Macpac Microlight hiking tent: Tested
For solo adventurers who head out in often inclement conditions – or travel above the tree-line into alpine regions – a reliable, tough, four-season shelter is an absolute must. For close to 30 years, iconic Kiwi brand Macpac has been producing the Microlight, one of its most famous tents, renowned for bombproof construction and longevity, and aimed at the explorer/adventurers’ demand for a reliable shelter.
The Microlight features a single ridge pole design, and Macpac’s Multi-Pitch system. Multi-Pitch denotes the fact the tent can be pitched fly-only, inner-only, and fly/inner connected together. This last is handy when you’re pitching a tent in the rain as it ensures your inner stays dry. Speaking of the fly, it is waterproof UV30 siliconised ripstop nylon, offering a 3000m hydrostatic head (HH) waterproof rating. One note: you do have to seam seal the fly yourself. This may come as a surprise to some, but it’s a 10-minute job.
Macpac’s well-regarded Torrentwear XP tub floor is featured in the Microlight, and is a 70-denier nylon (with polyurethane coating) that touts a 10,000mm HH rating. In layman’s terms: it is thick enough to not need a separate footprint underneath to protect the tent floor. Add in beefy 9.6mm DAC Featherlite pole and you can see why Macpac is confident in rating it as a four-season shelter.
The tent inner includes a double-door for more ventilation and this latest incarnation of the Microlight has added more mesh to the inner for better air-movement, in combo with the four vents. The single vestibule is not huge (area: 1.2m2), but adequate enough for a backpack and boots. Weight is 1.6kg. Yes, that may seem ‘heavy’ for a one-person tent, but don’t forget this tent is rated for four seasons, so is designed to withstand torrential rain and heavy winds, and even stand up to the occasional dump of snow.
In the field
We’ve had the Microlight on test for five months. During this period, it has been used for mainly overnight/weekend solo escapes, as well as double-duty as my car-camping shelter on a vehicle test.
Setting up the Microlight is incredibly quick when you keep the inner attached to the outer fly; thread through the single pole, stake out with pegs and guy-ropes, and it is done. You do have to make sure you align its ridgeline with wind direction, but once it is tied down, it is very stable. It’s worth noting this is not a free-standing tent, which can lead to some challenges when you’re trying to camp on a rock shelf, for example.
Macpac has done a good job of ensuring the Microlight offers ventilation where it can but you will, on very humid nights, notice it is warm and there was some condensation, albeit minimal. The vents and additional mesh keep it comfortable in cooler conditions, and on a few steamy summer nights it was set up inner-only and worked well.
The final word on the Macpac Microlight
For solo adventurers after for that ‘one shelter’ to keep them safe and protected, it is hard to go past the Microlight. Yes, it is heavier than some (albeit three-season) single-person tents; yes, it is up there in price (become a Macpac Club member and it is notably cheaper). But, its versatility in setup, robust construction and track record for long service life offset those. And just think, in 10 years’ time, when you’re stuck inside the Microlight in a roaring winter thunderstorm snug and safe, you’ll be congratulating yourself on that bang for your bucks purchase you made.
RRP: $700 (Sale price $470) See Macpac for this and other models in its hiking tent range.