NC Touring Review: Mountain Hardwear Drifter 3 Tent

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First, let me say that I have never been disappointed with a Mountain Hardwear tent. I have used many tents and sold many different brands in my many years working in the industry. Many of the companies (Mountain Hardwear, Sierra Designs, Marmot, Black Diamond, The North Face, MSR, etc.) have developed fantastic tents and if you venture out beyond the big box stores, you can find a very dependable, light-weight tent that will keep you dry and last you for many years. Consider what you would pay for two nights at a hotel… spend that on a tent, and you won’t be disappointed. The attention to detail, quality construction and a full coverage fly make a technical tent a better purchase then your local department store.

If you are new to technical tents, let me warn you about a “3” person tent. You aren’t going to be able to stand up in this tent, and 3 adults in this tent would be very close. That being said, the Drifter 3 is a fantastic two-up tent with comfortable room, and space for your gear. The difference between the Drifter 2 and Drifter 3 is only about ½ pound, and the extra space (about 11 square feet more) is worth it. Retail price is $195.00

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One of the things that stand out about the Drifter 3 is the opposing doors. Each side has a full opening door so neither you or your partner will have to crawl over anyone to get out when nature calls. Mountain Hardwear also sews their zippers on a curve so they zip with ease. There is plenty of mesh which gives the tent a light feel and is comfortable in the heat. With the addition of the fly, it becomes a 3 season tent that I wouldn’t hesitate to take out in the mid 30’s (with the right sleeping bag!). Here in the south, humidity is a challenge, and people often sleep “too warm” waking up in the morning with moisture on the inside of the tent. The mesh forces you to camp correctly with good ventilation.

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In addition, when you put the rain fly on, two vestibules are realized at each door to keep your shoes out of the tent, but dry and out of the rain. The rain fly is a full coverage fly that is fully taped. They test these things in a rain room with 1200 inches of rain in 24 hours! This is not your average cheap tent.

The tent only uses two poles, and it took me less than 3 minutes to set it up. Without the fly, you can pitch this tent without any stakes (as long as it isn’t too windy). I’d highly recommend the footprint, a ground cloth made by Mountain Hardware to specifically fit this tent.

After checking out this tent, we purchased 4 of these tents for our motorcycle touring company. In summary, for motorcycle touring, the Mountain Hardwear Drifter 3 tent is a great piece of equipment. The weight is light and it packs small (if you keep the poles separate). One person can set this up in about 3 minutes, which is nice after a long day of riding. Two people will be comfortable with room for gear! All for a price under 200 dollars!

NC Touring uses Mountain Hardwear tents exclusively.

Line Dempsey

Line Dempsey has been guiding adventure tours for many years. Having been born and reared in NC, Line got his start in leading tours in the 1980's with unsupported bicycle tours of the state of NC, SC and Virginia. Line worked in the tourism industry for 10 years prior to leaving for graduate school. Line began leading motorcycle trips in NC, VA, SC, as well as a trip to the lower east corner of the US ( Key West ). For the last 14 years, Line's work has allowed him to travel throughout the state of NC at least once a week and he's seen most of the overlooked side roads of our beautiful state. Line has explored NC via bicycle, kayak, motorcycle, rock climbing, hiking and by sailboat.

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