Best Ultralight Tents for Thru Hiking & Backpacking 2024

best ultralight tents

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This is a gear review about the best ultralight tents for backpacking and thru-hiking in 2024.

The Best Backpacking tents of 2024 are getting better, lighter, and more compact. This year most of the big companies such as NEMO, Big Agnes, Zpacks, Six Moon Designs, and Hyperlite Mountain Gear have awesome extra light versions of their popular backpacking ultralight tents.

In 2024 there is no need to look at heavy tents unless you plan on mountaineering or visiting the windy high latitudes, then you will need 4 Season Winter Tents.

Some ultralight hikers might even prefer an Ultralight Tarp to cut their base weight down as low as possible. But for most hikers, a lightweight backpacking tent is the best option so I’ve also included the best backpacking tents.

If you are in the market for a new tent there are many options. A good quality tent will be a compromise on cost, weight, durability, and size but its primary function is to keep you dry and comfortable. I have narrowed down the choice of the best ultralight backpacking tents below.

I have been using and testing several of the newly updated ultralight tents in recent months and have been using ultralight tents for many years. I’ve used that knowledge and experience to hand-pick only the best tents for ultralight hikers for 2024.

How We Tested

All the Ultralight Backpacking Tents in this review have been extensively evaluated and researched by the expert author who has many years of experience in Thru-Hiking, Backpacking, and Hiking. Some of the tents were purchased and some were supplied by the manufacturer. They have been rigorously tested by the author in all kinds of weather. The research, testing, and experience of the author have combined to come up with the best ultralight tents for 2024. Read the Review Policy for further details.

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Best Ultralight Backpacking Tents 2024

The Best Ultralight Backpacking Tents in 2024 are:

Best Ultralight 1P Tent – Overall

ZPacks Plex Solo

Zpacks Plex Solo Ultralight 1P Tent

Weight: 13.9 oz / 395 grams

> Ultralight
> Very small pack size
> Only needs 1 trekking pole and 6 tent stakes to set up
> Not the cheapest
> You need to purchase tent stakes and a trekking pole separately

Solo ultralight backpackers and thru-hikers are a special breed of people. And those who want to carry only the essentials with the lightest possible weight need to look no further. The Zpacks Plex Solo is the lightest tent on the market. Not only is it a lightweight tent, but it has good weather resistance and a small pack size.

The Zpacks Plex Solo trekking pole shelters only needs one trekking pole to set up. This works perfectly with the growing trend among ultralight thru-hikers to only carry one trekking pole. And it is quick and easy to set up when you arrive at camp.

For a 1 person tent, there is enough room inside but most of your gear will need to be stored in the vestibule area. If this doesn’t work for you, then a 2 person tent might be a better option, even when hiking solo.

Made with Dyneema Composite Material (formally known as Cuban Fiber) it has several advantages over nylon tents. It will not sag when wet and is very waterproof. Add to that the factory seam sealing that comes with the tent and you have a solid tent in bad weather.

Overall, the Zpacks Plex Solo is the best ultralight 1P tent for 2024.

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Best Ultralight 2P Tent – Overall

Zpacks Duplex Zip Trekking Pole Tent

Zpacks Duplex Zip Tent Review

Weight: 20.4 oz / 577 grams

> Ultralight
> Waterproof and seam sealed
> Good in bad weather
> Small pack size
> Good internal dimensions for 2 people
> Not cheap

The ZPacks Duplex Tent has been around for a few years and has cemented itself as one of the best ultralight thru-hiking tents. The addition of zips on the vestibule has improved the stormproofing of the tent which gives it more appeal for those camping in bad weather.

Like all Zpacks Tents, it is made with Dyneema (Cuben Fiber) which is not only lightweight but strong and has the added advantage of not sagging when it is wet like nylon tents. The recent addition of the zips makes this tent superior in bad weather.

When I tested this tent I liked the way the bottom of the zips are attached to the tent pegs via a cord and hooks system. This well thought out design is not seen on too many other tents and allows you to keep the tent pitched solidly when the zips are closed, open, or with only one side of the vestibule open. It also allows the zips to be easily zipped all the way to the bottom without difficulty. While it is fiddly to use the very first time, it is a simple feature like this that sets this tent apart from many others in the field.

The Zpacks Duplex Zip tent is a non-freestanding tent. It needs trekking poles or poles from Zpacks that are not included in either the weight or cost of the tent 2.5 oz (71 grams).

I was able to easily set up this tent with 6 ultralight tent stakes, but 8 tent stakes will make the tent more bombproof in windy weather.

The internal dimension of the Duplex is sufficient for two backpackers to sleep comfortably. But your backpack and gear will need to be stored in the vestibule area. There are handly internal storage pockets that are great for your phone, PLB, and headlamp.

The Zip version is only about $50 more expensive and 1.4 oz / 38 grams heavier than the non-zip version, but in my opinion, it is a much better option. The only caveat would be if you were hiking in areas that were dry most of the time with only occasional rain. PCT thru-hike would be a good example of when the non-zip version would be better as there will be a few days of rain on the trail.

Overall, the Zpacks Duplex Zip is a well-designed ultralight 2-person tent. It is best suited for ultra-lightweight Thru Hikers or backpackers wanting one of the best and lightest trekking pole shelters on the market. The zips on the vestibule offer superior waterproof levels from this already bombproof tent.

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Read the full in-depth review of the Zpacks Duplex Zip Tent.

Best Ultralight 3P Tent – Overall

Zpacks Triplex Trekking Pole Tent

Zpacks Triplex review

Weight: 21.6 oz / 612 grams

> Ultralight
> Waterproof and seam sealed
> Good in bad weather
> Small pack size
> A bit tight for 3 people, but perfect for 2 people
> Not cheap

When it comes to ultralight 3-person tents or a 2-person tent with a generous amount of room then this could be for you. The tent is made with Dyneema to be as light and strong as possible.

The Zpacks Triplex comes in both a zip version and a standard (non-zip) version. The zip version is about $50 more expensive and adds a couple of ounces. If you are consistently trekking in areas with bad weather then this will be the best option for you. If you are hiking in areas with generally good weather then same some money and weight with the standard version.

I have extensively used and tested the non-zip version and find it to be very roomy as a two-person tent and sufficient as a 3 person tent. In fact, I think this tent would be perfect for two people with 1 child or even a dog.

This is a 3-person trekking pole tent so you will need a set of trekking poles or use the Zpacks Tent Poles. You will also need to add your own tent stakes to set up this tent as they do not come with the tent as standard. And like all trekking pole tents, once you have set it up a couple of times it is very easy and quick to set up.

The Zpacks Triplex is a very durable tent and should last several years with care, or around 300 plus nights of use.

The Zpacks Triplex is the best ultralight 3-person tent and is one of the current editor’s choice tents for 2024.

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Read the full in-depth review of the Zpacks Triplex Tent.

Best Freestanding Ultralight Tent

Big Agnes Fly Creek Carbon

Big Agnes Fly Creek Carbon Ultralight Tent Review

Weight: 1P 16 oz / 454 grams
Weight: 2P 18 oz / 510 grams

> Semi-free standing
> Extremely Lightweight
> Best as a thru-hiking tent for hikers who are very careful with their gear
> Prohibitively expensive
> Extremely Fragile
> Tunnel-style tent can feel like crawling into a cave

Take the design of the Fly Creek add Carbon Fibre Poles and marry that with Dyneema Composite Fabric and you have the Big Agnes Fly Creek Carbon.

The Fly Creek HV2 Carbon is a double wall tent that weighs only 18 oz / 510 grams. The one person version, the Fly Creek Carbon HV 1P weighs 18 oz / 510 grams.

Made from Dyneema fabric (previously known as Cuban Fibre), this represents a quantum leap in lightweight free-standing tents. But let me make one thing very clear. These backpacking tents are not only super lightweight but much more delicate than other tents. Let me explain.

The poles are made from Carbon Fibre which is not only very strong and lightweight. They are stronger and more expensive than other tent poles but like all tents, tent poles do break. When that happens with carbon fiber, it will splinter and shatter.

Overall, this tent is for the very niche ultralight thru-hiker who understands that this tent must be cared for and only really used by experienced people. While it is a promising alternative to the ultralight Dyneema Tents from Hyperlight Mountain Gear and ZPacks I am willing to wait a while to see how this tent evolves in the coming years.

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Best Lightweight 1P Tent – Overall

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Mid 1P Tent

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Mid 1P tent

Weight: 1 lb. 1 oz / 480 grams

> Very Lightweight Tent
> Stormproof
> Small pack size
> Good warranty and after sales service from HMG
> Not the cheapest tent

The newly updated Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ultramid 1 person tent is a very strong tent that will work very well in bad weather. It is only a couple of grams heavier than the Zpacks Plex Solo and is a worthy lightweight tent for backpackers and thru-hikers.

Made with sag-proof Dyneema material which is super waterproof. No need to worry when the weather turns bad as this 1-person tent has you covered. While you would not want to be tentbound in this tent for several days it is good to know it will not let you down in bad weather.

Overall, the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ultramid 1P Tent is very solid and best suited to someone wanting one of the lightest 1-person tents with the maximum amount of weatherproof ability.

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Best Lightweight Tent – Overall

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Unbound 2P Tent

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Unbound 2P Tent Review

Weight: 24 oz / 680 grams

> Ultralight
> Very Waterproof
> Great Waterproof Zips
> Perfect for Thru-Hiking
> 2 vestibules
> Not the Cheapest
> You need to use trekking poles
> Tent Stakes not included

The Hyperlite Mountain Gear Unbound 2P Tent is the newest ultralight single-wall tent on the market in 2024. This impressive brand-new tent from HMG is sure to become one of the more popular thru-hiking tents on the trails this year.

Made with one of the best materials for ultralight tents, Dyneema Composite Fiber. When I used and tested this tent I liked the very small pack size and ultralight weight. The tent is not only lightweight, but it is durable and it is one of the best in class when it comes to its waterproof ability.

I liked the 2 large vestibules that are big enough to store your gear when in the backcountry. The waterproof zips on the vestibule are a nice touch, and so are the magnetic clips that you can use to keep the vestibule doors open when you want more ventilation in the tent.

This 2-person tent has enough room for most backpackers. I am not the tallest person, but I was able to sleep in the tent and still have enough room to store my backpack at my feet. So, even tall hikers will fit inside without facing the issue of having their heads or feet touching the ends of the tent.

The tent has similar dimensions to the Zpack tent mentioned above. I tested and used these tents together. They follow a similar design to many other ultralight trekking pole tents. The generous-sized vestibule and waterproof zips make this an improvement on many of the styles from other manufacturers. While this does add a bit of weight, I believe it is worth it for the benefit of having a fully enclosed tent, especially in inclement weather.

Overall, I’m struggling to find too many negative to say about this tent. The Newly Released Hyperlite Mountain Gear Unbound 2P tent is impressive. It is right up there as the best ultralight backpacking tent, which is sure to be extremely popular on thru-hiking trails this year.

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Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ultramid 2 Review

Weight: 18.7 oz / 534 grams

> Lightweight backpacking tent
> Is a true 4 season tent
> Spacious
> Sturdy and Resilient 
> Large Vestibule
> Good warranty and service
> Premium Product which is Expensive
> Zippers Require Care

The Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ultramid 2 is one of the best lightweight tents made from ultra-light Dyneema Composite Fiber (Cuban Fibre) Tent.

It has a trail weight of only 18.85oz / 534grams. It is more spacious, lighter, and made from a much stronger grade of fabric than Zpacks.

The higher grade Dyneema material makes the tent more expensive. It also needs the addition of a Waterproof Floor and Mosquito mesh, weighing 22.1 oz / 627 grams, if used in mosquito country. That brings the total tent weight including the floor and mosquito net to

Also, the mesh insert is solid and does not require the use of a ground sheet to protect the fabric. It is tough.

The Ultramid 2 is expensive and you also need to purchase the Full Mesh Inner tent body. That is a huge outlay for a lightweight tent. It is good to know it is covered by a good warranty. But it is expensive. Is it worth the price? I asked a couple of seasoned adventurers. 

Bethany ‘Fidget’ Hughes and Lauren ‘Neon’ Reed used this backpacking tent in Patagonia on their epic journey thru-hiking the whole length of South America. We were impressed with the interior space inside the tent, as we both have tall torsos and prefer a fair amount of personal space.

The double trekking pole/tent pole middle created an easy marker as to whose side was which and were able to sleep comfortably with our gear lining the edge of the tent.

We opted for the floorless mesh insert which provided protection from the biting flies. As with almost all outdoor gear I have used, the first thing to fail was the zipper, so maintenance and periodically lubricating the zipper is advisable.

The Dyneema fabric was durable, and extremely light, and the vents at the top as well as controlling the amount of space between the base of the tent and the ground allowed for good ventilation and could be adjusted to prioritize warmth.

It was quick to set up and has good weather resistance, being able to withstand gale force winds, hail, snow, and driving rain. All in all, the best ultralight tent I have ever used.

Follow their incredible Journey from the very southern tip of South America to the northern tip of North America. A multi-year journey of adventure.  –  Her Odyssey on FaceBook

The Hyperlite Mountain Gear is the best pyramid-design backpacking tent for 2024. The combination of a light tent weight, great weather resistance, and a quite large floor area make this the best 2-person backpacking tent at the moment.

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Best Budget Ultralight Tent

Six Moon Designs Lunar Review

Six Moon Design Lunar Solo Review

Weight: 26 oz / 740 grams

> Ultralight
> Nice sized vestibule which is big enough for a backpack
> Only needs 1 trekking pole to set up
> Great Price
> 1P only but there is a 2P Duo is a great option for 2 people.

The Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo is an awesome ultralight trekking pole-style tent. This tent is best suited to the ultralight solo hiker who wants a quality tent built to withstand a long-distance thru-hike.

If you are planning to thru-hike then you will probably be using ultralight trekking poles so they will come in handy to set up this tent and save you some money as you will not need to buy the separate poles to set up this tarp-style tent.

There is plenty of ventilation on this tent which will make it well suited to damp trails, however, this would be a perfect tent for a solo hiker wanting the best budget ultralight tent for the PCT. It can’t compete with the Zpacks range for weight but it is quite a bit cheaper.

Overall, the is one of the best budget ultralight tents on the market. Best suited for ultralight solo hikers on a budget.

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Best 2P Backpacking Tent

Nemo Hornet OSMO Review

Nemo Hornet OSMO Tent Review

Weight – 1P 29 oz / 822 grams
Weight – 2P 33 oz / 948 grams
Weight – 3P 45 oz / 1280 grams
> Good value for money
> Lightweight semi-freestanding tent
> Solid in bad weather
> Great warranty and after-sales service
> The tent pegs bend easily if you use a rock on hard ground
> The inside mesh is prone to tearing near the pole connection loop

The upgraded Nemo Hornet OSMO 2P Tent is one of my favorite backpacking tents. I used the previous model of the Nemo Hornet for well over 500 nights. Almost every detail of the tent has been reviewed, upgraded, improved, or replaced, making this an almost brand new model of the tent from Nemo.

The Nemo Hornet comes in three sizes, namely the 1P, 2P and 3P. I must admit I prefer the Nemo Hornet OSMO 2P version with the two doors and two vestibules, even when hiking solo. I consider it one of the best lightweight 2-person tents.

The Interior space of the Nemo Hornet OSMO 2-person tent is a tight squeeze for two people. In fact, I would say if you want to use this tent for two people then consider the slightly larger Nemo Dagger or similar.

The tent poles are the new featherlite NSL poles from DAC which are very light and very strong.

The newly updated OSMO ripstop material reduces sag when wet which has always been an issue with most tents. While it reduces sag by a claimed 300% it is yet to match the tents made from Dyneema which offers the best in class anti-sag material.

The only issue is the inside mesh near the pole connection loop is prone to ripping over a long period of time.

Overall, it is one of the best lightweight hiking tents on the market. There is a reason you will see this tent on so many backpacking trails at the moment. It is a good solid choice. I prefer the lightweight 2 Person tent which has more interior space for gear storage and is my favorite choice.

This would have to be the Best Tent for the Appalachian Trail.

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Click to Read the full Nemo Hornet Tent Review

Best 1P Backpacking Tent

Nemo Hornet OSMO Elite Review

Nemo Hornet Elite OSMO Review

Weight – 1P 23 oz / 657 grams
– 2P 27 oz / 879 grams

> One of the best lightweight semi-freestanding tent
> Solid in bad weather
> Ultra Lightweight Tent
> Great warranty and after-sales service
> Not Cheap
> In very heavy rain water can splash through the mesh

The Nemo Hornet Elite OSMO is essentially a lighter specification version of the Nemo Hornet. It uses lighter recycled Denier Fabric on the tent body and it uses more mesh than the regular OSMO Hornet to reduce the packed weight by around 5oz. And the lighter tent floor helps keep the weight down too.

The result is that this is one of the lightest semi-freestanding double wall tents. The 2P version has two doors and two vestibules that are quite roomy.

The Nemo Hornet Elite is a bit of a tight squeeze for two people. There will not be too much room for backpacking gear inside the tent.

The Nemo Hornet OSMO Elite is more expensive than the normal Nemo Hornet. Is it worth the extra price for this ultralight tent? If you are looking at going ultra light then I would say yes.

Overall, the Nemo Hornet OSMO Elite is one of the lightest semi-freestanding ultralight tents that would be the best backpacking tent for a solo hiker wanting more interior space than a one-person tent in one ultra light package.

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Best 3P Backpacking Tent

Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL3 Review

Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL3 Backpacking Tent

Weight: 1P 34 oz /964 grams
Weight: 2P 43 oz / 1219 grams
Weight: 3P 3 lb. 8 oz / 1588 grams

> Good value for money for the UL version
one of the best lightweight freestanding tent
> Solid in bad weather
> Lightweight, the platinum version is the best ultralight freestanding tent.
> A little heavier than other tents in this review

I used Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 while hiking parts of the Pacific Crest Trail and Bikepacking through Mexico. I love this backpacking tent. But is the 3-person version that is really great as a 3P Backpacking tent. While it is on the heavy side, there is a lot to like

The Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL3 is one of the more spacious ultralight tents. It has a large interior space for a 3-person lightweight backpacking tent. There are two doors and two vestibules that are big enough to cook in if the weather is bad.

Many people report that the tents are slightly less waterproof than Nemo but as I have used both I believe they are equal in their waterproofness.

Overall this is one of the best freestanding backpacking tents, in fact, it is the best 3P backpacking tent for 2024. A good balance between the interior size, cost, and light-packed weight. Recommended for a couple wanting extra room or a generous sized three-person backpacking tent.

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Best Backpacking Tunnel Tent

Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL

Big Agnes HV UL Solution Dye Tent

Weight: 1P 27 oz / 765 grams
Weight: 2P 31 oz / 878 grams

> Semi-free standing
> Lightweight
> Reasonable Price considering how light it is
> Tunnel-style tent can feel like crawling into a cave
> Not much room inside

The Big Agnes Fly Creek backpacking tent is one of the most popular lightweight semi-freestanding tents on the long-distance hiking trails of the world.

I thru-hiked half the Pacific Crest Trail with this tent. It is very easy to set up and works quite well at keeping the bad weather outside.

I must admit that I am not the biggest fan of tunnel-style tents. It feels like crawling into a cave. I much prefer side entry tents so while the style of the tent does not work for me, everything else works great.

Having said that, there are many fans of this tent for good reason. This is one of the lightest freestanding tents on the market at 29oz /822 grams for the 1P and 32oz / 907 grams for the 2P.

If you want an ultralight freestanding tent this might be your tent. Not too many bad things to say about it, well, except that it is not a side entry tent. When it comes to an ultralight double walled tent, this is one of the better ones out there.

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Testing the Zpacks Zip Around Sleeping Bag Quilt and Zpacks Triplex Ultralight Tent
Testing the Zpacks Triplex near the beach

Best of the Rest

The following tents are not on the main list but not because they were not good enough but because the ones above were awesome and some of them I have not had a chance to test personally yet.

  • Nemo Dagger OSMO – The Nemo Dagger OSMO is a freestanding version of the very popular Nemo Hornet. It has a better pole configuration that gives a bit more interior space for two people sharing this backpacking tent.
  • Macpac Duolight – On the heavy side the Macpac Duolight is only available in Australia and New Zealand. The Macpac Duolight 2-person bushwalking / tramping tent has a larger interior space than all the other tents in this review and is the only tent with a true bathtub floor that is more waterproof than most rain jackets with a massive 10000 hydrostatic head rating! Going into really wet areas and don’t mind your tent being twice as heavy then this could be the tent for you.
  • REI Co-op Quarter Dome SL – The REI Co-Op Quarter Dome is one of the best budget backpacking tents. It is a good compromise between cost, lightweight, and good functionality. As a quality budget option, it is a worthy contender.
  • MSR Hubba Hubba NX – I previously owned the older MSR Hubba Hubba and loved the interior space, dual doors, and vestibules but it was a heavy tent in comparison to all the others in this review. The MSR Hubba Hubba NX is light but not ultralight, good but not great but very functional. It is a good choice for couples wanting a good quality larger 2-person tent at a reasonable price.
  • Tarptent Stratosphere Li – The Tarptent Stratosphere Li is one of the lightest Dyneema tents but very expensive.
  • Tarptent Double Rainbow Li – Another lightweight tent option from Tarptent that is also very light and expensive.
  • Tarptent Aeon Li – Ultralight and weighs under a pound/half a kilo, and a strong one-person tent.
  • Durston X Mid – The Durston X Mid is another lightweight backpacking tent option
  • 3F UL Gear Lanshan 2 – The 3F UL Gear Lanshan 2 is a lightweight budget tent that performs well and is a fraction of the cost of other tents.
  • Gossamer Gear The One – The Gossamer Gear The One is a good lightweight one-person tent.
  • Gossamer Gear The Two – The Gossamer Gear The Two is a good lightweight two-person tent.
Gear Testing tents under the stars
Gear Testing the Nemo Hornet Tent under the stars

Ultralight Tent Comparison Table

ZPacks Plex Solo13.9 ozDyneema1P
ZPacks Duplex1 lb. 3 ozDyneema2P
Zpacks Triplex1 lb. 6.6 ozDyneema3P
Big Agnes Fly Creek HV2 Carbon 2P1 lb. 2 ozDyneema2P
Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo1 lb. 10 ozSilicone Coated Polyester1P
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Mid 1P1 lb. 1 ozDyneema1P
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Unbound 2P Tent1 lb. 8 ozDyneema2P
Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL 3P2 lb. 10 ozNylon3P
Nemo Hornet Elite Osmo 1P1 lb. 13 ozNylon1P
Nemo Hornet Osmo 2P2 lb. 1 ozNylon2P
Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL3P3 lb. 8 ozNylon3P
Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL1P & UL2P1 lb. 11 ozNylon1P, 2P
Source: Manufacturers


When it comes to Backpacking Tents price is important and you don’t need to spend a fortune on a tent. Most of the tents in this review are not cheap, they are all the best lightweight tents available at the moment. With that high price comes good quality, a good warranty, and many nights of use in the backcountry.

Overall, when it comes to value for money and a lightweight backpacking tent the money is well spent and a tent will be considered one of the biggest purchases you will make.

Zpacks Duplex Zip interior and vestibule
The Zpacks Duplex Zip is on the pricey side but has enough room for 2 people and super lightweight

Packaged Weight vs. Trail Weight

Packaged Weight refers to the weight of the tent including all the tent pegs and tent bags, Tent poles and pole bags, guy ropes, tent bags, and repair kit.

Trail Weight is sometimes called the minimum trail weight and usually refers to the weight of the tent body, fly, and poles only. It rarely includes things such as stuff sacks or tent pegs.

Bathtub Floor

A bathtub floor refers to the heavy-duty floor that lines the underneath side of the inner tent. It is waterproof and usually covers enough of the floor before it rises up to the mesh section of the doors. The bathtub floor is super important in keeping the rain and moisture from entering from under the floor of the tent.

Bathtub floor in snow and heavy rain
Glad to have a bathtub floor in snow and heavy rain

Best Material for Tents

The most common material used in tent construction is Silnylon and Dyneema which is also known as Cuban Fiber.

Silnylon is a cheap and lightweight rip-stop nylon that is impregnated with silicon and made to be waterproof. It is made in different thicknesses which are often referred to as denier. 20 denier fabric is considered ultralight.

Dyneema Composite Fiber is super expensive but has superior strength to weight. It also performs well as a tent material as it will not sag when it gets wet, unlike Silnylon.

Best material for tents Silnylon and Dyneema
Silnylon and Dyneema are two of the best fabrics for tents

Tunnel Tent vs Side Entry Tent

When Tunnel Tents Are Better

Tunnel Tents have either one or two entry locations at either end of the tent. When sleeping inside the tent the head is at the entry of the tent. These tents generally have superior protection against storms and strong wind. They generally have much better weather protection.

On the downside, it can feel like the hiker is entering and exiting a cave as they crawl inside and pivot around into the sleep position.

Why are Side Entry Tents Better

Side entry tents are so much easier to live with. The hiker can enter and exit the tent a lot easier. There is often more storage space in the vestibule of these tents. In bad weather, they are usually not as strong but can make cooking in the vestibule easier on most of these styles of tents.

Which is Better a Tunnel Tent or a Side Entry Tent?

Having used and tents both styles of these tents over the years I have a personal preference for side-entry tents and believe that the best backpacking tents are side-entry tents. They just work better for most people including myself.

Tunnel Tent or Side entry tent in use in Yellowstone NP on the CDT
Tunnel Tent or Side entry tent in use in Yellowstone NP on the CDT

Interior Space

Interior space is divided into 3 sections, the interior floor dimensions, the height of the tent also known as the peak height, and the slope of the tent.

  • Interior Floor Dimensions are a compromise between having the largest amount of space for the minimum amount of weight yet making the design strong enough to withstand bad weather. The tent should be large enough for tall hikers and if it is a 2-person backpacking tent there should be enough room for both hikers inside the tent. But it is a compromise, more interior floor area equals more weight and for a tent to be ultralight it will be a tight squeeze for most couples. Often couples prefer a 3-person tent for the sole purpose of having more interior floor area.
  • Peak Height is essentially how tall the tent is. Most people want to be able to sit up inside the tent without their heads hitting the roof. Lower tents offer better weather resistance at the cost of comfort. Like most people, I prefer a tent I can sit in.
  • Slope refers the how steep of an angle the tent walls are. Steep walls mean the tent will shed water easier but that comes at the cost of the ability to give good weather resistance in very windy weather.
Interior space of a tent
The interior space of a 1P tent is just big enough for 1 person but not much gear


A footprint is a small layer of material that goes in between the ground and the floor of the tent. The purpose is to give additional protection to the floor of the tent. In most cases, this is not needed and is a waste of money, and only adds extra weight.

There are times when a footprint can be a good idea such as when camping in deserts or areas with sharp thorns or muddy conditions when the extra layer of protection can assist.

Most manufacturers make their own custom footprints but most are heavy and expensive. A cheaper option is to get a hold of some Tyvek which is used in buildings for control of moisture. Ultralight ground sheets can be made by using Polycryo which is used by painters as a drop sheet.

Overall, the use of a footprint will be up to you. I have used them on numerous occasions and personally, I don’t like them. But when hiking through areas with sharp thorns and appreciate the added protection for an inflatable sleeping mat.

1P Tent vs 2P Tent vs 3P tent

A 2-person backpacking tent is more popular than a 1-person ultralight tent. A solo hiker can benefit from the additional space and ability to hike with another person from time to time.

  • 1P Tent – A 1 person tent is usually ultralight but is a tight squeeze for the backpacker and their gear. With most of these small tents, the gear needs to be stored outside the inner tent in the vestibule. They should be long enough and tall enough so even big hikers can fit inside without touching the walls of the tent. Most 1 person tents come with only one vestibule and one door.
  • 2P Tent – 2-person tents are the most popular as both solo hikers and couples can fit inside. But let’s be honest most 2-person tents are a tight squeeze and there is little room inside for two people and certainly not their gear which must be stored outside. Most two-person tents come with two doors and two vestibules.
  • 3P Tents – 3 Person tents are the favorites of couples and friends who go backpacking together due to the extra interior room. Some couples go hiking with their dogs and love the extra room of the 3 P tents. Often the 2 doors and vestibules are not needed to store too much gear as there is enough inside. The 3-person tent is also enjoyed by young families wanting to take a young child on short overnight backpacking trips.

Doors and Vestibules

The doors and vestibules of tents are almost as important as other interior floor space. Having 2 doors and 2 vestibules makes the living arrangements for people sharing a tent so much better. Solo hikers only need a single door and vestibule for all their gear and need it to be big enough to live comfortably in even the worst weather.

Like most people, I prefer 2 doors and vestibules but not for the same reason as most people. An added benefit of having two vestibules and two doors has more to do with the weather. When you set up a tent at night perfectly to have protection from the wind and rain only to have it change direction overnight. The ability to use the other door and vestibule for cooking or getting in and out of the tent when it is raining or very windy is an added benefit.

Twin Door and Twin Vestibule Hyperlite Mountain Gear Unbound 2P Ultralight Tent
Testing the HMG Unbound 2P while camping near the beach

Single Wall vs Double Wall

Single wall tents are usually much lighter and are usually non-freestanding tents that require the use of trekking poles to set up. When combined with fabrics such as Dyneema they make for a very lightweight backpacking tent.

Double wall tents usually have an interior tent with lots of mesh for ventilation and can often be set up without the outer tent fly making this a great option for hot weather travel in the tropics or on those warm summer nights. These tents are better at dealing with internal condensation as the inner tent has the ability to protect against drips.

Testing the BA Copper Spur in the desert of Mexico. The inner tent adds to the ventilation.

Tent Ventilation

Being able to reduce condensation on cold wet nights is equally important and allows the breeze to cool the inside of the tent when it is super hot. Double-walled tents are better when it comes to ventilation and have the added benefit of having the inner section of the tent that can be pitched without the fly.

When it is set up it is important that the tent is designed to be able to catch whatever cross breeze there is to reduce the internal humidity and reduce condensation.

Well ventilated inner tent
Testing the ventilation of the Nemo Hornet while camping on the CDT in Wyoming.

Weather Resistance

Most of the tents in this review will withstand the sort of elements that the environment will throw at you during 3 season backpacking trips. They will withstand a good amount of wind, light dustings of snow, and heavy rain. They will all work well in the tropics as they have good ventilation and will insulate in all but the coldest temperatures below freezing.

Weather protection of tents during a light dusting of snow.
Testing the Big Agnes Copper Spur for weather resistant in snow on the PCT.

Tent Pegs and Poles

Tent pegs come in all shapes, sizes, and weights.

  • Tent Pegs – The ultralight hiker will prefer to pay for some super lightweight pegs made from titanium. These are strong, light, and expensive but for the gram-counting thru-hiker, they are worth the money. Most of us will be satisfied with the aluminum tent pegs provided by the manufacturer. If you want to upgrade, take a look at The Best Tent Stakes Review.
  • Tent Poles – Tents poles are so much better now than they were 20 years ago. The light aluminum poles withstand strong wind before they break. All manufacturers can send out sections of poles if they break. the most common way of breaking a pole is not having the male and female sections of the pole seated together correctly. Some tents require the use of Trekking Poles to hold the tent up.
  • Carbon Fiber Tent Poles – Carbon Fiber tent poles are the latest development in the effort to save weight. These poles are still in their first years of use and will certainly get better with time. Just note that carbon poles have a horrible side effect of shattering when they break. So is the extra weight saving worth it just yet!
Tent pegs and poles being tested with ultralight tents
Tent pegs from most manufacturers are great but Titanium is lighter, stronger, and more expensive.


When looking to buy a tent it is important to know exactly what the intended use will be. Some people will want the best tent for thru-hiking, others will want the tent for car camping, others love to go canoeing and some will want the tent to be used for Bikepacking, bicycle touring, or any other outdoor activity. When searching for a tent try to have the end user in mind and find a tent that will adapt to whatever use you intend.

Using a tent that is adaptable for hiking and bicycle touring
Bike Touring with the Nemo Hornet at high altitude over 4000 meters in Ecuador.

Tent Care and Repairing Zips

Tents need to be washed regularly and zips need to be clean and regularly maintained. With a little bit of regular maintenance, your tent will last for 100s if not 1000s of nights before needing to be replaced.

Cleaning a Tent

A tent should be washed in mild soap when needed and only ever stored when it is completely dry. Failure to store a tent when it is dry will cause mold and other nasties to destroy the tent fabric.

Looking after Zips

Zips are a part that will eventually wear out. Keep the teeth of the zipper clean and lubricate from time to time with a dry lubricant only. My preference is to run a candle along the teeth to allow the wax to sit on the teeth and act as a dry lubricant.

How to Fix Zipper Slides

Zipper slides will eventually wear out and need to be replaced. Usually, the whole tent has been used and abused by then and is completely worn out and needs to be replaced. If a zipper slide fails to close the tent as in the photo above it can be easily solved by using pliers to crimp the edges of the slider ever so slightly so the slide grips the teeth better. Don’t overdo this or you will not be able to open or close the tent.

Zipper slides are easily fixed when they fail to close the teeth of the zips.


Here are the best ultra-lightweight tents for thru-hiking and backpacking in 2024.

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Another one of the Best Backpacking Gear Reviews from BikeHikeSafari.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does an ultralight tent weigh?

An ultralight backpacking tent will weigh less than 2 lb / 900 grams and not only be lightweight but compact and able to withstand moderately strong wind.

Are Ultralight tents worth it?

Ultralight tents will usually be a bit more expensive than lightweight hiking and backpacking tent. Usually, the material is lighter, not as strong, and not as waterproof as heavier tents. In some cases, ultralight tents use materials such as Dyneema which is not only strong and light but also expensive.

How long do ultralight tents last?

Ultralight tents are not as durable as most other tents thus usually will last between 300-600 nights of use. For most people, durable ultralight tents will be many years of use.

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BikeHikeSafari Gear Review Process

The author, Brad McCartney from BikeHikeSafari is a small independent adventurer and outdoor gear tester who owns and runs

BikeHikeSafari is not part of a large blog network and is proudly independent. All reviews on this site are independent and honest gear reviews of outdoor products by the author.

The author, Brad McCartney is a very experienced triple crown thru-hiker, adventurer, and bike tourer having spent 1000s of nights sleeping in a tent and sleeping bag (Read more). He was a manager of an outdoor retail store and is very experienced in what is important when using and testing gear for reviews like this.

BikeHikeSafari will never receive any money for reviews and they do not accept sponsored reviews on this website. All the comments about the gear reviews are from the author based on his years of experience. Hope this independent review was helpful for you.

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About the Author:
Brad is an Australian who has completed the hiking Triple Crown after he hiked the Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide Trail and Appalachian Trail. He has hiked on every continent (except Antarctica) and has cycled from Alaska to Ecuador. He is an expert on outdoor gear currently living in Chile.

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