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Which Lightweight Tent
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Alissa D.
(calcifer) - F
Which Lightweight Tent on 06/18/2010 09:14:50 MDT Print View

I have been reading tons of threads on tent recommendations, but the more I read, the more lost I feel.

I'm in the market for a lightweight tent. Anything under 2.5 pounds would be fantastic, but I would consider going up to 4.5 pounds. A 3 season tent should be fine, but it needs to cope with high winds and rain as well as with heat. It also should be able to protect me in snow, although I don't want to use it in winter a lot, if at all. I was thinking of an inner tent that has a lot of mesh and can be used without the outer tent if it's very hot. It should not be too small: 1 person should not feel claustrophobic, and it should be possible to sleep 2 people if necessary.

It also should be fairly sturdy, since I intend to use it for a longer trip and don't want to spend time and money on fixing it. I'm prepared to spend a bit more, if this means that it will meet most or even all of my needs.

Can you recommend tents that I should have a closer look at, please? Thanks!

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Re: Which Lightweight Tent on 06/18/2010 09:33:54 MDT Print View

You probably want to read these forums more. Many of us have good sized, durable 1.5 lb shelters.

I would consider 2.5 lb a two or three person tent.

Mark Ryan
(Sixguns01)

Locale: Somewhere. Probably lost.
Big Agnes Fly Creek UL 2 on 06/18/2010 09:39:50 MDT Print View

Love the Fly Creek UL2. Less than 2.5 lbs and enough room for two people if need be. I'm not a tarp guy and this is one of the best UL tents I found. Usually alone in it, which means I store my bag and gear in the tent or the Vestibule. Easy to set-up; almost a free-standing tent. Sometimes need to share it and it's roomy enough for two. Little tight but still fits.

It stood up to a nice NE storm with no problems.

Got mine for a great price on eBay. Highly recommended.

I hear the Golite Shangra-La 2 tent is a great deal as well and a little lighter.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Which Lightweight Tent on 06/18/2010 09:45:00 MDT Print View

Sounds like you are looking for a 3+ season, double walled tent. I concur that the BA Fly Creek series is worth a look, especially the FC2. Although there are shelters that are 1.5 pounds, they are not freestanding (if that is an issue), not double walled, and generally cannot cope with wet snow.

Others would be the larger MSR Hubba Hubba HP and the Tarptent Scarp 1 and 2.

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Re: Which Lightweight Tent on 06/18/2010 09:56:07 MDT Print View

I personally don't see the point of freestanding. You generally pay for it in extra weight.

If double wall is a requirement, I would look into the the Six Moon Designs Vamp with matching inner tent. It is a bit expensive, but is a better design than most of your big name brands.

If you buy one of those 3 lb tents, you will save money initially, but may eventually ditch it and go for something lighter later on.

Tarptent, Mountain Laurel and Gossamer Gear all have good tents in the 1.5 to 2 lb range.

Alissa D.
(calcifer) - F
Re: Which Lightweight Tent on 06/18/2010 10:16:43 MDT Print View

Thanks, yes, I know that 2.5 pounds is not super light for many people. But my current tent is almost 9 pounds, so 2.5 pounds is pretty light compared to that. I'm also looking for a double walled or hybrid tent, not a single walled tent, because I want to have the option to sleep under a mosquito net-type shelter when it's hot.

I also didn't mention that I don't want a tarp tent. I rather carry a bit more weight than share my sleeping space with bugs and other creepy crawlies.

Freestanding is not necessary, I think.

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Re: Re: Which Lightweight Tent on 06/18/2010 10:26:08 MDT Print View

The term tarptent doesn't mean a tent without a bug net.
Look into some before you decide against them.

Most do have bug nets or are designed to use an optional bug net.

I almost always sleep under a tarp or tarptent and I don't go without a bug net if there are bugs.

The reason that I mentioned the Vamp is that you can use it as a double walled tent, single wall without bug net or just the bug net alone.

It also allows has a rare advantage over most other double wall designs in that the fly can be pitched first and then the inner last so you don't end up with a wet interior.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Freestanding on 06/18/2010 10:29:06 MDT Print View

"I personally don't see the point of freestanding. You generally pay for it in extra weight."

Better wet snow load, more usable space - weighs more but can maximize usable space, stronger in the wind (tunnels are close match), easier to pitch on rough terrain.

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Re: Re: Which Lightweight Tent on 06/18/2010 10:32:59 MDT Print View

Re:
"Freestanding is not necessary, I think."

Freestanding is marketing hype.
Some are easily led and will tell you how much they like that feature.

You should never pitch your shelter without pegging it down.
There are lots of stories and I have a few myself, of people not staking down their freestanding tents.

The only advantage that a freestanding tent has is that it can be pitched easily in the outfitter's showroom.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Which Lightweight Tent on 06/18/2010 10:41:17 MDT Print View

"The only advantage that a freestanding tent has is that it can be pitched easily in the outfitter's showroom."

Wow - are you ever misinformed. I suspect ID, Bibler, and Hilleberg are all full of it.

Ever camp in the Rocky Mountains as 3 feet of wet snow falls on your shelter in the middle of July? Thank goodness for marketing hype!

Mark Hume
(seattlesetters) - F

Locale: Pugetropolis
Not true ... on 06/18/2010 10:47:00 MDT Print View

"The only advantage that a freestanding tent has is that it can be pitched easily in the outfitter's showroom."

If that were the case, high-altitude mountaineers, always conscious of weight, would have long ago foregone their freestanding tents in favor of trekking pole tarps.

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Re: Not true ... on 06/18/2010 10:56:39 MDT Print View

Regarding:

"If that were the case, high-altitude mountaineers,...."

I think he said he was looking for a light backpacking tent?
I think a very high percentage of the three season long distance backpackers use the so called trekking pole shelters for a reason.

There are high altitude mountaineers that have to carry their own gear and they will often choose a light techical non-freestanding shelter design.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Which Lightweight Tent on 06/18/2010 10:58:49 MDT Print View

Yes but Steven, there are freestanding light shelters. i hardly think that an extra pound in a shelter to make it freestanding is going to blow out knees. As indicated above - there are added benefits.

I have only one freestanding shelter - the rest are all non-freestanding but when I think there will be any sort of snow....

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Re: Which Lightweight Tent on 06/18/2010 11:07:52 MDT Print View

"i hardly think that an extra pound in a shelter to make it freestanding..."

You and I both have used freestanding shelters. We wouldn't want to take them three season backpacking. So why would you suggest that he does?

Most freestanding shelters do very well in snow, up to a point.
Many tarp tents have steep sloping walls that shed snow just fine and there are no cross-poles to snap.

But is snow really an issue with 3 season hikers?

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Which Lightweight Tent on 06/18/2010 11:31:36 MDT Print View

Snow is an issue at any time where I trek. Even in the summer. Since the OP mentions snow....

Edited by FamilyGuy on 06/18/2010 11:53:08 MDT.

Steven Paris
(saparisor) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Which Lightweight Tent on 06/18/2010 11:43:16 MDT Print View

Some more ideas:

Free-standing:
REI Quarter Dome T2 or T3
Sierra Designs LT Strike 2, Vapor Light 2

Non-free-standing:
Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight 2

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
Freestanding? on 06/18/2010 11:43:31 MDT Print View

I don't think the weight penalty for a freestanding tent is one lbs. Even the lightest 2 person trekking pole supported double wall shelters (SMD Haven, MLD DuoMid + Inner) aren't more than half a pound lighter than the lightest freestanding designs (ie. Big Sky Revolution) and the quasi-freestanding Big Agnes FC UL2 is pretty much the same weight as these trekking pole supported shelters.

I also don't agree that the point of a freestanding tent is so you don't have to stake it out. Nobody chooses a freestanding tent so they don't have to stake it down. There are many good reasons, as David has mentioned, to choose a freestanding tent. Here are some more:

- Site selection. I like to set up my inner tent, place it where the ground looks good and then lay down in it to make sure the slope is indeed as expected. If it's too much slope or whatever then I can slide the tent around until I find a good spot. Once I have the spot fine tuned I stake it down. This is minor, but nice.

- Cleaning. It's way easier to clean out a freestanding tent because you can pick it up and shake it out in the morning. This is very handy after a night camped on sand.

- Risk of Collapse. A freestanding shelter won't collapse if a stake pulls out in the night. I had troubles once with a non-freestanding tent when I was unexpectedly camping on sand with stakes not designed for it. The stakes were enough to hold the tent secure to the ground, but in the night when the winds picked up a stake pulled out and then I was out in the rain in the middle of the night trying to re-secure that corner.

Also, trekking pole shelters often have less interior room than a tent with a main arch pole, because the trekking pole shelters are just high in one point (ie. SMD Haven), whereas a curved arch pole keeps the roof of a tent higher over a longer portion of the tent. So it's usually not as simple as just saving half a pound by giving up freestanding.

Trekking pole supported shelters, freestanding shelters and everything in between have their place depending on the expected conditions, user skill and personal preference. In this case the OP is new to lightweight camping and looking for a shelter capable of handling high winds and possible snow loads. Coming from a 9 lbs tent, he's probably going to be happier with a 2.5-4 lbs tent with few compromises.

If cost is an issue, it's hard to beat the REI Quarterdome T2 which is a freestanding, double wall tent for 3.8lbs and cost ranges from $150 (eBay) to $260 (REI). Other sub 3.5 lbs double wall possibilities with netting inners are:
- MSR Carbon Reflex 2
- Mountain Hardware Skyledge 2.1
- Sierra Designs Lightning XT
- Big Sky International Revolution
- Six Moon Designs Haven (2 person) or Vamp (1 person)
- TarpTent Scarp 2
- Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2
- Big Agnes Seedhouse SL2

Edited by dandydan on 06/18/2010 12:10:53 MDT.

Alissa D.
(calcifer) - F
Re: Which Lightweight Tent on 06/18/2010 11:44:28 MDT Print View

Sorry, I didn't want to cause a dispute. I have probably been a bit vague in my original description. I'm not too sure what the day-to-day reality on my trip will be like, therefore I was trying to include different scenarios.

Camping in snow will hopefully not happen often, but in case I'm caught in snow, I want my tent to hold up to it for a night or two.

I already had looked at the Six Moon Designs tents, and I just had another look at the vamp. I can't figure out if it has a floor or not. Up to now I thought that tarp tent means "no floor". I think I really want a floor. I cannot imagine (but maybe I'm wrong) that a tent without floor keeps out bugs and other things like ticks, snails and what have you. In the past I also had to camp in lashing rain, and was thankful for a floor. I admit that I'm not an experienced hiker. Maybe these are all no issues if you have experience.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
Vamp on 06/18/2010 11:46:29 MDT Print View

The Vamp comes in two parts which you buy seperately. There's the 'Vamp tarp', which is essentially the tent fly and then there's the 'Vamp nettent' which is the inner tent that has a bathtub floor. If you buy both then you can set it up with trekking poles just like a double wall tent.

Edited by dandydan on 06/18/2010 11:47:11 MDT.

Ken Bennett
(ken_bennett) - F

Locale: southeastern usa
Re: Tarp Tents on 06/18/2010 11:58:21 MDT Print View

The current tarp tent models almost all have a floor and complete bug netting. The difference between a Tent and a Tarptent is simply that the walls don't meet the floor in the Tarp Tent. (That's the "tarp" part.) So they have more ventilation, which is great except in very cold windy weather. That said, I have used nothing but tarp tent shelters for more than six years now (except for the occasional hammock.)

The Tarptent brand Scarp II would meet all your requirements, I think.