What are the Best Backpacking Tents and Shelters?
Let us have a look at what are the Best Backpacking Tents and Shelters? Some traditional backpacking tents can weigh as much as 5 – 7 pounds. As your shelter is one of the most important pieces of gear you take on a backcountry adventure it is important to choose carefully for your safety and comfort. Some traditional shelters contain unnecessary extras as they have been built for ease and comfort and these add more weight. There are many options in the marketplace that will keep you comfortable on weigh as little as few pounds or less per person. Shelters and tents that have been made with high tech waterproof materials are specifically designed to reduce weight.
When choosing an ultralight shelter always consider what your priorities our, be it weight, comfort, flexibility or budget. In this section we take a look at some recommendation for one and two person shelters that are good for spring, summer and fall backpacking adventures.
Freestanding Double Wall Tents
Most backpackers are familiar with freestanding tents, they have polled structures to remain upright and are extremely easy to setup. Most are double walled, this means they have two protection barriers. Most designs have a lightweight mesh layer and a rain fly for wet conditions. This comfortable design has the added option of sleeping without the rain fly in good weather conditions or desert situations. The lightweight mesh layer keeps out the bugs and the freestanding tent hold up well in bad weather.
The only downside to freestanding double wall tents is the cost, weight and size. Double wall mean you’ll be carrying twice as much material and the addition of tentpole weight. When it comes to backpacking every bit of weight counts. There are still a few great ultra lightweight options out in the market place and one we recommend is the MSR Carbon Reflex Solo Tent that is ultra lightweight and durable.
Single Wall Tents
Single wall tents are a great option as they combine a mesh inner and a top rain fly, creating a hybrid. These tents are a great option for backpackers who wish to reduce weight without losing the comfort of their shelter. These tents generally utilise guy lines, trekking poles and stakes to keep them upright. Some come with lightweight tent poles and there are options to use trekking polls if preferred.
Single wall tenants are extremely easy and fast set up. Taking as much time to setup as a double wall shelter and will take no time at all once you get used to it. Single wall tents will keep out the bugs and are a great option in bad weather.
Single wall tents are an ideal option for backpackers on a budget and looking for comfort and greater weight savings like the MountainSmith Dome 3 Person Tent that rate high on all fronts.
Tarps & Bivys
Combining tarp with a bevy is one of the most popular Shelters for ultralight backpackers. Tarp and bivy combinations are affordable and extremely lightweight. Some combinations will weigh as little as 10 ounces.
Bivy bags are water resistance sacks that are fully enclosed and large enough to sleep in comfortably, whist giving you protection against bugs and getting damp under your tarp during the night.
A tarp and bevy is a good option for hikers looking for flexibility from their shelter. A tarp can be lowered near to the ground in bad weather and the sides left open for better ventilation. It takes time to get used to putting up a tarp, but once you have mastered it it will become an extremely ultralight and affordable option.
If you only have a tarp for protection you’ll be more open to the elements so remember to store your food properly and pack insect repellent as a precaution.
Hammocks are another ultra light option similar to tarps and bivy’s. Hammocks our fully enclosed sleeping shelters and are sometimes paired with a tarp to provide rain protection.
Most backpackers the use hammocks swear by them as they remove you from the cold uneven ground and rocks. The downside the backpacking with a hammock is that you need to make sure where your hiking and have good trees to set up on, so make sure you plan your hike ahead. Hammocks can also be cold at night as you do not have added installation below you. There is also the weight difference to consider, hammocks are slightly heavier then other ultralight options as they are built to hold weight. Hammocks are a fun sleeping shelter option and If you’ve never tried it we encourage you to do so.