Gear Review: TETON Sports Mountain Ultra 1 Tent

The Mountain Ultra 1 at the Whitney Portal, September 2014

One of the things I like about testing gear that I receive from various outfitters is the testing process. If its clothes, I put them on, and find ways to run into things - rocks, tree branches, bushes, icefields, or anything else I can find. I then take the clothes off, and again, find things to throw on them or at them. If its actual gear - tents, backpacks, or other, I tinker with it. I find ways to take it apart; put it back together; and also find ways to test all of the zippers, straps, and various items that comprise whichever piece of equipment I'm looking at. And, even though it should go without saying, whether it is clothes or gear, I seek out storms to test just how durable the material is in actual wet or wintery conditions. Finally, I also have the benefit of over thirty years of experience in the field. Even when I wasn't testing gear over that period of time, I was testing gear. I know what works; and what doesn't.

Correspondingly, when I was offered the opportunity to test out the TETON Sports Mountain Ultra 1 a few months ago, I was slightly concerned. The Mountain Ultra 1 was billed as an ultralight backpacking tent; and in my experience, such products were not durable; or not breathable. Nevertheless, I was intrigued as to what innovations TETON had brought to the field as there had been a lot of social media buzz about the tent, so with an open mind I accepted the tent and began the testing process. Several months later, what I can say is this: this is a product that lives up to the hype it generated, and then some. Even further, I can honestly say that this tent is the best one-man backpacking tent on the market in 2014; and perhaps the best one-man backpacking tent that I have used in the last five years.

The Mountain Ultra 1, without the rainfly. Photo Credit: littlegrunts.com

Although there are many things that I like about the Mountain Ultra 1, let me highlight a couple of non-obvious points. First, the tent comes with everything you need for wilderness use. What that means is that the tent comes with rainfly, footprint, poles, stakes, and cord - everything you need to use the tent in a variety of conditions. This may seem like a simple point, but trust me - it is not. Many competitors of TETON that sell comparable products will package things separately - the tent for example, is one purchase; and the footprint another. To me, the joint packaging of all of the products was a great - and welcome change. Second, even though the tent is a lightweight backpacking tent, it has a number of durable features, including the extra high "bathtub" floor. This is a great feature, because it prevents items on the floor of the tent from getting wet from either external condensation (rain, floods, sleet, etc.) or internal condensation. Third, the seamless design of the tent and rainfly compliment each other greatly. The mesh inner tent allows a unique view of the wilderness for clear days; and the rainfly serves as a great insulating layer for days with cooler temperatures or weather.

The best part of the design is the ease in which the tent assembles: there is one interlocking pole; and a number of easy to use (and yet durable) clips to attach the rainfly. On my first assembly of the tent, I did not even have a need to consult the instructions as it was that simple and intuitive to assemble. Again, this contrasts with a number of the competing products on the market which require a number of poles, or a particular stake-out assembly to work effectively. Finally, the tent is both lightweight (4 pounds) and durable - through thunderstorms, various terrain issues and other items, my tent withstood everything I could throw at it. 

All of these factors and more left me highly impressed; and will leave anyone impressed after one use, or multiples uses as I had; which is why I call this tent the best one man backpacking tent of 2014. As the Holiday season is fast approaching, it would be a great addition for any outdoor enthusiast, or for an outdoor novice that is looking to experience the great outdoors. More information about the Mountain Ultra 1 can be found here, as well as where to purchase it.