Best Overall Ultralight Tent
ZPacks Hexamid Twin Tent
Weighs 14 oz. with bug protection!
Four-sided weather protection
Very comfortable inside
Hard to achieve perfect drum tight pitch
Not as adaptable as a tarp
3-season use only
The ZPacks Hexamid Twin Tent
is the best ultralight tent we've ever tested. No other comes close to the weather protection and roomy livability for such a light weight - 14 ounces with built-in bug protection and 19 ounces with the removable bathtub-style waterproof floor. This is the best "do-everything" shelter, and our hands-down favorite for three-season backpacking and bike touring. The unique shape of this trekking-pole supported "duo-mid" provides excellent wind and rain protection on all four sides, has much more room for two folks inside than similarly light products. We think it will last most users for many, many years of light and fast adventures.
Most Bang for the Buck
Mountain Laurel Designs Grace Tarp Duo
Generous coverage for a 2-person A-frame
Weighs 18 oz with guy lines
Available in SilNylon or Cuben Fiber
Three interior hang loops
Not very adaptable or weather protection
Despite its top-tier fabrics and world-class construction quality, the 18 oz. Mountain Laurel Designs Grace Tarp Duo
only costs $170. This is the best value ultralight tent or shelter we've tested because it's more comfortable and more protective than many other similar tarps and because it performs very well in the vast majority of three-season conditions. Whether you're making the transition from a heavy dedicated pole backpacking tent or are simply value conscious, this tarp offers fantastic performance for three-season backpacking. It largest drawback is its limited adaptability. We find that flat tarps (like the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Square Flat Tarp) perform much better in very exposed conditions and for climbing. The Grace Tarp receives our Best Buy Award because it offers the most value of all the products we tested.
Top Pick for Expert Users
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Square Flat Tarp
Only 10 ounces
Bomber alpine wind protection
Most versatile type of shelter
Not as much weather protection as pyramid tarps
Long pitching time
If you want the lightest 3-season shelter, with the most adaptability for rough terrain and off-the-beaten path bivouacs, the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Square Flat Tarp
is a perfect choice. Its A-frame and storm mode pitches are only two of many that skilled users can adapt to exposed, small, and rough campsites, high in the mountains or deep in the woods. Weighing in at 10 ounces with the included guy lines, this is the lightest product we tested. Used with a light bivy sack or modular inner tent, a flat tarp provides the lightest, most versatile, bombproof protection in exposed mountain environments.
Chris Simrell leverages extreme adaptability of the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Square Flat tarp during an alpine ascent of Mt. Huntington in Alaska. We recommend our Top Pick for those with expert rigging skills.
Top Pick for Ease of Use
Big Agnes Fly Creek 2 Platinum
Easy to set-up
Clips separate the inner and outer tents
Weighing in at 28 ounces without the included stakes, the Big Agnes Fly Creek 2 Platinum
is the lightest dedicated-pole, double-wall tent we've ever tested. Add the weight of a pair of adjustable trekking poles to the lightest tarps and pyramids in this review, and they weigh as much or more than the Fly Creek 2 Platinum and its three dedicated poles. Our tests revealed the Platinum as the quickest to pitch of these shelters, and it earned the highest weather resistance rating as well. Poor adaptability and a lack of headroom limit its overall score, but we love it for backpacking, thru-hiking, and bike touring. Some users will also like that when you order the Fly Creek, it comes with everything you need. You don't need to debate over modular components or purchase stakes or guy lines separately.