Outdoor Retailer Summer Market is the place to scope out the latest innovations in outdoor gear and apparel. As an annual ritual, this means witnessing the latest tactics that manufacturers use to make their gear lose the weight and retain the function. This year saw both established tent manufacturers and brand-new competitors using some innovative materials and design configurations in attempting to make the lightest, most comfortable tents around.

Sea to Summit Specialist Solo and Duo

Sea to Summit isn’t a company that you’d typically expect to buy a tent from. But now that the company is an official tent manufacturer, you’ll want to at least consider its Specialist models when shopping for ultralight shelter. And that’s because these tents combine some of the comforts of a double-walled tent with the basement-low weight of a single-wall. When you carry these tents with all the bells and whistles (or poles and stakes, as the case may be) they weigh a very impressive 1 lb. 5.8 oz. (Solo) and 1 lb. 13.7 oz. (Duo). If that sounds good, you’ll be happy to know that you can pitch the tents with two trekking poles and natural anchors, thereby cutting weights to 15.7 oz. (Solo) and 22.3 oz. (Duo).

Not only are these tents light, they should offer superior ventilation over other ultralight single walls thanks to a mesh door (two mesh doors in the Duo). The tents have a roll-out vestibule-fly that puts a roof over the door if you need the privacy or protection.

The Solo retails for $429, and the Duo costs $499.

Brooks-Range Propel and Foray

Brooks Range sent a pretty powerful buzz-wave through the industry when it introduced the Rocket Tent two years ago. That tent used ultralight, reflective CT3 fabric and multi-functional design relying on re-purposed trekking poles and avalanche probes to offer mountaineers a four-season two-man as light as 1 lb. 6 oz. While the tent’s low weight and thoughtful design is pretty awesome, its $600 price tag is a little much for the masses.

So, this year, Brooks has introduced a cheaper Rocket called the Propel. The tent is configured just like the Rocket and can be pitched with its pole system or with a probe/trekking poles, but it uses cheaper sil-nylon in place of the CT3 fabric. This knocks the price down to $400 but ups the weight to 2 lb. 9 oz. (with poles). Still pretty damn good for a four-season, two-person tent.

Brooks-Range’s Foray tent weighs nearly the same as the Propel at 2 lb. 10 oz., but brings an extra wall and drops a season. The three-season two-person has a mesh body and full rain fly. It will retail for $475.95.

Both tents will launch by next March.

Easton Kilo 1 and 3

Another relative newcomer to the tent market, Easton broke ground last year with its Kilo 2-man. This year, it’s expanded the line with one-person and three-person versions. Both tents are freestanding and double-walled with full-mesh bodies. The Kilo 1P carries a trail weight of 1 lb. 14 oz., and the Kilo 3P weighs an even 3 lbs. Easton calls the Kilo 3P the best space-to-weight tent in its class, and identifies the Kilo 1P as a more comfortable alternative to a bivy. Both tents use Easton’s innovative AirLock connectors, small joints that attach carbon-fiber pole segments together and replace heavier, more cumbersome rip cord. As the rep I spoke to pointed out, unlike most manufacturers that outsource pole-making to Easton or DAC, Easton is free to fiddle around with its poles to cut weight.

The Kilo 1P ($349) and Kilo 3P ($499) will hit the market in time for next summer.

Mountain Hardware Hoopla 4

4 people, 1 lb. 10 oz.? STHU. But seriously, the Hoopla 4 combines those unlikely numbers for a roomy shelter that weighs next to nothing. Of course, you’ll have to give up a floor and dedicate a trekking pole to pitching it, but that’s still pretty damn light for four people. The tent was designed to maximize interior space while minimizing weight and materials. The ‘Trussring (big hoop up top) helps to prevent what we’ll call the tipi/A-frame-effect, opening the roof for superior headroom.  Not sure how the new system will hold up in a storm, but Mountain Hardware is convinced that this is a “through-hiker’s dream.” It envisions it as an emergency shelter for day hikers (kind of overkill for that) or ultralight backpacking shelter. Retail is set at $350.


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