There are many design considerations that go into making practical tents. Finding a manufacturer who regulalry meets our needs has been a challenge, but we have found one: Hilleberg.
Beyond the obvious need for a strong and waterproof shelter our highest priority for a tent is getting the right amount of space. Our definition of space may be different than yours, but we are optimizing for livability not packability. We have determined that its worth giving up an extra liter or two of space in the kayak to enable comfort and ease in camp. We like to have room to sleep without being jammed against the side wall of the tent and we like to have at least a foot of room along the side for gear inside the tent. We like to use Exped double air-pads, for the two of us, and use Exped WL (wide and long) pads for single camping. Most two person tents are filled by a double (or two single) mattress pad, so we use at least a three-person tent for two campers.
We use two different Hilleberg tents when we camp as a couple the first is our “palace” it’s a Kaitum 4. This four-person tent has two massive vestibules and gives us 18” of space alongside our air-pad. We find this tent incredibly livable. Its extra width, and height, allows us to comfortably get changed into paddling clothes and to spread out without falling over each other’s gear. One downside of this tent is its length which can be an issue in some confined camping locations with small tent pads. It also is large and heavy to pack. IT usually ends up in a dry bag between my legs in the kayak. Like all Hilleberg tents the Kaitum 4 can be pitched in rain without getting the inner tent wet, this is a huge plus in our opinion. This pitching advantage is true of all three Hilleberg tents we recomend.
Our second-choice tent for couple camping is the Allak 3. This is a free-standing dome tent which provides more pitching options than the Kaitum 4. The Allak 3 provides a comfortable living space with double vestibules; we find we use the vestibules more in this tent as there is only 12” of space alongside the air-pad for our gear. Being a dome is can easily fit on all the tent pads we have come across. When packed the tent fits through 8” deck hatches making it an easy tent to transport, we tend to pack the poles separately to help optimize space.
Our third-choice tent is the Staika, another dome tent, but this time a two-person tent by design (as long as you are close friends). This is rated as a “black label” tent which is Hilleberg’s designation for tents that can deal with extreme weather. It is a very strong free-standing dome. A double mat will fill the tent, leaving the vestibules necessary for pretty much all gear storage. However, this tent makes an excellent single person expedition tent and has become my (Christopher’s) favorite for those situations. We have ridden out many storms in this tent.