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Best 3 Season Tent?

Question:
I'm a father of three boy scouts, and I've gone camping with them from March to November. Mostly car camping, but I've done a few backpacking trips. I'm looking for a two person tent (for me) that can handle monthly use. From reading your reviews, I'll pick up the Room With a View. What other tents should I consider or compare to? I've seen the Arja and Screech on sale for $199. Is this a better deal?

Thanks,
Mike

Answer:
Mike,

The Room With a View (RWAV) is a great tent, if you are planning to use it for two people. It is great for two people because its pole design gives the tent tall, steep side walls, giving more head and shoulder room than most other two person tents. The ceiling window is fantastic for star-gazing and watching weather, such as lightning or snow fall. It is somewhat heavier than some other two-person backpacking tents, but if you divide the weight between two-people the weight is acceptable. It is the hands-down favorite of our staff for two people.

However, if you are looking for a two-person tent that will mostly be used by a single individual (you said you were looking for a tent for yourself. . . ), or an adult with one child (say under 15 or 16), then you may want to look at a lighter-weight tent. I've always liked the Quest Preying Mantis. It is a little more difficult to set up, but is tall enough to sit up in and has an enormous vestibule, great for storage and keeping gear dry in a rain storm. I've used mine many times over three or four years and it has held up well. The door zipper did break once, but REI repaired it for $15. Its a good idea to wash any tent's zippers regularly with water to keep sand and dirt out--sand in particular is the arch-enemy of zippers.

The Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight CD is also a good lightweight tent. It is one of the lightest two person models, and is a snap to set up, but has a very small vestibule and I don't care for the rainfly design (it let's rain drip into the tent when you open the door zipper all the way.)

I have not tested Arja or Screech. I have used another Garuda/K2 tent, but thought it was overpriced, and although the quality was very high, the Mountain Hardwear, Marmot, and other tents are equal in quality and design. The Arja at $199 is a pretty good deal. I'd still prefer the RWAV or Preying Mantis, myself.

The Screech looks very similar to the RWAV in pole design, interior space, and quality (Marmot makes excellent products). Like the RWAV, it is also a heavier tent (say 1.5 to 3 lbs more than the Preying Mantis or Clip Flashlight). The one feature of the RWAV that the Screech does not have is the ceiling window, which I really like. But if you can get a Screech for $199, that's a pretty good deal. You'll have to decide how much the various features are worth to you.

I hope that helps.

Steve Mann



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