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Tent Trail Weight vs. Packed Weight Explained

So, what’s the difference between a tent’s “trail weight” and its “packed weight?” These two specifications may appear side by side on a list of information about your specific tent, but they refer to different combinations of your tent’s components. In this Expert Advice video, Backcountry Edge Gear Specialist Becky clearly speaks to what each of these specifications means.

Tent Trail Weight vs. Packed Weight Explained

Trail Weight

Trail weight includes the tent body, rain fly, and poles
Trail weight refers to the essential tent components: body, rain fly, and poles.

Trail weight (or, possibly, Minimum Weight) refers to the combined weight of just the essential parts of your tent: the tent body, the rainfly and the poles. Keep in mind that some single-walled tents do not have a separate rainfly, and some tents do not have traditional poles. Consider the trail weight to include the essential parts of the tent that cannot be left out when pitching your specific tent.

Packed Weight

Packed weight includes everything that comes with the tent
Packed weight includes everything that comes with the tent, such as stakes, storage sacks, and even printed instructions

Packed weight refers to the combined weight of everything that is included with your tent. So, add the Trail Weight to the weight of included stakes, guylines and the individual stuff sacks for the poles, stakes and tent itself. This weight will also include any instruction manuals or repair kits. (Some tents come with a custom footprint, and that may or may not also be included if it came packaged with your tent).

Why does this even matter? Who cares about Trail Weight?

Packed Weight can always be improved upon. Included stakes might not be made from the lightest weight materials, guylines can be swapped out (or left behind altogether in some cases) and stuff sacks aren’t completely necessary depending upon how you’re planning to transport your tent.

Although it seems like the manufacturer is “cheating” a little bit in providing a Trail Weight, ounce counting backpackers who prefer to travel fast and light may opt to leave “non-essentials” behind to save on weight they’re carrying. This specification helps backpackers like these compare just the absolute necessary components of various tents when shopping around for the lightest weight model to fit their needs.