Brooks Range has done the seemingly impossible—cramming a roomy, comfortable tent into one very small, very light package. When I first received the Brooks Range Tension 30 in the mail, I thought I’d received the incorrect package. How could something that lightweight and small be a 2-person, 3-season tent? Welcome to the Brooks Range Tension 30.

2-person, 3-season tent
2-person, 3-season tent

Most backpackers who are eager to conquer that difficult hike, or simply enjoy their backpacking trip more, look for creative ways to save trail weight. One of the best ways to cut weight and save room in your backpack is to upgrade your tent. Brooks Range offers a solution to backpack weight woes. By replacing the conventional cross-pole tent structure with one long carbon fiber pole and two short crossing poles, the Tension 30 dropped a few pounds. The tent relies on the cord integrated into its seams and the tension from the stakes to provide a strong and stable structure. For the tent floor, canopy and rainfly Brooks Range replaces the industry standard nylon taffeta fabric with thin, 15d Sil/PU Nylon FR R/S (lightweight, waterproof, ripstop). Brooks Range saves additional weight by having only one door rather than two.

I brought this tent on the typical Pacific Northwest overnight. After removing the stakes and poles from the package, the tent easily stuffed into my pack, compressing down to a little larger than the volume of a 48-ounce water bottle, without the help of a compression sack. With a maximum trail weight of 2 pounds, 11 ounces, I hardly noticed the additional weight in my pack. While I loved the light weight, I was a bit skeptical about the tent’s durability—the ultralight nylon fabric looked like it would rip on any terrain. But looks are often deceiving.

Tension 2In order to truly test how durable the ripstop nylon was, I didn’t use a footprint for the review. I set the tent up on pine needles, twigs, and some sharp roots. The setup was quick and easy—with three poles, and only one door, I didn’t even need the instructions. I found that the 86’’ by 50’’ by 40’’ tent had ample room for two, and could accommodate taller backpackers. The three-pole set-up gives the tent a boxy structure, offering extra room to situp inside the tent and move around. The vestibule entrance is cleverly designed with a no-drip covering to make entering and exiting the tent easier, and the back vestibule is large enough to easily store two backpacks and gear.

Tension 3

Pros:

  • Lightweight (2 pounds 11 ounces)
  • Quick Assembly
  • No-Drip Vestibule Entrance
  • Large Vestibules for Storage

Cons:

  • Only One Door
  • Stakes Are Necessary for Tent Structure (May be challenging to set up in some environments.)
  • Footprint May Be Required for Rocky Environments

The Final Review

Ultimately, I was extremely impressed with the tent’s comfort and durability. Although the tent does come with a larger price tag (typical of lightweight tents), it exceeded my expectations, as I didn’t feel I’d sacrificed any commodities for the light weight. Rain or shine, this tent is a great choice for backpackers who are looking for a great, go-to tent for their outdoor adventures.

Specifications:

  • 9.23mm Yunan Carbon Poles
  • Fly and Floor Fabric15d Sil/PU Nylon FR R/S
  • No-Drip vestibule entrance
  • Fly Vent
  • Corner pockets
  • Reinforced stake points
  • 30 sq ft (2.7sq m)
  • 6.6 sq ft vestibule (.6 sq m)
  • 2lb 7oz min weight (1.1kg)
  • 2lb 11oz max weight (1.2kg)
  • 86″ x 50″ x 40″ (218 x 127 x 101cm)
  • Price: $419 MSRP. Ground cloth available (additional charge).
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