Tent choice.

-- Last Updated: Feb-25-07 5:29 AM EST --

I need a real tent. Great posts out there already. Spent a good part of the day reading through them, as well as reviews on the internet. I’m gonna state my needs here, then post separate replies here on my top few choices, with a few questions, and invite comments.

Here’s what I’m looking for in a tent.

- Mostly car camping for up to a week. (Base camp for kayak day trips.) Occasional kayak camping. Never backpacking. Usually one person. Occasionally two people.

- Absolutely rain tight. Good floor. Good rain fly.

- Decent wind resistance, I’m thinking up to 50 mph, for insurance. Aluminum poles.

- Prefer half dome design. Easy setup.

- At least 7’ 6” x 6’. Ideal is 8’ x 6’. Room to lay out damp cloths and store some gear inside.

- At least one vestibule. Storing shoes is the only definite need so far.

- Strong want for cloth panels over mesh, to control amount of warmth versus ventilation. (I don’t see any quality tents with this, except the Hammerhead, probably because of weight factor.)

- Price range: $150 - $300.

Paul S.

Mountain Hardware, Hammerhead 3
This is my first choice so far.

Sounds like a durable tent. Proven sturdy design. Very water tight with the rain fly on. Nylon zip up panels over the mesh (I like that a lot for control of warmth versus ventilation).

Three pole system is a little longer to set up, but strong.

A little pricey, but that’s ok, given the quality and some unique features (panels over mesh) that I want.

I can get the 2006 for about $260 + $40 for a footprint + $12 for a triangular gear loft.

A little tempted to go for the Hammerhead 2 for reduced size, but I think I want the extra room most of the time.


  1. Are there any other tents with panels over the mesh, and meeting the approximate specs I stated above? Hammerhead is the only one I’ve found so far with the panels.

  2. Are there any differences between the 2006 and 2007 model? I did a quick skim of specs and didn’t see anything right away.

  3. Any downsides you’ve seen with this tent? I didn’t see any in the reviews, except weight for longer backpacking trips, which doesn’t apply for me.

    Thanks for any info.

    Paul S.

Kelty Gunnison 4

– Last Updated: Feb-25-07 5:13 AM EST –

Probably my second choice, behind the hammerhead.

Good tent for the money. $180.

Some questions on water tightness. Some reviewers say completely tight. One reviewer said they got leaks at corners at seems for stake loops. Another reviewer said they saw potential for leaks under certain conditions related to connections for the rain fly.

No panels over the mesh, I don’t think.

Paul S.

Eureka Pinnacle Pass 3XTA
Good tent for the money. Approx. $180

Downsides (for me):

  • No panels over the mesh.
  • Rain fly doesn’t come all the way to the ground on at least one side . One reviewer said they got some moisture into the tent during rain because of this.

    Paul S.

Sierra Designs, Tengu 3.
Good size. No panels over the mesh, I don’t think.


  1. Is this tent new for 2007? I don’t see any reviews.

    Paul S.

the Mountain Hardware here.

I’ve been using the hammerhead for several years now and I’m very pleased with it. Freestanding, goes up/down in a snap and it’s bombproof in the horrible weather I’ve used it in.

Car Camp = Bigger is Better for me
I had the Eureka XTA3 and loved it for 3 years until it was stolen. I replaced it with MH Hammerhead-3. I have only set it up a few time and have not used it. But it was my pick over the Sierra Designs as it afforded more headroom.

Now the real story. In the past 4 years, 98% of my camping has been from the truck, so I have been using a Kelty 10x10 dome and love it. It is home away from home. I put my big fat cot in it. A big black gear box that doubles as a table and bench. I have a fan that I position to blow on me while i sleep. I can stand up to change clothes. And, it is just me and I sometimes think this set-up is not big enough:-)


Hammerhead 3
My wife and I have been using this tent for three years in all kinds of weather and we have absolutely no complaints.

When I camp all alone I use a Tarn 2 from MEC, the hammerhead is a little large for one person but ideal for two.


Demo days?
Do places like REI every put on tent demo days?

I’d love to set up and get inside a hammerhead 3 and hammerhead 2, before making the decision.

Paul S.


– Last Updated: Feb-25-07 12:32 PM EST –

REI usually has several tents set up. If they don't have the tent you're interested in already set up, just ask. They've always said yes when I've asked. If you know which tents you want to demo, call ahead and ask them to have them set up for when you arrive.

I've had a series of North Face tents over the years, and they've all been completely water tight. I've also had good luck with Sierra Designs tents--the Bedouin might fit what you're looking for.

Unless you need a winter tent, you'll have a hard time finding windows that have nylon covers anymore. Most tent manufacturers dropped them about 10 years ago. With a full fly (ie, one that reaches the ground), I haven't missed them at all. The only exception is in winter blizzards, and who really wants to be out there in those conditions. North Face still carries expedition winter tents that will have window covers, but they're horrible tents for summer use, since there's a lot less circulation. If you're going to be mostly using the tents for spring, summer, and fall, I'd strongly recommend going with a full fly and lots of internal mesh rather than nylon. Ventilation makes a tent much more liveable, and if you have lots and lots of mesh for ventilation, you can't have window covers (too many curved zippers, is what North Face told me).

REI does carry a few "convertible" tents which can convert from 3 to 4 season. Some of these have removable nylon covers that zip over the mesh panels. The Sierra Designs Alpha tent seems the best suited to your needs. But if I were in your position, I'd probably choose the Bedouin, and get a huge increase in space and comfort, minus the mesh panel covers, which will rarely be an asset unless you're winter camping.

Third year w/ Kelty Gunnison4
Many car and canoe camp trips. Week long trips in the BWCA. November trips in N.PA and Assateague. Winds up to 35 knots. Severe summer thunderstorms.

Have never gotten wet, never a problem with wind. Very good ventilation in warm weather.

Good durability. I bought the Kelty footprint with it but a fine idea is to cut Tyvek to the correct dimensions. Good value for the $$

Very pleased in all aspects of the tent. As with all tents the listing as a 4 person tent is quite optimistic. I find mine good for two persons and gear.

Hope this helps.


– Last Updated: Feb-28-07 8:12 PM EST –

I used to realy like Kelty tents. The first couple I had were great. No complaints at all. The last one i had though failed terribly. Leaks from 3 or 4 areas on the floor, leaking through the fly sheet in numerous locations, a broken pole, several cracks in other pole sections. That one turned me right off from their tents.
Maybe it was just a bad one...but I'd not trust them again myself.


Mtn Hardware Tents
We’ve used MH tents exclusively for guiding trips. I’ve got three older models which I love…we picked up a few new LightWedge 2s and I was very disappointed in the changes.

They’ve stopped using Eaton poles and switch to a Chinese pole maker (Atlas 7001). We had two poles crack/snap at the stress points just under normal use. MH replaced the poles under warranty, but their area rep seemed indifferent to complaints about the decreased quality on this model.

The Light-Wedge is on their lower end, and I notice that their more expensive tents use Atlas Scandium SL poles…these may be stronger. It seems they’ve cheapened the construction on their entry-level tents so they can compete on price with cheaper lines (Kelty, Eureka) and still make a buck.

My personal tent is a Sierra Designs w/ Easton poles which I’ve had since 2000 and have never had a problem.

Anyhow…I was disappointed to see the change in quality.

I would recommend almost any model of Eureka tents. I have used them for the past 20 years, from a one-man Zephyr to a big 11’x11’ Sunrise. Also have a 3-man Timberline. And several others I just used up. They have all been bombproof (think Texas thunderstorms), dry , long lasting, easy to set up, and comfortable. Pick one and enjoy…

I bought a Big Agness Madhouse
a few years ago and am really happy with the tent. It’s a four season tent and has lots of room for two people and two dogs. I take it backpacking but it isn’t a good choice since it isn’t light and it takes up a lot of room in your pack. It’s great for canoe camping and car camping though. Wouldn’t you have a problem getting a larger tent in your yak?

Sierra Designs Omega Convertible?

– Last Updated: Feb-25-07 3:25 PM EST –

How strong is your "want for cloth over mesh" panels? I've used a SD Omega convertible with zip in/out panels over mesh for about 7-8 years now. It's a great tent. However, I only use it for winter camping anymore, as I have substantially lighter and more compact shelters with much better ventilation for anything down to around 0F. It has been my experience that lack of ventilation is a much more significant problem with most tents under all but the most extreme conditions than the minimal additional warmth that the zip in panels provide.

My favorite, free-standing, double-walled tent which goes on 90+% of my trips, is a 12 y.o. Eureka. The main body allows for excellent ventilation in hot weather, and when it gets cold, I can adjust the fly to limit the drafts.

Summary: I would recommend any quality tent you like, as long as it is designed for maximum ventilation. You can adjust the "warmth" with the fly. If you are doing mountaineering or traveling in the arctic, then get an appropriate shelter for these activities. Hope this helps.


Bought North Face and Kelty
up until two years ago, then got a Sierra Designs Orion (CD), and been totally pleased. Get a 3 person though if you want room. Mines’ been stable and dry through outrageous Florida thunderstorms, high winds (granted 60 mph isn’t Hurricane force, but…) and ventilation is good. It’s not fancy but packs small for kayaking, and goes up quickly.


Alps Mountaineering Meramac
My favorite “scoutmaster” tent - which I use for week-long summer camp and car camping is the Alps Mountaineering Meramac 6-person ZF AL.

http://www.alpsmountaineering.com/ - you’ll find the Meramac under the Tents - Camping link.

The 6-person is 10’x10’ and 6’ high, about 15 lbs, with heavy duty floor & zippers. The body quick clips to aluminum poles - no sliding poles through sleeves. A full set of storm guys that are velcro strapped to the poles. Do note that the tent does have mesh panels on the sides, but the side pullouts can be staked close or far to limit the airflow through the mesh. The tents have nice large doors too. Very high quality!

They also have quite a few other sizes:

2-person: 5’x7.5’ - 4’ high

3-person: 6.5’x7.5’ - 4’4" high

4-person: 7.5’x8.5 - 5’ high

5-person: 8’x10’ - 6’ high

If you happen to be a Scouter, you can get amazing dscounts too.

USMC combat tent…


I got mine for 100 on Ebay

Hammerhead Three
I bought one right when they came out for a 'canoe tent’and boy did I luck out! Backpacker had done a partial review that caught my attention so I went and got the dang thing for a canoe trip with my then girlfriend who’d never camped (I didn’t think she’d dig the tarp thing I’d always done before)and it’s been a jewel. I even backpacked with it in the Ouachita’s with my now fiancee (who also had never camped) as I wanted her to feel comfortable on her first trip. It’s heavy for climbing those rocky trails but it can be done. We pitch it on every canoe trip and lots of little car camping adventures. I did get condensation on the Buffalo River in late November last year, but that was my fault, it was cold and I didn’t put the fly up and didn’t open the vents (heck, it’d never gotten dewey before!). Roomy as heck and an easy keeper. I’ve never had water come in during a rainstorm and it’s stood up to some hellish OK winds.

Good luck!