We recently sent Mattie out on a bunch of different adventures – overnight hiking, bikepacking, and car camping – to put three purpose-built Sea to Summit tents through their paces. Here’s what he thought of them.

I was recently camping in a borrowed tent in the rain and all was well until the water started soaking up through the floor and onto my quilt. Suffice to say, my rest for the next day’s adventure was not as long and deep as I would’ve liked. But I don’t have to stress about sleeping cold and wet any more, now that I’ve got the scoop on Sea to Summit’s range of fit-for-purpose ultralight and lightweight tents. 

Who is Sea to Summit?

Sea to Summit is a rad Australian gear company that’s been creating rugged, durable, and lightweight products for 30 years. In fact, tents are one of its award-winning categories! Sea to Summit founder, Roland Tyson, started the company after deciding to design and make his own gear, and outfitting an unusual solo summit of Mount Everest that began at sea level. Wild!

With heaps of experience testing gear in Australia and beyond, Sea to Summit gear is designed to be the perfect balance of clever features, packability, and lightweightedness and this approach is evidenced in the tents that I tried out in the bush!

Why are there different types of tents?

Your shelter is one of the most important parts of your adventure setup, so choosing the right tent to match your adventure is paramount. This includes the space you need inside the tent, the amount of weight you can carry, and the way you store the tent on the way to and from the campground.

Enter Sea to Summit’s range of ultralight and lightweight purpose-built tents. Not only do these tents offer floors rated to 1200mm hydrostatic head (goodbye seepage!), but they’re packed with innovative, award-winning features specific to different types of adventures.

I tried out three of them on my recent trips into the bush to see how they’re specialised for a variety of expeditions, including:

What really sets these tents apart from the competition is their versatility, spacious interiors, and clever packability. The modular storage systems of the Alto and Telos tents are more than just a gimmick, they actively help you to store the tent more efficiently and easily in your hiking or biking setups.

The same can be said for the outstanding living space inside the tents all thanks to the Tension Ridge architecture unique to Sea to Summit.

It’s features like these that have seen Sea to Summit’s tents awarded so highly in recent years by Outside, Outdoor, and Backpacker publications.

Let’s unpack them, shall we?

Alto TR1 Plus – The Sea to Summit Tent for Hikers

Size: One person
Weight: 1,110g
Cost: $849.99
Key features: three season+, lightweight, roomy


What’s the Alto TR1 like to use?

I took the Sea to Summit Alto TR1 tent out on an overnight hike along the Wharf to Wharf track on the NSW South Coast and found plenty of innovative features that made it perfect for the job.



The Alto TR1 uses Tension Ridge technology to create vertical sides for more space inside; this Tension Ridge is a cross pole that sweeps upwards to raise the height of the doors and raise the tent walls higher than most other tents. This means that I could comfortably sit up inside (and I’m a tall guy!), making it feel more spacious than other one-person tents.

The asymmetrical space inside creates a wider footprint at the head end of the tent that adds to the roomier feel. This meant that I could keep my camera, spare clothes, and food inside the tent with me, safe from the nosy possums that were hungrily watching me eat dinner! I could’ve even fit my backpack next to me, but with dry weather overnight, it was easily stored in the external vestibule.

The Alto TR1 packs away into three smaller storage bags, making it easy to stow in a variety of configurations in your backpack. These three storage bags can easily connect together as one ‘parcel’ for storage at home or on the trail. If you’re using the two person version, the Alto TR2, this storage system makes it easier to share the load of the tent between two people.



Personally, I separated the storage bags to help fit the tent around my other gear. I packed the poles vertically in the main section of my backpack, while the other two bags nestled in the bottom pocket alongside my sleeping gear.

Another feature that I like is the ability to pitch the tent fly-first; this would be great in wet weather as it’d help keep the inside of the tent dry – it’s also possible to just use the fly as a standalone shelter.

Telos Bikepacking TR2 – The Sea to Summit Tent for Bikepackers

Size: Two person
Weight: 1,914g
Cost: $1,099.99
Key features: three season+, lightweight, packable, durable


What’s the Telos TR2 like to use?

Trying out the Sea to Summit Telos TR2 bikepacking tent was the perfect excuse to load up the bike and head into Namadgi National Park in the south of Canberra. Bumpy trails, open plains, and forecast wind and rain made for the perfect testing ground.



The Telos TR2’s bikepacking specific design is especially noticeable in the two storage bags that come with the tent. These bags are durable and waterproof eVent stuff sacks, with plenty of webbing hoops on the outside for strapping to your bike. The bags (and tent) come with four of Sea to Summit’s Stretch-Loc straps for attaching to your bike. I strapped the bags to my bike’s forks where they were stable and out of the way.



I like that the tent’s packaging demonstrates the other various ways you can attach the Telos TR2 to your ride, such as combining the bags to be stored on your handlebars or attaching them to a rear rack. The pole bag is also able to be strapped to the bike separately, as required. The main difference with the poles of the Telos TR2 is that each pole length has been shortened to create a smaller pole package, ideal for storing between handlebars and elsewhere on your bike where space is tight.

The Telos TR2 uses the same Tension Ridge setup as the Alto to raise the sides of the tent, creating vertical walls and increasing the liveable space inside. As someone who likes to spend time reading when I’m camping, it was great to be able to sit up comfortably inside, away from the wind. The large doors and no-see-um mesh meant I had a great view out of the tent and added to the greater feeling of space inside.



Like the Alto, the Telos TR2 bikepacking tent can be set up using just the fly, which is ideal for lighter bikepacking adventures, or when pitching up in wet conditions. I was lucky to wake up to a dry morning, but if it’d been raining I could’ve packed away all of my sleeping gear and the inner fly while comfortably sheltered, before packing away the outer fly.


Ikos TR3 – The Sea to Summit Tent for Families

Size: Three person
Weight: 3,168g
Cost: $849.99
Key features: three season, spacious, versatile


What’s the Ikos TR3 like to use?

After taking the Alto and Telos tents for a spin, the Sea to Summit Ikos TR3 tent felt delightfully spacious. I threw the tent in the back of the kombi, along with the other luxuries of car camping; full mattress, pillows, and woollen blankets, and headed to an NRMA campground in Merimbula.



The Tension Ridge technology and a large internal footprint give a real sense of space and light within the tent. There’s enough room for three sleeping pads to lie side by side across the floor. The large doors on either side and vestibules that can open wide helped bring the outside in and made for easy liveability, especially with a few bodies in the tent trying to get in and out.



Like the other tents in this Sea to Summit range, the Ikos TR3 can be set up fly only or fly first. It can also be set up with the inner and the outer fly configured as a partial fly, where half of it rolls back, truly opening up the tent to the natural environment. The Ikos TR3 has four storage pockets and two gear lofts which help keep the floor uncluttered (v handy when kids are around!). Coupled with the large vestibules, this creates plenty of sleeping room for a small family.

While you could take this tent backpacking, especially with the load split across a few backpacks,  I see myself using it for quick and comfortable car camping adventures, where my family and I pitch up by the car or a short walk away. This will definitely replace our current OTT and bulky family tent on as many camping adventures as possible (and leave more boot space for all the fun stuff!).


Final Thoughts

It’s been really interesting seeing Sea to Summit’s lightweight and ultralight tents up close and personal, investigating how each one has been designed with different adventures in mind.

The integrated storage sacks and straps of the Telos TR2 bikepacking tent make it easy to tie it to your bike and saves you from buying additional bikepacking bags for the same purpose. The Alto TR1 hiking tent is ultralight but feels roomy and the Ikos TR3 employs many of the same features, but in a larger (small family size!) and slightly cheaper package.

These tents are built to last and I’m looking forward to getting them out on a variety of adventures to come.

The Alto, Telos, and Ikos tents are available online and in store through select retailers. Still not sure which one is right for you? Check out Sea to Summit’s handy quiz here.