Mountain Hardwear Shifter 3 Tent Review

Watching the sun set from inside the Shifter 3 Tent

Watching the sun set from inside the Shifter 3 Tent

Bottom Line:

A medium weight 3-season, 3-person tent for the budget conscious backpacker that needs a tent that is as good for car-camping at the lake, camping out during a music festival or used as a multi-day backpacking tent. All the bells and whistles are included as standard, including the footprint to protect the base of the tent and a mesh gear loft inside the tent.

Dusk falls on the Shifter 3 Tent

Dusk falls on the Shifter 3 Tent

First Impressions and Observations:

This tent weighs in at 6lb 9oz (2.96kg) but that weight is likely going to be lower depending on your needs. It comes with some extra pegs, a mesh gear loft and a tent footprint which, if you wanted to go light, could be left at home without reducing the functionality of the tent. Without these the tent would be <5lb 9oz, which, when you consider splitting the weight between 3 people would come in just under 2lbs each. Not bad for a reasonably priced tent that doesn’t scrimp on space or features!

When I first pitched it I could tell that Mountain Hardwear did a lot of work to utilize the vestibule space. This tent has 2 vestibules and depending on how you “shift” (see, this is were the name Shifter comes from) the fly over the main tent body you can have either a wide open vestibule with a mesh door or a more private vestibule and a solid canopy door.

The 50/50 design of the Shifter 3 tent

The 50/50 design of the Shifter 3 tent

I feel this incorporation of a 50/50 mix of mesh and solid canopy will also allow this tent to be used in early Spring and late Fall when the temperatures are lower. I’d definitely have no issue using it in sub-zero temperatures but then I’m crazy like that.

The only concern I’d have is if this tent would hold up in strong winds as it only utilizes two crossed poles. There are extra guy line points so if strong winds were expected they could be used to add increased stability.

One of my only gripes with this tent is the added shoulder vestibule. This allows for greatly increased storage space in one of the vestibules but, the shouldered area of the vestibule has two small poles inserted into it that can’t be removed, they are sewn into the fly.

The shouldered vestibule on the Shifter 3 tent

The shouldered vestibule on the Shifter 3 tent

I’m not a tent roller, I like to stuff my tent into a stuff sack and compress it. I’ve done this with all my tents and I find it is a quicker, more space efficient way of carrying my tent. With these poles inserted into the fly I can’t compress the fly in a stuff sack.

I worked around this by just stuffing everything but the section of the fly with the poles into a stuff sack and compressing it that way. It worked but it wasn’t ideal.

If you roll your tents up then this won’t be an issue. If you stuff them just be aware of this feature.

The fly and the mesh door roll up nicely and can be cinched open

The fly and the mesh door roll up nicely and can be cinched open

The gear loft in the Shifter 3 tent

The gear loft in the Shifter 3 tent

Some of the extra bells and whistles on this tent that I loved are:

  • The buckles to attach the fly to the tent. Awesome idea!
  • The toggle/bottle opener on the rear shouldered vestibule. The bottle opener was a nice touch. Great if you take this on a coastal/beach backpacking trip that passes by towns or to a multi-day music festival.
  • The interior gear loft. I’ve seen these as optional extras on other tents but never bought one myself. Awesome to see it included and it does give you somewhere to store your stuff that’s off the ground.
Bottle Opener on the Shifter 3 tent

Bottle Opener on the Shifter 3 tent

Pros:

  • Weight: For the price, this tent has a really reasonable weight considering how full featured it is.
  • Space: Loads of interior head room and 2 x large front and rear vestibules.
  • Cost: You can’t really ask for more with a <$250 tent. It has everything!
  • Features: I think you’ll be discovering new little design features and benefits of this tent months after you start using it.
  • Shifter Options: The options of changing the style of the tent simply by just shifting the fly around 180 degrees is awesome. In summer have the mesh door facing out and in the colder months or if you need privacy have the solid canopy door facing out.
The buckles for attaching the fly on the Shifter 3 Tent

The buckles for attaching the fly on the Shifter 3 Tent

Cons:

Vestibule Poles: It would be awesome in a future edition of this tent to have the option of removing these poles.
Stability: Two pole construction reduces weight but guy lines might be needed in windy weather.

Pitching the Shifter 3 tent

Pitching the Shifter 3 tent

Buy it if:

You’re looking for your first tent, a more feature rich 3-person tent, or a tent that won’t break the bank. This would be a spacious 2 person tent or a snug 3 person tent. It’s very versatile. Aside from deep Winter you are going to be able to use this tent all year in all conditions. It has enough features to keep you covered.

More Info: 

Mountain Hardwear: Shifter 3 Tent

Sunset in the Shifter 3 Tent

Sunset in the Shifter 3 Tent

Author: Leigh McClurg

I grew up in County Dublin, Ireland and moved to British Columbia, Canada with my wife in 2010. I fell in love with being in the Backcountry and Mountains that are all around me here and try to spend all of my free time exploring those wild places. My main goals are to chase happiness, see as much of this planet and its cultures as possible and grow every day through knowledge and experiences.

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5 Comments

  1. The photos are awesome. Do you happen to know the length and width of this tent?

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  2. Where did you camp in the photos exactly? looks stunning

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    • Hey Will, the photos are from the Tunnel Bluffs viewpoint near Vancouver.

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  3. Love the blog – moved from Dublin to Van Isl in 2014. Loved the backcountry opportunities on offer as part of ‘normal’ life! Miss it now thanks to your photos… Cheers, D

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