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)