Hyperlite Mountain Gear UltaMid 2 Tent Review
If you’ve already heard about the Ultamid 2, you probably heard that it’s the Taj Mahal of tents. Seriously y’all this thing will dominate any campsite. Feel free to watch with wonder & amusement as your mortal frenemies tremble in their lesser DCF shelters. The ergonomic pyramid shape of this reflective white beacon towers straight up into the night sky—distinguishable from maybe a mile, mile and a half away. Plus, between the four-season design and its indestructible DCF8 material, we can rest easy knowing that the UltaMid will outlast us all.
Are the dimensions borderline decadent? Perhaps. But is the luxury intoxicating? Absolutely.
I came into this review knowing that, when it comes to such a high-dollar item, it was going to be all about the cost-benefit analysis. And after carrying this tent on numerous adventures, I’ve come to love a lot of things about it. For certain types of hikers, and for certain trails, there is no more reliable option than the UltaMid. But, as is usually the case in ultralight backpacking, that reliability comes with a pretty hefty price tag.
Hyperlite Mountain Gear UltaMid 2 At-a-Glance
- Single-wall tarp: $735 for the single-wall tarp
- Half insert: $305
- Full insert: $405 for the full insert
Shelter Type: Non-freestanding, dual trekking pole shelter
- Tarp: 18.7 oz
- Half insert: 14.4 oz
- Full insert: 22.1 oz
Stakes Required: 5-8
Materials: Dyneema Composite Fabric (DCF), specifically DCF8 for the tarp and DCF11 for the inserts
Capacity: The advertised capacity is 2 people + their gear. I think you could fit 4 folks of the slender persuasion cowboying under here though. It’s also great for 1 person + gear and a furry friend or two.
Number of Doors: One
Floor Size: 63 sq. ft.(8’11” x 6’11”)
Peak Height: 64 inches (5’4″)
Packed Size: 8.5″ x 6″ x 5.5″, although I found I could pack it even smaller than this.
Bug Protection: Not if you’re only using the tarp. But yes if you’re using the insert.
Country of Origin: Mexico
I’m pretty sure you could live the rest of your life in this tent. It’s so durable, and it’s got enough space to store all your gear and then plenty left over for whatever else you’re getting up to in the backcountry.
Barring that, I think that it functions perfectly well on a thru-hike but also shines as a bikepacking shelter since one person could store their bike underneath it. It’s also a solid way to add a little extra luxury to a weekend trip or section hike. I didn’t get to demo it in snow, but my impression is that it also thrives in snowy conditions, where other trekking pole shelters might not.
Circumstance of Review
Despite a bit of lighthearted yet merciless derision from my tramily, I carried the UltaMid 2 for the length of the Arizona Trail this spring. I also carried it for a few multi-day trips in Texas and Washington, so it has been blasted by a fair amount of polar vortex gusts, freezing temps, and a couple of lashing rainstorms.
In order to get the full picture of this shelter, I sometimes used the tarp only. And at other colder, buggier times I pitched it with the half insert as well.
UltaMid 2 Features
DCF: The gold standard for ultralight backpacking shelter materials, the UltaMid 2 doesn’t cut any corners when it comes to quality DCF. And now that all DCF is “bio-based”, the carbon footprint required to manufacture the material has been reduced by 90%.
Water Resistance: I found the UltaMid 2 to be particularly adept at resisting water. The seams come fully taped, which is a small extra bonus. But besides this, the zippers are reinforced with waterproof material, the bathtub floor of the insert is lifted well to avoid any splashback, and the pitch can be adjusted to accommodate sideways rains.
Dual-Peak Vents: Having two vents seems like a surefire way to reduce the amount of condensation inside the shelter, and is advertised as such on HMG’s site. I actually found them to perform about the same as any other ventilated shelter I’ve used though.
Classic Pyramid Shape: Once you’re comfortable pitching the UltaMid, you’ll always know exactly how much space you’re going to need for a good site. And since the recommended height is set at 5’4″, there’s so much space inside here that you can do some morning yoga or any other kind of ablutions you might desire. The pyramid shape is always good for nights above treeline as well, when winds are more prone to shifting directions.
Double Storm Doors: It’s tricky to have both doors open when you have the insert in here as well, since the insert clips onto one of the doors. Thus, one of the doors sort of needs to remain staked out. Regardless, you can always have at least one open on nice nights. Or both, if you’re sleeping under just the tarp. The doors are also kept securely open by buckles instead of roll/fasten doors, which is easier, but looser.
Customization is King
I think that one of the biggest upsides of the UltaMid is how it can be customized to suit so many different outdoor adventures and adventurers. The different sizes of inserts accommodate either one or two people. If you’re carrying it without the insert, you could potentially fit even more. The amount of space inside allows for a lot of flexibility gear-wise, and if you know you’re going to be going on a relatively dry and bug-less trip then you know you don’t even need to carry the insert.
If you do carry the insert, though, I don’t find a groundsheet to be necessary because the DCF floor is so durable. I also used the insert as a kind of bivy with my quilt for a couple of nights of cowboy camping in the desert. Having that kind of versatility was super nice.
A Veritable Palace for a Single Person
The UltaMid 2 isn’t even that big of a weight penalty for a solo hiker. And the amount of space that it affords might be, dare I say, the largest of any tent on the market right now. You don’t even have to think about where any of your gear goes underneath it, because everything is going to fit. And you can do a full dry-pack underneath it before taking it down in the rain.
That said, given the name and all, it’s naturally more suited to two people. And two people would still have more than enough space to stretch out in here.
Durability and Weather Resistance
I think I would put the UltaMid near the top in terms of how durable it is. Between the reinforced zippers, seam-sealed stitches, heavier DCF, and more robust (and reflective) guy lines, there is a lot more potential here to keep you dry in inclement weather, when other comparable tents might not.
Although I thankfully didn’t get to take this tarp to its limits, I believe I would’ve slept equally sound in the middle of sideways rain, heavy snow, or gale-force winds.
Hyperlite Mountain Gear UltaMid 2 Pros
Spaciousness: I’ve run out of analogies to fully highlight how unrestricted my movements felt inside of here. It’s like hiking in first class, instead of economy or business? Maybe?
Durability: I don’t think there is a tougher, more weather-resistant DCF shelter on the market right now.
DCF: You get what you pay for with DCF. In my opinion, it’s the best material for lightweight shelters on the market right now, and between easy field repairs and complete water resistance, it’s top of the line.
Height: The UltaMid 2’s extra headroom when you’re either prone or sitting translates to fewer aches and pains in the long run. It’s probably the most comfortable shelter for anyone over six feet tall, or anyone who has a pet that isn’t always the most aware of their size.
Versatility: There are so many different types of camping you can do with this shelter, which means more ways to see cool stuff and stay comfortable at the same time.
There have been one, two, and even three people sleeping under the tarp on multiple occasions, and it has performed equally well under all circumstances. And as previously stated, it would also excel for hikers with a couple of pets or even a bike.
Apart from this, carrying the detachable insert allows you to camp under just the tarp on warm, bugless nights, or you can use the insert as a bivy if you want to cowboy camp. You can also roll up the insert with the tarp and they will both fit in a single stuff sack, so they don’t take up too much room in your pack, which was clutch.
Hyperlite Mountain Gear UltaMid 2 Cons
Dual-Pole: I’m all about simplicity on a thru-hike, and having a dual-pole shelter adds a few extra steps to setting up camp every night. For example, I also had to carry a couple of Voile straps (or you can buy the exact same type of strap on HMG’s website) in order to lash the poles together every night. So if I misplaced either of these straps, or if something happened to one of my trekking poles, I would’ve been S.O.L.
Conversely, you can also buy a designated tent pole from HMG for this tent, but I didn’t feel like that small bit of simplification was worth the weight, space, AND price penalty. Plus having a tent pole for pole-less tent seems sort of…redundant? But I guess if you’re bikepacking then you wouldn’t need trekking poles.
Groundsheet: If you’re planning on carrying the UltaMid 2 without the insert, then you will still need a groundsheet for protection underneath it every night.
Condensation: The dual-peak ventilation of this tent is advertised as a roundabout solution to the problem of condensation, but I found that to be mostly untrue. Although it is definitely true that DCF dries extremely quickly, I still had to pack up a wet tent (on both the inside and outside) every time I camped near grass. And, given the large surface area of the UltaMid, there’s more condensation to weigh you down in the morning as opposed to some other DCF shelters. This is probably a meteorologically unsolvable problem that comes with any single-wall tent, but just know that the ventilation isn’t really anything special.
Price: Some might venture to say that, at a base price of $735, the UltaMid 2 is prohibitively expensive. And as a budget-conscious hiker, I can’t disagree with that sentiment. It can very quickly become the highest-end shelter on the market if you add enough bells and whistles.
With the UltaMid 2, there’s no such thing as claustrophobia. This is a shelter that excels at solving every problem it addresses. And now that I’ve spent so many nights sleeping at the Hilton, it’s going to make it a lot tougher to go back to Motel 6, if you know what I mean.I’ll reiterate that for some folks, this is probably the best shelter on the market right now. If you’ve got the budget, and you need more versatility and longevity, then I think this is a great option. Or, if you tried smaller 2-person shelters but found them to be too small, I’d recommend it for the problem of space too. But for others who are looking to pare down and simplify their sleep system, this probably seems like a superfluous luxury. I’d agree with both sides.
So, all that being said, the cost-benefit analysis is circumstantial. Do you get what you pay for? Is the juice worth the four-figure squeeze? I’d say it absolutely is—as long as you know what you’re looking for in a shelter. And if that’s the case, then the UltaMid 2 won’t disappoint on any front.Shop the Hyperlite Mountain Gear UltaMid 2 Shop the Half Tent Insert Shop the Full Tent Insert
- MSRP: $280
- Weight: 15.5-18 oz
- MSRP: $395
- Weight: 34 oz
The Hyperlite Mountain Gear UltaMid 2 was donated for purpose of review.
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