By Will Rietveld and Janet Reichl
Note to readers: My complete coverage of the summer 2013 OR Show, exclusive of shelters and backpacks, is at www.gossamergear.com (click on Blog, then Buzz).
Shelters keep getting lighter. Not that long ago, a sub-5-pound 2-person tent was considered “lightweight”. Now that is the case for a 2P shelter under 4 pounds. At the latest OR we started seeing a few dropping into the 2.5 pound range for a hybrid or double wall tent with floor, and less than that for a floorless shelter.
The shelters in this roundup from OR are mostly from larger manufacturers, and I am pleased to see the steady trend toward lighter shelters by incorporating lighter weight materials as they become available. However, note that the very lightest shelters come from small cottage manufacturers that cater to dedicated weight pinchers. For example, a two person single wall Cuben Fiber shelter with stakes and guylines can weigh less than one pound. For more info on those SuperUltraLight shelters, read my series on Mountain SuperUltraLight Backpacking at www.backpackinglight.com.
In this report I will clarify as much as possible what type of shelter each one is, and provide stats on floor area and headroom, and features, because all of these factors contribute to weight as well as user acceptance. Manufacturers can easily lighten a tent by making it smaller and removing features, which make it less acceptable. Buyers need to know that. We all have different preferences for a shelter, and are willing to accept certain tradeoffs to reduce weight, but we need to know what we are buying.
Types of Shelters:
1. Single Wall – the entire tent is one layer of fabric, often supported by trekking poles to save weight.
2. Hybrid – part of the tent is single wall (usually the ceiling) and part is double wall (usually a side entry with vestibules). The tent is erected as a unit and poles are external or internal. Some use trekking poles to save weight.
3. Double Wall – consists of an inner tent (usually LW mesh to save weight and increase ventilation) and an outer fly. A DW tent is usually freestanding and heavier.
Note: Weights listed are manufacturer’s trail weights; what’s included in that weight can vary by manufacturer, and accuracy can vary. I did not weigh the tents. All shelters will be available in spring 2013 unless stated otherwise.