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Details Details

Price: $699.95

Weight: 2300g

Materials: 20D ripstop nylon 1200mm Durashield polyurethane & silicone (rainfly), 30D ripstop nylon 3000mm Durashield polyurethane & DWR (floor), 20D ripstop nylon & DWR (canopy)

Features: Ultralight warmth, Easton Syclone poles, robust frame, quick setup

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I've told myself carrying heavy gear on multi-day trips is the price to pay for amazing experiences (true), and will make me stronger in the long run (also true), but I’ll always still look for any excuse to ditch extra weight. Typically, the best choices for winter shelter are either heavy (and super burly) mountaineering tents, or four-season backpacking tents that leave you shivering at night. MSR's Access 3 tent (along with the corresponding one- and two-person versions) bridges the gap. Designed specifically for backcountry skiers, splitboarders, and snowshoers, it's the perfect balance of weight, warmth, and strength.

Setting up the Access 3 is painless, even with high winds trying to damper our moods. Click the two tent poles into line, anchor the ends in the designated pole grommets, and attach clips along the length of the poles for shelter in minutes. Included guy lines (strings that tie strategic points of the tent to anchors, like a tree) were a life saver when winds picked up even more in the middle of the night. We might have opted for epic views over a protected camp spot, resulting in a pancake-shaped tent at three in the morning, but the Easton Syclone poles saved from further misery by not snapping. Made for the exclusive use of MSR (who uses them in only several choice tents), the poles are light, strong, and flexible enough to bend nearly in half without repercussion.

Unlike an expedition tent that is designed for the exposure of high alpine weather events, the Access 3 saves on weight—in part—because its made to be pitched in less severe conditions typically found below treeline. A screened vent on the top quarter of each of the two doors keeps air circulating and helps stave off condensation, while DuraShield coated fabric and taped bathtub floors keep moisture from seeping in otherwise. It will cost you about the same as a new pair of skis, but splitting up a roughly five-pound tent between three skiers who will sleep comfortably is almost like carrying nothing at all—which makes it worth every penny.

PHOTO: Crystal Sagan

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