Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL2 Tent

REI Cost: $349.95

This was my first tent.  I was at REI with a friend.  I had never camped before despite spending five years in the military.  It was just something I had never been exposed to. 

I saw this tent on sale, and couldn’t pass up a good deal.  I knew nothing else about it outside the fact my buddy told me it was a great brand.  This purchase is how I started my camping / hiking adventure.

What I like about this tent:

I love the weight.  This thing weighs less than two pounds.  As I am more of a backpacker and hiker, being light weight is very important to me.  I also really like the setup.  The thing practically puts itself up.  It takes less than two minutes to erect. 

I like the small footprint.  Because of its size, you can put it practically anywhere.  I really like that the tent has lights.  There is an LED strip that runs on the top and the sides.  That is really handy and a nice feature. 

What I don’t like about this tent:

This says it is a two man tent, but really it is a 1.5 man tent.  My son and I used this tent with no problem on the Appalachian Trail, but he was 9 at the time.  There is no way you could fit two grown people in the tent unless they were very small.  Also its small size makes it difficult to get in and out of.

The biggest reason I transitioned to a ZPacks tent as my tent for the AT is I am not wild about the single entry.  The vestibule is in the front of the tent outside the only door.  You have to put your pack in that vestibule, which made me a bit claustrophobic.  Also, this makes it pretty hot in the summer because of lack of air flow.

Final Thoughts:

I could see this tent used as a one-manner.  I wouldn’t recommend it for two.  The weight and compact size are really nice.  The price point is also pretty good for such a high end tent.  For my needs though it didn’t work as I needed a bigger tent.

REI Link to Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL2 Tent

Big Agnes Tumble 4 mtnGLO Tent

REI Cost: $287.73

This is my car camping tent.  I wouldn’t recommend it for hiking unless you plan on splitting the weight up between two people.  It is a great car camping tent.

What I like about this tent:

The biggest factor for me was the LED light system.  While that seems silly, most of my car camping is done with either two or three of my kids.  When you are juggling kids and sleeping bags and sleeping pads and putting on pajamas and finding stuffed animals it is nice to have a light and not have to rely on headlamps. 

I also like the price point.  This is very affordable for a high end tent manufacturer.  I also like how it has two doors.  When we camp in the summer it is nice to leave them cracked to get a breeze going. 

What I didn’t like about this tent:

Really no complaints.  It you are getting nit-picky, the tent takes three poles to set up.  There is a loop at the top of the tent that is a little tricky to lock in place.  However, it really doesn’t matter for the functionality and most of the time I don’t even close the loop. 

Final Thoughts:

I would recommend this tent for car camping.  You could fit three adults in comfortably.  It would be a challenge to get four adults in.  This is a no frills tent from a great manufacturer and a very decent price.  As mentioned above, I am a big fan of the LED light system.  That separates it from its peers in the car camping tent space.

REI Link to Big Agnes Tumble 4 mtnGLO Tent

ZPacksTriplex Tent

ZPacks Cost: $699

ZPacks tents are super popular on the trail.  It seems that every thru hiker on the trail is using this tent.  Knowing that I needed to upgrade to a bigger tent, I took the chance and purchased one.  I haven’t been disappointed.   

What I like about this tent:

I love the weight.  It weights 23 ounces.  That is less than two pounds.  It is stupid light.  That is a huge factor for me as I am doing long distance hiking with a 10 year old.  Because he is so young, I end up having to hump more than my fair share of weight.  It is essential that I have a very light tent.

I love how easy it is to setup.  It utilizes your trekking poles (a requirement unless you purchase the tent poles) which is a very clever design.  There is no exterior rain-fly or ground sheet needed.  This minimalist setup is very comforting.  You don’t have to worry about forgetting anything as long as you bring stakes. 

I love how much space is in the tent.  I can sit up comfortably.  While it is listed as a three-man tent, I would consider it a 2.5-manner.  I have extra wide Nemo sleeping pads, and I am not sure I would be able to fit three in.  It is perfect for two people though.    

I really like how there are multiple doors and big vestibules.  It is easy to get in and out, and there is plenty of room to get packs out of the elements. 

What I don’t like about the tent:

I hear people complain about the condensation because it is a single-wall tent, but I haven’t had that issue.  Really, outside it being very expensive I don’t have any issues with the tent. 

I am concerned that the material may rip.  The tent material is exceptionally light, but doesn’t feel like it would be durable for a long time.  Same for the screens.  That said, it has performed perfectly so far for me, and every review I have read raves about it and says this isn’t a problem.

I wish I could have bought the tent through REI.  You can only get it through the ZPacks website.  It is comforting to buy a product from REI knowing their return policy.  This was a big purchase no knowing if ZPacks stands behind their equipment like REI does.

Final Thoughts:

I bought the tent when I was less than 100 miles into a 2200 mile journey.  It was very expensive, but I plan on spending six months of nights in it.  As such, I didn’t mind splurging a bit to get exactly what I wanted. 

Link to Zpacks Triplex Tent