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Ultralight Tents

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There are many ultralight tents that I would love to try. Unfortunately, the manufacturers have discontinued their build-a-website-get-a-free-tent promotions. Also, I usually use a tarp. However, I can tell you a few things about ultralight backpacking tents, and give you a couple examples. I recently added a video as well.

Ultralight tents have to be judged by personal standards. Are you claustrophobic? Over 6-feet tall? Do you just sleep in your tent, or spend hours in it playing cards? Will you be in rainy areas? Do you want faster set-up or lighter weight? How much have you budgeted for a tent?

What to Look for in Ultralight Tents

When looking at tents, be sure to note the floor size (especially important for tall guys like myself). If the length is within a few inches of your height, you will be touching the walls and probably getting wet from the condensation. Total floor space becomes important if you plan to spend a lot of time in the tent.

Remember that single-layer tents (without a rain-fly) are likely to have more condensation inside, even if they are made with material that is waterproof and breathable. This is less true with the newer designs that have a lot of screen/ventilation area. Personally, I think air circulation is as important as having a "breathable material." These materials just don't breath that well anyhow.

Finally, it isn't fun to spend 20 minutes setting up a complicated tent in the rain. And it can be more than inconvenient to tear the seams because of a design that stretches everything so tight you have to fight with it. So my own preference is for tents that set up easily and quickly.

Note: There is a 2011 update on tents and more here: Lightweight Backpacking Equipment

Video on ultralight tents:

Ultralight Tents: Specific Recommendations

I really like GoLite products. The Golite Den 2 Shelter is the only totally enclosed 2-person tent that I know of that is under 3 pounds. The forward sloping door allows for a large screen area, to keep air-flow at a maximum, which keeps condensation at a minimum.

GoLite also has a floor-less 3-person tent, the Hex 3 Shelter, that weighs less than 2 pounds. I haven't tried it yet, but it gets good reviews, and it is in the weight range I want for ultralight tents. Being floor-less, you will have to bring a groundsheet of some kind with this tent.

Unfortunately, I have discovered the hard way (four tents and counting) that you tend to get what you pay for with ultralight tents. That is one of the reasons I backpack with a tarp.

I would like to make this page better. If you would like to recommend a good tent that you have used, please contact me.



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