Lightweight Tent Review & Comparison: Terra Nova Laser Competition 1 vs Hilleberg Akto

As a Mountain Leader course provider, a lightweight tent is an essential piece of kit for me. Each course has a one-night or two-night mountain expo, and I have to be prepared for weather extremes. I'm a minimalist when it comes to expo gear, and I don't want my tent to be any heavier than absolutely necessary. I have two lightweight tents: the Terra Nova Laser Lite (the forerunner of the Laser Competition 1) and the Hilleberg Akto, both of which I have had for several years. 

Terra Nova Laser Lite, forerunner to the Laser Competition

Terra Nova Laser Lite, forerunner to the Laser Competition

Here’s what the two websites say about their tents:

Comparison lightweight tents Laser Competition 1 dimensions.JPG

Terra Nova Laser Competition 1

The Laser Competition 1 has become the classic, one person backpacking tent and has received multiple industry 'Best In Test' awards. The forerunner to the Laser Competition 1 (the Laser Lite) was first launched in 2004 and was the first 1kg tent in the market. It sparked a trend for lightweight tent development and the Laser design became the de-facto standard for lightweight tents. Updated for 2017 with new end pole design for easier pitching and ventilating.

Comparison lightweight tents Hilleburg Akto dimensions.JPG

Hilleberg Akto

It’s an ideal choice any time you need the lightest weight, all season solo tent, and while it was not designed for extreme use, it has proven itself on extended polar expeditions, and so will stand up well to all conditions. Hikers, climbers, bicycle tourers and sea kayakers alike have embraced its lightweight roominess, and today it is being used in every clime, all over the world. Long distance backpackers especially appreciate having a sturdy, comfortable room of their own at the end of a long day on the trail. Trekkers find it excellent lightweight accommodation insurance for when traditional lodging in far flung places is overcrowded, overpriced, or unavailable. And tall users find it one of the few solo tents available that has enough room.

Both websites give a load of technical data, which is summarised here:

Comparison lightweight tents table.jpg

So what do I think of these tents?

The Laser Lite

I’ve had this tent for more than twenty years, and it is still doing an excellent job. It is light, it packs small, and it is quick to pitch. It has a good porch and is easy to get in and out of. The ventilation is good, as is the head room.

The pegs supplied with the tent were very lightweight and I found them ineffective (this may not be the case with the newer Laser Competition 1). I use either MSR Needle pegs or Hilleberg Y pegs. The tent is not super-stable in high winds, and the fly sits quite high off the ground so rain can blow in underneath in windy conditions.

The Hilleberg Akto

I have had this tent for 10+ years, and again it is still doing an excellent job. It is easy to pitch and is very stable in high winds. It has good ventilation, slightly better than the Laser. It is wider than Laser but has less headroom. It sits low to the ground so rain doesn’t blow under so much. It is made from super-strong fabric, and has useful side vents and vents at the end of the fly sheet.

The end poles are integral to the fly so the tent doesn’t pack so small. It is heavier than the Laser, and it is pricey.

Conclusion & Recommendation

Overall, the Laser is quite a lot lighter, but the Akto is more durable and better in bad weather. If you want a tent to use for camping in the warmer months and in less severe weather, then you can't go far wrong with the Laser Lite. Alternatively, if you're going to be wild camping year-round in all weather, then I recommend the Hilleberg Akto.