This past summer had proven to be a very challenging time for a lot of friend and family folks for varying reasons which effected my bike touring plans for the months of late July and August. In an effort to make light of those facts I blogged about it here, Lisa found it to be rather amusing.
Anyhow, after finally getting some bike packing travel plans figured out I debated over which tent to take to sleep in with my dog after our house and puppy sitter flaked out. So I decided to pack both the REI Quarter Dome 2 two person tent and the Alps Mountaineering Lynx 1 person tent. Both tents offer a "quick pitch" method using only the foot print and rain fly as an optional simple shelter.
Although the Quarter Dome 2 is much roomier with dual entry and vestibules it weighs approximately the same as the Alps one person tent (three and a half pounds) which has a single entry and vestibule although the vestibule is quite large for storing panniers, packs, shoes, etc. How the Quarter Dome is capable of being so lightweight is that the rainfly and tent body are made of very lightweight fabric that can best be described as unpacking a material which resembles plastic cling wrap used in a kitchen. Lisa immediately voiced a concern about the fabric being "too thin" for use when camping with the dogs as they could possibly tear the floor fabric. As it turns out Lisa's evaluation of the fabric was correct as shown in photo above it was way too easily torn by a stray year old lab puppy who insisted on keeping me company by sleeping next to the tent every night. Previous to that while we camped one night using only the mostly mesh tent body without the rainfly our three year old dog was startled and made an effort to lunge out hitting the mesh and creating stress tears in the base fabric of the tent body. It was easy enough to repair those tears but the other damage caused by the lab pup pawing at the tent will require us returning the tent to REI. Will update this post later.
I could go on and on saying the praises of the Alps tents materials, ease of packing and pitching. As one reviewer of the Quarter Dome 2 is quoted as saying "it's not the type of tent design you want to try to set up after a few drinks" implies that it needs to be set up a few times to get familiar with the design for pitching at night or if in a hurry for inclement weather. When the same stray lab puppy tried to get in through the rain fly vestibule while it was zipped shut he evidently became frustrated and chewed through the guy lines which were staked down for the gusty New Mexico monsoon weather.
So, all that having been said here are top four suggested features of a tent for bicycle touring or bike packing followed by a list of our top four tent picks which all weigh less than four pounds.
1. Packing friendly aluminum tent pole length which can fit inside a pannier, bike bag or pack or strapped to the top of a front or rack so as not to adversely effect navigating the bike especially on trails.
2. Materials pack down small enough to fit inside a pannier, seat bag, or can be strapped on to a front or rear rack or handlebars in the case of bike packing.
3. Ease of setting the tent up whether it's due to being in a hurry with bad weather with free standing design.
4. Durable enough that a dog doesn't tear it too easily. : )
Our Four Favorite One and Two Person Tents
After deciding to add the ground cloth (sold separately) I have no doubts about the durability and quality materials of this tent. Large vestibule for storage of personal items, absurdly easy to set up even with lots of wind and includes a gear storage loft which I have found very useful for holding other small personal items while bike camping.
Another thing I like about this tent when compared to the Alps Lynx 1 is that it doesn't have the little transparent plastic windows on each end of the rain fly which probably contributes to this tent being slightly lighter weight.
This is a highly reviewed tent weighing less than four pounds. Couple things I don't like about it are the seventeen inch packed pole length and single pole hub design very similar to the Quarter Dome 2 poles described previously.
This is the Kelty TN 2 Person Tent which although the ground cloth (foot print) is sold separately it's still an awesome deal and the only tent I have found with the option for parking my touring bike under an accessory tarp shown below, also sold separately.