If you’re not entirely new to backpacking, you’ll know the feeling of being constantly torn between packing light and packing well. Often, people have the misconception that to pack light would mean you have to cut down on some of camping essentials, like your tent, for example. This couldn’t be wrong though. A good ultralight tent can hit the sweet spot between weight and convenience, given that you know what to look for in one.
Now for starters, there are four common lightweight backpacking tent categories you can choose from. We give you a quick overview of each below:
1. Traditional Lightweight Backpacking Tent
A usual choice among backpackers, tents under this category usually weigh from 2.5 to 3.5 lbs. They are full-featured, easy-to-setup models which can hold their own against seasons and elements.
2. Single Wall Tent
One of the characteristics of an ultralight tent is that it cuts down on material, whether it comes to flooring or wall layers. From its name, single wall tents only have one layer, though they also offer almost the same protection offered by double-walled ones. Tents like these usually weigh between 1.2 to 2.6 lbs.
3. Pyramid Tent
Pyramid tents may make you doubt its durability when you first look at them, but these ultralight models can hold their own, even when you use them during wet and windy conditions. At 12 oz to 1.5 lbs, pyramid tents are some of the lightest ones you can bring on your trip if you want to stay warm and dry. They are a bit on the expensive side, but the technology, and of course light weight, may be worth your every dollar.
4. Tarp Tent
Now here’s something for the brave, resourceful camper. Tarp tents usually do not come with the same support and structure as the other ones on this list, but they are the lightest at only 12 oz to 15 oz in weight. Though their use may be limited, you can expect a livable area, great ventilation, and nice views from these low-cost shelters.
Why should you go for an ultralight tent?
Going for a lightweight backpacking tent is admittedly a bit intimidating, especially if you’re someone whose style of camping is to bring the most heavy-duty of essentials to make sure you have everything covered. While they may have their limitations, however, opting for an ultralight tent does have its perks. Consider the following below and you might just get encouraged to try one.
1. They are easier on your body and better for your energy
Not everyone has the energy level and physical prowess of lugging around heavy tents on a camping or backpacking trip. Yes, you can split a tent’s components between you and your company to make the load more bearable, but what if you’re going on a backpacking trip alone or if there’s only two of you? An ultralight tent is friendlier on your body, and carrying one won’t deplete you of your energy.
2. They are safer to carry around
Besides the advantage of their weight, an ultralight backpacking tent is also ultimately safer to bring around. You’ll have better mobility since you’re not weighed down by the pounds, and you can squeeze in places better because they are smaller to pack. Not to mention, they are also easier to set up because of their simpler designs. If you’re a beginner or will be camping with beginners, an ultralight tent can be the perfect gear to slowly ease you into camping.
We listed three of the best options
1. Paria Outdoor Products Bryce Ultralight Tent with Footprint
This model from Paria is a good ultralight backpacking tent to bring to short outdoor trips because of its beginner-friendly, simple design. With only a trail weight of 2 lbs. 15 oz., you won’t have to worry about stressing your back, hips, and ankles carrying this around. Use its footprints, rainfly, and poles for a minimalist shelter that provides good ventilation inside, not to mention nice weatherproofing during chillier weather.
Even with its friendly pounds, this model comes with full features one would usually look for in a normal good tent, like two-way inner and outer zippers, back vent with kickstands, mesh pockets, tape seams and waterproofing. The materials of this ultralight tent are quality as well, from its silnylon footprint and alloy stakes and poles.
As per the reviews of this product, customers praise it for the durability of its flooring and its ability to provide great air movement inside even with the rainfly on. There are also no problems with condensation inside as well. The only downside is that some people find it a bit challenging to put up on different surfaces, like sand or softer soil, for example. You can get your own model by following this link at Amazon.com.
2. Featherstone Outdoor Backpacking 2 Person Tent for Ultralight 3-Season
Featherstone’s Ultralight Backpacking Tent has all the major points you’re probably looking for in a good lightweight tent. It’s durable and breathable, made with a combination of tear-resistant, micro-mesh, and waterproof fabrics that promises to keep your tent condensation-free, and you dry and comfortable. It has a seam taped construction that protects the inside of the tent against rain and prevents it from leaking, but what we absolutely love is its bathtub floor design that gives it an elevated bottom that protects you from getting in contact with wet grounds.
This model of ultralight tent can also be used for three seasons and is great for other activities like kayaking and hiking. It is also very easy to set up with its freestanding design supported by a single aluminum pole. Need to suddenly move camp sites? You don’t even have to worry about dismantling it to move it. If that’s not the true definition of ease of use, we don’t know what is.
In terms of design, this ultralight backpacking tent is not only spacious enough to accommodate two people, but it also promises to provide good movement and air flow inside with its two doors and two vestibules. You can use the latter as storage space, which is great for putting some of your things inside the tent without necessarily eating up your floor space inside. You can know more about this model by reading reviews at amazon.com here.
3. Hyke & Byke Yosemite Backpacking Tent with Footprint
Lightweight and tough. The Hyke & Byke Ultralight Backpacking Tent is best described by these adjectives. Perfect for three-season use, this ultralight tent has everything you’re looking for in an outdoor shelter. It is made with lightweight and durable materials that include aluminum alloy stakes, mesh walls, stake presses, a PU 2000 rainfly, taped floor seams, and a bathtub floor similar to the Featherstone. Storage-wise, this model has corner pockets and vestibules for extra storage room and ease of access, too.
Even beginners can set up this tent with its 2-pole clip attachment. It also packs light and can be easily stowed on your backpack for portability. Want to get yours now? Head to this link at amazon.com to order it!
Things to consider when buying an Ultralight Backpacking Tent:
While the biggest benefit of having a lightweight backpacking tent is its lower pounds, there are definitely other factors that you have to consider before settling on a model. Remember, you’re going for something that does not sacrifice quality, so it’s best to check off these factors first before hitting that “Buy Now” button:
No matter how light or easy to install your tent is, it will practically be useless if it can’t protect you from elements. Even if you do settle on single walled ones, make sure that your model of choice provides good weatherproofing inside. Give particular attention to the seams of the flooring–if you can go for one with an elevated bathtub flooring design, the better. Don’t forget to consider the ventilation and air flow as well. Though these tents are designed to have more breathable materials, you want to be sure that you won’t suffocate inside.
As a general rule, an ultralight backpacking tent can only comfortably accommodate two people inside since it uses less material for floor space. You can afford more moving space, however, by buying one with more storage pockets where you can put up your gear without using floor space or by going for a domed design.
Design does play a pretty big role still for ultralight tents. In fact, it’s importance should be emphasized even more since every feature of your tent is expected to meet weight limitations and other expectations. If there will be two of you camping, go for a tent that has two doors and more vestibules for better mobility. Having two entrances can make sure that you and your camping companion can use two separate points so that you won’t have to climb over each other.
For some backpackers, a footprint is a necessary addition to a tent. This helps make the flooring more durable, protecting it from abrasion and minimizing the need for repairs. The only bit of downside of having a footprint is that it can add a bit of weight to your tent. But then again, if you’re already going for an ultralight one, then you can probably afford a few additional ounces.
Going for an ultralight tent can be challenging due to their limitations, but they do have their own convincing set of benefits. Ready to learn more about camping essentials? You can browse our other helpful articles here.