When it comes to fastpacking and thru-hiking, one of the most important pieces of gear is going to be an ultralight backpacking tent for one or many nights camping in the wild, it’s probably one of the heaviest too. At least this used to be the case anyway, nowadays there’s a fair amount of ultralight backpacking tents to choose from, but not all are created equal. This ultralight 2-person backpacking tents buyer’s guide shares only the very best tents in their class.
My ranking criteria for these 2-person ultralight backpacking tents are:
- must be ultralight to make carrying on multiple days more of a pleasure and less of a chore.
- must be durable to withstand the test of time and harsh weather, because let’s face it, tents are an expensive investment. Ultralight tents are minimal by nature, therefore their durability will not be as good as heavier tents so please make sure you purchase a protective footprint/floor to increase its longevity.
- Needs to have enough floor space for 2 people.
- must be useable for at least 3 seasons.
This gear guide is regularly updated so remember to check back before buying your next ultralight backpacking tent.
1.) Hyperlite Mountain Gear Dirigo 2 Tent
|1.75 lbs (794g)||3-Season||32.5 sq. ft.|
Hyperlite’s Dirigo 2 is a 28 oz. ultralight backpacking tent for 2 people is a true masterpiece. It has very minimal setup procedure, with few pieces and doesn’t require additional excessive hardware making this the best ultralight backpacking tent for camping out in the wild.
The Dirigo 2 is a self-contained, three-season, two-person shelter constructed with a blend of five different Dyneema® Composite Fabrics optimally placed throughout this minimalist but feature-packed structure.
This blend provides the best ratios of weight, waterproofness, breathability, and long-term durability. The fabric is 100% waterproof so there’s no need for a separate rainfly, and thanks to the strongest man-made fibers in the world you can pitch the Dirigo 2 without a groundsheet/footprint, too. Since you’re using trekking poles for incredibly robust structural support, you don’t need to carry separate small diameter aluminum poles, either. Less hardware to fail, and less to fiddle with when Mother Nature decides to pull a really fast one on you with unexpected weather. Choose a pair of lightweight trekking poles from our 5 Best Trail Running Poles list if you don’t own any yet.
The overall weight/durability/price ration of this setup makes it the best ultralight backpacking tent for fastpackers and thru-hikers.
2. Big Agnes Tiger Wall Platinum 2 Tent
|2.4 lbs. (1 kg)||3-Season||28 sq. ft.|
This tent takes two-door tent life to a crazy light new level. Two doors, two vestibules, free-standing and with many extras found on most full-featured tents from Big Agnes – including pre-cut guylines, color-coded webbing, buckles and storage pockets. For weight-conscious backcountry thru-hikers (great for fastpacking too), this is a great overnight companion.
Compare prices for Big Agnes’ Tiger Wall Platinum 2 Tent
3 new from $549.95
Big Agnes Tiger Wall Platinum 2 Footprint
14 new from $59.95
3. NEMO Hornet Elite 2 Tent
|2.3 lbs. (1 kg)||3-Season||27.3 sq. ft.|
The NEMO Hornet Elite 2 tent offers 3 seasons of ultralight shelter for 2 people and weighs in at 2 lbs. 3 ounces. The Hornet Elite 2 includes stakes, guyout cord, repair kit and Divvy™ stuff sack, which keeps tent components organized while making it easy to divide the load with a friend. NEMO is using their patent-pending Flybar™ pole clip to provide some extra space overhead for a more roomy feel, don’t expect a tardis though, it’s still a close-fitting two-person tent. There’s a smart Light Pocket™ overhead sleeve built-in which is made with light-diffusing fabric that turns your headlamp into a tent lantern, casting an even glow throughout the tent interior, a really nice touch! And finally, there’s a no-see-um mesh canopy that provides breathability and also a great view of the stars when the tent is pitched without the rainfly, how fun is that!? 🙂
Compare prices for NEMO’s Hornet Elite 2 Tent
10 new from $499.95
NEMO Hornet 2P Footprint
13 new from $48.95
4. Big Agnes Scout 2 Carbon Tent
|1 lbs. (0.45g)||3-Season||25 sq. ft.|
The Big Agnes Scout 2 Carbon tent is a single-wall, trekking-pole-supported shelter with a trail weight of 11 oz. and a roomy floor plan that gives 2 people plenty of space. Big Agnes’ Carbon Series products were designed to push the weight boundaries in tents, which means they aren’t for everyone. Special care during setup and extended trips is important, as rough handling, long-term abrasion, exposure to sharp objects or rocky campsite selection may result in fabric punctures and tears. This slight cost in durability comes at the benefit of an incredibly lightweight tent, however. Using the Big Agnes Scout 2 Carbon Footprint (sold separately) is highly recommended to improve durability.
The exterior trekking-pole design with vertical endwalls and over-vertical sidewalls create a uniquely spacious (in this class of tent) floorplan. This tent is made from the fully waterproof Dyneema fiber-based fabric that’s extremely strong, and tear-resistant also. This fabric resists stretching or sagging during temperature changes too. You’ll find 2 oversize 3D bin pockets that provide good storage without encroaching on your livable space, as well as some interior loops for attaching other accessories like lights, for example.
Note: This tent requires 2 trekking poles (not included) for setup; one 45 in. pole for the front and one that collapses to 33 in. for the rear, this means z-folding poles won’t work.
Compare prices for Big Agnes’ Scout 2 Carbon Tent
3 new from $699.95
Big Agnes Scout 2 Carbon Footprint
1 new from $100.00
5. REI Co-op Quarter Dome 2 Tent
|3.12 lbs. (1.4kg)||3-Season||28.7 sq. ft.|
The REI Co-op Quarter Dome 2 Tent has been completely redesigned with new architecture and lightweight, rugged materials. This very reasonably priced 2-person tent is a lightweight backpacking tent that’s sturdy enough for 3 seasons.
I really like how there’s plenty of room in the fly vestibule to shelter all your gear from the bad weather while vertical sidewalls create spacious elbow room and provide a no-drip entryway too.
The fly itself is made from 15-denier ripstop nylon which minimizes weight while retaining strength; bear in mind that while this is the heaviest tent on this list, it’s an affordable option that’s still very lightweight relative to other tents.
Extra minimalism tip: A fly/footprint minimalist pitch option lets you leave the tent at home and use the fly, poles, and footprint (sold separately) as a lightweight shelter if you wish.
Compare prices for REI Co-op’s Quarter Dome 2 Tent
REI Co-op Quarter Dome 2 Footprint
*BONUS: If you’re after a roomier ultralight backpacking tent
1. Hyperlight Mountain Gear Ultamid 2 Tent
|1.17 lbs. (500g) + 1.38 lbs (626g) Insert||4-Season||63 sq. ft.|
The Hyperlight Ultamid 2 tent is a 2 person ultralight pyramid shelter that can accommodate couples and a dog, or a solo fastpacker/thru-hiker who’d like to keep their gear covered at night. Read on to see why this is a great ultralight backpacking tent for 2 people plus a dog.
When it comes to portable shelter, few designs have been as thoroughly time-tested and proven as those built in the pyramid-style. They’re easy to set up, efficiently spacious, and incredibly capable of providing sanctuary in all but the most extreme weather.
The Ultamid 2 from Hyperlite weighs only 1.17 lbs. (500g) which will undoubtedly be a welcome reduction to any backpacks overall mass; bear in mind that to make this a true tent, not just a shelter, you’ll also need to buy the Hyperlite Ultamid 2 Insert with DCF11 Floor which weighs 1.38 lbs (626g). This tent may be minimal and lightweight but there’s certainly no sacrifice in durability. The 100% waterproof Dyneema® Composite Fabrics used in this elegant structure will outlast garden-variety silnylon materials many times over. This tent will make camping-out overnight a much more comfortable experience, however long you intend to be in the wild. You’ll want to get the mesh insert with DCF11 Floor to go with this tent for the full tent experience and as a way to increase the tents overall durability against the test of time. This is an expensive setup but it’s also one the best especially if you hike with a dog too and require a very roomy lightweight option.
Compare prices for Hyperlite’s Ultamid 2 Tent
Hyperlight Mountain Gear Ultamid 2 Insert with DCF11 Floor