Ultralight Backpacking Tent
Sea to Summit Alto TR2

$449, 2 lbs. 9 oz. (rainfly, tent, and poles)


Backpacking five days in September through some of the northernmost mountains in the Lower 48 in Washington’s Pasayten Wilderness—sharing the trails with Pacific Crest Trail thru-hikers finishing up their 2,650-mile walk as well as backpackers on shorter journeys—we wanted a shelter that could protect us from the wildest, late-season weather possible. It would also be nice if it wasn’t too heavy, given the rugged terrain there. Sea to Summit’s Alto TR2 fit the bill and demonstrated its cred as an outstanding ultralight tent.

A two-person, two-door, semi-freestanding, double-wall tent, the Alto TR2 kept my wife and me dry inside during a couple hours of early-morning rain, and it held up quite well in moderate winds on some nights, including at one campsite in a meadow just above Rock Pass on the PCT.

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Sea to Summit Alto TR2 ultralight backpacking tent.
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“Semi-freestanding” may sound like an oxymoron, but it simply means that the tent’s pole structure gives it shape but pitching the tent properly nonetheless requires staking it out. In practice, even freestanding tents require staking for optimal performance, so semi-freestanding confers the advantage of reduced overall tent weight without compromising stability. Conveniently, you can also still flip the tent upside-down and shake dirt and debris out before removing the poles when packing it up—something that’s hard to do with a fully non-freestanding tent.

The Alto TR2 is fairly easy to pitch once you get the hang of the proper sequence—which I practiced in my yard pre-trip—but still took me several minutes in the backcountry. The hubbed pole system is shaped like a wishbone with one long ridgeline pole running
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