A number of months back I wrote an article and corresponding spreadsheet which went into detail many of the lightest fully enclosed solo shelters on the market. It quickly and to my surprise, became a sort of de facto reference guy for hikers around the world. Since it was published I have received countless requests to put together a similar article that focused on two person shelters. So a number of months ago I started working on compiling the mass amount of data that is required to put together an article and spreadsheet of this kind. It has taken me much longer than I expected it would, but I am now ready to release this.
I think it is important to note a few things from the very start.
First is the fact that I had initially set some minimum and maximum weight limits for the chart and have had to change it along the way. I asked the public for feedback and asked many cottage owners for feedback regarding this as well. It was wonderful. I have, however, made slight modifications to the maximum weight limit that will be focused on within the chart. Details of why are explained below. What I would like to mention is that I have received an amazing amount of feedback from almost all of the cottage owners. It has been an honor and pleasure.
Next aspect to note is the fact that this is not an all-encompassing list of the lightest two person shelters in the world.
There are a number of reasons for this, but the two primary reasons are:
(1) I initially set some criteria for what the spreadsheet would be based on in regards to Total Shelter Weight. Along the way the maximum weight changed a few times, all as a result of the list of shelters becoming much too long to detail them all; it would have taken countless hours of work. As it is this article has consumed a little over 65 hours of work and over two hundred emails. There simply had to come a point where I was forced to reduce the maximum weight limit in order to reduce the amount of work, the complicated, and length of the spreadsheet. When I started this article there were a number of shelters that I wanted to include but they ended up being well over 1300 grams Total Shelter Weight – and if I were to include them than people would make the case that I should have included others in the same weight category, and a list which is already long enough would have become three to four times longer. I very much respect these cottage companies out there producing amazing two person shelters that are in the 1000-1200 gram range, make no mistake about it.
(2) There are a number of companies out there that fail(ed) to provide the true weights of their shelters. Most of them simply do not list accurate Total Shelter Weights on their website. There were around a half-dozen companies that I emailed asking for accurate numbers on their shelters and they never responded. I would be doing a dis service to my readers to pull numbers out of nowhere and use them just for the sake of including a specific shelter. Companies that do not publish exact weights of their shelters are doing nothing but losing business. I can say that for a fact, as last year I was looking at one specific shelter that I really wanted, but the company fails to list accurate weights of their shelters. Rather than dealing with the back-and-forth emails to try to get it out of them, I simply moved on and purchased a shelter from another cottage manufacture. So again, there are a few shelters on the market that I highly suspect might be less than 900 grams, and even more under 1300 grams, but because they fail to provide technical details about their shelters on their websites, and in many cases never responded to my emails, their shelters are not within the chart. I make no excuse for this. I simply will not make up numbers on my own because a company is unwilling to provide information that their customers should have.
Sub 900 Gram Total Shelter Weight Shelters:
For those unaware of the term “Total Shelter Weight” it means the complete weight of the entire shelter as it would be within your backpack – including the shelter, any insert, guylines, stakes, and stuff sack. It does not include any repair items/kits.
It had been my hope to really focus in on sub 900 gram (31.75 ounces) shelters for this article and corresponding chart. Unfortunately, it turned out that I set my minimum a bit too low. I was only able to find four (4) shelters that are two person, fully enclosed shelters, that are under the 900 gram Total Shelter Weight mark.
Because of the realization that there were so few shelters that would be listed within the chart at under 900 grams, I decided to create a secondary section that focused on a few – but by no means all – of the more common two person shelters, which are under 1300 grams (45.85 ounces). This allowed me the ability to add an additional six shelters to the chart, many of them very popular two person shelters. For reasons explained above, I had to set some level of a maximum limit and the 1300 gram mark allowed me to include most of the very popular two person cottage shelters that I know most hikers are going to expect to see.
One of the key aspects I would like to make a point of, regarding the sub 900 gram shelters, is that only one out of the four sub 900 gram shelters have two doors. I cannot begin to explain how many people have contacted me over the last two months asking me to make sure I include information about how many doors the two person shelters have. A truly amazing amount of people. Clearly those who spend a lot of time on the trail, long distance hikers, who are couples that hike together, are those who are completely unwilling to go long distance hiking with a shelter that only has a single door. I am sure there are exceptions out there, but a large percentage of those who have contacted me asking to highlight this are long distance hikers looking for a SUL two person shelter that has to doors. Of the eleven shelters listed within the chart, only four of them have two doors. Two of those four shelters are from the same manufacturer, clearly a cottage company that understands the importance of two doors on shelters and it is worth noting this fact.
The second key aspect that I would like to make a point of, regarding all of the listed shelters, is the total height of the shelter. Next to how many doors a shelter had, how much headroom a shelter has was the second most requested feature that I highlight. None of the listed shelters are 48 inches or taller. The vast majority of them are all within two or three inches. Two of the shelters are under 40 inches in height – so low that I would not even give them consideration as a long distance hiker.
Within my previous article on solo shelters I went to great length to include some personal thoughts about most of the shelters. I was able to do so because I had experience with almost all of the shelters listed. In the case of two personal shelters, I have very little experience with them. Rather than just trying to make up some one or two line comments that would make the shelter hopefully sound awesome, I have approached the personal comments/notes within this chart from a bit less of personal thoughts and insight. I still do to some degree, but I have tried to focus on the shelter specs more than what I personally think about each shelter.
In my previous article I did not take into account shelter specs such as the total doors and headroom, total square space and other technical specs.
Because of the importance of a two person shelter having two doors and having more headroom, I have included these two additional fields within the spreadsheet.
I had really wanted to also include usable square footage of the inner shelter, but the math on this become too complicated for the timeline that I had for publishing this article. There were also some rather interesting discussions about exactly how to calculate actual ‘usable’ shelter square footage. Because it appeared there was not a standard by which everybody could agree, I again decided to not include this information. Perhaps in the future the cottage shelter makers can all get in a room together and work out an agreeable method and standard.
Variations of Shelters:
Anybody who has read, or even glanced at, my spreadsheet for the solo shelters is probably very aware that I went a bit overboard on the different variations of some shelters. As an example, I listed multiple ways that one shelter could use different groundsheets to make the shelter weigh less.
In talking with almost all of the cottage owners, while doing research for this article and spreadsheet, I began to realize this was a mistake. It was highly unprofessional and downright disrespectful of me to do so. Not a single cottage owner said that, but over time I began to realize this on my own. I offer an apology to each of you cottage owners out there.
Rest assured I will not make this same mistake twice in a row. I went so far as to email a few of the companies within the list and let their owners know I was going to focus on a single shelter from each manufacture and asked them which shelter they would like me to focus on – without modifications or swapping of any features. I wanted to stay true to exactly what the average customer would get on their doorstep should they order a shelter.
Obviously those looking for ways to get a specific shelter to weigh less can take the core of the chart and find ways to make it lighter. But this time around I am going to stay true to exactly what the manufacture sells and what would arrive at your house.
It is my hope that the well over one hundred hikers that have contacted me asking for this information will be able to use this chart as a guideline. As said above multiple times, it is by no means an all-inclusive list of lightweight shelters. All except two of the shelters within the chart are cottage made shelters. There are two shelters that are manufactured by big-name companies – these two shelters are worthy of being listed for their light weight, especially considering they are big-name manufactures. I hope it does not offend the purists out there that I have listed them. I was amazed that they were able to make it into a list of this kind.
I would like to once again extend a “thank you” to a number of the manufacturer out there. I contacted over twenty different companies regarding information for this article. Three of the owners of those twenty companies have gone out of their way to help me with this article. Each of you know who you are and I, again, thank you!
Lastly, I of course welcome feedback and corrections. You may contact me at any time with any questions you have concerning the chart, any corrections that need to be made, and any recommendations of additional shelters that should be included – I make no promise that I will add them, but I will give them a serious look at.
You can access the chart at any time at this website page:
Updates And Changes:
December 28, 2013 – Added “Usable Width” (ie: how many sleeping pads could you get inside) and “Stakes Required” and updated pricing and all known spec changes, and added links to each of the top shelters.
October 30, 2013 – Added the “ZPacks Duplex” to the comparison chart. It now takes second place in the lightest of the lightest – and first place in the lightest with two doors.
September 05, 2013 – Resolved incorrect data regarding the ZPacks Hexamid Hexamid Twin Tent w/ Screen w/Beak as the numbers were a few grams off.
October 16, 2012 – Resolved incorrect data regarding the TarpTent Rainbow 2. I improperly used the name “Rainshadow 2” and some of its specs rather than “Rainbow 2”. Credit for this goes to ‘hikinggranny‘, who has been a long time reader of mine and has informed me of a few instances of incorrect data over the last year that HikeLighter.Com has been online. Thank you again!
October 18, 2012 — Resolved further issues regarding the TarpTent Rainbow 2… err… TarpTent Double Rainbow. ‘When you mess up, you mess up big’ the saying goes, and that I have done this time around. Credit for this goes to wondering bob.