I love pyramid tents. They are lightweight, compact, simple to pitch, bomber in weather, and spacious with headroom to spare.
They do have one big drawback, of course. There is no floor, so you’ll be setting up shop directly on the ground or snow. You’ll need to select your site carefully in rainy weather to prevent water from running into and collecting inside the tent. And bugs can usually find their way in. But if you can handle these minor inconveniences, there are few shelters that offer as much space and protection for so little weight.
These days a multitude of options are available. Here are four of my favorites:
Mountain Laurel Designs Duomid
This ultralight one- to two-person shelter sets up with a single trekking pole. The rectangular footprint measures 104 x 60 inches, with a variable peak height of around 56 inches. The standard silnylon version ($260) weighs in at a scant 20 ounces, not including stakes or guylines, the cuben fiberversion a featherweight 12.5 ounces ($460). For more, check out this entertaining and thorough review.
Mountain Laurel Designs offers a range of other pyramid tents and accessories, including the roomier Duomid XL (24 ounces, $365), capacious Supermid (29 ounces, $385), and inner bug protection nets for all styles.
Black Diamond Mega Light
This is the classic pyramid tent. Black Diamond has been making it for well over a decade, with virtually no changes to its time-tested and proven design. The square footprint (86 x 86 inches) and 57-inch peak height provide room for up to four (or ample space for two). And unlike many other pyramid tents, it comes with its own carbon fiber center pole; no trekking poles are required (though you can pitch the tent with them if desired).
As pyramid tents go, however, it is on the heavier side (2 pounds, 13 ounces, including center pole, stakes, guylines, and stuff sack; $289).
Mountain Hardwear Hoopla
One drawback of pyramid designs is the fact that the walls slant inward relatively quickly, which reduces headroom and usable space. The Hoopla solves that problem with a circular pole ring near the top, which makes the walls more vertical and increases headroom substantially; and a hexagonal footprint, which also increases space. (Both these features, however, do make pitching the tent slightly more complicated and time-consuming.)
The shelter requires a trekking pole for the center pole support, can accommodate up to four people, and weighs in at a lightweight 2 pounds, 3 ounces, including stakes, guylines, and stuff sack ($375).
Brooks-Range Mountaineering Stubai
For big winter and mountaineering trips, this capacious shelter features a five-sided pentagonal footprint and can accommodate up to five people. Unlike most other pyramid tents, it features ground flaps around the perimeter that can be covered with snow for a rock-solid pitch. Two tiers of tie-out loops provide additional options for an ultra-strong setup for the most severe conditions.
It makes for a great communal cook tent and shelter for base camp or a lightweight shelter for a larger group. Like the Mega Light, it comes with its own center pole, or you can use trekking/ski poles for set up (3 pounds, 5 ounces, not including guy lines, center pole, or stakes; $299).