Most people camping solo will prefer the extra space of a two person (2P) tent at a mild cost in weight when compared to a very restrictive one person (1P) tent.
These will be much more livable, especially when it is raining and you need to wait a few hours for it to stop, allows you to have your backpack stowed more securely and of course, they are just big enough for a cosy night for 2 people.
There are many, many 2P tents available.
Budget entry level ones may be very inadequate in providing a safe waterproof shelter and may be too bulky and heavy to carry, so in this blog I have concentrated on the medium to higher end price bracket dual wall tents which should withstand a decent downpour and strong winds and keep you warm and dry while providing adequate ventilation options to minimise internal condensation which would otherwise make you wet and cold.
Some “4 season” tents are really only optimised for alpine and snow conditions for which they are fantastic but tend to lack sufficient ventilation options for use on warm nights unless you fully open the doors and risk bugs and more uninvited guests.
Many 2P tents have a mostly mesh inner “canopy” part and these are fantastic when there are warm nights, especially if you wish to take the fly off and stare at the wonderful dark Milky Way skies and count the falling stars. They will generally be lighter and still keep you dry when it rains assuming you have the fly on.
However, when the temperatures drop below 10degC, you may prefer an inner canopy made mostly of nylon fabric to reduce wind chill over your face and body, but still have dual layer large doorways which give you the option of fantastic cross-ventilation in mesh only mode on warm nights, or any degree of mesh vs nylon fabric to allow versatile adjustment of cross-ventilation to optimise temperature control and mitigation of internal condensation.
I have thus created a comparison table of a selection of 4 such tents, each have their pros and cons and you will need to decide what is important to you.
Comparison of four quality 2P tents
|feature||Sea to Summit Telos TR2 PLUS||MacPac Apollo||Mont Dragonfly||Exped Orion II|
|price on sale||$AU879||$AU349 on sale
|season usage||3+ season||3-4 season||4 season and still great in summer||4 season and still good in summer although consider Extreme version with silnylon UV fly|
|best for..||ultralight hiking in warm or cool areas||tough design great for 2x schoolkids or car camping;||alpine hiking; very spacious all purpose tent;||tall people; 1-2 adults hiking; unprotected sites eg. Iceland, alpine base camps; high rain/wind cool-cold climate areas; car camping for those with bad backs|
|packed size||13 x 13 x 48cm||56 x 21cm||44x18cm + 45cm poles||42 x 16cm|
|storm / wind proofing||?good||very good||excellent||excellent|
|livability in prolonged rain 1P||dubious, inner space the smallest;||OK||excellent as spacious, waterproof floor and zip ceiling vents||excellent thanks to large vestibules and doors|
|set up in rain without inner getting wet||yes||no||yes with footprint?||yes|
|pole attachment||clipped||via tunnel sleeve||clipped||via tunnel sleeve
|poles||8.5 and 9.0mm||8.5mm T6||9.6mm DAC||9mm DAC|
|colours||green or grey||blue with white inner||green with yellow inner||red or green with yellow inner|
|inner tent||20D nylon with mesh ceiling vent and mesh upper part of doors||40D all nylon||20D all nylon (15D on 2020 model)||30D all nylon|
|floor||30D 8000mm floor||70D 10,000mm||70D, 25,000mm||70D 10,000mm|
|fly||15D silPeU 1200mm with apex vent||silPU 1500mm with above door overhang vents||30D sil PU 2000mm with above door vents which align with inner vents which can allow nice bird hide capability||40D PU 1500mm with above door overhang vents (Extreme has SilNylon)|
|internal width||109 to 134cm||130cm||140cm||130cm|
|internal area||2.62sqm||2.86 sq.m||3.08sq.m||2.7sq.m|
|door size||100x100x88cm (approx)|
|dual layer door||NO, 2/3rds nylon, upper 1/3rd mesh||full, rolls up to non-wind end||full rolls up to centre of tent||full, rolls up to centre of tent|
|door position||triangular base at end||triangular starts at non-wind end||central triangular base at end||central D doors|
|door rain protection with fly open||OK if pegged out||OK if pegged out but need to bring a clamp to do so as no peg hole on the door that opens||seems good but only if pegged out, no protection if folded back||very good as deep vestibule overhang|
|ridge pole||upward concave to give extra height to doors||NONE||std convex||convex to ground|
|ability to open wind end vestibule||yes, entire fly can be opened at each end and left attached in middle for fast closure if rain comes||yes but no tie back so need to bring a clamp||yes also has part way peg holes||no, unless remove ridge pole and use guy ropes|
|fully nylon sealed inner dust proof mode||NO||yes||yes||yes|
|zippable open inner vents||only upper part doors?||only doors||doors and ceiling vents – all dual nylon/mesh||only doors|
|can set up without fly||yes and can also have fly attached in middle and ready to apply||yes||yes||yes but more difficult and need guy ropes|
|can set up with fly only||yes and can be used as Hangout sun shade mode with trekking poles to elevate one end||no||?possibly with footprint||yes, easy|
|extra features||Hangout mode; fly can stay on in middle only; pack comes in 3 parts for sharing and also doubles as tent pockets and diffused holder for ceiling lamps;||tough design for kids with proven durability to last over 20 years of hiking; poles pass through inner tent’s tunnel attachment which can wear out over many years and does prevent setting up with fly only;||use as a bird hide; has most waterproof floor and the strongest poles which double cross; gear loft; 3 ceiling carabiners;||extra height for tall people; large doors; hybrid tunnel design with ridge pole to ground; gear loft;|
|other versions||mesh version: $AU849||3P version Polaris||NB. 2020 version only has 15D nylon inner; 2021 version has 20D;||Extreme version has UV protected silnylon fly but gets saggy and takes longer to dry when wet; Orion III is a 3P version;|
My MacPac Apollo review:
I personally own the MacPac Apollo for my car camping and have found it to be a fantastic tent for the price and it has survived gale force winds and prolonged chains of thunderstorms but it is a little heavy for solo hiking as it is primarily designed to withstand the stresses of school kids hiking with it for which it is a great choice.
It sets up very easily – just thread the two poles through the inner canopy tunnel sleeves then slot the ends into the canopy corner tags. Place the fly over the top securing it to the poles via the velcro tabs then peg it out.
My main relatively minor criticisms of it are:
- the door overhangs could be wider to reduce rain spray when you have the vestibules unzipped – personally I prefer the addition of a ridge pole as with the other tents here.
2. the vestibules are not designed to be fully opened one is designed to remain pegged which is probably good for school kids to increase stability if unattended in the wind, but requires you to bring a clamp if you wish to have it kept completely open.
3. there is no true ceiling vents, but the cross-ventilation available by keeping the top part of each door open as mesh is a reasonable compromise.
4. as the poles thread through the tunnel sleeves of the inner canopy, it cannot be set up as a fly only option or set up with fly first in the rain.
Any of these tents in the table would be great for hiking especially when the weights are shared between two people, although the Exped Orion II is getting a touch heavy and for a little extra weight, I think I would prefer the Exped Orion III 3P tent for its extra height and livability and particularly if I was car camping or I was a tall person.
If I was hiking solo, the Sea to Summit Telos TR2 PLUS would be high on my list given its versatility and lighter weight but unlike the others it cannot be “fully” sealed from dust and sand blowing around in a gale, and it is not really a full 4 season tent.
Perhaps my personal preference of the four for all round versatility and livability, especially if I am mainly car camping, or hiking in the colder months or in alpine areas, the Mont Dragonfly is winning me over and after getting inside one, I think the ceiling vents could allow it to be a handy bird hide even in the rain and of course it does have the most waterproofed flooring of all four of these tents.
If you are on a budget, the MacPac Apollo is a great option for two hikers or for car camping.