Gossamer Gear The Two Review
Gossamer Gear’s The Two is a lightweight, single-wall shelter that’s roomy enough for two people, bugproof, simple, and weighs less than two pounds. Miles and Lucas have been testing it out for the last year to see how it fares in a wide range of conditions, from the Pacific Northwest to the Sonoran Desert in Arizona. Find their detailed review here…
For a long time, I valued the weight and packability of my camping gear more than liveability or comfort. I’m not sure what changed, but the last few years of bikepacking have taught me that having a spacious and cozy place to sleep at night is far more important than shaving a few grams here and there. I’ve dragged Emily on campouts where we shared one-person tents, slept in ditches crammed into a single sleeping bag, and shivered together in the name of being ultralight and ultra-uncomfortable. Thankfully, technical fabrics and tent designs are rapidly evolving, and there are numerous highly rated shelters out there for bikepackers. These days, you don’t have to choose between comfortable, lightweight, or packable. You can have it all!
For more than two decades, Texas-based Gossamer Gear has been committed to “shedding grams while elevating performance, comfort, and durability.” Their lineup includes several backpacks, shelters, and ultralight trekking poles. Their tagline “take less. do more.” refers to more than just the obvious. Gossamer Gear has taken a clear stance when it comes to sustainability and social issues, including a move toward using 100% recycled fabrics and donating 1% of their sales to organizations such as Black Outside Inc., the Continental Divide Trail Coalition, and Travis County Search & Rescue. After their Colorado-based production facility closed in 2012, they moved production to an ISO 9001 certified facility in Vietnam that they personally visit and inspect to make sure the conditions and quality are outstanding.
Aside from a couple of tarps, there are two tents in Gossamer Gear’s lineup: The One and The Two. Both are non-freestanding trekking pole-style tents, requiring either trekking poles or Gossamer Gear’s poleset to pitch. They are constructed from a lightweight 10D nylon ripstop SIL/PU fabric and feature reflective guy lines, lightweight #3 zippers, and simple lineloc tensioners at all main tie outs. Both shelters feature bathtub floors, vestibules on both sides, full protection from rain and bugs, an adjustable pitch, and require a minimum of six stakes for setup.
At $300 and $375 USD, The One and The Two are competitively priced relative to similar shelters. They come seam-taped from the factory, the two-person model we tested weighs under two pounds, and both tents pack down impressively small due to their minimalist design. Over the last year, Lucas and I have both been using The Two. It’s been my go-to tent while bikepacking with Emily this year, including a run down Arizona’s Black Canyon Trail, a handful of campouts closer to home, and our take on the Olympic Adventure Route in Washington. For his part, Lucas has used his on several bikepacking trips around the Colorado Rockies and a handful of bikerafting overnighters in Minnesota.
The Two At a Glance
As mentioned above, the Gossamer Gear The Two is a trekking pole-style shelter, meaning it requires two trekking poles or optional segmented poles for a proper setup. Unlike some other tents in this category, The Two comes finished and ready to use straight from Gossamer. As mentioned, it has factory-taped seams for proper weather protection, tensioners and reflective line at all required corners, and extra tie-outs that can be used in high winds or when a little extra interior space is needed.
The Two’s bathtub floor is 84″ long by 48″ wide, tapering down to 42″ at the foot end. With these measurements, there is enough room for a pair of most—but not all—regular sleeping pads to fit side by side . Each side of The Two has a zippered entry and zippered vestibule for storing gear. The exterior doors can be unclipped from the side pole lines, allowing both sides of the vestibule to be completely rolled back in clear weather or for extra ventilation. The tent uses a simple all-in-one design, complete with the floor, fly, and interior mesh, so there are no small clips or toggles to figure out to get it set up.
Like most non-freestanding tents, The Two sets up smoothly after some practice. First, it’s important to ensure there is enough clear ground for the tent, as it is a fairly large shelter at 135″ x 117″. Then it’s simply a matter of laying out the tent, pegging the four corners out at a 45° angle from the body, and making sure you’ve formed a near-perfect rectangle. After the four corners are secured, the poles are pushed up under the vestibule with the poky end fitting into a grommet on the side of the bathtub floor. The vestibule door lines can be pegged out so the poles lean slightly outward and the ridge line is taught. When done properly, as in some of the photos in this review, The Two is wrinkle free and tight.
While Out Camping
If you find the right spot and you’ve figured out how to pitch it properly, The Two has all the fixings for a great bikepacking tent. The body itself weighs just 667g (23.5 oz), the pegs are 11g each (it requires a minimum of six to set up properly), and their optional poles are 81g each. So, for about 900g (31.7 oz) or 2lbs, you get a weatherproof, and bug-free shelter that’s competitively priced and big enough for two people who don’t mind sharing a relatively small space.
I opted for Gossamer Gear’s optional poleset in place of trekking poles. The poles work for both The One and The Two and are made of aluminum. Once broken down, the longest segment is 14″ (35.56cm) long, which is right on trend with other bikepacking-specific poles out there, including those from Nemo and Big Agnes. In my experience, this makes finding a spot for the poles to live while riding far simpler. I found it worked best to pack the poles in my front handlebar roll or bag and stuff the body around them to avoid unnecessary rattling while riding.
Due to its lack of integrated struts and ripstop nylon construction, The Two is easy to tear down and pack pretty much anywhere. It stuffs down into an impressively small package, and unlike Dyneema shelters that preferred to be rolled up, The Two is perfect for stuffing into a seat pack or handlebar roll. At just under 1.5 pounds (667 grams), the shelter adds hardly any weight or bulk to most loaded bikepacking setups.
There’s a lot to like about Gossamer’s take on the trekking pole-style shelter, but like others in this category, it’s not without its quirks. As mentioned above, a proper pitch is simple enough in the right conditions, but on rocky, loose, or uneven terrain, things quickly become much more challenging. At some point, you’ll likely need to get creative with rocks, sticks, and guylines to set up the tent, mainly because there’s a fair amount of force pulling up on the four corners with the poles in place.
While the shelter features mesh panels at both ends of the tent and along the bottom of the fly/body, there are no dedicated vents up high, where heat likes to travel, and I’ve noticed this can result in condensation build up in humid conditions. In these situations, leaving the doors partially open when appropriate, and pitching the perimeter higher off the ground (by lengthening the stake lines) is essential. With this in mind, I’d say The Two is best suited for less humid climates, although I’ve used it many times in the Pacific Northwest without any major grumbles. It’s also worth noting that the floor hangs loose with the tent pitched and is not tensioned like on some other trekking pole style-shelters. There are loops at each corner for pegs to get around this, but I’ve yet to take the time to stake out four additional points.
A Mini Review from Lucas
Although Miles has thoroughly covered The Two’s particulars by this point in the review, I want to include a few additional thoughts based on my time with it and some perspective from many years of using similar shelters.
First, for folks who don’t have any experience with them, it’s worth repeating that non-freestanding tents require a little more effort to set up than their freestanding counterparts that can be pitched anywhere. Relative to others, I find that The Two requires some extra finesse to properly pitch with even tension, and despite having set mine up a good number of times now, it’s still not a shelter I particularly enjoy fussing with after a long day of riding. With its dual angled poles, it requires more tensioning, loosening, and re-tensioning than my other shelters, and because of its large overall footprint when staked out, also it demands some extra mindfulness when selecting a site. Thankfully, once it’s properly pitched, it’s a roomy and comfortable place to call home.
At 6’3” tall, I have a hard time fitting snugly into many shelters, but The Two provides ample space. Its 84” length and 43” height at the ridgeline offer room to stretch out and sit up, and I think it makes an excellent one-person shelter in terms of livability. For two people, however, it’s rather tight. I’d say the same about most two-person shelters, and I think nearly all ultralight “two-person” shelters are really for one, and most “three-person” shelters are best suited to two. Case in point: on one trip with The Two, my riding partner and I couldn’t fit both of our sleeping pads side-by-side without stacking one edge over the other, and I ended up just forgoing mine so we weren’t rolling all over the place.
I found the vestibules more than adequately roomy to store shoes and bags, and The Two offers a nice, airy feel with both of them rolled up. Condensation build-up is more or less always going to be an issue with single-wall shelters, and I experienced a taste of this while camping in the muggy Midwest over the summer. Design changes can help alleviate this to some extent—a little more ventilation higher up would be handy—but understanding best practices on how and where to pitch your tent can go a long way in avoiding condensation. As someone who likes to feel as close to nature as I can when I’m sleeping outside, I tend to sleep with my tent as open as reasonably possible, given the conditions, which helps.
Considering its large footprint, there’s no denying that The Two packs down impressively small. It’s truly surprising to witness its transformation from a tiny bundle to a roomy tent. That said, and this is a broader issue with single-wall tents, I’ve come to realize that I generally value the versatility of being able to stuff the rain fly and tent body in different bags over the minimal gram savings of an all-in-one design. Others might prefer having only one piece to keep track of.
As Miles was already testing Gossamer Gear’s poles, I looked into alternatives and landed on CNOC Outdoors’ carbon fiber tent poles, which measure 125cm long and weigh in at 86.2 grams each. I’ve been more than happy with them, and their five-section design means they easily fit into my handlebar bag with room to spare on either side. They’re simple, hassle-free, and have proven durable thus far. At $39.99 per pole, their price is right on par with Gossamer Gear’s aluminum offering, and they’re a good-looking and marginally lighter option.
Despite my complaints about the fiddly setup, I think The Two can be a great shelter for the right person. I believe many folks will ultimately find it a tad small for two people on an extended trip, but having two large doors makes getting in and out a breeze whether you’re traveling solo or with someone. Tall bikepackers will also appreciate the head room for those times when they’re stuck in the tent waiting out rain. And I appreciate Gossamer Gear’s choice of a neutral gray that doesn’t make it stand out, which is particularly useful when you’re trying to camp discreetly. All in all, The Two is a lightweight, compact shelter that crams in a ton of useful features without ever making a solo bikepacker and their gear feel crammed.
The Two vs The Rest
There are several comparable two-person trekking pole-style shelters out there from brands we’ve tested, including Durston, Six Moon Designs, and Tarptent. All of them can be setup using optional support poles, must be staked out, are bug-proof, and are all priced well under $400 USD. Find a quick comparison on these tents below.
Trekking-Pole Tents Compared
Right away, you’ll see some key differences between the tents. The Two is the only tent without dedicated canopy vents but also the lightest weight option. The Durston X-Mid 2 is the only shelter that requires just four stakes for a proper setup and is the most affordable at $300. All of them taper down toward the head/feet of the shelter in some way, providing less livable space compared to tents with structured poles. I also found it interesting that Six Moon Designs and Tarptent don’t include seam sealing on their tents, but they offer it for an additional $35.
- Lightweight and easily packable due to material selection, construction, and simple design
- Quick setup after some practice and in ideal conditions
- Seam-sealed and includes stakes + guylines
- Four-door design is nice for when extra ventilation is needed
- Large footprint requires a lot of space to setup properly
- High stake tension can make setting up on soft terrain tricky
- No dedicated canopy vents or integrated floor tensioners
- Single-wall design isn’t ideal for humid environments
- Material: 10D Ripstop Nylon SIL/PU
- Weight: 895 grams (tent, stakes, aluminum poles)
- Place of Manufacture: Vietnam
- Price: $375 USD
- Manufacturer’s Details: GossamerGear.com
I have a love-hate relationship with non-freestanding tents. One one hand, they are simple, lightweight, and usually pack down impressively small. On the other, finding an appropriate place to camp and pound in the required stakes often has me dreaming of the tried-and-true freestanding tent. Opinions on stakes and poles aside, I think The Two is a good example of Gossamer Gear’s dedication to lightweight camping gear. It’s a simple and practical design, pared down to only the essentials without sacrificing some important features such as weatherproof zippers, seam sealing, and the ability to open both sides of the tent wide open. It’s also nice to know that Gossamer Gear supports non-profits doing important work. I’d love to see the addition of a canopy vent and some additional interior width, but these would add weight and bulk, the lack of which is where the Gossamer Gear The Two ultimately shines.
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