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Top Ultralight Tent Review
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Maia Jordan
(maia) - MLife

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Top Ultralight Tent Review on 04/15/2014 18:51:40 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Top Ultralight Tent Review

icefest From Australia
Comparison on 04/16/2014 02:19:32 MDT Print View

Great article and writeup.

Is there a reason there wasn't a chart comparing the tents?

I was expecting to see one at the end, with weights, pole strengths, fly weights, ability to pitch without fly/nest, included accessories.

The data was there, it just required a lot of scrolling up and down to compare.


Michael Gunderloy
(ffmike) - MLife
Markup issue on 04/16/2014 05:28:10 MDT Print View

Looks like the overall rating for The North Face Mica FL 2 got lost in some HTML confusion.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Top Ultralight Tent Review on 04/16/2014 07:04:46 MDT Print View

How tall is the author?

Only one tent shown with fly on seemed weird.

Lack of window in fly seen as a negative. Is this gimmick really catching on? Windows? Do any of the tents tested have them? We could see for ourselves if pictures of the fly were included.

Edited by kthompson on 04/16/2014 07:07:44 MDT.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Some Ultralight Tent Reviews on 04/16/2014 07:48:52 MDT Print View

Who weighed these tents? Is the author suppling his own weights, or those given by the manufacturer? Will there be additional articles including actual superlight tents? I don't like seeing Dave upset.

Edited by kthompson on 04/16/2014 08:03:28 MDT.

Diane Pinkers
(dipink) - MLife

Locale: Western Washington
table would be good on 04/16/2014 09:38:20 MDT Print View

I second the request for a table, including square footage for comparison.

A good start by a new author, just needs some tweaks. Editorial support should have helped him write to the standards of the community--this isn't Backpacker. Perhaps calling them "the best ultralight tents" was a mistake---these are all freestanding tents, so calling it a review of ultralight free-standing tents would have been more accurate and pulled less flak.

Robin B
(beckcommar) - F

Locale: NorCal
Such a shame on 04/16/2014 10:56:39 MDT Print View

Just to underscore how out of touch this article seems, a quick google search reveals exactly zero previous mentions of either North Face tent on this site in the past year. Given how common discussions of shelters are on the site, it just seems so strange to publish a review that would focus on some of the least interesting options to people in this community. I think it is sad and disappointing to see the site fail to provide content that is relevant for our knowledgable and passionate community .

Edited by beckcommar on 04/16/2014 10:58:25 MDT.

Hk Newman
(hknewman) - MLife

Locale: Western US
Re: Top Ultralight Tent Review on 04/16/2014 10:59:46 MDT Print View

Ok piece though the Pulitzer may not be forthcoming. Told me what to look for in these tents were like from a designer point of view and not a writers. Could've been more clear on criteria, certainly, but a decent enough piece to reassure me on using cottage shelter makers.

Edited by hknewman on 04/16/2014 11:18:32 MDT.

Bob Bankhead
(wandering_bob) - MLife

Locale: Oregon, USA
Easy Does It, Folks on 04/16/2014 11:09:07 MDT Print View

Each of us has his or her own list of "Best (fill in the blank)" and the companies that make them. This article openly reveals the author's employment background and reflects his opinions. I see no foul there.

Yes, editorial support would have been helpful, especially spell-checking and proof-reading. There are several errors that never should have slipped past a reviewer.

We have become accustomed to seeing - and therefore expecting - tables in the BPL reviews. Blame that on Will Rietveld et al. This author is apparently not familiar with that style, or perhaps there is no set style for authors to follow at BPL.

I am loath to criticize anyone willing to take the time and effort needed to prepare an article for us. Thanks to you, Sean, for braving the storm.

Tjaard Breeuwer
(Tjaard) - MLife

Locale: Minnesota, USA
Please finish the artcile on 04/16/2014 11:36:32 MDT Print View

Pease right more of what the tents were like in use.

How was headroom, easy of entry. How functional is the vestibule? please show pictures of each tent with flies and of the inner tents with sleeping pads inside, to give an idea of floor size and shape.

How was condensation resistance, ventilation during rain and other day to day use issues?

What weight type are you using? As we all know tent weight can include more or fewer pieces. Please list the weights for inner, fly, and poles separately and mention the number of stakes needed.

Edited by Tjaard on 04/16/2014 11:47:36 MDT.

Eric Gjonnes
(EKG) - MLife

Locale: Northwest
Tent comparison on 04/16/2014 11:53:51 MDT Print View

Funny, I wish this article would have come out 2 weeks ago. This is a tough crowd in here today. Sure, we can always pick apart what an author shoud have included, but he did give enough info that anyone familiar with google could answer their own more specific questions about the products.
Clearly this article is about freestanding double wall mainstream tents and not ultralight minimalist shelters. Feeestanding tents have there place in the light weight world as well. BPL has reviewed UL single wall shelters plenty of times and its nice to see other product designs that may be more suitable to folks not interested in or not ready for the extreme sacrifices of much lighter shelters. Many long distance hikers including thru hikers prefer them over single wall UL shelters. I've seen them used by thrus on all 4 national scenic trails I've been on.
Also, even UL thru-hikers do different types of backpacking or other adventures requiring a small light tent, but with the better protection of a double wall tent. Maybe we want to do a short family base camp trip that requires us to leave the tent at camp but bring our trekking pole with us. I would use these tents on shorter family backpack trips, but of course would cary a cubin fiber UL shelter for any trip requiring long arduous miles.
My youngest daughter and I just canoed for 3 days and 2 nights. There was no need for a bare minimum tent, so for the first time in 10 years I used a freestanding double wall tent. I bought the Big Agnes Fly Creek 2, but now wish I had bought the slightly better designed Mountain Hardwear UL tent.
This was a good article and I'm sure very helpful to many people looking for this style of tent. I felt confident in the quality assessment of the materials since the author has been in that industry for so long. We all know about the Big Agnes tents and it was nice to see some other comparable tents in this category.
PCT 2002-2010 -SMD Gatewood Cape and Tarptent Squall
PCT 2011 -Zpacks Hexmid Twin
AT 2012 -SMD Gatewood Cape
CDT 2013 -LightHeart SoLong 6
FT 2014 -Zpacks Hexmid

Ben Smith

Locale: Epping Forest
Top Ultralight Tent Review on 04/16/2014 13:02:03 MDT Print View

I agree with previous comments about these being heavy but here's my 2c;

They're all inner first pitch tents too - what gives?

Maxine Weyant
(Maxine) - MLife
Re: Tent comparison on 04/16/2014 13:08:16 MDT Print View

I agree with Eric. Let's not bash a new contributor for appealing to a larger audience or missing the mark of what many of us would consider UL.

My Cuben fiber tent weighs 14 oz., but a majority of backpackers probably couldn't afford it, and those who might want to check it out in a store before paying that much money won't be able to since most of these true UL tents aren't found in stores (and probably wouldn't tolerate the wear of being on display in a place like REI, etc.)

I was looking for a chart too, because that has been the custom/tradition with BPL articles. That would have made the article feel more complete.

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Tent comparison on 04/16/2014 13:19:51 MDT Print View

Good article, once I got by the title. (That was a bit of sensationalism, I guess.)

Anyway, I see this as pointing up the problems between "pigeon holed" categorizations we are saddled with. A two or three pound tent is not that much of a difference from what was in use 10 or 20 years ago. To call these tents "Ultra Light" is a bit of a misnomer.
To me, these are mostly tripping tents I would not use for long disance hikes. For a few nights out with the wife, sure. For a week of straight up hiking? Nope.

One big reason where I see them missing the mark: Complexity. There are a large number of poles certain to confuse me in the dark after a hard day of hiking. The clips, swivles, knuckles, Y-joints, pull strap tensioners, buckles, loops... well, the list goes on. A good Cooking Vestibule? Time to set-up all the gadgetry up? Time to tension all the straps? And so on. Not that this is difficult, it is taxing on my 60+ year old back, sore after hiking for 10 days (looking at at least 3 more before I can get to a resupply,) and tired (getting cold) after a 17 mile hike through drizzly ADK mist.

Sean did a great job describing the tents. I know these tents are not for me and I need not look anymore. THIS is what makes a great review. The fact that I can STOP looking. To me, this is as important to me as looking at what CAN fit my needs.

Eric Gjonnes
(EKG) - MLife

Locale: Northwest
Apples and oranges on 04/16/2014 17:27:35 MDT Print View

You can't compare UL shelters to freestanding double wall TENTS. They are totally different items and have different uses. That is why Sean doesn't mention the UL shelters in this article about double wall TENTS. That's like getting angry about a review about pick-up trucks not mentioning the Charger or Mustang.
UL shelters aren't for everyone and not for every adventure. Don't like tents??? Then don't read reviews about them or buy them, but don't choose what can and can not be reviewed for others.

Bob Moulder
(bobmny10562) - M

Locale: Westchester County, NY
Re: What a joke. on 04/16/2014 17:32:51 MDT Print View

I agree that there are certain niches for which this information is not totally useless. For instance, for canoe tripping with my wife I did a lot of poking around the site and finally decided upon a BA Fly Creek 4 which is reasonably light and will accommodate us and our dog with room to spare in a more familiar freestanding format and a more durable material.

I had not backpacked for several years, after having done a lot of backpacking and winter mountaineering in the past. It was quite a revelation to see in Backpacking Light the lightweight revolution that occurred in those interim years! Seeing all the new and innovative cottage manufacturers was a very pleasant surprise. I have embraced the ultralight philosophy (not a bad thing as I am getting older) and now have my base weight down to 7lb 10oz, which I never would have envisioned as possible just a few months ago, thanks in large part to key pieces of gear (Zpacks hexamid duplex and arc blast pack) and a wood stove (Emberlit mini), and key pieces of clothing gear by Montbell.

IMHO, just because a particular article or piece of advice might not be useful doesn't render the whole site useless. Unlike "Equip 2 Endure" on Youtube, lol! Check that out if you want to see some serious outdoor humor.

Edited by bobmny10562 on 04/16/2014 17:36:14 MDT.

Paul Hatfield
(clear_blue_skies) - F
I agree on 04/16/2014 17:49:13 MDT Print View

I agree with most of the comments here. The article doesn't really belong on backpackinglight until it is revised.

I think including both 1-person and 2-person tents in a single article is a mistake.

The choice of tents seems odd. The North Face Mica FL 2? The article should have included a more comprehensive survey of other offerings such as from REI, Big Agnes, Golite.

Lapsley Hope
Re: Apples and oranges on 04/16/2014 18:07:02 MDT Print View

Regarding Erics comments:
But I can choose which articles aren't worthwhile, that make arbitrary and very incomplete reviews, with my subscription dollars and either renewal or not.

Edited by Laps on 04/16/2014 18:11:48 MDT.

Thomas Glennon
(Eagletrek007) - MLife
I Guess We're All Pros!?!? on 04/16/2014 18:17:00 MDT Print View

BLUF: If you don't like the review, then how about taking the time to do your own and educate us all. Secondly, I learned how to read and comprehend along time ago and while a comparison chart might have been nice, I don't need anyone to spoon-feed me.

While I like UL backpacking, I do vary components of my kit to fit the needs of my trips. That said, I own 2 MH Super Mega UL 2s as I find it to be a great tent for my sons and I when conditions warrant its use. I consider the MH SM UL2 to be spacious for a 6'4", 240lbs camper; headroom has not been a problem for me. Both my sons one 6'4" and one 5'8" have no problem sharing one. The vestibule offers plenty of room for pack and boots. I use the 8 stakes that come with the tent and one can add 4 more if wind conditions will prove to be an issue. I've never had a problem with condensation, rain or shine.

Sorry I don't do charts except at work......

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Some Ultralight Tent Reviews on 04/16/2014 19:25:36 MDT Print View

Here is an earlier, much more detailed review of the MH SMUL2