Outdoor Retailer 2012, day 2 - ultralight tents

At last count I owned 14 tents, and I might have missed a couple tucked away somewhere or loaned out. Clearly there's a bit of an obsession there, and I'm finding enough to keep it stoked at the OR show. Most fascinating are the ultralightweight one and two-person tents employing high-strength canopy materials that look like they'd be blown apart by an errant sneeze. Don't be fooled - they're astonishingly rugged.

It's not new, but the incredible Terra Nova Laser Ultra 1 exemplifies the genre. The "1" refers to its weight - a staggering one pound, five ounces - with titanium stakes. Or are they toothpicks?

Scott Christoffel of Terra Nova with the Laser Ultra 1The Laser is designed primarily for adventure racers, and it will sleep two of them, probably violating laws in at least 27 states. But other Terra Nova models only slightly less radical could serve bicyclists or anyone with a 600-pound GS1200 needing to save every last ounce elsewhere. And the company's budget Wild Country line, which employs polyester fabrics with polyurethane coatings rather than the premium silicone-impregnated fabrics used in most of the Terra Nova line, looks to represent a solid value.

Here's another ultralight model from Easton, two pounds nine ounces with carbon fiber poles:

And another from Sea to Summit, the Specialist Duo:

There was plenty to see in family-sized tents as well, including this Big Agnes Flying Diamond 8, with 112 square feet of floor space and six feet of headroom.

More tomorrow . . .