Gear review: Big Agnes Seedhouse SL2

| Comments (1) | Misc
I've been backpacking for years with the venerable Sierra Designs Clip 3. A nice, comfortable tent (though like all n-person tents more suitable for n-1 people), but not freestanding and more importantly, not exactly light. For my trip to Emigrant, I updated my gear with a Seedhouse SL2. The SL2 is a freestanding double wall two-person tent (though I think two people would be pretty cozy) with a rated weight (trail weight) is 2 lbs 14 oz, lighter than many single wall tents of equivalent size. This weight reduction is achieved at least partly by having the tent body itself (except the bathtub floor) made nearly entirely of mesh.

Putting the tent up is easy. It's a single pole design with the pole being sort of an H shape, or rather >-<. One end goes in each corner, giving you a freestanding pole, and then you clip the tent to the pole. Getting the pole inserted in the corners is a bit tricky, since once you get the first two ends in the other ends tend to spring out a bit, but it's fairly straightforward once you get the hang of it. Although the tent is technically freestanding, as a practical matter you want to put in at least two stakes—one per side—to pull the walls of the tent away from your body. The ground I was camping on was fairly hard and the stakes hard to get in, so I settled for those two and two more to stake out the vestibule. Also, if you're using the rainfly you can clip the walls of the tent to the rainfly to tension the walls even more. This wasn't necessary with one person but with two it would probably be good to do this or (if you're not using the rainfly) to guy out the tent walls.

Generally, this tent worked well and was comfortable. My only complaint is that because the tent body is solely mesh, air tended to come up through the vestibule and into the tent, which wasn't that great on a cold night at 8000 feet. I only noticed this effect in the middle of the night so just dealt with it by unstaking the vestibule and lettign it sit against the tent wall, which worked fine. This could probably be ameliorated in a number of better ways, either by carefully staking the vestibule to the ground (this requires getting your stakes pretty much all the way in) or by just sleeping with your feet to the door.

Aside from this issue, I'm happy with the SL2. Also, currently, it's on massive sale at REI for $219, down from $319.


Perhaps I am doing a bit rougher camping than you do, but I am very happy in my Staika from Hilleberg. It's a little heavier but well suited for harsh weather when you really don't want your tent to fail. Most of my camping is done in coasts and mountains.

It's a freestanding design with inner and outer tent (rain fly). They can be raise separately but in most cases you raise them together, which ensures the inner tent is never exposed. Very nice when it's raining heavily.

On the other hand, considering the price that looks like a nice tent for shorter trips and good weather.

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