations. Start your night stargazing, and roll it down quickly if a storm kicks up. Packaged weight: 3 pounds, 10 ounces. Sierra Designs, $369.

This article originally appeared in the May+Jun 2018 issue of Washington Trails Magazine. Support trails as a member of WTA to get your one-year subscription to the magazine.