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Hands-on Gear Review
Mountain Hardwear Ghost UL 2 Review
Cons: Small interior for two people, expensive
Bottom line: A great tent for one or two people on lightweight backpacking and thru-hiking trips.
The Ghost UL2 is Mountain Hardwear's latest incarnation of their popular Super Mega Ultralight tent. We like this name better. This version is slightly more durable and lighter than the last version we tested and we like it even more! While it is a great choice to drag around the mountains with you on all your adventures, it is quite a small tent, so you better really like your tent mate!
Check out our full Backpacking Tent Review to see how these tents compare to others. Consider an Ultralight Tent for "hardcore" ultralight backpacking.
RELATED REVIEW: The Best Backpacking Tents of 2017
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
Mountain Hardwear has addressed one of the major weaknesses in its durability by upping the strength of its fabrics from 10 to 20 denier weight, while managing to shave another ounce off.
Analysis and Test Results
The Ghost UL2 sacrifices livability for more comfort on your back. It has a slim, tapered design and low peak height. It is a tight fit for two people, in which head and foot room is scarce, and would be a great choice for a couple or one person. It only has one front door, which requires you to swing around, hopefully not putting your feet in your travelling companion's face when you do it. The Ghost is slightly more comfortable than Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL 2 because it has two hubs, creating more room in the foot area, and it is also 4 inches wider at the door than the Fly Creek. It has two small stash pockets for your trinkets like headlamps and watches. It has been a particularly smoky season here in the High Sierra and we have noticed that this tent seems to hold odors (smoke) more than others when we bring it back to our home.
You need to ask yourself: will you be spending more time hanging out inside the tent or more time carrying it on your back? The most livable tent we tested was the REI Half Dome 2 Plus, due to its space and durability.
For an ultralight tent, the Ghost UL2 is surprisingly weather resistant. Our testers sat out several intense rain storms and some heavy winds. We were a little unnerved when we saw how little the fly covers of the back of the tent, but the body's nylon panel comes up high and tucks under the fly, thus protecting the interior from wind, splashback, and spindift. This is an advantage over the Big Agnes Fly Creek, whose floor only comes up a few inches. The entrance is rather low and can be difficult for taller folks to get in and out of without brushing their backs up against it (and getting wet).
As for high winds, the Ghost's design has proven to be much stronger in high winds than the Fly Creek. We think this is because both ends are enforced by the hubbed pole design. The fly fabric does create some noise when it rubs against the pole in the wind, which could prove to be obnoxious over the course of a long storm. Tents with two doors like the MSR Freelite seem to withstand high winds better than tents with a single door, with the exception of the Hilleberg Anjan 2. The Ghost's grey color really blends in when you're camped in the alpine, although some of our testers found it too bright in the tent during a full moon (and had difficulty sleeping).
Weight and Packed Size
This is the second lightest product we tested in this review; weighing in at 2 pounds, 7.2 ounces, squeaking in under the NEMO Blaze's 2 pounds 7.7 ounce weight. Mountain Hardwear has managed to shave almost an ounce off the last version of this tent, and they have made the pole sections shorter for easier packing. We appreciate the attention to detail on this tent with cord-only zipper pulls and small pole clips, it is very apparent that Mountain Hardwear is doing their best to lighten this model up.
The Ghost's set up is relatively straightforward. Snap together it's interconnected and double hubbed pole and stick the ends in Mountain Hardwear's unique grommet and fly attachment system. This set up is easier and less finicky than the Big Agnes Flycreek HV UL, but not as straightforward as the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2. The pre attached guy lines on the fly of the tent are too short for practical set up and changed them out for the longer ones that were included. We find that the fly takes a bit of finessing to get it to sit right on the frame, having to go back and forth a few times tensioning and loosening guy lines. The REI Passage 2 has the most straight forward set up, but is in a lower class altogether than the Ghost.
Mountain Hardwear has upped this tent's game with a much sturdier 20 denier weight fabric. The old Super Mega's material was paper thin and received a lot of damage over the season — not the case with the Ghost. It is now middle of the pack for durability, and pretty durable for a light weight model! It is the same weight as the MSR Hubba Hubba and MUCH lighter!
We would bring the Ghost with us on long thu-hikes and shorter backpacking trips — especially with a significant other who we want to snuggle with. The Ghost UL2 is also a good option as a solo shelter for someone who wants a bit more interior space.
Retailing for $450, the Ghost UL2 is a bit pricey for us. We do think it is a quality tent; and with its increased durability, it is a better value than its past iterations. However, for $30 less, you can purchase the Big Agnes Copper Spur. While the Spur is a bit heavier, it's much more comfortable. For the same price, you can get the NEMO Blaze, which has two doors and more interior room (and weighs almost the same). We would chose this tent over the Fly Creek and pay the extra $60.
The new Ghost UL2 is an improvement over the Super Mega UL and we like the company's attention to detail in this product. We are impressed with the Ghost's strength and performance in extreme weather and like its low profile shape and color.
Other versions and accessories
The Ghost UL comes in one, two and three person versions. Also there is a Ghost Sky series that is heavier but comes with two doors. You can purchase a Ghost footprint separately.
— Jessica Haist
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