Q. I’m going on my first camping trip and need to buy a two-person tent. My wife and I are on a budget, but want to get a tent that will last for a couple years until we’re ready to spend a little more money. Where to start?
A. It’s easy to get confused by all the options out there and just go for the cheapest one at REI, but we’ve got a better choice for you. We posed this question around the office and our editor Peter Koch had an answer faster than you can say “full coverage rainfly:” the Eureka! Apex 2XT ($150 at EurekaTent.com).
“I had one of these—well, an earlier generation, which they called the Apex 2 at the time—for 10 years and only sold it a few years ago when I got a nicer tent as a wedding gift,” he said. (The current Apex 2, which is $130, only has “vestibule wings,” so he recommends spending the extra $20 for the 2XT with proper vestibules.) “All I did was spray some waterproofing sealer on it a few times and it was good to go. It was even in good condition when I sold it.”
In case you were wondering, our dear colleague didn’t just keep it in the back of his closet for a decade. He took this two-pole dome tent on dozens of camping trips in the Adirondacks, Colorado, Europe and— the coup de grace—a 7-month backpacking trip around the U.S. and Canada. At around 6 pounds, it wasn’t exactly an ultra-light dream, but it was light enough to make the transition from car camping to backpacking.
Rated for three seasons—that means spring through fall—the Apex 2XT stood up to wind, rain and hail. (It comes with the aforementioned full-coverage rainfly.) “It never had a leak that I can remember—that’s shocking.” The one time he had an issue was when he pushed it past its three-season limit, waking up to walls sagging under several inches of snow in King’s Canyon National Park.
“It had the easiest, most basic setup of any tent I’ve used,” he said.
Its floor is 7 feet 6 inches by 4 feet 11 inches—almost the width of a queen bed, and 10 inches longer, so plenty of room to sleep in with a little storage, to boot. The vestibule comes in handy for extra storage, too.
With a peak height of 3 feet 10 inches, you won’t be able to stand up in the Apex. It’s for sleeping, not tramping around in, which is just as well, because its 75-denier floor and 800-millimeter waterproofing are at the lower end of the scale when it comes to backpacking tent durability. That said, if you’re worried about wearing out the floor, you can buy a fitted footprint for $44, Eureka!’s slightly undersized “small rectangular floor saver” for $17, or simply make a point of treating it well (Peter’s preference).
Although it’s snug, the Apex’s two opposing doors mean you won’t have to climb over your wife to get out (and vice versa)—important for those late-night trips to the “bathroom.”
For your first tent, the Apex 2XT is an all around great bargain. See Eureka!’s website for more specs.