Before you dust off your hiking boots and display the contents of your pack nicely for the final photo, your adventure really begins when you find the right tent. The best ultralight tents will weigh less than a bible while offering real salvation on rainy nights (even 40 of them).
If you’re ready to take the leap and start some long-distance expeditions, have we got a gear list for you. These tents have performed no matter the conditions, proven easy enough to set up before the storm rolls in, and saved a few trips to the chiropractor.
Shedding off precious weight from your kit will take you deeper into the truth of the woods, but how do you know who to trust to take you there?
Well, you read about it. We’ll cover ultralight tents, bivies, freestanding lean-tos, shelters, and chalets to show you what the best tents in the game are capable of. Our buying guide will highlight where these tents excel and shine a light on any potential flaws.
Nobodies perfect, not even your tent. Any weight reduction has to come from somewhere, and the lightest tents on the market scrapped loads of comfort features to stay light as a feather. Decide which factors are most important to the tent built for you, and scroll down to find your perfect match.
Quick Answers: These are the 10 Best Ultralight Tents
- #1 – Big Agnes FlyCreek HV UL1 and UL2
- #2 – Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL1 and UL2
- #3 – Nemo Hornet Elite
- #4 – MSR Hubba Hubba NX 1 & 2
- #5 – Marmot Tungsten 1P & 2P UL
- #6 – REI Co-Op Quarter Dome SL 1 & 2
- #7 – Sea to Summit Alto TR1 and TR2
- #8 – Black Diamond Distance Tent with Adapter
- #9 – Outdoor Research Helium Bivy
- #10 – Peregrine Kestrel UL 3P Tent with Footprint
Choosing an Ultralight Tent
So, how to choose which tent to buy? Go in with the mentality that the lighter they are to carry the weaker your potential tent will score in terms of durability or warmth. Some producers try to offer the full package using expensive magic materials, but there is always a trade-off.
Sometimes a light (but not ultralight) option may do the trick. Very few hikers will walk enough to notice the difference between those last few kgs. There are plenty of fantastic lightweight options that provide a splash of comfort in an ultralight shell, and won’t cost next month’s rent.
The bottom line is: The upper echelon of ultralight tents do not come cheap.
At the highest level, you’ve got no choice. The best ultralight tents demand top dollar to shed off those last valuable few kilos. There is no tent on the market that can properly copy the performance of a true ultralight tent for less than $200. Be wary of low-cost options that promise unbelievably low weight. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Once you’ve committed to an ultralight tent, the best option will be the tent most catered towards your style. This is going to be your second home! Don’t rely on Ikea.
Basically, when choosing an ultralight tent, decide where you lay within the Venn diagram of price, weight, and space. Every tent on our list excels in at least two of these categories, but you won’t find one tent that scores first in all three.
Ask Any Trekker who has made it out far enough, and they’ll swear by every saved stone. If you’re planning a longer journey, it will only take struggling through a few hot days lugging your world on your shoulders to justify investing in shedding weight.
Other hikers will guarantee you won’t notice the weight difference but will thoroughly enjoy a few extra square feet of interior space. The good news is, they’re both right! It all depends on which factor you value more for your personal needs.
The best one person ultralight tents will set you back less than one kilo, and shoppers looking for an adventure ready 2-person tent can have it all for less than 1.5.
Be prepared to learn how to work with your hands. Anything less than 1 kilo will require special attention and maintenance. The extreme technologies and materials used in these will likely be the most fragile part of your backpacking kit.
If you love tinkering with your existing toolset, the repairs of a good quality ultralight tent won’t be anything you can’t handle; just don’t forget to pack the patch kit. The rest of us should consider finding a crossroads between weight and durability.
Although these tents make their names as flyweights, you’ll want something more than just skin and bones. In addition to maintenance variables, you’ve got yourself to worry about.
You need to seriously consider your comfort when pushing to drop the ounces. Don’t just plan on bad weather. If you’re out in the woods long enough you’ll have to spend a few afternoons inside your tent, riding out a storm. A 2 person ultralight tent will fit two, snugly.
Luckily, Modern hikers won’t have to take such a spartan approach just to find relief. There are tons of tents out there that won’t tip the scales. A tent with your preferred blend of affordability, ultralight features, and room to protect your gear is out there.
What About Footprints?
Oh, how we all wish to run off onto our adventure without worrying about packing an extra set of nylon. We’d love to say forget about them, but it’s only a matter of time before you’ll be glad you packed reinforced flooring.
To save weight, ultralight tents don’t often come with footprints. It looks great on a spec sheet but will also make them more prone to tear and weathering. Should you buy one? Unfortunately, yes.
There’s no way to argue that your tent flooring will not be more protected with a footprint underneath. However, this will undoubtedly add on a kilo, and those quickly add up. Lightweight comes first, but longevity is a close second.
Footprints will also pump invaluable insulation on colder nights and be the only thing laying between you and a pair of soaked boots. If you’re looking at breaking speed or weight records, footprints might be best left at home. More casual campers may boost the lifespan of their ultralight tents by a decade with this one simple trick.
Big Agnes FlyCreek HV UL1 and UL2
- > $$$$
- > Freestanding tent
- > Guy lines open up interior space
Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL1 and UL2
- > $$
- > Single pole system
- > Enough headroom for two people to sit up at the same time
Nemo Hornet Elite
- > $$
- > Comes with side doors
- > Fly rolls down to the floor
MSR Hubba Hubba NX 1 & 2
- > $$
- > Xtreme shield flooring
- > Enough headroom for a rainy day
Marmot Tungsten 1P & 2P UL
- > $
- > Oodles of headspace
- > Comes with a Footprint
REI Co-Op Quarter Dome SL 1 & 2
- > $$
- > Two vestibules
- > Durable materials great for less attentive campers
Sea to Summit Alto TR1 and TR2
- > $$
- > Great interior space
- > Tension Ridge Poles create great airflow
Black Diamond Distance Tent with Adapter
- > $
- > Lightweight and affordable
- > Stays warm in cold weather
Outdoor Research Helium Bivy
- > $
- > Can be unpacked in seconds
- > Weighs less than any other option
Peregrine Kestrel UL 3P Tent with Footprint
- > $$
- > Includes footprint
- > Tested in a Windtunnel
Best Ultralight Tents
Let’s get down to business. We selected these tents due to their eye-popping features, steady performance, and niche fit. They all bring something different to the table, and all would prove capable on your next big trip.
- Weight (kg): .65
- Packed dims (cm): 47 x 13
- Price: $849
Whether it’s Colorado mountain snowstorms or starry, silent nights, you can go further with the Big Agnes FlyCreek tucked away in your backpack. This beauty weighs less than 2 pounds and will provide a haven atop the country’s most scenic vistas with the proper care.
This fly creek tent is not for a casual camper. Ultralight stakes, poles, and flies ain’t cheap, and they certainly are not carefree. Big Agnes wants you to take special care during the set-up and packing of some of the most technically advanced materials out there.
If you treat it right, this tent has proven itself capable of withstanding conditions far beyond the abilities of an average shelter.
If you don’t believe us, then read about the time The Broke Backpacker writer Chris got caught in extreme weather, and the Big Agnes Fly Creek saved his balls if not his life.
“This tent literally kept me out of hypothermic conditions a few times. It’s not difficult to keep the interior of this tent dry during setup even if you’re being pummeled by the elements… I’ve never been more pleased with a tent’s performance.”
Now that’s a stunning endorsement from a field review. On paper and out in the elements, the Fly Creek UL1 has set a high bar for ultralight tents and provided thousands of adventurers a good night’s rest.
- Weighs less than your favorite novel
- Freestanding tent
- Guy lines open up interior space
- Incredibly delicate materials
- Only one front door
- Weight (kg): 1.13
- Packed Dims (cm): 46 x 14
- Price: $399
Coming from the the same great tent brand as the best ultralight tent on our list but at half the price, the Tiger Wall is a great affordable choice. You’ll be saving money by adding an extra .5 KG into your backpack. That may be heavy for a Big Agnes tent, but it still ranks as one of the lightest tents on the market.
Thru-hikers or those seeking to push the limits of ultralight hiking may scoff at 500 grams, but most of us will still be blown away by this ultra-light tent. Even semi-serious walkers and long-term trekkers planning on avoiding winter can save money and still rely upon this durable silicone-treated shelter.
The one pole system makes set-up easy but does make the tent a bit more subject to blowing over in harsh winds. On better nights, the fly opens to reveal a mesh rooftop perfect for stargazing.
While not up to the standard of the most expensive tents in its class, it saves you a few bucks and boasts some high-end features. In our eyes, this is about as great value as you’ll be able to find in a high-performance tent.
- Single pole system
- Trusted brand
- Enough headroom for two people to sit up at the same time
- Some weather resistance flaws
#3 – Nemo Hornet Elite
- Weight (kg): .94
- Packed Dims (cm): 48 x 11
- Price: $499
The hornet elite takes Nemo’s signature tent and cuts the weight in half, striving to provide the same livability and weather resistance at a size so light you won’t even notice it in your pack. Hiking duos can easily split the stuff sack in half to cut down the weight even further.
Nemo threw everything they could to make this space technically advanced, with guy-outs that stretch your sidewall and pole clips that open up valuable inches of headspace.
And still, This extreme ultralight design does have to sacrifice some interior space, but who doesn’t love inching closer to their partner on cold, ridgetop nights? If you don’t, look for another tent.
Most tents this lightweight are expected to be a bit cramped, but Nemo makes up for it by adding two doors and plenty of pocket space that allows easy access to an overhead lamp. The practically invisible mesh gives you panoramic sky views on clear nights when it’s time for lights out.
When shopping for the best ultralight tents, it’s worth committing to investing good money in the right materials. This tent makes things a bit easier by providing a durable, lightweight camping option at a relatively affordable price.
- Comes with side doors
- Fly rolls down to the floor
- Nemo offers a lifetime warranty
- Tight squeeze for two people and two packs
- Relys on extra guy lines not included
- Weight (kg): 1.75
- Packed Dims (cm): 46 x 15
- Price: $449
We think this beauty is one of the best tents out there, no matter the category. A true do-er, whether you’re looking for an ultralight hiking tent or long-term traveling, you’d be crazy not to have a tent like this one in your backpack.
It deftly balances comfort and lightweight qualities. While upwards of 1 kilo heavier than the lightest packs on our list, there is considerably more interior space in the Hubba Hubba. Loads of 2-person tents may really mean one person and a dog, but this MSR option has enough room for two people and their gear to fit easily enough.
The Hubba Hubba rainfly goes all the way down to the Xtreme shield flooring, which is more than just a marketing ploy. While Xtreme shield is a corny name, the protection offered goes well beyond face value, offering increased water resistance against flooding through your tent floor.
With good weather protection and two separate vent flaps to alleviate hot summer nights, this tent provides a bit of everything at an affordable price.
It’s not a night at the Hilton, but it’s cozy enough to provide a great end to any day in the woods.
- Xtreme shield flooring
- Enough headroom for a rainy day
- Good scores across the board
- Does a bunch of things well but doesn’t excel anywhere
- Expensive for an almost 2 kg tent
- Weight (kg): 2.38
- Packed Dims (cm): 53 x 18
- Price: $214
The everyman’s tent! If you’re not planning on logging thousands of kilometers over the next few years, dip your toes into lightweight tent and backpacking technology with this affordable tent that saves a few bucks but still packs in plenty of quality.
As you can see, the dimensions and weight of this tent are the heaviest on our list, but that price speaks for itself. Savvy campers stay realistic when deciding what gear they need. If you don’t often trek 15 miles to get to the campsite, you may not notice an extra pound or two.
Maybe you’re a few trips deep and want to start committing to an outdoor lifestyle. Before you splurge on an intense ultralight tent, learn to get more comfortable outside with this Marmot Tungsten
You can split up the packaged weight between two packs to cut down on your load, and once you get to the campsite, you’ll find this classic three-pole tent easy to set up. The cocoon rain fly drapes all the way to the ground and feels comfy through windy, drizzly nights.
This tent isn’t promising to save the world. While some other options on our list are reinventing what ultralight can do, Marmot has provided something that will get you out on weekend adventures whenever the weather permits it.
- Most affordable option on our list
- Oodles of headspace
- Comes with a Footprint
- Heaviest tent on our list
- Doesn’t pack in many ultralight features
- Weight (kg): 1.30
- Packed Dims (cm): 51 x 18
- Price: $349
REI’s house line of gear has bucked trends by being one of the only big box stores to take their own products seriously. The store sells the best tent brands in the world, but their own designs are no joke.
An ultralight tent made for everyone, The Quarter Dome is full of overhead and side pockets, and its interior is roomier than most elite ultralight tents. Still, unfortunately, two people won’t entirely be able to sit up comfortably.
The user-friendly features go from the inside out. Color-coded tent poles make it easier to get the rhythm of this tent construction down fast, and two doors create over 20 square feet of vestibule space. You can leave the tent body in the car on warmer hikes, shedding off half a kilo in weight by using the poles, rainfly, and footprint (not included) for a quick and easy breezy structure.
This Quarter Dome SL provides a thru-hiking and more extended adventure-ready tent at the price of a car camping option.
- Two vestibules
- Durable materials great for less attentive campers
- Year-long no questions asked return policy
- Have to be careful when staking this tent
- Only one roof vent, but its larger size keeps the air flowing
- Weight (kg): 1.11
- Packed Dims (cm): 45 x 11
- Price: $399
Taking comfort ultralight, the Sea to Summits unique shape allows greater interior vertical space than any other tent on our list. The teepee-style triangular design may not be the best defense against foul weather, but fair weather expeditions will relish the extra space.
The height comes from Sea to Summit’s Tension Ridge pole system, two center ridge poles that slope upwards instead of downwards. This creates valuable headspace and sends everything vertically to improve airflow, making the tent fare well against humidity.
The ridge is a work in progress, and we have noticed water tends to pool up in the curved end section of the poles, potentially leaking through your vents. This, plus the extra height, makes us cautious about taking the Alto out into severe storms. As we said earlier, if you expect severe weather then consider a specialised waterproof tent rather than an ultralight one.
Although you can’t fit three people in the tent, the stuff sacks break down into three different parts to make it easy to share the load, and each bag clips in to serve as pockets once you’ve set up camp.
All in all, we’d call this tent more sea than summit, but it packs loads of comfort and versatility into an ultralight tent.
- Great interior space
- Stuff sack splits into three, works as pockets once you hit the campsite
- Tension Ridge Poles create great airflow
- Tension Ridge poles collect water
- Poles sketchy against high winds
- Weight (kg): .75
- Packed Dims (cm): 30 x 13
- Price: $264
Black Diamond dreamed big to create this unique ultralight shelter option. This tent works with most trekking poles to save backpack space and weight by not including any poles. A single wall 30D polyester nylon construction is tough and helps the tent keep its shape with two trekking poles.
A truly revolutionary concept, but in practice, there is some real work to be done.
This tent will work great as a simple structure for a few nights but simply doesn’t have the comfort or weather resistance of most ultralight tents on the market. It’s a tight squeeze for two, and some would say it’s flat-out not doable for more than one person.
The tent holds up well in the wind, a bit surprising considering it solely relies on your trekking poles and a few stakes to hold up, but on warmer nights, there is no mesh underbelly to expose, and you’ll wake up soaked in condensation.
Trekkers who already wander with poles and don’t demand much out of their tents won’t find a more lightweight option anywhere near this price range, but make sure you understand the limitations of this tent before taking your decision.
- Lightweight and affordable
- Stays warm in cold weather
- Works great when you’re in a hurry
- Really tight for two
- Low ventilation on warm nights
- Weight (kg): .48
- Packed Dims (cm): 31 x 9
- Price: $179
A bivy sack is as minimalist as it gets. These lightweight shelters are an extra cocoon for you and your sleeping bag, and Outdoor researches Helium Bivy showcases the best the style has to offer.
While most of us won’t want a bivy as our full-time tent, the handy structure will pack down smaller than your sleeping bag, making it easy to throw in your gear bag just in case you get caught out after dark. After a few practice runs, you’ll be able to set up camp blindfolded, as there is only one integrated pole that pops up to give you some headspace.
Anyone from climbers to fastpackers and thru-hikers has relished the increased bivy technology on full display in this pack, which has advanced far enough for less picky hikers to use for longer trips. They’re even not a bad substitute for a festival tent if all you want is a place to crash.
Realistically, it’s not a whole lot more than a bit of extra weather protection for a sleeping bag, but extreme ultralight advocates and climbers will love tossing in this lightweight shelter.
- Can be unpacked in seconds
- Weighs less than any other option
- Makes you feel closer to nature
- Can’t even sit up inside
- Think of it as a raincoat for your sleeping bag
- Weight (kg): 1.7
- Packed Dims (cm): 46 x 13
- Price: $369
Looking for an ultralight tent truly built for two? There are loads of 2P tent options that will technically fit two human bodies inside, but unless you’re planning on walking months with your house on your back, The Peregrine stays light while providing space to stretch out.
Team up with the included footprint to have the vestibule space to relinquish dirty boots and dry your gear. We’ve heard good reports from couples outlasting foul weather, and the Featherlite poles promise to hold strong through harsh winds.
The only reason this tent isn’t a serious contender on our list is that it’s difficult to find. If Peregrine can get their act together, this tent will be churning out the hits.
This tent is a bit untested and often comes without any money back guarantees if you can get your hands on one.
Once inside, you’ll be glad you went for more space. The roomy interior adds on an extra 10 inches of width compared to a high-quality two-person ultralight tent while staying extraordinarily lightweight.
Campers looking to take a flyer on extra space, serviceable weather resistance, and ultralight weight tents should inquire further.
- Only tent on our list built for 3
- Includes footprint
- Tested in a Windtunnel
- Only comes in highlighter yellow
- Unproven company
Final Thoughts on The Best Ultralight Tents
That wraps up our introduction to the best ultralight tents for any budget. It may look like an expensive list coming from a Broke Backpacker, but there are a few areas where it is essential to invest in the right tools, and your shelter is one of those categories.
You won’t have to turn around because of a hole in your pants, but a hole in your tent can cancel trips, so choose wisely.
Hopefully, your tent will take you to peaks you’ve never climbed before. Make sure your tent will fit your needs in five years as well as your needs today.
It’s easy to say you’ll never go camping in the rain, but some of the most beautiful places on earth pack the most hectic weather. Don’t underestimate the power of a good vestibule design and rainfly.
What we’re saying is, high-quality tents like Big Agnes FlyCreek HV UL2 will pay for themselves the first time you win the race to camp between you and inclement weather.
Go further, do more, and tell us about your adventures with these ultralight tents in the comments below.
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