What is the Difference between Tent Trail Weight and Packaged Weight?

What is the difference bewteen tent trail weight and packaged weight?

Trail weight is the weight of a tent with just the fly, the inner tent, pre-attached guylines, and the tent poles minus the tent stakes, stuff sacks, extra guylines, and repair kit if one is included with your tent. Packaged weight is the trail weight, plus those all those added components. The difference between the two is usually about 5-7 ounces for a two-person double-wall backpacking tent, depending on the size of your tent.

The reason retailers list trail weights in addition to packed weights is because most backpackers:

  • Repack their tents into lighter weight stuff sacks that are easier to carry inside a backpack instead of the low quality and long cylindrical stuff sacks that most tents come packaged in.
  • Leave the tent repair kit at home.
  • Discard the tent stakes that come with the tent or replace them with ones that are lighter weight, longer, tougher, or hold better in your local terrain.
  • Many tents also come with more tents tent stakes or extra guyline than are strictly necessary so they can be removed.

Of course, replacing the items you remove with new stuff sacks and tent stakes will add back some of the weight you removed so you usually only save a few ounces in the end over the tent’s packaged weight. Adding a footprint will also increase the weight of your tent, often quite substantially.

If you’re a cynical consumer, and who isn’t these days, you might view the publication of trail weights as a marketing ploy by larger manufacturers to compete with smaller cottage tent manufacturers (see our Directory of Cottage Backpacking Gear Companies) who don’t bundle a lot of non-essential extras with their tents and have lighter weight specifications. There’s a certain amount of truth to that.

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7 comments

  1. “The reason retailers list trail weights in addition to packed weights is because most backpackers: Repack their tents into lighter weight stuff sacks … and replace the tent stakes.” This is definitely not true. Ultralighters do this to shave a few grams of their pack but they’re a minority. The average hiker will definitely use the stuff sack the tent came packaged in and also the supplied stakes. Not everybody is an ultralighter. ;-)

    • I definitely don’t use the same sack it came in. The way it’s packed into the original bag, it just doesn’t fit into my backpack.

    • I’m not an ultralighter and I definitely repack my tent in a different stuff sack and use different stakes.

    • I think some of the greatest feats in engineering are manifested in how the manufacturer gets the product in the bag, box, or package in the first place. I’ve had few tents that I could easily fit back in the bag it came in, therefore, most of mine are in a different one than the original. I’ve also replaced most of the stakes because many of the standard ones are of lesser quality. Although weight is a consideration for anything to be strapped onto this old back, practicality rules the day for me.

  2. Never understood why we need to have six different variations of “weight”.

    Tent minus stakes plus bag minus guy-lines plus floor minus inner plus trekking pole blah blah blah.

    What it weighs to ” set it up and provide you with shelter! “, well, that is what it weighs…..no more no less.

  3. I wish that more companies followed the TarpTent model, and listed the weight of each component separately–fly, innertent, guylines, stakes, bags, etc. That gives you a much better idea of what the weight means, rather than trying to disentangle packaged vs trail vs fly-and-footpring only weights. For modular systems, a component-specific weight list can also tell you the easiest ways to cut weight

    • Best comment yet Reston. If you really want to get confused, take a look at the Big Agnes replies to the customer comments on their Fly Creek HV2 Platinum tents. A very nice tent, but why try to fudge #’s ?

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