Slingfin Portal 2P Tent Review

The SlingFin Portal is a highly-livable and lightweight two-person tent with a spacious dome-shaped design that’s ideal for three-season use. But what sets the Portal apart from other tents is its strength and ability to withstand high buffeting winds, with virtually no added weight. At 2 lbs 13 oz, that makes the Portal suitable for expedition use, a capability that most lightweight three-season tents can’t match.

Specs at a Glance

  • People: 2
  • Type: Semi-freestanding, requires a minimum of two stakes to set up
  • Shape: Dome
  • Internal pockets: 7
  • Seam sealed: yes
  • Weight: 2 lbs 14 oz
  • Dimensions:
    • Floor: 85″ x 51″ (head) x 42″ (foot)
    • Peak height: 44″
  • Materials
    • Floor: 20D Nylon Ripstop PE 1800mm
    • Fly: 10D Nylon 66 Ripstop Sil/Sil
    • Inner: 15D Nylon no-see-um mesh
  • For complete specs visit the SlingFin Portal product page

Inner Tent

The Portal’s inner tent is all mesh which is good for three-season use because it helps optimize airflow and condensation mitigation in warmer weather. The pole architecture is very simple, with long crossing poles connected to a central hub and a cross pole that helps create near-vertical side walls and doors. There are two doors so each occupant has their own side entrance, a must-have in my book for any two-person, dome-style tent. The doors are D-shaped making them easy to enter and exit.

Each door comes with two bi-directional zippers, so if you break one, you have a second pre-installed for use. Zippers are one of those things that do fail on tents, so this is a nice feature to ensure a long lifetime of use.

The inner tent is all mesh and suspended from two crossed poles linked by a central hub

A cross pole lays over the central pole hub, creating awnings that extend beyond the doors when the fly is deployed. This makes it possible to keep the vestibule doors open when it is raining, which is a super nice feature to help reduce internal condensation inside the tent.

The cross pole helps create vertical doors and creates an awning over the doors to prevent rain from entering the tent when the fly is deployed.

The Portal is a quite livable tent, in addition to being a strong one. The interior wide is large enough to fit two 25″ wide tapered inflatable sleeping pads side by side pad and there are seven large internal mesh pockets so you can get your gear off the floor to create more interior room. This includes two pockets in the ceiling, two along the sides of the tent at the head and foot ends, and a tent-wide pocket over your feet. These pockets are great for storing glasses, cell phones, headlamps, wet shoes and socks, and other essential items.

Internal Guylines

When erected, the inner tent is quite strong. This “inner strength” is the hallmark of SlingFin’s lightweight tents, which incorporate a unique internal guyline system used to dampen the buffeting that leads to pole collapse in high winds. Since the internal guyline system weighs virtually nothing, there’s no weight overhead to it, which is rather ingenious. If you only camp in protected campsites, you won’t need it, but it’s ideal for camping in more exposed alpine zones and on winter ski tours.  Here’s a video below, that explains how to deploy the internal guyline system, and one that explains how it was developed and tested on Mt Washington(home of the world’s worst weather), which is only a few miles from the area where I field-tested the Portal.

Trekking/Ski Pole Adapters

In addition to the internal guylines, you can augment the strength of the Portal’s ceiling cross-pole, particularly when snow loading is a concern. There are velcro “outrigger” straps at the ends of the cross pole that you can wrap around your trekking or ski pole handles or over your snow baskets to reinforce the inner tent ceiling. Again, there’s virtually no added weight required to use this capability.

You can use your trekking or ski poles to strengthen the inner tent.

Rain Fly

The Portal’s rainfly attaches to the same corner grommets as the inner tent reducing the number of tent stakes you need to set it up in good weather. While the inner tent is technically freestanding, you really do need to carry at least 2 stakes if you want to stake out the side vestibules. I’d still recommend staking out the corners, but you don’t have to in a pinch.

The side vestibules can be propped open without having to be rolled back

The Portal’s side vestibules can be used in a wide variety of ways for gear storage and ventilation. The vestibule doors have dual, bi-directional zippers, so you can zip down the top zipper to create a transom effect or unzip them down the middle to roll back both doors or just one side at a time. There are also velcro patches sewn along the zipper sides, so you can unzip the door and prop it open with orange Kickstands (orange-covered fiberglass rods) to maintain more privacy without sacrificing airflow. The kickstands, are easy to lose though, so you’ll want to keep close track of them.

Slingfin Portal Tent

Comfort
Ease of Setup
Weather Resistance
Durabilty
Weight
Packed Size

Strong but Lightweight

The Slingfin Portal is a lightweight two-person tent that can be used in more extreme weather. It has a unique internal guyline system which adds wind-resistance without additional weight.

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It’s also worth noting that the Portal has a 2-sided silicone impregnated flysheet instead of a PU coating for better durability. That process, which is also used by Hilleberg, results in a stronger and more waterproof rain fly. It’s just another indicator that SlingFin designed this tent for long-term use, which shows in the materials, redundancies, and features that they incorporated to make it.

Comparable Two-person, Lightweight Tents

Make / ModelStructuralTrail Weight
Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2Freestanding2 lbs 11 oz / 1219g
MSR Hubba Hubba 2Freestanding2 lbs 14 oz / 1304g
Zpacks DuplexTrekking Pole1 lbs 3 oz / 539g
Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2Semi-Freestanding2 lbs 3 oz / 992g
REI Flash 2Trekking Pole1 lbs 15 oz / 879g
MSR Freelite 2Semi-Freestanding2 lbs / 907g
Tarptent Double RainbowSemi-Freestanding2 lbs 10 oz / 1191g
Dan Durston X-Mid 2Trekking Pole2 lbs 4 oz / 1025g
Slingfin Portal 2Freestanding2 lbs 14 oz / 1305g
NEMO DragonFly 2Freestanding2 lbs 9 oz / 1162
The SlingFin Portal is a comfortable and strong tent for all of your backcountry adventures

Recommendation

The SlingFin Portal is a lightweight and well-ventilated 2 person tent that weighs 2 lbs 13 oz (45 oz). While it isn’t the lightest weight, two-person tent you can buy, the Portal is certainly one of the strongest and most durable, making it an excellent option if you like to push the envelope in terms of terrain or seasons. The Portal’s internal guyline architecture makes it much more resilient in the face of high winds, while its trekking/ski pole outrigger capability significantly expands its range of use in the colder months. If you’re the type of person who’s willing to carry a little extra weight in exchange for gear you can count on through thick and thin, then the SlingFin Portal Tent is going to be right up your alley.

Disclosure: SlingFin loaned the author a tent for this review.

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40 comments

  1. I considered that too. You can pitch the fly closer to the door in order to minimize the gap between the ground and the bottom of the vestibule door to reduce winter drafts, but a higher solid/breathable panel around the inner tent would mitigate that more. You could also simply build a short snow-wall around it too. But while I think this tent can get you into more wintry conditions, it’s not a substitute for a full four-season capable Hilleberg. But I recently tried a Warmlite and was appalled by the low-quality sewing. I have friends who swear by them, but I’m not a fan.

    • I am surprised a company hasnt done a true all season tent with a removable snow skirt that attaches to the fly.

      Would give the tent more flexibility and they could go opposite of Hille and offer 4 season inserts which deep 6s some mesh for fabric inner side panels.

      Last temt I saw that was dubbed a 3.5 season tent was the REI Arete.

    • I just ordered this tent March 7 2020, due to this review and others.

      I have a TNF VE-25 for real winter. I think the point of the portal 2 is that a light snow in Fall or Spring is something this tent can deal with.

      It isn’t any sort of winter tent with a screen mesh for a body.

      SlingFin has serious winter tents for 2 to 20 persons.

      No tent is perfect. There are always going to be a trade off. This Portal seems to be missing 2 tent stakes. Big Deal I have a slew of them. It has internal adjustable tensioners on one end.. I believe it has a set up for the same thing on the other end, but not triangle sliders or string. Seems ashamed to be missing 2 stakes a little string and 2 sliders but it is what it is.

      I will get those and I will make a like set of orange covered fiber rods to extend the fly on both sides.

      My use of this will be hot summer nights stargazing myself to sleep with my wife, somewhere in the Whites of NH

      Thanks for the reviews.

      PS: I hope I can get an answer from someone who has this tent in their possession.

      Is it possible to use a single triangle tensioner per tent end, by lacing the string differently ? Hard tellin’ not knowing, but I think that will be what I try to do, with dyneema in a small gauge . No need to add a ton to a tent this size.

      AND if you don’t want to carry stakes in NH you can make them on the spot with stout dead n down sticks. Been a few times the stakes got left at home..

      • I’m sure if you contact Slingfin about the missing stakes, etc. they’ll be more than happy to send you some and answer any of your questions. I have had great communications with them. Definitely a 3 season tent that you can stretch out to the shoulder seasons (early spring, late fall).

    • William Cleveland

      I am not yet in possession of the Portal 2. but reading I find like many tent makes they vshort us on so many stakes as can be used well.

      My TNF VE-25 was that same way too .

      Do you have an opinion on “Is it possible to use a single triangle tensioner per tent end, by lacing the string differently ?

      Hard tellin’ not knowing, but I think that will be what I try to do, with dyneema in a small gauge . No need to add a ton to a tent this size.

      In case you are curious I am 68 and live in Tamworth NH.

  2. Question: do the angled handles of Pacerpoles work with those tent connections?
    Thanks

  3. Great review, Philip! Do you plan to assign a star rating? How would you compare this tent against current DCF 2P tents? Thanks!

    • I’ll assign a star rating soon. It’s a very nice tent and I really enjoyed using it, but it really a very different animal compared to the current generation of DCF trekking pole tents. It would be like comparing a land rover to a miata. Different users and priorities.

  4. How fast and easy is it to set up in the rain without getting the inside wet?

  5. The Bowfin is the most comparable Tarptent because it requires that you carry an additional tentpole. The one person Bowfin has two vestibules (as do the notch and stratospire 1) so you don’t need to carry a heavier 2 person tent to get the same benefit. Silnylon tarptents have a higher hydostratic head (waterproofing) rated at 3000mm than the portals 1800 mm. All of the Tarptents you mentioned are quite wind and weather worthy, even with snow loads, but are more susceptible to wind buffeting and load flapping because silnylon stretches and they don’t have a continuous pole structure backing them like the Portal. The portal has much better internal pockets, including gear loft pockets than all of these Tarptents, making it a much better interior experience when shared by 2 people. All of these tarptents can also be set up fly first in rain to prevent the inner tent from becomming wet although you need to prepare the tent in advance to detact the inner from the outer beforehand. The portal is easier to set up on rock ledge or snow because it is freestanding if you don’t stake out the vestibules (the pitchlock ends of these tarptentsmust all be staked out). It is also somewhat less drafty because the fly is cut lower on the sides. Hope that helps!

  6. I like the looks of this tent but in your opinion is it $150 better than the Slingfin 2Lite?

  7. Phil,
    Love to get your take on the Portal vs the Stratospire. Might seem like a strange comparison since one is freestanding and the other is a trekking pole tent. However I’m thinking in terms of double wall tents in the 2.5 to 3 lbs weight range that perform well in strong winds. I’ve owned the Stratospire but do find it tricky to setup in high winds. I was thinking of getting the Hilleberg Niak for high wind situations but the Portal seems to have most of the benefits and perhaps even better in the wind while saving almost 3/4 pound of weight.

    David

    • I follow your logic. The strat can be confusing to set up. I think the Portal, with its internal guyline system will give you the strength you need for strong wind. The Portal vestibules are also much more functional than the Niak’s front vestibule, especially if you need to cook under cover.

      • Thanks for your input Phil. The Portal with the internal guidelines and the ability to use trekking poles for additional support is one of the most innovative tents I’ve come across.

    • David, I am also thinking of getting a Niak or a Portal. The Niak is slightly heavier, but packs down small and can be setup quickly and is very durable. However, the Portal has a 3rd pole so that the drip line doesn’t allow rain in the tent. With the Niak, I think the vestibule must be zipped partway down in light rain. The Hilleberg Rogen has that third pole and that keeps the drip line outside of the inner tent and it also has a second door and vestibule. But, it’s pound heavier, I think.

  8. Great review, thanks as always Phil! I just joined a basic mountaineering course in the PNW with one of my objectives being to climb Mount Rainier ultralight style in 2 days. I’ve pored over tons of reviews trying to find a lightweight, double-walled tent under 2 pounds and such a thing does not yet exist. I kind of wish this tent was made of Dyneema to bring it under 2 lbs, but alas…

    My goal is really to get a bomber tent that has great strength-to-weight so as to not get laughed off Rainier, while not being too much of a lard ass for other less extreme 1-2 night PNW volcano objectives. It seems you could not do better than this tent right now. Freestanding and double-walled seems non-negotiable for the weather at Rainier..

    I’ve also emailed with Henry at Tarptent and he said they’re considering doing the Moment DW in Dyneema, may here something in a few months. A quiver of just these two would seem like the best options for fast, light and weatherproof. Wondering about your thoughts on other good ideas for my goals, thanks!

    • The most important thing for rainier to get a tent that has a LOT of tie-downs and has a fly that reaches to the ground, which eliminates most of the UL offerings out there with the exception of a few tarptents. (You probably don’t want a trekking pole tent) You’ll probably also want to carry a shovel and saw to make wind breaks so your tent doesn’t fly away. I’m not sure why you think a double wall is necessary or why going “ultralight” is so important (it’s mountaineering, which requires more gear weight). But it’s your hike. If you want a Dyneema mountaineering tent Locus Gear and Samaya both make them.

      • Right, so would the Slingfin Portal and Tarptent Moment DW pass the test for sufficient tie-downs and a fly that goes to the ground? I of course agree trekking pole tents would be a bad idea.

        I understand that mountaineering requires a lot of gear, and the impetus for wanting a lighter tent (within reason) is to get to a pack weight of 35 lbs or less for 1-2 night trips. If I were to throw in a 5 lb Hilleberg Soulo (which may actually be a great idea), that becomes tougher with the 2.5-3 additional pounds for shelter. I think a double wall is necessary because that’s what experienced folks I’ve talked to here say they use, and the humidity/condensation issues in this climate are kind of epic (see: sleeping in the Hoh rainforest for a Mt. Olympus summit bid).

        The Tarptent Moment DW (even without DCF) seems like a winner, especially with the solid interior option, but I’m not sure about the tie-downs and wind resistance.

        • Get the Portal, which has an excellent internal guyline system as well. The Moment will be difficult to pack horizontally in a backpack due to its pitchlock architecture. It’s also not that wind worthy even with the extra cross pole. BTW, the Hilleberg Niak is also a nice option. 3 lbs 5 oz for all the reasons you’d want a Hilleberg.

      • I looked up Samaya and their 2.0 model looks awesome! Lighter than a Hilleberg Niak and $650 for a presumably returned tent. Not bad. Thanks for the reccomendation. Any plans to review this brand in the future? :)

      • Last comment about this, I promise, Phil :)

        I emailed the very nice guys at Slingfin and they advised against a Portal for Rainier, and that a CrossBow would be better (though sold out). They said heavy duty poles would fair better, but that brings the weighg to 3 lb 4oz. After looking at your light winter tent reccs, I noticed the MSR Access, which weighs in at 3 lb 10 oz. It sure seems like I would be better off just getting the bonafide 4-season tent from MSR (that’s still pretty light).

        The Samaya is tempting but I am too put off by the single wall and suspect “materials science” claims on the website.

      • I have seen the light after more reading and contacting manufacturers: the solution is an HMG UltaMid 2, with inner tent as an option if condensation becomes an issue.

        • You might want to give some thought to how you’re going to anchor that on Rainier. I like using trash bags from the store as deadmen, but you’ll still want to bring a shovel to dig out a pit under the pyramid. It’s worth practicing because the linelocs found on many ofthese mids freeze shut in show and ice. The rule of thumb for snow camping is to use a silnylon pyramid instead of a DCF one because snow slides off better. MLD’s duomid or duomid XL is a good choice for a single person. I would recommend practicing your setup in wind though before you get up on Rainier and try it. I suspect you’ll also want to make sure you have a good seal between the edge of the tent and the ground lest your mid blow away. Good luck.

        • I have nothing against mids…but my choice would still be a Black Diamond First Light tent. It’s a proven mountaineering tent. It’s freestanding. Packs up very small and has webbing in the corners for staking out with skis or other snow tools. Mine weighs less than 3 lbs and is dead easy to set up in under 2 minutes. Bomber.

      • I hear you on the Mid concerns, Phil. The suggestion to not go with Dyneema makes sense, and in that case I’m actually strongly considering a BD Beta Light. It’s half the price of the MLD Duomid with no backlog time, available from REI right now and returnable if I hate it.

        I don’t think anchoring will be that hard, I was planning on doing buried snow stakes for deadmen. I was fully prepared to suffer with shoveling (but that glorious headroom). I looked at the FirstLight but I just have too many concerns about wind and more so moisture resistance, especially as our snow has a higher water content..

        I think I’m having a “Mid-Life” crisis. But yes I’d wanna hike up to Camp Muir and do a test run before a scheduled climb.

      • One more curiosity about UL materials: I see that BD now makes the Beta Light with SilPoly, which I understand doesn’t stretch, so presumably no flapping if you get a good pitch? That was the only big reason I wanted Dyneema, but I sure could do without 3X the cost, if it’s true that the SilPoly wouldn’t stretch when wet and also wouldn’t be as “sticky “ for snow. Has BD found a new market inefficiency? Dyneema properties for cheapskates??

        • No people know about it (the market). The problem is that many of the companies that could take advantage of it (ie. innovators) don’t have the capital to buy large lots of high-quality stuff because they don’t have the capital. The problem is a shortage of high quality material and pricing.

  9. I’ve used this tent for over a year. Backpacking and Bike Touring. It is the perfect mix of weight, ease of setup, and weather proofing. It has great veneration and at least 3 configurations to leave the fly on to maximize air flow. My only issue with the tent is it’s garnish colors/reflective guy lines which make stealth camping tougher. I cannot think of anyway I’d improve on the design (other than the colors.). The good news is they are offering a “stealth” version in Green and Brown with no reflective bits now. So I’m selling my old one and getting the new one. It isn’t the lightest, but it is at the perfect weight/robust/comfort spot that I look for in a backpacking tent and it is luxurious enough for a bike touring tent where you can take a bit heavier tent. Whenever anyone asked me what tent should I get for backpacking, I recommend this over all others. I’ve used many and am perfectly happy with this one.

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