Most outdoor lovers will have their wanderlust take them to remote trails and sceneries, miles and miles away from civilization. Backpackers and hikers blazing the tough backcountry tracks are usually forced to carry all they’ll need in their space-constrained backpacks.
A backpacking tent ranks highly in the list of essentials that you’ll need to get before setting off for the trails.
So, what backpacking tent should you buy for your outdoor shelter? Well, you’ll have to consider a couple of things before buying that sleek-looking tent. These include: the weight of the tent, packed size of the tent, number of doors, ease of set-up, weather protection, and so much more...
Lucky for you, we’ve meticulously researched the vast spectrum of backpacking tents available in the market today and compiled the selection below. In addition, we share a nifty buying guide on how to shop for one at the very tail-end of the article so be sure to read on. Oh, and as a bonus, we've actually tabled a summary of the specifications for these tents to further refine your selection decision.
Available in bright orange, green, earthy burgundy, and grey hues, the Paraiso Backpacking Tent is a beauty to look at. The tent’s two- and three-person variants both share the same clean design and affordable pricing. Its two large D-shaped doors open up to a large living space with incredible headroom.
And that’s not all there is to the Bessport Paraiso Camping tents.
Moisture stays out of the tent thanks to its impressive 5000MM+ waterproof index rating and accompanying features.
The seams are fully taped to prevent any rainwater from seeping into the tent. Plus, condensation build-up is halted by the large mesh window and two ceiling vents. Airflow is further enhanced by the large doors and double-wall effect i.e. the rainfly over the tent.
Plus, the ceiling vents have Velcro attachments to keep out rainwater and allow for controlled airflow.
The robust mesh skylight also works wonders in keeping the inside of the tent nice and dry. It also doubles up as a front-row seat to stargazing during suitable nights. If there are strong winds at camp, the tent is equipped with four guy-out points to help secure it in place.
The single high-grade aluminum poles, pole clip design, and the four guylines give the tent its structure and ensure that it can withstand strong winds and heavy rains. The floor of the tent is made of 210D polyester Oxford fabric, which stands tough against abrasion and rough terrains.
Additionally, the 68D 190T polyester fabric making up most of the inner tent and rainfly offers enough protection from the elements while keeping the tent lightweight. You also get large two-way zipper systems that operate smoothly without any snags.
As if the large – 93 inches long by 53 inches wide – floor area isn’t enough, the manufacturer has gone ahead and added two small vestibules to the tent. That way you can keep some of the camping gear outside and get to live comfortably in the roomy interior.
With a peak height of about 43.3 inches, the tent offers plenty of room to move around, sit up, and even dress up. The Bessport Backpacking tents also have conveniently-placed mesh pockets on the walls for stashing your small items.
Setting up the tent takes a few minutes thanks to the single-pole frame structure. Sure, it’s no pop-up tent but compared to other backpacking tents, it’s more than acceptable. Also, to complement the quick setups and takedowns, a carry bag is included to whisk away the minimalist packed bundle.
If you’re looking for a roomy tent to sleep in throughout the four seasons, the Bessport Paraiso Camping tent will exceed your expectations. Its affordable pricing and practical design will leave you to focus on taking in the sights and looking for more challenging trails to take on.
The tent performs exactly as you would wish; every aspect you’d want in a good quality backpacking tent is well taken care of here. However, quality control seems to be lacking or is just plain ineffective as some of the tents may feature poor stitching and missing/flawed components.
Yet another roomy pick, the Forceatt Camping Tent will have you overlooking its finicky setting up process and settling for its overall high performance. At 5.5 pounds, it may be one of the heaviest tents on our list but its sturdy build makes up for the fact.
It has two- and three-person sizes available in several nature-friendly color schemes. In particular, we found the orange and grey color style to be very pleasing and appropriate for any backcountry exploration.
Out of the packaging, the tent has one canopy, a frame pole set, a rainfly, four guylines, and twelve stakes. All these fit in the handy 16.5 inches long by 5.5 inches wide stuff sack and result in a 5.5-pound bundle.
It’s fairly lightweight and compact so your pack will be left with lots of room for extra gear. That said, longevity is not compromised at all in the Forceatt Tent Backpacking Tent.
The pole frame is made of 7001-Series aluminum while the tent stakes are 7 inches long and made of strong metal. When well-staked using the reflective guylines, the tent can withstand strong winds and heavy rainfall without any hassles.
You’ll also stay protected against the elements by the 75 denier 220T Ripstop polyester fiber making the rainfly and inner tent. A welded floor made of 220 denier Oxford fabric also protects you from the uneven cold grounds.
With a doubt, the Forceatt Tent Backpacking Tent is the go-to budget-friendly option for all-seasons outdoors shelter. The design and materials used on the tent are effective in keeping out moisture and allowing for optimal airflow.
The rainfly and inner tent have a waterproof index of about 3000MM while the floor is rated at 5000MM. The polyurethane coating works pretty well in conjunction with the two mesh windows and skylight.
Condensation won’t have a chance in the tent with that much-controlled airflow.
The floor area of the two-person model measures about 88.6 inches long by 53.1 inches wide, which is enough space for a Twin XL or Double sleeping pad. There’s enough room to move around and the interior tent height is a generous 43.3 inches.
While the space may be enough for two people to fit comfortably, you’ll have to pack way less gear inside the tent.
Furthermore, there are two small vestibules to keep some of your gear as well as pockets for your smaller items. Your headlamp or torch gets a place to hang and your smartphone or reading materials are at arm’s length.
The setting up process may take a minute or two to grasp but thankfully, there’s an included well-detailed instructions manual. Plus, the interlocking poles snap into full-lengths in a quick magnetic action allowing for fairly quick setups.
In addition, the tent has a locking mechanism to secure the poles and rainfly in place making the whole unit more resistant to strong winds. However, since the poles are located on the outside of the tent, you’ll have to fasten/connect the buckles and straps when assembling the unit.
If fastening multiple buckles and straps isn’t a deal-breaker for you, then the Forceatt Backpacking Tents are good budget-friendly options to consider. The pole design allows for a roomy interior and the materials used are capable of lasting most weather conditions.
Out of the packaging, the Naturehike Cloud-Up comes with a set of poles, a rainfly, the inner tent, staking nails, guylines, and a carry bag. All these set up into a beautifully designed free-standing backpacking tent.
However, the self-supporting feature is only present in the two- and three-person versions and not the one-person size.
At a higher price than the previous tents in our selection, the Naturehike Cloud-Up tents promise an easy to set up, roomy and sturdy outdoor shelter.
The 20 denier-rated Ripstop nylon fabric making up the inner tent doesn’t sound like much. However, when coupled with the 20D Sil-Nylon rainfly, the tent is rugged enough to handle any type of weather. The aluminum poles are of high-quality as expected given their DAC origins.
Dongah Aluminum Co., DAC for short, is the leading manufacturer of premium tent poles.
The 7001-Series aluminum poles and guylines help the tent withstand grade 8 winds, heavy rainfall, and snow. The rainfly has a silicone coating that brings up the tent’s waterproof index to about 4000MM. Moreover, it has a sun protection rating of UV 50+.
All that ensures that the Naturehike Cloud-Up tent is up to the task as a three-season outdoor shelter.
Whichever size you go for, the tent’s overall weight inclusive of all the accessories stays at less than five pounds. Plus, the included compression carry bag makes it super easy to store and move around.
Outstanding in either of the four available colors, the tent easily configures into a freestanding structure thanks to its unique double-wishbone pole frame. The design also allows for very quick setups in well under five minutes.
Plus, the poles are connected via a strong cord making it that much easier to build up the tent. That said, you’ll still need to peg it down when camping on unforgiving terrains to ensure the flysheet performs effectively.
The included groundsheet ensures you’re double protected from the cold ground and the clips help ‘suspend’ the inner tent into place.
So, with the 2-person model, you get a generous floor area of about 83 inches long by 49 inches wide. That’s enough for a couple to live and sleep in and its 39 inches of interior height make-do for some free movement within the tent.
Admittedly, the tent’s peak height is an obvious compromise to its freestanding feature since it would be too unstable beyond said height.
However, the rest of the tent is comfy to sleep in, and with the right tension on the rainfly, you can get the much-needed airflow to prevent condensation. The D-shaped door on the rainfly can be rolled to the side to allow for more ventilation.
Bugs and mosquitoes also stay out owing to the zippered bug screen on the inner tent.
Extra storage space has also been worked into the unit as you can utilize the 24 inches long vestibule to keep your hiking boots and wet gear. A mesh side pocket is also present in the inner tent and is perfect for your small quick-access items.
Budget-friendly and heavily-inspired by a classic, the Naturehike Cloud-Up Backpacking Tent is loaded with useful features and a cherry on top – the freestanding setup. It is lightweight yet durable and could suffice as a gateway to more premium tents.
The Salida Series of tents from Kelty is available in 1-, 2-, and 4-person capacities. In particular, the Salida 1 backpacking tent uses two poles to form a roomy, dome-shaped outdoor shelter for one person.
It contains most of the standard features you’d expect in a good quality mid-range tent and so much more.
The two DAC PressFit aluminum poles plus the color-coded clip systems make it a breeze to set up and take down. The poles are already connected thus all you need to do is lay out the tent and secure the crisscrossed poles with the clips.
The fly attachment is also very easy to do and the tent can be used as a semi-freestanding structure for any type of terrain. Thus, you can use it without the flysheet when the weather is favorable.
Lastly, a cuboid stuff sack is included to carry the whole tent as a compact bundle of about 14 inches long by 11 inches wide.
The Salida 1 tent has plenty of interior room and floor space, which spans over an area of 86 inches long by 29 inches wide. There’s also enough head and shoulder room to move around, sit up, and dress up.
When using it without the flysheet, its 40D No-See-Um mesh panels help enhance breathability and the side walls offer all-round privacy. It also has fully-taped seams, a large D-shaped door, and other insulative features making it a solid 3-seasons tent.
Storage space for your camping gear and quick-access items is well-catered by the vast 6.5 sq. ft. vestibule area, gear loft loops, and interior storage pockets.
The inner tent is made of 68-denier polyester while the floor has a 68-denier nylon fabric. Such materials are enough to keep you nice and dry inside the tent. Arguably, the 1800MM waterproof index of the tent is an understatement of just how effective it is at keeping the moisture out.
Tapered towards the foot section, the Kelty Salida 1 has done their best to maintain the tent at less than four pounds without too many compromises. The tent is made of high-quality materials and will be perfect for long-distance solo hikes.
However, the condensation build-up may get intense when using the rainfly due to the reduced airflow and lack of vents.
When compared to others, the Ionosphere 1-Man tent completely goes against the grain in terms of design. It has a low-profile design, much-like a bivvy but without the claustrophobic effect. The tent is available in two color styles namely Olive Green and Coyote Tan.
The tent is very popular among backpackers, motorcycle campers, and surprisingly, even soldiers. Whether it’s the low-profile quality, included accessories, or green aesthetics that appeal to most, we sought to find out.
Two aluminum poles, an all-mesh inner tent, a flysheet, a repair kit, guylines, and SIXTEEN STAKES! Most high-end backpacking tents don’t even come with half of these features. Plus, even with all that gear, the Ionosphere tent maintains a feathery weight of about 3.34 pounds.
The Ionosphere is made for the backcountry extremities; inclement weather, bugs, mosquitoes, and all.
Its flysheet is made of 210T tear-resistant polyester fabric while the inner tent has a 190T nylon cloth with a 50-denier polyester no-see-um-mesh. That’s enough protection against unexpected downpours and condensation build-up.
Also, where the tent lacks in fly vents, the mesh inner tent makes up for it.
Further, the flysheet has been coated with polyurethane, bringing up its waterproofing index to an impressive 5000MM. The DAC Featherlite NSL anodized aluminum poles also help the tent withstand strong winds.
The team at Snugpak has also included a repair kit for those emergency fixes. It includes items such as: patch materials, an elastic loop, a spare cord, a tent pole repair sleeve, an instructions guide, and a rope tensioner.
The floor area of the tent is about 94.5 inches long by 35.4 inches wide, which is plenty of room to sleep in for one person. However, its peak height is around 28 inches high and thus sitting up or even getting in and out of the tent gets a little bit tricky.
That said, stargazing has never been easier or immersive. If the weather allows, you can remove the flysheet and take in the starry sky in the roomy inner tent’s bug-proof meshing.
Transforming the Ionosphere tent into a usable state takes less than five minutes. It simply involves laying out the inner tent, placing the poles then staking it down as required. The flysheet goes on last and can be secured in multiple points using the many provided stakes.
Color-coding on the inlets and poles makes for easy alignments and quick setups. The DAC frame poles have press-fit connections and come pre-curved for your convenience.
When it’s time to pack it away, a carry bag with compression straps is provided for easier transportation and storage. The resulting bundle measures about 19 inches in length and 5.5 inches in width, which can easily be attached to the outside of your pack.
As far as low-profile tents and bivouacs go, the Ionosphere camping tent from Snugpak offers the best value for money. However, our biggest gripe with the tent is the hobbit doors – they make it difficult to get in and out of the tent. It gets worse if you’re a tall person.
Weighing in at about 6.3 pounds, Teton Sports’ Vista 2 Quick Tent is easily the heaviest backpacking tent on our list. So, why did we pick it, you might ask? Well, the one- and two-person Vista Quick tents are all about quick setups.
There’s also the fact that they are made by a market leader when it comes to camping and outdoor gear.
While it is not the kind that you fling in the air to set up, assembling the Vista 2 backpacking tent comes pretty close.
You can have the tent set up in a few steps; lay it out on the ground, lock the poles then pull the drawstring. Voila, it’s all done! The built-in frame poles and central locking hub makes all this possible and seamless.
To take down the unit, simply push the release tab and tent frame downwards.
The expansive 60 inches wide and 82 inches long floor area is accessible by the two large opposite doorways. This means that you no longer have to step over your hiking buddy or spouse when getting in or out of the tent.
Accessibility is further enhanced by the durable two-way zippers, which operate smoothly without any snags. To fully utilize the ample headroom and living space, a gear loft and interior pockets are present for storing your smaller items.
Additionally, the Vista 2 tent comes with a standard waterproof rainfly to protect you from the rain. Its inner tent’s mesh fabric also helps keep out bugs and mosquitos. Ventilation is well taken care of by the rainfly vents.
Even with the flysheet removed, the high side walls offer some privacy and protect occupants from rain splatters. The micro-mesh inner tent is also perfect for stargazing during clear skies.
The shell of the Vista 2 is made of 75 denier 190T Taffeta material, which is plenty of protection against the elements. The 1200 mm waterproof index is not good enough but will have to suffice as a 2- or 3- season tent.
Available in three subtle colors, the Vista 2 takes quick tent assemblies to the next level. Admittedly, the pole design adds some heft into the tent thus you should be mindful of that. Long-distance backpackers may have to look elsewhere for something lightweight.
That said, the rest of the features greatly complement the quick and easy setups and takedowns.
An expected entrant in our list is the Hooligan Backpacking Tent from the world-renowned Coleman Company, Inc. The Hooligan tents are available in two-, three-, and four-person capacities as well as in three bright colors; golf, red, and orange.
The WeatherTec System technology and the one-pole frame structure are perhaps the most outstanding features on the Hooligan line of tents. Speaking of which, let’s have a look at the tent’s many offerings and its few drawbacks.
The Hooligan 2 tent integrates a one-pole frame and a pin-and-ring system to ensure the assemblies are quick and painless. The process takes about two to three steps and can be fully completed in less than five minutes:
The Hooligan 2 model is not a freestanding tent by any means thus it needs staking right at the start. The pin-and-ring system comes in very handy in securing the shock-corded pole. Plus, the one-pole design allows for slightly more vertical sidewalls and a more livable space.
The fiberglass frame combined with the guy-out points results in a remarkably wind-responsive outdoor shelter. Moisture is well addressed by the unit owing to the waterproofed rainfly and flooring.
However, when it’s raining, opening the window or door will have some rainwater getting into the tent.
The tent flooring is also a masterpiece in regards to how it helps to keep moisture out. Its inverted and welded flooring enhances its longevity and further eliminates/hides the needle holes. Condensation moisture build-up is well-addressed by the large vestibule opening, large door, and all-mesh inner tent.
You get plenty of livable space with any of the different sizes of the Hooligan backpacking tent. The 2-person tent itself provides an expansive floor area of about 96 inches long by 72 inches wide. That’s enough room for two people, a dog, possibly a kid too.
Occupants of the tent also get more headroom and shoulder room thanks to the ingenious one-pole frame. The peak height is an incredible 55 inches high, allowing for plenty of room to sit up in, move around, and even dress up.
You may remove the flysheet for an immersive, bug-free stargazing experience or roll-away the large doors on for lounging. Additionally, the vestibule space can act as an extra storage space for your gear or as a mudroom.
The Hooligan tents from Coleman excel at being mostly weatherproof, very quick to set up, and very roomy. However, the weight is still too heavy for backpackers, especially, those seeking to trek farther and for longer.
Perhaps, swapping the fiberglass poles for lighter aluminum ones or maybe looking for alternatives to the heavy-duty 1000D tent flooring would reduce the weight.
Yet another low-profile tent, the Eureka! Solitaire AL backpacking tent is an oversize bivouac sac with an improved doorway for a change. The two-tunnel design allows for a roomy interior with superb airflow all-round.
Unlike the older Solitaire model, the Solitaire AL has aluminum poles instead of fiberglass ones. Eureka! has also made a couple of other improvements on the new model to ensure you get your money’s worth.
The new model ditches the brittle fiberglass poles for the more rugged aluminum poles. The Solitaire AL also has more room, better waterproofing, and a better color scheme. The bright yellow on the older model was off-putting for some and too conspicuous for others.
The new green-colored tent with grey undertones packs into a compactedly – 18-inches long by 4 inches wide – bundle that weighs slightly less than three pounds. Plus, the setup process is also quicker and easier thanks to the pre-curved tent poles.
The Solitaire AL backpacking tent is newer and better in many ways than one and it’s still just as affordably-priced.
A waterproofing index of 1500MM is on the tent is greatly supplemented by the 15000MM rainfly and tent flooring. While the robust 7000-Series aluminum poles help the tent withstand strong winds and inclement weather.
The 68-denier 185T polyester taffeta tent body has large sections with 40-denier polyester no-see-um meshing for a well-ventilated, bug-free sleeping area.
The large door at the head section and the zippered top opening makes it super easy to get in and out of the tent. When you unroll the rainfly, you can enter the top from the top-middle section without doing the awkward reverse-crawling motion prevalent in low-profile tents.
Given its 1-person capacity, the interior space is large and the 96 inches long by 32 inches wide floor area will accommodate any type of sleeper.
However, the short peak height of about 28 inches still makes it impossible to sit up or do much in the tent other than sleep.
Keeping that in mind, there’s a small vestibule and two interior side pockets for some of your gear.
The AL in this tent’s name stands for aluminum poles, a huge improvement over the fiberglass poles used in the decades-old Solitaire model. If you loved the classic then you’ll appreciate the many tweaks made on the new model.
Else, it makes for a lightweight, portable, roomy, and somewhat weatherproof low-profile tent perfect for all types of camping.
From one of the pioneers of ultralight camping gear, the Fly Creek HV UL tents are the pride and joy of the over 20-year-old company, Big Agnes. These lightweight backpacking tents come one-, two-, and three-person capacities.
Even though you’ll pay a fortune for either of the sizes, their high quality, durability, and great performance are worth every penny.
The Fly Creek High-Volume Ultralight 2-person tent has a semi-freestanding design and thus can be used in most terrains. However, a taut pitch with stakes in the ground will have you a sturdier and more spacious abode.
Its bathtub floor will restrict most of the rainwater splatters and protect you from the cold ground. Also, the single-hub pole design allows for quick and easy setups, which is very convenient in case of sudden downpours.
That said, we found the single-hub design to be its weakest link when exposed to strong winds and inclement weather. You’ll want to stake the tent securely in the ground instead of entirely relying on the semi-freestanding feature.
The fly and tent flooring are made of 15-denier ripstop nylon fabrics, which have been silicone-treated and adequately coated with 1200MM polyurethane material. Its inner tent features a 10-denier polyester mesh and a 20-denier nylon inner body.
Undoubtedly, the Big Agnes Fly Creek tents are mostly designed to be lightweight and portable. So, the materials may be thinner and crinklier than in other tents. When packing the tent away the tent be sure to do it carefully as the stakes may tear or poke holes into the fabric.
That said, the waterproofing, bug-proofing, and stargazing opportunities provided by the tent stay unmatched. The double-wall build does a great job of reducing condensation build-up in the tent and improves overall airflow.
The single-pole hub system is engineered to allow for steeper walls and increased usable interior space while maintaining the tent at feathery weights. There’s also plenty of storage space in the tent owing to the included gear loft, three mesh pockets, and vestibule.
Two persons can comfortably sleep on suitably-sized sleeping pads in the massive 28 square feet floor area. Movements inside the tent are effortless and easy due to the generous 40 inches of head/shoulder room.
The Fly Creek HV UL2 is a premium, ultralight backpacking tent befitting a solo hiker, couple, or any two persons not afraid of having their personal space invaded. It excels at being super lightweight and portable.
That being said, always ensure its tautly staked for maximum stability and also handle the delicate materials with extra care.
At only 5.5-pounds, the two-person Desert & Fox Backpacking Tent is still lightweight and easy to carry. Plus, whether you go for the other 3-person or 1-person versions, you’ll still enjoy its numerous benefits at a budget-friendly cost.
Among its many offerings, the Desert & Fox tent comes in three bright colors namely blue, greenand orange. If you’re fond of backcountry treks, the tent’s colors are a lifesaver in case of any search and rescue missions.
It does not end there as the tent is loaded with functional components, handy accessories, and lots of benefits.
Upon purchase, you’ll get the following items; the inner tent body, a flysheet, two aluminum poles, four reflective wind ropes, thirteen pegs, a carry bag, and a bundle belt.
All that you’ll need to mount or carry the tent is included in the packaging.
A carry bag stores the packed-down tent and the bundle belt helps compress it all into a compact package. You can end up with a small packaging measuring 17 inches long by 6 inches wide with a height of 6 inches, or even less.
The pole buckles on the tent make it possible to quickly align and attach the tent poles to the shelter. Also, the grommets and buckle combo at the corners helps secure the tent structure in place.
The tent also has two-way zippers to allow for quick operations and ease of access.
With a floor space of slightly over 33 square feet, two people using average-sized sleeping pads won’t feel too cramped in this tent. Its peak height of about 43 inches will also be more than enough to move around in the tent.
Weather protection is greatly enhanced by the waterproof inner tent, flooring, and included rainfly. The double-stitching and polyurethane coating on the tent fabrics is also just perfect for the unexpected stormy weather.
The top meshing in the inner tent coupled with the dual entry and rainfly venting also works wonders in reducing condensation buildup and improving airflow.
Worried about privacy? Well, fear not as the Desert & Fox inner tent’s vertical walls are high enough to hide you from prying eyes. The tub-style floor with its taped seams also ensures you stay nice and dry inside the tent.
Other successful attempts at maximizing the tent’s space include: a light hook in the inside of the tent’s roof to hang your headlamp, large interior pockets for your small items, and a small vestibule to keep your boots or pack.
A portable four-season tent with an unbelievably economical price, the Desert & Fox 2-person backpacking tent is all that you need for your camping adventures. It will probably suit you if you’re a weekender camper or are just getting into the backpacking.
The weight may also be a dealbreaker for minimalist or long-distance backpackers.
|Tent Brand||Fabric/Flooring Materials||Pole Materials||Occupants||Weight||Size||Packed Size|
|Zomake Pop Up Tent||190T PU Polyester w/210D Oxford Polyethylene||Fiberglass||2 to 3||5 lbs.||95.0" × 71.0" × 39.0"||⌀ 31"|
|Quechua 2 Seconds Fresh & Black Camping Tent||Polyester w/120g/sqm Polyethylene||Fiberglass||2||7.3 lbs.||83.0" × 49.0" × 39.0"||⌀ 25.6" × 3.5""|
|ABCOSport Cabana Beach Tent||Nylon||Fiberglass||2||3.8 lbs.||88.6" × 47.2" × 37.0"||⌀ 32"|
|Coleman 2-Person Pop-Up Tent||68D 185T Polyester||Fiberglass||2||6.4 lbs.||90.0" × 53.0" × 35.0"||⌀ 30"|
|Peaktop Outdoor Camping Tent||PU 190T Polyester w/PU 210D Oxford||Fiberglass||2 to 3||8.5 lbs.||80.7" × 78.7" × 47"||⌀ 35" × 2.5"|
|Sunnychic Pop Up Tent||68D 185T PU Polyester w/150D Oxford Polyethylene||Fiberglass||2 to 3||6.83 lbs.||102.0" × 62.0" × 43.0"||⌀ 34" × 2.5"|
|Wolf Walker Pop Up Tent||210T Polyester w/Oxford||Fiberglass||2 to 3||7.05 lbs.||106.3" × 67" × 41.3"||⌀ 25.6" × 2.4"|
|Coleman Instant Cabin Tent||150D Polyester w/150D Polyester||Aluminum||4||18.0 lbs.||96" × 84" × 59"||39.5" × 8.3" × 8.3"|
|OT Qomotop Camping Tent||68D Polyester w/125g/sqm Polyethylene||Steel||4||16.75 lbs.||96" × 96" × 59"||43.0" × 8.0" × 8.0"|
|Gazelle T4 Camping Hub Tent||210D Oxford Polyester w/300D Oxford Polyester||Fiberglass||4||30 lbs.||94" × 94" × 78"||67.5"× 8.0" × 8.0"|
⌀ Means the diameter for a circular, folded tent.
As aforementioned, there are a couple of things that you should consider when selecting a backpacking tent for your trip. This may be influenced by factors such as the capacity and livability of the tent, its overall weight and size, the seasonality, and the location of the travel destination among others.
Will you be traveling solo or with your spouse? How many people will be sleeping in the tent? Well, tents are generally marketed as 1-, 2-, 3- or 4-person tents with the number depicting how many sleepers can be accommodated in the shelter.
Backpacking tents are no different; we found the one- and two-person variants to be the sweet spot in terms of weight and performance.
Notably, these away-from-home abodes tend to be very lightweight, of which can often be at the expense of comfort and usable space. The two-person tents are quite common among backpackers as they provide a good balance between interior space and weight.
Given our very differences in body shapes and weights, the indicated tent capacity may not always be the perfect match for your needs. A two-person backpacking tent, for instance, may fit two persons and some camping gear but if you want more comfort, a one-person larger tent is the better choice.
You may also opt for the model or brand that’s a few extra inches longer or wider for more floor space for you and your camping gear.
In summary, a higher tent capacity means more comfort and usable space but a heftier bundle to carry in your pack.
Living tents usually come with expansive interiors loaded with as many creature comforts as you might think of. Backpacking tents, on the other hand, have a much lower threshold to meet in terms of what constitutes a livable space.
Your dream backpacking tent should feel roomy to you and consist of bare minimums such as near-vertical sidewalls, ample headroom, weather protection and so much more. A sure way to test this out is by test-pitching the tent before committing to a purchase.
Here, local brick and mortar shops will come in handy as well as online vendors with friendly return policies.
That said, below are some elements that will greatly impact on the livability of any backpacking tent.
Ideally, you want the floor space to be large enough to accommodate your sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and some camping gear without adding too much weight to your pack. Always look out for the provided length and width measurements to get a rough estimate of the floor size.
The floor area of the tent may be included but is usually not a good metric to gauge the actual floor space. Plus, most manufacturers usually base the floor area off of the dimensions of the unusable, stretched-out corners of the tent at ground level.
Expectedly, the floor dimensions will go up as the tent’s weight goes up, and vice versa.
While most backpacking tents come with rectangular floors, you may want to consider those with tapered floors for their many benefits. Tents with tapered floors tend to be roomy at the shoulders and arms and can be slightly lightweight owing to their narrow foot sections.
The interior height also influences the tent’s livability. The peak height of a tent refers to the height of the tallest point inside the tent. The taller the peak height is, the more comfortable and roomier the interior space is perceived to be.
Your dream backpacking tent should have enough headroom in its interior to allow you to; move around, sit up, and dress up without bumping your head. That said, this measurement should only be used as a comparison to other brands and models since it’s in reference to a single tallest point in the tent.
Upwards of 40 inches for the peak height is acceptable but not always achievable due to various constraints. A backpacking tent with a horizontal spread bar integrated with the pole frame will offer plenty of head and shoulder room.
Tents with tapered designs or those with slanted walls tend to offer little wiggle room for maneuvering within the tent.
Speaking of which, your ideal backpacking tent should have near-vertical walls for the most head and shoulder room. Tents with walls steeply angled towards the ceiling tend to have little usable interior spaces but are mostly very lightweight.
Condensation build-up is a huge concern not only in tents but also in homes. In tents, when warm air comes into contact with the tent’s relatively cooler fabric, condensation is most likely to occur.
Heaters, poor ventilation, body heat, weather conditions, and exhaled water vapor all aid in raising the air temperature and condensation build-up inside a tent. Warm humid days and rainy days also cause the formation of water droplets on the tent’s walls.
To address this issue, a good quality backpacking tent should have multiple windows and doors, mesh panels, adjustable rainfly vents, and double-layered walls. Such features help increase airflow and in effect balance out the temperatures leaving no room for condensation to form.
Double-wall tents consist of a mesh tent and a rainfly. The wall construction performs well at controlling condensation buildup by trapping most of it in between the inside of the fly and outside of the mesh tent.
If you’ll be dealing with cold, dry weather conditions, a single-wall backpacking tent with waterproof and breathable fabrics but no rainfly will be your best pick. Here, condensation can’t build up inside the tent.
You may also want to consider going for backpacking tents with breathable fabrics to better address the condensation problem. Additionally, storm flaps or awnings over the doors and windows allow you to have them open for proper ventilation without exposing the tent’s interior to rainwater.
If your desired tent is small then an included vestibule will greatly help maximize the floor area and usable space. After all, the 1- to 4-person sizing is not a one-size-fits-all grouping. Vestibules are porch-like structures that may be used to store your backpack, wet camping gear, and hiking boots among others.
The “outside” storage space further helps prevent condensation inside the tent by allowing more airflow.
Alike vestibules, interior pockets, gear lofts, and side-wall mounted webbings are nice additions to your backpacking tent for storing and organizing small items. A hanging loop affixed to the tent’s canopy will also come in handy for hanging your headlamp, clothes, or other items.
Also, keep in mind that the best location for the interior pockets is usually near your head to allow for quick accessibility. After all, you’ll be using the tent’s interior storage options to keep small essential items such as headlamps, smartphones, compasses, earplugs, and small electronics among others.
The sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays, strong winds, frost, and inclement weather are just some of the dangers that make sleeping in most tents intolerable. Your tent also degrades a little when exposed to such harsh conditions.
Therefore, when shopping for your next backpacking tent, you’ll want to look for features that directly improve on the tent’s overall weather resistance.
To keep out rainwater and humidity, the tent should at least have a rainfly, waterproofing on the tent’s fabric, and fully-taped seams. Waterproofing coatings on the tent’s fabric like polyurethane will be effective at keeping out moisture from your cozy tent space.
The waterproof or hydrostatic head rating can be a good indicator of how effective your tent will be at keeping water out of the tent. With that in mind, only tents with high-enough hydrostatic head ratings made it on our list of the best backpacking tents.
How much water pressure the tent fabric can resist without seeping in water is what’s referred to as the hydrostatic head rating.
Most tents were reported to have 3000MM+ HH, which is robust-enough to shield you from the high winds and heavy downpour. In some premium tents, you may also get some form of frost-resistant qualities that may be perfect when camping in below-freezing temperatures.
Also, your go-to backpacking tent should have some UV treatment on it for protection from the sun’s harsh UV rays. A sun protection rating is usually provided to indicate this.
When camping in areas with strong winds, you risk your tent being blown away to God knows where thus the more reason to factor in wind-resistance when buying one. The tent poles and frame should be made of strong windproof materials without adding too much extra weight.
The material of the stakes and the length or adjustability of your guylines also play a key role in making the tent wind-responsive and sturdy.
With regards to seasons, all tents bear a season rating that indicates when the tent is most effective to use. The ratings span four main types; summer screens, 2-season, 3-season to bomb-proof 4-season tents.
The two-season backpacking tents are perfect for use between the end of spring and the beginning of fall. Further, the three-season ones can withstand most of the extreme conditions during fall, spring, and summer.
Lastly, the rugged four-season tents are made to withstand the harsh winter conditions including severe snowstorms.
Most backpackers usually go for the 3- or 4-season tents or multiple options to cater to the many season and weather changes. Three-season tents are especially popular for their low weight and versatility as you can use them during summer, spring, and fall.
If you backpack all through the year then investing in multiple tents with varying season ratings would be the way to go. However, for mountaineering and backpacking in winter and colder seasons, a four-seasons backpacking tent is all that you need.
Even though the four-season tents are heavier and bulkier, they offer the best insulation and weather protection in strong winds and snowstorms. They feature fewer mesh panels, plenty of poles, rugged fabrics, and rounded dome form factors (or steeper walls) to deal with snow loads.
Tweener three-four season tents are the most suitable options for the sudden heavy downpour, strong winds, or mild snowfall. They are not as heavy and bulky as the four-season tents and can also be used for dryer and warmer weather conditions without any issue.
For many people, packing all you’ll need for a day or two in the wild is no walk in the park. The space in your pack is not as large as that of a car trunk and if overloaded, your shoulders and back may not be able to bear the load.
Luckily, most backpacking tents are of feathery weights and have configurations that allow for an even lighter load. Depending on where you’re going for the trek and its climes, you can shed off some of the included accessories for a lighter load.
Out of the box, you’ll get your main tent body, rainfly, stakes, poles, stuff sack, groundsheet, guylines, owner’s manual, and other parts. The total weight of all these components is what is referred to as the packaged weight.
Manufacturers also tend to accompany this spec with yet another weight, the minimum trail weight. This weight accounts for the weight of only the bare minimums – the tent body, poles, and rainfly – needed for a few days’ hike.
There should be a substantial difference between these two weights, else it’s just an unnecessary complication unworthy of consideration. On that note, you may find some tents designed with integrated parts, for instance, a tent with a pre-attached rainfly and footprint.
Beyond weight, portability is further enhanced by the tent’s packed size and other movability-focused properties. We found out that tents that can be rolled/folded down into small compact bundles tended to be very easy to move around and store.
Furthermore, an included rugged stuff sack with an adjustable shoulder sling on your favorite backpacking tent allows for easy handling. Compression straps on the carrying bag may also help improve portability.
A small packed size will also be perfect for any backpacker as the tent won’t eat up much of your storage space. However, if you’re backpacking with a friend or spouse then splitting up the tent components can be a good way to reduce its packed size.
Some backpacking tents are also designed to support various minimalist shelter configurations such as tarp shelters, bug shelters, hammock tents, rainfly/footprint only option, and Bivy sacks among others. Such configurations usually take advantage of the double-wall design of the tent i.e. the exterior flysheet and tent body.
With these design styles, you may get some weather protection but usually at the expense of comfort and livability.
To reduce the weight even further, you can get yourself trekking pole tents. They use hiking poles to frame the tent instead of the usual poles. While they may be popular among backpackers, they are not as durable as your typical tent.
The walking poles may bend or break over time and replacing them can be a hassle when you’re hiking in the backcountry or in rural areas.
As earlier implied, the materials making up the tent’s components have a direct effect on the backpacking tent’s durability, weight, and overall performance. In particular, you’ll want to look at the tent’s fabric and pole material.
Lightweight and durability is a rare combination when it comes to backpacking tents. To keep the tents at feathery weights, manufacturers naturally use thinner, less durable materials. So, always keep a close eye on the indicated denier ratings and type of stitching used on the fabric to get a better idea of the tent’s longevity.
While a higher denier rating is most desirable, it would result in a heftier tent. Thus, most backpacking tents will have low denier ratings on the inner tent and slightly higher ratings on the rainfly. Ripstop and Oxford weaves are perfect if you’re looking for a long-lasting backpacking tent.
That said, the tent flooring is where you should not compromise as it’s the most susceptible area to damage and water seepage. Plus, you may want to consider getting a tent with a footprint or buy one separately for extra protection.
A footprint protects the tent flooring against abrasion and rough terrains. However, it may add some extra weight to your pack. It’s also commonplace to find backpacking tents with high-denier bathtub-style or welded tent floors to keep out groundwater and offer some degree of insulation.
Nylon and polyester fabrics are quite common in backpacking tents owing to their feathery weights and affordability. In high-end models, you’ll be lucky to find more rugged, high-denier tents made of Silnylon or even Cuben Fiber.
Additionally, strong tent fabrics should always go with a robust tent frame or tent poles for long-lasting performance and weather protection.
Most good quality backpacking tents will come with DAC aluminum poles while a few may have carbon fiber poles. DAC refers to Dongah Aluminum Corp., which is the leading pole maker in the world. Aluminum is preferred for its high-strength, affordability, low-weight, and flexibility.
Easton and Yunan are also good tent pole brands to consider if your dream backpacking tent doesn’t have the “industry-standard” DAC poles. Try to avoid tents with fiberglass poles as they tend to break easily, instead opt for tents with lightweight alloys as steel poles would be too heavy for backpacking.
You’ll also want to steer clear of any tents that come with separated poles, instead, go for those with pre-attached poles by either a chain link or an elastic shock cord system.
Fundamentally, you want to go for tents with either hubbed pole designs or pre-assembled poles, to save you some time during takedowns and setups. Good quality backpacking tents also come with many stakes (over six) to aid in pegging down the tent at the corners and via guylines.
Backpacking tents with extra stakes are a goldmine for most campers as you can replace any lost, bent, or broken stakes over the life of the tent. That said, aluminum stakes are quite common across many brands but you’ll want to avoid those with hook designs as they tend to bend when hammered.
However, you can always upgrade to sturdier aftermarket options later on.
Y-shaped tent stakes with pre-attached cords will, especially, have better holding power allowing for secure anchorage for your tent. The cords will also make it easier for you to pull out the stakes when taking down the outdoor shelter.
A backpacking tent worth considering should also have plenty of features to facilitate for quicker setups and takedowns.
If the backpacking tent can stand by itself without needing any staking down then it’s said to be freestanding. These types of tents are perfect for when you’re looking for something that can be set up and disassembled quickly and easily.
On the other hand, non-freestanding tents need to be pegged down with stakes and guylines.
Although freestanding tents can be set up on any type of terrain, their biggest drawback is that they require a robust tent frame or pole system. For this reason, they can be much heavier than non-freestanding tents.
Then again, freestanding backpacking tents can be easily moved around without having to be disassembled.
Most of the freestanding tents achieve their form factor by use of either single- or double-hub pole systems. Normally, you’d have the tent poles criss-crossing each other at the canopy and being secured at the pole ends.
However, in a hub system, you have all the poles meeting at a centralized junction.
We found that those with single-hub pole systems allow for a stable, quicker, and tauter setup. Comparingly, tents with double-hub pole systems usually have a spreader bar between the hubs for roomy interior space and near-vertical walls.
In some tents, you’ll get a collapsed frame structure with the poles pre-attached to the hub leaving you with an easy setting process. Just take out the collapsed tent frame, spread out the main tent over or under it, and secure everything in place accordingly.
Tent poles are attached externally to the tent’s main body using either sleeves, clips, or a combo of the two.
Sleeves spread out the tension induced by the poles along a continuous line along the tent’s main body or fly allowing for sturdier shelter. However, they are not very easy to thread the poles through and may add some extra weight to your pack due to the extra fabric.
Tents with clip-only pole attachment points tend to set up tautly and fast as compared to other options. While securing the poles with the clips is fast and easy, being bombarded by numerous similar-looking clips may prove to be overwhelming during initial setups.
Arguably, tents with pole clips offer better ventilation and airflow as compared to those with sleeves. A tent with both attachment systems is more ideal as you get the best of both worlds.
Color coding on the clips, poles, and grommets helps you align everything more easily and faster. You no longer have to fumble over which pole goes where thus resulting in quicker and stress-free pitches.
Other features you may factor in include the number of doors and windows, size of the vestibule (if present), bug repellency, and weather protection properties.
A good quality backpacking tent will include strategically-positioned guy-out points to allow for optimal stability and protection when camping in wet, windy, and/or exposed campsites. A rainfly with a high waterproofing rating is also a must-have for the unexpected downpour.
Mosquitoes and bugs are an unavoidable annoyance when camping outdoors. Thus, a tent with a bug screen meshing should be what to put your money on. Plus, starry nights won’t get past you in a well-meshed backpacking tent regardless of whether a rainfly is present or not.
No-see-um mesh is probably the best bug screen you’ll get in a tent as it is ultralightweight, durable, and will keep out even the tiniest of bugs.
In case of emergencies, you’ll want to remain as visible as possible thus your tent or fly’s color should be very bright and conspicuous. You can’t go wrong with bright red or yellow color instead of the low-visibility green, tan, brown, and camo profiles.
Additionally, light, bright colors let in more light into the tent’s interior making it look brighter and feel roomier.
If you’re sharing the tent with someone else, multiple doors will offer the best experience as you don’t have to climb over your partner or their gear to access the tent’s interior. Two doors and two vestibules will just be perfect for accessibility and improved airflow.
The zippers on the doors should also be snug-free to operate and be accessible from both inside and outside the tent. Dual zippers on the doors and windows are also a much welcome feature for your ideal backpacking tent.
Large D-shaped doors are very popular in backpacking tents as they are very easy to get through. All tents usually come with tie-backs on the doors to allow you to roll the fabric to one side and out of the way.
Other optional features you may want in your dream backpacking tent include a tent divider, an included groundsheet, a pop-up assembly design, and a large rainfly that can double up as a vestibule.
Backpacking tent? Check! Great, now it’s time to catch up with your hiking buddies to hit those less-traveled trails. However, remember to keep your tent in tiptop shape by applying proper tent care and maintenance.
A tent repair kit should always be in your backpack in case of any tears or seam rips on your shelter.