Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Big Agnes Seedhouse SL-2: A Good Tent for Bike Touring

While the many of the joys of travel come with the motion of it all, the wonders revealed beyond the next bend in the road, great satisfaction is also found in stopping, declaring "this is the place" (at least for this night) and staking a claim on a small piece of earth. While a tarp, bivy or a blanket of stars may be enough for the most minimalist of trips, a good tent is a haven. A few pounds of mesh, fabric and poles become a bit of home at the end of a long day. When the world seems too wide, the wind too biting, the rain too much, the tent is where you rest, reflect and recharge. Tomorrow you pack it up and move on again.

Christine and I are compact people who like each other and we find our Big Agnes Seedhouse SL-2 to be ideal for our needs. The Seedhouse is very light (a bit over three pounds) and it packs small. In the picture below, the tent is strapped to my bike's rack above the panniers and underneath the U-lock and cable.

The main body of the Seedhouse is mesh and we've pitched it without the fly on summer nights when our only concern is protection from bugs.

The Seedhouse is free standing and the mesh body clips to a shock-corded frame. The frame is a series of short aluminum tubes permanently connected by shock-cords and it basically self-deploys when you unfold it. Unlike some other tents I've owned, there is no threading of tubes through narrow nylon sleeves and no loose parts to lose. Another advantage of a free-standing dome-type tent like the Seedhouse is that you can pick the whole thing up to move it or to shake out any dirt you may have tracked into the tent.

Because the tent is free-standing, it doesn't strictly need to be staked out but because silnylon is a slippery material and the tent is light, wind or a less than perfectly level surface can result in unintended tent migration, so staking the tent down is a good idea. Christine recounts the excitement of waking up in a moving tent in our Journey to Wood Creek.

The Seedhouse SL-2 is a small tent, with plenty of room for one person and enough room for two people to be cozy. The tent is just wide enough for two Therm-a-Rest pads (or people) to fit side by side (some campers may prefer to sleep head to toe).

There is a bit of room for gear inside the tent and the staked out vestibule is a big enough dry zone to store packs or panniers.

Campers who want a bit more space should check out some of the larger tents made by Big Agnes or the slightly larger, slightly heavier and very well-regarded MSR Hubba Hubba. Whatever tent you get, get one that sets up quickly and easily, gives good protection from bugs and rain, is big enough for your needs and is no heavier than it needs to be. For Mr. and Mrs. Mountain Turtle, that tent is a Big Agnes Seedhous SL-2.

Keep 'em rolling,

Kent "Mountain Turtle" Peterson
Issaquah WA USA
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