Lightest (Fully Enclosed) Solo Shelters

Natural shelters – the best kind!
Sitting under a fallen Redwood tree, in Northern California, making some lunch and taking a break. This Redwood grove, the Cheatham Grove, is where parts of Endor, from the Return of the Jedi, was filmed. It is a beautiful gove that I use for fastpack training.

Greetings hikers, bikers, fastpackers, and adventurers of all types!

Back in December of 2011, after an insane amount of work, I published my “SUL/XUL Fully Enclosed Shelters” article, and associated spreadsheet, and it sort of became the de facto list of the worlds lightest fully enclosed shelters on the internet.

Each winter season, usually between December and February, I sit down and invest about 10-15 hours updating the spreadsheet, and I have now finished up getting it updated for the 2015 hiking season.

This year I wanted to take a moment to push out an article on the update, mostly to note some of the major changes I have made to the spreadsheet.

The time had come to really clean things up, to have it be a bit more fair across the greater scope of things, and to get some shelters from additional manufacturers listed.

If you need clarifications on the history of this list, and why things are laid out they way they are, and all that stuff, it can all be found on my original article, along with a bunch of other good content worth reading.

List of Changes, 2015

  • This marks the first year that companies from outside the USA have been added to the list.
  • I have done away with the “notes” section – which were basically my personal thoughts on the individual shelters. I know a lot of folks put value in my thoughts on each shelter, but the honest fact is that I just felt that these shelters should speak for themselves. And, unlike in years past, I have not personally slept in over 50% of these shelters that have made it onto the list this year! It would be unfair of me to sit and write thoughts on shelters I have never slept in.
  • I have now added links to the individual websites associated with each shelter.
  • I have done away with listing “stakes” and “stuff sacks”. That was just stupid, I admit it.
  • I have also added currencies to help out those outside the USA.
  • I have done away with mixing gear from different manufacturers. While this allowed me the ability to list the truly “lightest of the lightest setup combos” it just resulted in a mess of different options, and thus a mess of a spreadsheet. I also thought it was unfair to the companies. I have come to feel that if a hiker is willing to invest the time in buying a tarp from one company and an insert from another company, and a groundsheet from yet another company, well, I will let them do the math and grunt work. But from here on out, I am only going to list inserts that are made by the same company that the tarp is made from – or groundsheet, or whatever combination.


Wait… ZPacks is NOT at the top of the list!!???!!!

In years past ZPacks was at the top of the list because I was mix-and-matching products from different companies in order to get the ‘lightest of the lightest’ setups, even if it meant mix-and-matching manufacturers products.

This year, with me doing away with that (read above section), yes indeed, ZPacks is no longer at the top of the lightest list.

Additionally, since my original 2011 listing, ZPacks has done the smart thing and started bonding all of the seams on their shelters, which has resulted in additional weight to all of their shelters.

So, the honour, the top spot, now goes to Mountain Laurel Designs: ‘Patrol Tarp‘ + ‘Serenity Bug Shelter‘ which specs out at: 398 grams / 14.03 ounces / 0.877 pounds / $530 cost / $1.33 cpg

(well, that is, if I have done my math right, and if I have not missed any shelter that is lighter!)


Number Discrepancies:

I want to point out that there are discrepancies in numbers between my spreadsheet and the manufacturers websites. This is because the websites of some companies have discrepancies themselves!

One of the companies has incorrect numbers between ‘ounces’ and ‘grams’ listed for their product. I contacted them about this and did not receive any response. They have the same incorrect numbers on three different areas of their website, for the same product. So what I did was take the number they repeated the most and went with it. Granted, that number was in ounces, and the grams they have listed does not equal its equivalent ounces (for all three weight listings) so, I just had to go with something.

I also added a shelter from TarpTent, that is over the 568 gram mark, but TarpTent deserves to be listed. Anyway, TT includes stakes with their listed weights, so I removed the weight and price of 4 of the stakes that they include. This will account for any differences between my listed weight and the weight listed on the TT website.

Additionally, companies might update their shelters after I publish this article, which could result in discrepancies until the next time I can get it updated.

Obviously when it comes to pricing discrepancies, that happens a fair amount. I try to keep the list as up-to-date as I can, but some of these companies change their pricing too often for me to stay up on things. One of the listed shelters has gone up, incrementally, over $100 since it was originally listed.



This year I have added a few currencies to the list. They are all rounded based on the exchange rate as of the day I updated the spreadsheet – hopefully this will help out those outside the USA, even if the prices are off a bit at any given time because of exchange rate.

At the moment I only have a couple of currencies, but I will be adding more over the next day or two, based on total traffic that receives.

Also note that in order to remain consistent, when adding shelters from international companies, I converted the listed non-USD price to a USD-price, which might skew the correct price a small amount.


Why No Bivouacs?

My choice to not include bivouacs is that, I suppose, it just all comes down to the fact that my thoughts are the same as these, so I have chosen not to list them. I do own a bivouacs, it gets used maybe three days a year… it only got used one night during the 2014 hiking season, out of 150+ nights that I spent on the trail. Additionally, I did not include them in the list this year because it just would have really complicated things. But, lets do this, if 50+ people (about 2% of those who follow my publications) post a “hey john, do a bivouac spreadsheet!” comment to this article, I will invest the time into putting together a dedicated spreadsheet on bivouacs/tarp setups.


Why No Hammocks?

I got asked/harassed this a lot in years past.

I fully admit that a fully enclosed hammock is a fully enclosed shelter.

I do not have any hammocks listed because I do not know the hammock market – whileas I know the tent market very well. Also because the insanity of suspension systems would make for a nightmare of an attempt to build the spreadsheet. Tree straps, whoopie slings, yadda-yadda-yadda… there is an entire cottage market out there of companies that do nothing but cater to the hammock suspension market – dutch being my favorite (I have made a number of modifications to my tent systems using his cool little gear) – but suffice to say, if I did not have some exact setup that somebody feels is the ‘ultimate hammock setup’, sure enough, I would hear about it.

Ok, one last reason… because you hammock guys probably already know what the lightest of the lightest hammock is… you guys take shelter obsession to a whole new level :-D


Lightest of the Lightest Configuration?

So what is the “lightest of the lightest fully enclosed shelter configuration” as of the start of the 2015 hiking season?

Well it would seem that if you go with the ZPacks Pocket, and attempt to talk them into adding a bug netting (if you can), and going with a MLD/GG groundsheet rather than the zpacks cf groundsheet, that this setup is about the lightest fully enclosed shelter you can put together, without going DIY.

I did originally have that setup in the spreadsheet, but I choose to remove because this configuration requires a ‘custom order’ and no other shelters on the list require a custom order, so it would have been a tad-bit unfair to list it.

That said, this combo works out to: 291 grams / 10.26 ounces / 0.641 pounds / $290.

For the record, I have this exact setup and have used it a fair bit, but it stays home if I know there will be rain/snow. You should not buy this setup unless you are a very experienced hiker with a lot of nights spent using a cuben fibre shelter!

Side note: the previous lightest-of-the-lightest (a tarp / bug-insert combo from two different companies) is no longer able to be put together as one of the companies stopped making their product. I contacted them to ask about availability and they told me “your article caused us too much work so we pulled the product“. Uhhh, ok, I thought growth in business was a good thing. shrugs.

Side note #2: I have had a number of people tell me I need to add the BigSky Wisp 1P, but here is the thing… when a companies website is so difficult to understand, that I sit there and go “ok, I give up”, I am just not going to bother. They claim 300g, but what does that include? Just the shelter? Guylines? Stuffsack? This is a prime example of a website being too complicated and not being clear enough about true shelter weights. I spent too long looking at their website trying to figure out the true weight of the shelter, and eventually gave up. Read more ranting about this in my comment.



As in years past, if you know of a fully enclosed shelter that is under 567 grams please contact me and I will look into getting it added.

Please do not send me a bunch of “combinations” (this companies tarp with that companies insert) as that does not qualify.

Additionally, I will not add any minor variations of already listed shelters or listed companies.

Basically what I am looking for are shelters from companies not already listed.


Enough Already… Where Is The Spreadsheet!

Anxious fellow are we :0

The spreadsheet is located at:

It is a google spreadsheet, with some insanly complicated URL, so I am using to keep it short and easy. If you don’t trust the link, you can always go to  (notice the + at the end) and you can see further details and the complete URL to the spreadsheet.

Please, do not directly link to the google docs spreadsheet if you share this online… a few times over the last few years I have had the spreadsheet go bye-bye on me unexpectedly (sigh, thanks google) and the direct link to the spreadsheet stopped working. So please, link directly to this article and let folks click on the link above, as it should always be the most up-to-date URL to the spreadsheet.


In Closing:

As always, thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy this resource and that it proves to be valuable to your shelter buying process!

Thank you also to those who took the time to look over the spreadsheet to double and triple check the numbers. At least this year if things are wrong I’m not the only one to blame :-p  But, seriously, thanks guys for helping me out!

For those wondering about a disclaimer, at the time of this article being published I do not own any of the listed shelters, nor have I been paid or compensated in any way, by any company or individual, while compiling this data, and none of the listed companies are listed amongst my sponsors (though I wish a couple were.)

Thank you,
+John Abela

33 thoughts on “Lightest (Fully Enclosed) Solo Shelters

  1. Great job as always. If at some point you find it worthwhile, in addition to the cost per ounce, I would be pleased to see a cost per square foot. Many thanks, JD

    1. Hey JD,

      I have had this asked a few times over the years.

      Problem is that companies tend to not list their square footage in any standard format.

      And I am sure not going to spend the time trying to figure out if xyz company that does provide such data, if they mean “livable square footage” or “actual square footage”… yet a further hot-topic issue in the world of shelter design.

        1. Sure thing. If you are ever bored and want to compile the data, pass it along to me and I will get it added to the spreadsheet. It is just a bit of a nightmare that I am not willing to take on. Tried it once, gave up.

    1. Hey Roman!

      The TNLU1 is over my limit, at 595g. I could get it added to the honorable mentions section at the bottom though, I suppose. It is worthy of making it into the list, being double wall and really really close to the max weight, eh.

      And, thank you thank you thank you, for mentioning the bigsky wisp… I knew I needed to add that one, but I could not remember who made it, and spent probably an hour looking for it and kept failing. I will get it added as soon as I make an update to the spreadsheet. again, thanks… got sooo frustrated I could not find it.

      1. ah, I remember now why I did not add the bigsky last time… their website confuses the hell out of me!!

        Their entire “customize your product” selections are just insane… why are there options for different amount of stakes… has there ever been a more confusing set of options for a stuff sack… does it even come with a stuff sack… foot end pole option… uhh, ok… and, is it 300 grams for everything (shelter, stakes, guylines, stuffsack) or just the shelter without any stakes, guylines or stuffsack… yeah, what a disaster of a website.

        This is a prime case for why I posted my Why I Won’t Buy From Certain Outdoor Cottage Gear Makers post over at BPL. If companies make it so that I cannot figure out how their website explains things, I’m just not going to invest the time into getting them into my lists, and sure as hell not going to buy from them. I shouldn’t have to spend an hour trying to calculate math because they cannot explain things.

        Sorry, don’t mean to rant at you Roman… this is just an issue I have with companies that cannot make an understandable website.

        1. Just in the nick of time since I am in the process of selecting an enclosed shelter for myself. The last one was a great help


    1. Hello Jeff, thanks for stopping by and taking the time to post.

      I do have a two person list. You can find the link to it on the right side of my website, up above, or just click here

      It has not been updated in a fair bit of time, but I started working on a new version last night, after I finished up this solo shelter list. I hope to have it finished this weekend.

      Follow me on my facebook page as I will announce there when it has been finished.

  2. John,

    Awesome work. Especially with the links. I can just open a bunch of the shelters and compare. Glad you added the TT shelter. For just one more ounce you could add the Notch as well. Double wall and door. And the best thing about these TT shelters is they require just four stakes and the Notch has no guylines to trip you when you walk by. Easy setup, at least as shown on their video.

    Also, would be interested if anyone has actually been able to purchase and take delivery of one of the Wisp 1Ps. Will Reitveld has an article on it and the 18 oz version has a nice price point and though it appears to be a bit cramped, its just for getting out of the weather or bugs, like all these other minimal shelters.

    One thing I don’t like about allot of these lighter weight options is the plethora of stakes required to set them up. Not all folks have nice soft ground to plug stakes into.

    This is a great post John. Thanks

    1. Thanks for the nice comments, and hope the data helps you out.

      Regarding the Wisp, I have never seen or heard of anybody using one, with the exception of the one you mentioned Will talked about. …perhaps because everybody else is like me, and utterly and completely mind-boggled by their website…

  3. I still haven’t updated my website because it is an insane amount of work.

    I got “burnt out”.

    Thank you, for all your hard work.

    I have been making all the comparisons. There are so many, now.

    Isn’t it great to have so many lightweight gear choices!

  4. Would be helpful to have a section for lightest two-wall tents. Single wall shelters are great out west where it’s dry because if you get a bad case of condensation or if you get some rain, it’s pretty sure that you’ll be able to dry your tent in the sun the next day. But out east, if you get your single-wall tent wet, it’s gonna stay wet for a week.

    A list that compares the weight/cost of Big Agnes vs MSR, etc two wall tents would be quite helpful for AT hikers.

  5. John, thanks for the hard work and input. I have the sky scape x, from six moon designs. It is nice to see so many choices. I would rather spend $$’s on light weight gear than have the Doc tell me my back is gone from too heavy a pack! Tony from Texas

  6. Hey John,

    Thanks for the list. The Protrail form tarptent is $209 not $201 no biggie though.

    Again thanks for taking the time to do this it helps out a lot.

    1. I need better reading comprehension… I see you annotated that you subtracted the stakes form the cost as they are included from Tarptent…..

      Again Big Thanks for the List

  7. John, You have saved me countless hours of research looking for the lightest fully-enclosed shelter. What an amazing resource you have put together and generously shared with the hiking community.

  8. I’ll be honest, although I love my on-site tarp/bivi setup most of the year there are times when winter camping, in the Canadian Rockies, I would love a ultra lightweight winter tent for that little bit more room.

  9. The SMD Serenity is listed as 200g on their website; has it changed? That would place it (along with the Deschutes) at the top of the list

    1. Hey Craig,

      There is clearly a typo on their website. 11 ounces is not 200 grams, it is 312 grams. I sent them a message letting them know of this. If it actually is 200g I will get my spreadsheet updated.

    1. Thanks for letting me know Andrew. In looking at their website specs, it actually seems like the DW is lighter than the SW, and that just seems… odd.

      Not really sure what to do at this point.

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