Yes, you heard that right. A bombproof, four-season tent that weights just a smidgen over a pound. I was skeptical at first too, as was my epic partner (or maybe partner for the impending epic?) Libby Sauter. We were so skeptical that we googled reviews - and even when we found nothing but five star declarations of love we still weren't totally sold on it. "Are you sure this is a good idea? Shouldn't we maybe take the i-tent instead even though it's two pounds heavier?" But weight mattered a lot on this trip, and forced our hand.
What is this magical tent that I am talking about you ask? Why it's Hyperlite Mountain Gear's Ultamid 2 Pyramid tent.
Hyperlite Mountain Gear is a power player in the ultralight market. I've been using and loving their various packs and stuff sacks for just about a year now (full disclosure: Hyperlite has been kind to hook me up with free gear in the past), but I'd never yet used a tent of theirs. When Libby and I set out on a multi-day, multi-sport alpine project that would have us carrying way too much gear over large distances... I knew that it was finally time to try out the Ultamid. The Hyperlite website describes the tent as follows:
Naked, flawless functionality meets rugged durability in the ultimate, ultra-tough pyramid tent–the Ultamid 2. We considered minimalist alpine climbing missions, long distance backpacking trips and remote backcountry adventures when we developed this ultralight two-person tent.
Bingo! That's exactly what Libby and I needed for our mission. And to go truly minimalist, we opted to take just the floorless pyramid rather than packing the optional floored mesh insert (sold separately) which would have added 1.3 pounds of weight.
We set out under bluebird conditions, humping skis and climbing gear into the Eastern Sierra. After a couple miles of muddy trails and spicy river crossings, we found snow and skinned up into what was intended to be camp #1 of 6. Snow conditions were marginal at best and the forecast predicted high winds for the following day, so we were happy to find a semi-protected camp spot with plenty of daylight hours left.
Setting up the Ultamid is child's play - identify what you're going to use for the center (we chose to repurpose a ski), lay out the tent on top of it; first stake out the corners, then put up the center pole. Since we were camping on sugar snow, we had a bit of extra work burying solid deadmen anchors - note to self: it's probably smart NOT to bury the spare guy lines, and to leave at least one of your ice axes above ground too! Details, details... - and yet, we were done setting up camp in no time.
The forecasted windstorm arrived shortly after we had moved in, and gusted as high as 65 miles for the night, the full next day and most of the following night. Sadly the storm lasted long enough to spoil our plans for the following week, but at least it allowed us to put the Ultamid to the test - and this little tent far exceeded our expectations. Even in the Ultamid's floorless configuration we were warm, mostly dry (after burying the windward side under a bit of snow to prevent flurries from drifting in) and fully protected from the storm.
Knowing that the Ultamid is made out of the near-indestructible DCF8 Dyneema® Composite Fabrics (i.e. Cuben Fiber) and that the guy lines consist of equally strong UHMWPE paracord meant peace of mind even during the strongest gusts of wind, though a user error made the first night slightly more exciting and uncomfortable than necessary: we failed to take into account the big layer of unconsolidated facets when putting up our center pole / ski, and paid the price as the relentless hammering of the wind drove the ski farther and farther into the snow which caused the tent to lose a fair amount of its tension during our first night in the storm. Having identified the issue the next morning, we easily fixed the problem by burying a nalgene bottle below the ski to increase surface area against the snow and prevent the center from sinking again. Lesson learned for next time!
The storm subsided after about 36 tentbound hours, though sadly the longer-than-expected delay meant that Libby and I had to abort our mission. The Ultamid, though, proved its worth and demonstrated why - even at a sticker price of $715 - this is nifty piece of Cuben Fiber is the ultimate choice of shelter if you're looking for a featherlight yet ultrasolid four-season tent.