Ultralight Tents – things you don’t need, but are pretty cool anyway

16 August, 2011
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So recently, this little gem showed up in several of my favorite social media sites and it struck me as too cool an item not to mention here.

   This is the Specialist Solo ultralight tent. It’s a single person ultralight tent (they also make a two person model). What’s an ultralight tent? It’s a camping tent designed with weight and compactness as its primary goals. Ultralight hiking gear is all intended to be the lightest, easiest carry equipment money can buy. A smart ultralight hiker can spend a long weekend in the woods in relative comfort while carrying a kit bag lighter than many fully loaded laptop computer bags. Ultralight equipment is thus also very desirable for the survival-minded as it means we can store more gear in less space and for less weight. This tent is an excellent example of this as, when properly packed, it’s not much larger than a large water bottle and weighs just a breath over 1 pound.

But we quickly get to the bad news. Price. The single person unit starts at $430 USD. Ouch. This isn’t necessarily that unreasonable for the overland hiker/camper, but for the “lazy survivor”, it immediately breaks one of our cardinal rules: disaster readiness should never be this wallet busting. So how about some alternatives?

This is Tarptent’s answer. This is a unit called the Sublite. In addition to being a bit lighter, it’s significantly less expensive ($180USD). It’s a simpler design and doesn’t seem quite as feature rich, but remember, the real goal of these tents is to provide basic shelter in the smallest, lightest package. Of course, if you want to play to these rules, why not go a step further? How about this:

This is Gossamer Gear’s SpinnShelter. About the same price as the Tarptent model ($195), but a bit lighter. It’s also a bit more simple a shelter, being little more than a shell with some poles. This unit, unlike the others, has no floor. It can be configured in a number of ways, depending on your situation, but all basically amount to a simple covering.

There are all interesting options for serious camping. Who am I kidding? These are all damn sexy beasts of camping tech and I want all three of them. But they all fall short, in my opinion, for a survival kit. Not only are even the inexpensive ones fairly pricey, they’re too situation-specific. Consider the variety of emergencies that one might encounter. Now, how many of those would benefit from a tent like this? In my estimation, that subset is too small to justify this item. Rather, what I would want to see in my kit is something that could be fashioned into a shelter or used to improve a field-built shelter but that also had other uses. Thermal “space blankets” can be used this way. A simple picnic/camping tarp and a good length of twine can also be used to build impromptu covering and yet also has other functions and value. Television Chef and all-around-cool-guy Alton Brown has a reoccurring theme when it comes to his kitchen gadgets: avoid the single-purpose device. I’ve always liked that idea, especially as it might apply to disaster readiness.

Links:

http://www.summithut.com/products/specialist-solo/

http://tarptent.com/sublite.html

http://gossamergear.com/shelters/spinnshelter.html

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One Response to Ultralight Tents – things you don’t need, but are pretty cool anyway

  1. 16 August, 2011 at 11:28 am

    I own a TarpTent and they are very well made and the manufacturer is very communicative and helpful. That being said, it is not the easiest tent for a novice to set up. Having to do so under bad conditions might be daunting. I also own an MSR Missing Link; older tent but very durable and deceptively roomy.

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