I need a lightweight backpacking tent for my daughter and myself. Will be backpacking for about a week. I'd prefer a 3-person 3-season tent. I see a lot of mixed reviews on Big Agnes lightweight tents, in terms of durability. What do you recommend?
@BreeLean Thanks for reaching out!
Sounds like an awesome trip, where are you heading? Do you have a weight range you are shooting for? For a three person tent to be considered 'ultralight' they will typically have to be under 5 pounds of minimum trail weight (which is tent body, fly, and stakes for tent and vestibule). We always recommend a tent footprint for increasing durability and extending the life of your tent.
Here are a couple of good options for your trip:
If durability is your main concern, the MSR Mutha Hubba tent uses a 30 denier (thickness) nylon fabric on the floor of it's tent, and the Mountain Hardwear tent uses a 40 denier nylong fabric. The REI Co-op and the Big Agnes tents use a 20 denier nylon. @TomIrvine can speak to the durability of MSR tents, and @TeamSteward17, @KenBrenner, and @John can all speak to using an REI Quarter dome tent, hopefully they can chime in with some thoughts here.
Hopefully this helps, please let us know if you have any other questions!
I have no experience with Big Agnes, but can offer you my experience with the REI Quarter Dome tents.
I sleep solo and bought an REI Quarter Dome 2 a few years ago. It is great, sturdy, and with the rain fly, dry. I had a chance to test this out on the AT in the Shenandoah National Park in 2019 when a strong and windy storm came over the mountain range. Had no issues.
I concur with John in his recommendation of a Quarter Dome 3. I also recommend getting the footprint for that tent - it fits the tent just right. You could get a great deal now thru 05-25 by using your member 20% off coupon too.
While Big Agnes is lighter than the Quarter Dome, it is way more expensive.
@BreeLean Lightweight tents in general are less durable than heavier weight tents. You just have to treat them with some care.
If you want a bit more durability get the Big Agnes Copper Spur UL3. If you want lighter weight at the cost of less strength and more setup then get the Big Agnes TigerWall UL3. The Copper Spur is better if you are a bit taller. I am about 6ft and the TW UL2 works for me.
I lent my TW UL2 to a couple for a 22 day John Muir Trail hike. They enjoyed it and it survived unscathed. They had some rain and wind but not a lot so didn't need to be in the tent except to sleep. TWs and CSs have been used for PCT thru hikes and have been highly rated in the Halfwayanywhere's annual survey https://www.halfwayanywhere.com/trails/pacific-crest-trail/pct-gear-guide-2019/
If you are not large people and/or your daughter is a child then the UL2 versions while snug have enough space to sleep assuming you use tapered sleeping pads like the Thermarest X-lite and will save some weight and require less space to set up which can be an issue in some places. You cannot fit two 25 inch rectangular pads. The double doors and vestibule provide gear storage and convenience enough for 2.
I recommend using a footprint and getting the factory one. You can make your own to save money but the factory one packs up small, is easy to use and provides more options (ie fly first setup/takedown)
The REI half dome tents also seem good although I have not used then personally...slightly heavier slightly cheaper
This is a great question! I also don't have any experience with Big Agnes tents, but there are thwo tents (in addition the the REI Co-op Quarter Dome 3) that I would recommend.
Here is a link to a response to a post I just wrote about the 2-person versions of these tents.
Hope this helps!
@BreeLean I love my REI Quarter Dome 1 (single). If the Quarter Dome 3 (three people) is as roomy and well designed, you can not go wrong. Check out the Quarter Dome 2 and 3 in a store (if you can) because the QD dome might offer you more room than you think. My single is quite roomy, plus there is extra room under the vestibule.