Lightweight, clever backpacking equipment isn’t just for speed records across the Serengeti anymore. Ultra-light gear is creating a heavy niche in the outdoor industry, and tents, once heavy and complicated, are a centerpiece for new ideas.
“It’s not just through hikers and adventure racers, but it’s everyday backpackers who want to lighten their pack,” says Jason Livingston of MSR, makers of stoves, water filters, tents and other outdoor gear. “When you have a tent like this, there is really not much compromise.”
MSR’s Flylite Tent is a two-person shelter that erects in seconds, has a built-in rain fly, a wall-size front door and employs trekking poles to set up. The best part, other than disappearing in your pack, is the weight: 1.9 pounds.
What to look for in an ultra-light tent
1) Full weather protection
The MSR has a rain fly built into the tent body itself, and includes a small vestibule. Its single wall construction is complemented with highly-efficient ventilation on all sides. “Having it be one piece is an advantage,” Livingston says.
2) Easy set up
You should be able to set up your tent in a flash, according to Livingston. “Envision yourself out in the wilderness, it’s raining, there’s weather. You stake out your four corners, get your trekking poles, stake out the guy lines and you’re done.”
Gone are the days of having to carry your tent on the outside of your pack. “You can throw it right in there,” Livingston said. “I can probably get it to near the size of a softball.”
The Flylite calls for two trekking poles, and in the name of weight, it’s a genius way to make use of something that typically has only one use. No need for tent poles - you already have them.
5) Cross ventilation
Single-wall tents can take on condensation, but the Flylite solves that issue with a design including a mesh wrap around the entire tent, and a generous front door. “There’s a lot of great ventilation to this thing,” Livingston said.