The 8 Best Ultralight Tents to Buy in 2018

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If you’re an avid backpacker, part of packing for your next adventure in the great outdoors is carefully keeping an eye on the ounces going into your bag. After all, the less weight on your back, the more you can enjoy the scenery (and the less risk of injury from strain). Some take packing a lightweight bag one step further by going into ultralight territory, which generally means that a one-person tent should weigh in around 2 pounds, and a two-person tent around 3 pounds. 

Whether you’re dedicated to ultralight backpacking or simply want to get the weight down in your pack, an ultralight tent is never a bad idea. It’s often one of the, if not the, heaviest item in your bag, so reducing its weight is a huge opportunity for a lighter pack. Keep in mind, however, that due to all the technical features, these tents are a little on the pricier side. To help you get the most tent for your bucks, we’ve rounded up the best of the best ultralight tents out there—read on to find out which ones made the cut. 

Our Top Picks

01 of 08

Best Overall: Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2

Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2

Amazon

Weighing only 2 pounds, 12 ounces, this tent packs a lot of gumption and comfort into a very streamlined, lightweight design. With 29 square feet of space inside, it gives two campers a relatively large amount of room to sleep and store gear (the separate vestibule area is an additional 9 x 9 square feet). It’s double-walled, so you’re well-protected from occasional bad weather without sacrificing breathability, and we love the near-vertical sidewalls that maximize headspace for taller campers. Because it’s freestanding, twosomes can take this tent anywhere, making it a great three-season, all-terrain pick for your pack. Our tip: Pick up the footprint to increase the life of the tent floor—and throw it in the pack of whoever isn’t carrying the tent. But rest assured, this is built to last, with a silicone-treated fly and floor made of ripstop nylon topped off with a waterproof coating.

02 of 08

Best Budget: The North Face Mica FL 1

The North Face Mica FL 1

Courtesy of Backcountry

With a trail weight of 2 pounds, 1 ounce, the North Face Mica isn’t just lightweight but light on the wallet as well, with a price tag under $300—a rarity for ultra-lightweight tents. Almost unbelievably, you also get a footprint and gear loft included with the tent, too. The solo model is great for solo backpackers, with a pole design that maxes out the 14.6-square-foot floor space and a peak height of 38 inches and easy set-up thanks to color-coded poles. The no-see-um mesh is, frankly, a godsend in the summer, and the tent is built to last as well; the fly and floor are made from 20D ripstop nylon treated with silicone and polyurethane to really hold up, even over time. One thing to note: Although it holds up well in light rain, campers might get a bit wet in anything heavier—we recommend using this tent in drier weather.

03 of 08

Best for Solo Use: Nemo Hornet Elite

With just 2 pounds of trail weight, the Nemo Hornet Elite offers solo campers a surprising amount of space for not a ton in the pack. Technically it’s a two-person tent, but it’s a bit tight for duos — so we and other expert gear reviewers consider it a tent that’s best suited to lone campers who might occasionally bring a friend along (handily, it does have double doors and vestibules). The dedicated-pole tent pitches quickly, even with just one person doing the work, though keep in mind that it’s semi-freestanding with two stakes to plant, so it might not be the best for those who camp regularly on rocky or other hard surfaces. We love the double wall construction that keeps air flowing while preventing rain from getting in and condensation from building up — as well as the great netting that keeps mosquitos and other insects out for a restful sleep. Overall, this is a great pick for campers who want more of a traditional tent but at an incredibly light weight.

04 of 08

Best for Two: Mountain Hardware Ghost Sky 2 Tent

This tent offers a lot for two on the trail — even more for one — and at just 2.15 pounds. The Mountain Hardware Ghost Sky 2 Tent performs best in warmer — even hot — weather thanks to great ventilation from the partial-cover fly, but once it gets chilly, you might want to layer up at night. The tent keeps campers dry in bad weather, thanks to a double-wall build with welded corners, sealed perimeter, and completely taped fly — even with a partial fly, the company guarantees this tent will keep campers dry. Set up is fairly easy, with featherlight aluminum poles that won’t weigh the pack town, and we like the little touches like two dry-entry vestibules, dual-slider mesh doors, and interior pockets. It can withstand quite a bit of wear, too, thanks to the ripstop nylon construction (20D on the fly, 40D on the floor) that will withstand quite a lot of abrasion, which is great if you’re camping with a kid or dog.

Continue to 5 of 8 below.
05 of 08

Best Three-Person Tent: Big Agnes Tiger Wall

Big Agnes Tiger Wall

REI

This tent’s wider-at-the-head, narrower-at-the-foot design maximizes space where it counts, which helps keep the weight down to just 2 pounds, 3 ounces, which is pretty incredible for a three-person tent. The design combines the best of Big Agnes’ popular Copper Spur and Fly Creek tents, but with a lighter weight and more interior space than the two other tents offer individually. It holds up well in inclement weather, though severe winds can warp the tent a bit, and it might sag in the rain, though that’s mostly due to the design of the tent — for mild rain and wind, however, the taped waterproof seams keep campers dry and protected. On clear nights, we love the mesh walls and ceiling for stargazing. Just know that it’s not as great for rocky or gravely terrain: It’s semi-freestanding, which means that two stakes (at the foot of the tent) are needed to be able to pitch.

06 of 08

Best for Backpacking: Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL2

Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL2

REI

If you need a tent to protect you from the elements, Big Agnes’ Fly Creek will do the job. And at a minimum trail weight of just 1 pound, 15 ounces for the two-person model, it’s not going to take up much weight in your pack, either. This model is listed as a two-person tent, though it’s even better for one (and for this weight, that’s perfectly all right to indulge in the extra space). You won’t have to waterproof this tent in bad weather: The silicone- and polyurethane-treated fly and floor also handily come with fully sealed seams so moisture can’t leak in. Meanwhile, the vertical walls help to free up space inside, and the current version has more volume inside than ever before. Another clever update is the dry-entry brow above the tent’s vestibule, which helps to keep your pack and other supplies dry. If you do wind up camping with two in here, grab one of the brand’s PowerCase lofts to attach to the tent’s gear loft loops to free up some floor space.

07 of 08

Best for Warm Weather: Mountain Hardwear Ghost UL2

Clocking in at 2.15 pounds, this ultralight tent is great for two — or even one. In fact, it’s one of the lightest double-wall two-person ultralight tents out there, so if you’re hiking in a wet or humid area, you’ll get breathability and waterproofing at a shockingly small weight. (That being said, you’re going to need something with a bit more substance for chillier trips.) The company guarantees this tent’s watertightness, aided by welded corners and taped seam around the perimeter. The tent is also completely free-standing, so no matter where you’re camping, you’ll be able to pitch this, be it on gravel, the beach, or in the woods — and you don’t need any guylines for the footbed, either. Constructed with 20D ripstop nylon for durability, this is a tent that’s built to last for many adventures to come. Just keep in mind that it’s tight for two: there’s enough room for bodies and backpacks, but that’s about it.

08 of 08

Best Floorless Tent: Hyperlite Mountain Gear UltaMid 2

Hyperlite Mountain Gear UltaMid 2

Backcountry

This certainly isn’t the cheapest tent on the list, but its craftsmanship and incredible waterproofing make for a tent that will provide great four-season shelter for years to come. It’s surprisingly spacious for a tent that weighs just 1 pound, 7 ounces, and can still handle two people while offering quite a lot of features to protect against wind and weather on the trail. One of these is the material the tent’s made from: It’s composed entirely of Dyneema Composite Fabric (the material formerly known as Cuben fiber), which was originally invented for posh cruising sails and is known as the world’s strongest fiber — so when it comes to inclement weather, you’re protected (and yes, that helps to explain the high price tag). If you wind up wanting a floor and bug protection, you can add both of those on for an additional 22 ounces and $395.

Our Process

Our writers spent 4 hours researching the most popular ultralight tents on the market. Before making their final recommendations, they considered 35 different tents overall, screened options from 20 different brands and manufacturers, and read over 60 user reviews (both positive and negative). All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.