With their all-mesh canopies (or mostly mesh), three-season tents are a lightweight and breathable option for camping below the snowline.
Guylines provide added support to the tent, particularly in strong winds. They will help the tent maintain its shape and prevent poles from snapping. There should be multiple guy points spaced around the tent though in order to keep weight down, many manufacturers supply insufficient guylines. If that’s the case in your chosen model, buy some spares.
The more poles you have, the sturdier, and heavier, the tent will be. Many tents come with a single pole with a ‘hub’ that has extra pole lengths branching from it. Poles are flexible and designed to bend, though are prone to breaking if used incorrectly or not properly supported with guylines.
Aluminium pegs are shaped to hold in soft soil and snow. As with guylines, the manufacturer will supply the bare minimum and it may pay to buy spares.
The fly creates an insulating air layer between it and the inner. It will be made from ripstop nylon or polyester fabric with some fly fabric weights being as light as 20 denier. All flys are treated with silicone or polyurethane coatings to increase water-resistance and improve waterhead ratings.
Mesh is used liberally to promote airflow and provide a bright, breezy environment. Summer-use tents can be constructed almost entirely of mesh while colder weather tents will have a combination of mesh and ripstop fabric.
Tub floors will keep water and snow out of the tent. Like the tent’s fly, floors are waterhead rated, generally between 1200mm and 10,000mm. Lighter floors are nice to carry but are less durable and can allow seepage in very damp conditions. It’s essential to carry a separate footprint for these models.
The weights shown here are for the total weight of the tent, which includes pegs, guylines and the various carry bags. Many manufacturers also state the tent’s trail weight, which refers to the bare essentials required to use the tent: the tent body, the fly and the poles.
The tent’s floor area and vestibule space indicate how much room there is inside, but just as important is the ceiling height. Vertical walls, created through clever pole geometry, provide a more livable interior by creating more space and headroom.
Mesh inners and vents on the fly reduce condensation and regulate temperature. Fly vents should maximise airflow without the risk of rain blowing inside. Most vestibule doors unzip from both top and bottom to create airflow when needed.
Access and vestibules
Double entrance tents have several advantages: they typically have two vestibules for storing gear and providing convenient access to the tent without trampling over your companions. They also allow more airflow and ventilation options than single entrance tents.
Tents are often referred to as multi-pitch and freestanding. Freestanding means the tent supports itself once the poles are inserted (it still needs to be pegged out). Multi-pitch refers to the ways the tent can be used: with or without the fly, or fly only.
Now you know what to look for, it’s time to choose a tent…
Big Agnes Copper Hotel HV UL 2 $1149.99
Freestanding with extended vestibule, two dual-zipper doors, two-tone privacy mesh, taped seams, pre-cut guylines and tensioners attached to fly, four internal pockets. Fly Ripstop nylon, 1200mm Inner Ripstop nylon, micromesh Floor Ripstop nylon, 1200mm Poles DAC Featherweight NFL Ceiling height 104cm Area 2.69m2, vestibule 0.84m2 Weight 1730g. www.gearshop.co.nz
MSR Hubba Hubba NX $859.99
Two vestibules with stay-dry entrances, rainfly vent, adjustable vestibule for stargazer view and ventilation, reflective guylines, unified pole and hub system, multi-pitch. Fly 20D x 330T ripstop nylon, 1200mm Inner Ripstop nylon, micromesh Floor 30D x 262T ripstop nylon, Durashield PU, 3000mm Poles 1, DAC Featherlite NFL Ceiling height 100cm Area 2.7m², vestibules 0.81m², 0.81m² Weight 1720g. www.ampro.co.nz
MSR Hubba Tour 2 $1299.99
Bikepacking tent with fast-pitch exoskeleton frame, unified rainfly and body, watertight seams, two doors, single large vestibule, gear lofts, multiple large pockets, glow-in-the-dark zipper. Fly 20D ripstop nylon, 1200mm Xtreme Shield coating Inner 20D ripstop nylon Floor 30D ripstop nylon, 3000mm Xtreme Shield coating Poles 2 x 7000 Series aluminum Ceiling height 96cm Area 2.97m², vestibule 2.32m² Weight 2380g. www.ampro.co.nz
Big Agnes Copper Spur Platinum 2 $1049.95
Freestanding, two doors and vestibules with storm flaps, all-mesh inner, hook-and-loop tabs connect fly to poles, precut guy lines and tensioners attached to fly, taped seams, interior pockets. Fly Nylon ripstop, 1200mm Inner Polyester mesh Floor Nylon ripstop, 1200mm Poles 2, DAC Featherlite aluminum 8.7mm Ceiling height 102cm Area 2.7m2, vestibule 0.8m2 Weight 1190g. www.gearshop.co.nz
Macpac Duolight $799.99
Two entrances and vestibules, taped seams, multi-pitch design, mesh inner, internal pockets and lantern hook. Fly 20D Polyester ripstop, PE coating, 1200mm Inner 40D nylon ripstop, micromesh Floor 40D nylon ripstop, 10,000mm Poles 3, DAC Featherlite NSL 9mm Ceiling height 105cm Area 3.08m2, vestibules 0.66m2 each Weight 2170g. www.macpac.co.nz
Vango F10 Makalu 2 $799.99
Semi-geodesic shape, Gothic arch pole structure, fly and inner pitch together, O-shaped part mesh inner door, inner pockets, mesh ceiling pocket, taped seams. Fly 20D nylon ripstop, 5000mm Inner Nylon Floor 70D nylon, 6000mm Poles Yunan Eco Alloy Ceiling height 95cm Area 2.7m², vestibule 0.9mm² Weight 2600g. www.bivouac.co.nz
Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 2 $749.99
Freestanding, steep sidewalls, two doors and vestibules, privacy mesh, multiple internal pockets, fly vent, hook-and-loop tabs connect fly to poles, taped seams, reflective guylines. Fly Nylon ripstop, 1200mm Inner Nylon, polyester mesh Floor Nylon ripstop, 1200mm Poles 2, DAC Featherlite NSL Ceiling height 101cm Area 2.69m², vestibule 2 x 0.84m² Weight 1400g. www.gearshop.co.nz
MSR Elixir 2 $599.99
Two doors and vestibules, freestanding, colour-coded poles, skylight, dual rainfly vents, multiple pockets, vertical sidewalls, footprint included. Fly 68D ripstop polyester, 1500mm Inner 40D ripstop nylon, 20D micromesh Floor 70D taffeta nylon, 3000mm Poles 2 x 7000 series aluminium Ceiling height 102cm Area 2.69m², vestibules 2.22m² Weight 2770g. www.ampro.co.nz
The North Face Triarch 2 $750
Two doors and vestibules, vaulted head and footbox, colour-blocked privacy mesh, gear loft, freestanding, multi-pitch, vertical walls, high-low venting, footprint included. Fly 20D nylon, 1200mm PU coating Inner 20D nylon and nylon mesh Floor 30D nylon ripstop, 3000mm PU coating Poles DAC, 9mm Ceiling height 109cm Area 2.6m², vestibule 2.5m² Weight 1470g. www.thenorthface.co.nz
Macpac Sololight $599.99
Multi-Pitch design, seam sealed fly, internal stash pocket. Fly 20D polyester ripstop, 1200mm Inner 40D nylon ripstop, micromesh Floor 40D nylon ripstop, 10,000mm Poles 3, DAC Featherlite NSL Ceiling height 93cm Area 1.68m², vestibule 0.59m² Weight 1290g. www.macpac.co.nz
Big Agnes C-Bar 2 $499.99
Single door and vestibule, freestanding, quick stash door keeper, Velcro tabs connect fly to pole, pre-cut guylines and tensioners attached to fly, taped seams, multiple interior loops. Fly Polyester taffeta, 1500mm Inner Polyester, micromesh Floor Polyester taffeta, 1500mm Poles 1, DAC Ceiling height 140cm Area 2.6m², vestibule 0.7m² Weight 1810g. www.gearshop.co.nz
Marmot Tungsten 2P $449
Vertical walls, D-shaped doors, two vestibules, free-standing, lampshade pocket, seam-taped vented fly, seam-taped catenary cut floor, colour-coded poles, interior pockets, jingle-free zipper pulls. Fly 20D ripstop polyester, 1200mm Floor 30D nylon 2000mm Poles 3, DAC Press-Fit Ceiling height 106cm Area 3.7m2, vestibules 0.79m2, 0.60m2 Weight 2400g. www.marmotnz.co.nz
Kiwi Camping Ruru 4 $399
Double entrances and vestibules, tri-pegging system, roof loft door storage, tri-tensioners, speed clips, accessory pockets, fire retardant and SPF50 UV coating. Three year warranty. Fly 75D, 185T polyester, 4000mm Floor Poly-Oxford, 4000mm. Poles Colour-coded aluminium Ceiling height 115cm Area 5.3m2, vestibules 2.4m2 each Weight 5200g. www.kiwcamping.co.nz
Vango Banshee Pro 200 $279.99
Tunnel-style, pre-angled poles, fly and inner pitch together, walking pole attachment props door open, two doors, inner pockets, mesh ceiling pocket, door vent, taped seams. Fly 68D ripstop polyester, 5000mm Inner Polyester Floor 70D polyester, 6000mm Poles Yunan Eco Alloy Ceiling height 90cm Area 2.2m2, vestibule 0.6m2 Weight 2390g. www.bivouac.co.nz
Marmot Catalyst 2P $399.95
Seam-taped catenary cut floor, colour-coded poles, D-shaped doors, two vestibules, seam-taped, vented fly, interior pockets, lamp shade pocket, footprint included. Fly 68D polyester taffeta 190T, 1500mm Floor 68D polyester taffeta 190T, 2000mm Poles 3, Velocity 8mm Area 3m2, vestibules 0.88m2, 0.62m2 Ceiling height 111cm Weight 2360g. www.marmotnz.co.nz
Kiwi Camping Weka 2 $299
Double entrances and vestibules, tri-pegging system, roof loft door storage, tri-tensioners, speed clips, accessory pockets, fire retardant and SPF50 UV coating. Three year warranty. Fly 75D, 185T polyester, 4000mm Floor Poly-Oxford, 4000mm Poles Colour-coded aluminium Ceiling height 105cm Area 2.7m2, vestibules 1.5m2 each Weight 2900g. www.kiwcamping.co.nz