Why Can't Everything Be As Good As My Tent?

This weekend we went camping. Since my older son was staying in his own tent, the rest of the family could manage with a smaller tent than usual.

So I got to break out our trusty old Sierra Designs Orion 3 AST. I like our big family tent a lot, but I have a special spot in my heart for the Orion. It has been on so many backpacking and camping trips dating all the way back to the beginnings of my marriage and family! I've always liked its design, durability, and functionality. It's a bit heavy compared to modern ultralight tents, but it's still very reasonable for two people to carry. Heck, I've done several solo trips with it and it was manageable.

I was happy to see on this trip that the Orion is still going strong after 16 years. The night subjected it to hours of very strong wind and rain. But throughout all of it, the tent held solid and kept us completely dry.

If you think about it, a really good backpacking tent is a very tall order. The criteria are at odds with each other. By definition, a tent has to be rugged enough to stand up to the trail and the elements, but it needs to be light enough to carry on your back for many miles. You want sufficient size for you and your gear, but it needs to very compact when packed and easy to pitch. Accomplishing all that requires thoughtful design and high quality materials, but the whole thing needs to be reasonably priced. This tent managed all of that with aplomb, and is covered by a lifetime warranty to boot.

If only all products could be so satisfying.