What is the best tent for an Alaska camping trip?
The answer depends upon many factors but after decades of wilderness trips around Alaska here are some of our favorites.
Our criteria for a perfect tent is that it must be durable, wind-worthy, warm, easy to set up, and have a good weight to space ratio. We find single wall tents to be too clammy, despite advances in venting and we find the ultra-light tents made mostly of mesh to be miserably cold. Like the search for the perfect boat choosing a tent is full of compromises. The tent with all the features weighs too much to carry but the ultra-light one isn’t enough shelter.
We list these tents in no particular order:
1) MSR Fury. This small 2 person tent hardly even wiggles even in storm force winds. It gets high marks for warmth and durability and the vestibule is a nice addition. But in building a tent which won’t let the wind in, MSR made a tent that requires some serious flexibility to enter. The tent also lacks venting for those few hot days we get in the Arctic.
2) The Mtn Hardware Trango 3 is a classic tent. It is roomy, sturdy and quick to set-up. A generous door and vestibule make for good views of the bear snuffling towards camp and the mesh door keeps out the bugs without making the tent too cold. Mtn Hardware had some brittle poles for a couple of years but the quality seems to have improved. If you can haul the 10 pound tent along, it is a good choice.
3) For years we used North Face Talus 2/3 tents almost exclusively and loved them for many reasons. They are compact and light. With two doors and two vestibules they are convenient and comfortable for two people. While they don’t have great headroom, they are bullet-proof in the wind and are the strongest tent for the weight that we know of. Unfortunately, The North Face has made the body of this tent and the similar Big Fat Frog out of mesh for several years, and the tents aren’t warm enough for the arctic. If you can find an older one, or if you can expect warm weather this is still a great tent at a great price.
4) The MSR Holler looks to be just like the now discontinued MSR Mutha Hubba HP. We haven’t tried it yet, but if you are looking for a spacious sturdy and very light tent this may be the tent for you. We can get our family of 4 in the Mutha Hubba tent in reasonable comfort and 2 people can really spread out. The yellow color makes even a downpour seem cheery and it handles the wind admirably. Hopefully when MSR renamed this tent they also used better quality zippers. This tent is too expensive not to last.
Coming soon: The Best Group Shelters aka “Cook Tents”