The freestanding Big Sky Evolution 2P earns top ranking in comparison tests as the best ultralight tent for two campers. The most recent owner-written reviews also note improvements in the 2009 version. The tent has double walls and excellent ventilation to minimize condensation, a frequent problem with most ultralight backpacking tents. Two doors and two 8-square-foot vestibules make this tent comfortable for two campers, but at 3.25 pounds it's also light enough for one hiker to carry. Reviews praise the construction quality plus fine details like a window in the fly and useful pockets for internal organization. A lifetime warranty covers manufacturing defects. For ultralight backpackers counting every ounce, a model with carbon fiber poles (*Est. $455) reduces the weight even more. For solo hikers, reviewers say the lighter Big Sky Evolution 1P (*Est. $250) is also well designed.
We found the most thorough reviews at BackpackingLight.com, a publication devoted to ultralight backpacking, including a detailed single-product review and objective tests comparing the Big Sky Evolution 2P with 17 other ultralight double-wall tents. Outside magazine also reviews the Evolution 2P based on rugged field tests. Three experienced hikers give longer-term reviews of the solo version of this tent at BackpackGearTest.org, including a comparison of the original 2006 version with the improved 2009 tent. We also found brief but useful owner-written reviews at GearJunkie.com and at FiftySense.net.
This enthusiastic, detailed single-product review by a publication devoted to ultralight backpacking calls the Big Sky Evolution 2P "the lightest, best designed, most user-friendly three-season two-person double-wall freestanding tent available." Despite excellent design and ventilation, the fly can sometimes touch the inner wall, causing condensation, so it's better to add extra stakes and lines to hold the fly taut. (The 2009 version comes with these.)
Review: Big Sky Evolution 2P Tent Review, Will Rietveld, April 2006
The Big Sky Evolution 2P earns top ranking based on comparison tests of 18 double-wall backpacking tents, the type less apt to have condensation problems compared with single-wall tents. Each tent earns specific ratings for ventilation, wind stability, insect protection, durability and several other relevant factors.
Review: Double Wall Tents Review Summary and Gear Guide Overview, Doug Johnson, April 2006
3. Outside Magazine
Based on extensive field tests, editors call the Big Sky Evolution 2P tent a "killer value," praising it for keeping hikers dry even in a snowstorm. The overall design and weight earn kudos, with the minor drawback that the vestibule door needs to be kept closed in a rainstorm.
Review: Gear Guide 2006: Big Sky Evolution 2P, Christopher Solomon, May 2006
The smaller solo version, the Big Sky Evolution 1P, gets very detailed single-product reviews here from three experienced hikers, all of whom provide reports based on long-term use and one of whom reviews both the 2006 and improved 2009 version. A few minor drawbacks are noted (sand can blow in under fly, zippers can snag), but these hikers find the 1P big enough for solo hiking, praising the tent's design, durability and resistance to storms.
Review: Tents, Contributors to BackpackGearTest.org
5. The Gear Junkie
Comparing three ultralight tents, editors find the Big Sky Evolution 2P by far the most comfortable, with excellent ventilation and internal organization. The only drawback is the setup, judged cumbersome.
Review: Minimalist tents -- Nemo, Mandatory Gear, Big Sky Intl., Editors of GearJunkie.com, July 12, 2006
This brief review reports that the Big Sky Evolution 2P is comfortable for two campers, even when one is over 6 feet 4 inches tall. Contrary to some other reviews, this couple finds the setup quick and easy, with the fly held well away from the tent body to avoid any condensation at all.
Review: Review: Big Sky International Evolution 2P, Sue and John Williams