The ust Highlander 2-Person Backpacking Tent is an affordable, lightweight 3-season tent with a minimum trail weight of 3lb. 13oz. Fully packed with the included footprint and all tent poles, the Highlander weighs in at 4lb. 15oz. and packs relatively small for its category, freeing up pack volume for other gear. Although not freestanding, the provided guylines and a little practice help to optimally set-up the tent and comfortably withstand what the weather has in store.
Indeed, the Highlander does focus on comfort. An oversized large door accesses a roomy interior (tent specs: 7ft. 1in. x 4ft. 1in. x 3ft. 8in.) with integrated storage pockets. A smaller stash door on the opposite side provides access to outside gear within a small vestibule area. With the rainfly installed, the tent has a large main awning/vestibule and is designed with breathability in mind. In all, the Highlander retails for $124.99, which is a good price point for its range. We like the Highlander for backcountry outings where maximizing comfort and space in a 2-person tent are of most concern. While it is not the lightest 2-person tent option available, its affordable price and attention to comfort make the Highlander an appealing choice.
Note: This is a sponsored post where the product was provided for review purposes. Our review of the product is independent in order to provide readers with candid gear recommendations.
The ust Highlander 2-person Backpacking Tent is very livable. Generous interior and vestibule space, inside storage pockets, and an attachable gear loft provide room to move around and organize gear. With two regular sized sleeping pads placed side-by-side, space remains in between the pads — meaning you don’t feel cramped. In addition, there is more than enough head room to be able to comfortably sit up without hitting the tent ceiling.
The Highlander is designed with a single, oversized door for entry and exit. Thus, it can require some shuffling for the second person to exit. A small stash door on the opposite side does provide access to a vestibule area, which could provide additional storage for boots, etc. Finally, the Highlander is an extremely breathable 3-season tent. The walls of the tent are constructed in a poly no-see-um mesh fabric, making warm and humid nights more comfortable. The rainfly adds warmth and factors in breathability into its design.
Weight & Packability
With it’s spacious interior of 7ft. 1in. x 4ft. 1in. x 3ft. 8in., the ust Highlander 2-Person Backpacking Tentpacks considerable comfort into its overall weight. The Highlander has a fully packed weight (with footprint) of 4lb. 15oz., but can be reduced to a minimum trail weight of 3lb. 13oz. with the use of trekking poles.
In terms of packability, the Highlander can cinch down to a compact 18in. x 7in. x 6in. within its included stuff sack. Indeed, the small packed size offers an opportunity to free up volume in a pack for other equipment, as needed.
The ust Highlander 2-Person Backpacking Tent has a respectable degree of durability. The four aluminum poles and 12 ultralight Y-shaped tent stakes are strong and hold up to extensive use. The tent materials are equally well-constructed with durable materials. For instance, the footprint is made of sturdy 150D polyester oxford fabric, the flysheet a 15D nylon fabric, and the tent floor a 40D nylon fabric. The tent walls are designed with a lightweight, but sturdy polyester no-see-um mesh fabric.
We tested the Highlander on gravel campsites and other backcountry sites with jagged rocks and sticks and the tent held up well. No punctures or tears after repeated use and camping with our dog. Thus, we think the Highlander does a good job balancing the use of strong materials with weight and comfort considerations.
The ust Highlander 2-Person Backpacking Tent is rated for 3-season use. The tent floor is made of strong 40D nylon fabric with PU2000mm taped seams and the rainfly is made of 15D nylon fabric with PU2000mm taped seams. The slopes of the rainfly and overall tent design helps repel water and withstand reasonable windspeed, particularly when strongly tensioned with the included guylines. In addition, with a large vestibule area over the main door, and a smaller vestibule area over the stash door, the rainfly protects a decent amount of gear from the elements.
Ease of Use
The ust Highlander 2-Person Backpacking Tent is not freestanding, so it must be guyed out to optimally set-up and secure the tent for use. Indeed, the Highlander requires a bit of practice to familiarize oneself with the proper techniques to efficiently set-up camp. We found setting up the tent on the footprint to be relatively simple, but securing and tightening the rainfly with guylines was much more involved. Instructions are attached to the stuff sack for reference purposes, which we very useful during first time set-up.
Disassembling the tent and repacking was a breeze. The take down process was much more straightforward and the Highlander’s design lended itself to quick disassembling. We were also pleased with the ease of re-packing the tent into a compact state within the stuff sack, which is helpful when you want to efficiently break camp and head out on the trail.
The ust Highlander 2-Person Backpacking Tent retails for $124.99, which is a very competitive price point in comparison to tents of similar design. The Highlander comes standard with a rain fly, aluminum poles, guylines, plenty of stakes, and a footprint (which often must be purchased separately for some tents). With a spacious interior, integrated storage pockets, and two vestibules, this tent offers a very reasonable value and considerable degree of livability for backcountry use. While there are lighter tents and shelters on the market, such as those offered from Mountain Laurel Designs, Hyperlite Mountain Gear, etc., these typically are much more expensive.
Indeed, when stacked up against similarly priced 2-person tents from REI’s line-up (the Trail Hut 2 and the Half Dome 2), the Highlander outshines both in terms of its overall weight. The Highlander’s minimum trail weight is 3lb. 13oz., when using trekking poles for support. Both referenced REI tents have minimum trail weights of 4lb. 14oz. So, factor in your primary use requirements and invest in a tent that will provide as maximum versatility for its price.
REI Co-op Trailmade 2 Tent
Product Description: REI makes a number of affordable 2-person tents worthy of consideration. Their 3-season Trailmade 2 Tent with footprint is a freestanding dome tent that has a minimum trail weight of 4lbs. 4oz. and a packed size of 8.5in. x 22in. The Trailmade 2 has two has doors and a 31.7 sq. ft. vestibule area.
Verdict: The REI Co-op Trailmade 2 is a good bargain. It’s freestanding design makes camp set-up fairly easy. The downside is a very hefty 4lbs. 4oz. minimum weight, and when fully equipped, the Trailmade 2 can weigh 5lbs. 7oz. Thus, for fast and light backpacking adventures, we’d recommend a lighter tent. But for short backcountry trips where weight isn’t as much of a concern, the REI Co-op Trailmade 2 is a fine tent.
REI Co-op Half Dome SL 2+ Tent
Product Description: The REI Co-op Half Dome has been around in different variation for some time and proven itself time and time again. The Half Dome SL 2+ is a 3-season freestanding tent that has a minimum trail weight of 3lbs. 15oz. and a packed size of 7in. x 20.5in. With two doors and 33.75 sq. ft. of floor space, there is a lot of space for two people to maintain comfort. Retailing at $329.00, the tent includes a rainfly and footprint.
Verdict: The REI Co-op Half Dome SL 2+’s significant amount of space/comfort and its easy set-up makes this tent a compelling choice. But event though this a “light” Half Dome offering, it still has a very heavy minimum trail weight. There are other lighter options on the market for backpacking tents. We’d opt for the Half Dome SL 2+ for car camping or short distance backcountry trips where weight can be shared.
NEMO Aurora 2P Tent
Product Description: The NEMO Aurora 2P Tent is 3-season car camping or backpacking tent with a minimum trail weight of 4lb. 9oz. The tent packs to a size of 23in. x 7in. and has 31.8 sq. ft. of floor space. Notably, the NEMO Aurora 2P retails at a reasonable $299.95, which includes a footprint.
Verdict: The NEMO Aurora 2P Tent is a stellar option for car camping, but can be used for backpacking. Its relatively easy set-up makes this tent a pleasure to carry. The affordable retail price of $279.95 is what makes this tent an intriguing option, but it comes with added weight. Opt for the NEMO Aurora 2P Tent if you are seeking an affordable car camping/backpacking tent and don’t mind the extra weight.
ust Highlander 2-Person Backpacking Tent
The ust Highlander 2-Person Backpacking Tent offers a solid value for those seeking a 3-season tent. Though not the lightest backpacking tent on the market, its retail price of $124.99 and a minimum trail weight of 3lb. 13oz. make the Highlander a compelling option. Beyond its value, the Highlander is also a comfortable choice, designed with ample interior and vestibule space. If you’re unfamiliar with non-freestanding tents, practice does make perfect. Do be sure to familiarize yourself with the instructions and tent set-up before heading out to the backcountry.
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