(Courtesy the Companies)
2021 Summer Buyer’s Guide

The Best Tents of 2021

These shelters make vast wilderness feel like home


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Sea to Summit Telos TR2 ($499)

(Courtesy Sea to Summit)

A rookie rarely wins Gear of the Year, but our favorite tent this season impressed us with fresh ideas. For its first-ever shelter, Sea to Summit focused on space and ventilation. The key is inverted brow poles, which arc upward like bird wings at each end. (Traditional center poles are flat or concave.) It lifts the doors up and out for easier entry and exit while also deflecting rain from the interior and adding elbow room. At 28 square feet, the TR2 is pretty standard for the category, but thanks to the pole design, two large humans can comfortably sit up inside to play cards. It also makes space for huge roof vents that kept the inside nearly condensation-free in conditions that left other tents drippy. These slits, positioned at the shelter’s apex, also help baffle wind to lessen its force on your home away from home. And then there’s versatility. You can pitch the fly on its own for a quick rain cover, or prop it into an open shelter using trekking poles. The fly, body, and poles pack into three separate bags for easy load sharing. At camp, the pole bag clips into the roof to double as a light diffuser, and the other two bags become corner pockets. There are lighter and roomier tents in this category, but none that improve the camp experience like the TR2. 3.7 lbs

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REI Half Dome SL 3+ ($329)

(Courtesy REI)

Best for Doing It All

The newest iteration of the Half Dome is more than super light—it’s a bargain. Here’s a tent that easily sleeps three (four in a cuddle), personal gear included, and weighs about two pounds per person. That’s with a removable footprint, four pockets in the corners and two on the ceiling, and all the fixings to anchor in a storm. (It even held steady in a 40-mile-per-hour gale.) Still, set up at a front-country campground, it didn’t look or feel like a backpacking home, with its 50-square-foot interior, 44-inch peak height, close-to-vertical walls, big doors, and vestibules that prop up into sunshades. The all-mesh body and lightweight 40-denier nylon floor and fly limit the SL 3+ to three-season use, but for first-timers and budget-conscious campers alike, this could be your one and only. 5.9 lbs

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Marmot Torreya 4P ($499)

(Courtesy Marmot)

Best for Car Camping

Sure, a wallet-friendly price and standing room are nice, but when it comes to a base-camp tent’s crucial function—shelter in a storm—we want the Torreya. Oversize webbing straps, dome architecture, and thick aluminum poles secured with a sturdy system of sleeves and clips yield winter-worthy stability. The rig held firm in a prairie windstorm, and its full-length polyurethane-coated polyester fly shed sheets of rain. “We were comfortable when other tents were imploding,” noted a tester. The inside has eight pockets and is comfortable for four, while two extra poles turn the vestibule door into an awning. At 64 inches, the head height is shorter than many car-camping mansions (a six-foot tester had to stoop to get dressed) and the price is steep. But when the weather turns, none of that will matter. 14.8 lbs

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From Summer 2021 Buyer’s Guide Lead Photo: Courtesy the Companies

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