The Greatest Tents for Backpacking

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Whether or not you’re headed out for a fast in a single day or trekking the Continental Divide for a number of months, your tent is the primary line of protection between you and the weather. From weight to wind resistance, dozens of things play into discovering the precise tent to your journey. To assist slender down the seek for this big-ticket piece of drugs, we’ve highlighted our present favourite three-season backpacking tents, together with useful ideas for sizing up your potential dwelling away from dwelling.

On the lookout for one thing extra specialised? Try our favourite ultralight shelters and tarp-tents and our high winter/mountaineering tents.  

What to Look For in a Backpacking Tent

Weight

As one of many heaviest gadgets you’ll carry in your journey, nothing cuts pack weight like an ultralight shelter. There are inevitably tradeoffs to dropping weight, which usually embrace a better price ticket, much less sturdy supplies, much less inside house, and a non-freestanding pitch. Attempt to discover the lightest tent that also meets your entire different necessities.

Livability

Sure, you’ll wish to purchase a tent that matches nevertheless many individuals you propose on climbing with—however there’s a lot extra to sizing a shelter. Many solo hikers will nonetheless convey a two-person tent for the additional house and to maintain gear inside. Some tents reduce weight by narrowing dimensions, particularly on the foot of the shelter, which might be a no-go to your non-cuddly camp-mates. In case you are tall or want extra space basically, make sure you verify size earlier than selecting a tent. Should you are inclined to hike in stormy climes, a beneficiant peak top makes passing time in your shelter that rather more nice. 

Double- or Single-Walled

Most standard three-season backpacking tents are double-walled—which means they’ve a devoted interior mesh physique, pole construction, and exterior rainfly. They have an inclination to breathe significantly better than single-walled tents and subsequently cut back condensation buildup. The draw back? They’re often heavier than single-walled tents, which use a single waterproof or waterproof physique cloth.

The Greatest Tents for Backpacking
Climate approaching in Pangnirtung, Canada (Picture: Cavan Photos by way of Getty)

Pitch Model

Freestanding tents don’t have to be staked out. That’s an necessary characteristic when tenting in areas with strong rock ledge or free sand, the place sinking a stake might not be an choice. Semi-freestanding tents typically require solely two stakes on one finish, whereas non-freestanding shelters typically require 4 to 6 stakes for a correct pitch. Some tents, particularly non-freestanding ones, even have an even bigger footprint, which implies slotting into slender campsites may be troublesome. 

Climate Resistance

Design and materials selection will have an effect on how effectively the perfect backpacking tents stand as much as heavy winds and precipitation. There’s no simple method to divine how effectively a tent will maintain as much as the weather on paper, so testing it out on a brief shakedown journey is all the time a good suggestion. That mentioned, tents with greater profiles are typically extra impacted by wind, and, whereas they’re technically stronger than aluminum poles, carbon poles usually tend to snap beneath stress quite than bending. Tall bathtub flooring and a rainfly that extends all the way in which to the bottom will help in conserving water from splashing into your tent.

Sturdiness

In most nylon and polyester tents, you’ll see a denier specification, which is a measurement of the material’s weight and thickness. Light-weight tents have a tendency to make use of a lighter denier (denoted by a decrease quantity) and are extra liable to punctures and tears. Tent flooring are inclined to have a better denier to guard towards floor abrasions, however you would possibly wish to put money into a groundsheet regardless in case your tent is especially fragile. Dyneema is an ultra-lightweight different to generally used sil-nylon in tents, however is extraordinarily costly and nonetheless liable to punctures regardless of its power.

Our high picks at a look:

Greatest All-Round: Sea to Summit Telos TR2

Sea to Summit Telos 2 Tent
Sea to Summit Telos TR2 (Picture: courtesy)

Value: $559
Weight: 3 lbs. 11 oz.
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✅ Execs: Sturdy, weatherproof, wonderful inside house
❌ Cons: Heavy, Costly

If the satan is within the particulars, then that is essentially the most unholy tent we’ve ever occupied. Nothing, it appears, escaped the eye of legendary tent designer Jake Lah, who collaborated with Sea to Summit for this two-person, freestanding tent. Naturally (since Lah is the man behind DAC poles), all of it begins with the construction. The one, multi-hubbed pole has an inverted V-shape high part that creates twin peaks and props up near-vertical partitions. The design equates to a ton of livable house inside, whereas nonetheless being tensioned sufficient to stop water from pooling atop the sil/PeU fly and robust sufficient to shrug off 25-mph winds once we camped at treeline in Colorado’s Indian Peaks Wilderness. —Backpacker Editors

Lightest Freestanding: Massive Agnes Tiger Wall 2 Platinum

big agnes tiger wall 2 tent
The Massive Agnes Tiger Wall 2 Platinum (Picture: courtesy)

Value: $600
Weight: 2 lbs. 4 oz.
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✅ Execs: Very light-weight for a freestanding tent, full-featured
❌ Cons: Costly

In the case of freestanding tents, designing one to weigh 2 kilos or much less is a bit like breaking the four-minute mile. The Tiger Wall 2 Platinum is the primary two-person tent we’ve examined to flirt with the two pound benchmark that doesn’t even have a handful of drawbacks. Some crucial attributes? Two doorways, two vestibules, double-wall development, and a hassle-free pitch. The beneficiant 28-square-foot inside left loads of room for 2, whereas the 8-square-foot vestibules sheltered a pack and boots. Whereas the Tiger Wall must be staked out on the foot for a taut pitch, it’s a breeze to maneuver round when choosing a campsite. The tent had wonderful breathability due to a full mesh physique, and a hubbed-pole system held as much as 25-mph winds and rain in Nevada’s Lahontan State Recreation Space. Sure, it’s expensive. However for a fully-featured, self-supporting tent that weighs lower than many one-person shelters, it’s a worthy splurge. —Eli Bernstein

On the lookout for extra ultralight tents, tarptents, and shelters? Try our 6 finest proper right here

Greatest for Informal Backpackers: REI Co-op Half Dome SL2+

REI Co-op Half Dome SL2+ tent
REI Co-op Half Dome SL2+ (Picture: courtesy)

Value: $279
Weight: 3 lbs. 15 oz.
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✅ Execs: Reasonably priced, spacious, full-featured
❌ Cons: Heavy

The Half Dome SL 2+ is our selection for the perfect mixture of worth, spaciousness, ease of setup, and sturdiness. Costing lower than $300, it boasts 35.8 sq. ft of flooring house, two 11.3- square-foot vestibules, and a 42-inch peak top. “I’m 5’11” and I had loads of headroom and house to sprawl out,” one tester mentioned after a weekend in Massive Dominguez Canyon, Colorado. “It’s extraordinarily livable for 2, and you might even squeak in a canine.” Two closeable ceiling vents and loads of mesh within the higher tent physique hold air shifting, and our testers skilled no condensation throughout 35°F nights in western Colorado. The Half Dome gives ample inside storage for headlamps, telephones, and different small gadgets in its six pockets—one at every backside nook, and two up high. The inside stayed dry throughout passing storms. —Will McGough

Greatest Area-to-Weight Ratio: Nemo Dragonfly 3P

NEMO Dragonfly 3P tent
Nemo Dragonfly 3P (Picture: courtesy)

Value: $530
Weight: 3 lbs. 15 oz.
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✅ Execs: Light-weight for a 3-person tent, spacious
❌ Cons: Tapered inside will be tight for extensive or massive sleeping pads

Opulent and ultralight aren’t often talked about in the identical breath, however with the Dragonfly you possibly can have each. “With a median width of greater than 65 inches and near-vertical partitions, three received’t be a crowd. However as a result of it’s so mild, I typically carried it as an extra-roomy two-person tent when tenting with my girlfriend,” one tester says. The tent’s 41 sq. ft of flooring house is loads of room for 3 to unfold out in case you do pack it to capability, and two 10-square-foot vestibules can stash gear for the group. Setup is a breeze with a single, hubbed pole. —WM

Greatest Funds: Sierra Designs Tabernash 2

Sierra Designs Tabernash 2 tent
Sierra Designs Tabernash 2 (Picture: courtesy)

Value: $100
Weight: 6 lbs. 4 oz.
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✅ Execs: Very reasonably priced
❌ Cons: Very heavy

Should you’ve ever been annoyed that “budget-friendly” tents price round $200, Sierra Designs wish to have a phrase. Its new double-walled shelter is just $100, and for the worth, there’s lots to love: At 6.2 kilos, the Tabernash is comparatively mild for a frontcountry tent (it packs to twenty inches by 5 inches, and you might most likely push it into simple backcountry obligation), and a single massive, D-shape mesh door aids in air flow. The tent’s 48-inch peak top is beneficiant for a shelter of its measurement, and our testers had been capable of change garments and carry out camp duties inside. —WM

Greatest Safety: Hillenberg Helags 3

Hilleberg Helags 3 tent
Hillenberg Helags 3 (Picture: courtesy)

Value: $1065
Weight: 5 lbs. 12 oz.
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✅ Execs: Very weatherproof, spacious
❌Cons: Very costly, heavy

The worth tag on the double-walled Helags 3 will certainly sting. However, its wonderful strength-to-weight ratio and talent to resist climate and the take a look at of time would possibly make the sticker shock simpler to swallow, particularly for individuals who recurrently camp in nasty climate and unfriendly terrain. This shelter makes use of Hilleberg’s proprietary silicone-coated materials often called Kerlon—one of many strongest tent materials in the marketplace—in its fly (the interior is comprised of DWR-treated, 10-denier ripstop nylon). As soon as correctly staked out (the pitch is bomber, with three DAC poles, six guy-outs, and 16 stakes) the tube-shaped Helags can stand as much as the hardest summer season storms. “Wind from all instructions simply rolls over its low-profile form, and the pitch stood agency in sturdy, 30-mph gusts in Colorado’s Guide Cliffs space,” one tester says. The Helags has a 40-square-foot flooring, the top partitions are vertical, and its sides are near-vertical, creating comfy house for 3 sleepers. Two 14-square-foot vestibules maintain gear for a trio. —WM

Greatest Tent for Households: Klymit Maxfield 4

Klymit Maxfield 4 tent
Klymit Maxfield 4 (Picture: courtesy)

Value: $500
Weight: 5 lbs. 9 oz.
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✅ Execs: Very light-weight for a 4 individual tent, simple to pack
❌ Cons: Small inside 

The Maxfield is likely one of the lightest four-person shelters on the market, making it nice for household journeys that are typically heavy on gear. Its 53-square-foot flooring is barely smaller than common, however nonetheless suits 4 commonplace sleeping pads (everybody can sleep dealing with the identical path). Two large mesh ceiling pockets on the head and foot are perfect for organizing a household’s-worth of stuff. Bonus: “As a substitute of a normal stuff sack, the Maxfield rolls up quick right into a burrito-style bag,” mentioned one tester after a gaggle outing to Colorado’s 10,007-foot Kebler Cross. “Simply throw all the pieces on it and roll it up. No stuffing or folding required.” —Heather Balogh Rochfort

Honorable Mentions 

Exped Lyra II 

Exped Lyra II tent
Exped Lyra II  (Picture: courtesy)

Value: $279
Weight: 4 lbs. 4 oz.

Pitch the Lyra II wherever you need—credit score the multi-hubbed pole and 68-denier polyester fly and flooring for the bulletproof design. This double-wall, freestanding shelter stored us dry via bouts of heavy rain, ice, snow, and 25-mph gusts throughout a storm on New York’s Finger Lakes Path. —HBR

Marmot Superalloy 2P

Marmot Superalloy 2P tent
Marmot Superalloy 2P (Picture: courtesy)

Value: $429
Weight: 2 lbs. 11 oz.

The Superalloy achieves a beautiful trifecta: livable, light-weight, and reasonably priced (for an ultralight shelter), making it a superb decide for minimalist hikers on a price range. Its 28-square-foot flooring match two 6-foot testers due to an 87-inch size and almost vertical partitions, and two 6.5-square-foot vestibules every match a pack apiece. —HBR

Mountain Hardwear Mineral King 3

Mountain Hardwear Mineral King 3 tent
Mountain Hardwear Mineral King 3 (Picture: courtesy)

Value: $350
Weight: 7 lbs. 1 oz.

When a tent is an all-around strong performer and has eco cred to match, it’s a keeper. The Mineral King impressed us with its oversize doorways, all-mesh partitions and rollback fly for stargazing, and stability between weight and worth and doesn’t use poisonous fire-retardant compounds generally present in tents. —HBR

Nemo Aurora 2

Nemo Aurora 2 tent
Nemo Aurora 2 (Picture: courtesy)

Value: $250
Weight: 4 lbs. 9 oz.

For backpackers who would quite tax their backs than their wallets, the double-wall Aurora is a can’t-miss selection. Its above-average, 32-square-foot flooring feels palatial, and vertical partitions increase the roominess. The Aurora’s worth additionally features a footprint (7.8 ounces) for pitches on tough terrain. —HBR

Klymit Cross Canyon 2

Klymit Cross Canyon 2 tent
Klymit Cross Canyon 2 (Picture: courtesy)

Value: $200
Weight: 5 lbs. 6 oz.

With its mixture of breathability, ample storage choices, and affordability, the double-walled Cross Canyon is a superb decide for car-camping duos who wish to often head into the backcountry. —WM

The Greatest Backpacking Tent For You

Heading out in your first in a single day or multi-night journey? Err on the spacious aspect by bringing a two-person tent quite than a one-person. Having your entire gear contained in the tent with you is a big comfort. You possibly can all the time slim all the way down to a spartan one-person tent if the additional house isn’t definitely worth the weight penalty.

Should you primarily go automobile tenting or solely take the occasional, brief backpacking journey, selecting a roomy, reasonably priced tent makes loads of sense, so long as it’s mild sufficient to hold in your pack (lower than 5 kilos is an efficient benchmark for a two-person tent) and protects you from the weather. 

Bringing a canine? Up your tent measurement by a full individual or danger turning into a human canine mattress. Make certain to decide on a tent with a thick, sturdy flooring to keep away from punctures out of your pup’s claws. 

In case your common backpacking locations are significantly rocky or sandy, take into account investing in a freestanding tent—it’s possible you’ll not be capable of drive stakes into the bottom.

What a Backpacker Editor Seems to be For in a Backpacking Tent

ben tepler
Gear editor Benjamin Tepler hides from the solar close to Moab, Utah. (Picture: Sarah Tepler)

Benjamin Tepler, Assistant Gear Editor

“As somebody who’s skilled my fair proportion of damaged poles, torn rainflies, and hole-ridden tent flooring, I prize sturdiness above all the pieces else. Excessive-denier materials within the physique and fly, together with a steady, well-reinforced pole construction, helps me sleep at night time.”

Skier smiling at the camera
Senior Digital Editor Adam Roy on a ski tenting journey in central Colorado. (Picture: Adam Roy)

Adam Roy, Senior Digital Editor

“Today, I spend lots of time tenting with both my toddler son or my perpetually-anxious Chihuahua, so I gravitate towards price range tents that I don’t must stress about carrying out. Yeah, they’re just a little heavier, however each of my backpacking buddies have little legs, so I can’t hike that quick anyway.” 

Hiker in Canyon
Senior Gear Editor Eli Bernstein (Picture: Courtesy of Eli Bernstein)

Eli Bernstein, Senior Gear Editor

“I’m all about space-to-weight ratio, so I hunt down roomy tents that don’t weigh an excessive amount of. This typically implies that I make concessions to cost and sturdiness, however I put these out of my thoughts as I fall to sleep with loads of room for me, my climbing companion, and equipment inside my palace. If I can, I’ll often take a lightweight three-person tent for a two-person journey to maximise headroom.”