What's the Best 3 Season, 3 Person Tent for Canoe & Bike Trips

I'm wondering what your thoughts are on the best 3 season, 3 person tent for canoe & bike trips is...

We purchased the Sierra Lightning XT3 as it was on clearance. But I am not sure it is the best choose for us.

Like I mentioned, we want a large 2 man or 3 man tent for bike and canoe trips. We will use it primarily for spring, summer and early fall use.

My concerns are:

  1. Will an all mesh tent be cooler?

  2. What about condensation?

  3. Will the hoop design of this tent hold up well in a rain storm or will rain collect on top without a center pole holding everything up?
  4. Plus is an ulter light tent material less durable?

Hope you can help us out!

~ Gail


Hi Gail,

Sorry to hear that the Sierra Lightning XT3 didn't live up to expectations. But, hey, you're not alone. A lot of people--me included--think that Sierra Designs was trying so hard to make the tent more lightweight, that they sacrificed the quality of the structure itself. It's a flimsy thing that I wouldn't trust in the wind and rain. (Not to mention, it's far too complicated to set up quickly and properly…) I think you made the smart decision to look elsewhere!

We're going to try to help you out with a few much better tent options below, but first I wanted to answer some of your questions.

About a Tent's Construction

First of all, let me say this: bravo for caring enough about your tent to ask these questions! So many people buy tents simply because of looks or the price tag. There should be more people like you--those who care enough to learn about tents in order to see which ones would work best for their needs.

So, good for you!

Now, let's fill in some of the blanks on a few questions you had.

Mesh Temperature -- You are absolutely correct: an all-mesh tent is going to be cooler than a single-wall, or half-mesh construction. And since you say you're heading out in the Spring-to-early-Fall months, I'll assume that cooler is better. If it's particularly warm where you are, your best will probably be an all-mesh dome with a rain fly.

Condensation Factor -- Ah, yes, condensation: everyone's least favorite by-product of camping. Unfortunately, we all have to live with it to some degree--it's just how it goes. But there are certainly steps you can take to minimize condensation. Going hand-in-hand with the last inquiry, an all-mesh tent will be the most helpful for reducing condensation, except in very extreme fog/rain weather conditions.

Hoop Design Flooding -- Unless it's really poorly made, no 2-3 person tent is going to collect water on the roof, whether it's a center-pole or hoop-design construction. In fact, the hoop design may be even better in inclement weather, as it works to divert heavy winds.

Ultra Light Durability -- It used to be that super lightweight tents weren't the most dependable constructs. But recent advancements in material technology have improved the structures considerably. Today, you can find ultra lightweight tents that are just as tough and rugged as many full-size models.

Other 3 Person Tents to Look At

Okay, Gail, I hope that answered a few of your questions. Now let's get on to the meat and potatoes of this response: some great tent options for you to replace your Sierra Lightning XT3 with!

Marmot Limelight 3 Tent

Even though it may not be quite as lightweight as the Nemo or Big Agnes, the Marmot Limelight 3 has a number of its own unique advantages.

It has light-reflective piping to help you see it from a distance, it has plenty of interior pocket storage, and it has a great ventilation design for the best in air flow.

Read Our More Detailed Marmot Limelight Tent Review

Nemo Losi 3P Tent

This may not be the lightest tent in the industry, but it's darn near the best backpacking tent you'll find.

And if you can split the load between you and your camping buddy, there's no way you'll get weighed you down--especially not at just over 6 pounds. It's a wonderful 3-season tent, with two private doors and almost 80 square feet of space.

Learn more about the Nemo Losi 3P Tent.

Or read reviews of additional Nemo Tents.

Big Agnes Copper Spur UL3

At just a hair over 4 pounds, this 3-person, 3-season tent is one of the lightest out there. It features two doors, two vestibules, a mesh top, and partial mesh sides. This is great for camping in warmer weather.

The poles are also eco-friendly, made from a process that eliminated several toxic chemical compounds from the design.

Learn more about the Big Agnes Copper Spur UL3 tent

Any of these will suit you better than that Sierra Lightning XT3. I hope you find the perfect tent real soon. Let me know what you decide!

Comments for What's the Best 3 Season, 3 Person Tent for Canoe & Bike Trips

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Sep 09, 2015
Nice NEW
by: Anonymous

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