Outdoor gear maker Sea To Summit is expanding into lightweight technical tents with a full range of modular Alto & Telos TR tents that could be perfect for year-round bikepacking adventurers. Developed to sleep anywhere from 1-3 people, the ultralight Sea to Summit tents all share the same Tension Ridge design concept that provides extra volume inside, while allowing them to be pitched in several different configurations to suit all weather conditions.
Sea to Summit Alto & Telos TR ultralight, modular tents
After three years of development, Sea to Summit thinks their Tension Ridge (TR) tent system offers a better space & ventilation solution for lightweight backpacking and bikepacking. The modular layout creates a setup that maximizes space, ventilation, and versatility – all the while keeping weight to a minimum so it’s easy to pack when you are crunched for hauling space.
Tension Ridge architecture – Tech details
Boiled down to the core of it, the green top pole of the Tension Ridge system angles up and away from the conventional arched tent poles, creating more wide volume in the top of your tent without much extra material and with little extra weight. While many ultralight tents feel quite claustrophobic, as they hand close to you sleeping bag to keep materials to a minimum, the Sea To Summit TR tents expand a bit more upwards. The inverted TR ‘brow pole’ is the idea of Jake Lah who founded and heads design at DAC, a global leader in manufacturing tent poles.
The result looks like a nice balance of weight and internal space. These aren’t going to be the absolute lightest bikepacking tent in the world. There will always be some tiny, almost-bivouac option with carbon poles and unobtanium stakes. But with realistic 1-person setups from under 1000g, 2-person around 1200g, and competitive pricing (read: not quite cheap) the new Sea to Summit tents look like a nice new option.
Plus, the designs work well in modular setups, where you pack just the basics depending on the level of shelter and protection you think you need. Go superlight for fast fair-weather trips with just the adjustably-vented Fly and Poles (plus Footprint if dew or rain are a concern). Run just the main Inner tent and Poles if you are lucky enough to have pleasant dry weather and just need to keep the critters out. Or go for the full classic build with Fly, Inner tent, Poles & Footprint to get maximum protection from the weather. You can even pitch the fly first, and fill everything else in after to stay dry making camp in the rain.
There appear to be plenty of other helpful details in the tents including intuitive color-coded pole attachment, quick-connect nesting attachment of individual tent elements, a ‘lightbar’ that uses the pole bag to diffuse headlamp light inside for soft ambient light at night, an optional gear loft to stash more inside the tent at night, and two footprints that let you pick from going just under the tent or extending for the vestibule as well.
Another bikepacking-friendly feature of the smaller tents, the Alto just uses individual stuff sacks for each separate item, so you can cram them into whichever bikepacking pack still has extra room.
Construction details & lightweight claims
All of the tents are constructed of lightweight nylon & mesh, with 15D silicone & polyether urethane-coated flies, and heavier 20D sil-PeU coated nylon floors with taped seams. The one-person Alto TR1 gets one door and one vestibule. But all the other multi-person tents get two doors & vestibules so you won’t have to climb over your adventure-mates.
Key minimum complete trail weights with just the fly, inner, tent & poles start at 938g for the Alto TR1, 1156g for the Alto TR2, 1482g for the Telos TR2, and 1921g for the Telos TR3 (no stuff sacks, stakes, or extra guy lines). Expect at another 50-75g to at least get the stakes you’ll need for a secure setup (full weight claims below.)
Our compatriots over at GearJunkie.com have taken a first look at the mid-sized Telos 2 for backpacking, but we’d probably be most likely to try to stuff one of the lighter Alto 1 or 2 options into our bike bags for some of our next bikepacking trips.
Sea to Summit Alto 1/2 and Telos 2/3 tents – Pricing & availability
Two basic tent types are offered: The semi-freestanding Alto for 1 or 2 people requires stakes at its corners to fully spread out. And the more freestanding dome Telos for 2 or 3 people. Both versions come in a standard ultralight 3 season version with an almost completely mesh Inner tent, or a slightly heavier 3+ season variant that uses a fabric Inner tent to trap more heat in for cool weather camping.
Pricing including the Fly, Inner & Poles starts at $399 for the lightest, smallest Alto TR1, $449 for the Alto TR2, $499 for the Telos TR2, and $599 for the Telos TR3. Adding the optional footprints will tack on an extra $50-70. All of the tents will be available to pre-order direct from Sea To Summit here starting next Monday, March 15. And those pre-orders are expected to ship to campers starting the first of May.
Until then, feel free to dig around and see which option would make the most sense for your bikepacking adventures.
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On another side note, if you sign up for Sea To Summit’s newsletter, it looks like you can get a 10% discount off your tent order too.