Editors’ Choice Fall 2020 Winner: All-Weather Shelter
Though described as “four-season” shelters, traditional winter tents are overkill for most of the year. They’re too heavy for three-season backpacking, ventilate poorly in warm weather, and are expensive considering their narrow usage window. But what if a winter-worthy design only added an extra pound or two to your pack, could stand up to heavy weather, and performed well in other seasons? Enter the strong, lightweight Kunai, a true four-season tent.
This tent improves upon a model that debuted in 2015, and this year sports a reshaped entry area, two new zippered mesh windows, a lighter weight, and an enlarged vestibule. (It does lose 1.6 square feet of floor space, though.) The Kunai has a sturdy brow pole to parry the wind, a 6- to 10-inch-tall bathtub floor to keep out blowing snow, and clever guyouts that pass through the fly to connect directly to all four aluminum poles. “Despite its relatively tall profile (it stands at 44 inches), this tent remained stable in 30-mph wind and several inches of snow,” one Colorado tester says. “And thanks to the browed entryway, I was able to hunker down in the storm and cook in the vestibule without worrying about setting the whole thing on fire.”
Versatility comes via the tent’s double-walled design, which includes two new strut vents on the fly and large, double-layered mesh windows on three sides. “We camped in 80°F, late-spring conditions near Moab and the tent ventilated on par with most three-season double-wall tents,” one tester says. At less than 4.5 pounds, the Kunai weighs far less than most winter-specific fortresses without sacrificing stability, and it’s light enough for a duo to take on a warm-weather backpacking trip. There are some concessions: A single 8-square-foot vestibule isn’t much space on gear-intensive cold-weather outings, and the 26-square-foot floor fits two sleepers on full-size pads with not much room to spare. But most warm-weather shelters can’t match its strength, and most cold-weather ones can’t equal its weight or (relatively) attractive price, so we’ll take it any month of the year.
$500; 4 lbs. 5 oz.