The Mountain Hardwear Ghost UL 2 (MSRP $449) is a lightweight, double-walled tent designed for 2 people. Weighing just 2 pounds and 2 ounces, it caters to backpackers willing to sacrifice living comfort for reduced weight.
The Mountain Hardwear Ghost UL 2 tent is a double-walled, front-entry tent with a front vestibule and a partial rain fly that just barely covers the inner tent’s mesh ceiling, but not the rear of the inner tent, which is exposed to the elements. While this hybrid single-walled design helps reduce the weight of the fly, it’s a bit of a mixed bag because it reduces the wind worthiness of the tent unless it’s pitched with the vestibule pointed into the wind and very securely staked down.
The inner tent hangs from a single collapsible tent pole with a front and rear Y hub. While Mountain Hardware claims the Ghost UL 2 inner tent is freestanding, the reality is that you need to stake out both sides of the inner tent to create enough space for two people to sleep in it. Both stakes are also necessary to provide support for the rainfly, which hooks to the inner tent using mitten hooks. The front vestibule only requires one stake to secure, bringing the minimum number of stakes required to pitch the tent to 3.
Pitching the Tent
Pitching the Ghost UL 2 is straightforward. Spread out the inner tent and expand the collapsible, multi-hubbed tent pole. Insert the tips of the poles into the connectors at the four corners, then stake out the sides of the inner tent at the mid-way point.
Drape the rain fly over the tent pole and secure the four corners using the modified Jakes foot connectors provided. Guy out the sides of rain fly, reusing the inner tent’s side stakes, before securing the front of the vestibule to block the wind.
The Ghost UL 2 is quite cramped as two-person tents go. The width tapers from the front door to the feet as follows:
- Front width: 54″
- Mid width: 43″
- Foot width: 34″
When lying in the tent on a sleeping pad, my feet touch the solid part of the inner tent that slants inwards and our sleeping quilts are both mashed against the sidewall. This is a recipe for internal condensation transfer in anything except the aridest camping conditions.
While the peak ceiling height tapers from front to rear, as follows:
- Front height: 36″
- Mid height: 27″
- Foot height 17″
making it impossible to do much except sleep inside the Ghost UL 2. It’s even difficult to turn around in the tent. I recommend you use the Ghost UL 2 with a very good friend, although using it alone would improve its livability significantly.
The Ghost UL 2 is made with gossamer-thin materials including a 20D Nylon Ripstop 1200mm PU/SIL inner tent and 10D Nylon Ripstop 800mm PU/SIL rain fly. While you’ll need to be careful and pitch the tent on soft, clear surfaces, it is possible to keep a tent like this in good condition despite frequent use. My chief area of concern isn’t abrasion to the fabric as much damage to the vestibule and front door zippers, the hubbed pole, and side rainfly guy out hooks. I’d recommend lubricating the zippers with McNett Ziptech at the start of each season and using the other components gently to prolong their use.
Although it is lightweight, the Mountain Hardwear Ghost UL 2 is awkward for two people to use, with just one front door and one vestibule which is too small for gear storage. The interior dimensions are also quite narrow to the point where you’ll need to use narrow sleeping pads with tapered ends to fit into the tent, although the Ghost 2 UL does become more viable if you plan to camp alone most of the time.
While the shape and design of the Ghost UL 2 is optimized for use in windy conditions, this tent is best used by backpackers who are attuned to weather conditions, including the ability to determine wind direction. While airflow is good in breezy conditions, the tent can get warm and stuffy when the air is still, so good campsite selection skills are required for use in hot and muggy weather.
- Small number of stakes required to pitch tent
- Extended front awning helps keep you dry in rain
- Awkward for two people to share a single front door
- Vestibule is too small for gear storage when front door is in use
- Wind performance of the vestibule is not that good. Bring a very long front stake to secure the front vestibule guy-out to the ground and because the front stake pulls out easily when people enter and exit the vestibule.
- Sides of tent crowd two people. Slanted walls touch top of feet.
- Foot end of tent is so narrow (34″), you much use tapered sleeping pads
- Rear peak height is very low, only 17″
- Weight: 33.7 ounces on the SectionHiker.com scale
- Minimum number of stakes required to pitch inner tent: 2
- Additional stakes required to pitch rain fly: 1
- Dimensions (measured at head, middle, and foot of tent)
- Front width: 54″
- Mid width: 43″
- Foot width: 34″
- Front interior height: 36″
- Mid interior height: 27″
- Foot interior height 17″
- Length of inner tent: 84″
For complete manufacturer specs, visit MountainHardwear.com
Disclosure: Mountain Hardwear loaned Philip Werner a Ghost UL 2 Tent for this review.SectionHiker is reader-supported. We only make money if you purchase a product through our affiliate links. Help us continue to test and write unsponsored and independent gear reviews, beginner FAQs, and free hiking guides.
One door? At that price they should have provided two!
But the amusement gained by sharing this tent with another person was priceless! :-)
The only 1 person tent I’ve ever enjoyed was a SMD Skyscape Scout (IMHO the best $125 worth of tent out there.) Otherwise I need a 2P tent for me and myself. I’m out to have fun and camp comfort is important to me. If I was looking for pure weight efficiency, I would rock a bivy with a tarp option.
I’ve enjoyed reading these reviews of “ultralight” double-wall tents. I hope the patterns are obvious to everyone: pathetically small interior volumes and extremely light fabrics that barely pass industry standards for rainproofness. Oh, and marketing that does not acknowledge the shortcomings, or puts a very positive spin on it.
Glad you’re enjoying them Andrew. :-) I plan to spend a very long weekend soon in a Warbonnet Blackbird for a welcome change of pace from tent testing. Just a few more days until the weekend….then back to the grind stone to test out a SD tent, which looks pretty good by the way.
But do you have “the” SD tent?
Nope. Never got one of them. Perhaps you could intercede?
Our first production run is very limited and we’ll be able to sell through them without much outreach. But expect to get a sample for testing later this summer, in time for the arrival of the second batch of production.
I just bought this tent and on first pitch it looks fantastic. I am perplexed by people that would buy a double wall tent that competes in weight with floorless tarp-tents and one person biv sacks and then gripe about the thin materials and small size. How do you think weights like 2lbs, 2oz are achieved, magic? I see many clever decisions that reduce weight, and all of them, by necessity, involve sacrifices in terms of space, durability, or weather-proofness. If you want a tent that is more comfortable for two and durable, there are plenty out there in the four pound range. If you want it to handle a snowstorm, make it six or eight pounds. I bought this because it is really light and can keep bugs and some rain out. It’s a good alternative to much less weatherproof and bugproof options, like tarps, or nothing (and nothing can work well). I carry small packs. I check weather forecasts. I do not plan to sit in a tent in storms playing cards. I just get inside and sleep. It’s a bit lame to badmouth a very interesting product because you don’t understand it’s intended use.
As far as I can tell this is the among (if not the) lightest true tents you can buy. If that intrigues you, you probably know the trade-offs.
I felt it my obligation to point out all of the decisions and design trade offs made to make this tent lightweight, so that people expecting a two person tent wouldn’t suckered into buying it when there are so many more two person tents available that are more comfortable and weather resistant. Seriously, one door? I assume you’ll be using this by yourself as a one person tent.
To be clear, I was reacting more to the other commenters than to your review, which seems pretty objective.
Now my answer to your question is, no, I will use it for either one or two persons, and I think it will work perfectly for it’s intended purpose, which is very light, short trips. As I pointed out, this is a very small, light tent for sleeping in, not a tent for hanging out in comfortably. It’s also not a tent for a trip in the Olympics when the forecast calls for three days of constant drizzle. But it might very well be the tent to use in Colorado or California to stay dry in a squall and keep the mosquitoes off your face at night.
And, seriously, MORE than one door? Why? Personally I would never purchase a tent with more than one door for anything other than car camping. I can think of few things less essential than an extra door on a two person tent, and if your goal is to travel with a very light pack, you need to adopt a different attitude about what is essential. I can tell you with certainty that you can live for three weeks in the Alaska Range in a three person tent with three people sleeping head to toe with ONE DOOR and end up just fine, so long as lounging around comfortably in bed isn’t the purpose of your trip.
Clearly, this tent is not for everyone. But as I said, if this tent and it’s weight attract a buyer in the first place, I think that comfort is probably not a major decision factor for them, and the mocking dismissal of some of the commenters says much more about their style of travel than about the product.
For several of the above concerns i bought the 3 person tent for two person use. Ample room for two and some gear. There should have been a couple more side pockets and interior loops. At 3 lbs that is light enough to accept some deficiencies.
That is what we did. Every side pocket adds a few ounces, so I was glad there were not more.
I’ve tried heavier tents (like an REI half dome — loved the durability and spaciousness), and similar tents (such as the https://mytrailco.com/collections/tents/products/tent-ul-2 we owned — just a little too small for two, a little too low, and the condensation was intense).
You have to choose between weight, features, and choices.
Every time I start to trade off for “just a little more” I end up back at the Half Dome (with the replacement poles), and then start looking for something lighter. I’m pretty happy, all in all, with the UL3 at the moment.
There needs to be a category of “this is for this market” rather than “this is labeled as a 2P tent” if that makes sense (much like a large number of 2p tents are actually sold to people who use them as one person tents).
I purchased the Ghost UL2 specifically as a light weight, SOLO, roomy shelter for backpacking. There’s no perfect ultralight option out there IMHO and I’ve tried many: Hennessey Hammocks, Integral Designs Chrysalis Bivy w/ Tarp, Big Agnes Fly Creek UL1, Integral Designs Mega Sola, Nemo GoGo Elite.
Usually the lighter the shelter, the more sacrifices you must be willing to make but it really forces you to prioritize the features that are most important to you. For me, weight, reliability, usability, and ease of setup are most important. Everything is a trade off though and it comes down to selecting the right gear for the intended purpose and what fits your style.
For winter camping in the Canadian Rockies? No way. Spindrift would easily enter through the fly and the inner tent and the tent simply was not designed for that purpose.
Backpacking with my wife for a week? No way. Not if I wanted to still be married afterwards as there’s not enough breathing room for the two of us if we had to spend a few days in the tent without moving locations.
Adventure motorcycling? It wouldn’t be my first choice. It’s easy to set up and very small when packed, but you’d sacrifice space as it’s too tight considering all the gear one might have.
Bikepacking? Sure. It would be a great fit for that given it’s small packed size and weight.
Solo backpacking in Spring/Summer/early Fall North American conditions? Absolutely.
I’ve completed the West Coast Trail 11 times and on the last trip I used the Ghost UL2. The WCT is home to some of the nastiest weather you’ll ever find and on our 2016 summer trip, we had a bit of every type of weather including heavy rain.
The Ghost held up really, really well but you do have to pay attention to which way the weather is coming in and point the head of the tent into it. You have to stake out the side floor separately from the side guylines otherwise the fly will come into contact with the inner tent and you’ll get condensation coming down the sides and wetting your gear. I learned that the hard way.
I bought the groundsheet which is essentially just a piece of Tyvek and you could easily make one yourself. When it was warm, unclipping the front vestibule and folding it back provided ample ventilation. In windy conditions, the tent breathes nicely and easily keeps the condensation at bay.
No issues at all in heavy downpours other than you have to stake the tent out properly (side floor/side guyline). You will get splashback onto the inner tent but the bathtub floor is quite high so nothing entered through the mesh. You do need to be careful not to sleep against the sides though as the fly does not offer full length coverage so your gear may get damp from condensation.
When it’s pounding down rain, it’s nice to have a tent that goes up/comes down quickly. All-in-all, the tent worked well for me and I’ll continue to use it as my primary lightweight shelter.
I have a UL3, which weighs in for actual use at just under three pounds. While the UL2 is just too cramped, the UL3 works nicely as a 2P tent and in our backyard tests has handled rain well. I use a polycro foot print, and would be nervous to use it without one.
Best bought on sale for around $300.00. I agree with Sam that the UL2 is really a one person tent.
The other thing you need to do is “stake out” the vestibule with a hiking pole if you want it to be free standing.
I use this tent as a one person tent, then it becomes quite luxurious. Plenty of space to put my gear in with me and my pad centers nicely so I have plenty of room. I’ve used it in heavy rain, snow storms and even a hail storm when I had to get out ever 30 minutes to pull the hail away from the sides. No complaints, but I wouldn’t want to squeeze two people into it.