Best Ultralight Tents of 2023
A tent will be one of the heaviest items you carry on your backcountry adventures. If you’re looking to cut weight in your pack, opting for an ultralight tent is one of the easiest ways to lighten your load.
From tarps to bivvies and tents, we’ve trail-tested dozens of different ultralight shelters over the years. An ultralight tent can be a big investment, so we used our experience to put together this guide to help you find the best tent for your needs.
Last updated: September 28, 2023
Check out this quick list of our favorite ultralight tents, or continue scrolling to see our full list with in-depth reviews.
- Best ultralight tent overall for weight, space & quality:Zpacks Duplex / Triplex
- Best value ultralight tent for livability & weight: Six Moon Designs Lunar Duo
- Most spacious & weather-worthy ultralight tent: Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ultamid 2
- Best 1-person ultralight tent: Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo
- Best budget ultralight tent: Six Moon Designs Haven
- Best ultralight freestanding tent:Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 / UL3
- Ridiculously lightweight tent with ample headroom: Gossamer Gear The Two
- Good balance of low weight & livability: MSR FreeLite 2
- Minimal tarp tent at an affordable price: Tarptent MoTrail&Protrail
- Most affordable ultralight tent: 3F UL Gear Lanshan 2
- Ultralight single-wall tent with a sturdy design: Tarptent Double Rainbow
What’s Most Important to You in a Tent?
PRICE – We ‘re usually willing to spend a bit more for a quality ultralight tent because we truly believe that a lighter backpack makes for a more comfortable and enjoyable trip. Livability and low weight usually trump cost in our books since we do a lot of backpacking, but we recommend quality options for every budget in our top picks below.
- Best value ultralight tents:Six Moon Designs Lunar Duo / Lunar Solo, Gossamer Gear The Two & MSR FreeLite 2
- Best high-end ultralight tents:Zpacks Duplex / Triplex, Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 & UL3, HMG Ultamid 2 & Slingfin Portal
- Best budget ultralight tents: Six Moon Designs Haven, Tarptent Double Rainbow, 3F UL Gear Lanshan 2 & Tarptent MoTrail / Protrail
WEIGHT – Your tent will be one of the heaviest items in your pack, so keeping the weight as low as possible will make for a more enjoyable experience. Lighter weight tents will be more comfortable to carry for long hauls, but going with a slightly heavier tent usually means an increase in durability.
SPACE – Having ample space in your tent is important for comfort and for keeping your gear dry. If you share your tent with another hiker, be sure to consider whether or not both sleeping pads will fit next to each other.
DURABILITY & WEATHER PROTECTION – A sturdier tent that holds up in bad weather will likely weigh a bit more. But the extra weight can be worth it for those that’re hard on gear or who frequently backpack in harsh climates..
BEST ULTRALIGHT 1-PERSON TENTS – 1-Person tents usually have only one door/vestibule and can be a pretty tight fit, but weigh next to nothing and are very compact. As a side note, we sometimes bring a 2-person tent for solo adventures because we like the extra wiggle room and the convenience of two doors and vestibules.
Best Ultralight Tents of 2023
BEST ULTRALIGHT BACKPACKING TENT
MSRP (Duplex): $669
WEIGHT (Duplex): 1 lb. 2.5 oz. (no stakes or poles)
DIMENSIONS (L x W x H): 90 x 45 x 48 in.
PROS: Ultralight, 2 doors/vestibules, ample space for two (Triplex), DCF material won’t sag when wet or soak up water, trekking poles can double as tent poles, seams are factory-taped
CONS: Expensive, condensation management necessary for single-wall tents
BOTTOM LINE: The Zpacks Duplex and Triplex are among our all-time favorite ultralight tents for thru-hiking and fast and light adventures. These tents provide an excellent amount of interior space and weather protection while being freakishly lightweight. The DCF material makes these tents pretty expensive, but it’s also why they’re so light, fully waterproof, durable, and don’t sag when wet. We like to use the Zpacks carbon fiber poles (sold separately) with our Plex for convenience, but you can save even more weight by using trekking poles as the tent structure. We’re partial to the Duplex for solo hikes and the Triplex for more interior space when hiking with a partner.Check out our full review of the Duplex here and the Triplex here.
BEST VALUE ULTRALIGHT TENT FOR LIVABILITY & WEIGHT
MSRP (DUO): $395
WEIGHT (DUO): 2 lb. 13 oz. (no stakes or poles)
DIMENSIONS (L x W x H): 90 x 54 x 45 in.
PROS: Spacious, excellent value, small packed size, durable, ample headroom, excellent ventilation, 2 doors/vestibules
CONS: Heavier than some, seam sealing costs extra, condensation management necessary for single-wall tents
BOTTOM LINE: The Six Moon Designs Lunar Duo is the best value tent on our list due to its excellent balance of space, weight, and durability. We’ve put the Lunar Duo through the wringer on multiple thru-hikes, and it held up like a champ in all kinds of conditions. It’s a bit heavier than the similar Gossamer Gear The Two and Zpacks Duplex, but it’s one of the most spacious tents on our list with plenty of room for two people and their gear. One thing that makes the Lunar Duo unique is that the guylines can be re-tensioned from inside the tent, which is really convenient during rain. The large vestibules are designed to open completely without disturbing the structure of the tent, so you can have similar ventilation and view benefits of a double-wall tent. Check out our full review of the Lunar Duo here.
MOST SPACIOUS AND WEATHER-WORTHY ULTRALIGHT TENT
WEIGHT: 1 lb 2.9 oz.
DIMENSIONS (L x W x H): 107 x 83 x 64 in.
PROS: Ultralight, spacious, excellent weather protection, versatile, durable, good ventilation, DCF material won’t sag or soak up water when wet, seams are factory-sealed
CONS: Very expensive,bulkier than some if you bring the tent and mesh insert, takes more practice to pitch than some others
BOTTOM LINE: So many ultralight tents save weight by cutting out living space, but that’s not Hyperlite Mountain Gear’s style. The featherlight Ultamid 2 is an absolutely enormous pyramid tarp that comfortably shelters two people and their gear. The tarp alone provides ample protection from the elements, but we recommend purchasing the Full Mesh Insert if you want some extra defense against bugs and muddy gear. The Ultamid is the only 4-season tent on this list, and the pyramid shape provides excellent protection from wind, rain, and snow. While this tent comes with a pretty big price tag, the livability, durability, and low weight make it totally worth it if you backpack often.Check out our full review of the Ultamid here.
BEST BUDGET ULTRALIGHT TENT
WEIGHT: 2 lbs. 6.1 oz.
DIMENSIONS (L x W x H): 88 x 44 x 45 in.
PROS: Affordable, versatile, small packed size, durable, 2 doors/vestibules
CONS: Seam sealing costs extra
BOTTOM LINE: The Six Moon Designs Haven is one of the best value tents on this list. It comes with a tarp and an inner net that can be used together for a full tent setup, or separately to save weight and adapt to conditions. The Net Tent is hung from the tarp instead of being supported by poles which makes it easy to set the tarp up first in bad weather. This means you can keep the inner net packed away and dry until you’re ready to clip it in. One of our favorite things about the Haven is that you can adjust the tension on the straps from the inside – no more getting out of your tent in the rain to adjust sil-nylon sag. The Haven is perfect for hikers on a budget who like having the versatility of a tarp and the option for protection with the net insert.
BEST FREESTANDING ULTRALIGHT TENT
MSRP (UL2): $550
WEIGHT (UL2): 3 lb. 2 oz.
DIMENSIONS (L x W x H): 88 x 52/42 x 40 in. (wider at head)
PROS: Spacious, quick/easy to pitch, great pockets, 2 large doors/vestibules, quality construction/materials, freestanding, double-wall is better for condensation management, seams are factory-sealed/taped
CONS: Slightly less durable than some tents, rainfly zippers can snag, a bit pricey, heavier than some
BOTTOM LINE: The Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 and UL3 are among the heaviest tents on this list, but their excellent balance of interior space and weather protection is worth the extra ounces if you’re looking for something easier to use. Their freestanding design makes choosing a camp spot much easier, and setup is a lot quicker than many other ultralight tents. If you’re okay with a tighter interior or you often backpack solo, the UL2 is an excellent choice. For pairs, we suggest bumping up to the UL3, which has more interior space and only weighs 13 ounces more. Check out our full review of the Copper Spur HV UL2 here.
RIDICULOUSLY LIGHTWEIGHT TENT WITH AMPLE HEADROOM
MSRP (THE TWO): $320
WEIGHT (THE TWO): 1 lb. 7.5 oz.
DIMENSIONS (L x W x H) : 84 x 48/42 x 43 in. (wider at head)
PROS: Ultralight, small packed size, ample headroom,2 doors/vestibules (The Two), seams are factory-taped
CONS: Thin material isn’t as durable as some & can sag in really wet conditions, condensation management necessary for single-wall tents
BOTTOM LINE: The Gossamer Gear The Two is one of the lightest tents on our list, and it’s amazingly comfortable inside for being so minimal. It’s quick and easy to pitch – even if you’re solo, and the setup provides a generous amount of headroom. Because the material of The Two and The One is pretty thin, it tends to stretch quite a bit in wet weather. This means you may have to re-tension the guylines during sustained bouts of heavy rain. That said, the thin material is part of what makes these tents so incredibly light and compact. We typically prefer the extra space of The Two, but The One is great for solo hikers who want to go lighter. Check out our full review of The Two here.
GOOD BALANCE OF LOW WEIGHT & LIVABILITY
WEIGHT: 2 lb. 5 oz.
DIMENSIONS (L x W x H): 84 x 50 x 39 in.
PROS: Good value, durable, two doors/vestibules, good space for a solo hiker, excellent pockets, rainfly gutter prevents drippy entry
CONS: Semi-freestanding, a little tight for two
BOTTOM LINE: The MSR FreeLite 2 is a great option for those looking to go a little lighter without sacrificing the protection of a double-wall tent. It has two large doors, two roomy vestibules, and the interior space feels more generous for two hikers than other similarly designed tents. A few creature comforts, like well-placed pockets and a rainfly gutter, make the FreeLite particularly appealing for any backpacker looking for the best balance of low weight, livability, and weather protection. Due to its larger interior space, the FreeLite edged out the NEMO Hornet 2 that had long been on our list.
MINIMAL TARP TENT AT AN AFFORDABLE PRICE
MSRP (MOTRAIL): $279
WEIGHT (MOTRAIL): 1 lb. 15.4 oz. (no stakes)
DIMENSIONS (L x W x H): 84 x 52 x 47/28 in. (taller at head)
PROS: Affordable, small packed size, doesn’t require many stakes, durable
CONS: 1 door, not as spacious as some, can be difficult to pitch alone, requires seam sealing to be waterproof, condensation management necessary for single-wall tents
BOTTOM LINE: The MoTrail and ProTrail are the ultimate shelters for minimalist backpackers who are looking for the no-frills simplicity of a tarp, but like having the bug protection of a tent. These affordable shelters can be a bit difficult to set up solo, but the lack of poles and stake-out points make them some of the lightest and most compact tents on our list. The design of this tent lends itself to some interior condensation issues, so it’s not our first choice for trips in places with particularly humid and wet weather. That said, we still think the MoTrail and ProTrail are solid tents for ultralight backpackers on a budget. If you’re a solo hiker who doesn’t mind small spaces, go with the ProTrail. If you need a shelter for two or you’re solo and like a little extra living space, go with the MoTrail.
MOST AFFORDABLE ULTRALIGHT TENT
WEIGHT: 2 lbs. 8.7 oz.
DIMENSIONS (L x W x H): 82.5 x 43 x 49 in.
PROS: Affordable, good headroom, 2 doors/vestibules
CONS: Not as durable, not as spacious as some, heavier than some, some seams need to be sealed for full waterproofing, condensation management necessary for single-wall tents
BOTTOM LINE: The 3F UL Gear Lanshan 2 is one of the most affordable tents we’ve ever tested, and we were pleasantly surprised by its performance. It’s very similar to the Six Moon Designs Lunar Duo, but it’s a little smaller, heavier, and less durable. That said, the Lanshan costs less than half the price of the Lunar Duo and, if you add a groundsheet, will still be reliable for multiple seasons. Since it’s a bit less durable, we wouldn’t recommend the Lanshan for a thru-hike, but the price can’t be beat for couples and solo hikers on a budget.
ULTRALIGHT SINGLE-WALL SHELTER AT A VALUE PRICE
WEIGHT: 2 lbs. 10 oz.
DIMENSIONS (L x W x H): 88 x 52 x 42 in.
PROS: Durable, solid weather protection, easy to set up, 2 doors/vestibules, interior liner accessory cuts down on condensation
CONS: Tight space for 2 with little headroom, requires seam sealing to be waterproof, not as ventilated as others
BOTTOM LINE: TheTarptent Double Rainbow has a unique design that holds up well in high winds and heavy rain. The rainbow shape of this tent cuts out some head room, but is really effective at preventing rain from pooling up on top of your tent. Interior condensation buildup can be frustrating in single-wall tents during cold, rainy weather, so we really love that Tarptent gives the option to add an interior liner to help keep water from dripping on you and your gear. If you do a lot of backpacking in soggy climates, the Double Rainbow is a great tent at a value price for two hikers
The following ultralight tents didn’t make our final list, but they’ve still got a lot of good things going for them. You never know, one of these tents might be perfect for you:
- Mountain Laurel Designs SoloMid XL – Ultralight pyramid tarp that’s much more affordable than other ‘mids. The Solomid is compact and provides good weather protection. We prefer the HMG Ultamid 2 because it’s larger, easier to set up, and the DCF material doesn’t sag when wet.
- SlingFin Portal – The Portal is maybe a bit heavy to be considered an ultralight tent, but we felt it deserved a mention because of its excellent strength the weight ratio. This tent is sturdy in inclement weather and has lasted us through many seasons of hard use.
- NEMO Hornet 2 – The Hornet is a roomy option for solo hikers. It has two doors, two large vestibules, and a very small packed size. It’s a nice option for hikers who aren’t quite ready to go non-freestanding, but ultimately we prefer the similar but roomier MSR FreeLite 2.
Critical Tent Considerations
TENT SIZE – The reality with tent sizes is that a lot of manufacturers exaggerate how many people can sleep comfortably in them. For example, many two-person tents are a tight fit for two average-sized people. If you plan on sleeping two people in your tent and want more space, you may find a three-person tent to be more comfortable. Extra space will add weight, so you’ll probably want to choose a lightweight tent to keep your backpack light. Check out our Tent Size Guide for more info on finding the right fit for you.
PACKAGED WEIGHT VS. MINIMUM TRAIL WEIGHT – When researching tents, you’ll likely notice a few different specs listed for weight and it can get a little confusing. Some manufacturers may even exaggerate how light a tent is to make it seem more appealing. Unfortunately, there is no required set standard for measuring tent weights across the industry, but here are some tips to help you decipher all the numbers:
- Measured weight – As you look through our top ultralight tent picks you’ll see that we list measured weights. We put these tents on our own scale to give you an accurate reading of how they stack up against each other. For measured weights we include what you’ll actually be carrying on the trail – the tent body, rainfly, tent poles, tent stakes, guylines and stuff sacks.
- Packaged weight– This spec refers to the weight of all parts of the tent plus any accessories it comes with when you buy it. This is usually the most accurate measurement to consider. After all, you’re going to be using tent stakes with your tent, right?
- Minimum trail weight– This one gets a little hairy. Since there’s no required industry standard for calculating this, some manufacturers exclude more items than others. Minimum trail weight is generally accepted to mean just the essential components to keep you dry. It will always include the tent body, the rainfly, and the poles. This measurement usually excludes tent stakes (unless your tent is semi/non-freestanding), guy lines, and stuff sacks.
WEATHER PROTECTION – Many ultralight tents require some extra attention to detail when it comes to performance in bad weather. Your tent will provide the most protection when all guyout points are staked taut, and you should make sure any vents are propped open at night to help with condensation. Sil-nylon tends to sag when wet, so tents made with this material may need to be re-tensioned in rainy conditions. Some ultralight tent makers don’t seam seal their tents at the factory. You may have to pay extra for the manufacturer to do it, or you can always buy some seam grip and do it yourself.
SEASON RATING– Three-season shelters are the most popular and widely available. They’re built for spring, summer, and fall trips where you’ll need to keep bad weather out while promoting ventilation to keep interior condensation to a minimum. Three-season tents can usually handle a little snow, but they’re not made for heavy snow and harsh winter conditions.
SETUP – Freestanding tents are quicker and easier to pitch. They come with a fixed pole system that can be set up almost anywhere – even on solid rock. Non-freestanding and semi-freestanding tents are set up using stakes, guylines, and trekking poles. They save weight by cutting out tent poles, but require more time and space to pitch and will take more practice to master.
WALL CONSTRUCTION– Double-wall tents come with two separate parts – a mesh tent body and a rainfly. The mesh inner-tent acts as a barrier from condensation that forms on the inside of the rainfly. Single-wall tents reduce weight by ditching the mesh inner-tent, but that leaves hikers vulnerable to interior condensation in wet conditions. You can reduce the impact of condensation by staking all guylines out taut and making sure your sleeping bag isn’t rubbing up against the tent walls.
DOORS & VESTIBULES– If you plan on sleeping two people in your tent, it’s more comfortable to have two doors and two vestibules. Having separate entrances will ensure that you’re not climbing over a tentmate every time you want to get in or out of your tent. That’s a huge benefit, and it’s why almost all of our tent recommendations have two doors and vestibules.
DURABILITY– The main trade-off with ultralight tents is that they’re built using thinner materials, which tend to be less durable than heavy-duty shelters. That said, ultralight tents will literally last for thousands of miles if treated with care. It’s also important to remember that a sharp stick or rock will puncture just about any kind of tent fabric. If you’re tough on gear and don’t want to deal with lightweight materials, we recommend going with one of our heavier picks and/or adding a footprint to increase the durability of your tent floor.
FOOTPRINTS/GROUNDSHEETS– Most tents don’t come with a footprint, and many ultralight backpackers view them as unnecessary. The main benefit of a footprint is adding durability to the floor of your tent. Check out our Do You Really Need a Footprint? post to help decide if you want to add one to your setup.
Lightweight groundsheets are near essential for use with tarps and bivvies. They have a variety of uses around camp and are extremely light and affordable. They can be purchased or easily constructed from online retailers or your local hardware store. Here are some of our favorite groundsheet options:
- Polycro (4′ x 8′, 1.6 oz.) – Polycro is a plastic sheet that’s exceedingly durable for how thin and light it is. It’s not as durable as Tyvek (below), but it folds down smaller and is the lightest option available.
- Tyvek Ground Cloth (4.5’ x 8’, 8 oz.) – Tyvek is another popular groundsheet material that is tough and highly water resistant, but it‘s slightly heavier and bulkier than plastic groundsheet alternatives. Tyvek is commonly used in home construction and you should be able to find it at your local hardware store. You can also purchase smaller quantities of it online.
- Tent-specific footprints – Only a few ultralight tents on our list have the option to purchase specific footprints designed by the manufacturer. We typically don’t prefer this style because they’re far more expensive than polycro or Tyvek and are often heavier.
Bivy sacks are lightweight enclosures that provide just enough space to sleep in. They’re usually only slightly larger than your sleeping bag, but they can actually be quite comfortable if you don’t mind tight spaces. We recommend pairing your bivy with a tarp and groundsheet to maximize weather protection and durability. When choosing a bivy sack, make sure to choose a size that will be long and wide enough to fit your body and your sleeping pad.
- Mountain Laurel Designs Superlight Bivy (5.5-7.3 oz.) – MLD’s Superlight Bivy has a Dyneema flooring option for extra water protection and reduced weight. Their large size provides room for thicker sleeping pads like the NeoAir line from Therm-a-Rest. The Superlight Bivy comes with a full net hood or half moon mesh hood design. The full net hood is a good option for increased breathability and visibility.
- Montbell Breeze Dri-Tech UL Sleeping Bag Cover (6.3 – 8.3 oz) – The material of Montbell’s Dri-Tec Sleeping Bag Cover provides excellent waterproof protection for cold and wet trips. The downside is that increasing water protection reduces breathability and allows condensation to collect inside your bivy. The Breeze also comes in a wide/long option that will be better for larger hikers. This model has a drawcord hood, but doesn’t have a net to keep the bugs out.
Looking for a Different Type of Tent?
Check out these other CleverHiker Gear Guide tent lists:
- 10 Best Backpacking Tents – tents for backcountry travelers
- 10 Best Camping Tents – for those who plan to use their tent primarily for car camping
- 6 Best Budget Tents – for those looking for a solid budget-friendly tent
- 10 Best Backpacking Hammocks – for those who like to do things a little differently
- 8 Best 4-Season Tents – for those who don’t let winter end their backpacking season
Why Trust Us?
We fully understand how tough it is to find trustworthy gear advice, and that’s one of the main reasons we built CleverHiker. We live for outdoor adventure, and we take these guides very seriously. Here are some of the reasons you can trust us:
- Our choices are completely independent and based on personal experience.
- We’ve logged over 10,000 trail miles and test outdoor gear for a living.
- We own and field test every product we recommend, which is sadly not the norm.
- We travel to industry trade shows to learn about upcoming product innovations.
- We constantly update our guides when new products launch.
- We treat our recommendations as if they were for our family and friends.
- We’re lifelong learners and we’re always open to constructive criticism. If you think we’ve missed a product or got something wrong, we’d love to hear your feedback.
We hope this guide helps you find the perfect gear for your needs. If you have more questions or a suggestion, we’d love to hear from you! Sign up for our newsletter to stay updated on our latest posts then visit our Facebook page and Instagram to join the community conversation.
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Thanks for reading and happy trails!
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