One-person shelters are the definitive expression of going ultralight. Eschewing creature comforts, those that sleep solo reap the benefits of cutting precious ounces from their packs. To identify the absolute lightest models available in 2022, we’ve researched and compiled charts of backpacking tents with poles, trekking pole-supported shelters, and bivies and hammocks. We did level the playing field and require the shelters to have a waterproof and bugproof design, so there are no minimalist bivies or tarps here. Bivy sacks lead the way starting at 10.7 ounces, but we came away impressed with the sheer number of shelters on the market under 4.5 pounds all in. No matter your preferred sleeping style, there is a lightweight one-person solution available.


One-Person Tents with Poles

Tent Model Packed Weight Price Fabric (Bottom) Floor Area Packed Size
Big Agnes Scout 1 Platinum 1 lb. 1 oz. $350 Unavail. 16 sq. ft. 4.5 x 16 in.
Big Agnes Fly Creek HV 1 Carbon 1 lb. 5 oz. $900 Unavail. 19 sq. ft. 5 x 18 in.
MSR Carbon Reflex 1 1 lb. 13 oz. $530 15D 17 sq. ft. 5 x 17 in.
NEMO Hornet Elite OSMO 1P 1 lb. 14 oz. $500 10D 21.8 sq. ft. 4 x 19 in.
MTN Hardwear Nimbus UL 1 1 lb. 14.8 oz. $380 30D 19.7 sq. ft. 5 x 12 in.
MSR FreeLite 1 1 lb. 15 oz. $370 15D 20 sq. ft. 4 x 18 in.
Nemo Hornet 1P 2 lbs. $360 15D 22.3 sq. ft. 4.5 x 19.5 in.
Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL1 SD 2 lbs. $350 20D 20 sq. ft. 5 x 18.5 in.
Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL1 2 lbs. 2 oz. $370 15D 19 sq. ft. 5.5 x 17 in.
Tarptent Rainbow 2 lbs. 3.5 oz. $279 30D 23.9 sq. ft. 4 x 18 in.
Tarptent Moment DW 2 lbs. 5.7 oz. $349 Unavail. 18.1 sq. ft. 4 x 18 in.
REI Co-op Quarter Dome SL1 2 lbs. 6 oz. $329 Unavail. 18.9 sq. ft. 6 x 19 in.
Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL1 2 lbs. 6 oz. $400 15 x 20D 20 sq. ft. 5.5 x 17.5 in.
Big Agnes Fly Creek UL1 Bikepack 2 lbs. 6 oz. $390 Unavail. 19 sq. ft. 5 x 14 in.
MSR Hubba Hubba 1 2 lbs. 7 oz. $410 20D 18 sq. ft. 4 x 19 in.
Sea to Summit Alto TR 1 2 lbs. 7.2 oz. $449 15D 19.5 sq. ft. 4.3 x 17.7
Big Agnes Copper Spur mtnGLO 2 lbs. 8 oz. $450 15 x 20D 20 sq. ft. 5.5 x 17.5 in.
NEMO Tracker 1P 2 lbs. 9 oz. $350 15D 23 sq. ft. 4.5 x 19.5 in.
Marmot Tungsten UL 1 2 lbs. 9.5 oz. $349 20D 19.4 sq. ft. 4.1 x 21.1 in.
Hilleberg Enan 2 lbs. 10 oz. $680 Unavail. 18.3 sq. ft. Unavail.
Nemo Dragonfly 1P 2 lbs. 13 oz. $400 20D 20.3 sq. ft. 4 x 19.5 in.
Big Agnes Copper Spur Bikepack 2 lbs. 13 oz. $500 15 x 20D 20 sq. ft. 6 x 13.5 in.
NEMO Dragonfly Bikepack 2 lbs. 15 oz. $420 20D 20.3 sq. ft. 6 x 14.5 in.
Tarptent Scarp 1 3 lbs. 0.1 oz. $459 30D 19.1 sq. ft. 5 x 18 in.
Eureka Solitaire AL 3 lbs. 3 oz. $115 65D 21.5 sq. ft. 4 x 18 in.
Big Agnes Seedhouse SL1 3 lbs. 5 oz. $280 Unavail. 20 sq. ft. 6.5 x 18 in.
The North Face Stormbreak 1 3 lbs. 7 oz. $139 68D 18.1 sq. ft. 6 x 22 in.
MSR Access 1 3 lbs. 8 oz. $560 30D 19 sq. ft. 6 x 18 in.
Kelty Late Start 1 3 lbs. 12 oz. $140 68D 20.6 sq. ft. 7 x 15 in.
Marmot Tungsten 1P 3 lbs. 12 oz. $193 68D 19.1 sq. ft. 6.5 x 20 in.
REI Co-op Half Dome 1 Plus 4 lbs. 2 oz. $169 70D 24.3 sq. ft. 6.5 x 23.5 in.
Eureka Midori 1 4 lbs. 2 oz. $145 Unavail. 20 sq. ft. 5 x 16 in.

 

One-Person Trekking Pole-Supported Shelters

Shelter Model Packed Weight Price Fabric (Bottom) Floor Area Packed Size
Zpacks Plexamid 16.8 oz. $599 1 oz/sqyd 20.6 sq. ft. 6 x 12 in.
Tarptent ProTrail Li 1 lb. 1.7 oz. $529 1 oz/sqyd 24.5 sq. ft. 4 x 12 in.
Gossamer Gear The One 1 lb. 1.7 oz. $300 10D 19.6 sq. ft. 6 x 9 in.
Tarptent Aeon Li 1 lb. 3.3 oz. $569 1 oz/sqyd 18.3 sq. ft. 4 x 14 in.
Tarptent Notch Li 1 lb. 5.5 oz. $629 1 oz/sqyd 19.8 sq. ft. 4 x 16 in.
Big Bear Wilderness Designs AT 1 1 lb. 6 oz. $249 30D 19 sq. ft. Unavail.
Tarptent ProTrail 1 lb. 8.3 oz. $239 30D 21 sq. ft. 4 x 14 in.
MTN Laurel Solomid w/Innernet 1 lb. 9 oz. $455 20D 44 sq. ft. Unavail.
Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo 1 lb. 10 oz. $250 40D 26 sq. ft. 4.5 x 11 in.
REI Co-op Flash Air 1 1 lb. 10.5 oz. $279 Unavail. 21.3 sq. ft. 6 x 16 in.
LightHeart Gear Solo 1 lb. 11 oz. $260 30D 30 sq. ft. Unavail.
Six Moon Designs Skyscape Trekker 1 lb. 12 oz. $270 40D 23 sq. ft. 5 x 15 in.
Tarptent Notch 1 lb. 12.4 oz. $314 Unavail. 15.2 sq. ft. 4 x 16 in.
MSR Mesh House 1 w/70 Wing 1 lb. 14 oz. $360 15D 20 sq. ft. Unavail.
Tarptent StratoSpire 2 lbs. 6.3 oz. $325 30D 19.1 sq. ft. 4 x 16 in.
Six Moon Designs Skyscape Scout 2 lbs. 8 oz. $160 Unavail. 23 sq. ft. 5 x 15 in.

 

One-Person Bivy Sacks and Hammocks

Shelter Model Packed Weight Price Fabric (Bottom) Fabric (Body) Packed Size
Black Diamond Twilight Bivy 10.7 oz. $170 70D 30D 3 x 5 in.
MSR Pro Bivy 12 oz. $230 15D 20D 4 x 8 in.
Sierra Designs Backcountry Bivy 14 oz. $139 30D 20D 4 x 10 in.
Rab Trailhead Bivi 14.3 oz. $110 40D 40D 4.7 x 7.1 in.
Outdoor Research Helium Bivy 15.8 oz. $199 40D 30D 3.5 x 12.3 in.
Outdoor Research Bug Bivy 1 lb. $99 Unavail. Unavail. 4 x 14 in.
Rab Alpine Bivi 1 lb. 0.5 oz. $250 70D 15D 5 x 12 in.
OR Alpine AscentShell Bivy 1 lb. 2.6 oz. $299 40D 30D 3.5 x 12.3 in.
REI Co-op Shell Bivy 1 lb. 3 oz. $100 Unavail. Unavail. 5 x 12 in.
Rab Storm Bivi 1 lb. 3.3 oz. $150 70D 40D 4.7 x 9.8 in.
Rab Ascent Bivi 1 lb. 6 oz. $290 40D 40D 5 x 10 in.
Black Diamond Spotlight Bivy 1 lb. 7 oz. $230 Unavail. Unavail. 4 x 7.5 in.
Hennessy Hammock Hyperlite 1 lb. 12 oz. $280 30D 20D 4 x 8 in.
Black Diamond Big Wall Hooped Bivy 1 lb. 14 oz. $330 Unavail. Unavail. 6 x 13 in.
Hennessy Hammock UL Backpacker 2 lbs. $240 70D 20D 6 x 9 in.
Warbonnet Blackbird XLC 
w/Mamajamba Tarp
2 lbs. 1.8 oz. $325 70D 30D Unavail.
Black Diamond Bipod Bivy 2 lbs. 2 oz. $350 Unavail. Unavail. 6 x 13 in.

 

The Lightweight Shelter Debate: Tents, Hammocks and Bivy Sacks

We'll start with the bad news: We’re not going to crown one shelter type as the absolute best way to go ultralight. There are simply too many factors at play. What we can do is take an objective look at the charts above, and trekking pole-supported shelters are the winners with a number of options under 1 pound (not including your trekking poles). From there, the order is as follows: bivy sacks, traditional tents with poles, and hammocks. 

Each shelter type has its various pros and cons. Most folks won’t venture away from the traditional backpacking tent, and with a number of options under 2 pounds, it’s hardly a huge sacrifice. That said, the fabrics are less durable relative to their weight, and heft and bulk can add up pretty quickly with all the moving parts and components. If you already backpack with trekking poles, getting a tent that’s supported by those handy sticks is a great way to go lightweight. Not everyone, however, is up for the more complicated setup.

Bivy sacks and hammocks are on opposite ends of the comfort scale, but both have a small but dedicated group of devotees. Bivies are great for the hardcore adventurer that isn’t prone to claustrophobia, while hammocks are a relaxing getaway for those that like to sleep off the ground. Keep in mind that not all wilderness areas allow hammocks, so do your research before diving in. No matter your preference, the good news is that the industry’s focus on keeping weight down has yielded multiple sub-2-pound options for each shelter type.
 

Trekking Pole-Supported Shelters

As our overall lightweight winners, trekking pole-supported shelters have earned a more detailed explanation. As the name indicates, your trekking poles replace the standard tent poles in creating the structure. The resulting shelters are rigid, just as capable in bad weather as a standard tent, and roomy for their weight. But these tents are not for everyone. To start, not all backpackers use trekking poles. Further, someone coming from a freestanding tent model may find the set up a little confusing—it’s not as simple as clipping in the poles and staking it out. With practice in setting them up and familiarity in choosing a good campsite, however, the process can become very smooth very quickly. Serious adventurers and thru-hikers are the biggest proponents of these designs, but we've seen their appeal continue to grow over the past few years as they are blazing the trail in ultralight shelters.
 

Packed Weight vs. Trail Weight

When researching tents, you’ll often see two weight specs: packed weight and trail weight. Packed weight is the heavier of the two and includes everything that’s shipped from the manufacturer: the tent body, rainfly, poles, stakes, guylines, instructions, and bags. Trail weight is the most brag-worthy but includes just the basics: the tent body, rainfly, and poles.

The truth is the actual weight you’ll be hauling around will probably be somewhere in between the two. For the sake of this comparison, we’ve chosen to list packed weight because it’s the more accurate number for the majority of backpackers. Trail weight doesn’t include stakes, which are an essential part of setting up a tent, and most people don’t ditch the guylines and tent bag. Packed weight does include some extras we prefer to leave behind like the instructions or the tent pole bag (subtract about an ounce total for those items), but we still think it’s the better and more helpful number for the purposes of our charts.
 

Packed Size

A quick scan of the charts above reveals the obvious: Packed size and weight go hand-in-hand. Lighter and thinner materials are on average more compact and compressible, and these one-person shelters easily can be fit into just about any size backpacking pack. That said, packed size is only so helpful because we rarely store our tents as a single unit. Instead, we prefer to strap the tent poles along the outside of our pack, which opens up even more space inside the main compartment. We like the spec as a means for comparing how much total space the tent will take up, but don’t be hamstrung into thinking you have to squeeze the whole thing inside your pack as one unit.
 

Ultralight Fabrics: Nylon, Silnylon and Dyneema (Cuben Fiber)

The single biggest influencer in reducing weight is the shelter body fabric. The longtime standard has been ripstop nylon, which is affordable and can be made waterproof with a polyurethane coating and seam taping. Its unfortunate downside is durability. As the fabric gets thinner (measured in denier), its tendency to puncture and tear increases more than other fabric options.

Many small-time cottage industry brands turn to silnylon, which is liquid silicon-injected ripstop nylon. This process makes the fabric waterproof and more durable than standard nylon at a very low weight. Silnylon once was considered the ultralight gold standard until the release of Dyneema (formerly Cuben Fiber). This fabric is extremely expensive and requires precise manufacturing, but it has the best strength-to-weight ratio of anything on the market (see our review of the Dyneema Hyperlite Southwest pack here). It’s no surprise that the lightest shelters on this list from Zpacks and Six Moon Designs all utilize Dyneema and Dyneema Composite fabrics.
 

Fabric Thickness

The industry-wide obsession with ultralight fabrics has pushed them to become so thin that many are literally see-through. Calling them paper-thin doesn’t do justice, and although the various fabrics are surprisingly tough for their weight, durability inevitably suffers. Of particular importance is retaining some tear resistance, or thickness, in the floor material—this is the area most vulnerable to punctures and wearing out over time. When available from the manufacturer, we list the floor thickness of every shelter model in the charts above.

Unfortunately, there aren’t universal thickness measurements to use across fabric types. Standard nylons are given a denier rating, with a lower denier being thinner and flimsier than a higher denier. Tents with 15- and 20-denier floors in particular require gentle treatment to keep them intact (and don’t even think about ditching the footprint). As we cover in the section above, silnylon and Dyneema fabrics have superior weight-to-strength ratios than standard nylon, so you get a thinner fabric with fewer compromises. Their thicknesses are measured in an ounce/square yard ratio with Dyneema fibers as mind-blowingly light as .51 oz./sq. yd., while silnylon is about double that at a still-impressive 1.1 oz./sq. yd.
 

Interior Space

One-person shelters are built for sleeping one person and that’s about it. Don’t expect space to store a pack inside or play host to a game of cards with a buddy. As such, interior space is undeniably tight in just about every model on the charts above. Bivy sacks are the ultimate expression of a snug fit and offer about as much room as a large sleeping bag—as we mentioned above, they aren’t for the claustrophobic. Tent interior volume can vary, and you can get a good indication of interior space by looking at the floor area. But keep in mind that this length-by-width measurement is taken at ground level and doesn’t account for sloping walls or the peak height. Analyzing the shape of the tent is always recommended to get a clearer picture of true interior volume.

Realistically, interior space isn’t a top priority for one-person shelters. But if you fall into the category of ultralight but comfort-oriented backpackers, we recommend a two-person tent, which we cover in this Backpacking Tent Weight Comparison Chart.
 

Weighing the Rest of Your Gear

Shelters are only one part of putting together an ultralight backpacking system. We’ve found the process of identifying areas where you can cut ounces to be really fun, and it’s something you can do on just about any budget. As a means to pinpoint these opportunities, we’ve researched and compiled detailed comparison charts of two-person backpacking tents, lightweight sleeping bags, and sleeping pads. Trimming ounces from each of these items can lead to pounds being dropped from your total carrying weight, which can make backpacking much easier as the miles add up.

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