I have a decade-plus old REI Half Dome 2 tent in my garage. Regardless of whatever feather-light technological wonder shelter I’m sleeping in at the moment, I still look lovingly at the Half Dome, sitting there gamely on a shelf, when packing up for backcountry adventures. I just can’t bear to let the thing go. It’s still my go-to on car camping trips. It cost something like a measly $200 way back during the beginning of the Obama administration, and still, it’s going strong. An inexpensive tent worth it’s weight in gold.
I think the Sierra Designs Meteor 2 may be just this sort of tent. A budget-friendly workhorse (under $300!) that will last a decade, growing on the user all the while, and inspiring a kind of devoted infatuation.
Nominally a three-season backpacking tent, the freestanding, double-walled Meteor 2 weighs in at a respectable 4 pounds 8 ounces when fully packaged, just at the upper end of tolerable for backpacking shelters. It’s palatial in size. Roughly 30 square feet of floor space, 41 inches in height, 85 inches long by 50 inches wide. Two big doors and vestibules make coming and going and storing packs nice and easy. A couple tall adults can move around all day in a rainstorm and not feel cramped in here. Do some yoga even. Seriously, it’s that roomy.
The Meteor also has a rather ingenious fly that rolls up halfway across the tent, so you can stargaze if you like, while sill having half the tent covered. It’s a cool idea that allows for increased ventilation but also retaining a bit of warmth and privacy a rainfly provides.
Speaking of ventilation, this sucker BREATHES. The rainfly leaves a fairly significant gap between the ground and the bottom of the fly. Air can really move through there, keeping things nice and fresh in the tent. This could potentially be a problem in a strong sideways rain, though I’ve not experienced that in this shelter.
Setup, as with seemingly all freestanding tents these days is a breeze. The whole thing comes swaddled in a “burrito bag” which makes putting it away on the trail pretty quick, but it doesn’t really impact the overall space it takes up when compacted.
How’s it do in weather? In an unexpected afternoon rain, it holds up just fine. I’ve not experienced any leaks in normal mountain rains. The height of the tent worries me a little if I had it in some serious wind, but it guys out at six points for stability and feels plenty strong. The floor of the tent and the fly are a robust 68-denier nylon and don’t have the ephemeral, wispy feel of ultralight tents. I’d use this without a footprint with no reservations, depending on the ground, of course.
Complaints? Well, the colors are a love ‘em or hate ‘em circus-y blue and yellow. The fly could be a little lower to the ground. But that’s pretty much it.
Sierra Designs makes some terrific backcountry gear at lower price points, and at only $187, this tent is a steal for somebody looking for a quality, entry-level shelter suitable for car camping or backpacking, and who doesn’t want to buy used.
$250 • BUY