Weight is the enemy of every ultralight backpacker. Ounces can quickly add up to pounds, and more and more pounds can equal an uncomfortable backpacking trip. It is easy enough to leave non-essential gear items at home, but if you are expecting wet weather conditions on you trek, you will need a tent to add needed protection from the elements.
Tents come in all shapes and sizes. Solo tents and bivys are perfect for ultralight backpackers. But they are tight for space and many backpackers like the flexibility and extra space offered by a two man tent. Below, we will go over the best tent/bivy/tarp options for ultralight backpacking, starting with the most minimalist and moving towards the two man tent options.
Minimalist Options (Tarps/Bivy Sacks)
Black Diamond Beta Light Ultralight Tent – $199
[amazon_link id=”B000RVX27K” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ][/amazon_link]The Black Diamond Beta Light is designed to be used with your trekking poles to provide you with a lightweight outdoor shelter. If you don’t hike with trekking poles, this won’t work for you. This is a fantastic minimalist option that provides great protection from rain without adding more than 19 ounces to your pack. It is lighter than a bivy but has more space than one, since two people could sleep dry underneath one. For those of you who want rain protection without having to haul around a tent, this is the option for you. [amazon_link id=”B000RVX27K” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Click here[/amazon_link] to purchase yours today.
Outdoor Research Advanced Bivy – $300
[amazon_image id=”B000VVHYE8″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”large” ]Outdoor Research Advanced Bivy (Mojo Blue, One Size)[/amazon_image]
When it comes to bivy sacks, especially options that are 3 season capable, the Outdoor Research Advanced Bivy is our favorite model on the market. It features 3 layers of Gore-Tex Respiration Positive fabric, a durable hydroseal coated waterproof nylon floor, and completely fully taped seams to keep ground water out. Two shock corded poles allow for sturdy head space, but can be left behind for extra weight savings. What really sets this bivy apart from others is the internal volume. There is a ton of room for a high-loft down sleeping bag and sleeping pad, and there are integral loops for attaching the pad to the bottom of the bivy. This bivy sack comes in at 37 ounces, so it is a nice ultralight option for solo backpacking. [amazon_link id=”B000VVHYE8″ target=”_blank” ]Click here[/amazon_link] to order your Outdoor Research Advanced bivy today.
One Man Tents
Eureka! Solitaire – $69
[amazon_image id=”B000EQCVNY” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”large” ]Eureka! Solitaire – Tent (sleeps 1)[/amazon_image]
The Eureka! Solitaire solo tent has taken the good points of a bivy sack and expanded it out to a tent. Instead of feeling couped up in a constrictive bivy sack, the walls are 2 feet high the length of the tent. Without the rain fly on, the entire tent is made of mesh for excellent ventilation on warmer days and for stargazing at night. The weight is very manageable for one person, at only 41 ounces. For all the extra space in this tent compared to a bivy, the extra few ounces are worth it for me. And the price (always subject to change) of under $70 is a steal! To get your Eureka! Solitaire solo tent today, [amazon_link id=”B000EQCVNY” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]click here[/amazon_link].
ALPS Mountaineering Zephyr 1 Tent – $119
[amazon_link id=”B00B9GCRL4″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ][/amazon_link]Another great option for a solo tent is the Alps Mountaineering Zephyr. This tent comes in heavier than the Eureka! Solitaire, but boasts a lot more interior space and comfort. Weighing 62 ounces (3 pounds 14 ounces), it is by no means a light weight tent (and some two man tents weigh the same or less), but the tall walls add an amount of comfort that a lot of backpackers seek from their tents. Maybe this doesn’t fit in our ultralight discussion here, but if you are alright with sacrificing a little bit of weight for a lot of comfort, the Alps Mountaineering Zephyr is the solo tent for you. [amazon_link id=”B00B9GCRL4″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Click here[/amazon_link] to get yours today.
Two Man Tents
Nemo Equipment Meta 2-Person Ultralight Trekking Tent – $319
[amazon_link id=”B0035EJMTI” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ][/amazon_link]The Nemo Meta two person tent is our favorite ultralight option out there right now for a few reasons. First of all its weight – an astonishing 47 ounces (2 pounds 15 ounces) – is outstanding for a two person backpacking tent. This weight is achieved by utilizing your trekking poles for the construction of the tent body, so if you don’t use trekking poles again, this tent isn’t for you. There are also well placed vents on this tent that allow for exceptional air flow. The internal floor space is 37 square feet, with an additional 22 square feet of vestibule space for gear. That is a lot of floor space for two people. There are other 2 person tents out there with weights close to that of the Nemo Meta, but they are cramped (often with less than 30 square feet and a tiny vestibule area). This is a very comfortable and ultralight tent option, usually two characteristics you have to choose between. To get your Nemo Meta two person trekking tent today, [amazon_link id=”B0035EJMTI” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]click here[/amazon_link].
Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2 Person Tent – $369
[amazon_image id=”B00GSYH5IC” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”large” ]Big Agnes Fly Creek UL 2-Person Tent – Silver/Gold[/amazon_image]
The Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2 is another exceptional two person tent. Another ultralight tent option, coming in at 42 ounces (2 pounds 10 ounces), the Fly Creek could easily be divided between two backpackers or carried solo. The internal space is cramped when compared with the Nemo Meta above (only 28 square feet of internal space, with only an additional 7 square feet of vestibule space), so it is not as comfortable. But it does shave 5 extra ounces off the overall weight, and you don’t need your own trekking poles to set up the tent. This award winning tent (winner of Backpacker Magazine’s Editors’ Choice award in 2010) is one of the lightest two person tents on the market. For ultralight backpackers, that is the most important factor. To get your Fly Creek UL2 from Big Agnes, [amazon_link id=”B00GSYH5IC” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]click this link[/amazon_link] today.
Summary And Backpacking Samurai Thoughts
There are several things to think about when investing in an ultralight backpacking tent, starting with the overall weight. Do you plan on sleeping in your tent alone? With another person? Your dog? Do you like having extra space for gear storage? Can you handle cramped quarters? Do you like to sleep under the stars? What will the weather be like? Think about these questions as you browse our favorite ultralight backpacking tent options on the market today. Hopefully this article will help you to choose a tent that fits your needs.
What is your favorite ultralight backpacking tent? Do you prefer the bivy sack to the tent? Are you a true minimalist that sleeps under the stars/tarp? Let us know in the comment section below. Thanks for reading!