Backpacking can be hard enough as you try and make your way through tough terrain with your legs getting tired after a long day. It can all be made a lot worse though if you have a very heavy backpack, which is why choosing the best ultralight backpacking tent is important for your trip.
Their weight will be minimal which will make your hiking experience a lot more enjoyable as you’re not weighed down by what is on your back. Choosing the best ultralight backpacking tent obviously involves getting the right weight but also other factors such as material, frame designs and durability as well as many more.
Thankfully we are here to help and have developed a buying guide to answer all of our questions and have also looked at the lightweight tent reviews to show you the best ultralight backpacking tents on the market. Once you have read through this guide you’ll know exactly what to look for.
How To Choose An Ultralight Tent – Buying Guide
When it comes to backpacking tents then the first thing that you’re going to look at before anything else is size as you want to ensure that it’s going to be suitable for your needs. When it comes to space a lot of companies will talk about the floor area but obviously there’s more to it than that.
The requirements here depend on the type of person that you are and what you want out of your camping experience. If you’re just going to be out there in the open air on your own then you might not care about having much room in your tent in which to get changed so therefore you don’t care as much about headspace.
Most people though want to have a tent which is a bit roomier where they are able to get changed and sort out their gear without having to go outside. In this instance you will care about headspace as much as you care about floor space so you want to make sure that there is adequate clearance. Having a height of 36 inches and above is going to be ideal. Anything that is below 30 inches is going to be very cramped.
You also need to decide as well whether you want a one, two or four person tent or any other size that you might see. The answer to this might seem pretty obvious but it depends on what you want. It could be the case that you are traveling with your partner and will have plenty of time to set up a tent so will get a four-man version in order to have more space.
Likewise you might be sleeping on your own and want the space of a two-man tent. In order to judge the size it’s best to simply take a tape measure and use the room you’re in to plot out just how big it’s going to be. That will give you a much better idea of whether or not the tent is going to be the right size for you or not.
Tent materials are obviously very important and your tent will most likely be made up of quite a few different parts to ensure that they are suited to both the ground and the wall of the tent as well. In terms of these materials price obviously plays a big role in determining what types of materials are used but there are plenty of other factors too.
Weight is another key factor and a fairly obvious one considering that we’re looking at lightweight tents. While the material that makes up the tent is light, there is obviously a lot of it which can all add up to a significant weight so you want to pick a tent that is going to stay durable and warm but isn’t going to be too heavy. The stakes that keep the tent in can contribute significantly to the weight so you want to ensure that these are lightweight and with the poles as well.
When it comes to that tent material then there are a few different categories that it will all into with one of them being cuben fiber which is the lightest but also the most expensive tent material out there. One downside to its light weight though is the fact that it’s not very durable which is a big downside. It’s not too difficult to repair though and this is a material that you should be looking at if weight is your absolute number one priority.
Ripstop nylon is a common material used with tents and this comes under the bracket of being a silnylon material. These are the opposite to cuben fiber as they are known for their durability so are a lot more rugged which is useful for those people who don’t want to tiptoe around their camping equipment. It’s not too heavy as well and is also fairly easy to produce. The material has to be sewn together so therefore if you’re looking at a tent with this material you need to ensure that it is seam sealed otherwise it won’t be waterproof. If you don’t mind having that little bit of extra weight then this is ideal as you’ll get a product which is a lot more durable.
Another product but one which is more rarely used is silpoly as this is very similar to silnylon in many respect but it’s lighter. That does mean that it’s more expensive but not by much so this is another great material. When buying a tent you want to ensure that your tent is using the best materials on the market to ensure that you have a quality tent.
You may be looking at the title of this segment and be wondering what can be possibly meant by that term but if you’ve heard of it before then you know exactly what we’re going to be talking about. On most tents they will have a much thicker and more durable floor which won’t be breathable.
The reason for that is to obviously prevent anything that it on the ground ripping your tent and also giving you more coverage from the floor below. It also doesn’t need to be breathable either as no oxygen will be coming in from the ground below you but it does need to be waterproof.
If you are in a tent during a heavy rain then you might find that water will seep into your tent if you don’t have a bathtub floor. What the bathtub floor means is that the tarp-like material that is on the bottom of your tent is extended up to a few inches on your tent walls.
One thing that must leave tent manufacturer scratching their heads is tent stakes as they obviously have to be made out of a very durable material in order to keep the tent taut and on the ground but need to be light enough to be able to be carried around to wherever you need to go.
The best solution to this would be for them to be made out of a thick and heavy metal but compromises need to be made. One material that doesn’t make any compromises is titanium as this is a light mental but as you might be expecting this makes them very expensive, so it’s a material that is found with tent stakes in only the lightest of products. Titanium though does have its downside of being prone to bend and also not having the best level of hold in the soil.
For most tents they will use lightweight aluminum stakes which still don’t weigh too much but will give a very strong hold when they are lowered into the ground. As with a lot of aspects in this guide, this is a balance between weight and durability and sometimes it’s wise to just accept that little bit of extra weight in order to have a stronger hold.
The frame designs is part of where the genius of these products comes in as they have to be very well designed in order to be lightweight and in order to be easy to set up as well. There’s nothing more frustrating at the end of a long and tiring day than having to spend too long putting up a tent which is fiddly and difficult to work with.
These tents will work off poles which are very easy to install and use and are generally made out of one of two materials of either carbon, fiberglass or aluminum. This obviously adds weight but if you have a two-pole design then this will be easy to construct without being too heavy. You want to ensure that whatever they are made of, putting up the tent isn’t going to be too tricky.
There is a completely different design though as some tents come without any poles included which means that you need to find your own but this can be done with hiking poles so you will have the poles there ready to use anyway. You can also use sticks as well which can take a bit of practice but once you have the technique sorted then you’ll be left without having to carry heavy poles wherever you go.
If you’ve ever had a camping experience where something has gone wrong with your tent then you know how frustrating it can be. Whether it is losing the ability to be waterproof or the fabric ripping, it can be a huge inconvenience to have to have to deal with or repair.
In order to combat this you want a tent which is made out of the highest quality materials to ensure that it is going to be rugged enough to cope with the camping experience. There are a few other factors as well in determining this as you might be the type which is clumsier and more likely to rip material or it could be that you’ll be using your tent very often so don’t want one that will wear quickly.
This includes having a tent which has a durable footprint underneath you and the tent covering which won’t break easily. There are other factors though in making sure that your tent is durable such as the stakes which have to be able to hold the tension of the tent and the zips which will have to deal with constant use.
One way to give yourself the best chance of buying a durable product is to get one from a well-known manufacturer which has good user ratings but also see if there is any warranty offered by a company as well. If you find something wrong with the construction of your product then this needs to be covered by them.
Obviously the whole point of having an this type of tent is for it to not weigh a lot and all the products in this list rank very well in being easy to carry and also packing down to a small size as well. A tent should only weigh a few pounds which will be easy enough to carry around.
If you’re going to be doing a long hike then every bit of weight matters as this is going to take a toll eventually as you get more and more tired. If weight is of the most paramount importance to you then you obviously need to look for the lightest tent possible.
There is a balance to be had though as with many products if you focus on one area then you have to make a sacrifice in another. With tents here the sacrifice that you make is one of durability the as the tent will have to be made out of thinner materials, the stakes might not be as strong and you might have to go without having poles for example.
One good exercise to do would be to get out your weighing scales and finding something that is equivalent to the weight of the product you are looking at and seeing the weight difference so that you can see if it’s something that you’re going to be able to easily carry.
Ease of use
So you’ve spent the whole day hiking and seeing some wonderful sights but now you’re tired and have to face the prospect of putting up your tent. With some cheaper products it can feel like you need an engineering degree in order to work out how to use them you can be out there in the open for far too long before you can get that well-deserved rest.
If you’re going to be on a more permanent camping trip where you’ll be coming back to your tent then this isn’t going to be as much of an issue as you would have pitched up your tent a while ago but if you’re looking for ultralight tents then it’s probably because you’ll be grabbing it from your backpack at the end of the day.
Therefore you want to ensure that it is going to be set up in no time. One key indicator of this is the number of poles, as if it has a two-pole frame then it’s likely that it’s not going to take too long to put up. One great place to see how easy they are to put up is in the user reviews as people will be able to give you an honest assessment of the amount of time it has taken them.
This is another aspect of these tents which can be quite confusing as you might see it described as a ‘three season’ tent and wonder what is going on. As I am sure you are aware, there are four seasons that we have throughout a year and they are winter, spring, summer and fall.
In terms of a tents season rating, these are ranked in order from warmest to coldest which obviously goes in the order of summer, spring, fall and winter. If something is described as a one season tent then that means that it is only suitable for summer, a two season tent for summer and spring, and so on.
The majority of the tents that we have looked at here are described as three season tents so are therefore only not suitable for winter. With these being ultralight tents they naturally have a certain limit of protection that they can offer before they can still consider themselves as light.
If you need a tent for winter then you can either have the option of having more insulation within the tent with your camping pad or bag or opt for a more insulated tent. This will carry more weight so if you want an ideal tent for all seasons then it might be worth purchasing two different types of tents if this fits within your budget.
The footprint of a tent basically refers to the bottom of the sleeping area of your tent which will be made of a thicker material. This was referred to in the above ‘bathtub floor’ section but some tents don’t have a thick footprint, let alone a footprint so this is something that you need to make sure that you have.
These can be bought separately which can be good for a more permanent camping solution but if you want to cut down on weight then it’s not really something that you want to be carrying around with you. Therefore you need to look for a tent which has this included in the product.
This, again, relates to the bathtub floor as you don’t just want it to be a part of the tent that you are buying but you also want it to have that shape to it in order to stop you from getting wet. If you buy a tent without a footprint then you could find that it’s very comfortable underneath you with a much higher chance of you getting wet.
Q: What Is Ultralight Tent?
There isn’t exactly a definition of what a very light tent is but effectively it means a tent that is only going to weigh a few pounds and will be able to be easily folded away into your backpack and taken on a trip with you.
With these types of tent, you need to strike a balance between weight and practicality as if you want additional features then it’s likely that this is going to add additional weight to your tent in order to accommodate them. One such feature is having a bathroom floor to your tent which adds more weight as it means that the material is thicker but doesn’t give you the same level of durability of comfort.
Likewise, if you want to most sturdy stakes to keep your tent upright then you want to be looking at materials that are heavier than the likes of aluminum. This is a factor though which can be changed depending on what you are doing as if you need to shed weight then you could go with the lighter stakes on one trip but go for the heavier ones on another trip if weight isn’t as important.
The frame design also plays a crucial role in weight as the poles can be a significant percentage of the overall weight of the tent. Choosing expensive light poles or simply going without them are two options if you are trying to keep everything as light as possible.
This type of tent is able to be taken anywhere and easily stored away with your other equipment. This allows you the space to be able to store other valuable items and it also means that you would be able to hike for longer and further as you wouldn’t be dealing with the extra weight.
Q: Which Tent Is Considered To Be Ultralight?
One person’s definition of ultralight will be different from someone else’s so it’s up to you really to determine whether you think a tent is particularly light or not. All of the products that we have reviewed here though rank very highly in portability and will be easy to carry from one place to another.
Any product which is under around four pounds could probably be described as ultralight and there are light options above that which are a bit heavy to take from one place to another. As always, it’s best to judge it for yourself to see if it’s too heavy or not.
Q: Who Benefits The Most From Ultralight Tents?
If you’re going to be camping in a more permanent location then there isn’t much need for a lightweight tent and you’d be able to have the added features that you can get from a heavier tent. A light tent simply benefits anyone who has to carry it. Having something that light will enable you to travel long distances.
Q: How Do I Find All The Specifications For My Tent?
All the specification listings for a tent will either be on the product listing and should be on the packaging itself. Key specification to look out for is the area of the floor, the height of the tent and the weight of it as well. Other key specifications to look out for are width and the overall length of the product as well.
These specifications are vital in checking whether a tent is going to be right for you so it’s important to check them against your own specifications so that you can be confident in getting the perfect product for you.
Q: Are Tents The Lightest Shelter For Ultralight Backpackers?
A tent isn’t going to be the lightest solution that you could possibly have as there are more extreme solutions out there such as a tarp tent where you simply tie up a piece of tarp and sleep under it. Most people though want a bit more comfort to their backpacking experience which is where a very light tent comes in.
Sleeping in a bivvy bag is like being encased like a mummy and some people don’t mind doing this with minimal protection overhead. This is a much rougher way of sleeping but if you don’t mind then this would be the lightest way to camp.
Q: How Do I Make My Tent Lighter?
There are a few different ways that you are able to shed weight when it comes to your tent with one of the main ways being to get a lighter set of stakes for it. This can be done by either getting much lighter titanium stakes or if you had more time and patience you’d be able to do this with branches.
If you had traditional tent poles then these could also be replaced with either your hiking poles or also long branches as well. Another way of shedding weight it to leave the bag that it comes in at home and fold it into your backpack.
Globo Surf Overview
Having the best budget ultralight tent can change for camping experience and making it much more likely to go hiking without worrying about the weight of your backpack being too much of a burden over time. Getting the right ultra light tent will be able to provide you with a comfortable tent which still has a range of great features which can help give you a great night of sleep but still having a tent which doesn’t weigh a lot.
When you are trying to choose between different ultralight backpacking tents there is a lot to consider before you can be sure that you’re getting the best product for you. You firstly want to ensure that it’s the right size for you and a strong enough material as well. After that you want to make sure that it has crucial features such as a bathtub floor and a frame design which will make the most of the space available. Other aspects like what the stakes are made out of, the ease of use and the season rating all play an important part of the buying process as well.
Once you have taken everything into account then you will be able to choose the best backpacking tent for you, confident that you’ve selected the product which most matches your situation. When you have you’ll be able to head out onto your backtracking trip with a light tent knowing that it’ll be easier than ever to carry it around and have that comfortable sleep when it’s time to make camp.