Lightweight tent

Backpacks

Size and weight
All these tents are designed for two people, but some are more spacious than others. All weigh under 2.5kg. The pack size is important, but the smaller options usually mean less living space, a higher price and more fragile lightweight materials. Manufacturers have been known to ditch pegs, guy lines, stuff sacks and even tent poles to achieve a light weight.

Doors
These provide access and ventilation, as well as acting as a windbreak and canopy when cooking. Ideally, the zips should have double pullers so the top or bottom can be opened.

Porch
This area, outside the inner tent but still under cover of the flysheet, is ideal for storing wet gear, as well as acting as a kitchen in wet weather (check the door’s zip opens at the top to allow steam and condensation to escape). The Gelert tent also comes with a porch groundsheet.

Fabric
What’s ‘hydrostatic’ all about? It tells you how much rain the fabric will withstand before water will ingress and make you wet. So a fabric that has a rating of 10,000mm hydrostatic head is more waterproof than a fabric with 1,500mm.

Guy lines
These help to stabilise the tent, especially in high winds. Brighter colours and reflective tape make them more visible to help you avoid tripping over them. Having them pre-fitted is a nice touch.

Inner tent
This should be breathable to let moisture escape and avoid condensation from forming and dripping on to you. There needs to be a gap between the inner and the flysheet so any moisture on the fly doesn’t soak through. Single-skin tents may be lighter, but occupants are more likely to get wet from the condensation. All the tents tested here are double-skinned.

Groundsheet
This is what you lie on and is usually sewn in and seam-sealed to make it waterproof. In lightweight tents they may not be as tough as in heavier versions.

Pegs and poles
Basic skewer, lightweight titanium, or more durable but heavier pegs? Some tested dug painfully into the hands when pushed into the ground, while others seemed too short to hold fast in windier conditions. Most tents have alloy poles with shock cords down the middle to allow them to fold. It’s helpful if these are colour coded so it’s clear which pole attaches where.

Flysheet
This outer sheet is all about keeping the rain off. Nylon is lightweight, tends to be more expensive and is often treated with UV inhibitors to prolong its durability. Polyester gives more stability and is often used for larger tents. But, in general, the thicker the fabric, the longer it will last.