Shelters are yet again a personal decision. Depending on how you intend on backpacking, your needs will vary wildly.
If you're on the trail all day long covering miles and moving each day from camp to camp, you're probably not going to need a very large tent. You'll just need something lightweight that boasts enough room to get the job done.
On the other hand, if you're backpacking into a lake and intending on camping for a few nights or creating a sort of base camp, you'll want to consider a more livable tent. That could mean maybe a floorless shelter that is large, but is still light weight or a lightweight standard tent that gives you a little more room for those lounging days.
Below are my suggestions based on the above comments.
Sierra Designs is known for making livable tents. They might not be the lightest on the market, but they're still very lightweight, but more importantly, they're livable and comfortable. SD makes it a point that when they say "this is a two-man tent," they mean that two people can actually live in the tent. Traditionally, as a rule of the thumb, when someone says "three-man tent" it's really only comfortable for two. This is NOT the case for Sierra Designs.
With that said and based on what I know of their designs and my personal experience with their products, this is what suggest if you're looking for a comfortable and livable tent.
Ultralight or minimalist Tents
Going minimal and ultralight means you're going to give up some features, function, and maybe even durability. It's the nature of the beast, but if you're looking to cut weight that's that it takes and you'll be better for it in some cases.
Most minimalist shelters are just that, minimal. They're not exactly meant to hunker down in for days on end in a storm as they can be very small and easily beat up by harsh weather. Wind, heavy rain, and snow tend to effect the way these shelters perform, but again, that's something you need to accept when choosing a lightweight minimal shelter like these.
Based on my research, experience, listed features and specs, here are some shelters worth checking out if you're looking to cut some serious weight.
***NOTE*** If you're going ultralight, you're likely going to benefit from a 1P tent. That said, some variations of these tents come with space for 2 people, however it's going to be cramped. In my opinion, cut the weight and
- This little guy can be totally floorless, come with bug netting or nest, or even have a stove jack included. It can pitch with a trekking pole and is a great shelter option for those looking to cut weight but increase livability.
- I have not personally used this tent, but based on the specs, user feedback, and design, I think this would be a great option to go with from a great company.
If you're curious about going without a floor, you'll want to check out Seek Outside. I own the Redcliff and the Cimarron. Both are great tents, offer tons of room, and are quick to pitch. They come in various configurations and even offer the abitlity to include a stove jack for winter trips when you want to warm up the tent.
The Redcliff is for sure a great base camp tent as it's over 7ft tall while the Cimarron is slightly smaller and a good shelter for 2-3 people with lots of room.
For how much room they offer they're very lightweight and no doubt make time in the backcountry that much better.