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World's Lightest Tent?
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Tim Evans
(TimothyE) - F
World's Lightest Tent? on 08/12/2012 22:27:33 MDT Print View

This Spring I set myself the challenge of designing the lightest possible fully enclosed tent, given what I consider reasonable criteria of space and practicality. I set a target of a trail weight under 300 grams (10.6 ounces). I came up with a design I call the Tetrapod, which keeps the weight to a minimum by being as simple as possible, by using the lightest available materials, and by eliminating metal and plastic fittings. I designed a Velcro fastened baffle to replace the door zipper, a prototype of which I tested successfully in a moderate rain.

John Stultz at BearPaw Wilderness Designs build the tent for me and I recently had a chance to give it a field test. The photos show the tent on an overnight outing to Keats Island near Vancouver. It set up easily and worked really well. I haven't tested it in wind or rain at this point, but I imagine it will function as well as most other Cuben tarps and tents in these conditions. I sleep on my side and toss and turn quite a bit, and I never had a problem bumping into the pole.

The tent is constructed of 0.51 oz Cuben fiber and weighs 195 grams (6.9 oz). With four 6 gram titanium stakes and a custom .44" diameter carbon pole, the total trail weight is 290 grams (10.2 oz). There are slightly lighter tarps, but this is a fully enclosed tent that stakes to the ground, and compared to a floating tarp, provides privacy, better protection from wind and wind driven rain, and should trap heat better. There are two vents, which should reduce problems with condensation.

Perimeter netting could be added but I prefer to avoid the extra weight. In fact, with a minimum tent like this I don't even bother trying to keep bugs out. If they are bad, which I rarely encounter in the areas where I camp out, I actually tie the door open to keep them from accumulating inside. I use Deet on my face and hands and sleep with a headnet, which I would be wearing around camp anyway. I wear my ball cap under the net to keep it away from my face, and ear plugs keep the buzzing from bothering me. This system has worked well for me in the past.

The pole is angled towards the back of the tent, which provides a wide unobstructed space for sleeping. There is lots of room for gear on either side of the pole. The vents are at the rear bottom and top front to provide cross flow ventilation. The rear vent will allow rain to fall on a small area inside the tent, but it is well away from the sleeping space and easy to avoid with gear during rain. A Velcro closure flap could be added if this turns out to be a problem. Maximum headroom is a bit over 48 inches. The peak is positioned so the point of maximum headroom is over the center of the sleeping area, for ease in sitting up. The tent is very roomy and encloses about as much area as a typical two man dome tent.

Is it the world's lightest fully enclosed tent? I don't know for sure, but if it's not it's got to be pretty close. This tent completes (for now at least) my quest for the lightest, reasonably comfortable shelter and sleeping gear:

Tent: Tetrapod Cuben 290 grams
Groundsheet: ZPacks custom Cuben poncho 70 grams
Air mattress: Neoair XLite small 200 grams
Sleeping bag: ZPacks custom 5 deg C 900 down 320 grams
Pillow: Montbell inflatable 65 grams

Total: 945 grams (2.09 lbs)

Tetrapod FrontTetrapod OpenTetrapod Rear

Edited by TimothyE on 08/15/2012 13:43:24 MDT.

Randy Martin
(randalmartin) - F

Locale: Colorado
Breathability? on 08/12/2012 22:38:49 MDT Print View

Hmm...I have to say that it doesn't look very breathable. If it's going to rain I would prefer a design that allows maximum venting in vertical rain and only close up the shelter fully in wind driven rain. It's really a fault of pyramid designs in general, that the sides slope outward so anytime you open one panel, any straight rain is going to come in. So something more like the MLD Cricket design where you have a large opening on one side with an overhang.

Edited by randalmartin on 08/12/2012 22:44:58 MDT.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: World's Lightest Tent? on 08/12/2012 22:43:42 MDT Print View

Hey your text is triple posted. What's with the dark triangle on the rear of your awesomely light shelter?

What size are you?

Edited by kthompson on 08/12/2012 22:44:52 MDT.

Brian Johns

Locale: NorCal
Great job! on 08/12/2012 22:44:39 MDT Print View

Sweet and simple. I think maybe moving the apex toward one end or the other could result in more headroom but really like what you've got. Is that a gear pocket showing on the rear side photo? Also, I think Zpacks fully enclosed mid shelter is about the same weight, nine-point-something ounces. But I prefer the full ground contact of your design. I have a Skyscape trekker I like a lot, and your design shares that simple diamond shape.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: World's Lightest Tent? on 08/12/2012 22:45:34 MDT Print View

Hi. You repeated the text three times. Is this the Diamond Solo, or a different shelter without the second peak? I'd label it a shaped tarp and not a tent, but that is just me ; ). It looks good.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: World's Lightest Tent? on 08/12/2012 23:31:58 MDT Print View

If it has a floor, then it is probably a tent. If it doesn't have a floor, then it is probably a shelter or a tarp/shelter.


Kevin Burton
(burtonator) - F

Locale: norcal
trekking poles on 08/13/2012 00:34:21 MDT Print View

For UL tents I want my next to use my trekking poles as part of the structure to save weight.

However, 99% of my current hiking uses hammocks and my shelter is like 700g's a bit more weight but I have NO problem with it as I LOVE my hammock.

Rusty Beaver
(rustyb) - F

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Re: World's Lightest Tent? on 08/13/2012 08:17:20 MDT Print View

Nice! Reminds me of a simplified SM Wild Oasis or modified Hexamid, for which I have. With 18" of perimeter netting, zippered door, over sized sil-nylon stuff sack (also serves as my night time food bag), and 9 ti stakes, it comes in at 9.71 oz. I use a trekking pole for set-up...or my breakdown paddle when on kayak trips.

Here's a link with pics and descrip:

Edited by rustyb on 08/13/2012 08:21:43 MDT.

Kevin Babione
(KBabione) - MLife

Locale: Pennsylvania
Looks like my Gatewood Cape on 08/13/2012 08:46:16 MDT Print View

As mentioned by a previous poster, it looks like the SMD Wild Oasis or Gatewood Cape when they're in "full lockdown" mode.

I've pitched my Gatewood Cape the whole way to the ground like your photo but prefer to elevate it anywhere from 2-6" to maximize ventilation while providing the needed protection.

If your pole can be adjusted higher you might want to consider extensions at your stake points to allow you to raise the entire tent into the air a couple of inches. It wouldn't add much weight (a couple of grams) but it would give you a lot more flexibility.

Rob Daly
(rdaly) - F - M

Locale: Midwest
World's lightest tent? on 08/13/2012 09:07:05 MDT Print View

I couldn't call that a tent. Imo, it's not fully enclosed without a floor attached to the tarp. Nice tarp though.

I hope it works great for you.

Daryl and Daryl
(lyrad1) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest, USA, Earth
Re: World's Lightest Tent? on 08/13/2012 09:48:14 MDT Print View


Nice design. I like the symmetry, simplicity and, of course, the low weight.

I'm a fan of having the apex at the center instead of toward one end. It is more convenient for me and avoids the sag that comes from one end being longer. I also don't have to worry about which way to put the head of the tarp when I set it up.

I too had John make a tarp/fly. See my avatar. He used .75 cuben. I also avoided the zipper. I did so by allowing enough fabric in the vestibules so I can roll them up to about 28" high and enter.

I hope you get many fun miles from your creation.