The Mountain Hardwear Pathfinder 3 proved a reliable choice for many backcountry adventures, particularly long thru-hiking trips where weight is a concern, but the chance of blowing weather can’t be ruled out. The Mountain Hardwear Pathfinder 3 is a lightweight backpacking tent that’s easy to set up.
The Pathfinder found itself among the bottom scorers in this category, sunk mostly by its median interior area and nonexistent vestibule space. We awarded some bonus points for decent wall steepness and slightly better-than-average peak height, which combine to make all the limited interior space fully functional. “Eh” was the result on our 6’6” test.
The Mountain Hardwear Pathfinder 3 ranks as the second lightest of the six tests in this group, which gives it very high performance in deep backcountry situations. The stuff sack is a long, cylindrical tube, that might be a bit wide for hikers who attach their tents to the bottom of their backpacks. It is a bit larger than average when rolled. Despite its bulk, the Pathfinder 3 provides a decent amount of backcountry shelter in a lightweight design.
The Pathfinder took 4 minutes to set up the first time, and it earned props for being the most intuitive to erect. The fly is independent, meaning the tent is not protected during setup, but you can take it off for stargazing or a breeze. The Pathfinder is truly freestanding, and poles connect to the body of the tent with a pole into grommet style attachment. The pole design looks like a single modified ‘H’. This structure creates a good wind profile even as it keeps the trail weight down.
The Pathfinder 3 sports one guyline on each of its two long sides, in addition to tie-downs at each corner and at the base of each door. There is a wind profile risk on the long side, which could reduce its storm protection. That factor earned the Pathfinder a 6 in this category, which proved to the one limitation that held it back from a Best in Class finish.
The Mountain Hardwear Pathfinder 3 features two doors, positioned on the short ends of the tent. There are no dedicated vents, although a decent amount of airflow comes in under the edge of the storm fly and through the broad mesh wall panels.
Scott Morris guides backpacking expeditions and hiking trips for Southern Yosemite Mountain Guides throughout the Sierra Nevada mountains of California. He is a writer, traveler, and runner. Scott tests backpacking equipment.