Top 5 Ultralight Semi-Freestanding Tents of 2023

Camper next to their ultralight semi-freestanding tent in the forest

In this post, we'll take a look at:

When you’re picking an ultralight semi-freestanding tent, there are essential things to think about.

These include how heavy the tent is, how easy it is to pack, how strong it is, how much room it has inside, how well it can handle different weather, and how simple it is to set up.

Our TOP 5 guide is made to give you the information you need to choose the best tent for you.

Top Ultralight Semi-Freestanding Tent Picks

  1. Most Ultralight: Terra Nova Laser Pulse Ultra 1 Tent (1lb 1.28oz/490g)
  2. Best Overall: Sea to Summit Alto TR1 Tent (2lb 7oz/930g)
  3. Best Value: Sierra Designs High Side 1 Tent (2lb 2.1oz/968g)
  4. Easiest to Pitch: Tarptent Moment DW (2lb 2.3oz/973 g)
  5. Budget Option: Six Moon Designs Skyscape Scout Hiking Tent (2lb 8oz/1134g)

1. Most Ultralight
Terra Nova Laser Pulse Ultra 1 Tent

Ultralight Semi-Freestanding Tents: Terra Nova Laser Pulse Ultra 1 Tent

Key Specs

Weight: 1lb 1.28 ounces (490 grams)
Material: DCF
Price: $$$


✅ Ultralight

✅ Double walled


❌ Expensive

❌ No storage pockets

The Terra Nova Laser Pulse Ultra 1 tent offers an incredibly light and compact option for ultralight backpackers. It’s designed for those who prioritize low weight without sacrificing comfort.

The tent’s simple and quick-to-pitch tunnel design provides ample space while keeping weight minimal.

We can highlight its ease of pitching and good ventilation. However, it’s important to note that taller individuals might find limited headroom, and there are no extra storage pockets.

2. Best Overall
Sea to Summit Alto TR1 Tent

Ultralight Semi-Freestanding Tents: Sea to Summit Alto TR1 Tent

Key Specs

Weight: 2lb 7 ounces (930 grams)
Material: 15D nylon ripstop
Price: $$


✅ Good headroom

✅ Easy to pitch


❌ No rainfly loop for the stargaze mode

The Sea to Summit Alto one-person tent is a smart choice for ultralight backpackers looking for a lightweight yet spacious shelter. The unique Tension Ridge design offers more room and taller doors, ensuring comfort and practicality.

The tent’s features, like the variable rainfly for stargazing and the FairShare storage system, make it stand out.

We can agree that it has ample headroom and easy setup, though there is no loop to fix the rainfly in stargazing mode.

Overall, the Alto tent proves to be a great overall option.

3. Best Value
Sierra Designs High Side 1 Tent

Ultralight Semi-Freestanding Tents: Sierra Designs High Side 1 Tent

Key Specs

Weight: 2lb 2.1 ounces (968 grams)
Material: 20D nylon ripstop
Price: $


✅ Great warranty

✅ Small pack size


❌ Some condensation

The Sierra Designs High Side 1 Person Tent is a fantastic choice for those who enjoy solo adventures and value simplicity.

The tent’s unique design with pre-bent poles and tunnel-style build offers a surprising amount of space without adding much weight. Setting up is easy, and you can even extend the awning for extra storage or improved airflow.

However, keep in mind that some water can drip inside when unzipping the outside layer in wet conditions.

Overall, the High Side tent is highly regarded for its livable space and efficient design.

4. Easiest to Pitch
Tarptent Moment DW

Ultralight Semi-Freestanding Tents: Tarptent Moment DW

Key Specs

Weight: 2lb 2.3 ounces (973 grams)
Material: 30D nylon 66
Price: $


✅ Double walled

✅ Dyneema option available


❌ Needs seam sealing

The Tarptent Moment DW offers a brilliant combination of elegance and performance for outdoor enthusiasts seeking an ultralight tent.

Designed with 30D nylon 66, it strikes the perfect balance between weight and versatility. This tent stands out for its rapid setup, ready to face the elements in under a minute with just two stakes, and it’s a great option for those who prioritize lightness and quick assembly.

However, it’s worth noting that seam sealing is necessary, either through your own effort or by using Tarptent’s seam sealing service at an extra cost.

5. Budget Option
Six Moon Designs Skyscape Scout Hiking Tent

Ultralight Semi-Freestanding Tents: Six Moon Designs Skyscape Scout Hiking Tent

Key Specs

Weight: 2lb 8 ounces (1134 grams)
Material: 190T polyester
Price: $


✅ Good for tall people

✅ Relatively affordable


❌ Needs seam sealing

❌ Requires extra poles

The Skyscape Scout is the most budget-friendly, lightweight tent available, allowing you to enjoy the outdoors with a lighter load without straining your finances.

However, it’s important to apply sealer to the seams before using the shelter to ensure complete water repellency.

Additionally, all Skyscape models, including the Scout, use a fixed-length 45″ or 115 cm pole support structure to create an A-frame design. You can achieve this with trekking poles or purchase collapsible aluminum or carbon fiber poles from Six Moon Designs.

How to Buy the Right Semi-Freestanding Tent

When it comes to selecting the right semi-freestanding tent, you can streamline the process by considering three essential factors: seasonality, weight, and livability.

  1. Seasonality is a critical aspect, offering choices like 3-season, 3+ season, and 4-season tents. Most backpackers, particularly those new to the activity, often opt for 3-season tents, suitable for a wide range of spring, summer, and fall conditions. Some avid backpackers may choose to own multiple tents for versatility.
  2. Weight is another crucial consideration as it impacts your overall load. Lightweight tents can still provide ample room and comfort, and while heavy-duty materials offer durability, ultralight tents can surprisingly be sturdy. Key specifications to look for include minimum trail weight, packaged weight, and packed size to assess the tent’s portability.
  3. Livability is crucial for a pleasant tent experience. Modern designs and materials enhance spaciousness, with increased headroom and overall room. Elements like rainfly color, door design, gear storage vestibules, and ventilation options contribute to a comfortable refuge during storms or extended stays.

To delve deeper into tent materials, feel free to explore our comprehensive post available here.

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