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Steve Casimiro

If it involves fresh air and the threat of bodily harm, Steve Casimiro does it: skiing (50 days a year), mountain biking (120 days a year), surfing, skateboarding, climbing, backpacking. Makes you wonder how he has time to be a contributing editor for ADVENTURE (see his and Scott Willoughby's new guide to skis and snowboards) and to write and photograph for Outside, Men's Journal, Skiing, and Powder (where he was editor for nine years), among others.


Let me know when Steve posts answers!






What to do? Where to go? What to buy?

Steve Casimiro Answers Your Questions. E-mail Steve >>

Q:

What should I look for in a good three-season tent? I have shopped at Galyan's, and I can't understand why a Coleman two-room, nine-foot by 12-foot [2.7-meter by 3.7-meter] tent is [U.S.]$130, and a Galyan's/Eureka nine-foot by nine-foot [2.7-meter by 2.7-meter] tent is [U.S.]$130 without the partition? The listed features were identical except for the flooring which was somewhat different. What am I missing? Does one use thicker gauge material for the dome and tarp? Is it just the brand name? Please help; I am going camping for the first time (at age 33!) in southern Missouri.

—Brian Fogle, East Amherst, New York

The most important question to answer is, do you really need to buy a tent? You might not like camping. Can you borrow one from a friend? If not, try renting from someplace like Eastern Mountain Sports in Tonawanda (1270 Niagara Falls Boulevard, Tel: +1 716 838 4200). If you are set on buying, ask yourself how you plan to use the tent? The tents you've described are large, bulky shelters best used for car camping, circuses, or moveable raves. If you're just backing your vehicle up to a campsite and you want a lot of room, go with whichever one seems the most comfortable. Don't worry about floor thickness: In these kind of recreational tents, ease of setup, number and size of windows, and general personal preference are most important.

If, on the other hand, you might be carrying your shelter on your back, you should look for something more technical and a lot less gravity challenged, like a backpacking tent constructed of nylon, typically with a separate rain fly to shed any precip that falls and lightweight aluminum poles and stakes. Most of what you'll encounter on your search are indeed "three-season" tents, but three-season describes pretty much everything shy of blizzard-worthy expedition tents. Forget about labels and focus instead on how you're going to use the tent. I'm guessing from your question that cost is an issue and you won't be using it in especially gnarly conditions or to hike the Appalachian Trail, so I'd look for a tent with ample living space, excellent ventilation, and lots of windows. (If you plan long backpacking trips, weight becomes more important than size.) Check out the Kelty Solstice (U.S. $152 at www.easternmountainsports.com), which is a little hefty for a two-person backpacking tent (8 pounds, 6 ounces) but has lots of headroom, a simple setup, and a screamin' price.

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