Backpacking Tents Lighten Up Next Spring

Mountain Hardwear GhostUL 2

With more and more people hitting the trail for long distance hikes, brands continue to find ways to shave off weight from their ultralight shelters, ultimately aiming towards 1 pound or less per person. Many companies are switching to nylon from polyester in the rain fly as it is stronger at lower denier counts so therefore lighter, and creating more vertical walls and head room to up the livability quotient. Here are a few of our favorite ultralight tents we saw at Outdoor Retailer last month that will be available in time for your spring long distance hiking adventures.

The New Mountain Hardwear GhostUL 2 ($449) weighs 2 pounds, 2 ounces–5 ounces lighter than the current SuperMegaUL 2 but larger and more durable. The company achieved the weight savings by counterintuitively upping the denier count to 20 but reducing the amount of PU coating required in the process because of the tighter weave. I have been testing this tent for Backpacker and love the well thought out design details for connecting the fly to the canopy. The ultralight tent is definitely roomy enough for two people, as long as you both have mummy sleeping pads and don’t mind hunching over in order to sit up.

MSR Freelite 2

With their small packing weight of only 1 pound, 13 ounces to 3 pounds, 4 ounces (depending on the size) and their durable, weatherproof construction, the MSR Freelite tents (1-3 persons) perfectly suit short weekend-trips as well as longer tours. The tent body made of 10D nylon micromesh brings good ventilation and moisture control, while the canopy and the floor, both made of Durashield coated 15D nylon ripstop, withstand rain and wind. The Freelite 2 ($440) weighs 2 pounds, 6 ounces–a top cross bar adds extra headroom to the 30 cubic foot interior with two large vestibules.


The MSR Thru-Hiker Mesh Houses 2 and 3 concentrate on the essentials: a 15D nylon ripstop PU-coated floor and a 10D nylon micromesh canopy. The MSR Thru-Hiker Mesh House 2 (1 pound, 2 ounces) and 3 (1 pound, 4 ounces) set up with two trekking poles. The two person offers 58 cubic feet of livable volume for you and your hiking buddy on a long distance hike. Pair the canopy with the Thru-Hiker 70 Wing (1 pound) or 100 Wing (1 pound, 4 ounces) made of Durashield coated 20D nylon ripstop for added protection in wet weather.

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