The storm came in so fast that Kim S. and her family barely had time to react. The family of six were enjoying a kayak trip when things suddenly took a turn for the worse.
Kim and her son heard thunder and paddled hurriedly to shore where the rest of the family was setting up camp. Once there, they had just enough time to sprint up the bank and under a tree for cover.
In minutes, puddles of water were everywhere and the downpour didn’t let up. Kim and her son stood under a tree where they believed they were safe from the intense thunder and lightning. That’s when Kim was struck by lightning. Not a direct hit, otherwise she could have died.
It’s likely that the lightning struck nearby and traveled to Kim through the waterlogged ground and puddles she was standing in. Slowly, she realized she had been launched away from her family and she felt a piercing pain in her right arm.
Gathering herself, Kim sprinted to the tent where her baby napped. By now, the tent sat in inches-deep puddles and she feared the worst. She peered into the tent, but heard no crying.
Thankfully, her husband had already scooped up the baby – who was unharmed. In fact, none of Kim’s children in the tent suffered any harm when the lightning struck. The tent had somehow miraculously protected them from electrocution.
To be clear, a tent typically will not protect you from lightning, but on that day, the tent was a lifesaver. Kim and her husband were able to gather up their family and get to a safe area to ride out the storm. Now, I clearly hope you never have to go through what Kim and her family did…
But, it highlights an important point: A tent can play a critical role it your survival. And having the right tent for your bug out bag can make a huge difference when you’re camping, sheltering in place, or on the move.
So, here are the top tents I would recommend for your bug out bag: (These are ultralight tents since you don’t want something heavy to carry in your bag.)
Black Diamond Distance. The Distance uses a single-wall design and trekking-pole support to reduce ounces off its overall weight. The tent pitches in two ways. One with Z Poles that can screw directly into the tent’s brow pole – or with your own poles using the included adapter.
Thanks to the integrated spreader bar, the tent can typically be assembled in about five minutes. In addition, the Distance’s 30-denier polyester fabric remains taught in rainy conditions.
Two sleepers will have a snug fit, and the tent includes two vents to help with condensation. The Distance weighs 1 lb. 9 oz. and sells for $250.
My Trail UL3. The UL3 is a two-person shelter with room enough for three as long as no one is using a big sleeping pad. The tent uses aluminum poles, which are adequate for up to 35-mph winds.
The one-pole setup is easy, however the interior walls may sag a little unless they’re staked out at the ideal distance. The UL3 is durable with a 10-denier nylon fly and 20-denier nylon floor, which should withstand most terrain and environments.
One of the best things about the UL3 is that it ventilates extremely well, and is ideal for preventing condensation. The My Trail weighs 3 lbs. and sells for $339.
Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2. If you want a basic, ultralight tent that’s easy to set up, this is the tent for you. Big Agnes has long been a dominant player in the ultralight category and the Tiger Wall won’t disappoint. It has two 8-square-foot areas to fit packs, boots, and extra clothes.
The Tiger Wall sets up fast thanks to a hubbed pole system that is all but freestanding – the corners at the foot need to be staked out. The Tiger Wall is made from 15-denier nylon fabrics capable of handling different terrains, and keeping moisture out. The Tiger Wall weighs 2 lbs. 3 oz. and sells for $400.
As you can see, when it comes to tents, lighter doesn’t mean weak. You can save yourself weight on your back and still get a good night’s sleep while staying safe from the elements.