Category Archives for Adventure Gear

La Sportiva Women’s Gamma Hoody for Warmth in Action

Jackets that are made for warmth aren’t always made for aerobic action. For as many times I’ve been out in the cold in my puffy jacket and been thankful I had it, I’ve also been out with the same jacket while snowshoeing, ice climbing, and cross-country skiing and been sweating to death.

That’s why I’m thankful for my La Sportiva Women’s Gamma Hoody.

Made with Technostretch (88 percent polyester, 12 percent elastic) fabric, the hoody allows for a wide freedom of movement with the four-way stretch material. That’s essential when you’re out and moving, instead of hanging out during après, or taking a leisurely walk between your hotel and the restaurant. It’s fade- and pilling-resistant, too, so you’ll have it longer than some of the competing hoodies.

The fabric also has a Bluesign-approved Polygiene anti-bacterial and anti-odor treatment, so you don’t have to worry about smelling funky after wearing it for a few days of activity. And when your suitcase is packed full of heavy winter wear, you want to make sure that every piece of clothing can be worn more than once. And hey, it’s it more fun to roll into the bar right after a great outdoor excursion than to take the time to shower and pretty up and then get your rewarding beverage?

The flatlock seams won’t chafe or rub when you’re outside doing your thing, and the flat pocket construction ensures that when you toss your phone or keys into your pocket, the items won’t get in your way—unless you shove tons of things in there.

The two front hand-warmer pockets are large enough for your hands, as well as some additional gear (as mentioned above) and zip so you don’t lose things. A smaller arm zippered pocket can stash cash, cards, or a phone if it doesn’t bug you.

One of my favorite things is ponytail access in the back of the hood, because it’s not entirely comfortable to have your hair in a ponytail and then shoved into a hood. This way, you can let your pony fly free.

The La Sportiva Women’s Gamma Hoody comes in berry or fjord/blue moon, and lists for $139 on the La Sportiva site.

Organize Your Gear with Light My Fire Add-a-Twist

Maybe it’s just me, but when I have backpacks with tons of extra pockets, I often forget what gear item I put into which pocket, necessitating a short guessing game for the first couple tries. There’s something to be said for consolidating your storage system, rather than spreading it out.

If you’re anything like me, you may want to check out Add-a-Twist, by Light My Fire. The rugged BPA-free polypropylene container is designed to slip into backpacks and keep your gear and food safe, dry and organized.

The entire package has three differently sized containers: small (3.75 oz.), medium (10.15 oz.) and large (18.25 oz.). Use all three, remove one or two, or rearrange the order with a simple twist. The containers are impact resistant, so if you accidentally drop them, the contents will still be OK, unless you packed an egg—in which case, you might want to rethink your packing habits.

There are two lids and a lid/handle, so all three containers can be sealed. The lids are double sealed for a water- and airtight closure, and a bayonet lock allows quick and easy access to any compartment.

The strong, molded handle makes it easy to pack, carry, or hang the stacked containers, and the stacking design keeps lids and bottoms of containers free from dirt (except the one you choose to be on the bottom of the stack).

I’ve used the Add-a-Twist on camping trips, as well as hiking trips when I wanted to have decent foot containers but also keep room for first-aid essentials. I’ve also used it on beachcombing adventures, when my daughter wanted to keep shells separate from beach glass.

The Add-a-Twist is easy to clean, so bring it along on your sandy beach adventures, like I did. No big deal. It also floats, so if you accidentally drop it into a lake or some relatively still water, you can retrieve it without trouble. Crashing waves may add some challenge to the retrieval process.

Add-a-Twist comes in blue, pink and yellow, with black being added to the color spectrum in 2017. It lists for $34.95 at REI and is also available at Amazon.

Keep it Clean With RinseKit

Whether you’re camping, out for a long and dusty bike ride, hiking all day, surfing killer waves, or merely playing in the wilderness without access to a shower, you know what you crave—a way to cool down and clean up. Before the beer, I mean.

Surfers traditionally do this with a couple of plastic jugs full of water. And while that definitely works, it’s always worth checking around to see if there’s a better way. The RinseKit portable shower is another option in our outdoor rinse/shower arsenal.

The container holds 2 gallons of water, and you can easily fill it from a water spigot, or get the sink adaptor to fill it straight from your sink if you don’t have access to a water spigot. Directions on how to fill and drain the RinseKit are printed on the top of the inside tray, just in case you need a little extra help. You can fill the kit with hot or cold water, and while the RinseKit is insulated, remember that hot water doesn’t stay hot forever.

When full, the RinseKit weighs about 24 pounds. Empty, it’s about 9 pounds.

Once the kit is filled (it takes about 20 seconds), attach the spray nozzle to the hose, pick one of seven spray settings and fire away. The RinseKit folks say that you’ll get about four minutes of pressurized spray, depending on the pressure of the hose spigot that you filled it with. I’ve experimented around and get less than that, especially when I’m down to about a gallon, but using different spray settings can help up the pressure. One thing to do if the RinseKit isn’t holding pressure is to check the fittings and make sure they’re tight.

If you’ve kept water in the RinseKit for some time, it can get stagnant. You can easily use some dish soap (just a little) in the top of the tray, slosh it around so it gets in the rest of the kit, and rinse it out. Good as new.

If you’re still dedicated to your gallon jugs, there’s another reason to consider the RinseKit: All that undirected water splashing around when you pour the gallon jugs over your head is a waste of water. Because of the RinseKit’s pressurization system, the water useage is more efficient and allows you to use only the water that you need to rinse gear, pets and people.

RinseKit comes in black or white and lists for $89.95 on the RinseKit site. It’s also available at REI.

Comfortable and Lightweight Helinox Chair Zero

November 25, 2016

Sure, camp chairs make camp life nice and comfortable, but they’re not only for the campground. Festival goers tote them around, hikers sometimes bring them along even on a day hike, beach bonfires are better with them, and they’re even great in your own backyard.

But if you’re going to carry one around between all those places, you probably want an ultralight camp chair—unless your housemate or spouse is a chiropractor or massage therapist.

At 1.1 pounds, the Helinox Chair Zero is the lightest four-legged camp chair. It packs down to the size of a large water bottle, and is easy to stash in a pack or carry along in its stuff sack.

When assembled, the seat is 11 inches from the ground, and the chair measures 20.5 inches wide by 18.9 inches deep by 25.2 inches high. It’s also extremely comfortable for a camp chair, so you’re not trading comfort for packability and weight.

The DAC aluminum frame is all shock-corded together, which makes for an easy setup, and you won’t lose pole pieces. Once you have the frame together, insert the poles into the pole sleeves on the ripstop polyester seat. All done.

The Chair Zero has a 265-pound weight capacity, and it’s quite sturdy and durable. If you’re planning to tote it along to the beach, or are concerned about using it on the muddy ground, there’s an additional groundsheet from Helinox (purchased separately) that you can use to keep the legs from sinking.

I’ve used this chair while camping, hanging out on the beach, and also at local parades. The fact that it barely adds weight to my bag makes me pick it first every time.

The Helinox Chair Zero lists for $119 at REI, and will also be available on the Big Agnes site beginning January 2017.

Luxe Camping Comfort with Klymit Luxe Pillow

While waiting in line for a flight, I see people with not only their carry-on bags, but also their travel pillows—or even the pillow from their own bed. Comfort is important, and while I’ve never gone as far as to bring my bed pillow on an airplane, I do have a variety of travel and camping pillows that come along with me, depending on the circumstances.

When camping, often one of the most important elements is to travel light. That’s especially true if you’re through-hiking or backpacking, when every extra ounce counts. In such cases, you might think a pillow is frivolous, opting to just use a jacket to cradle your head at night. But if you’re not quite as strict, at 6.4 ounces, the Klymit Luxe Pillow is an ideal must-have on a camping trip.

The Luxe Pillow features a thoughtfully designed weld pattern to help lift and stabilize the head. The design helps keep the head securely on the pillow all night long. The pillow’s hybrid construction combines an exceptionally lightweight 75D polyester top and bottom for superior tear, puncture and abrasion resistance. The Luxe Pillow features an outer sleeve that’s made from a super-soft polyester blend with synthetic padding for extra comfort.

The Luxe Pillow packs down to 3 inches by 7 inches, and when fully inflated (it takes 3-5 breaths), can measure 22 inches by 12.5 inches—almost as large as your pillow at home. The pillow’s height and pressure can adjusted for customizable comfort.

The pillow carries the Klymit Lifetime Warranty. All Klymit products are guaranteed to be free from manufacturing and material defects. Items will be repaired or replaced at the discretion of Klymit. If a replacement product is unavailable or discontinued a comparable product will be substituted. This warranty does not include damages from normal use, wear and tear, unauthorized changes or modifications, or any abuse or neglect.

If you’re one of those travelers who brings their pillow from home along on your flight, perhaps consider this one instead?

The Klymit Luxe Pillow comes in one color (gray) and lists for $39.95 on the Klymit site. It’s also available at Amazon.

Kelty Lowdown Chair

Whether you’re lucky enough to camp year-round where you live or travel, or whether you log plenty of hours on the sidelines of your favorite sporting events, the Kelty Lowdown Chair is my new favorite way to chill outdoors. Yes, I realize you can buy those cheap fold-out camp chairs for under $20 at any sporting goods store, but allow me to try to convince you why the Lowdown is superior in every way except price.

First of all, at 21.5 x 20 x 29, the Lowdown is wider and roomier than any other fold-out chair I’ve tried, allowing plenty of space to tuck a blanket around yourself while watching that fall football game or soccer match. It’s also a bit taller than most, with a set height of 12 inches. This means the Lowdown is not your go-to chair for lawn concerts and festivals where a low seat is required, but will score of ease-of-use the rest of the time.

If your standard fold-out chair is practical and minimalist, the Lowdown is the cadillac version: the seat is quilted, with 600D poly construction and all the fabric surfaces are padded. You get an insulated beverage holder that actually adjusts to the size of cup placed in it, and the arm rests are adjustable as well.

Since fold-out chairs are, by nature, portable, it’s awesome that Kelty takes portability a step further with the ‘roll tote’ feature. The entire folded chair is wrapped in a separate, tote-like sleeve, which rolls out to easily dislodge the chair when it’s time to set up. The roll tote features a shoulder strap, plus can double as a carry-all for firewood, extra gear, and the like. What I like best about this feature: no more struggling to stuff my folded chair back into its bag, only to get the legs stuck or the armrest snagged.

When you’re ready to pack up, just fold the chair in one easy motion, then set it on the roll tote and roll up. The system looked odd to me the first time I saw it, but it’s surprisingly fast and easy to manage.

You can even get the Lowdown chair in three colors: smoke (gray), tundra (tan), or mocha (very dark brown). With the teal steel legs, I think my mocha chair looks very appealing. Pick up any color on Kelty for $59.95, or look on Amazon or just about any outdoor gear online store. Enjoy!

Cairn Outdoor Subscription Boxes

Each month, the delivery person will leave a box of surprise outdoor and adventure gifts. That’s what happens with the Cairn subscription box (truly the gift that keeps on giving). This is the first company to do this type of monthly delivery service for outdoorsy gear.

The monthly box includes everything from clothing, food and snacks, emergency supplies, skincare items, or travel gear. What’s cool about the box is that it shares a variety of unique things that you may not have seen before in the store or didn’t consider for your next outdoor adventure.

Boxes are valued between $35 and $50 each based upon the contents, but the reason why this makes such a great gift is that the boxes can be geared around personal preferences. For example, vegetarians would never end up with a meat product or big coffee fans can get goodies that are themed around that preference.

My box came with a really cool coffee set that is meant to be used when camping and lets you brew some Joe without electricity. Other fun stuff inside the package included a pocket-sized flashlight and sunscreen designed for high intensity outdoor activity. I liked how inside the box was a card with various coupon codes and discounts for many of the products inside should you choose to buy them again elsewhere.

There is no charge for shipping, and people can order just one box or even for a half or full year. The annual subscriptions offer the best value, but there are bigger box options that include more gear like backpacks or grilling gear. Those boxes are sent quarterly. Subscriptions are very flexible and can be canceled at any time.

I love having the element of surprise with the boxes coming each month, and it’s cool to try some new products. These make a great gift for athletes or those that love the outdoors, and the high-quality products from a variety of brands is impressive at this price point.

6 Of The Best Sleeping Bags For Backpackers

Walk into any outdoor gear store, and you’ll be met with a dizzying array of down, synthetic fill, nylon, and zippers…yes, you could get lost in the forest of sleeping bags on display. Online, the options are even more overwhelming. So what’s the top sleeping bag for backpackers? That depends on who you are, what you want to spend, and what type of backpacking you’ll embark upon.

Read on to find our favorite sleeping bags for backpackers in six categories.

What you need to know before you continue: Bags listed are the men’s version or unisex, for consistency in size and weight ratings, but each has a women’s equivalent, which is listed. Because these bags are for backpackers, we only gear tested sleeping bags rated to 30 degrees or less for at least 2-3 season use, and those that weighed no more than three pounds. Each bag listed in this round-up was tested in the field in both mountain and high desert environments, in at least two seasons.

Favorite Overall Sleeping Bag For Backpackers: Kelty SB20

Kelty Women's SB20 20-Degree 800-Fill DriDown Sleeping Bag
  • DriDown stays driers, keeps you warmer and dries faster than regular down.
  • Waterproof treatment at hood and foot of sleeping bag.
  • Total Weight: Regular 2lb 1oz (.78kg)/Long 2lb 4oz. (.94kg).
  • Regular: Fits up to 6 Feet/Long: Fits up to 6’6″.
  • Stuff Size: 7 x 13 Inch.

To pick our favorite overall sleeping bag, we sought the sweet spot of quality and affordability, and found the Kelty SB20 to be the absolute best value of all the bags tested. For your money, the SB20 is one of the lightest, smallest, most compact bags out there…small enough to please even ultra-lightweight backpackers.

On a personal note, I reach for this bag every single time I backpack. The men’s bag comes in at 2 lbs, 1 oz and retails for $369; almost $100 less than our runner-up in this category.

Originally part of the now-defunct Kelty TrailLogic system, the SB20 packs down into the smallest stuff sack I’ve ever tried, but expands to a length of 78 inches. It’s filled with DriDown (Kelty’s water-resistant down fill) and while streamlined, it’s not too narrow (you do get a natural fit toe-box).

There’s also a 60 inch draft tube and top draft collar to help keep you warm. The women’s version is located here. 

Runner up: Sea to Summit’s Spark II is incredibly well-made and weighs in at only 22 ounces, but for the hefty price tag, it doesn’t deliver much more than the Kelty. Unless you’re a diehard Sea-to-Summit fan (which we totally get), or the every-ounce-counts kind of backpacker (again, respect) the better value is in the SB20.

Sea to Summit Spark SPII Ultra-Dry Down Sleeping Bag
  • ULTRA-DRYDown TM 850+ Loft 90% Down Cluster Premium European Goose Down.
  • Regular weight ONLY 22 oz.
  • Contoured mummy shape. Box wall baffles over torso.
  • 10D Pertex ® Quantum shell for minimal weight and bulk.
  • EN Tested: Lower Limit 25F / -4C (standard man to have comfortable nights sleep).

Other bags considered in this category: Marmot Plasma, Western Mountaineering Ultralight, Eddie Bauer First Ascent Karakoram, L.L. Bean Sleeping Bag with DownTek

Best Budget Sleeping Bag: Kelty Cosmic 20

Kelty Cosmic 20 Degree Sleeping Bag
41 Reviews
Kelty Cosmic 20 Degree Sleeping Bag
  • Fabric/Polyester.
  • 50D Down Proof Polyester.
  • 50D Polyester Taffeta Liner.
  • 600 Fill Power DriDown.
  • Thermal-comfort hood and natural fit footbox.

I know…another Kelty! The Kelty Cosmic 20 will only set you back $150, yet only weighs 2 lbs, 6 oz. It’s bulkier and fatter than the SB20, but for the casual backpacker, this will be a non-issue.

You still get 600 fill power of DriDown, a comfy taffeta liner (that’s probably where the extra weight went), and a draft collar. If you want a solid sleeping bag for occasional backpacking trips, this is your pick. The women’s version is here.

Other bags considered in this category: REI Radiant, REI Flash, North Face Cat’s Meow, Mountain Hardwear Lamina

Best Non-Sleeping Bag: Sierra Designs Backcountry Quilt

Sierra Designs Backcountry Quilt 600F 2-Season DriDown Sleeping Bag
4 Reviews
Sierra Designs Backcountry Quilt 600F 2-Season DriDown Sleeping Bag
  • 600 Fill Duck DriDown stays drier, keeps warmer, and dries faster.
  • Longer and wider than a traditional quilt for increased comfort.
  • Provides insulation under the arms and allows you to easily maneuver the sides.
  • An essential innovation to traditional quilt design.
  • 42F / 5C. EN Lower Limit: 33F / 0C. Fits to: 6 ft 4 in. / 193 cm.

What’s a ‘non-bag’, you ask? One trend in backcountry sleeping bags is to ditch the mummy-type design in favor of bags that spread open like blankets. This feature allows for more flexibility, for use in hammocks, on warm nights, and in bunks.

The Sierra Designs backcountry quilt retails for $199, and is only 1 lb, 4 oz for a lightweight (2 season) option for those backpackers who like to stretch their legs and don’t need a lot of layers.

The quilt has an opening on one panel to allow the user to wrap it around a sleeping pad or vent on a warm night, but still offers an enclosed area around the toe-box. The insulation is 600 fill duck DriDown, and the quilt is designed to fit users up to 6’4″.

Note: unlike the previous sleeping bags mentioned, the backcountry quilt is rated to 30 degrees, not 20. Note: the quilt is also available in a synthetic fill rated for 1.5 seasons (as opposed to 2) for just over $100.

Other bags considered in this category: Enlightened Equipment Backcountry Quilt

Best Non-Traditional Shaped Bag: Nemo Salsa

NEMO Salsa Sleeping Bag
9 Reviews
NEMO Salsa Sleeping Bag
  • 30D Nylon Micro Taffeta (Shell).
  • Spoon shape is wider at the knees and elbows for side sleeping.
  • Premium features like the stretch stitching, FlowGates, and high quality fabrics.
  • 650FP DownTek water repellent down repels water while maintaining its loftand insulation value.
  • Included Accessories: Drawstring Stuff Sack.

Need a bag that zippers all the way up like a traditional sleeping bag, but gives you lots of room to move around? Ditch the mummy look with the Nemo Salsa for $239.95. You get an unique spoon-shape in your bag, which allows side-sleepers to tuck their legs up and roll back and forth at will. It’s designed for a 6 foot person, and has 650 fill DownTek (sustainably sourced down).

The Salsa weighs in at a respectable 2 lbs, 1oz; the downside, it’s rated to 30 degrees instead of 20. (Note: you can pay more for the 15 degree version.) Note: the women’s option is called the Rhumba 30.

Runner up: Big Agnes Big Pine is lightweight and stuff-able, but instead of a slim-shaped mummy design, it’s a boxy rectangle. If you’re longing for a camp bed of your youth, this is the one…new and improved for lightweight hiking.

Big Agnes Big Pine
  • Works with any pad size and is compatible with most couches, dorm room beds, inflate-able mattresses, etc.
  • Big Pine may be used zipped closed as a sleeping bag or unzipped as a comforter
  • 80 x 70 open
  • Stuff sack size 8×7.5

Other bags considered in this category: Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed, Big Agnes Lulu

Best Bag For Kids: North Face Aleutian 20

The North Face Aleutian 20/-7 Sleeping Bag
2 Reviews
The North Face Aleutian 20/-7 Sleeping Bag
  • Nylon.
  • Insulated, three-season mummy bag.
  • Filled with Heatseeker Eco insulation.
  • Efficient warmth-to-weight ratio that’s also highly compressible.
  • The full-length zippers on each side can be unzipped to allow the bag to lay flat.

No, you can’t put your kids in adult-sized sleeping bags. They need their own, sized appropriately, to ensure they stay cozy at night (think air pockets that little kids just can’t warm up in an oversized bag). Our kids have tried multiple bags over the years, but one stays in our gear storage year after year. The North Face Aleutian 20, weighs 2 lbs, 14 oz  and costs only $99.

It’s a three-season mummy-bag design, with what North Face calls their Heatseeker synthetic insulation (made with 30% recycled material). Kids get a draft collar, and hood for their pillow.

Runner up: We simply have to give a shout-out to the REI Kindercone, because while rated to 30 degrees instead of 20, it’s a great bag for very young kids at only $60 that includes a stuff sack that’s always attached to the bag.

Other bags considered in this category: Eureka Grasshopper, Marmot Trestles, Mountain Hardwear Mountain Goat

Best Synthetic Bag: Big Agnes Master Key 25

Big Agnes - Master Key 25 (synthetic)
  • Enjoy a cozy yet roomy sleeping bag during your camping adventure.
  • Collar and zipper are constructed to prevent a draft for optimal comfort.
  • Hood takes a contoured shape in order to provide the best possible fit.
  • Designed with a mummy shape to keep the inside well-insulated.
  • For easily storing or hanging up to dry.

Want a synthetic fill instead of down? Go with the Big Agnes Master Key 25coming in at 2 lbs, 14 oz. It features a traditional mummy shape, and is very versatile for $139. We wish it were rated to a lower degree, but at 25, the Master Key is just as comfortable for casual sleep outs during a summer concert series as it is in the backcountry.

It beat out other synthetic bags for price and design (some are not backpacking-friendly shapes and weights). The women’s Big Agnes Lulu 15 is an even more appealing option; while $169, this synthetic bag is rated to 15 degrees and has a roomier toe-box and more rectangular design.

Other bags considered in this category: North Face Furnace, Marmot Cloud Break

Best down source: DownTek

If you buy a sleeping bag filled with down, you probably want to know where that down came from. DownTek is the word we look for when down sourcing is important to us. It’s quite simply the sustainable down brand we trust most. DownTek follows ethical down sourcing practices, and is made to be water resistant.

Many brands and products use DownTek (as evidenced in this round-up). Some of our favorites in addition to the Nemo bags referenced above include the L.L. Bean Down Sleeping Bag with DownTek and the Big Agnes Mystic.

Big Agnes Mystic SL 15 Degree Down Sleeping Bag
6 Reviews
Big Agnes Mystic SL 15 Degree Down Sleeping Bag
  • Integrated full pad sleeve. Never roll off your pad again.
  • Rectangular shape offers more room in foot box and shoulders.
  • Recycled mesh storage sack & nylon stuff sack included.
  • Built in pillow pocket holds a fleece or Big Agnes pillow.
  • Mate together our left and right zip bags with same size zipper.

Best Outdoor Cookware – The GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Camper

Last year, I reviewed two of GSI Outdoor’s Pinnacle cookset systems: the dualist and the soloist. We use these all the time for minimalist backpacking, either solo or with a few family members.

GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Camper Cookware Set
37 Reviews
GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Camper Cookware Set
  • A 2L pot with lid/fry pan and a 3L pot made of hard anodized aluminum.
  • Two crushproof, heat-resistant nylon strainer lids work great for the pasta chef’s.
  • Four insulated mugs and four bowls with four plates make a complete four person cook set.
  • Folding gripper to handle the pots and the lid/fry pan is included.
  • The welded stuff sack the set fits into doubles as a sink or wash basin.

However, when the whole crew is backpacking, or when we’re car camping, we need something more substantial for our family of five. Enter the GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Camper Cookset.

Now, there’s a whole series of GSI Outdoors Pinnacle cookware, and it can get a bit overwhelming. They ALL feature abrasion resistance, they are all coated with Teflon, are all scratch resistant, made of hard anodized aluminum, and all come with some combination of bowls, cups, and utensils.

If you’re in the market for a family sized set, however, you can focus solely on the Camper.

You get a LOT with the Camper set, including:

  • 3 liter  pot
  • 2 liter pot
  • 2 strainer lids
  • frypan
  • 4 14 ounce insulated mugs
  • 4 14 ounce bowls
  • 4 plates
  • 4 Sip-It tops
  • 1 folding pot gripper
  • 1 welded sink
  • Pay attention to how the whole thing fits together, because you’ll want to duplicate that on your camping trip or backcountry overnight. (Don’t worry, even I could do it, and I never have luck getting things back into their boxes or packages after opening them.)

The whole set is compact, with all parts nesting into the next. Folding gripper locks on the exterior brackets keep everything snug, and prevent any scratching.

The bowls convert to mugs, and are color-coded, so you can assign each family member a color. If you have kids who like to argue about possessions (or germs), you know how important this is.

You get a stuff sack to hold it all, which is made of a stiff material (almost like a waxed canvas), that doubles as a sink or bucket for washing dishes.

The lids are heat-resistant and crushproof, and include a strainer lid, which is really convenient, given that most meals made while camping involve freeze-dried components or noodles to drain.

The weight of the whole set is 3 pounds, 10 ounces, so no, this is not your ultra-lightweight option. But it’s very do-able for short backpacking trips and car camping stays.

We used ours during a weekend trip to the Oregon Coast, during which we invited several extra friends of our teens. We actually combined two Pinnacle sets to cook all the food for that trip!

The Pinnacle Camper is $139 on the GSI Outdoors site, which feels steep until you note all that you get for this single price. It really adds up to buy all the backpacking plates, bowls, and mugs! Also look for it on Amazon!

Best Cheap Camping Tents For 2017 – An All Inclusive Guide

Are you planning your next camping trip and are looking for the best camping tents? If you are an experienced camper, then you know finding the best camping tent involves more than heading to your local sports and outdoor gear retail store.

You want a camping tent that you know will be comfortable, durable, and spacious enough to fit more than one person comfortably, and that is also lightweight enough to transport and carry throughout your outdoor adventure.

Choosing a tent because it’s cheap isn’t always the best way to go. Wouldn’t it be helpful to have a guide on the best camping tents?

Well, you’re in luck because we have done the research already, and have compiled a list of what we think is the top five best camping tents and the best tent brands for any outdoor activity and environment.

Quick Comparison

2 Person Tent

35 sqft. Floor Space

  • Two vestibule layout
  • Free standing tent
  • Ventilation windows
  • Removable gear loft
Buy From Amazon

3 Person Tent

Better Water-Resistance

  • Vertical Walls
  • Taller Center Heights
  • Rainfly Setup
  • WeatherTec system
Buy From Amazon

SUV Tent

Very Easy Setup

  • SUVs and Mini Vans
  • Inverted "T" Layout
  • Flame Resistant
  • Includes Carry Bag
Buy From Amazon

2 Person Tent

Ultralight & Portable

  • 3 Season Large Tent
  • Durable Polyester
  • All Weather Travel
  • Near-Instant Setup
Buy From Amazon

Best Camping Tents for 2017

Read on to check out this all-inclusive guide to help you make an informed decision before you buy just any camping tent. We’ve also included the pros and cons of each option so that you can decide which camping tent is right for you.

1. Best 2 Person Tent – Mountainsmith Morrison

Mountainsmith Morrison 2 Person Tent

  • Freestanding three-season, two-person tent.
  • Bathtub floor with taped seams to keep interior dry.
  • 185T polyester rainfly with 2,000-millimeter-rated polyurethane coating.
  • 35 square feet of main floor space and 14 square feet.
  • Breathable 185T polyester tent material.

2 person tent

Why We Like This Tent: This tent is our number-one pick because of its spaciousness – both for sleeping and storage space for two – and its features that keep the interior dry and ventilated.

Livability: The Mountainsmith Morrison three-season tent comes with over 35 square feet of floor space, big enough for two people. This tent also has plenty of light and the mesh walls offer plenty of ventilation.

This tent also comes with “bathtub floors” which help keep the interior dry. There are also some dry storage compartments, which are great for easily grabbing your things and any small essentials without having to crawl in and over sleeping bags.

Although this is a three-season tent and isn’t the best idea to use and camp in during winter months, users have claimed that even when the temperature drops to 28 degrees F overnight, this tent remained 15 degrees above, and maintained the temperature throughout the night.

Versatility: This tent also comes equipped with two doors and vestibules, guy out attachment points, clip-pole attachment to reduce weight and for maximum ventilation and breathability, tent fly adjustable ventilation windows, reflective guylines with “tri-glide” cord adjustment and even a detachable ceiling loft for picture-taking or even stargazing.

Lighting: One of the best features of the Mountainsmith Morrison two-person tent is also known for its airiness, breathability, and lighting.

The mesh walls, adjustable windows, and detachable ceiling allow for maximum light during the day and keeping the flies and mosquitos out at night.

Assembly: The Mountainsmith Morrison tent comes equipped with a free-standing, two-pole design and even color-coded fly and instructions for quick and easy assembly.

This tent can be set up virtually in minutes. The instructions are also clearly printed and color-coded on the pack itself, so there’s no need to worry about losing the instructions or damaging them over time and with usage.

The guy lines also make this tent easy to assemble in severe weather.

All in all, the Mountainsmith Morrison three-season two-person tent is one of our top five picks. This tent weighs only approximately five pounds, which means that it is lightweight enough to carry around or transport.

This tent can be found on Amazon for $100 to $200. If this might seem relatively cheap for a tent of this size and value, it is. Avid campers, hikers, and other outdoor adventure-seekers will recommend this tent as being one of the best for its cost.

2. Best Three Person Tent – Sundome by Coleman

Sundome 3 Person Tent
845 Reviews
Sundome 3 Person Tent

  • Up to 33% more water-resistant than a Comparable standard Coleman tent.
  • 2 windows for great ventilation and views.
  • Included rainfly for extra weather protection.
  • 7 x 7 ft. Foot print, 4 ft. 4 in. Center height.
  • 1-Year limited warranty.


Why We Like This Tent: This tent is one of our top five recommended tents because of its spaciousness, easy assembly, weight and airy features.

Livability: Because the Sundome three-season tent is built to fit three people comfortably, this tent provides up to 49 square feet of floor space, and one door. When set upright, the center pole reaches a maximum of 5’2” center height.

Because this tent is guaranteed to keep you dry, the floors are a bit rugged and are lined with inverted seams. As a result, it’s best to use air mattresses to sleep on in this tent rather than sleeping bags.

Versatility: This tent has mesh “windows” rather than mesh walls. This is to help keep the rain and elements out, and the warmth in – especially during severe weather or cooler temps.

The “rainfly” covers the door and windows and is made from polyester. There is also an inner mesh vent for breathability and ventilation.

Lighting: Although this tent has one door and windows, the lighting isn’t as robust as what we saw with the Mountainsmith Morrison tent.

However, when comparing other Coleman tent products and models, the Sundome is one of the better options for light.

Assembly: The Sundome tent comes equipped with two fiberglass poles. Although this tent is designed to fit a third person, compared to the tent we reviewed above, this tent weighs only three pounds, making it easy to carry, set up, and transport.

Assembling and even navigating in and out of the tent after assembly is a snap. The zippers are easy to move without any snags or letting in any water or moisture.

It is also light, easy to pack, and easy to set up – even in the dark. The tent comes in a “dome” shape, hence the name, and comes in both green and navy blue color options.

The Sundome three-person, three-season tent by Coleman is a quality product, and is highly recommended for camping trips in campgrounds, short backpacking trips, and backcountry adventures.

Its spaciousness, easy assembly, setup and affordability make it a very popular choice for families who are ready for camping adventures.

The Sundome can be found on Amazon for approximately $50 to $100 – a great price for a camping tent of this size and quality.

3. Best Car Camping Tent – Explorer 2 SUV Tent

Sundome 3 Person Tent

  • Bungy cord with plastic coated hooks attach to the vehicle’s underframe.
  • Outer door panels fold up and tie back for maximum ventilation.
  • Zip and tie at bottom corners for privacy.
  • No-seeum insect screen.
  • Inverted ‘T’ layout on insect screen and two way zippers.

explorer tent

Why We Like This Tent: For a tent that you can assemble and attach to a vehicle – like a mini, movable campsite – we highly recommend the Explorer 2 SUV tent.

This tent attaches to the back hatch of an SUV and turns the vehicle into a convenient sleeping area without the hassle of assembling an actual tent.

Livability: The Explorer 2 SUV tent is a great way to turn your vehicle into a sleep area without having to worry about what crawls around on you while sleeping on the ground or getting wet in inclement weather.

This tent fits most SUVs and minivans with liftgate rear panels less than 67″ wide. This tent is also easy to set up in as little as five minutes and with little to no equipment or hardware or complicated instructions.

Drive from campground to campground or other site, store all your stuff without taking up too much room, spread out an air mattress, and sleep in the comfort and protection of your own vehicle.

Versatility: As we mentioned above, the Explorer 2 SUV tent fits the batch hatch and rear lift gate of most SUVs and minivans. One important thing to note is that this is without the spare tire.

The inverted “T” door zipper also makes it easy to get in and out of the vehicle and users can protect their privacy – and their skin from insects – with the mesh insect screen.

The outer door panels can also be tied back and come equipped with 2-way zippers that easily open and close without any snags or ripped fabric.

This tent can also be used along with utility or boat trailers. Simply drape Tent over vehicle, use bungee cords to connect to tire wells, raise gate and you’re there!

Lighting: Although the Explorer 2 SUV tent is really only half a tent, it would be unfair to rate its level of lighting. With this type of tent, the lighting is ample while the back hatch or rear liftgate is ajar or opened to maximum height.

However, there may be more or less light inside the vehicle, depending on the make and model vehicle you drive. For example, many SUVs come standard with tinted windows today; therefore, the overall level of light in those vehicles might be significantly less than others.

Assembly: As mentioned above, this tent is super easy to assemble, and can be set up in less than five minutes. Users can simply drape the tent over the vehicle while also using the bungee cords to connect the outer layers of the tent to the tire wells.

Then, users can raise or close the gate as they prefer. The Explorer 2 SUV tent is made of polyester, and is compliant with flame resistant guidelines.

The tent itself is compact and only weighs approximately five pounds and comes equipped with a carry on and storage bag.

In summary, this tent is a great option for those who prefer to travel from campsite to campsite without having to worry about the weight of transporting a tent.

It’s also a great option for those who love the outdoors but aren’t too keen about sleeping on the ground. The Explorer 2 SUV tent has numerous benefits and advantages over the “standard” tent. For $100 to $200, users can get the whole package.

4. Best Ultralight Tent – Swift-n-Snug 2 Person Camping Tent

Swift-n-Snug 2 Person Camping Tent
55 Reviews
Swift-n-Snug 2 Person Camping Tent

  • 3 Season large tent is spacious and comfortably fits two people.
  • 2 man tent features near-instant set up that takes only a few short minutes.
  • One of the most durable polyester tents currently available for sale.
  • Good companion for all weather travel.
  • Best buying experience possible.

Swift N Snug

Why We Like This Tent: One of the most enjoyable things about camping is the ability to hike, backpack, and explore various sites without worry.

However, one of the worst things about camping is not having the right gear with you or having to carry and transport too much gear, making it difficult for the hiker to truly enjoy the experience.

One of the reasons why the Swift-n-Snug 2-person camping tent made its way into our top picks is because we believe it is the best ultralight tent for transporting and carrying from site to site without discomfort.

Livability: Although the name “Swift-n-Snug” suggests that this is a small tent, cozy for only one or two people, this tent actually measures 6’7” long and 5’ wide, and it is even roomy enough for tall people.

It is also spacious enough, and can comfortably fit two people. This tent is a three-season tent and is ideal for outside use, such as for camping and backpacking trips.

Versatility: This tent is made from a strong, durable polyester that will not rip. In fact, this tent is known for being one of the strongest tents available for purchase. It comes with two doors and vestibules.

Although this type of tent is relatively roomy, it is also a space-saver and extremely portable. When packed in the carry bag, it only measures 22″ x 4.7″ x 3”, making it the perfect, lightweight tent to pack, carry, and transport.

The Swift-n-Snug is also durable enough to endure various weather conditions, including rain and wind. This tent comes equipped with a rainfly cover to withstand rain, and strong poles to keep the tent upright in windy conditions, keeping you dry and protected.

On the other hand, because this is a three-season tent, it is also suitable to withstand dry, hot weather. It is well ventilated, allowing proper airflow inside the tent and protection to keep insects out.

Lighting: Because this tent is lightweight yet strong enough to endure weather, it does not have mesh walls or windows, which means the lighting inside the tent is relatively dim.

However, this tent does have two doors, allowing for some light to enter when ajar.

Assembly: The Swift-n-Snug tent comes is very quick and easy to set up and assemble, taking only five to ten minutes. The tent is also easy to disassemble, allowing users to pack the tent in the carry bag.

All in all, the Swift-n-Snug three-season, two-person tent is extremely lightweight and versatile, making it one of the best tents for camping, backpacking, hiking and easy to take with you on any outdoor adventure.

This tent only weighs approximately three pounds when packed, making it easy to pack, carry, and transport.

This tent can be found on Amazon for $50 to $100, also making it one of the most affordable options that we’ve included in this article.

However, in terms of the Swift-n-Snug tent, a lower price doesn’t mean lower quality. This type of tent is also one of the strongest and most durable tents available for camping, hiking, and backpacking.

Best Tent Brands

If you are getting ready to embark on your next – or your first – camping adventure, then you know that part of the experience is all about the gear you pack with you.

Camping gear should be as lightweight as possible for transporting easily; strong, durable, and a quality product; and should also be ventilated and breathable enough to keep the air from becoming stale but insulated enough to maintain interior temperatures and the weather elements out.

Depending on the size of the tent and the quality you are looking for, a good tent that fits several people can cost a few hundred buckaroos.

Even if you have figured in the cost of a new tent in your camping budget, you still want to find one that is of the highest quality and at the best price.

The top three best tent brands include:

1. North Face 

The North Face is known for its quality product line of clothing, jackets, and even outdoor gear, including tents. Although North Face is known for its high prices, their tents are among the best quality outdoor gear products available.

With their extensive tent product line, users are likely to find a deal or a tent that is reasonably priced on Amazon. If you are looking for a quality tent this camping season, then make sure North Face is on your list

2. Coleman

Although Coleman is at the lower end of the price spectrum when compared to North Face, this doesn’t mean their quality is less.

Coleman tents and other outdoor gear are offered are a great option for people who are looking for a tent for casual use but for a good value. Although Coleman offers a number of backpacking tents, they are more known for their car camping tent line.

3. L.L. Bean 

L.L.Bean offers a number of high-end tent options. The higher quality and more expensive tents can be found between $200 and $500.

L.L. Bean offers a number of tent options, including lightweight, backpacking options. In fact, L.L. Bean’s Microlight FS 2 Tent received the “Editor’s Choice” award from Backpacker’s magazine in 2012.


All in all, finding the best camping tents for a specific purpose or person simply involves research and a basic understanding of the key aspects that go into what makes a great camping tent.

We already know that some of the details, such as the fabric and material, size, and weight are key characteristics in looking for the best camping tent, as well as any additional accessories, such as zippered compartments, bag or any other accessories.

The best camping tents we have listed in the above guide are what we believe are great options for all campers and outdoor adventure-seekers, from the camping newbie to experienced, camping aficionados.

These camping tents are all designed with quality in mind to ensure your camping experience is the best one.

Any of the above options would be great purchases, but the best option for you comes down to personal preference as well as the type of camping tent you are looking for based on the number of campers in your party.

Finally, although finding the best camping tent might be frustrating, especially if you are unsure of where to look, it’s important to remember that selecting out an appropriate camping tent can be a great way to add more excitement as you plan your next camping experience.

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