Rating: 1 / 5
The Monbtell (MB) Ultralight Zelt is a simple single wall tent weighing 240 grams. The manufacturer's pole set is another 240 grams, but the owner could use trekking poles instead. I purchased the Zelt as a potential fair weather shelter replacement for heavier three season tents, and as an emergency shelter for day hikes. However, after pitching it in actual backcountry conditions I found that its limitations outweigh its benefits when compared to its competition.
It is difficult to get a tight pitch, and each edge sags due a lack of any catenary cuts. The floor is an open design, with two edges coming together under the occupant, and tying together with strings. This design is not water resistant.
Due to the square cut of the panels, I could not get a tight pitch, and so it flaps in the breeze.
The Zelt is manufactured from silicone coated nylon, (MB calls Ballistic Airlight) and is water resistant to a very low head pressure. I could not test this objectively except to say it did shed a light rain. But then so does a $10 poncho.
None, the two top end vents are open. A little noseeum netting could be used to cover them, and in fact I had this on order.
This possibility of having a 240 gram tent structure instead of my bivy bag, at a similar weight was appealing initially. However, my MB goretex bivy at 270 grams along with a light plastic ground cover provides more protection than the zelt, with less hassle of setup.
Any piece of gear needs to be evaluated with consideration of its competition, and my opinion is that the limitations of this tent will make me reach for my bivy sack instead. I would not look forward to trying to pitch this in wind and/or rain.
To make this tent a minimally livable structure in anything less than ideal weather, I would recommend the following;
1. Close the open floor, thus making the tent an extruded triangle shape.
2. Add netting over the two round vents.
3. Add two more tie out points halfway along each side of the tent; this could be used to pull out the sides and create more livable volume.
4. Increase all dimensions of the tent by 10%. With the sagging walls and drooping ends, currently there will be contact between a sleeping bag and the walls of the tent.
This product seemed like a good idea; but a bivy sack, ground sheet and a head net are still my preferred emergency shelter. In weather conditions expected to be fair, I would rather carry a tent with a footprint/fly option at about 1100 grams, and suffer the weight penalty for the increased livability.
Who might use it?
When I test a piece of gear I make a binary decision whether it satisfies an open requirement, or not. If I had no bivy sack, and not even a poncho, this tent would provide some protection from rain.
I own many Montbell products, and this is the only MB item I was not totally satisfied with.