Ultralight Tents Questions and Answers
Exploring the Great Outdoors is one of the best experiences life has to offer. Carrying all your needed equipment throughout your adventure? The savvy camper understands the balance between packing light while retaining necessities. However, no one wants to get caught out in the middle of a hike lacking a much-needed item, like an ultralight tent.
What is an ultralight tent? An ultralight is a tent specifically designed to weigh as little as possible to reduce the total weight carried during hikes. There are a wide variety of options available to suit any adventure, weather, or terrain. The ultralight tent is with the innovative fabrics and techniques a very popular item in the backpack community.
These factors, among many others discussed below, need to be carefully considered when making an ultralight tent selection. There are several excellent options on the market, along with other types of ultralight gear.
Fortunately, many of these “must-have” versions are designed to make your load lighter. One of the essential items is indeed shelter. One would argue that having a comfortable tent that offers enough shelter and protection could easily be one of the most necessary, yet heaviest, items to carry with you. Reducing the weight of your tent could make a huge difference!
As technology advances, hikers have a wider selection from which to choose. A tent is one of the heaviest items you’ll carry with you, making it an optimal place to trim weight. However, you’ll have to consider whether an ultralight is best for you and the adventure on which you’ll take it. You’ll need to consider factors such as desired comfort level, weather, season, and the terrain you’ll be exploring.
How Much Should an Ultralight Tent Weigh?
There’s no set definition of the term “ultralight,” but around 2 pounds for a one-person tent and under 3 pounds for a two-person tent is a generally accepted guideline. The objective is to provide adequate shelter with a minimum amount of carrying weight.
What is the Lightest Ultralight Tent?
Weight isn’t the only factor to consider, however. Ultralight tents, like their heavier counterparts, come in several different shapes and sizes:
- Double-walled, with an inner mesh layer to prevent condensation.
- Flat Tarps, which are simply tarps that can be pitched in a variety of ways. These lack their own floor.
- Hammocks, which are suspended between two trees and often has a tarp over it.
- Catenary Cut Tarps, which are tarps created in such a way as to create a slightly bowed shape when pitched. This lessens the fabric used, and therefore the weight, of the tent. Catenary cut tarps also lack their own floor.
- Tarp Tents. One part of the wall is solid, the other being mesh, allowing for excellent airflow. (Some can be pitched with hiking poles. Using what you already have eliminates some extra weight!)
- Pyramid, which is shaped like a pyramid and designed to withstand winds and shed snow more effectively. These generally have a center pole and only one door. Works best on flat, even ground due to large footprint.
- Bivy sacks – a bivy sack is more or less a shell that holds you and your sleeping bag, offering protection from the elements and bugs. Think of it as a cocoon.
Each tent has benefits and drawbacks. The best way to maximize the benefits of your choice is to take several different factors into account, including:
- What weather will you be camping in?
- What’s the terrain like? Will there be lots of trees or sparse vegetation?
- Personal preference: Do you want a roomier tent? Do you want an easier setup?
12 Great Tips when buying an Ultralight Tent
Capacity and Seasonality:
While a lighter tent is clearly the point, how light is light enough? Are you willing to sacrifice some comfort in order to save a few ounces? Or is a little more weight acceptable to have more space?
- Capacity – think about how much room is enough room for you to be comfortable.
- Three-season or four-season tent? Many people go for the three-season tent, but a four-season tent may be the better choice if you are camping during the harsh winter.
- The weather during the season – if you’ll be traveling during hotter weather, you may want to choose a tent with more ventilation. If you’re concerned about wet weather or staying warm, a tent with a bathtub floor may better suit your needs. How much time do you anticipate spending inside your tent? If you’re constantly on the move and only want to sleep in it, a smaller version such as a hammock or a bivy sack will do. Environment: What type of terrain will you be covering, and what sort of weather?
- If you see dense vegetation, you may need a smaller tent. A hammock may be a good fit.
- Low vegetation and/or high winds? Pyramids are suited for that experience.
- Moderate winds and warm weather? Tarp tents!
- Ease of assembly – Are you interested in easy and adjustable? The flat tarp can be pitched in a variety of ways, including a simple A-frame.
- Ease of access (and exit): Consider a tent with multiple access points. If you’re sharing a tent, you don’t want to climb over (or BE climbed over by) your roommate for a middle-of-the-night bathroom break.
- Think about headspace and if you want to be able to sit up comfortably.
- Tent Pole Location: some models have the tent pole centered right in the middle for stability. Some campers may not like that.
- Free-standing vs non-free-standing: free-standing tents don’t need stakes and generally offer ease of setup. They can also be picked up and moved while retaining their shape. Examples include double-wall tents and bivy sacks. Non-free-standing tents require stakes but tend to be more compact. Examples include pyramid tents and tarps.
What is the Best Ultralight Tent 2021?
Our pre-selected Ultralight tents on Amazon.
Nemo Dragonfly Ultralight Backpacking Tent. THE ADVENTURER’S DREAM - The Dragonfly strikes the perfect balance of lightweight packability and livable comfort in a backpacking tent; Generous interior volume lets campers sit up and stretch, while bomber materials increase durability without weighing you down
Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL - UltralightBackpacking Tent. ULLY REDESIGNED - One of our best-selling, full-featured, ultralight backpacking tents, the Copper Spur HV UL series just got better with new features inside and out, proprietary materials that are stronger and lighter, and hardware that makes setting up even easier.
Hiking offers so many opportunities for adventure and excitement. Since part of the adventure involves carrying what you need throughout, it’s helpful to pack light where possible.
Because tents are easily one of the heaviest items hikers will carry, ultralight tents can make a big difference in your carrying weight.
Selecting the right ultralight tent lies between knowing the type of trip you’ll be taking (weather, terrain, season), and balancing those needs with your personal preferences (space, headroom).
Knowing you have the right ultralight tent for your individual needs makes all the difference for your comfort and experience.