Best Lightweight Tents in 2018

Finding a good tent at a reasonable price is almost always tricky. When it comes to bicycle touring tent selection, things can get even more complicated. Tents for cycle touring and backpacking need to be ultra lightweight in addition to all their other qualities. However, the best tents for cycle touring and backpacking are out there–you’ve just got to learn how to find them.

What to Look for in the Perfect Cyclist Touring Tent

Getting the best lightweight tent for backpacking or cycle touring is all about balancing your own needs and wants with the overall quality of the tent. Of course, you’ve also got to take your budget into account: are you looking for the most beautiful premium backpacking tent or something well-made without all the frills and added expense?

For example, you need to know in advance whether you need a budget two-person backpacking tent, the best tent for solo bike touring, or a touring group sized 3-person tent. In other words, take the following into account:

  • Capacity
  • Price range
  • Features or advantages you want or need

To help make this a bit easier, I’ve arranged the product reviews in this article by both capacity and price range.

There are also a few simple things you can do to make any cycling or backpacking tent perform better. I strongly recommend getting a tent footprint and a tarp to protect your tent from the elements.

A tent footprint is merely a groundsheet that goes under your tent. It can protect your tent from both harsh terrains and from getting wet, either from rain or the natural moisture of the earth. A tarp can afford similar protection above and around your tent.

Keeping your tent from getting damp is one of the best ways to keep it comfortable and performing at its peak for a long time.

Cycle Touring Tent Recommendations

Best Lightweight Tents for Solo Bike Touring & Backpacking

#3 – Alps Mountaineering Lynx 1 Review (Budget Solo Tent)

This is one of the best budget backpacking tents for one person around. While it’s not one of the roomiest tents on the market, it offers a small storage size and an extremely well-ventilated construction that’s perfect for warm weather.

It also boasts a rapid setup time, making it a great tent to have around both for long trips and for more spontaneous adventures.

The zippers are great, being large enough to grip and also made of sturdy materials comfortably. I also appreciate the thought that has gone into the construction of the seams and the fly, which are factory sealed to ensure better protection from the elements.

Another key feature is the 2000 mm poly taffeta floor, which greatly enhances both the tent’s durability and your comfort while using it. While a footprint is always a great purchase that will make your tent last longer, the floor of this tent alone does some serious work.

On top of all that, the tent offers loads of storage space considering its small size, with plenty of smart pockets for the essential gear you need next to you at all times.

One of the downsides of this tent is its relatively small size. You’ll need a tarp or something similar to keep your bike protected if you plan to use this on a cycling or motorcycle tour. However, it does offer a small vestibule that allows for protection of some of your gear, as well as keeping the inside of the tent from getting wet.

That being said, the advantages of the Alps Mountaineering Lynx outweigh the downsides, especially considering its extremely low price point. It might just be the best tent for solo bike touring or backpacking on a tight budget.

Capacity: 1 person

Packed Weight and Size: 4 pounds 4 ounces at 6″ x 17.5″

Porch/Vestibule? Yes

Pitching Time: Fast

Weather Suitability: Summer

#2 – Winterial Bivy Tent Review (Lightweight Solo)

This bivy tent, an extraordinarily lightweight and straightforward structure providing only enough space to lie down, offers several significant advantages when it comes to extended backpacking or cycling trips.

The simple and high-speed setup is one of the leading features here, allowing you to make camp in a matter of minutes. Its meagre weight and small packed size are also significant advantages, particularly for longer trips on which you’ll need to carry more supplies.

The smaller size does create some disadvantages as well, such as the lack of a porch or vestibule for protecting your gear. However, in addition to providing enough space for one person lying down, there is space around the tent to store equipment as well. This tent is better for those of you who tend to pack quite light, though.

One of the other standout features of this single person bivy tent is it’s three season design. While the main tent is heavily ventilated for open-air camping on summer nights when the weather is warm, the tent also includes an extremely sturdy rain fly that protects from wind and cold as well as moisture. While it’s by no means rated for alpine or arctic camping, it will keep you plenty warm on chilly nights.

All of the ventilation included in the design also cuts down on condensation, meaning that it’s easy to stay dry in this tent. To add to this, the floor is rated at an extremely high PU 5000 mm of waterproofing.

There is one important thing I should note. While not a strict advantage or disadvantage, it is an essential facet of this tent that you should keep in mind. This is not a free-standing tent, meaning that it has to be staked into the ground to take shape. It’s not designed for camping on a tough field or in a truck bed.

That being said, the included stakes are sturdy enough that this single person bivy tent is suitable for camping in virtually any environment besides on solid stone.

All in all, this is an excellent budget choice for those of you needing a lightweight one man tent. Its excellent protection from the elements and extremely low weight and packed size make it ideal for longer journeys or those of you who are serious about travelling light.

Capacity: 1 person (best for people under 6 feet tall)

Packed Weight and Size: 2.9 pounds at 22″ x 7″ x 6″

Porch/Vestibule? No

Pitching Time: Extremely fast

Weather Suitability: 3 season

#1 – Hilleberg Akto Review (Premium Lightweight Solo Tent)

This premium ultralight backpacking tent offers nearly luxury levels of comfort. While it is designed to be extremely easy to pack and quick to set up, it’s also intended to provide not only protection but comfort and storage as well.

One of the primary ways it does this is through the inclusion of a sizeable vestibule for the protection of your gear. The lobby has the added benefit of making it less likely for rainwater to get into the entrance while it is open.

However, the vestibule is far from the only feature that makes this offering from legendary tent maker Hilleberg stand out. Its sizeable interior is also a great feature, especially for taller users. This is one of the few one person tents of this design that will let a person of over 6 feet sit fully upright inside. Of course, the more significant interior also means even more storage space for your gear.

The tent is also rated for all season performance and has even been taken along on polar expeditions. Its angled vents and ventilation at the head and foot areas will ensure there’s virtually no condensation in warmer weather, but the fabric is sturdy enough for protection from temperatures below freezing as well.

While this tent has a lot going for it, all these premium features only come at a premium price. This is one of the more expensive single person backpacking tents on the market, though it will be well worth the price for very serious or frequent users, especially those of you who want to camp in winter.

The only other disadvantage is its slightly larger packed size, though this also brings vast benefits regarding the generous amount of sleeping and storage space it gives.

I recommend this tent to those of you looking to do long-term severe camping in a wide variety of conditions.

Capacity: a Generous single person (18.3 square feet interior and 8.6 sq ft vestibule)

Packed Weight and Size: 3 pounds, 12 ounces at 19″ long (4″ diameter)

Porch/Vestibule? Yes

Pitching Time: Fast

Weather Suitability: All Seasons

Best 2-Person Tents for Cycle Touring

#2 – Alps Mountaineering Zephyr 2 Review (Budget Two-Person Tent)

This two-person offering from Alps Mountaineering offers some severe features at a steal of a price. Its all open-air mesh construction makes it ideal for use in warmer climates, but there’s a sturdy rain fly included for use in colder, windier, or the wetter weather too.

Another one of its standout features is its significant amount of vestibule space, with a vestibule on each side allowing for plenty of gear storage. Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of additional floor space inside for gear storage if you use this tent for two people. Some individual campers use it for the added storage space, and it’s also a favourite among those who backpack with their dogs. There is a gear hammock included for additional storage, which can also be used to hang a light.

The overall height of this tent is pretty exceptional for such a small and lightweight backpacking tent, allowing for plenty of ease of movement and headroom. While this increases comfort a great deal–especially if you prefer to read with a light at night or eat breakfast in your tent in the morning–it doesn’t add much in the way of storage space.

There’s also a great design feature included for those who do backpack or cycle tour in pairs. Instead of a single door, this tent features a door on each side, meaning you’ll never have to climb over your camping partner.

Also, the tent is highly durable, with the fly specially coated to reduce UV damage and a floor waterproofing rating of 3000 mm. While using a footprint and tarp is still recommended for harsher weather, this tent does a lot on its own to keep water out. Additionally, the all mesh wall construction dramatically reduces condensation.

While the two pole freestanding construction offers a lot of headroom and plenty of other great features, it does increase setup time a bit. However, at this price, the tent is still an excellent value for those who want plenty of vestibule room and all weather comfort at a very low packed weight.

Capacity: 2 people (can be a bit tight, but offers plenty of vestibule space for gear)

Packed Weight and Size: 5 pounds 8 ounces at 6″ by 18.”

Porch? Yes – a vestibule on each side

Pitching Time: Fast to Moderate

Weather Suitability: 3 season

#1 – Hilleberg Nammatj 2 Review (Premium Two-Person Tent)

This premium two-person tent from respected tent maker Hilleberg has a lot of unique features and plenty of advantages over similar tents but also has a higher price. Will the additional features make it a good value for you? Read on to find out.

First and foremost among this tent’s great features is its size. Its tunnel construction allows for plenty of headroom to sit upright throughout much of the tent for most people but allows some of the same reductions in weight and setup time as bivy tents.

Additionally, this tent packs severe durability and protection from the elements. If you plan to take your next backpacking adventure up a mountain or into Arctic or Antarctic conditions, this might be the two-person tent for you. However, it still allows plenty of breathability for warmer weather camping, especially considering the inner and outer tents are entirely separable.

Besides the steep price tag, the only disadvantage here is that there are not a lot of smaller storage pockets to keep your essential gear next to you. However, with the vast storage space afforded by the vestibule, along with the expansive floor space of the tent’s central interior, you won’t have any trouble stowing your supplies.

Capacity: 2 people (comfortable) – vestibule size good with base version, amazing with GT version

Packed Weight and Size: 6 pounds, 9 ounces at 6″ by 20″, slightly higher for GT version

Porch/Vestibule? Yes – roomy on base version, extremely roomy with GT version

Pitching Time: Fast

Weather Suitability: All season, including extreme conditions

The base and GT versions of this tent are not hugely different regarding functionality, weight, or price. The GT does have an advantage over the base version, but it does come at the cost of a bit more money upfront and a bit more weight in your pack.

The GT version dramatically extends the vestibule to allow for storage of more gear. If you’re interested in taking this tent on very long expeditions where you’ll need a lot of supplies, I would strongly recommend the GT version, as the price and weight aren’t much higher.

However, the base version still offers plenty of vestibule space, making it perfect for more casual backpackers and those of you who cycle tour casually.

Best 3-Person Tents for Cycle Touring

#2 – Winterial 3 Person Review (Budget 3-Person Tent)

This offering from Winterial seeks to be the best backpacking tent for three people available on a budget. At a very low price point, it still offers some reasonably outstanding features.

At 82″ by 64″ set up, it offers plenty of space both horizontally and vertically, but packs in at only 4.4 pounds. There is a slight disadvantage in that the vestibule area for gear storage is slightly small, but Winterial has built a solution into their design: the inclusion of two doors with a separate small vestibule for each.

The inclusion of two doors also makes for a more comfortable time navigating the space if you’re the first up or the last to bed: you’ll almost never have to climb over your camping buddies.

The only significant disadvantage I have found with this tent is that it is genuinely not intended for harsh winter weather. While the rain fly offers plenty of protection from moisture, and from the wind and cold as well, the tent is not designed for the maximum durability and insulation required for true winter camping.

All that being said, this is an excellent tent for the price, and I recommend it to any casual or intermediate backpackers or bike-packers who want to take trips with friends or family.

Capacity: 3 Person

Packed Weight and Size: 4.4 pounds at 23.8″ by 4.4″ by 4.1.”

Porch/Vestibule? Yes – 2 small vestibules

Pitching Time: Moderate to Fast

Weather Suitability: 3 Season

#1 – Hilleberg Nallo 3 Review (Premium 3-Person Tent))

The Nallo 3 by Hilleberg might be the most feature-rich three-person backpacking tent out there, for those of you who are serious about taking long or tough journeys. At only 6 pounds, 13 ounces, it offers a sizeable vestibule–and the GT version provides one of the most extensive and most well-protected lobbies seen on a tent.

As an all-season tent, the Nallo 3 has some amazing engineering and design details that are there to combine insulation with ventilation to keep you comfortable in the summer heat and extreme winds alike. These include adjustable interior vents and asymmetrical mesh doors.

Also, the Nallo can boost your comfort by giving you more space to move around and sit upright through its tunnel design. The GT version also offers a considerable vestibule perfect for keeping supplies accessible and protected from the elements.

The combination of strength, versatility, and low weight makes this tent a must have for very serious group backpackers or bike-packers. That being said, the floor is a bit weaker than you might think–it’s not enough for me to recommend not buying the tent, but I strongly recommend getting the footprint that matches it to protect your investment if you purchase the Nallo 3 or Nallo 3 GT.

Capacity: 3 person

Packed Weight and Size: 6 pounds 13 ounces at 19″ x 7″

Porch/Vestibule? Yes – extended vestibule with GT version

Pitching Time: Fast

Weather Suitability: All season

As with many other Hilleberg tents, there are two versions of the Nallo 3. The base version features a smaller vestibule, while the GT version features a much more significant lobby.

The larger version is great for longer journeys or keeping extra equipment protected, and only costs a bit more.

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1 thought on “7 Best Lightweight Tents for Cycle Touring & Backpacking (Updated: May 2018)

  1. Thanks for this post on the best lightweight tents! I’m about to go cycle touring and wanted to get a good comparison of weight and durability. This post was very useful.

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