Three-season tents are ideal for summer and shoulder-season use. They open up a whole new world of outdoor adventure – pitch them above the bushline, beside a tarn, on the coast or wherever the view is best.
While twin vestibules help with livability, other things to look out for are ceiling height, vestibule and floor area and, for tall people in particular, the length of the inner tent. Steep side walls make life less cramped but can make the tent vulnerable in strong winds.
Access and vestibules
Two entrances and vestibules provide a more comfortable living space – you won’t be tripping over your companions when entering or exiting. These are usually freestanding designs. Single-door tent designs may be lighter and a tunnel design.
Weekend users might not be concerned with internal storage pockets, but if you’re using the tent for longer trips, large or multiple pockets will help day-to-day organisation. Some tents have a ‘washing line’ installed, or tabs to install one, or from which to attach a ‘gear loft’.
Most tents are double-walled – they have both inner and fly. The fly protects against wind and rain and will usually be made from waterproofed and seam-sealed nylon or polyester, the latter being more UV resistant. Flies with vents are preferable for wet and humid conditions. Single-wall tents are lighter, though still waterproof.
Sometimes the tent will need strengthening by staking out guy lines. Flys will usually have anchor points for these, but you might need to attach them yourself. Check they are supplied with the tent.
Aluminium pegs are usually supplied, though extras may be needed to stake out guy lines and anchor points. Aftermarket pegs in different styles and for snow or sand are available.
Largely mesh for plenty of light and breathability. This also means they are cooler, but less weather- and dust-proof. Mesh coverage varies, so choose based on your expected use.
A waterproof tub-style floor is standard, but there is great variance in waterproof ratings – from 1200mm to 12,000mm. The lightest floors should be used with a ‘footprint’ or groundsheet to protect it from abrasion and punctures. Thin floors are prone to condensation but save weight.
Poles provide the tent’s structure and wind resistance, with tunnel configurations generally being the strongest. Consideration should be given to how well the poles support the tent fabric, how many there are and their thickness.
The ‘packed weight’ of the tent includes everything that comes with the tent. Manufacturers often list a ‘trail weight’, which is significantly lighter and includes only the weight of the tent, fly and poles.
Most three-season tents are designed to be freestanding, so once the poles are fixed the tent will support itself and hold shape. This is useful if it’s pitched where pegs can’t be used, e.g. with the inner only, inside a shelter. Multi-pitch tents allow the inner or fly to be pitched alone.
One, two or three-person?
The number of people a tent can accommodate is indicated by the number at the end of the tent’s name – e.g. MSR Hubba Hubba 2. Most brands have a single, two-person and three-person version of the same tent.
Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 $1399.99
Big Agnes’ best-selling ultralight tent. It has a 3D bin ‘mezzanine’ at the foot, oversized ceiling pocket, streamlined setup with TipLok Tent Buckle to attach fly, pole and stake-out loop, and pre-bent span poles. Fly Double ripstop nylon, 1200mm Inner Polyester and mesh Floor Double ripstop nylon, 1200mm Area 2.7m2 + 1.66m2 vestibules Ceiling height 102cm Poles 3, DAC Featherlite Weight 1420g (1220g trail). www.gearshop.co.nz
MSR Hubba Hubba 2 $1249
MSR’s best-selling tent is designed to handle frequent use and shoulder-season storms. The 2024 model is lighter and has multiple pitching options when a footprint is added, colour-coded stakeout loops, adjustable ventilation, and cable ports on all storage pockets. Fly 20D ripstop nylon, 1200mm Inner 10D polyester micromesh, 20D ripstop nylon Floor 30D ripstop nylon, 3000mm Area 2.69m2 + 1.62m2 vestibules Ceiling height 101cm Poles 2, Easton Syclone Weight 1980g (1640g trail). www.ampro.co.nz
Hilleberg Akto 1 $1352
A versatile, all-conditions solo tent that can be pitched inner only or fly and inner simultaneously. Square ends provide extra space for taller users and the fly extends to the ground for maximum coverage. There’s a mesh-backed door, foot-end vent, above-door vent and pre-fixed guy lines. Fly Kerlon 1200, 5000mm Inner Nylon windstop Floor Nylon, 15,000mm Area 1.7m2, 0.8mm2 vestibule Ceiling height 93cm Poles 1, 9mm Weight 1700g. www.motomox.co.nz
Mont Dragonfly from $1199.95
A three-to-four-season tent for two people with ventilation, a seam-sealed waterproof fly and tub floor, symmetrical design with fly attachment at either end, two entrances and vestibules, full-width wall pockets, roof pockets and carabiner ceiling clips. Fly 30D ripstop nylon, 2000mm Inner 20D ripstop nylon, mesh Floor 70D nylon, 25,000mm Poles 3, DAC 9.6mm Ceiling height 110cm Area 3.08m2 + vestibules Weight 1485g. www.mont.com.au
Salewa Litetrek II Camo $1099.99
A self-supporting, double-walled tent designed for lightweight alpine trekking in milder months. It has a camo flysheet and can be pitched without using pegs or guys. There’s a ventilation panel and mesh door. Fly 75D polyester ripstop, 3000mm Inner 70D nylon ripstop, mesh entrance Floor PU coated 5000mm Area 3m2 + 1m2 vestibule Ceiling height 100cm Poles 3, 9.5mm 7001 T6 aluminium Weight 2980g (2700g trail). www.bobo.co.nz
MSR FreeLite 2 $999.99
An ultralight tent for bikepacking to multi-day backcountry tramping. There are easily accessible large doors with durability-enhancing no-curve zippers. Micromesh canopies offer ventilation and moisture control, and bug-free protection. Fly 15D ripstop nylon, 1200mm Fly 10D micromesh Floor 15D
ripstop nylon, 1200mm Area 2.7m2 + 1.4m2 vestibule Ceiling height 100cm Poles 2, DAC NFL 8.7mm Weight 1060g (910g trail). www.ampro.co.nz
Mont Moondance 2 $999.95
A multi-pitch tent with a 25,000mm-rated floor for performance in the harshest weather. Easy pitching with poles and fly attached at either end. There are dual entrances and vestibules and an internal-access roof vent. Fly 20D ripstop nylon, 2000mm Inner 20D ripstop nylon, mesh Floor 40D nylon, 25,000mm Poles 2, DAC Featherlite NSL 9.6mm Ceiling height 110cm Area 2.86m2 + 1.22m2 Weight 2010g. www.mont.com.au
Bach Piopio Solo $999.99
This tunnel tent is built to withstand wind. It has a wide entrance and airy inner and can be pitched without the fly. There’s a storage pocket, single vestibule, seam-taped floor and top venting. Fly 20D high tenacity ripstop nylon, 3000mm Inner 15D micromesh, nylon Floor 20D ripstop nylon, 10,000mm Area 1.57m2 + 0.6m2 vestibule Ceiling height 105cm Poles 1 x 8.7mm anodised 7001 aluminium Weight 1000g (900g trail). www.colorado-traders.co.nz
Wild Country Trident 2 $999
This is a stable semi-geodesic 3–4 season tent. It can be pitched fly first (to protect the inner from moisture) and features side-vent panels, five guyline points and single entry and vestibule. Fly 68D polyester ripstop, 4000m Inner 68D polyester ripstop Floor 68D polyester PU, 5000mm Area 2.5m2 + 0.9m2 Ceiling height 98cm Poles 3, 8.5mm Superflex Alloy Weight 2760g. www.outdooraction.co.nz
ONE PLANET Goondie 2 Mesh $989
This tent, introduced 15 years ago, combines a mesh and nylon inner for airflow and wind resistance. It has a tapered rectangle shape for aerodynamic stability, two entrances and vestibules, a fully seam-sealed fly with ventilation vents, clothes-line loops and storage pockets. Fly 7D nylon, 1200mm Inner Micromesh, 15D nylon Floor 70D nylon, 20,000+mm Area 2.53m2 + 1.96m2 vestibules Ceiling height 98cm Poles 3, DAC Featherlite 9.6mm Weight 1750g (1610g trail). www.oneplanet.au
Marmot Tungsten UL 2 $899
A light freestanding tent with pre-bent poles for increased headroom and sleeping space. There are ‘easy pitch’ clips and poles, a seam-taped bathtub floor, two doors and vestibules, and a lampshade pocket. Fly Polyester ripstop, 1200mm Inner Mesh Floor 20D 410T nylon, 1200mm Area 2.8m2 + 1.4m2 vestibules Ceiling height 106cm Poles 3 Weight 1546g (1340g trail). www.marmotnz.co.nz
Mont Moondance 1FN $879.95
A freestanding, multi-pitch tent designed for ‘livability’. It has a waterproof internal space for clothes, pack and accessories via a triangular expansion opposite the doorway. It has steep side walls, a seam-sealed tub floor, symmetrical design and internal-access roof vent. Fly 20D ripstop nylon, 2000mm Inner 20D ripstop nylon, mesh Floor 40D nylon, 25,000mm Poles 2, DAC Featherlite NSL 9mm Ceiling height 100cm Area 2.31m2 0.71m2 Weight 1485g. www.mont.com.au
The North Face Trail Lite 3 $850
A spacious three-person tent with similar weight to many two-person shelters. It has storage pockets, a ceiling lamp pocket, oversize doors, two vestibules, and ‘X-tent’ design for easy setup. Available January 2024. Fly 20D nylon ripstop, 1200mm Inner 20D nylon mesh Floor 75D polyester, 5000mm Area 3.6m2 + 3.5m2 vestibules Ceiling height 110cm Poles 4, 9.5 mm aluminium Weight 2880g (2530g trail).
MSR Elixir 2 $799.99
A tent offering on-trail comfort, oversized vestibules, built-in gear lofts, glow-in-the-dark zippers, and an easy-to-find red vestibule door. Unique pole geometry optimises headroom. Adaptable rainfly allows for excellent views. Fly 68D ripstop polyester, 1500mm Inner 20D micromesh, 40D ripstop nylon Floor 70D taffeta nylon, 3000mm Area 2.69m2 + 2.22m2 vestibules Ceiling height 102cm Poles 2, 7000 series aluminum Weight 2770g (2240g trail). www.ampro.co.nz
Sea to Summit Ikos TR2 $799.99
A spacious and versatile backpacking and vehicle-supported tent with multiple configuration options – fly or inner only, dry set-up, and partial fly or classic mode. It has four pockets, two gear lofts, fly-first pitching, and high and low vents. Fly 68D polyester ripstop Inner 20D polyester mesh Floor 68D polyester, 4000mm Area 2.9m2 + 1.65m2 vestibules Ceiling height 105cm Poles 1, DAC MX Weight 2371g (2154g trail). www.southernapproach.co.nz
Sierra Designs Litehouse 2 $799
A free-standing tent that prioritises user comfort, with vertical walls for increased interior volume, a full
coverage fly with rollback ‘moon roof’ for ventilation and stargazing. There are two doors and vestibules and air vents. Fly 15D nylon ripstop, 1200mm Inner 15D nylon mesh Floor 5D nylon ripstop, 1200mm Area 2.58m2 + 1.5m2 vestibules Ceiling height 105cm Poles 3, DAC Featherlight NSL Aluminum Weight 1560g (1390g minimum). www.furtherfaster.co.nz
Vango F10 Helium UL 2 $699.99
A hike and bike-pack tent with a hybrid tunnel design creating a compact shelter. There are airflow vents, pre-angled poles, an internal guy system, fully taped seams, two entrances, one vestibule, a bathtub floor and all-in-one pitching design. Fly 15D silicone reinforced nylon, 3000mm Inner 15D nylon Floor 70D ripstop nylon, 6000mm Area 2.08m2 + 0.6m2 vestibule Ceiling height 100cm Poles PowerLite Plus 7001-T6 Alloy Weight 1420g (1230g trail). www.bivouac.co.nz
Salewa Denali II $629.90
A rugged double-walled dome tramping tent, light enough for bike packing. There are two vestibules with rain-proof entrances, a gear loft and multiple door opening options. Fly 68D polyester ripstop, 3000mm Inner 50D polyester ripstop, mesh Floor 70D nylon, 5000mm Area 2.52m2 + 1.4m2 vestibules Ceiling height 95cm Poles 3, 8.5mm 7001 T6 aluminium Weight 2630g (2400g trail). www.bobo.co.nz
Marmot Tungsten 2 $599
A freestanding tent with colour-coded clips and poles that snap together for quick pitching. There are two D-shaped doors and vestibules, a seam-taped floor and full-coverage fly, internal pockets and a lampshade pocket, and an included footprint. Fly Polyester ripstop, 1200mm Inner Mesh Floor Polyester taffeta, 2000mm Area 2.8m2 + 1.5m2 vestibules Ceiling height 106cm Poles 3 Weight 2670g (2250g trail). www.marmotnz.co.nz
Big Agnes Blacktail 2 $769.99
A light and durable tent with two side-entry doors and vestibules. There are pre-bent poles, fly vents and low vent on vestibule door, and pre-cut guylines and tensioners attached to fly. Inner Polyester and mesh Floor Polyester and mesh Fly Polyester ripstop, 1500mm Area 3m2 + 1.66m2 vestibules Ceiling height 106cm Poles 3 Weight 2239g (2041g trail). www.gearshop.co.nz
The North Face Stormbreak 2 $500
An easily pitched, large doored tent with twin zip vestibules (for multiple configurations), mesh pockets, high-low ventilation, and a full seam-taped fly and floor. Fly 75D polyester, 1200mm Inner 75D polyester taffeta and mesh Floor 68D polyester, 3000mm Area 2.84m2 + 1.82m2 vestibules Ceiling height 109cm Poles 4, 9.5 mm aluminium Weight 2670g (2410g trail). www.thenorthface.co.nz