Chris Townsend spends some time under the lightest shelters for backpacking

The Twin Sisters is closer to a tent than a tarp but does fit in this review as it can be pitched in different ways – either as a ridge tent or with one side raised as a lean-to tarp, though this does require four poles. It comes with two tent poles but trekking poles can easily be used instead to save weight. MSR describes it as an “all season mountain shelter” and to that end it has snow valances for winter use. It’s also designed so the two poles are relatively close together and the side panels form triangles not rectangles. This means these panels are smaller than on many tents and less prone to deforming in strong winds. Overall stability is good but it can be improved by adding guylines to each end.

The Twin Sisters is easy to pitch. There are doors and covered vents at each end so through-ventilation is possible. The valances do restrict ventilation though, so condensation is more likely than in airier shelters. Protection from the weather is excellent.

The Twin Sisters has ample room for two people but is light enough to be carried for solo use. I think it’s an excellent shelter for use in the snow but I’d prefer not to have the valances for summer use.

First published: June 2013