Shaving ounces is a must when gear humping is essential in steep terrain or high altitudes, so picking the right tent is very important. Here is what I learned while researching light weight tents for an upcoming sheep hunt in central Alaska.
Always plan on the worst weather at the time you will be using your tents. Tents come in four-season, three-season and cheap. If you will be experiencing any possible moisture and high winds, get a three-season tent at the minimum. Most quality three-season tents will protect you from wind and rain and some snow.
Next, look at durability. The only way to know if a tent is durable is to read tons of reviews and look at the material. Most three-season tents have an inner tent that attached to poles and a ‘fly’ or covering that goes over the tent and poles. The fly is the wind and rain protector, but the inner tent is important too because it serves as a secondary fortress against rain and wind.
The durability factor really comes into play with tents that have inner mesh walls, as compared to tents with solid walls. Mesh walls let more air enter the tent, let moisture blow through the sides and generally create more condensation. Mesh walls can serve you well, but you will need to match up the weather and temperature with your tent needs.
Floors and zippers are the next test of a tent’s quality. Almost all tents offer a ‘footprint’ as an additional option. These are simply ground cloths that are laid out for the tent to sit on to protect the floor from sharp objects and moisture. Choosing a light weight tent with a strong floor is a must and zipper choice goes without saying.
Finally, what will the weight be of your new light-weight tent? You will have to navigate deceptive product specs to find the truth. Most high dollar tents offer a “trail weight” for their tents. This is a trick because it only includes the outer fly and the poles for their weight measurement. You will need to look for their total tent weight or the “packed weight” to get the true heaviness.
You get what you pay for. There is a group of ultra-light tents that run between $400.00-500.00 and all come it at under three pounds. Then there are the best backpacking tents like the brand Hilleberg who have lightweight tents that weigh close to five pounds and cost upwards of six and seven hundred dollars. These are the best tents made though, so you will need to shop accordingly and expect some sticker shock. Tents are spendy considering that most are only used a couple times a year on average.