Switzerland-based Exped is perhaps best known for its sleeping pads, but we like what they’ve done with the Lyra II. Updated last year, this backpacking tent has a unique design with a lot of upsides for less than $300. First, it’s fairly wide with a listed dimension of 51.2 inches (about an inch wider than popular designs like the Nemo Dagger and MSR Hubba Hubba above) and has a competitively tall peak height at about 43 inches. With a modern pole structure that pulls the walls out, an adaptable rainfly that can be rolled back in mild conditions, and a ton of mesh for easy stargazing, the Lyra is a roomy and fun 2-person option that is ideal for warm-weather backpacking.
Where did Exped compromise with the 4.5-pound Lyra? REI’s Half Dome above offers even more room inside while weighing less (if you leave the REI’s included footprint behind). It’s true that the Exped costs $50 less and uses more durable fabrics in general–its 68D floor and rainfly are noticeably tougher than the 40D and 30D used on the REI. But that’s the Exped’s only true advantage, and the difference in spaciousness is hard to ignore: The Half Dome is wider, its pole structure creates even more vertical walls, and it nearly matches the Lyra in stargazing. All that said, we like the creativity, toughness, and price point of the Lyra II, which is why it’s included here. At the time of publishing, the Lyra II is tough to find due to supply chain issues, but we expect stock to improve with time