How Our Ultralight Tent Died

Our Mountain Hardwear Skyledge 3 tent (three person, ~2kg) has died a slow death on our Alleykat Adventure. At a guess we've used this tent more than anyone else on the planet. Our tents lifespan has been about two years, but we suspect we've spent 400+ nights in it!

We were still using it up until a few days ago, but just received a warranty replacement, an upgrade to the latest model, the Skyledge 3 DP.

The Beginnings

We snapped a pole early on in the piece. At the time I was tipping dirt out of the floor, so I was probably not being careful enough with how I was holding the tent. A snapped pole is no big problem; we soon found a camping store and replaced it with a random section of pole.

Two Months Ago

The central issue with our tent is that it shrunk one day… and then continued to shrink! The interesting bit is that it's done it before, on two occasions, but by the time we set it up again, it had returned to normal size.

This time was different though; what started as not being able to clip ONE hook from the inner onto the poles, ended in not being able to clip FOUR hooks on.

As a result, additional stress was put upon the poles and hooks, leading to a series of failures which you'll be able to see in the pictures below.

Mountain Hardwear skyledge 3 tent problems
Our broken Mountain Hardwear Skyledge tent... the inner no longer clips onto the outer.
Mountain Hardwear skyledge 3 tent problems
You can see that the poles no longer meet at the top. This is due to the inner shrinking.
Mountain Hardwear skyledge 3 tent problems
When we swap the poles from side to side, you can see that there is a difference in pole height!
Mountain Hardwear skyledge 3 tent problems
A very unhappy Mountain Hardwear Skyledge 3
Mountain Hardwear skyledge 3 tent problems
Due to the shrinking inner, our poles have undergone a lot of stress, and have snapped and cracked. The lower left image is our fault due to being lazy when folding the poles.
Mountain Hardwear skyledge 3 tent problems
Due to the shrinking of the inner, the clips are in various states of disrepair.

We also wanted to show you the wear and tear that a tent like this receives. You can see the delamination of sections of seam-seal (repairable) and the UV damage to the fly (actually quite minimal considering the use).

Mountain Hardwear skyledge 3 tent problems
Over time, the seam sealed areas of the tent have delaminated.
Mountain Hardwear skyledge 3 tent problems
A comparison between the inside and outside of our fly. The fly actually hasn't been too damaged by the sun, despite it's heavy use.

Take Home Message

The main thing to take home is that ultralight tents are brilliant for multi-day, even multi-month use, but they aren't cut out for multi-year use! They simply aren't built for it.

When we buy our next tent for a multi-year trip, it will be built with heavier, more sturdy materials. We will be looking at tents with more poles, heavier flys and heavier floors. This will of course come at a cost; the same size freestanding tent from Hilleberg, the Staika, is TWICE the weight!


  1. Nikwax produce some products like Tent & Gear Solarproof. Maybe you must be use it… But it’s always light and not so strong. Or strong but heavier

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