Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail as a couple can be a huge test of a relationship. Which tent or shelter to use as a couple can be an important consideration.
Will you sleep together? Separate? Who will carry what part of the tent? Will you use a two or three-person tent? Will you bring no shelter and cowboy camp every night until it rains and then have a huge, relationship-ending fight?
I may start asking, as part of the PCT Survey, which gear couples split between one another (e.g. if they only carried one stove). If you’re a prospective couple planning to hike the PCT and are looking for more data beyond the PCT Gear Guide, leave a comment below or get in touch and let me know what you think.
Notes on the data
- This year’s survey has 143 completed surveys by hikers who reported hiking the PCT as a couple (I guess at least one member of one couple failed to fill the survey out).
- More detailed posts focused on data from the PCT Survey are always in the works; to be notified of new surveys, click here.
|1||Zpacks Triplex||8.27||$799||1.37 lb | 622 g||37.5 ft² / 3.5 m²||No||3|
|2||Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL3||8.94||$600||3.63 lb | 1.65 kg||41 ft² / 3.8 m²||Yes||3|
|3||Zpacks Duplex||7.88||$699||1.19 lb | 539 g||28 ft² / 2.6 m²||No||2|
|4||Gossamer Gear The Two||8.00||$375||1.47 lb | 667 g||26.2 ft² / 2.43 m²||No||2|
|5||Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2||8.57||$500||2.62 lb | 1.188 kg||38 ft² / 3.53 m²||Semi||3|
|6||Big Copper Spur HV UL2||N/A||$550||2.69 lb | 1.22 kg||29 ft² / 2.69 m²||Yes||2|
|7||NEMO Hornet 2P||N/A||$430||2.09 lb | 948 g||27.5 ft² / 2.6 m²||Semi||2|
|8||Dan Durston X-Mid 2P||N/A||$300||2.4 lb | 1.085 kg||33.2 ft² / 2.1 m²||No||2|
|9||Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2||N/A||$400||1.88 lbs | 853 g||28 ft² / 2.6 m²||Semi||2|
|10||MSR Hubba Hubba 2||N/A||$550||3.25 lbs | 1.47 kg||29 ft² / 2.69 m²||Yes||2|
The Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL3 was the highest-rated shelter among couples on the Pacific Crest Trail this year. It’s a three-person, side-entry, freestanding shelter that weighs 3.63 lb / 1.65 kg. It was also the second-most-common shelter among couples. It comes with stakes, guylines, tighteners, a pole-repair tube, a pole bag, and a stake bag.
Most Common Shelters
The Zpacks Triplex was the most common shelter among couples on the Pacific Crest Trail this year. It’s a three-person, side-entry, shelter that requires two trekking poles to set up. The Triplex was the third-highest-rated shelter among couples. The third-most-common shelter this year was the two-person version, the Zpacks Duplex (this was also the most common shelter overall).
When hikers report anything less than a perfect rating for their shelter, I ask them what they would have changed about the gear they were using or what they didn’t like about the gear.
Here are the top complaints hikers had with each of the five most popular and highest-rated shelters on the Pacific Crest Trail.
- Zippers failed 42.3%
- Poor performance in wind 23.1%
- Poor performance in rain 15.4%
- Not durable 11.5%
- Condensation Issues 11.5%
- Difficult to pitch 3.8%
- Not enough interior space 3.8%
- Not enough pockets 3.8%
- Not long enough 3.8%
Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL3
- Zippers failed 61.1%
- Poor performance in wind 5.6%
- Too bulky 5.6%
- Too heavy 5.6%
- Zippers failed 37.5%
- Poor performance in rain 18.8%
- Not enough interior space 12.5%
- Poor performance in wind 12.5%
- Condensation Issues 12.5%
Gossamer Gear The Two
- Not durable 44.4%
- Poor performance in rain 33.3%
- Zippers failed 33.3%
- Poor performance in wind 22.2%
- Difficult to pitch 11.1%
- Not enough pockets 11.1%
- Not long enough 11.1%
- Condensation Issues 11.1%
Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL3
- Zippers failed 57.1%
- Not durable 14.3%
- Poor performance in wind 14.3%
Although there are other pieces of gear that are shared by couples on the Pacific Crest Trail, shelters are the only thing that differs materially from solo hikers. It turns out that double-wide sleeping pads and sleeping bags aren’t too popular among long-distance backpackers.
If you have any questions, suggestions, concerns, or awe-inspiring statements to make regarding the data here (or the data in the PCT Survey Gear Guide), then leave a comment below!