Choosing the Best Ultralight Tent for Backpacking and Camping

best ultralight tent

best ultralight tent

Purchasing the best ultralight tent for camping and backpacking isn’t as simple as closing your eyes and pointing. Today’s tent offerings run the gamut from highly sophisticated to cheap knock-offs that look good if you squint your eyes but tend to provide precious little by way of comfort or protection from the elements. Below we’re going to list our choices for the 3 best ultralight backpacking tents and then go into detail on each so that you can make an informed decision regarding which is best for you.

Why Backpacking?

Backpacking is one of the best ways for inhabitants of the world’s increasingly large and sprawling concrete jungles to get away from it all and recharge their batteries. Hiking in the great outdoors allows us to shake off the cynicism and stress of the modern world and has benefits far beyond just being able to breathe fresh air including:

  • Improved outlook on life.
  • Greater cardiovascular fitness.
  • Reduced risk of heart attack.
  • Better quality of sleep.
  • Reduced risk of depression.
  • Increased muscle mass and bone density.

Backpacking is most beneficial when it occurs over the course of several days which means spending nights in the great outdoors as well. In that case you’ll need a first class outdoor tent to protect you from the elements and provide a safe, comfortable mini-environment. Some of the criteria that go into determining a first class camping tent include:

  • Livability – It’s important that your tent be able to keep out the rain but it’s just as important that you feel comfortable spending extended periods of time inside it. Nasty weather can often strand you in a tent for long hours so you need to be able to relax and stretch out inside without feeling like you’re in a sardine can. You should never feel “trapped” in a camping tent.
  • Weight – You don’t want to be lugging 40 pounds of tent around for days at a time. A great tent should not only be comfortable and provide safety from the wrath of Mother Nature, it should also be lightweight so that it doesn’t impede your ability to move about with it in your backpack.
  • Ease of Set-Up – If you’ve spent the day hiking between summits above the tree line the last thing you need when it comes time to establish your camp for the night is a tent that requires a degree in engineering to set up. A great tent should go together in minutes in a way that’s both easy and instinctive.
  • Weather Resistance – A lightweight tent that’s easy to set up isn’t worth much if it doesn’t keep out the rain or snow or if it crumbles in the face of a stiff wind. Your tent should provide a solid, reliable shield between yourself and the elements. No buts.
  • Size While it’s unrealistic to expect an ultralight tent to be the size of your living room it should nonetheless enfold enough space that you can easily and comfortably sit up, change your clothes, store your backpack (sans food of course, unless you want wildlife sniffing around) and, of course, sleep without ever feeling cramped.
  • Durability – If your tent fits all the above criteria but begins to fray around the edges after just one or two camping trips you’ve wasted your money. A high quality ultralight backpacking tent should last for years, even with regular use.

With all that said then here are our choices for the 3 best ultralight tents:

  • Archer Outdoor Gear 1 Person Camping Tent
  • Item Dimensions (folded): 4 x 5 x 16”
  • Dimensions (open): 83 x 40 x 43”
  • Price : $74.99
  • easy-setup enclosure includes pegs
  • Nemo Dagger 2Person Ultralight Camping Tent
  • Item Dimensions (folded) : 6 x 10 x 23"
  • Dimensions (open) : 90 x 50 x 42”
  • Price : $399.95
  • use special light diffusing fabric
  • Himaget Outdoor 2 Person Camping Tent
  • Item Dimensions (folded) : 4.4 x 6.8 x 18.9"
  • Dimensions (open) : 83 x 55 x 43”
  • Price : $85.99
  • easily entry/exit and keep the inner air more breathable

Best Ultralight Tent Breakdown and Features


Archer Outdoor Gear 1 Person Backpacking Tent

Backpacking technology has made substantial progress over the past decade or so. The ultralight camping tents of the late 20th century seem hopelessly overweight and difficult to set up when compared to today’s tents. The Archer Outdoor Gear 1 Person Backpacking Tent is a perfect example. It’s an incredibly lightweight 4.25 pounds (2 kg) and is easy to set up even for outdoor novices. Inside the Archer provides all the room any back country aficionado would need whether they were on a quick weekend excursion or a more involved trek encompassing a week or more.

Though the walls of the Archer feel gossamer thin and fragile they are anything but and provide superb protection from the elements.

Features of the Archer Outdoor Gear 1 Person Backpacking Tent

Archer Outdoor Gear 1 Person Backpacking Tent

Rated 5 out of 5 from 10 Customers. click on Image for discounted Price

The Archer says it’s an ultralight 1 person tent but if that’s the case it’s one of the larger 1 person tents on the market. You could, in a pinch, fit a second person inside fairly comfortably. It’s that large. The ultra-thin 190t polyester fabric feels as though it might cave to the wind but it’s actually extremely strong and can withstand all but the most intense gusts. The ripstop, double layer, waterproof floor provides you a dry, warm foundation on which to sleep well while you dream of summits to come. The Archer 1 Person Backpacking Tent is also perhaps the most attractive ultra-lightweight tent on the market with some real thought having been put into the tent’s appearance.

Nature is nothing if not unpredictable so the last thing you want is to have to worry about whether or not your ultralight tent is up to the task of protecting you, even under challenging conditions. The Archer certainly is and for that and the other reasons laid out above it earns its place on our short list of the 3 best ultralight camping tents available. One more benefit of the Archer is that it won’t break your bank to pick one up. Click the link below to find the most current price on Amazon.

Nemo Dagger 2P Ultralight Backpacking Tent

Nemo Dagger 2P Ultralight Backpacking Tent

Rated 4.8 out of 5 from 7 Customers. Click On Image For Pricing.

While the Archer 1 Person Ultralight clocks in at a svelte 4.25 pounds the Nemo Dagger 2 Person Ultralight Camping Tent goes one further and tips the scales at a ridiculously trim 3.5 pounds (1.6 kg). The Dagger is another one of those tents that were unthinkable just a decade or so ago and is the result of constant refinement and improvements in materials and construction techniques. The extremely light nature of the Dagger also belies the fact that this is a legitimate 2 person tent, not a single person tent masquerading as a 2 person tent. Even with the tent playing host to 2 people there is still plenty of leg and elbow room and you’ll never feel overcrowded, even if you’re hunkered down for a couple of days waiting out the weather in the Alaskan backcountry. With the rainfly off the Dagger has a wonderfully airy feel about it and with the rainfly on you’ll feel perfectly protected against the elements without feeling cramped. But while protection from the elements is superb in the Dagger just keep in mind that if you’re looking for a tent to take on your ascent of Denali you’ll want something built more specifically for extreme winter conditions.

Features of the Nemo Dagger 2 Person Ultralight Camping Tent

The Dagger features an expansive 31 square feet of floor space with an additional 23 square foot vestibule available. The Dagger also offers plenty of headroom which is important if you plan to occupy the tent for more than 1 night. The Dagger features intuitive setup that can be handled easily by one person with minimal practice. The rainfly is also easy to set up and extremely effective at keeping water out and delivering it away from the tent’s main footprint.

A great feature of the Nemo Dagger is the mesh upper that allows you (on clear nights) to remove the rainfly and have an unimpeded view of the night sky. It can make for some breathtaking viewing when you are away from the glare of city lights. Imagine lying comfortably in your sleeping bag with the lights off watching shooting stars cross the Milky Way in the wee hours of the morning. It’s the kind of peak experience you can’t get from just any tent and it makes the Dagger worth the financial stretch.  The Nemo Dagger 2 Person Ultralight Camping Tent is the kind of serious camping gear you’ll want to have with you on any excursion into the wild. Durable, unbelievably lightweight, easy to set up and with that skylight effect that can really make your camping trip something special it’s easy to see why the Dagger made our list of the 3 best ultralight camping tents.

Himaget Outdoor 2 Person Backpacking Tent

Himaget Outdoor 2 Person Backpacking Tent

Received 4.6 rate out of 5 from 19 customers. check on amazon here

Our third and final choice for best ultralight backpacking tent is the Himaget Outdoor 2 Person Backpacking Tent. While we are not huge fans of the look of the Himaget (seems too space-agey) there is no denying the many practical attributes of this tent that make it worthy of inclusion on our list. To begin with the tent features a dual-door design which, when the weather permits, allows for maximum airflow through the tent. Airflow is essential for keeping the tent environment fresh and the Himaget gets that aspect of tent design right. Himaget uses a breathable mesh fabric lining that allows moisture to vent naturally keeping the inside of the tent nice and dry and, again, aiding in the maintenance of a fresh internal environment. The engineers who designed this tent chose to use an inner tent/outer tent design that’s actually extremely efficient, prevents the tent environment from getting stale as we mentioned and also maximizes views because, with the rainfly removed the tent is basically a structured mosquito netting.

The Himaget Outdoor 2 Person Backpacking Tent is not as light as the other tents on our list but at just over 5 pounds (2.2 kg) it’s not exactly heavy either. There has been some confusion among buyers who’ve apparently thought they were getting an ultralight 3 person tent that would sleep 3 or even 4 people when they ordered this tent. So let us state here for the record that this is a 2 person tent. Like the other tents on our list as well it’s a 3 season tent so don’t plan to take it on any winter alpine expeditions.

All of that said the Himaget Outdoor Ultralight 2 Person Tent is one of the most comfortable small tents on the market. You’re likely to never experience the kind of stale environment that can plague so many lesser tents after just a day or two in the outdoors. The Himaget designers thought things through and came up with an inner tent/outer tent design that adds to the comfort and enjoyability of your outdoor excursions while being easy to tote around and easy to set up. Oh, and it’s also available for less than $100. Which makes it a pretty remarkable cheap ultralight tent.

Conclusion

Excursions into the back country are opportunities for both relaxation and rejuvenation. Hiking, whether the “weekend in the State Park” variety or more involved excursions to mountainous regions, is good for your overall health, good for your cardiovascular health, good for your mental health and just good fun. In order to make sure your time in the woods is as safe, healthy and enjoyable as possible you’ll want to take one of the 3 ultra-lightweight backpacking tents featured here along with you. Any of them could arguably be named best ultralight tent and as such will provide you with excellent protection from the elements as well as plenty of room to stretch out and get a great night’s sleep after a long day’s hike. We hope you enjoyed these ultralight tent reviews.