Hyperlite Mountain Gear UltaMid 2 and Insert


Where the UltaMid 2 may fall short for some users is comfort, depending on what you consider to be a “comfortable” tent. For those unfamiliar with living in floorless shelters, the lack of having a floor and a second layer of walls might take a little getting used to.

Paul Forward reviews the Hyperlite Mountain Gear UltaMid 2 with insert for Blister Gear Review.
HMG UltaMid 2 door

It’s particularly important to try to find a well-drained or otherwise dry spot. In Kodiak this can be really tough to find, so I typically use a super light bivy sack around my sleeping bag (currently using the Mountain Laurel Designs Ultralight Bivy, about 5 oz total), but even with the bivy, life can be a little wet.

Depending on the ground and the pitch, it’s also possible to have a little bit of a draft. Sometimes a cooling draft is welcome, but on cold, rainy days on Kodiak, a draft is usually quite unwelcome. The bivy sack helps with that quite a bit, too. Kodiak is mercifully low on mosquitos, but the rest of Alaska is famously flush with them and the bivy sack also helps with this.

Used With the Insert

Most of these limitations are easily addressed through the use of the HMG UltaMid 2 Insert with Cuben Floor. For an additional 600 grams, it turns the UltaMid 2 into a double wall tent with a nice bathtub-style waterproof floor and complete bug net protection. Because of the mesh walls of the insert, there isn’t a significant increase in warmth like that achieved with many double wall, four-season tents, but it does dramatically decrease any drafts that may sneak in under the UltaMid 2. For most summer and autumn trips in Alaska I will continue to use the insert, especially if a second person is joining me on a trip.

Paul Forward reviews the Hyperlite Mountain Gear UltaMid 2 with insert for Blister Gear Review.
HMG UltaMid 2, and insert Kodiak Island, AK.

There are, however, comfort advantages to floorless shelters when used without the insert. One of them is the ability to easily and safely ventilate and cook in the shelter (in areas or times of the year when bears are not a concern). A floorless shelter also allows for pitching the tent on less even surfaces or to use on the roof of a dug-in snow shelter.

One final issue with the UltaMid 2 and all other pyramid style shelters I’ve used, is that it’s pretty easy for any gear inside the tent to get wet because of how the door is situated in the wall. Without any vestibule or awning, water and snow are able to fall right into the shelter anytime the door is open. With proper attention, this can be managed pretty easily, but it’s not something to ignore in wet, cold environments.


Many tents on the market allow for multiple configurations, including “fast-pitch” options using the poles and fly only, or fairweather bug-proof set ups using just the inner tent and poles. But in my experience, these options are a bit cumbersome to arrange and are seldom used. The UltaMid 2, however, really does provide a lot of useful options, including the outer tent only (which is how I’ve used it the most); outer tent with insert; and insert alone (for wet ground and bug protection without wind/rain protection).

More importantly, I started using the UltaMid 2 differently than other shelters I’ve owned. While on a week-long solo trip on the south end of Kodiak Island this past October, I set up a base camp near a remote lake where the floatplane dropped me off with my Black Diamond Tempest, a bear fence, Mega-light for cooking and eating, and a big steel bear-barrel full of food.

Each day I took long walks in the mountains or toward the coast with my two-piece longbow and few arrows, hunting for deer and ptarmigan. On these trips I carried two days of food, a lightweight synthetic sleeping quilt and inflatable pad (temps outside were averaging in the 40’s Fahrenheit), and my UltaMid 2.

Bringing the UltaMid 2 on these hikes essentially extended my range by a day or more with very little added weight, and allowed for an increased margin of safety while trekking around in a remote area in cold wet weather. When stopping to either rest, wait out a squall, or if I needed to spend a night away from my relatively plush base camp, I would quickly set up my UltaMid 2 using a few stakes and rocks and my trekking poles, and would have a dry, comfortable camp out of the weather.

Paul Forward reviews the Hyperlite Mountain Gear UltaMid 2 with insert for Blister Gear Review.
Paul Forward using the HMG UltaMid 2, Kodiak Island, AK.

This winter, I now find myself considering tossing the UltaMid 2 into my kit as safety equipment for long ski tours or snowmachine missions. When having a dry, super strong, windproof shelter for me and at least 1-2 other people is only 16 oz extra in my pack, the UltaMid 2 starts to look like a pretty reasonable piece of safety equipment for many kinds of adventures.

Who’s It For?

Floorless pyramid-style shelters are a little different to set up and use than traditional tents, but a well-executed design like the HMG UltaMid 2 is a compelling option for any kind of human powered travel. The amount of protection offered by this 600 gram shelter (1202 g when combined with the insert) is extraordinary, and can truly be used in place of a four-season tent with a little experience and practice. Any wilderness traveler looking to significantly lighten his or her load without a compromise in storm protection should seriously consider the UltaMid 2. Whether you’re trying to accommodate a bunch of extra gear like packrafts, skis, or climbing equipment, or just trying to travel as light and fast as possible, the UltaMid 2 is a great choice.


There are a number of other companies that are handcrafting ultralight and presumably strong Cuben Fiber shelters and gear. So far we do not have experience with products that would more directly compete with the UltaMid 2 in price and performance, but we look forward to exploring some of these offerings in the future.


Cuben Fiber is apparently quite expensive to procure and work with. In addition, the craftsmanship apparent in the UltaMid 2 is consistent with high levels of precision and quality control during manufacturing, which is also an expensive process.

At $675 for the UltaMid 2 and $375 for the Insert, this is by far the most expensive shelter I’ve ever used. That said, this 37 oz shelter could easily replace a four-season expedition tent, a Mega Light, a summer backpacking tent, an emergency tarp shelter, and a variety of other shelters that, in total, would cost quite a bit more than the UltaMid 2.

Bottom Line

For years I’ve been searching for a superlight four-season shelter that I can use year round for human powered adventures, and now I seem to have found it. The Hyperlite Mountain Gear UltaMid 2 is the best performing, most versatile shelter I’ve ever used. There is little doubt in mind that it will continue to be my top choice for shelter any time I’m thinking of spending the night outside.


7 comments on “Hyperlite Mountain Gear UltaMid 2 and Insert”

  1. Hyperlight make quality gear – but too heavy. This combo is 1.2kgs! I would recommend the ZPacks Duplex at 595grams – I have both their solo and duo Cuben tents – I can’t fault their excellent design, quality and performance.

    • Thanks Rob, I’d love to try the Zpacks stuff. I’ve tried shelters of that shape before and, as of now, I prefer the single pole mid shape for super harsh, wet environments as it is very strong, allows me to use paddle shafts and other weird pole configurations and seems to provide a lot of space. That said, I’d love to try the Duplex.

  2. Awesome review, Paul. The UltaMid 2 seems to be what I’m looking for, and the main shortcoming from my perspective is that that you cannot set up an insert last if you’re pitching in the rain. But even if you have that option, (like with the Stratospire) are you realistically going to keep all the rain out while you do it? I don’t have enough backcountry experience to know if my concern is warranted, do you have any thoughts on that?

    • In this video he sets up the tent first then does the insert. If you just get under it, instead of opening it and securing the flaps like he does, you should be able to keep the inside dry.

      (moderator’s note: the video referenced has been deleted)

  3. I am struggling with the idea of doubling the weight of the Ultamid to have it be bug proof, especially for long haul use on through hikes. Last year on the PCT I used the Black Diamond Beta Light shelter, without the insert. It is one pound. I will say that I really love that tent. My strategy for bug-proofing it, was to pitch it as low as I could to the ground and even gently lay some rocks over the edge to be sure to keep the mosquitos and flies out. This worked fairly well… about 85% mosquito proof. BUT a handful of nights were so hot and muggy from the heat and no ventilation from it being pitched without the air gap at the base, that there was a moment that I swore to myself “never again” (still it was better than being bit endlessly). I see that the Ultamid has ventilation at the top, which is very attractive to me, given my previous greenhouse experience. I would love to know if or what you and other people do to ‘bug proof” the Ultamid 2, without buying the insert? Secondly, Mountain Laurel Designs has a the Duomid XL which is Cuban fiber, comes sealed, is 7.5x9ft and has top ventilation –it seems to me to be the spitting image of the Ultamid (slight difference in that the pole is more in the front of the mid, allowing there to be more space behind the pole, rather than equal distance on each side), but the MLD design has a $50 option of having a short veil of netting along the bottom perimeter, but are otherwise just about same size/price/weight. I am having a hard time seeing why HMG Ultamid is better, equal to, or inferior to MLD Duomid. Lastly, what is the favorite ground cloth to use in bottomless shelter though hike scenario (wanting protection from the dusty or very wet ground?

    • Heather, I’ve heard some folks on Backpackinglight.com talk about netting (not just with the MLD) freeze to the ground overnight and be problematic dealing with that in the morning. Just something to think about.

  4. Awesome review, thanks Paul!

    It is the first in depth review I found to be realistic and done with a lot of experience.
    I currently think about how to shave weight on my setup without sacrificing comfort and security in bad weather. (Mostly for treks in Iceland and Alaska.)

    For me nearly as important as security is comfort in a storm because psychologically it might get difficult if you trap 2 persons in an uncomfortable shelter for 2 or 3 days waiting out a storm..

    I hate drafts in the tent as I feel they lower the felt temperature quite a lot.
    I was surprised to read that the mesh inner helps so much with this issue. I thought only a solid inner would significantly reduce the draft…

    The other concern I recently have is the actual set up of the shelter when the storm is already blowing. I own a Stratospire and a MSR Guideline Pro. Especially the Guideline Pro is incredibly strong in the wind because of the unique pole design. Permanantly fixed at the crosspoints, it’s the only geodestic design I know using this technique and it works really good.
    But I have a big concern about both tents to be set up when the storm already kicked in. The Guideline Pro is inner first and I think if you have a severe storm going you will not be able to get it up anymore. Same with the Stratospire 2.
    So I was looking at the Nammatj 3 because the Hilleberg videos of how to set it up during a storm are impressive. So easy, even alone.. But not lighter than my actual setup.

    I appreciate your detailed description on how to set up the Ultamid in a storm.
    Will this work with the inner as well?? I can’t imagine seting up the inner first and after that pulling the outer over with high winds involved.
    Can you share insights with us about that specific case as well?

    Best regards,

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