I tossed a stuff sack to my dad, laughing as he reacted, “That was your tent?” He held the small sack, weighing less than 2 pounds, baffled at its size and weight after the photos of the trip I had just shown him.
I’d just returned from a 19-day backcountry trip in Nahanni National Park, Canada where we spent 11 days base camping and climbing in the Cirque of the Unclimbables, followed by an 8-day and 220-mile self-supported pack raft trip on the South Nahanni River back to civilization.
I needed a tent for the trip that was versatile, roomy, and most importantly, lightweight to add to our group kit. In a last-minute decision, I bit the bullet and purchased a Hyperlite UltaMid 4 tent with a few accessories. I’m convinced that when you find a really good piece of gear, the telltale sign is you don’t think about it — it just works. Gear worry was the least of my concerns as I happily slept bug- and rain-free each night in the UltaMid 4 and simply … forgot about it.
I tested this tent in rain and shine, pitched in grass, sand, and everywhere in between. Conditions ranged from hot and sunny to multiple days of rain with plenty of bugs.
I was always excited to pitch the tent for the palace of space it provided, no matter the elements.
In short: The Hyperlite UltaMid 4 is an extremely versatile tent. It can adapt to almost any environment when paired with the right accessories. Its steep price tag is made up for by its featherlight weight, durable fabric, and roomy design. It’s sure to get plenty of use in four-season conditions. It’s replaced the need for multiple tents in my quiver. I can use this tent in almost any weather conditions, all year round. It’s lighter (with all of its accessories included) than most sleeping bags, and it packs down to a similar size.
- Materials DCF8
- Weight 1.7 lbs. | 27.1 oz. | 769 g
- Capacity 2-4 people
- Packed dimensions 10.0" x 7.0" x 5.5" | 25 cm x 18 cm x 14 cm
- Area 85 sq. ft.
- Width 111.0" | 282 cm
- Length 111.0" | 282 cm
- Height 75.0" | 190.5 cm
- Made in Mexico
- Very lightweight
- Versatile with multiple interior accessories
- Four-season utility
- Doesn't pack down as small as some ultralight tents
- High price point
Hyperlite UltaMid 4 Ultralight Tent: Review
At a stunningly low weight of 769 g, the UltaMid 4 is arguably the most functional and versatile tent I have owned. It is a simple pyramid-style shelter built with a Dyneema Composite Fabric (DCF). DCF is incredibly lightweight, durable, and naturally waterproof. The tent comes seam-sealed with DFC tape to ensure a tight seal from the elements.
The Hyperlite UltaMid 4 Ultralight Tent is pitched with one center pole and eight ground stakes. Ultralight enthusiasts can ski-strap two hiking together to create the tall center pole. This is how I pitched it for the entirety of my trip. Alternatively, Hyperlite sells a carbon fiber center pole for those who like to travel without poles.
The single zipper entry is easy to operate one-handed. It comes with a second zipper near the top for venting air or cooking inside the tent. Two peak vents allow for additional ventilation near the top of the tent. Both are guarded by bug mesh to prevent entry by unwanted insects. Additional guy-out tabs are provided on each of the four edges of the tent and on three of the outer panels.
This tent has been my favorite tent for so many reasons. First of all, it’s hard to describe just how spacious it is inside. The interior dimensions are 9.25 feet x 9.25 feet with a peak height of 6.25 feet. On a rainy day, I was easily able to pack four people comfortably inside to play card games with plenty of room to lounge.
For one or two people, it was a palace of a tent. There was ample room for sleeping pads, backpacks, and other gear strewn about without worry for space.
Because the tent is single surface, it does tend to collect a small amount of moisture on the inside walls, as is common with all single-wall tents. Luckily, the DCF fabric is naturally waterproof and doesn’t absorb water so a simple shake and wipe down is plenty to dry it off.
While this trip didn’t encounter any snowy conditions, I have used similar pyramid-style shelters for winter camping and expeditions. This style of tent makes for great cooking shelters when snow camping, allowing tons of space to dig out benches and kitchen tables in the center.
With the waterproof DCF fabric and built-in peak vents, I have no doubt the UltaMid 4 will shine when I take it on my next winter expedition.
To my surprise, pitching this tent was very easy to do alone. With the zipper door closed, simply stake down the four main corners of the tent so the shape makes a flat square on the ground, unzip the door, and insert the center pole. This creates the initial standing structure.
Then, adjust tension in each corner with the built-in tension locks on the tent, stake out the remaining four stakes on the side panels, and adjust tension. The tent can be pitched higher off the ground for more ventilation or lower to the ground for more protection from the elements.
Because the footprint of the tent was so large, it was sometimes difficult to find an area large and flat enough to pitch it. In these instances, I searched for a flat area about half the size of the tent for the sleeping area, leaving the uneven side open as the “garage” area.
There was only one time during the trip I was unable to pitch the tent successfully, which happened to be on a gravel bar on the side of the river with cobblestones everywhere.
Because the tent relies on the tension of the ground stakes, I was unable to stake the tent down or use rocks well enough to withstand the tension needed for the tent to stand. A relocation to a sandier site away from the gravel solved the issue.
Hyperlite UltaMid 4 Ultralight Tent Accessories
Because the UltaMid 4 is just a single-wall shelter, there is no built-in bug protection. A few times, I pitched it as low to the ground as possible, which prevents most bugs from entering, but inevitably some flying pets will get in while you are entering and exiting the tent.
Mostly, I used the UltaMid 4 with a variety of accessories, as follows.
At the weight of an energy bar at 111 g, this may be the most expensive ground cloth on the market ($199). For its weightless utility, it disappeared from the pack and became quite handy for a variety of tasks.
I used it as a simple ground sheet for sleeping on, a mud-room tarp to keep my pack from getting sandy at sand-bar campsites, and a general-purpose tarp for lounging around in Fairy Meadows. I would normally never bring a ground cloth for the extra weight and bulk. But with its tiny weight, I will certainly be bringing this for future outings.
Floorless Mesh Insert
One of the more valuable accessories I found was the floorless mesh insert ($159). At 464 g, it easily installs to convert the UltaMid 4 into a bug-free palace. With the mesh insert and a ground pad, it creates tons of space for two people and gear.
Because the mesh insert hangs inside, it does cut out a fair bit of the interior volume of the tent. I don’t think it would sleep four comfortably, but for two people, it was great.
My favorite and arguably most useful accessory was the half insert, turning half of the UltaMid 4 into a conventional two-person tent with a bathtub floor and bug mesh, leaving the other half as a huge garage for your gear.
This system was great for sandy campsites where I wanted more separation between the sandy and clean areas like my sleeping bag. The only downside is there is not very much headroom for the person sleeping on the edge of the tent.
At 537 g, it weighs slightly less than the combination of a floorless mesh insert and a ground sheet. If I were to buy only one accessory, this would be the one.
Ultralight Tent Stake Kit
At 101 g, I used this eight-stake kit for the entirety of the trip. For their featherlight weight, they felt highly durable. I was never concerned with bending or breaking them on firm ground. Eight stakes are needed for the UltaMid tent, and four additional stakes are needed for the half insert.
Hyperlite also sells a full-size insert with a bathtub floor and mesh, as well as a collapsible carbon fiber center pole. However, I didn’t purchase or use these for this trip.
One minor drawback of the DCF fabric is that it doesn’t pack down quite as small as traditional sil-nylon fabrics. This means I had to tightly roll the tent for it to fit in the provided stuff sack. However, the final pack size was entirely reasonable for such a roomy tent. I had no issues finding it a home in my pack.
Hyperlite UltaMid 4 Ultralight Tent: Conclusion
The Hyperlite UltaMid 4 and its accessories are undoubtedly a pricey investment. The tent alone is almost $1,000 — which is significantly more than most ultralight tents and backpacking tents on the market.
But for its versatility, I found the UltaMid 4 is worth the cost considering it will replace the one- to four-person three-season tents in your quiver and double as a four-season shelter for snow camping. It’s extremely light, durable, and easy to use. This is the most versatile and luxurious tent I’ve used while still being solidly in the “ultralight” category. It’s a palace for basecamp hangs and keeping bugs, rain, and snow at bay.