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6 Of The Best Tents For Backpacking And Lightweight Camping


Camping magazine’s backpacking expert Clive Tully presents a round-up of the best lightweight tents for 2019.

Expect to pay £149.99
Of the many new models coming from Robens this year, the Boulder 2 is squarely aimed at backpackers on a budget. In fact, it’s part of a new range called Route, developed to meet the demand for easy to use entry-level tents. Manufacturing quality is excellent. Ease of pitching and pricing aimed at budget campers make this a great choice for beginners, DoE participants or youth groups. It comes out of its stuff sack with fly and inner separate, as it pitches inner first. In warm dry conditions, this may be all you need – protection from marauding insects, and a tinge of modesty if you’re on a site. When the wind gets up, you have four guys, each with two attachment points, so offering good stability even for a basic dome. Robens do wind tunnel tests for all their tents – this one comes out unscathed up to 105 kph (65 mph). That’s actually a Force 10 storm! Needless to say you should always seek out a sheltered spot to pitch when you can. Headroom inside is good – a metre at the highest point, which extends the full width of the inner, so two backpackers can sit up without feeling as though they have to compete for space.

Weight 2.4 kg
Pitching time 5 minutes
Size 260cm x 230cm Inner 210cm x 120cm (100cm)
Packed size 51cm x 14cm
Materials Outer HydroTex Core 75D polyester 185T, 3,000mm Inner 68D breathable polyester 190T Groundsheet 75D polyester Taffeta 185T, 6,000mm Poles Anodised alloy #6061, T6, 8.5 mm Pegs 10 square section alloy

Expect to pay
Foolproof pitching, minimal pegging for the majority of situations, and better than average space make this tent a joy to use. It’s not cheap, of course, but worth it when you combine space for weight with the sturdy design. Lightwave’s single-skin S15 Sigma pitches all in one, because one is all there is! It has a single side entry and porch, which provides plenty of space for your kit – it’s bigger than porches I’ve seen on some two-berth tents! The liveability factor is good – it’s spacious for a solo tent, with steep walls and that cross pole adding up to lots of headroom. The fabric is black, so it’s rather darker than your average two-skin tent, and the patterned underside has a soft and warm feel to the touch. This is Lightwave’s own fabric called X-tex. It’s highly breathable, and deals with moisture even when it condenses.

Weight 1.36 kg (S20 1.75 kg)
Pitching time 5 minutes
Size 230cm x 95cm, porch max width 70cm (100cm)
Packed size 45cm x 15cm
Materials Outer 75gm 20D ripstop Nylon, X-tex lamination, 20,000mm; porch wall 51gm 30D 6.6 ripstop Nylon, silicon-coated both sides, 5,000mm Inner 25gm 20D 6.6 ripstop Nylon, DWR treated, mesh window Groundsheet 75gm 50D PU Nylon taffeta, 5,000mm Poles DAC 9.35mm Featherlite alloy Pegs 8 Lightning pegs, 11gms each, square section alloy; 4 Flash pegs, 7gms each, rectangular section alloy

Expect to pay £345.00
New for 2019 is the Zoic range of solo, two and three-berth lightweight tents from American outdoors company MSR. It’s designed to keep you cool in warmer weather camping, and after last summer, that’s probably not a bad starting point. The design of this easy to pitch tent is best suited to three season use on low-level or sheltered sites, but with the longer lasting PU coating and MSR quality build, you have a lightweight for beginners or trail campers which will offer years of trusty service. The inner tent is entirely mesh above the generous tub walls in the groundsheet, ideal for hot balmy summer nights when all you want to do is keep the insects at bay while you count stars.  With a full-length porch on each side of the inner, you have plenty of space for kit storage without impinging on accessibility, and once you’ve unzipped the inner door panel and secured it with loop and toggle fastening, inside is roomy, too.

Weight 1.97 kg
Pitching time 5 minutes
Size 223cm x 289cm Inner 223cm x 137cm (100cm)
Packed size 47cm x 12cm
Materials Outer 40D ripstop Nylon Xtreme Shield PU/silicone, 1500mm Inner 15D Nylon micromesh Groundsheet 70D taffeta Nylon Xtreme Shield PU/DWR, 3000mm Poles 7000 series aluminium Pegs 8 anodised alloy

Expect to pay £600.00
This has to be one of the lightest and smallest pack size double-wall tents I’ve reviewed. Packed in its stuff sack, The Laser Pulse 1 is about the size of a one litre water bottle, and tips the scales at just over half a kilo. It’s aimed at fast movers with limited pack size, such as mountain marathon runners, but its qualities will definitely appeal to backpackers going for light weight and small pack size throughout their gear. Even using the most advanced lightweight materials, it’s inevitable that a tent that more or less fits into your pocket demands a few compromises. The pitched size may or may not be an issue depending on the size of the user, but certainly it’s best suited to sheltered pitches. It’s a single hoop tunnel with a short upright at the tail, and while its default pitching mode is all in one, it’s possible to pitch the inner on its own, or indeed the fly on its own. The tent is a three season model best suited to sheltered pitches, but you could certainly extend its range somewhat with a small handful of alternative pegs for better grip in the ground. The porch runs the side of the tent, and while the storage space beyond the doorway at the head of the tent isn’t huge, in the context of the other lightweight gear you’d be using, it’s adequate. With a maximum head height of 82 cms, you’ll probably find it most comfortable sitting in the doorway with your head outside, but for what is essentially a luxury bivvy tent, the space inside for one isn’t that bad.

Weight 0.545 kg
Pitching time 5 minutes
Size 234 cm x 115cm Inner 220cm x 81cm (82cm)
Packed size 30cm x 10cm
Materials Outer Watershed 7D Si, 1,700mm Inner ripstop Nylon plus mesh Groundsheet ripstop Watershed Si2, 3,000mm Poles DAC 8.7mm alloy Pegs 8 titanium

Expect to pay £250
The description “hybrid dome” seems to cover a multitude of designs these days. And while I’ve used the term here for Vango’s new addition to their trekking range, the Torridon could also be a wonky tunnel or ridge tent. At over 3kg, the Torridon 200 probably packs best with the load split between two campers. But whether on the move or used more as a base camp tent, it combines ease of pitching with a robust wind and rain-shedding construction. There’s also a three-berth model, price £280. With an entrance porch on each side, each with two door panels, you have plenty of flexibility when it comes to organising kit storage and access. Once inside, you’re struck with the amount of space – the pole configuration provides masses of headroom, so two campers won’t feel like they’re crowded together. The fact that there’s a small window in the fly on each side might add a little to the weight, but it does provide extra light inside, not to mention a quick view of the outside world to assist in any decision as to whether or not to emerge from your sleeping bag.

Weight 3.17 kg
Pitching time 5 minutes
Size 275 x 235cm Inner 220 x 130cm (110cm)
Packed size 50 x 19cm
Materials Outer Protex 70D ripstop polyester, 5,000mm Inner breathable polyester Groundsheet 70D polyester, 6,000mm Poles Yunan Eco alloy Pegs 10 alloy

Expect to pay £400
The Chapel design has been around for a few years – and this new one from Vaude is much more suited to backpackers and cycle campers. If you like lots of space, both horizontally and vertically, this is the tent for you. The tent pitches all in one, and the poles are external, so once they’re all connected up. The inner doors unzip back to over half the length of the inner, secured with drawcord loop and toggle fastenings. The top third of each door is mesh, and each end of the inner also has a mesh panel. There’s a generously sized mesh storage pocket in opposing corners of the inner, and if that isn’t enough, they’ve craftily turned the fire safety information panel – in most tents usually attached along its top edge – into a pocket as well. I rather liked the credit printed on the flysheet: “architecture by Jake Lah.” This is a nod to the founder and boss of Korean company DAC, and a reminder that without poles, a tent is just a pile of loose fabric.

Weight 2.5 kg
Pitching time 5 minutes
Size 255cm x 225cm Inner 225cm x 110cm (105cm)
Packed size 55cm x 20cm
Materials Outer 30D silicone/PU ripstop polyester, 3,000mm Inner 30D ripstop polyester Groundsheet 70D PU polyamide, 7,000mm Poles DAC Pressfit Al 7001 alloy 11.1/9.5 mm Pegs 10 Y section alloy

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