Ultra light tents

Do any of you paddlers know of a good ultra light tent that doesn’t take up much room? I want to do a kayak/camping trip in the Florida keys and am looking to buy a new tent.

of People
How many people will be sleeping in it?

look at Marmot
I’ve owned and shared space in a vast variety of tents in 40 plus years of backpacking I’ve been really impressed with my most recent acquisition, a mosquito mesh tent with full fly from Marmot (won’t bother naming the model since they don’t make that exact one any more – they make quite a few mesh canopy models that are similar now.) Their tents are light and compact and very well built. I lived in this one for three weeks in an archaeology field camp in the Tetons where it held up very well to high winds and some heavy rains. But what really impressed me was when we used it in the Everglades two years ago. It started to rain just as we got settled in our spot the first night at the Flamingo campground and we scrambled to set it up – took about 5 minutes and then we threw our sleeping bags and gear inside and zipped up. It absolutely poured and blew all night long, was like sleeping under Niagara Falls at times. But we got NO water inside, not even any appreciable condensation. By morning the campground looked like a flooded rice paddy, with several collapsed tents strewn about and other campers draping damp sleeping bags on cars and clotheslines. But we and all our stuff were dry. Can’t ask for much more from a tent that packs down about the size of an extra large loaf of bread.

You want no seeum mesh
not the larger opening mosquito mesh. I’ve been using a Marmot Limelight 3. Yes its for two people, Marmot makes a two person version.

Nice and well ventilated for Keys camping. I’ve used it in the backcountry Everglades and its held up well. I have not had it in winds over 30 mph… if that is in your future you will need more poles than three.

Because the mesh is fine I have been no seeum free inside. Those tropical no seeums are terrible in FL.

Alps Zephyr
First we need to define “ultralight.” For a backpacker, a two-person ultralight tent weighs 4 lbs or less. 5 lbs is considered medium weight. 6 lbs is considered too heavy for backpacking. So for backpackers a difference of one or two pounds is significant.

. . . but those definitions are not very important for kayak camping. Unless you’re doing portages, an ultralight tent isn’t necessary as you can afford quite a bit more weight and more volume than a backpacker. Kayak hatches are typically two to four times larger than a backpack (like a 55-liter backpack versus a 150-liter kayak volume.) So “light” or “medium light” will do just fine.

Get a tent that is at least one person larger than the number of people who will occupy it. That means a 2P for one person. In fact some people use a 3P for one person for even more luxurious space on a rainy day when you’re stuck in camp.

One of the lightest, cheapest, and best 2Ps is the Alps Mountaineering Zephyr 2 or 3 (4lbs 12 oz in the 2P). It is fully mesh ventilated, waterproof, very easy to enter and exit due to the design of the large doors, and rugged enough for most uses. The straight sides give a lot of headroom. You can often find this tent for $100—don’t be put off by its low price; this is a well-made tent with hundreds of good reviews.

For slightly more money I prefer the Kelty Trail Ridge 2 or 3 (5 lbs 8 oz in the 2P). This is the roomiest 2P I know of. It has a symmetrical shape with a rectangular floor, so you can sleep head to toe (the Zephyr is lower and narrower at the foot, so you both have to sleep at the head.)

These tents compare favorably to brands costing double and triple the price. Their packed size and weight are perfect for kayak camping. Both will keep you dry in a hard rain.

Remember that ultralight tents are made of thinner materials. For kayak camping I would not sacrifice rugged material to save 2 lbs. Those 2 lbs are irrelevant unless you have long portages and are carrying your gear on your back.

Have you considered a hammock?
If so, I can’t say enough good things about Warbonnet’s Blackbird.

if in the keys
would the hammock be limited by the trees, ( or lack thererof). mangroves would not bear the wieght. Flamingo (I know glades not keys) is a big open field no trees = no hammock. a point to consider before the purchase

Not sure where OP is camping
if on a chickee, the tent must be freestanding yet have multiple guyline attachment points. The last thing you want is tent blowing off chickee.

I haven’t seen hammocks used much probably because most people want to camp in the open, where there is cross ventilation… Get back in the woods and the bugs are WAY worse.

Cottage Industry

Check out some of the cottage industry offerings. I personally own the Zpacks Hexamid Twin. It weighs in just over a lb for a two person tent including stakes and guylines. I fit in it at 6’3" just fine. Price is steep at $510.

If you want something a bit cheaper, Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo is 24oz at $215.

If you want something really cheap, the Hi Tec V Lite is roughly 2.5 lbs (can’t remember if that includes the pole) and can be had for less than $60. It’s comfortable enough but I’ve never had it out in the rain so I can’t say how it will handle it. It does have taped seams though.

If you want something a bit more bomber, the Tarp Tent Moment weighs in at 34oz and $285. Buy the additional pole and you’ll have a free standing tent that can handle a reasonable snow load. Since it’s double-wall, you can sleep in just the inner net on warmer/drier nights or leave it at home and just sleep under the fly for when you want to save weight and space.

Also check out Mountain Laurel Designs and Borah Gear for tarps and mids.

Cottage industry
I agree with totally if you want ultralight and compacts small. I use a Light Heart Gear Duo. I was in a toss up between that and the Tarp Tent Cloudburst 3. … I don’t have anything bad to say about zpacks. Solo trips I take my hexamid tarp and a bivy.