I woke up in the dark to howling wind and snow pummeling the tent. It was my first night in the Big Agnes Battle Mountain 3 in actual alpine winter conditions. A storm like this would have flattened my last tent like a tower of cards. I was on edge, considering how far we were from a trailhead. I kept yanking the upper tent poles to shake off the snow load on the canopy, but within minutes there were inches of new accumulation. It was futile.
When my alarm went off, I was confused by the darkness. I quickly realized that nearly two feet of snow had fallen and drifted over my tent to nearly enclose it all together. It took some digging to finally tunnel out of the drift into the morning sunshine. This tent passed the alpine blizzard test with flying colors.
Four-season tents often function like one-season tents. They can be so heavy, hot, and bulky that you’d be crazy to lug one around all year. The Battle Mountain 3, however, is lighter and more versatile than other four-season tents. It has brilliant features and can still hold up to the rigors of winter camping and mountaineering.
Over the past year, I took the Battle Mountain 3 across the country to test it in every condition and every backcountry outing I could. Early summer climbing on Mt. Rainier and Mt. Baker, deep winter overnight ski touring in Colorado’s Gore Range, fall camping in the desert, and car camping in the Pacific Northwest.
In short: The Big Agnes Battle Mountain 3 was clearly designed by people who winter camp. This three-person, four-season tent cuts the weight of traditional winter mountaineering tents while retaining that strength and durability. With elegant features and a “fast-fly” pitch option, it’s a tent that can actually excel in all four seasons.
Battle Mountain 3
- Trail Weight 7lbs. 15oz.
- Total Weight 8lbs. 13oz.
- Fast Fly / Shelter Mode Weight 5lbs. 8oz.
- Packed Size 8" x 22"
- Floor Area 44 sq. ft.
- Vestibule Area 13 + 6 sq. ft.
- Durable enough to withstand harsh winter conditions
- Lightweight compared to many 4-season tents
- Fast Fly mode allows for faster setup and lighter weight
- Comfortably fits three people and gear
- Color-coded for easy set-up
- Thoughtfully placed pockets and storage for drying
- Self-equalizing guy points make it easy to pull tent taught
- Heavier than most tents
- Not super breathable in warmer months
Big Agnes Battle Mountain 3 Tent Review
I can’t get over the attention to detail on the Battle Mountain 3. I don’t mean to say that there are a ton of features, but rather that the tent is elegantly simple; everything is how it should be.
Lightweight tents come at a cost, usually a high price tag and low durability.
I’ve put an ultralight Big Agnes Seedhouse SL2 through the wringer over the past few years, and it’s still standing. Yes, it took a trip back to BA’s workshop to get the lightweight zipper replaced (shoutout to Big Agnes for this excellent repair program). And yes, it is full of small holes and tears, but it’s still standing. I take extreme care to handle it gently, and nary let out a sneeze inside for fear of damage.
That’s not what I was looking for in a three-person four-season tent. I was concerned that the Battle Mountain 3 might just be a four-season frame draped with ultralight materials. Would three large gear-clad people stumble into the tent at night in a raging blizzard and tear this thing to shreds? Would the slightest glance of a clumsy shovel instigate a massive rainfly rip?
With a 4kg packed weight, this tent is by no means ultralight. For comparison, a Big Agnes three-season Blacktail 3 is 2.58 kg ($299), whereas their ultralight Copper Spur 3 is a scant 1.76 kg ($599). But looking at other popular four-season mountaineering models, like the Mountain Hardwear Trango 3 (4.65 kg), The North Face VE 25 (4.68 kg), Black Diamond Mission 3P (4.65 kg), it’s certainly on the light side of heavy-duty four-season mountaineering tents.
Fast Fly Mode
One of my favorite features, in addition to its relatively lightweight, is the Battle Mountain 3’s ability to deploy in “fast fly mode” for an ultra-manageable 2.49 kg. For fast fly mode, you essentially omit the tent body, and the setup is a snap: simply roll out the footprint (sold separately), pitch the tent poles, attach the rain fly, and stake out as needed.
You trade some warmth and protection (there’s a six-inch gap between the bottom of the rainfly and the ground around the perimeter) and bug protection in the warmer months. But for the right conditions, you can drop serious weight at a very low cost.
In that same vein, you could leave the rainfly behind and pitch the main tent body for clear nights and still have some weather protection and enhanced breathability.
The silicon-treated polyester ripstop rain fly is burly and repels water in all its forms, as expected. But what really impressed me, and continues to wow me every time I set it up, is the self-equalizing guy out points via a simple ring masterpoint. It’s such an elegant solution that I’m having trouble understanding how it isn’t ubiquitous in the tent world. No matter what your campsite situation is, you’ll be able to pull the fly taught from four directions.
Big Agnes relegated truckers’ hitches to the past with their guyline tensioners, which create an adjustable loop at the end of each precut guyline for securing to stakes, trees, branches, etc. Plus, the guy lines are long enough for deadman anchors buried in the snow.
The poles are burly, and there are a lot of them. It took a few tries setting it up before I realized everything is neatly color coded. The setup makes perfect sense on paper. But even done right, it’s not a super quick setup — maybe 5 minutes minimum.
The vestibules are ample but not excessive in terms of volume. With two occupants, each can have their own door and their own vestibule for gear storage. Three gets more cutthroat, but there’s enough room for the essentials that don’t fit in the tent but need weather protection, like boots and backpacks.
The inside of the tent is particularly accommodating, dare I say, bougie. Two layers of high-volume horizontal stretch pockets on either side provide ample room for storage and drying. There are also pockets on the corners and ceiling that are minimalist and thoughtful. Plus, there are plenty of loops built into the inside of the tent body to tie in drying lines.
A lot of three-person tents feel like two-and-a-half-person tents. The Battle Mountain 3 actually felt like a 3-person.
I’ve been known to stake my claim with my ultrawide (25”) Big Agnes inflatable sleeping pad that takes up — I have been assured — more than my fair share of sleeping space. Even so, my climbing partners on Mt. Baker and Mt. Rainier had enough room, even with all the drying gear, for a comfortable (albeit brief) night’s sleep. The middle person may not have considered it particularly comfortable. But they were warm nonetheless.
The Battle Mountain 3 feels like a palace with just two occupants, even when you’re buried in gear. But if a two-person tent is what you’re really needing, Big Agnes also makes the Battle Mountain 2, and it is 15% lighter.
Here’s the crazy thing — I’m having trouble coming up with a flaw with this tent. Could it be lighter? Sure. Maybe a little more breathable in the hot summer months? Ok. If you need super-light or ultra-breathable, go with a light tent with lots of mesh. But if you need a four-season tent that balances strength, durability, and weight, then the Battle Mountain 3 is a top contender. Big Agnes nailed it on this one.
For users that don’t need true four-season backcountry and mountaineering functionality, this tent will be overkill. Its stalwart structure and materials’ ability to handle winter winds and snow loads comes with tradeoffs in weight, packability, and breathability. Users that are seeking protection in the harshest backcountry conditions, especially in winter, will be tremendously pleased with the Big Agnes Battle Mountain 3.