Going on a hiking adventure with the best ultralight tent on your back. Sounds exciting, right?
So, what are the best rated tents for backpacking?
What are the essential features of a good lightweight tent for hiking that will protect you from the rain, snow, wind and bugs?
- 1 Best Hiking Tents – Lightweight Hiking/Backpacking Tents
- 2 What to consider when buying a backpacking or hiking tent
Best Hiking Tents – Lightweight Hiking/Backpacking Tents
What to consider when buying a backpacking or hiking tent
Weight of the tent is an important point to take into consideration but then, so are comfort and the place where you want to pitch your lightweight tent as well as the weather conditions. Hassle-free setup is a plus point.
Super ultralight tent might not be able to withstand fierce winds and heavy rain.
A tent with a bigger footprint offering more comfort might be not so suitable in heavily forested areas or a rocky slope.
Free standing or non-freestanding tent? Even though a free standing tent means no stakes are needed but stakes are still recommended to pitch your free standing tent for better stability and air flow. This helps in minimizing condensation too. Besides, staking the tent corners will make it more taut.
Let’s take these 3 things into consideration when buying your best lightweight backpacking tent : weight, ease of setup and the comfort zone.
Weight of the tent
The lighter the better for obvious reasons. You want to save your energy for the hike up the mountain instead.
To save weight, some tents such as the Sierra Designs Lightning 2 Ultralight Tent comes with only one door and has a shipping weight of 3.8 pounds.
However, you would still want a tent that caters to the floor space that you need.
1, 2, 3 or 4 person hiking tent
You have a choice of one person hiking tent or 2, 3 or 4 person backpacking tent.
A smaller size tent or one with lots of mesh or a single wall tent will also be lighter.
Solo backpacking tent is very light, normally around 2 to 3 pounds in weight.
So, for you, is it space over weight or the other way round?
4 season tents suitable for all weather conditions, are also slightly heavier than the 3 season ones.
2 season tents are ultralight weight but only best for very mild weather with no strong wind, heavy rain or snow.
The lightest backpacking tent would be the tarp tents such as the Equinox Egret Tarp made in the USA weighing a mere 0.7 pounds or the heavy-duty Aqua Quest Camouflage Tarp (3.40 lbs.)
Double wall tent
Double wall tents are obviously heavier than single wall tents.
Double wall tent consists of the inner mesh tent plus a waterproof coated rainfly.
Condensation is seldom a problem with double wall tents.
Single Wall Tent
Single wall tents consist of just one tent made of waterproof material and are simple to pitch.
They have a higher living space to weight ratio.
Single wall tents need to have a superior ventilation system to prevent condensation.
Tentipi tents do not need a rainfly and come with a patented superior ventilation system.
You can even have a cozy open fire inside the Tentipi Nordic tents.
However, they’re too heavy for backpacking.
Types Of Tent Poles
The type of tent poles used will contribute to the overall weight of your backpacking tent too.
Aluminum tent poles are cheaper but heavier when compared to the high strength carbon fiber tent poles. These carbon fiber poles have a higher strength to weight ratio.
Fiberglass poles are the heaviest but the cheapest and can break more easily when bent. They can even break into splinters and pierce your tent. However, they do cut down the overall cost of the tent.
The highly popular Coleman camping tents mostly use fiberglass poles. These are great for the casual campers or car camping where the total weight of the tent is not so important.
Those seasoned campers who camp a lot, camp on a longer duration per trip or who have to dismantle and setup tents in different locations frequently would fare better with the lighter and stronger carbon fiber tent poles.
The MSR Carbon Reflex 3 person tent uses the carbon fiber poles that are 30% lighter than aluminum ones.
It is a double wall tent with 2 doors, 2 vestibules and yet has a packaged weight of only 4 lbs. 8 ounces.
MSR Carbon Reflex tent for 2 person weighs around 3 pounds with its ultralight with its carbon fiber poles, mesh body and seam sealed Dura shield coated rainfly.
If your tent is supported by trekking poles, then you save on the weight of poles – a truly minimalist tent.
Sierra Designs Flashlight 1 person Tent has a telescopic center pole and is double/single walled tent.
You can use your trekking poles to pitch the tent if you do not wish to carry along the included lightweight 43″ vertical tent poles. That will reduce your backpack weight by 6 oz.
Ease of setup
Pitching the tent should be in a few easy steps. You definitely want more time exploring the wilderness.
The ultralight backpacking tent does not necessarily translate into easier setup compared to the heavier family camping tents.
Free standing tents are easy to pitch and do not need stakes or guy lines but not advisable under windy conditions.
It can also be easily repositioned by just moving the tent poles. However, they are normally slightly heavier compared to non free-standing tents.
Color coded poles make for an easier and faster setup too as are pole clips that quickly snap over the tent poles instead of pushing poles through tent sleeves.
Guylines and stakes keep the tent upright with just the right tension.
Normally a lightweight backpacking or hiking tent tends to save on weight by slanting walls and a tight fit.
A crouching or sitting position is the norm.
For example, in a 2 person backpacking tent, the space is just enough for 2 sleeping bags side by side with no extra space for your gear or dog.
The Rei tent for 2 person fits two 72″ by 20″ sleeping pads laid side by side with no overlap.
If you are above average size or prefer more elbow space, then one size bigger would be more comfortable.
Tents with vestibule mean extra space for your camping stuff and even your dog. The vestibule protected by the extending rainfly keeps your gear dry.
A tent with vestibule means you still have a dry place to cook even though it is raining.
Best Lightweight Backpacking Tents Comparison
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