Thinking about getting back to nature and enjoying the wonders of the great outdoors? You’re going to need several things to make your time on the trail as comfortable as possible. The main one being a top-notch tent. Because how else are you going to enjoy your adventure if you can’t get quality sleep at night, right? Of course, finding the best backpacking tents is easier said than done. There are lots of options in the market with various specs that you’ll need to inspect and compare. Moreover, you’ll need to factor in your specific needs and preferences as well as the kind of conditions you plan to be sleeping in. Obviously, this is not a decision that you should make lightly. Fortunately, we’ve got your back. Through intensive research and rigorous testing, we found the best backpacking tents for various situations. Check out our reviews below. And if you need more help, we’ve got an FAQ-slash-buying guide that should answer any questions you still have.
Top 5 Backpacking Tent for 2 & More
In our eyes, the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL is the best backpacking tent in the market for so many reasons. First off, this freestanding 3-season tent features a high volume design which means you’ve got more than ample living space to feel comfortable even though you’re far away from home. It features an awning-style vestibule that you can use to store your belongings. You can even expand it using trekking poles to provide you extra living space while protecting you from light rain or the hot sun without going into the tent itself. The tent comes in a variety of capacities ranging from 1 person to 4 persons. It also features a bathtub floor that ensures no water seeps into the tent from outside. The quality mesh on the upper half of the tent ensures that the tent is well-ventilated. There are two doors for easy exit and entry. Plus, at 3 pounds and 2 ounces, the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL is also the best ultralight tent on our list.
- Very light
- Excellent design
The MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2-person lightweight backpacking tents are, in our humble opinion, the best 2 person backpacking tents in the market today. This is a 3-season backpacking tent that features a freestanding design. It has a floor that’s made of 30D ripstop nylon with MSR’s Xtreme Shield coating that ensures you’ll stay dry even if you pitch your tent over very wet soil. The interior floor space measures 84”x50” with lots of head clearance throughout. You definitely won’t be feeling cramped even if there are two of you sleeping in it. Moreover, there are two side doors which means you won’t have to crawl over each other whenever you need to get in or out of the tent. Weighing at 3.81 pounds, this tent balances weight, durability, and space extremely well. The only drawback is that it’s not that easy to get the fly in place. But other than that, this is a solid choice for backpackers.
- Weather resistant material
- Lots of space
- Very durable
- A little difficult to set up the rain fly
When it comes to comfort, this 2 person backpacking tent is at the top of our list. The tent features two huge doors that make going in and out of the tent easy. There’s a lot of headroom, so you really wouldn’t feel cramped inside this tent despite sleeping two people. We love the fact that the vestibules provide enough space to store packs as well as footwear. There are pockets as well where you can store small items that you’d prefer to keep on hand. Most of the tent is made of mesh which ensures excellent airflow as well as a bit of stargazing at night. If you want some privacy though, you’ll need to put on the fly. Setting up this tent is quite easy as well which means you’ll be resting in minutes as soon as you decide where to pitch your tent. Durability isn’t a problem either. The floor is 70D nylon while the rain fly is 40D nylon. However, it is on the heavy side, weighing 4 ¾ pounds. Plus, the fly vent is small and can cause a bit of condensation. But at this price and level of comfort, it’s a seasonal backpacker’s best choice.
- Very durable
- Lots of space
- On the heavy side
- Small fly vent
If you’re looking for the best budget backpacking tents, then the Marmot Limelight 2 is for you. This budget-friendly tent provides you with a lot of the creature comforts you’ll want in the great outdoors. The large side doors make exiting and entering the tent very convenient. The interior space is quite roomy due to its extra width and height. You and your sleeping partner can easily sit up inside the tent at the same time and not bump heads. That’s not something you can say about a lot of ultralight backpacking tents. The meshy canopy ensures excellent ventilation while the fly provides great weather protection. It’s very durable as well. However, this tent is quite heavy at 5 pounds and 10 ounces. It’s definitely not something you’ll be comfortable carrying for long distances.
- Very affordable
- Very heavy
The Naturehike Cloud-Up is a close runner-up to the best 2 person backpacking tent on our list for those on a very small budget who only plan on going backpacking once in a blue moon. It’s also a good choice if you’re not sure yet if backpacking is for you and are hesitant to make a big purchase. The weight of the tent is great at only about 3.4 pounds. It’s easy to set up for beginners. The poles snap together easily and getting the tent standing and ready for occupancy doesn’t take up much time. Packing up the tent is quite easy as well. As for durability, this tent gets our seal of approval. While it won’t hold up well in heavy rain, it’s durable enough for occasional camping in the spring or summertime. And the tent is quite spacious enough for two as long as you are small to medium-sized. Individuals taller than 6 feet might find themselves unable to stretch out inside. However, the price makes all of that worth it. At less than $200, you can’t find a better price than this.
- Very budget-friendly
- Easy to set up
- Not very durable
- Not for tall people
What is the best tent for backpacking?
This is a very difficult question to answer because there is no one-size-fits-all backpacking tent. What some might consider the best backpacking tent might not be the right one for your needs and situation. If you’re thinking of getting the best ultralight tent, then we’d recommend the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL. However, it’s not in the list of the best budget backpacking tents. That honor belongs to the Marmot Limelight 2. If you’re only buying a tent that would be used once or twice during the summer, then these two options might not be what you need. Something more in the midweight category would work better and cost less. In short, there’s really no “best of the best,” only what’s best for you.
How heavy should a tent be for backpacking?
Your tent is probably going to be the heaviest item in your backpack. Obviously, you don’t want to end up carrying a tent that you’ll want to chuck off into the nether before your trip even ends. But that doesn’t mean that you’ll need the best ultralight tent ever in your pack. In fact, there’s really no rule as to how heavy your tent should be. It all comes down to what you’ll need, what you’re comfortable carrying, and your budget. If you’re on a budget and only hiking short distances, you can opt for tents that weigh around 4.5 pounds or even heavier. These tents tend to be the most durable. They also usually have the most space. Plus, they tend to be more affordable.
If you’re on the hike of a lifetime, you can opt for a tent with a carrying weight ranging between 2 to 4.5 pounds (ultralight to lightweight tents). You’ll feel the difference throughout the miles and be thankful you got them. However, the cost is usually higher with these tents. Moreover, when you get below 3 pounds, space becomes smaller (less headroom) and you get fewer features.
If you’re a diehard minimalist or a thru-hiker, you’re going to need to go with the lightest tent of all – those in the crazylight category. Tents in this category weigh less than 2 pounds. The material of the tents is usually very thin which makes them quite fragile. And they feature a non-freestanding design which means that there are no tent poles. You’ll be using trekking poles to prop up your tent. Plus, they can cost you an arm and a leg. Only the most seasoned hikers who are conscious of every ounce should ever consider this category.
Should I get a 2 or 3 person tent?
To be honest, it really depends. A 2 person backpacking tent may seem like enough space for two people. However, manufacturers tend to cut down on the dimensions of the tent in order to shave some weight off. So, a lightweight backpacking tent that’s built for two might feel incredibly cramped for two adults plus their gear. You’ll even find that some tents have little headroom or are tapered at the foot end. A 3-person tent seems like a better choice, right? However, that would mean extra weight and more money.
What should you do then? Well, the amount of space you have in your tent will have a direct impact on your comfort. So, you need to decide how much space you need to be comfortable as well as whether you’ll be sharing your tent with someone in the future. Then take note of the dimensions of the tents you’re thinking about buying. The floor dimensions will tell you how many sleeping pads will fit inside the tent and if there’s even room for your gear. The height of the tent is also important. You don’t want to feel like you’re in a coffin, cramped on all sides. You’ll definitely want a bit of head room that you’re at least able to sit up inside, especially if you’re hunkering down due to bad weather. Whether it’s labeled as a 2 person backpacking tent or one made for 3 doesn’t matter. Dimensions and slope are what you need to consider.
What’s the difference between a camping tent and a backpacking tent?
The main difference between a camping tent and a backpacking one is the weight. When you’re camping, you usually take your car to a designated camping site which means that you won’t be carrying your tent on your back for a considerable distance. However, when you go backpacking, you’ll need to carry all your essentials in your backpack which includes your tent. And when you’re walking all those miles, the weight of your essentials is going to either make or break your trip. In short, you’re going to need a tent that won’t break your back or make you wish you could do without it throughout your entire trip.
How much should I spend on a tent?
Your tent is an investment. And even if you weren’t going to buy the best backpacking tents ever in the market, that doesn’t mean that you won’t end up spending quite a bit of money. Entry-level tents can cost over $100. But these are only good for carrying short distances. Also, they’re not ideal if you plan to go backpacking more than once or twice a year. If you want something halfway decent in terms of durability, space, and weight, you’ll need to pay over $200 minimum. But if you plan to go on a multi-day backpacking trip, you’re going to need to loosen your purse strings a little. A good lightweight or ultralight tent will cost you at least $450. That being said, it’s always wise to stick with the tent that falls within your budget.
What features are in the best backpacking tents?
We’ve already talked about space, weight, and cost. What other features or factors should we consider when looking for the right tent for backpacking? There are three more that we can think of – durability, weather protection, and ventilation.
Durability is highly dependent on the material used to make the tent. To make a tent lighter, manufacturers use thinner materials. Naturally, if the material is thinner, the less durable it will be. Fortunately, manufacturers found a material that’s light, strong, and durable – Dyneema (also known as Cuben Fiber). However, tents made of this material are incredibly expensive (around $1000+). SilNylon is another great material because it is stronger and lighter than Polyurethane coated fabrics. The fabric is also highly water repellant. However, tents made of this material are also expensive though not as pricey as those made of Cuben fiber. If you’re going for the budget-friendly, PU coated fabrics would be the kind of material you need to get. Just keep in mind that you’ll need to take special care of your tent to avoid punctures or tearing. And as much as possible, try to balance weight with durability. A good example is the MSR Hubba Hubba NX which comes with a 30-denier floor but only weighs 3.81 pounds.
You’re getting a tent because you want to sleep without being exposed to the elements. Obviously, you want a tent that can keep the bad weather out while ensuring you’re comfy and breathing inside. If you plan to camp during the summer, most tents should be able to handle light to moderate rain. However, if you need a tent that will be able to keep you dry during a storm, you need to get one that has more than decent weather protection. That means stronger material, a full-coverage rainfly, sealed seams, and stronger poles.
Aside from keeping you dry, your tent should also offer you good ventilation. Feeling hot and sweaty inside your tent because there’s no airflow will just make you miserable. Not to mention, poor ventilation can cause condensation to form inside your tent, leaving you feeling damp in the mornings. Look for a tent that has liberal amounts of mesh for breathability. A roof vent towards the top of the rainfly will also greatly improve airflow when the rainfly is on the tent. Apart from the tent, you can put in your bag other items, such as fishing poles, nets, barbeque grill trays and other necessary things but always remember to keep it as light as possible.