The name ‘Ghost’ has forever taken on a set of connotations in the outdoor world thanks to Mountain Hardwear’s Ghost Whisperer. When you hear it, you think one thing: light weight. That holds true for the line of Ghost tents from the legendary outdoor brand. I received the Ghost UL 2 for testing and had the pleasure of reading, cooking, eating and sleeping in the shelter throughout the perennially awkward PNW shoulder season.
Mountain Hardwear Ghost UL 2 Features:
- Industry leading DAC Featherlight® NSL poles
- Super lightweight fabrics designed in every aspect to be as lightweight as possible but to still deliver solid protection from the elements
- Guaranteed watertight construction with fully taped fly, taped perimeter seam, welded corners and welded guy clip anchors
- Dry entry vestibule for added storage and convenience
- Truly free standing light weight geometry and design
- Welded zipper flap construction is lighter and drier than a sewn flap
- Mesh pockets for interior storage
- Super-light buckles and webbing reduce tent weight
- Packed weight: 2lb 9oz
- Minimum weight: 2lb 2 oz
- Interior height: 37″
- Interior space: 27 square feet
- Vestibule area: 7 square feet
- MSRP: $449
Go where you want, take only what you need
I’m no stranger to ultralight tents, and I’m excited to compare the Ghost UL 2 to some of the fine tents I’ve tested over the years. I do want to make a quick distinction between ‘mainstream’ and ‘niche’ shelters. The Mountain Hardwear Ghost series falls firmly into what I’d call the mainstream family of ultralight tents; you know this family because you recognize the brand name and the logo and you wouldn’t be surprised to see one of their tents displayed at the local gear shop. On the other hand, niche shelters are the brands that you see on the backs of furtive-looking thru-hikers, with names taken from odd meteorological phenomena and unrecognizable logos.
Many people have enjoyed using these niche shelters, but the Ghost is definitely still within the mainstream lineup and so that’s where my comparisons will be falling. There are lighter (and weirder) tents out there – I just don’t know enough about that world for helpful comparisons.
That said, let’s jump into the Ghost! The tent is utterly simple in design and construction. There’s just one D door, which is fully mesh, and one single DAC pole system that features a ridge and a Y intersection at each end. The tent body is half mesh and the fly is basically just large enough to cover that mesh area fully. Pitching the Ghost is simple and easy, thanks in no small part to the (very narrow, very light) self-locating DAC poles which are one of my long-time favorites.
The first and last word to be said about the Ghost is that it was designed to be as light as possible. So, we might as well start off with a weight comparison. The minimum weight of the Ghost, including the body, fly and poles, is just a hair over 2 lbs. It’s hard to beat that. The best tents I know, including the pricey Sierra Designs Tensegrity 2 Elite, will still set you back 3oz. The Ghost does get edged out by a tent like the Big Agnes Fly Creek HV Platinum 2 by half a pound, but you also drop an extra Benjamin for that. So we can’t say that the Ghost UL 2 is the lightest of its kind, although we used to say that about the Ghost Whisperer jacket. But the point stands – it’s crazy light.
Ultralight materials comes with the territory. The denier count on these fabrics is incredibly low: a 10D fly, 15D mesh and 20D floor. It’s all nylon, which is better for durability than polyester, but still – imagine setting your down jacket down onto granite and rolling around on it for the night. That’s kind of what we’re doing with the Ghost. Realistically, you’ll want to buy a footprint with this tent. Although my test tent doesn’t have any holes in the floor yet from encounters with Cascades granite, it is only a matter of time.
I often talk about the ‘liveability’ of a tent and the Ghost is striking here, too. Truth be told, it is not an especially ‘liveable’ tent in the sense that I normally use – the interior space feels cramped, there is only one door and the walls are not close enough to vertical for me to give out many kudos. These factors combine to make you very cognizant of the fact that you’re in a tent that’s designed to be ultralight, full stop.
Other tents do a better job at this, but it’s not all doom and gloom. I really like the grey color of the tent because it’s subtle in mountain scenery but retains a lot of light and color at dawn and dusk. That makes it a pleasure to be in during those times, and the grey doesn’t get nearly as dreary as, say, dark green if you’re socked in during rain. Additionally, there are two fairly generous pockets on either side of the door (which zips open and closed very easily, mind you) to stash nick nacks. That’s a luxury on a tent this light.
The interior space is 27 square feet. That’s in the middle of what you’d expect to see at this weight range and it’s supplemented by a full 7 feet of full-coverage vestibule storage. That said, the tent narrows dramatically towards its foot and has only one door, so you and your partner can only sleep with your heads both at the door. That’s also fairly common for ultralight tents.
Moisture management is always an interesting question on ultralight tents. I took this guy to the Enchantments for a rainy Fall weekend and found sweet and sour points. On the sweet side, the skimpy fly did an awesome job at fending off driving rain and the tent body did its part, too. Another high point was the condensation management – I didn’t have an issue with condensation, thanks no doubt to the extensive mesh paneling. On the sour side, my floor leaked in a puddle. The fabric itself is waterproof, but I could see water beading into the tent at the center seam. In general, it’s a bathtub-style floor and can hold its own (even against deepish puddles and splash back) but if the puddle happens to lie at that center seam, you’ll be out of luck. Again, nothing major, but definitely an unwanted aqueous ingress.
- Very light, very light indeed
- Doesn’t sacrifice coverage despite being very light
- Overall space is used efficiently within the constraints of being very light
- Tent pitches quickly and easily, thanks to the very light DAC pole system
- It packs down really small, thanks to those very light fabrics
- Those very light fabrics won’t be durable in the long run
- Some aspects of liveability (noticeably the tent wall steepness) suffers from the very light design
- Very light floor didn’t fend off puddles as well as I’d like
The Bottom Line: Mountain Hardwear Ghost UL 2
You get the point, it’s a very light tent. If you choose the Ghost UL 2 you’ll find a hiking partner for many journeys that won’t hold you back one bit. You’ll feel a some of the consequences if you have to spend time cooped up in the Ghost, but hey, how many of us go outside so that we can stay in our tents? The Ghost has the most oomph-for-ounce of just about any tent on the market; it offers complete shelter at an incredibly low weight.
Buy now: Available from Backcountry.com
Ultralight but without compromising protection, the Ghost UL 2 is quite livable and delivers in demanding conditions.
Ease of setup
Space to weight ratio