Sea To Summit has been producing lightweight and durable gear for more than three decades, but only recently decided to dip their hiking pole into the saturated tent market. The company worked hand-in-hand with DAC’s Jake Lah for three years developing their new Telos line of tents, and it shows. Nearly every aspect of the three-season Telos TR2 has been incredibly well thought out, with features that made me actually look forward to tumbling into the tent at night. For this reason alone, it deserves a spot in T3's best backpacking tents.
Sea To Summit Telos TR2 review: Design and Features
Sea To Summit Telos TR2: specs
Size: 111 x 256 x 220cm (84.5 x 53 x 43 in)
Weight: 1657g (3lbs. 10.7 oz)
Season rating: Three seasons
Pitch time: 5 minutes
Many of the backpacking tents I’ve used in the past felt claustrophobic. Not so much with the TR2. The Tension Ridge crossbar angles upward, not down, creating greater headroom and interior space. Not only did my REI Stratus sleeping pad fit inside the tent perfectly, but I could also sit up with plenty of room to spare. Someone 6’3” or shorter should be able to stretch out with no issues. With an almost decadent 28 square feet of interior space (with an additional vestibule space of about 20 square feet), I wouldn’t mind sharing the TR2 with a significant other. The large doors made getting in and out of the tent or organizing gear in the vestibule a breeze.
I tested the TR2 during a June hot spell. The large, zippered Apex Vent at the top of the rainfly allowed me to adjust the ventilation, while the Baseline Vents near the bottom helped reduce condensation. Sea To Summit claims the TR2 retains up to 60% less heat than its top two competitors in the lightweight class.
You can also set up the TR2 in stargazing mode, which basically means you roll up and lash part of the rainfly. (If a pop-up shower rolls through, you can easily re-deploy it in a matter of seconds.) Using the TR2 this way felt as if I’d switched on central air conditioning.
Speaking of rain, one of the benefits of the Quick Connect Foot System and most overlooked features of the TR2 is the ability to put the rainfly up first, letting you stay dry, or at least drier, if you need to set up camp in an unexpected downpour.
Hangout mode converts the rainfly into a semi-open shelter for up to four people, although you’ll need either two hiking poles or a separate pole system to set it up that way. In the US this rainfly is a classy gray, while elsewhere in the world it comes in a more traditional forest green.
Sea To Summit Telos TR2 review: Performance and Versatility
The tent comes in three small bags – Sea To Summit calls it their FairShare Storage System – allowing you to distribute them as needed in your backpack, bike bags, or between you and your camping partner. The tentpole bag features an opaque plastic sleeve that doubles as the Lightbar, evenly distributing the light from your headlamp for use as a lantern inside the tent. The other two stuff sacks can be used for storage inside the tent.
Even without using the stuff sacks, there are plenty of places to stow gear inside the tent. Roomy gear pockets can be found on both sides, as well as strategically placed loops where you can attach gear with carabineers or with Sea To Summit’s mesh gear loft (sold separately). The two vestibules are plenty big enough for boots, backpacks, and more.
As with all new tents, there’s a slight learning curve setting it up the first time. Luckily everything is color-coded and relatively intuitive. After the first use, I was able to erect the tent again in just a couple of minutes.
The Telos uses high-quality, treated nylon materials including a 20D floor and 15D rainfly, but you’ll still want to spring for the thicker Lightfoot ($55/£45) or Bigfoot ($70/£60) footprint to extend the life of your investment.
Sea To Summit Telos TR2 review: Verdict
The Sea To Summit Telos TR2 already has been racking up awards since its release earlier this year, and for good reason. It’s easily the roomiest and best-designed lightweight tent I’ve used in many years.
Sea To Summit Telos TR2 review: alternatives to consider
The Telos TR2 costs $499/£490/AU$849, which is comparable to competitors like the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 (which weighs slightly less), but about triple the cost of my current REI Passage 2, which adds about 2 pounds to the scale. Marmot offers a heavier alternative as well, but it’s a bit more rugged and comes with the footprint standard.