Before you dust off your hiking boots and show off your pack's contents for the final photo, your adventure really begins when you find the right tent.
The best cheap lightweight tents will weigh less than a bible while still offering real salvation on rainy nights.
If you're ready to take the leap and start some long-distance expeditions, we've got a gear list for you.
These lightest tents on the market have performed no matter the conditions, have proven to be easy enough to pitch before the storm hits, and have saved a few trips to the chiropractor.
Removing the precious weight of your equipment will take you into the truth of the woods, but how do you know who to trust to get you there?
Well read about it. We'll cover ultralight tents, bivouacs, freestanding lean-tos, shelters and chalets to show you what the best tents on the market are capable of.
Our buying guide will highlight where these low cost backpacking tents excel and highlight their potential flaws.
Nobody is perfect, not even your tent.
Any weight reduction has to come from somewhere, and even the ultralight tents on the market make compromises in staying light as a feather.
Decide which factors are most important to you, and scroll down to find the perfect accessory to complete your backpacking gear.
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
How to choose an ultralight tent
So how do you choose which tent to buy? Go with the mindset that the lighter they are to carry, the weaker your potential tent will be in terms of durability or warmth.
Some manufacturers try to offer the complete package using magical and expensive materials, but there is always a tradeoff when it comes to a lightweight tent, especially if you are looking for cheap ultralight tents!
Sometimes a light (but not ultralight) option can be enough.
Very few hikers will walk far enough to tell the difference between those last few pounds.
There are plenty of great lightweight options that provide a pinch of comfort in an ultralight frame, and won't cost you next month's rent.
It is in this niche that the most popular backpacking tents are found.
The bottom line is: The upper echelon of ultralight tents No Are cheap. But if you know anything about good quality outdoor gear, you already knew!
At the highest level, you have no choice. The best ultralight tents command a hefty price tag to shed those last few precious pounds.
There is no tent on the market that can adequately replicate the performance of a true ultralight tent for less than $200.
Be wary of low-cost options that promise incredibly low weight. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Once you've committed to an ultralight backpacking tent, the best option will be the tent that best suits your style. It will be your second home Do not trust Ikea
Basically, when choosing an ultralight tent, decide where you are on the Venn diagram of price, weight and space. All of the tents on our list excel in at least two of these categories, but you won't find a tent that ranks first in all three.
Ask any hiker who's made it far enough, and they'll swear by every stone saved. If you're planning a longer trip, spending a few hot days carrying your world on your shoulders is enough to justify the investment in shedding the weight and opting for the ultralight backpacking tent.
Other hikers guarantee you won't notice the difference in weight, but you'll fully enjoy a few more square feet of interior space and gear storage. The good news is that both are right. It all depends on the factor that you value more for your personal needs.
The best ultralight one-person tents will cost you less than a pound, and shoppers looking for adventure-ready two-person tents can have it all for less than 1.5
Get ready to learn to work with your hands. Anything under 1 kilo will require special attention and maintenance. The extreme technologies and materials used in the tent fabric will probably be the most fragile part of your backpacking gear.
If you like to tinker with your toolkit, repairs from a good quality ultralight shop won't be something you can't handle; just don't forget to pack the patch kit. The rest of us should consider finding a compromise between weight and durability.
Although these best backpacking tents make themselves known as heavy hitters, you'll want more than just skin and bones. In addition to the maintenance variables, you have to worry about yourself.
You have to seriously consider your comfort when pressing to drop the ounces. Don't plan only for bad weather. If you're in the woods long enough, you'll have to spend a few afternoons inside your tent, weathering a storm. Two can fit comfortably in any of these two-person tents
Luckily, modern hikers won't have to take such a spartan approach to find relief. There are loads 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.
Oh how we all want to run off on our adventure without worrying about packing an extra set of nylons. We'd love to say forget about them, but it's only a matter of time before you're glad you packed a reinforced floor.
To save weight, ultralight tents don't usually come with footprints. It looks great on the spec sheet, but it also makes them more prone to tears and weathering. Should you buy one? Unfortunately yes
There's no arguing that your shop floor won't be more protected with a tread underneath. This will certainly add a pound though, and those add up quickly. Lightness comes first, but longevity comes second
The treads will also provide invaluable insulation on the coldest nights and will be the only thing standing between you and a soggy pair of boots. If you want to break speed or weight records, you better leave your tracks at home. Casual campers can increase the life of their ultralight tents by a decade with this simple trick.
The best ultralight tents
Let's get to the point. We've selected these tents for their eye-catching features, consistent performance, and niche fit. They all bring something different to the table, and they will all prove their worth on your next big trip.
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- Weight (kg): .65
- Package dimensions (cm) 47 x 13
- Price: 849
Whether it's blizzards in the Colorado mountains or silent starry nights, you'll be able to go further with the Big Agnes FlyCreek tucked into your pack. This beauty weighs less than 2 pounds and will provide you with a haven on top of the country's most picturesque vistas with proper care.
This Fly Creek tent is not for the casual camper. Stakes, tent rods, and ultralight flies aren't cheap, and they certainly aren't carefree. Big Agnes wants you to take extra care when assembling and packaging some of the most technically advanced materials around.
If you treat it right, this double-walled tent has proven to be able to withstand conditions far beyond the capabilities of an average shelter.
If you don't believe us, read 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 hard to keep the inside of this tent dry during setup, even if you get hit by the elements… I've never been more satisfied with the performance of a tent”
Now that's some impressive backing from a field review. On paper and out in the open, the Fly Creek UL1 has set the bar high for ultralight tents, giving thousands of adventurers a good night's rest.
Read our full Big Agnes Fly Creek UL1 review for more information.
- Weighs less than your favorite novel
- freestanding tent
- The lines of tension open the interior space
- Incredibly delicate tent body materials
- Just a front door
- Weight (kg) 1.13
- Packaging dimensions (cm) 46 x 14
- Price: 399
From 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 option. You will save money by adding 0.5 kg more to your backpack. That may be heavy for a Big Agnes tent, but it's still one of the lightest tents on the market.
hikers Or those looking to push the limits of ultralight hiking may scoff at 500 grams, but most of us will still be blown away by this ultralight tent. Even semi-professional hikers and long-term hikers planning to avoid winter can save money and still rely on this durable silicone-treated shelter.
The single pole system makes it easy to set up, but makes the tent a little more prone to tipping over in high winds. On the best nights, the fly opens to reveal a mesh ceiling perfect for stargazing.
While it's not quite up there with the most expensive tents in its class, it saves you a few bucks and packs some high-end features. In our opinion, it is the best value for money that you will find in a high performance tent, and it blows away other tents at this price point.
- unipolar system
- trusted brand
- Enough headroom for two people to sit at the same time
- Some weather resistance defects
- The body of the tent is prone to condensation
#3 – Nemo Hornet Elite
- Weight (kg): .94
- Package dimensions (cm) 48 x 11
- Price: 499 $
The hornet elite takes Nemo's signature tent and cuts its weight in half, striving to offer the same habitability and weather resistance in a size so light you won't even notice it in your pack. Hiking duos can easily split the stuff sack in half to further reduce weight.
Nemo has gone to great lengths to make this space technically advanced, with tie-down outlets that stretch the sidewall and pole clips that open up valuable inches of headroom.
Even so, this extreme ultralight design has to sacrifice some interior space, but who doesn't like to get closer to their partner on cold summit nights? If not, find another store.
Most tents of this weight are expected to be a bit cramped, but Nemo makes up for that by adding two doors and plenty of pocket space for easy access to a top light. The virtually invisible mesh gives you panoramic views of the sky on clear nights, when it's time to turn out the lights.
When shopping for the best ultralight tents, it pays to commit to investing good money in the right materials. This tent makes things easy by providing a durable and lightweight camping option at a relatively affordable price.
- Comes with two doors, including a side door
- The fly rolls to the ground
- Nemo offers a lifetime guarantee
- Tight for two people and two backpacks
- Depends on additional guy lines not included
- Weight (kg): 1.75
- Packaging dimensions (cm) 46 x 15
- Price: 449
We think this beauty is one of the best tents out there, no matter the category. A true go-to machine, whether you're looking for an ultralight tent for hiking or long-term travel, you'd be crazy not to have a tent like this in your pack.
It skillfully balances comfort and lightness. Although it is more than a kilo heavier than the lightest packs on our list, the interior space of the Hubba Hubba is considerably more. 2-person tents can really mean one person and one dog, but this option from MSR has enough space to fit two people and their gear without a problem.
The Hubba Hubba's rainfly goes all the way to the ground Xtreme shield, which is more than just a tactic marketing. Although Xtreme shield is a corny name, the protection it offers goes well beyond face value, offering increased water resistance against flooding through the tent floor.
With good weather protection and two separate ventilation flaps to ease those hot summer nights, this tent offers a little bit of everything at an affordable price.
It's not a night at the Hilton, but it's a cozy enough hiking tent to provide a great ending to any day in the woods.
- Xtreme shield flooring
- Enough height for a rainy day
- Good scores in all areas
- Does a lot of things well but doesn't stand out anywhere
- Expensive for a store of almost 2 kg
- Weight (kg): 2.38
- Packaging dimensions (cm) 53 x 18
- Price: 214
Everyone's tent! If you don't plan on logging thousands of miles in the next few years, dive into lightweight tent and pack technology with this affordable tent that saves a few bucks, but still offers plenty of quality.
As you can see, the dimensions and weight of this tent are the heaviest on our list, but the price speaks for itself. Smart campers are realistic when deciding what equipment they need. If you don't usually travel 15 miles to get to the campground, you may not notice an extra pound or two.
Maybe you've been on a few trips and want to start committing to an outdoor lifestyle. Before you splurge on an intense ultralight tent, learn how to get more comfortable in the outdoors with this Marmot Tungsten.
You can split the weight of the pack between two packs to reduce your load, and once you get to camp, you'll find this classic three-pole tent easy to pitch. The cocoon-shaped rainfly reaches to the ground and is very comfortable on windy and drizzly nights
This store does not promise to save the world. While other options on our list are reinventing what ultralights can do, Marmot has provided something that will let you head out on weekend adventures whenever the weather permits.
- The most affordable option on our list
- Lots of headroom
- Comes with a footprint
- The heaviest tent on our list
- Doesn't include many ultralight features
- Weight (kg): 1.30
- Packaging dimensions (cm) 51 x 18
- Price: 349
The REI home furnishing line has defied the trends by being one of the only big box stores to take its own products seriously. The shop sells the world's best tent brands, but their own designs are no joke
An ultralight tent made for everyone, the Quarter Dome is packed with top and side pockets, and its interior is roomier than most elite ultralight tents. Still, unfortunately, two people won't be able to sit quite comfortably
Usability features go from the inside out. Color-coded shop rods make it easy to quickly pick up the pace of building this shop, and the two doors create over 6 square feet of concourse space. You can leave the body of the tent in the car on the hottest excursions, and reduce weight by using the poles, rain canopy and footprint (not included) for a quick and easy transport structure.
This Quarter Dome SL provides a tent ready for hiking and longer adventure at the price of a car camping option.
- two lobbies
- Durable materials ideal for the less attentive camper
- One Year No Questions Asked Return Policy
- You have to be careful when nailing this tent
- There is only one roof vent, but its larger size allows air to flow
- Weight (kg): 1.11
- Package dimensions (cm) 45 x 11
- Price: 399
Taking comfort ultralight, the Sea to Summit's unique shape allows for more interior vertical space than any other tent on our list. The triangular teepee-like design may not be the best defense against bad weather, but expeditions in good weather will enjoy the extra space
The height comes from Sea to Summit's Tension Ridge Post System, two center ridge posts that slope up instead of down. This creates valuable headroom and sends everything vertical for improved airflow, making the tent well suited to humidity.
The crest is a work in progress, and we have noticed that water tends to collect on the curved end section of the posts, which could seep through the vents. This, in addition to the additional height, makes us cautious when it comes to taking out the Alto in case of strong storms. As we've said before, if you're expecting severe weather, consider a specialized waterproof tent instead of an ultralight one.
Although the tent doesn't fit three people, the gear bags are divided into three different parts to make it easy to share the load, and each bag clips to serve as pockets once you've set up camp.
In short, we would say that this tent is more sea than summit, but it combines a lot of comfort and versatility in an ultralight tent.
- large interior space
- The sleeping bag is divided into three, it works as pockets once you arrive at the camp
- Tension ridge posts create great airflow
- Tension Ridge Poles Accumulate Water
- Poles are difficult to handle against high winds
- Weight (kg): .75
- Package dimensions (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 space and weight in your pack by not including a pole. A single wall tent made from 30D polyester nylon, it is super strong and helps the tent hold its shape with two trekking poles
A truly revolutionary concept, but in practice, you have to work hard
This tent will work great as a simple structure for a few nights, but it just doesn't have the comfort and weather resistance of most ultralight tents on the market. It is very narrow for two people, and some would say that it is impossible for more than one person
The tent holds up well to the wind, which is surprising considering that it only relies on trekking poles and a few stakes for support. On warmer nights, there's no mesh at the bottom to expose, and you'll wake up drenched in condensation, a real drawback of single-walled tents.
Hikers who are already pole-swinging and don't demand much from their tents won't find a lighter option anywhere near this price range, but make sure you understand the limitations of this tent before making a decision.
- light and affordable
- Keeps warm when it's cold
- Works great when you're in a hurry
- too tight for two
- Poor ventilation on warm nights
- Weight (kg): .48
- Package dimensions (cm) 31 x 9
- Price: 179
A bivouac bag is as minimalist as possible. These lightweight shelters are an extra cocoon for you and your sleeping bag, and Outdoor research's Helium Bivy showcases the best this style has to offer.
Whether you prefer bivouac or camping in naturemost of us will not want a bivouac as a full-time tent. That said, this handy structure is smaller than your sleeping bag, making it easy to stuff into your gear bag in case you get caught up in the dark. After practicing a few times, you'll be able to set up camp blindfolded, as there's just one built-in pole that stands up to give you some headroom.
Everyone from rock climbers to fastpackers to thru-hikers has enjoyed the increased bivouacing technology in this pack, which has advanced enough for less demanding hikers to use it on longer trips. They're even not a bad substitute for a festival tent if all you want is a place to sleep.
Realistically, it's not much more than a little extra weather protection for a sleeping bag, but ultralight advocates and mountaineers alike will love packing this lightweight shelter.
- Can be unpacked in seconds
- Weighs less than any other option
- makes you feel closer to nature
- You can't even sit inside
- Think of it as a raincoat for your sleeping bag.
- Weight (kg) 1.7
- Packaging dimensions (cm) 46 x 13
- Price: $369
Looking for an ultralight tent truly built for two? There are plenty of 2P tent options that can technically fit two human bodies inside, but unless you're planning to hike for months with your house in tow, the Peregrine stays light while still providing room to stretch out.
Combine with the included footprint to free up the hall space to put down your dirty boots and dry your gear. We've heard good reports of couples surviving the elements, and Featherlite poles promise to hold their own despite strong winds.
The only reason this store isn't a serious contender on our list is that it's hard to find. If Peregrine gets his act together, this tent is sure to be a hit and should earn a place on your backpacking essentials list.
This tent has not been tested and usually comes with no money-back guarantees if you can get your hands on one.
Once inside, you'll be glad you opted for more space. The roomy interior adds 10 more inches of width compared to a high-quality ultralight two-person tent, while still being remarkably light.
Campers looking for extra space, weather resistance and an ultralight tent should get better information.
- The only store on our list built for 3
- Includes footprint
- Tested in a wind tunnel
- It only comes in bright yellow.
- untested company
Final Thoughts on the Best Lightweight Tents
This wraps up our introduction to the best ultralight tents for any budget.
It might seem like an expensive list coming from a penniless backpacker, but there are some areas where investing in the right tools is essential, and your shelter is one of those categories.
That's why we've put together this list of ultralight backpacking tents.
You won't have to turn around through a hole in your pants, but a hole in the store can cancel out trips, so choose wisely
Hopefully, your tent will take you to peaks you've never climbed. Make sure your tent meets your needs five years from now, as well as your current needs
It's easy to say you'll never go camping in the rain, but some of the most beautiful places on earth have the roughest weather. Don't underestimate the power of a good lobby design and a rain fly
What we mean is that high-quality tents like Big Agnes FlyCreek HV UL2 they will pay for themselves the first time you win the race to camp between you and the weather
Go further, do more and tell us about your adventures with these ultralight tents in the comments below.
Looking for something more specific? Check out this roundup of the best backpacking tents if that's more your style.
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I am a passionate traveler with an innate desire to discover the world. To date, I have had the privilege of visiting 31 countries and most of them have left an indelible mark.
During my travels, I have gained valuable knowledge on how to travel efficiently. I have perfected itinerary planning, accommodation selection, and making the most of each experience. I am proud to share my tips and tricks with you so that you can enjoy hassle-free and unforgettable trips.
On this blog, you'll find a carefully curated selection of destinations, practical tips, and honest reviews of hotels and tourist attractions. My goal is to inspire you and provide you with useful resources so that you can plan your own adventures with confidence and peace of mind.
May travel fill you with joy and open you up to new possibilities!