A million tents later…

Back in 2001, I was doing a lot of mountaineering in Alto Peru and the Cordillera Blanca. I did a fair amount of hiking around Peru and some nearby areas when I could. In 2003, I relocated to the United States and I forgot, completely, the chill of climbing as you traverse the unknown. Years later, in 2008, after a few car camping trips, the bug woke up and the game was on.

I quickly got hooked and by research i started to learn my way around newer technologies but more importantly, the process of adaption into a totally different terrain and climate. After all, I end up in Texas, nothing alike the San Diego weather i grew up with or anything at all like Colorado’s Mountain range that reminds me of the Andes; here is hot, dry and fairly flat by all comparisons and during the summer there’s no way ill be crawling in a tent. Up to date the summer in Texas kills me.

So my car camping experienced as I noted grew quickly (I remember carrying half a house in 2 trips from the car, walking 1/4 mile into a semi primitive site and calling bS  while watching my GearRat friends carrying a 50L backpack each for 2 nights with everything in) Once settle, I got a quick rundown of their expensive gear list so I end up investing on cheap equipment to fit the bill, but the necessity of going lighter was natural….there was no need to carry a 60LB backpack up Aconcagua again!. My development was imminent.

Somehow during this process I got lucky as I became a tester for a well known company that i can’t disclose (liability, confidential waiver, blah blah blah) so beyond my research and my own pocket I was able to test and use multiple shelters and even after my contract completed I wasn’t able to find the perfect shelter.

So here is a list of my search with some basic notes about each product and my experience with them; I will mention a quick progression.

  • Tahoe Gear 2 person tent $35

Cheap but well made single wall with canopy vent, bad ventilation and no vestibule, fiberglass poles, heavy, great for mild winter down to 20F with no winds,perfect for 2 but cramped with gear)

buy it here

  • Alpine Design (Brand from Sports Authority) $45

Flaky, imitation look alike aluminium poles, bad in winds, decent interior space for 1 and no footprint available, good ventilation

Not longer available

  • Eureka Solitaire $69

1 person capacity with lot of room for gear or a dog plus gear, good ventilation in non humid environment, perfect for summer with no rain, bad design front entrance with no vestibule, fiberglass poles easy to break, not free standing, super low profile, easy to pitch, affordable, star gazing roll fly.

buy it here

  • Hi-Tec V lite 2 $50 

Single wall, trekking pole set up by replacing heavy fiberglass front pole to drop the weight to 2lb 8oz, big front vestibule, roomy interior, bad ventilation, requires too many stakes and guy out points, long profile creates sag under bad conditions, resealed recommended.

Not longer available

  • Eureka Spitfire 1 $130

1 person capacity with good elbow room to bring gear inside and good interior height to sit up, a bit hard to get taut, semi free standing, tiny vestibule enough for boots, good interior floor dimensions up to 6’3, quality fabrics, pack-able, excellent in high winds, good ventilation and separation between mesh and fly, no guidelines to reinforce structure, side entry big plus..

buy it here

  •  Six Moon Designs Scout $125

1 person capacity plus gear, interior trekking pole set up, hybrid wall, tiny vestibule for boots only, easy to pitch, not free standing, good ventilation but needs to be seam sealed twice! low profile at the footbox will touch your sleeping bag creating lots of condensation, affordable, ultralight at 34oz, requires only 5 stakes.

buy it here

  • Sierra Designs Stash $165

Long profile 3 pole glorified bivy with enough room to semi sit up, easy pitch,tiny vestibule for boots only, handles bad weather conditions well, tape seams, fairly light 2lb 10oz, semi free standing, requires only 4 stakes which need to be replaced, huge side entrance, good ventilation.

Not longer available

  • MSR Hubba 1 (price paid new $160)

Everything about the hubba is great but the interior floor dimensions are tiny and if you move around with any condensation your bag will get wet from the sides of the bathtub floor. Fairly light 2lb 14oz, decent vestibule to cook in a pinch, plenty head room to sit up, excellent ventilation, full seam sealed, waterproof, free standing.

Not longer available

  • Mountain Hardwear Sprite 1 $180

Full weather protection in hard winds and snow Patagonia style. Semi free standing, easy to pitch, under 3lbs with boobproof fabrics 70D fly, side entrance, low profile not enough to sit up, crawl in shelter, good ventilation,  vestibule big enough for 40l pack plus boots once closed, interior triangular stash space to keep  small items, easy to pitch after practice. One of the best solo tents i had.

Not longer available

  • Alps Mountaineering Zephyr 1 $100

Heavy at almost 4lbs, easy pitch, super roomy interior for 1 plus gear, great ventilation, super thick fly fabrics, handles rain and wind well, front entrance with small vestibule, floor fabric does not need a footprint, poles sleeves and no clips, great ventilation all mesh,  quality zipper and cheap.

buy it here

  • Alps Mystique 1.5  $100

I truly have no bad input about this tent other than my necessity to go lighter.  It is one of the best affordable options in the market. 3lb 2oz

buy it here

  • MSR Carbon Reflex 1 $300

The interior floor dimensions are smaller than the hubba, not free standing,no exterior guidelines, good ventilation, huge side entrance and vertical walls, the awning cross pole is tight and easy to rip the mesh if not careful, your sleeping bag will touch both ends of the mesh transferring condensation, not worth the price tag, fairly light 2lb 8oz.

buy it here

  • North Face Asylum bivy  $220

Ultralight design, 1lb 10oz, fast pitch, no vestibule, good headroom, side entrance, bad ventilation, truly made for alpine above tree line, handles wind well, hard to get taut, lacks guidelines, semi free standing and requires only 2 stakes.

Not longer available

  • Tarptent Notch $280

Amazing complicated and functional design, requires a lot of practice to familiarize with set up and once you do is lighting fast to pitch. Ultralight (28oz), trekking pole structure, fast pitch without a footprint (fly tarp), great ventilation all around with multiple adjustment points, bathtub floor, dual generous vestibule. Nothing bad to say.

buy it here

Up to this point I realize i was never going to find exactly what i wanted and the Notch was clearly my best option, my expectation was perhaps too big and I consider manufacturing my own design…but suddenly I decided to test one more shelter which won all my love.

  • Nemo Veda 1 $330

Nemo came out with the Veda trying to compensate the design problems of the meta series and they did a fantastic job.

The hybrid 32oz shelter has to my expectation everything; plenty interior room with elbow space and long enough for a 6’3 user, 42″ interior height, giant vestibule with 12sf (you can literally have your 60L pack, boots and still have room to cook) and bring your pup buddy to sleep with under,  impeccable ventilation, super fast set up with 2 trekking poles, multiple guy out points for bad weather and side entrance. As hybrid the inner tent will never get wet even if you have the vestibule open.  You can live inside with no major complication and run a storm without the claustrophobic feeling and more importantly makes you feel safe.

buy it here






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