Outbound Collective logo

Review: Big Agnes Salt Creek SL3 Tent

After years of squeezing myself, my husband, our dog, and all of our gear into an old two-person backpacking tent, we were more than ready to graduate to a roomier tent with some upgraded features.

By: Kenzie Rodriguez + Save to a List

Most of our camping adventures these days are car-camping trips, with one or two short backpacking excursions sprinkled in. The Big Agnes Salt Creek SL 3 checks all the boxes of the do-it-all tent I was looking for: a fully-featured, super light backpacking tent with lots of room for my little family and fantastic views.


We put the Salt Creek SL 3 to the test on a car-camping trip to Lake Koocanusa, a 90-mile long reservoir that spans the border between Montana and British Columbia through the Kootenai National Forest. The name of the reservoir is derived from a mashup of the Kootenai River, Canada, and USA: Koo-Can-USA. In the spring before the water rises from snowmelt, most of the lake is surrounded by large beaches made of silty-clay sand that makes for incredibly dreamy camping spots and a super comfortable night’s sleep. We were able to drive our cars right onto the beach from the access point and set up camp between the tall, clay bluffs and crystal clear waters. 

Set Up and Size

The tent fit easily in my 65L backpacking pack, and weighs in at only 5lb 2oz. When fully set up, it is 47 inches tall: just tall enough to sit or kneel comfortably in the tent. My husband and I decided to set it up twice; the first time we’d built it together, and the second time I would try it on my own to test out the ease of setup.

Big Agnes did a great job keeping the parts as simple as possible on this one. Inside the bag there is the tent, the fly, a set of four poles connected by a hub, one cross pole, and a small bag of stakes. Without looking at any instructions, we quickly realized that the tent clips and poles are color-coded either orange or grey to make setup a breeze.

With two people setting up, the four pole hub is quick to build. When I tried it alone, it was a bit unruly, but with some creative body positions and a little patience I made it happen!

Big Agnes has created some unique and clever systems for attaching the cross pole to the hub poles, as well as the tent to the cross pole itself. Two clips on the hub poles simply snap around the cross pole, while the tent has two plastic clips that slide onto hooks on the bottom of the hub pole clips. 


The tent poles create near-vertical walls that result in lots of room for your head and shoulder while sitting up inside the tent.

Now, if you are looking to get some great views from home away from home, this is your tent. The Salt Creek SL 3 has a head-entry door with an awning that can be set up with your trekking poles for a shaded vestibule. We set ours up so we could soak in the Rocky Mountains and lake views while making our morning coffee. Usually I wake up feeling claustrophobic and wanting out of my tent as soon as possible, but in the Salt Creek I found myself wanting to wake up slow, hang out and lounge with the doors open.

With two roomy side doors and a head-entry door, plus a small top vent, there is plenty of airflow in the tent on warm days and lots of storage for all of your gear. Inside of the tent, there are lots of features that keep your gear organized and stored away. Media pockets on either side of the tent are the perfect place to stash your phone, and they even thought to include a slot for your headphones! 

Our favorite spot is the 3D bin pocket above the foot area, where we kept a few layers, books and other items that we wanted quick access to without cluttering the tent floor or having to rummage through our bags. Various hooks and loops throughout the tent make hanging lanterns and other lights quick and easy.

Room for Improvement

You’ll definitely want to purchase the footprint for this one or bring a tarp with you, as I have set it up in more wooded areas and already noticed a few small holes in the base of the tent from sticks and rocks. Because the fabric is so light, it needs a little extra protection on the bottom to prevent tears.

The Final Word

I highly recommend the Salt Creek SL 3 whether you are looking for a super light, roomy backpacking tent or you are just wanting a fully-featured car camping tent. This tent definitely goes both ways, and brings a little luxury no matter where you pitch it. Now that we have experienced a tent with three doors and so much storage, it’s really hard to imagine going back. I can’t wait for our next adventure!

This review was originally posted on DirtbagDreams.com. 
Are you an Outdoor Industry Professional? You may qualify for pro deals with Outdoor Prolink. Learn more here

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

Do you love the outdoors?

Yep, us too. That's why we send you the best local adventures, stories, and expert advice, right to your inbox.


Overnighter on the Sonoma Coast

Benjamin Canevari

10 Things you need to do in Baja

wyld honeys

8 Amazing national park lakes to explore this Summer

The Outbound Collective

Add these three North Carolina destinations to your must-visit list

The Outbound Collective