Sea to Summit's shapeshifting new tents are a backpacker's best friend

New lines are ultralight with extra headroom, enhanced airflow, and configurations for every activity

Sea to Summit Telos and Alto tents
(Image credit: Sea to Summin)

Adventure brand Sea to Summit has launched two new ultralight, super versatile tents for Spring 2021. Developed over three years' worth of research, the Alto and Telos are designed to deliver more vertical height, much better airflow, and a variety of configuration options that make them ideal backpacking companions (and strong contenders for our best backpacking tent guide).

The headline feature here is a new kind of pole construction. The innovative 'Tension Ridge' structure allows for an inverted pole design, which in turn allows for a much taller internal height, without adding weight or bulk. The extra headroom means more space for comfier bedding, an easier entry and exit, and a roomier feeling tent. 

It also makes space for ceiling vents, which combine with baseline vents to deliver an efficient and adjustable cross-ventilation system. Excellent airflow through the internal space helps mitigate condensation buildup, making these tents suitable for a range of temperatures and humidities. 

Sea to Summit Telos tents

The Telos in 'Hangout Mode'

(Image credit: Sea to Summit)

Within these lightweight designs are a number of configuration options for different uses. The Alto and Telos both have a rain fly can be set in a star-friendly, partial, or fully-opened position (grab your stargazing binoculars and get ready to explore the heavens whatever the weather). The Telos can also be transformed into a roomy open-air shelter – shown above – that Sea to Summit calls 'Hangout Mode'; ideal for cooking, shade, and weather protection.

There are plenty of extra touches that make these tents perfect for backpackers. The modular FairShare Storage System means they can easily be divided amongst campers' hiking backpacks easily, a pole storage case doubles as a LightBar to illuminate the tent at night, and tent and fly stuff-sacks clip inside the tent to act as storage pockets when you're pitched up.

Sea to Summit Telos and Alto tents

(Image credit: Sea to Summit)

The new lines were created in partnership with Jake Lah, the founder and head of design at leading tent pole manfacturer DAC. “We always set out to design the best gear – to do things differently and rethink every detail, starting from scratch,” said Roland Tyson, Founder and Head of Design at Sea to Summit. “The core areas we looked to tackle are common pain-points – space, climate, and adaptability. We’re very happy with what we’ve accomplished here. 

Both the Alto and Telos tents come in a range of different footprints, sleep capacities and models, and are available for purchase or preorder now at, or select retailers. While Sea to Summit does distribute to Australia, it's unclear when the Alto and Telos will be available with retailers Down Under. 

Ruth Hamilton

Ruth is a lifestyle journalist specialising in sleep and wellbeing. She has tested more mattresses than her small flat can handle and will talk at length about them to anyone who shows even a passing interest, and has had to implement a one-in-one-out pillow policy for fear of getting smothered in the night. As well as following all the industry trends and advancements in the mattress and bedding world, she regularly speaks to certified experts to delve into the science behind a great night's sleep, and offer you advice to help you get there. She's currently Sleep Editor on Tom's Guide and TechRadar, and prior to that ran the Outdoors and Wellness channels on T3 (now covered by Matt Kollat and Beth Girdler-Maslen respectively).