Gossamer Gear Founder Glen Van Peski has been a prolific card carrying ultralight backpacker since before the wee days of the Backpacking Light forum. I respect the hell out of him, and he’s the whole reason I’ve tried to go XUL on several occasions.
Having inherited that same “Take Less, Do More” mentality, I was skeptical I’d ever use a two person tent, seeing as I mostly travel solo in the backcountry with a simple set up. Low and behold, as I get a little older, and my joints aren’t as spry as they used to be, I started going on more simple and luxurious trips. I even picked up car camping!
My car camping setup. I’ve since retired the old Santa Fe for a fantastic Tahoe that does wonders down rugged roads. The set up is pretty much the same though.
I’ve had a blast with Gossamer Gear’s The Two, and after almost two of testing years, I’m ready to give you my thoughts on this iconic shelter.
Testing Locations: the Superstitions Mountains, the Santa Fe National Forest, the Coconino National Forest, and Grand Staircase-Escalante.
Luxury Backpacking Gearlist: https://lighterpack.com/r/og53ix
Car Camping Gearlist: https://lighterpack.com/r/zudiny
- 23.52 oz / 666g
- 10D Nylon Ripstop SIL/PU
- 1800mm HH
- 1.8mm reflective nylon guylines
- Single wall trekking pole tent
- #3 TPU Waterproof Zippers
- Taped Seams
- An actually usable stuff sack
- 2 internal mesh pockets for organization
- 8 aluminum stakes (replace with the MSR Carbon Core for ~30g weight saving)
- Length 84"
- Head End Width 48"
- Foot End Width 42"
Pros of Gossamer Gear The Two
The Weight. The word gossamer literally means lightweight. As you'll read later, you'll see that the Two packs a hell of a lot into just 23.52 oz. Because of its lightweight mesh, Nylon exterior, and single wall setup, it packs down to just a tad larger than a 12 fl oz can of your favorite beverage. It can fit anywhere into your pack, and you'll hardly feel it.
Easy to set up. I know many newcomers to ultralight backpacking have concerns centered around how to set up their new feather-light shelters. Fret not, because it's really simple. You can watch Chris' video on how he sets up his tent here. His tent is an older model, so some features will be different, but the steps remain the same.
I always advise people to practice setting up new shelters in a controlled environment, like your backyard or at a park. With a little practice, it's nearly impossible to get the Two set up wrong. Practice might not even be necessary though, if this is not your first trekking pole tent. I got a decent pitch the first time around, without looking at the directions. The tapered cut certainly helps.
With the storm doors pulled back, you can get maximum ventilation. In the picture, you can also see the cup where the trekking pole goes, as well as the toggles that keep the mesh attached to the trekking pole. Setup is very easy.
Great customer service. When I lived in Austin, I had the pleasure of meeting the crew at Gossamer Gear. They are EXCELLENT human beings. Each member of the small team has a ton of knowledge available to them on a whim, and are just good hangs overall. On a more formal note, whenever I've contacted them with any gear questions, they've been incredibly quick to respond. It's no wonder why their gear is some of the most popular out on the Triple Crown Trails and beyond.
The Two packs down quite small. If you wanted to, it could be crushed even smaller into your pack loosely, to fill up all the empty space. Flagstaff’s Lumberyard Brewing Company Extra Special Ale and tent stakes for reference. If you know, you know.
Attention to detail. The more you look at this tent, the more things that pops out at you. The Two is TEEMING with small features. I love that the seams are taped. I love that Gossamer Gear didn’t skimp on the size of the stuff sack, making storage easy. The zippers on the fly are waterproof. All the stitching is reinforced. There are toggles to lash your trekking poles to the tent, which helps extend the livable interior space. There's just so much going on, in such a light package.
If I’m going ultralight or trying to add more comfort to my sleep setup, I like to stuff my tent’s stuff sack with my down jacket.
Cons of The Two
Silnyon. It's a tried and true material that's been in use for decades in backpacking gear, and is best known for its durability. Gossamer Gear uses a variety that has a HH rating of 1800mm, which is plenty for three season use, and stays compact in your pack.
However, it is highly susceptible to UV decay, and is a hydrophilic material, meaning it will easily sag with light tension or precipitation — not the greatest combination of features.
Most ultralight tent makers in the last few years have been switching to variations of Silpoly. It's just as old of a material as Silnylon, but it holds some key differences. It's hydrophobic, can outperform Silnylon against UV rays, and keeps its shape under tension. Though you lose a hair of durability, I feel Silpoly's positives far outweigh its cons. Gossamer Gear could even introduce a full DCF version to increase waterproofness, and decrease the Two’s weight ever further.
I’m 5’10”, and I have to stack my feet on top of each other to be even close to touching the sidewall.
Could Be Roomier for Two. Gossamer Gear claims you can fit two 25 inch tapered sleeping pads into the Two. Conversely, they also claim that the internal dimension of the widest part of the tent comes to 48 inches. Strangely, this contradiction is fairly accurate. The Two is PALATIAL for a single hiker. So much room for activities. For two hikers…it leaves space to be desired. If you're gonna share this tent with someone, make sure you two are VERY close. It can get quite cuddly in there.
As you can see, it’s a cozy fit for two people. But you can make it work for sure.
The Entrance. This point of contention is a nitpick for sure. Instead of a full rainbow door, you can only access and exit the tent from one side of each mesh wall. I like to have the choice of where to open and close the doors, but you can’t win them all. In fact, there are probably some positives to this design. Less zipper means less failure points, and less material weight in general.
Gossamer Gear’s The Two is an OG ultralight shelter that still remains relevant in 2023. It's loaded with features, but feels like helium balloons on your back.
I have a ton of headspace before my face touches the sidewall. I’m turning down for the night. Thanks for reading: )
Rafael is a freelance writer and adventurer based in the Mountain West. You can find him trail running, backpacking, or sampling the best tacos during his free time. Follow all his adventures over on Instagram, or read more of his work over on his website.