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Here in Chicagoland, it seems the depths of snow we were getting buried under have melted away, and we’ve been getting some rather lovely sun and warmer temps – which means it’s time to start making plans for camping, of course! If you’re looking for a new tent, you’ll want to look at these new models from Sea to Summit.

The Tension Ridge

In many ways, tents have stayed much the same. Sure, we’ve moved into lighter materials, and poles have become stronger, more compact, and lighter as well. In smaller tents, though, you had your choice of an a-frame, dome, or rectangular dome. It’s a space to sleep and stay dry, but it could be improved upon. And that’s what Sea to Summit has done in conjunction with DAC Poles to come up with something they’re calling the Tension Ridge.

In practical terms, there are small arms that come off at the sides (above the doors) that give you greater headroom when coming in via the door. With these extension, you also get a more vertical wall, which gives you a greater feeling of space in the tent even though the footprint of the tent is unchanged. Aside from just space for sitting up and standing, it means conveniences like a thicker camping mat fit in, side by side, without having things jammed right up against the wall (which is a great way to have dew soak through on you in the morning).

The tension ridge on the new Sea to Summit also helps with the ventilation. With how the poles are configured, you’ve got the vents right at the very top of the tent (where heat needs to get out), as well as a zippered vent flap (so you can control it a bit). They’ve done clever things here as well, like removing external mesh (which reduces airflow) and building in a gutter to catch the rain and keep it away from the vent opening. All in all, the tent retains about 30-60% less heat, and is 17-31% less humid, all due to this airflow. And in summer camping, both of those stats will be welcomed heartily.

With the new pole design and configuration, you can do interesting things like quickly rolling up the rain fly to see the stars – and quickly slide it back down, from inside the tent, if the rain moves in. They’ve also enabled something called Hangout mode, which is available on the Telos line. What happens here is that you disconnect the inner tent from the poles, but the rain fly stays attached. Just like that, you’ve got a quick canopy/awning you can gather under, or even just use for a quick bit of shade. Or, should it be raining when you arrive (or are leaving) you can setup or break down the inner tent while completely covered by the rain fly. As someone who’s broken camp in the rain, this seems like an idea long in coming.

There’s a lot of other clever touches inside the tent and how it’s setup for your camping, but I’ll really recommend you check their site out, or find one at your local REI. Before we close out, there is one other thing they’ve done with the stuff sacks. The ones for the tent can be used as storage cubbes inside, and the tent pole stuff sack can be turned into a “light tube”. Just string it up inside the tent, put a headlamp in at one end, and now you’ve got a fully-illuminated tent. All in all, there’s a lot of really clever design that have gone into the Sea to Summit lineup. The Telos comes in 2- and 3-person sizing and starts at $499, while the Alto is for 1- or 2-people configurations, and start at $399. Again, they’re available now at REI or from Sea to Summit, and should appear at other retailers in June. seatosummitusa.com

Tech Specs from Sea to Summit

Telos TR2 & 3 (mesh inner w sil-PeU fly) starting at $499

  • People: 2 or 3
  • Season: 3 or 3+ season
  • Doors: 2
  • Vestibules: 2
  • Freestanding + Hangout Mode – adaptability with the Telos rainfly
  • Tension RidgeTM – allowing more internal living space, higher doors, and best in class ventilation
  • Apex and Baseline VentTM – Allowing cross-ventilation and climate adaptability.
  • LightBarTM + FairShare System – modular stuff sacks for tent distribution and organization
  • Minimal Trail Weight (Fly + Inner + Poles only): 52.2oz / 3.26lbs “sub 3 1⁄2 lbs” (2p) – 69.2/ 4.32 lbs “sub 4 1⁄2 lbs” (3p)
  • Packed weight (Above + pegs, stuff sacks, guy lines): 58.2oz / 3.64lbs “sub 4lb” (2p) – 76oz / 4.75lbs “sub 5lb” (3p)
  • Floor Area: 28.2ft2 (2p) / 39.74ft2 (3p)
  • Vestibule Area: 19.3ft2 (2p) / 21.5ft2 (3p)
  • Ridge Height: 3 feet 4” (2p) / 3 feet 5” (3p)
  • Door Height: 3 feet 7” (2p) / 3 feet 10” (3p)
  • Fly Material: 15D Nylon
  • Fly Waterhead: 1,200mm – 1,500mm
  • Floor Material: 20D Nylon
  • Floor Waterhead: 2,500mm – 8,000mm
  • Tent Color: Grey (sil-PeU)

Alto TR1 & 2 (mesh inner w sil-PeU fly) starting at $399

  • People: 1 or 2
  • Season: 3 – 3+ season
  • Doors: 1 (1p) or 2 (2p)
  • Vestibules: 1 (1p) or 2 (2p)
  • Tension RidgeTM – allowing more internal living space, higher doors and best in class ventilation
  • ApexTM – Allowing cross-ventilation and climate adaptability.
  • LightBarTM + FairShare System – modular stuff sacks for tent distribution and organization
  • Minimal Trail Weight (Fly + Inner + Poles only): 33oz / 2.06lbs “2lbs” (1p) – 41.4oz / 2.6lbs “sub 3lb” (2p)
  • Packed weight (Above + pegs, stuff sacks, guy lines): 38.6oz / 2.41lbs “sub 2-1/2 lbs” (1p) – 47.7oz / 2.98lbs “sub 3lb” (2p)
  • Floor Area: 19.53ft2 (1p) / 27.54ft2 (2p)
  • Vestibule Area: 7.5ft2 (1p) / 18.3ft2 (2p)
  • Ridge Height: 3 feet 3”
  • Door Height: 3 feet 7”
  • Fly Material: 15D Nylon
  • Fly Waterhead: 1,200mm
  • Floor Material: 15D – 20D Nylon
  • Floor Waterhead: 1,200mm – 2,500mm
  • Tent Color: Grey (sil-PeU)

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By Patrick Kansa

A big data developer and leader with a penchant for gadgets, books, watches and beverages. You can find my work on WristWatchReview, Knapsack.News, and Slushpile. If you're on Twitter and/or Instagram, you'll find me there as @PatrickWatches.