A specially designed backpacking tent can lighten your load significantly. They're the cornerstone of any ultralight gear collection. The weight savings come at a penalty though, as designers have to sacrifice conveniences like doors and stash pockets, space, four-season capability and general sturdiness. However, there are a few that are among the best of 2009.
Sierra Designs Lightning XT 2
The two-person Lighting XT 2 makes a great choice for either you and a buddy, or as a roomy tent for a solo outing. Ultralight aluminum poles, lots of mesh and a fly made of coated, super-thin nylon gives this tent a trail weight of just under four pounds. Retails for $289.
MSR Carbon Reflex 1
Unusual for a one-person light tent, the double-walled Carbon Reflex is freestanding and roomy and weighs a ridiculously light 2.25 pounds. This light tent can also be used with just the poles, fly and optional footprint for even greater weight savings. Carbon poles and light-but-strong materials hike this tent's price up to $450.
Black Diamond Firstlight
This light tent breaks the rules and allows four-season use by using breathable, water-resistant, single-wall technology to create a hardy but very light two-person shelter. The ultralight weight, single ledge-entry door and alpine design make this tent a good candidate for mountaineering and climbing. The single-wall construction means that the vestibule is optional, though. The Firstlight weighs just over 3.25 pounds and sells for $320.