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Live Event Info: Choosing an Ultralight Shelter for Backpacking (Member Live Q&A) – October 7, 2021 6:00 PM US Mountain Time

Backpacking Light Q&A Sessions are Hour-Long Members-Only Live Events – they are recorded and the recorded session will be made available below after the live event has ended.

To access the live or recorded (video) version of this event, a printable slide deck for note-taking, and the related resources/downloads, you must be logged in with an active Premium or Unlimited Membership.

Event Agenda


Ultralight shelters come in a variety of styles, types, and fabrics. In this Member Q&A, you’ll learn about the strengths and limitations of bivy sacks, tarps, floorless pyramids, hammocks (we are planning a dedicated Q&A about hammocks later), and various styles of trekking pole and curved-pole shelters. In addition, you’ll learn about the most common ultralight fabrics used in these shelters, including Dyneema Composite Fabrics, silpoly, and silnylon – and how these fabrics differ in terms of their performance. The goal is to present a framework that allows you to select a shelter type for a particular environment and hiking style.

1. Keynote: AN OVERVIEW OF ULTRALIGHT BACKPACKING SHELTERS (~30 minutes, by Ryan Jordan)

  • Shelter objectives – what’s the context in your overall gear kit?
  • Styles of ultralight shelters
  • Ultralight shelter fabrics: Dyneema Composite Fabrics, silnylon, and silpoly
  • Considerations: wind, rain, snow, livability, privacy
  • Ground sheets, guylines, and tent stakes
  • Case studies: summer, shoulder season, and winter shelters

2. SHELTER Systems Q&A (~30 minutes)

  • Tarp tent style shelters in rain and wind – do they really stay dry?
  • What UL tent do you recommend for bad weather (rain, wind, snow) like what is found in Alaska?
  • I have issues with an MSR Flylite in rain/wind and above the treeline. Alternatives?
  • What’s up with tents that have mesh bathtub floors (like ZPacks)? What’s the point?
  • I use a Six Moon Designs Gatewood Cape. Are there similar styles out there? Lighter options? DCF?
  • Which tarps do you recommend?
  • Favorite ground sheet?
  • Why so few DCF double-wall tents on the market?
  • How best to stake out a tent in a foot of sugary snow?
  • Best DCF tents for long-term durability?
  • Flat tarps, various pitch configurations, bias stretch, and silnylon vs silpoly vs DCF?

3. Open Q&A (~20 minutes)

  • No open Q&A on this one – it’s 100% shelters!

Members-Only: Attend the Live Event/Watch the Recorded Video & Access Additional Resources

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