My first backpacking trip was in 1991 when I was 18 years old. At that time, one of the hot 2-person ultralight backpacking tents was the North Face Starlight NHP, which I still have and use to this day. I was then amazed at how light it was compared to other tents of the time, with aluminum stakes and poles, and weighing a bit over 4 pounds with the rain tarp. But with today’s ultralight technology, this tent is now a vintage backpacking relic.
As anyone who’s even backpacked just once in their lifetime knows, every pound you can save is like a gift from the heavens. And compared to my backpacking tent from 20+ years ago, there are some tent options today that would allow me to cut this weight more than half in my pack setup.
Here’s some of the best 3 season, 2-person ultralight backpacking tents available that come in with a packed weight under 3 lbs.:
Big Agnes Tiger Wall Carbon Backpacking Tent
Termed not just ultralight, but “crazylight” in category, the Big Agnes Tiger Wall Tent. Weight doesn’t compromise on features with this tent, with two doors, two vestibules, oversized ceiling pocket, multiple interior loops, 8 DAC superlight aluminum J tent stakes..
- Packed weight: 1lb 6oz.
- Packed size: 17.5×6 in
- Easton Carbon fiber poles
- Fly and tent floor made of Dyeema fiber-based fabric
- High dimensional stability: resists sagging or stretching in temperature changes
- Extremely high tear resistance
- No PVC’s or VOC’s
Big Agnes offers a less expensive 2-person tent, called the Fly Creek 2 Platinum which weighs in with a packed weight of 2 lbs. 3oz. The lighter weight is achieved with the latest in fabric and pole technology.
Mountain Hardware Nimbus UL 2 Tent
Mountain Hardware’s Nimbus UL2 is a two-person backpacking tent, featuring DAC Featherlight NSL Poles. Some of the specs for this tent in comparison include:
- Packed weight: 2 lbs., 2 oz. (35 ounces total)
- Floor Area: 28.1 sq. ft.
- Head Height: 41 inches
- Ultralight Sil/Sil nylon fly is fully waterproof and free of dyes and flame-retardant chemicals
- Front dry-entry vestibule with dual sliders
- 1 Vestibule and 1 door
ZPacks Duplex Ultralight 2 Person Tent
This is the lightest two person tent we have on our list, weighting in at only just under 1.2 lbs total! How this is achieved is due to the use of Dyeema Composite Fabric (formerly called Cuben Fiber) as the material used for the tent which is extremely lightweight. Pitching the tent utilizes stakes and trek poles, eliminating the need to carry tent poles, thus reducing pack weight. The tent is a single wall design, but allows for ample ventilation, helping with any condensation issues. With a 30 sq. ft floor area, this is tent is also one of the most spacious on our list. Some of the features with the ZPacks Duplex Tent include:
- Packed weight: 1 lb., 3 oz. (19 ounces total)
- Waterproof, with taped seams
- 4 storm doors for ample ventilation
- Mesh pockets near screen doors
- Rainbow zippers
- Peak Height: 48 inches
- Floor Area: 30 sq. ft.
Nemo Hornet Elite Backpacking Tent
NEMO Equipment has always made some nice looking, high quality tents. For ultralight backpacking, they offer the NEMO Hornet Elite, a 2-person tent that of course is very lightweight and uses premium materials. Some of the features include:
- Packed weight: 2 lb., 1 oz.
- Peak Height: 37 inches
- Floor Area: 27.3 sq. ft
- 1 Hubbed Aluminum DAC Featherlite pole
- Divvy dual-staged stuff sack to split the load with a partner
- Ultra-fine 7D Nylon Ripstop fly
- 2 doors and 2 large vestibules
Big Agnes Scout Plus UL2
NOTE: It appears this model is no longer being manufactured, but there still seems to be inventory for sale with a quick Google search.
An A-Frame style tent that uses trek poles and stakes to pitch, the Big Agnes Scout Plus UL2 offers plenty of room inside at 30 sq. ft. and the largest vestibule of the tents on our list.
- Packed weight: 2 lbs., 3 oz. (35 ounces total)
- Waterproof, with taped seams
- Floor Area: 29 sq. ft.
- Head Height: 45 inches
- A-Frame design, very large vestibule
- Single wall tent with full eve and rear vent system
- Built-in storage bins at head of tent