Whereas ultralight tents are simpler to hold as a result of they weigh much less, you normally need to sacrifice one thing by way of consolation, ease of use, or climate safety to make use of one. The burden discount doesn’t come at no cost, even when the tent is made with an ultralight materials like Dyneema Composite Materials. I’m not making an attempt to dissuade you from shopping for an ultralight tent however to assist calibrate your expectations. I’ve heard too many tales from individuals who’ve purchased an ultralight tent and find yourself hating it as a result of it isn’t as snug, heat, or straightforward to make use of as they anticipated.
What’s an Ultralight Tent?
There actually isn’t a superb definition of what an ultralight tent is and isn’t. It has to have a roof, a flooring, a door, and normally has some insect netting. Weight can be an element, however no matter weight threshold you select, be it 1 pound, 2 kilos, or 3 kilos is fairly arbitrary. The one factor that ultralight tents share is a standard set of weight-saving design patterns and tips to scale back gear weight resembling single-wall building, trekking pole setup, and the usage of light-weight materials.
Nevertheless, these weight-saving tips require sure tradeoffs by way of consolation, heat, waterproofing, sturdiness, noise, ease of setup, gear preparation, and price that may generate consumer dissatisfaction. In the event you’re shopping for an ultralight tent and don’t perceive the tradeoffs made by the tent designer, you’ll most likely be shocked by its efficiency, maybe in a destructive method.
Ultralight Tents and their Pitfalls
What are a number of the pitfalls that outcome from the weight-saving building strategies utilized by ultralight tent designers?
Many ultralight tents are single-wall tents that wouldn’t have a separate internal tent and rainfly. Whereas this reduces tent weight, it typically leads to elevated tent condensation and the switch of moisture onto your sleeping bag or quilt the place it touches the tent partitions. Whereas there are methods to keep away from or decrease it, they require behavioral modifications in the way you ventilate your tent or the place you pitch it. Even then, it may be arduous to keep away from. In the event you can’t stand the considered getting your sleeping bag or quilt moist, even when it’s minor, you must most likely keep away from getting a single wall tent.
Many ultralight tents have vestibule doorways which might be half-length that don’t attain the bottom. They’re reduce brief to advertise airflow by way of the tent however could make the tent fairly drafty and chilly inside, or lead to splashback, the place rain hitting the bottom, bounces again inside your tent. You possibly can mitigate this by pointing the rear of your tent towards the incoming wind and climate. In the event you don’t need to take into consideration the wind route when pitching your tent, you must most likely get a tent that has doorways and partitions that attain the bottom.
Lowered sturdiness, much less waterproof
A typical tactic to scale back cloth weight is to make use of thinner, lighter, and decrease denier materials (like 7d or 10d), regardless that they’re much less sturdy and fewer waterproof. In the event you don’t need to carry a tent footprint to guard the underside of your tent from abrasion or you possibly can’t reliably discover tent websites with good drainage, you must most likely keep away from getting a tent made with very skinny (low denier) materials (besides if it’s made with Dyneema Composite Materials, that are each waterproof).
Costly, cumbersome to pack, poor privateness, scorching in daylight
Many ultralight tents are made with Dyneema Composite Cloth (DCF) which is an ultralight materials that’s a lot lighter weight per yard than extra standard tent materials like nylon or polyester. Along with making a tent rather more costly (normally by an element of two), DCF tents are bulkier to pack than these made with nylon or polyester, they’re translucent so individuals can see by way of the tent partitions, and they are often insufferably scorching and unusable in vibrant daylight. If value, packability, privateness, or day-use are priorities, you must most likely skip getting a DCF tent.
Slippery flooring, tent partitions sag after they get moist
One other common light-weight cloth is siliconized nylon (silnylon). Tents made with silnylon have very slippery flooring so your sleeping pad will transfer round at evening contained in the tent. Silnylon additionally has plenty of stretch to it when it will get moist within the rain. This can lead to inner condensation dripping from the ceiling and partitions onto your gear or loud flapping sounds if it’s windy.
Poor headroom and cramped inside house
Many ultralight tents require trekking poles to arrange as a substitute of hubbed, collapsible tent poles. Whereas this protects weight, the tents are extremely angular with diagonal ceilings and sidewalls, as a substitute of the curved ceiling and partitions you can create with fashionable aluminum or carbon fiber tent poles. As a consequence, trekking pole ultralight tents are normally extra cramped and finest used for sleeping solely, as a substitute of hanging out. Even then it’s possible you’ll get up at evening with tent cloth an inch or two above your face and toes, which will be fairly claustrophobic.
More durable to arrange on arduous surfaces or small tent websites
Ultralight trekking pole tents aren’t freestanding or semi-freestanding, which may make them tougher to arrange on stable surfaces, like tent platforms, the place it’s tough to safe tent stakes. Freestanding and semi-freestanding tents are additionally a lot simpler to pitch on unhealthy tent websites, particularly smaller tent websites that don’t have house for lengthy guylines.
Ultralight tents are made with sure design tradeoffs that sacrifice consolation, climate safety, ease of use, and sturdiness so as to scale back their weight. It’s essential to know what tradeoffs have been made whenever you’re searching for an ultralight tent, so you recognize what to anticipate whenever you use it and whether or not it’s essential to be taught new abilities or purchase further gear to compensate for them. You can too put it like this: there’s no such factor as a free lunch in the case of lowering the load of your backpacking gear. You all the time hand over one thing. My intention right here hasn’t been to dissuade you from investing in an ultralight backpacking tent, however to warn you to the tradeoffs inherent in ultralight tent design, so that you’re not blindsided whenever you make a purchase order.
Listed below are some hyperlinks to articles that handle most of the points I increase above and the right way to adapt to them: