Ultralight Backpacking Tent
$505 (includes seam sealing; $30 less to order without seam sealing and do that yourself)
2 lbs. 10 oz. for the 2Lite, 2 lbs. 6 oz./1191g for the 2Lite Trek
Backpackers seeking an ultralight, two-person tent with decent space and solid performance in a range of backcountry circumstances actually have several good choices these days—including six of my 10 picks for the best backpacking tents. And yet, there are many reasons they should consider the 2Lite from SlingFin, as I concluded by the first night of a long hike through the High Sierra in August, when strong gusts pounded our camp at nearly 10,000 feet all night.
A partner and I slept in the 2Lite for eight nights on a hike of nearly 130 miles through the Ansel Adams and John Muir Wildernesses and Kings Canyon National Park, mostly on the John Muir Trail with some on- and off-trail variations—where this tent stood up well in strong winds.
SlingFin previously sold the 2Lite and the 2Lite Trek (which I reviewed) as separate models, with the Trek version designed for pitching with trekking poles instead of the head pole included with the 2Lite. Now SlingFin offers the optional 2Lite Trek Conversion Kit ($45) for pitching the 2Lite with trekking poles, shaving four ounces from the total weight while likely creating a structurally stronger tent. I don’t see any reason to carry superfluous pole weight—and the only downside to getting the conversion kit is added cost. (Note: I tested a pre-production sample of the 2Lite provided to me by Slingfin in August because they did not yet have a production tent available.)
The two-person, two-door, double-wall, non-freestanding 2Lite pitches quickly and intuitively in just a few minutes, although I’d recommend that anyone not familiar with this two-pole design practice setting it up in their yard the first time. Two DAC Featherlite poles (8.5mm and 9mm), a longer one for the head end and a shorter one for the foot end, with reinforcements at critical bends, arc over the head and foot ends. The all-mesh interior canopy attaches with several clips—and as with any double-wall tent with two doors and an all-mesh interior canopy, ventilation is excellent.
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Six stakes for the tent body and vestibules create a taut, stable structure that withstood winds over 30 mph in the High Sierra, thanks in part to smart details like back-tacked stitching on stress points and reinforced guyouts. The 2Lite also comes with extra guylines that can be installed internally or externally to boost the structural stability in strong wind—although it already has adequate stability for typical conditions backpackers will encounter (and I didn’t need to install those extra guylines during eight nights at elevation in the Sierra).
While no ultralight tent with this design can be described as palatial, the 2Lite provides good living space for a two-door tent weighing two pounds, 10 ounces—or two pounds, six ounces without the front pole, which isn’t needed when pitching with trekking poles.
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The 2Lite’s 28.5 square feet of internal floor area matches that of many ultralight, two-person, two-door backpacking tents; but the pole structure lifts the side walls at the tent’s head end and the floor width tapers from 50 inches at the shoulders to 40 inches at the foot, making this shelter livable for two people who prioritize low weight over capacious accommodations. It fits two standard, 20-inch-wide air mattresses side by side, though with little room to spare.
The 41-inch peak height and 89-inch length represent some of the highest measures for those metrics among competitors of similar weight. And the two large tent doors enhance livability: You don’t have to compress your body into a ball to enter and exit this tent. Those doors roll up completely for more convenience when unpacking or packing sleeping gear in bug-free camps. Spacious interior pockets provided plenty of storage for headlamps and other items.
Plus, in its stuff sack, thanks in part to short pole sections, the packed tent measures a compact 13×5 inches, smaller than many competitors.
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The two vestibules measure 10.5 square feet each—larger than found on many tents in this weight class—creating abundant space for boots, wet layers, packs, and even cooking without impeding the entry. The vestibule doors roll up completely, letting you open up the tent in dry weather to create a nice, airy feeling, ventilate well, cool the inside, and afford you a view of the night sky. The nearly vertical side walls and doors and rainfly coverage create a good drip line, meaning that no rain falls inside when doors are open. We saw only light rain in the Sierra but this design will protect well even in hard rain.
From the sil/sil 10-denier nylon 66 ripstop rainfly—the same rainfly fabric used in SlingFin’s SplitWing and Portal tents, which have held up well in my use—to the walls and mesh of the interior tent and the PE-coated, 20-denier nylon ripstop floor, the fabrics are all ultralight and more susceptible to tearing than heavier tent fabrics, so exercise reasonable care in using them. SlingFin says they no longer use any PU fabrics in tents because they hydrolyze (get sticky and lose waterproofness) over time. They’ve switched to PE on tent floors because it’s less slippery than sil/sil and can be seam taped, and transitioned to only sil/sil flysheets because of its tear strength, durability, and excellent durable hydrophobic properties.
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For an ultralight, two-door, double-wall tent, the SlingFin 2Lite offers good living space and strength in strong wind, making it an excellent choice for ultralight backpacking, thru-hiking, bikepacking or touring, and multi-day sea kayaking.
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See “The 10 (Very) Best Backpacking Tents” and all reviews of backpacking tents, ultralight backpacking tents, backpacking gear, and ultralight backpacking gear at The Big Outside. See also “5 Tips For Buying a Backpacking Tent” and “Ultralight Backpacking Tents: How to Choose One” (both of which require a paid subscription to The Big Outside to read in full).
Whether you’re a beginner or seasoned backpacker, you’ll learn new tricks for making all of your trips go better in my “How to Plan a Backpacking Trip—12 Expert Tips,” “A Practical Guide to Lightweight and Ultralight Backpacking,” and “How to Know How Hard a Hike Will Be.” With a paid subscription to The Big Outside, you can read all of those three stories for free; if you don’t have a subscription, you can download the e-guide versions of “How to Plan a Backpacking Trip—12 Expert Tips,” the lightweight and ultralight backpacking guide, and “How to Know How Hard a Hike Will Be.”
NOTE: I tested gear for Backpacker magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See The Big Outside’s Gear Reviews page for categorized menus of all gear reviews and expert buying tips.