Can An Ultralight Tent Really Work For Ultralight Backpacking?

The ultralight tent is a very useful item of equipment for those who are interested in backpacking ultralight, but aren’t interested in using a backpacking tarp ( you can learn more about that on our backpacking tarps page ). Many people think an ultralight backpacking tent is an oxymoron, but you can mix the two together quite successfully! These tents provide all the protection and comfort of any other tent, but weight much less.

While there aren’t any official standards on what classifies as an ultralight backpacking tent, you will want a tent that is about three and a half pounds or less. Since the unofficial standards for ultralight backpacking are a base pack weight (the weight of the pack and the gear inside excluding consumables such as food, water, and fuel) of ten pounds or less, this will make up approximately a third of that weight.

One thing to keep in mind is that if you are sharing a tent with someone, you can split the parts of the tent between you, thus lessening the weight. For example, getting a five pound tent can still work for a lightweight tent if you split the weight between two people.

A downside to ultralight tents is that they can be somewhat expensive – however it is possible to find a reasonably priced tent. A great alternative that we like for an ultralight shelter is to combine a mesh bug tent and a tarp. Mesh bug tents can be quite a bit lighter and less expensive than your typical lightweight tent. It takes a little practice to get the hang of how to place the tarp, especially if you need to protect against rain, but it’s not too hard to figure out.

As always, take a moment to seriously think about your shelter needs. Be sure to consider the weather and terrain of where you’ll be backpacking, how many people you need to shelter, etc. For more information on the basics of what to look for in a tent, visit our backpacking tents page.

There you will find more tips that will be helpful to buying the ultralight tent that’s just right for you.

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