The factors to consider when choosing the best backpacking tents are weight, weather protection, interior space, setup style, and cost. There are plenty of options on the market when buying a new tent, so having a list of specific qualities to look for can simplify your choice and help you narrow your options down to only a few excellent tents that will fit your needs.
Backpacking tents come in all sizes, materials and designs that can make selecting the best fit difficult even for seasoned hikers.
It is critical here to know the most important things to look for and to only consider other features as nice bonuses/additions. This will help you choose the best tent to improve your safety and comfort during your hikes or treks.
Principal factors to consider here:
Tent capacity: Will depend on the number of backpackers and sleepers. Backpacking models can accomodate up to 4 persons.
Seasonality: Which kind of weather do you expect?
Comfort: Design and features. This will affect how liveable your tent is.
Weight: Do I really need to get into details here? Manufacturers have been working hard on this one over the past few years and there is a trend in offering lighter products, which is now made easier with the use of lighter and stronger materials. Lightweight tents are more than recommended here!
Price: Is often a major concern. Even though expensive does not often mean better product, purchasing.
When backpacking, it all comes down to comfort (when both sleeping and traveling with your equipment). If you are not after a cosy tent, you should consider choosing a smaller and lighter tent. If you are after a comfortable rest or are just bigger or taller, you should consider roomier models or simply move up on tent capacity!
Tents for backpackers are often designed for 3 or 4 season use. Here it all comes down to how often you are going to use your shelter and how nasty the weather you'll be exposed to! Just keep in mind that 4 season tents are stronger and bulkier so heavier than their 3 season equivalents.
Freestanding tents, what does that mean? This is a term used to describe tents where the poles can be attached to the tent body. They often have a robust structure and can completely stand on their own.
So casual or pro backpacker?
Always ask yourself the following questions:
How often do you trek or go for a hike?
Where do you go outdoors?
What will the weather be like?
Are you going to cover a lot of distance?
If you are more than a casual camper, it may be a good move to purchase a pricier tent! It is often recommended to spend more (if your wallet allows it) which tends to bring better results on the long term. On the pricier end, eight and size tend to go down, and manufacturers use better quality materials so that the tent stands up better to harsh weather and time.
The ALPS Mountaineering Meramac 2 Tent is a two-person dome tent that has a freestanding design and a floor area of 38 square feet. It makes use of two shock-corded fiberglass poles for easy set up and polyester taffeta that has mesh storage pockets for organizing personal items.
The tent is low cost and relatively lightweight, the combined weight of the tent and the rainfly being about 2.78 kg. It has two windows and two doors with large side mesh panels that keep the tent well ventilated during warm weather.
Easy to set up 2-pole design
Weatherproof rainfly with an awning over each of the two doors
Strong and durable fiberglass poles
Mesh storage pockets for organizing personal items
Guy out loops that keep the tent stable
Not suitable for extreme weather conditions
Tight fit for two campers
Some people have complained about the quality of the floor material, which is why you should always use a footprint!
The ALPS Mountaineering Meramac 2 Tent is easy to set up with an all-clip assembly and two shock-corded fiberglass poles.
The tent provides excellent weather protection through the polyester taffeta construction with factory-sealed rainfly and floor seams. Entry and exit is easy through the two doors with single-zip operation, while the awning over each door provides shade and additional protection against rain.
Here is a funny and interesting review of this model:
This is a model for serious backpackers and adventurers. This is a high end model from the reputable brand MSR for those who cover long distances and when price is not your main concern! It is a renown 3 season tent that offers a good balance between features and lightweight. Pros
Lightweight, under 2 kilos for the last 2 person model.
Quality fabrics and materials
Solid and Robust
Nice additions such as the rain gutter
Easy setup and pole system with color-coded clips
Spacious tent interior with two side-entry vestibules for storing gear
Can tear down in moderate winds
Not always durable according to reviews found online
Some people find it too small for 2 persons
Not enough stakes included
What strikes you at first with the MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2 is it’s incredibly lightweight and feather like sensation when setting it up. This tent boasts great features and quality fabrics and is one of my favorite model on the market for backpacking!
The Mountainsmith Morrison 2 Person 3 Season Tent has a freestanding design that offers a footprint of 49 square feet, 35 square feet for the main living space and 14 square feet for the vestibule. Easy setup is achieved through a two-pole design with a color-coded fly attachment system, while the instructions are conveniently printed on the stuff sack. This durable tent is appropriate for use from fair to severe weather conditions.
Easy to set up
Lightweight tent with a total weight of four pounds and 11 ounces
Durable, waterproof materials and construction
Stable even in high winds
Spacious, with a total floor area of 59 square feet including the vestibule
Limited lifetime manufacturer’s warranty
Guy lines provided for use in severe weather
Difficult entry and exit with the rainfly attached
Limited vestibule size
Doors are not waterproof
Some people seem to complain about the quality of the rainfly and are reporting issues with the stitches
The Mountainsmith Morrison 2 Person 3 Season Tentcomfortably accommodates two campers, keeping them comfortable and dry even in severe weather. Contributing to its excellent performance are the bathtub floor with taped seams, 185T polyester rainfly and 190T polyester floor with respective ratings of 2000mm and 5000mm polyurethane coating, and a breathable 185T polyester tent materials. The tent weighs about four pounds and eleven ounces, which is convenient for carrying even over long distances. Watch the following video review to know more on this great product:
This is a minimalist 3-season tent that is known for its lightweight and versatility! Big Agnes Copper Spur UL 2 Person Tent is a best seller that offers the convenience of a 2 doors tent with ultralight fabrics and finishes. It has 2 decent sized vestibules and is super easy to setup with a smart colour code included. Pros
Comfortable for it’s small size
Great space to weight ratio. Less than 1.4 kg and 300 grams lighter than the MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2!
Delicate fabrics that can be prone to tearing
Some people reported issues with the Zippers.
This is a great pick for the weight conscious backpackers out there as it is one of the lightest model available on the market. It offers great features such as easy setup, great design and convenience with two doors and vestibules and ventilation for a freestanding model. Only concern with this tent is the thin fabrics used! Some people have reported issues with the ultralight fabrics used which make this model not one of the long lasting. If you are a conscious backpacker that take care of his tent and protect it, this should not be a major issue and you will end up loving this shelter!
This company is known and respected for their innovative and creative tent designs. This Sierra Designs Lightning 2 FL model makes no exception with it’s outdoor awning style storage space that makes storing your gear a breeze. It allows for more inside space and offer more room when entering or exiting the shelter. A convenient and comfortable feature when backpacking! Pros
Ultralight mesh walls, single wall panels.
Creative storage space
Comfortable and provides enough room for 2
Steady in the wind
Easy setup and breakdown
Shape makes it hard to manoeuvre inside with poor weather conditions
Single wall panels, not ideal for weather protection and condensation
Overall a great product for adventurers. The innovative outdoor storage area make the tent more liveable as it helps keeping your gear and shoes outside of the sleeping area. Tent is really strong for a single wall panelled model. The mesh walls are great and the venting is optimal for a great night out.
The Yodo Lightweight Waterproof 2 Person Camping Backpacking Tent has a freestanding design that utilizes two fiberglass poles. It quickly assembles with the pole clips that are easy to snap over the tent poles. Measuring 78 x 55 square feet, it provides sufficient space for comfortably sheltering two campers. Setup is quick and easy, with the two fiberglass tent poles with pole clips that snap easily over the tent poles.
Waterproof flysheet made from polyester and a groundsheet of polyester oxford, both with 3000mm rated polyurethane coating
Easy to assemble
Good ventilation from two doors, zippered mesh windows, and two mesh roof vents
Interior door conveniently opens from the inside and outside
Convenient carrying case
Soft and thin fabric that requires careful handling to prevent damage
Some people have complained about the quality of the materials such as fragile zippers and have reported issues with the stitches
Yodo Lightweight Waterproof 2 Person Camping Backpacking Tent is lightweight at less than 3 pounds. With the provided storage and carrying bag, it is easy to take the tent on long hikes. The two doors provide easy entry and exit, and permit good air circulation that prevents the tent living space from getting stuffy. Other convenient features are the two vestibules for storing gear and for added weather protection, an interior that opens inside and outside, and an outer door curtain with buckle.
The best backpacking tent offers maximum protection against the elements and must be lightweight enough for carrying over long distances.
Spaciousness is important particularly when sharing the tent with another camper, but this is often a tradeoff with lightweight materials and design. Keeping the weight of the tent down and at the same time offering maximum space with excellent weather protection are the important features that were considered for the tents included in this review.
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The Best Backpacking Tent for Maximum Protection and Portability in 2016
Outdoor enthusiast and rafting addict.
From Cleveland Ohio born and raised (GO CAVS).
Working for a professional kayaking company located in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park Ohio.
I am a huge NBA fan and spend the rest of my spare time djing as a hobby.