The Utopia 2
The Utopia 2 (courtesy, GoLite)

What is the lightest two-person three-season tent?

What is the lightest two-person three-season tent? I define a tent as something that is big enough to lie down or sit in, and keeps the rain and bugs out. All the manufacturers are trying to confuse me by listing minimum weight, packaged weight, trail weight, fastpack weight, packed weight... Erik Rochester, NY

The Utopia 2

That’s an excellent question. Adding to the confusion? You may be carrying extra stakes or a ground cover, and that can add weight. Plus, let’s face it, I don’t think every tent made by a maker is the same weight. Odds are good that they sample a batch, find the lightest, and use that as packaged weight.

The Utopia 2 The Utopia 2

The GoLite Utopia 2 ($275) is pretty much the lightest tent out there. It’s a real tent—tent poles, silicon-impregnated fly—but has no inner wall (it’s a single-wall tent) and no floor. Still, if you can live with that, for two pounds, ten ounces (packed weight, two pounds, seven ounces minimum weight) you have a tent.

I admit, I don’t find that kind of setup real practical—I’d be carrying a floor liner and adding a pound, just to keep my pad and bag off the ground.

So…I have thought this for a long time, and still think it. The lightest practical two-person tent is in my view the Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight 2 ($199). Three pounds, six ounces (“trail weight”—no packaging or anything). It achieves this with a tunnel-tent design that requires you to stake it out. But that saves you a pole or two. Add light materials, and you have a light tent.

A worthy competitor is the REI Quarter Dome 2 ($270). A free-standing tent that comes in at three pounds, 12 ounces, which is pretty remarkable.

My own favorite is the Black Diamond Lighthouse ($430) a free-standing, single-wall tent with a floor that weighs about the same as the Clip Flashlight, give or take an ounce. Costs more, true. But it’s a tough, versatile, practical tent. I use mine for solo camping, as well as climbing trips with a friend.

From Outside Magazine, April/May 2021
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Lead Photo: courtesy, GoLite