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Tents

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There is no one perfect tent. I have a tent for climbing, one for backpacking, one for backpacking with the family, and one for car camping. Although, it is possible one tent can serve multiple activities. Recently, I have been car camping with the same tent as my family backpacking tent. Likewise, whenever possible, I carry my lighter backpacking tent on climbing trips vs. my heaver 4-season climbing tent.
Some of my tents
Years ago, I had all these tents. Most were old rentals I got free and repaired into shape.
Required Features or Basic tips the retailer may not tell you:

Backpacking Tent: REI Half Dome 2 HC Tent

I’ve been using the Half Dome for a decade now while backpacking solo or with one companion. It’s basic but has all the required features above including good head room and light weight. I’ll even take it on most climbing trips unless I’m on a glacier or planning on ridge top camping. It’s just large enough for one other person and most of your gear will probably be outside under the vestibules.
REI Half Dome 2 HC Tent

REI Half Dome 2 HC Tent

REI's most popular 2-person backpacking tent, the Half Dome HC, provides a spacious interior and a simple, fast setup. Hub/combi (HC) pole design combines variable-diameter poles and a center hub/pole attachment. Variable pole diameters cause poles to flex in such a way that creates greater interior space around shoulders and head. Hub and poles never need to be separated and hub/pole design adds stability at their connection point. Quick and easy setup; simply hook center of tent to hub, attach poles at tent corners and clip tent to poles. DAC Featherlite® poles offer a high strength-to-weight ratio and use extruded construction instead of glued inserts to reduce chance of breakage. 9-section shockcorded poles break down to fit easily in your backpack. 2 doors and vestibules for super-convenient entry/exit and separate storage areas. Insider floor seams are engineered to create a nice, clean taut pitch and maximize floor space; factory seam-taping ensure a waterproof seal. Large D-shaped doors with no-see-um mesh panels and no-see-um mesh front and rear windows allow cross-ventilation, preventing condensation. Tent stays organized with the attic (included) and interior pockets. Full-coverage, factory-sealed, UV-resistant, taut polyester rainfly protects the tent; two roof vents allow excellent airflow to prevent condensation. Nicely placed clear film window in rainfly is the perfect size to view the weather conditions from inside tent. Leak-proof rainfly construction ensures that water won't sneak through susceptible areas such as guy-out points and zippers in wet conditions. Attention to detail shows in the reflective guy points and adjustable cleat-lock tie-downs on the rainfly. Footprint (sold separately) extends the life of your tent by protecting it from abrasive wear and tear. Save weight by creating a minimalist shelter using rainfly, poles and footprint only.


Family Backpacking Tent: REI Half Dome 4 HC Tent

I use a now discontinued REI Taj which is a pound lighter than the Half Dome 4 but definitely not as roomy. It’s great for 2 adults and 2 small children. The Half Dome 4 can fit 4 adults because it is a true rectangle. This would be a better choice for 2 adults and 2 growing children. I also use this tent while car camping with the kids. Although bringing a huge family tent would be fun, it would take up more space in my car as well as limit my options if I decided to backpack to a camp instead of stay at the car.
REI Half Dome 4 HC Tent

REI Half Dome 4 HC Tent

REI's most popular 4-person backpacking tent, the Half Dome HC, provides a spacious interior and a simple, fast setup. Hub/combi (HC) pole design combines variable-diameter poles and a center hub/pole attachment. Variable pole diameters cause poles to flex in such a way that creates greater interior space around shoulders and head. Hub and poles never need to be separated and hub/pole design adds stability at their connection point. Quick and easy setup; simply hook center of tent to hub, attach poles at tent corners and clip tent to poles. DAC Featherlite® poles offer a high strength-to-weight ratio and use extruded construction instead of glued inserts to reduce chance of breakage. 9-section shockcorded poles break down to fit easily in your backpack. 2 doors and vestibules for super-convenient entry/exit and separate storage areas. Insider floor seams are engineered to create a nice, clean taut pitch and maximize floor space; factory seam-taping ensure a waterproof seal. Large D-shaped doors with no-see-um mesh panels and no-see-um mesh front and rear windows allow cross-ventilation, preventing condensation. Tent stays organized with the attic (included) and interior pockets. Full-coverage, factory-sealed, UV-resistant, taut polyester rainfly protects the tent; two roof vents allow excellent airflow to prevent condensation. Nicely placed clear film window in rainfly is the perfect size to view the weather conditions from inside tent. Leak-proof rainfly construction ensures that water won't sneak through susceptible areas such as guy-out points and zippers in wet conditions. Attention to detail shows in the reflective guy points and adjustable cleat-lock tie-downs on the rainfly. Footprint (sold separately) extends the life of your tent by protecting it from abrasive wear and tear. Save weight by creating a minimalist shelter using rainfly, poles and footprint only.


The North Face VE-25

This is the tent I used on Mt. McKinley and Aconcagua. This tents performance was exceptional and was recommended to us by previous Denali climbers. Even after 2 expeditions, it was still in new condition. It is a heavy sucker so after I retired from the big mountains, I did sell it for the same “employee price” I bought it for.
The North Face VE 25 Tent

The North Face VE 25 Tent

Still at the top of its game, the popular VE-25 is engineered to withstand the extreme conditions of high-altitude alpine environments. Multiple exterior guy points, no-stretch Kevlar® guylines with cam adjusters and an internal guy system provide stability in extreme storms. Continuous pole sleeves increase structural integrity; DAC Featherlite® NSL poles slide through without snagging. Full-coverage rainfly includes pole-supported front vestibule with snowflaps and a stake-out rear vestibule for gear stowage. Color-matched canopy and rainfly webbing allow easy setup; side-release buckles at pole intersection points ensures a very stable connection. Internally adjusted mesh top vents ensure spindrift melts onto rainfly; vent doors come together to form a gear loft. Polyurethane windows, cold crack tested to -60 degrees F, improve living conditions by increasing light and views. Two large doors allow easy access and good ventilation; two vestibules for gear storage. Taped, seam-tensioned true bathtub floor offers the clean angles and usable space of a catenary cut without requiring seam sealing. Waterproof, polyurethane-coated rainfly and floor provide superior protection and durability. Adjustable ground tensioner allows pitching on uneven surface and includes loops for ski or trekking pole staking. Reflective guyline loops, guylines and zipper pulls help locate tent in the dark, minimizing the risk of tripping over guylines or kicking it loose. Pitch the rainfly only with poles and corresponding footprint (sold separately) for a weight-saving, minimalist summer shelter. Comes with stakes and compression stuff sack. Average minimum weight specification based on tent, poles and rainfly only. Compatible with The North Face Gear Loft #2 (sold separately).


Playing Chess inside the North Face VE-25 during a blizzard high on Denali
Playing chess on Denali
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