Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 32
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Boulder, CO
    Posts
    153

    Family Backcountry Tent Recommendations

    Lots of threads on car camping tents, but I'm looking for recommendations on a good backpacking/boating tent for a family of four. Current setup is a BD Mega Light with the bug insert. Big advantage is weight and packability relative to size. But as the kids get bigger it's getting a little cramped (especially with the center pole), and I'm sick of dealing with sand blowing in on us during desert trips. Also gets a little drafty and flappy at times in high winds, which are fairy frequent where we camp. So, here's what I think I want:

    - Comfortably sleep four people (i.e., four 20" wide sleeping pads plus a little extra space for clothes/gear).
    - Solid walls to keep sand out, so either no mesh or very minimal mesh. What happened to all the "convertible" tents of the early 2000s??
    - Good design for wind.
    - Reasonable weight for backpacking. I don't mind something that most would consider heavy, as mileage will be fairly short. But I'll still need to carry the thing, so no Springbars or the like.

    Looking around it seems like this leads to four-season tents like the MHW Trango. Hillebergs also look nice (Nallo 4 looks like a good fit) but of course are $$ and never able to be discounted. What else is out there? I feel like there have to be more options, but I'm coming up short.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    The Bull City
    Posts
    4,330
    For true backpacking, and not car camping as mentioned.. I'd go 2 tents for a family of 4 until kids are mature enough to haul/use their own tents or hammocks. Lots of situations where a couple smaller tents are sooo much better than one large one..
    Go that way really REALLY fast. If something gets in your way, TURN!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Posts
    4,875
    For 4 people + gear you need a 6 person tent to be comfortable. Not sure if there is even an option for a true backpacking setup that size. May have to look into a lightweight car camping tent. Someone packs the rain fly, someone else packs the tent, split the poles.

    Like SJG said 2, 2 person tents with large vestibules may be best.


    Sent from my iPhone using TGR Forums

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Posts
    5,556
    We used to run a Kelty 4 person tent. It looks the like Salida 4 could do the job. Certainly not ultra light but 7lbs for 4 people with 99 x 80 x 56 dims isnít terrible.

    https://www.mountainsports.com/item/...iABEgKmhvD_BwE

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Boulder, CO
    Posts
    153
    I've thought about going with two small tents in the past, as we occasionally run into site-selection issues with the mid. My wife has been less interested in that idea, but something like a pair of BD Hilights could make sense for specific locales while ticking most of the boxes. I may need to revisit that concept.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    CA
    Posts
    1,801
    I have no recs, but want the same thing - backpacking tent for 4 people. I already have a tent for 2, but my 3-person Sierra Designs tent from 1995 aint cutting it for the family of 4 anymore.

    Ain't no way I'm carrying two tents! So, 4 person it is.

    Backpacker's contribution: https://www.backpacker.com/gear/the-...or-backpackers
    sproing!

    FS: crampons, lightweight winter down sleeping bag, and stuff https://www.tetongravity.com/forums/...ost?highlight=

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Boulder, CO
    Posts
    153
    Quote Originally Posted by Peruvian View Post
    We used to run a Kelty 4 person tent. It looks the like Salida 4 could do the job. Certainly not ultra light but 7lbs for 4 people with 99 x 80 x 56 dims isn’t terrible.

    https://www.mountainsports.com/item/...iABEgKmhvD_BwE
    Not bad, hadn't considered Kelty. Still a little mesh-y but way better than a lot of other options from big manufacturers.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Posts
    3,560
    We use a 2-person tent (BD Lighthouse) and 3-person tent (REI Taj 3, my favorite tent of all time) for our family of four and dog. That said, this system is a cobbling together of existing tents. If I had no backpacking tents and were starting afresh, I'd probably consider a big tent.

    My advice would be to see if you can find a 5 or 6 person tent. Or, at least, the roomiest 4-person available. My experience has always been that the number of people that can comfortably fit into a tent is X - 1, with X equaling the number of people advertised by the manufacturer. A 4-person tent will be okay when the kids are under 9, but once they grow up, it's going to be sardine-level tight.

    Incidentally, my beloved Taj 3 has a broken tent pole and is likely to be soon replaced by a Marmot Tungsten UL 3P. I'm once again confronting the "do I really need a footprint" issue I come across every time I get a new tent. (I always get the footprint, but feel a little like I'm being taking advantage of.)

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Squaw valley
    Posts
    2,572
    There's a tarptent for 4 people, weighs under 5 lbs

    Sent from my Armor_3 using Tapatalk

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
    Location
    Lower Mainland
    Posts
    196
    Can't recall the models off the top of my head and am at work so don't have time to do the research, but IIRC some brands have 2p or 3p tent models that can connect to each other at the vestibule points. Basically gives you a "single" large tent, with more versatility (and a slight weight penalty).

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Boulder, CO
    Posts
    153
    I get the suggestions for a bigger 5-6 person tent, but I don't see much in that realm that would be suitable to throw in a backpack. MSR Stormking??

    And AKBruin, I hear you on footprints, they are like the car dealer tru-coat for tents. I often use one car camping, but skip it for backpacking.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    The Bull City
    Posts
    4,330
    Quote Originally Posted by meter-man View Post

    Ain't no way I'm carrying two tents! So, 4 person it is.
    Each adult carries a tent. .. or if one of the kids is an older teen they can carry a tent. Dad carrying most of the gear for the entire family on a true hike seems problematic. Shit happens on hikes and people sometimes have to shift the loads around.
    Go that way really REALLY fast. If something gets in your way, TURN!

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Posts
    4,273
    I thought the dads sleep outside (somebody needs a good night of sleep).

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    The 8th best place in the LBP
    Posts
    2,732
    We used to backpack with our 4-person REI "backpacking" tent, and while it's light it sucks in every other way. Lots of mesh, walls that droop in on the people on the edges, very minimal room. This summer since the kids are older/bigger/able to carry some weight, we just brought our car camping/river tent, the Marmot Limelight 4 person. Not too meshy, in fact with the fly on it's pretty bombproof (could even be hot if you're in a hot climate). Anyway, I carried the tent, my wife carried the fly and stakes, and my oldest daughter (15) carried the poles. It was easy and it was very nice to have the extra room in camp. They don't market it as a backpacking tent per se (weight is listed as 8.8), but I thought it was a great compromise. (BTW I do not bother with a footprint, never found it necessary and leaving it behind saves weight.)

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    PNW
    Posts
    4,554
    This summer I bought the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV 4 to fit this slot.

    Legit 4-person space at 86" width. 5lb 10oz packed.

    Lots of mesh, though... but any "backpacking" tent will be mostly mesh nowadays. Otherwise it's an Alpine or Expedition tent and will weigh a shitload.
    PE, Mechanical Engineering
    University of Bridger Bowl Alumnus
    Alpental Creeper

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    The Bull City
    Posts
    4,330
    Quote Originally Posted by bodywhomper View Post
    I thought the dads sleep outside (somebody needs a good night of sleep).
    Covered hammocks are popular with the dads and older kids in our troop. I hate sleeping on my back, otherwise I'd consider that option. We're almost never anywhere where there aren't plenty of trees available to do that.
    Go that way really REALLY fast. If something gets in your way, TURN!

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Boulder, CO
    Posts
    153
    Quote Originally Posted by Norseman View Post


    Lots of mesh, though... but any "backpacking" tent will be mostly mesh nowadays. Otherwise it's an Alpine or Expedition tent and will weigh a shitload.
    See, this is what annoys me. Where are the "3-season plus" tents? Something like the new Mountain Hardwear Outpost in a larger size would be the sweet spot IMO: https://www.mountainhardwear.com/out...t-1830051.html

    Or maybe I just need to get over my late 90s tent nostalgia and pick one of the above models with the highest %age of solid walls.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Posts
    4,273
    Quote Originally Posted by SumJongGuy View Post
    Covered hammocks are popular with the dads and older kids in our troop. I hate sleeping on my back, otherwise I'd consider that option. We're almost never anywhere where there aren't plenty of trees available to do that.
    Need trees for that

    Also, somebody has to snuggle with the dog(s).

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Boulder, CO
    Posts
    153
    Also, I'm coming around to bodywhomper's approach here.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
    Location
    In a van... down by the river
    Posts
    3,914
    I would also strongly suggest a couple tents. I'd go with a lightweight 2-person for the kids and a lightweight 3-person for the grownups... unless you can find a reasonably-sized lightweight 2-person for the adults.

  21. #21
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    CA
    Posts
    1,801
    Quote Originally Posted by SumJongGuy View Post
    Each adult carries a tent. .. or if one of the kids is an older teen they can carry a tent. Dad carrying most of the gear for the entire family on a true hike seems problematic. Shit happens on hikes and people sometimes have to shift the loads around.
    Hmm. In the event someone is hurt, I don't understand how carrying two tents (weighing, for example, 4 pounds each) is better than carrying one tent (weighing, for example, 6 pounds)...

    Of course, there are other reasons for having multiple tents -- where's the eggplant emoji TGR?!?
    sproing!

    FS: crampons, lightweight winter down sleeping bag, and stuff https://www.tetongravity.com/forums/...ost?highlight=

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Couloirfornia
    Posts
    8,725
    Quote Originally Posted by AKbruin View Post
    REI Taj 3, my favorite tent of all time
    That tent was the shit. I used to borrow it from the rental fleet in college.

    That BA Copper Spur 4 looks like the ticket for a four person. But, man, good tents aren't cheap.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ernest_Hemingway View Post
    I realize there is not much hope for a bullfighting forum. I understand that most of you would prefer to discuss the ingredients of jacket fabrics than the ingredients of a brave man. I know nothing of the former. But the latter is made of courage, and skill, and grace in the presence of the possibility of death. If someone could make a jacket of those three things it would no doubt be the most popular and prized item in all of your closets.

  23. #23
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Western MT
    Posts
    1,333
    I too miss the old convertible tents. Sierra Designs 2nd iteration of the nightwatch CD was perfection in my mind. Small vestibule though. I wintered many storms in it including heavy snow. It still survives today as a field work tent and it was from the mid/late 90s. Bomber, but also 7 lbs for a 2 person tent.

    Regarding 4 person tents, have you checked out the MSR Papa Hubba? On sale at MSR: https://www.msrgear.com/papa-hubba-n...SABEgImlvD_BwE

    It's very light for the space and partial side panels at least. This is not a tent you can beat the tar out of like my Marmot Halo, but it's very light for the space. Kelty used to make very good tents for the money if you want something cheaper but I am not familiar with their newer designs. They were typically a little heavy. Regarding space, I shared a small 2 person tent for years and usually hung my pack in a tree or just leaned it up and covered it with a heavy duty garbage bag. Easy/cheap/light way to free up tent space.

  24. #24
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    livin the dream
    Posts
    3,501
    Quote Originally Posted by rod9301 View Post
    There's a tarptent for 4 people, weighs under 5 lbs

    Sent from my Armor_3 using Tapatalk
    This should be a strong contender. They have different swappable inserts options (full mesh, half mesh, full solid.) No experience with this model but all their other tents are great.

    https://www.tarptent.com/product/hogback/


    Sent from my iPhone using TGR Forums
    Best Skier on the Mountain
    Self-Certified
    1992 - 2012
    Squaw Valley, USA

  25. #25
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Western MT
    Posts
    1,333
    Quote Originally Posted by nickwm21 View Post
    This should be a strong contender. They have different swappable inserts options (full mesh, half mesh, full solid.) No experience with this model but all their other tents are great.

    https://www.tarptent.com/product/hogback/


    Sent from my iPhone using TGR Forums
    I've looked at those tents before and agree I would definitely look into them as an option. Very nice looking tents and good reviews.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •