From one-person backpacking models to basecamp domes, all of today's tents use light, compact materials, and can be comfortable, roomy homes away from home.
Figure out how many people need to fit in a tent, and the season you'll be camping in, and you'll narrow down your choices for the type of tent you're looking for.
Bivy sacks are weatherproof fabric shelters big enough to enclose a sleeping bag and pad. Extremely light and compact, they're popular with climbers, mountaineers, and hikers who pack ultra-light.
Tarp shelters are very versatile. Where bugs are few, they can be used with a groundsheet in place of a tent. In bear country, a tarp can provide a sheltered kitchen area safely away from your sleeping quarters. Tarps can also be quickly erected as windbreaks or rain shelters on lunch stops, or over the head of an opened-up bivy sack to reduce stuffiness.
Proper set-up is essential to make your backcountry shelter efficient and comfortable. Some things to look for in the perfect tent spot is a handy water source, a good windbreak, and high ground that doesn't flood or collect cold air.