If you're about to head into the deep backcountry for some serious outdoor recreation, you'll need the proper gear. However, if you're expecting to head into rainforest or areas with high precipitation (like the Pacific Northwest), you'll need superior waterproof gear, especially with regard to your shelter. Water finds a way to seep into tents and tarps, so a waterproof tent is essential. All prices mentioned are as of 2009.
Marmot Swallow 2
The Marmot Swallow ($359) is a two-person free-standing dome tent. This is a double-walled tent (both bug netting and rainfly) that captures the true goal of waterproofing. This tent is a bit pricey and weighs considerably more (over nine pounds) than most backpacking tents (however if split between two people, it is more manageable), but the extra weight is put into the durable rainfly. This tent comes with the "bathtub" floor feature--all floor seams rise up from the ground so that no water can sneak or seep in onto the floor. Lastly, the tent comes with a large door and massive vestibule that, when staked out taut, will protect shoes, packs, and extra items that will not fit inside the tent.
Sierra Designs Omega
The Sierra Designs Omega tent ($289) is a bit cheaper than the Marmot Swallow. It's also quite lighter at seven pounds. However, this design does not include the "bathtub" floor feature, but instead has high-quality seam-sealing tape on the seam around the base of the floor--which offers more protection that a simple seam. In addition, the tent has a rainfly that totally covers the freestanding bug-netting and very steep vestibule and tent walls--both of which help to rid the tent of rain and snow swiftly. On trips with less precipitation (like the southern section of the Pacific Crest Trail), you can leave the extra poles at home to save weight, but make sure to bring these if you expect inclement weather--these poles increase the angle of the tent walls.
Mountain Hardwear Hammerhead 2
The Mountain Hardwear Hammerhead ($245) helps to save weight with only one floor, and no ground sheet. The tent is designed with a "dry-entry" vestibule that helps to keep rain out of the interior when entering and exiting the tent. The tent can be guyed out with included guyline and stakes--which will help to create more acute angles on the tent walls and the vestibule. This increases the tent's water resistance. The Hammerhead's seams are sealed with the Mountain Hardwear seam-sealing tape and welding--all of which are guaranteed by the company to be waterproof
Article Written By Duncan Jenkins
Based in Eugene, Ore., Duncan Jenkins has been writing finance-related articles since 2008. His specialties include personal finance advice, mortgage/equity loans and credit management. Jenkins obtained his bachelor's degree in English from Clark University.