Best Backpacking Tents
Learn about our top picks for backpacking tents - 3 season, winter, budget, ultralight and more!
The backpacking tent. Your cozy wilderness haven, shelter from inclement weather, and constant companion for any adventure into the backcountry. With so many vital roles, it’s no surprise that most backpackers take tremendous pride in their tents, and you should too! Your tent is the cornerstone of all your amazing backpacking trips, but choosing the right one can be a daunting task.
There are near-infinite types and sizes of tents on the market, so how are you supposed to find the best backpacking tent for your needs? Well, we’re here to help! We’ve sifted through the options, jumped into the research, and emerged with the 7 best backpacking tents on the market. Read on to learn about the top tent buying considerations and review this year’s top backpacking tent options.
QUICK LIST OF RECOMMENDATIONS
Best Overall Backpacking Tent – Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 Tent
Best 2-Person Backpacking Tent – REI Co-op Half Dome SL2+
Most Durable Backpacking Tent – MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2
Best Lightweight Backpacking Tent – Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL Solution-Dyed
Best 4-Season/Winter Backpacking Tent– MSR Access 1
Best Budget Backpacking Tent – The North Face Stormbreak 2
Honorable Mention – Sea to Summit Telos TR2
Finding the best backpacking tent takes a little work. There are several points to consider as you decide, but don’t let that stop you! We’ve already picked out the most important considerations; let’s look at each one below and see how it influences your tent choice.
Let’s start with every backpacker’s biggest concern, managing pack weight. A successful backpacking trip takes plenty of gear, and your tent can be a significant source of weight that you’ll need to carry. However, cutting weight from your tent comes with some tradeoffs.
While an ultralight tent will be easier to carry and let you move faster, it trims space, features, and often durability to make that happen. Conversely, heavier tents often offer more room and features – such as more pockets, doors, and storage space – at the cost of carrying more weight. Therefore, carefully consider your priorities and how important minimizing pack weight is to you.
If weight is your top concern, our best recommendation is the Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL.
There’s nothing quite as disappointing as a backpacking tent with a torn seam mid-trip, or a broken zipper, or a snapped pole. These little mishaps have the potential to seriously hinder your trip, but a durable tent will keep you safe and snug season after season.
Durable tents often utilize thicker tent material (measured in Deniers), stronger poles, and more robust weatherproofing. However, these robust features often add weight and cost to a tent but may well be worth it if you’re planning on frequent backpacking.
If durability is your top concern, our best recommendation is the MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2.
We all love having space to sprawl out in after a long day on the trail, but is it worth carrying a heavier tent that offers extra interior space? Consider how important that extra space is to you, and if you want all your gear and backpack inside the tent with you or covered by a rainfly vestibule.
Also, think about investing in extra space if you plan on camping with a furry friend or if you simply require more space to sleep comfortably. Along these same lines, always look at the exact dimensions regardless of a tent’s marketed 1 or 2-person capacity. Not all 2-person tents are the same size, and a little extra wiggle room can be very beneficial after a few days on the trail.
The interior dimensions are listed in inches as Length x Width x Height for the best backpacking tents detailed below.
Backpacking gear can be expensive. Therefore, it’s no wonder that cost may be uppermost in your mind when searching for the best backpacking tent. This is especially true if you’re starting to backpack for the first time or go out on camping trips very infrequently. In these cases, a lower-cost tent is an excellent choice, but be aware that you sacrifice quality and weight for a low-cost tent.
If finding a budget-friendly backpacking tent is your top priority, our best recommendation is The North Face Stormbreak 2.
3-SEASON OR 4-SEASON Tents
Most backpacking tents are 3-season – designed for summer backpacking trips and mild spring or autumn weather. But if you plan on winter trips, then a 4-season tent is your best choice as it retains warmth and resists snow.
The vast majority of backpackers only need a 3-season tent to cover the best hiking seasons for most areas. However, if you have winter adventuring in your plans, our best recommendation is the 4-season MSR Access.
Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 Tent
#1 Overall tent for Balancing weight, Ease of Use, and Spaciousness
SEASONS: 3- Season
CAPACITY: 2- person tent (3P also available)
DIMENSIONS (L x W x H): 88 x 52/42 (head/foot) x 40 inches
PACKED WEIGHT: 3lb 2oz
PACKED SIZE: 19.5 x 6.0 inches
PROS: Reasonably lightweight – Spacious interior – Easy setup – Well ventilated
CONS: Less durable than other options – Expensive
CLOSE LOOK: Big Agnes took several of our most important backpacking tent considerations and combined them into a single unit – the Copper Spur. This tent strikes an excellent balance between spaciousness, low weight, and easy setup to make it one of the best backpacking tents available. Be aware, however, that the Copper Spur somewhat lags behind the competition in robustness.
REI Co-op Half Dome SL 2+ Tent
Best 2-person backpacking tent
CAPACITY: 2-person tent
DIMENSIONS (L x W x H): 90 x 54 x 42 inches
PACKED WEIGHT: 4lb 11.5oz
PACKED SIZE: 7 x 20.5 inches
PROS: Very spacious with extra room for gear or a furry friend –Plenty of pockets – Good headroom – Lighter than REI’s standard Half Dome 2+ – Durable construction
CONS: On the heavy side – Tends to catch the wind very easily
CLOSE LOOK: REI has been refining and perfecting their Half Dome tent collection for years, and they didn’t disappoint with this latest iteration. The Half Dome 2 SL+ (where SL stands for Superlight) has trimmed noticeable weight from its predecessors but still boasts one of the roomiest and most comfortable tent interiors on the market. Furthermore, this tent is very durable and built to stay with you season after season.
MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2
MOST durable backpacking tent
CAPACITY: 2-person tent (also available in 1-person)
DIMENSIONS (L x W x H): 84 x 50 x 39 inches
PACKED WEIGHT: 3lb 14oz
PACKED SIZE: 18 x 6 inches
PROS: Very rugged and tough pole design – Effective weatherproofing system – Easy to set up – Two doors for easy access
CONS: On the expensive side – Less headroom than other options
CLOSER LOOK: The Hubba Hubba is a tank of a tent. MSR’s Xtreme Shield™ coating is reputedly three times as long-lasting as other waterproof treatments, while the composite poles are durable and can take years’ worth of camping abuse. All these robust features do add weight to this tent, and it’s not an ultralight option by any means. Nevertheless, dependable durability can easily be worth its weight, making the MSR Hubba Hubba one of the best backpacking tents available.
BIG AGNES TIGER WALL UL Solution-Dyed
Best LIGHTweight backpacking tent
CAPACITY: 1-person tent (2-person tent also available)
DIMENSIONS (L x W x H): 86 x 38/28 (head/foot) x 39 inches
PACKED WEIGHT: 2lb 2oz (minimum trail weight of 1lb 14oz)
PACKED SIZE: 17 x 5.5 inches
PROS: Lightweight – Good vestibule space for gear storage – Straightforward setup – Good ventilation
CONS: Semi-freestanding design – Tight quarters
CLOSE LOOK: For moving fast and light, you can’t go wrong with the Tiger Wall UL (ultralight). By paring down stakes and a footprint, you can bring the weight down to only 1lb 14oz; that’s an impressively light shelter that still offers excellent durability and protection from the elements. The rainfly vestibule also provides a little extra space for your pack – which likely won’t fit inside the tent with you. So when you have many miles ahead of you and minimizing your pack weight is a top priority, the Tiger Wall UL can be the best backpacking tent for the job.
MSR Access 1P Tent
Best 4-season and WINTEr BACKPACKING tent
CAPACITY: 1-person tent
DIMENSIONS (L x W x H): 84 x 33 x 41 inches
PACKED WEIGHT: 3lb 8z
PACKED SIZE: 18 x 6 inches
PROS: Retains warmth – Robust frame – Easy setup for 4-season tent – Reasonable Weight
CONS: Not suitable for pure mountaineering – Not as sturdy as other 4-season tents
CLOSE LOOK: Not ready to let some cold and snow hold you back? If that’s you, then take a good look at the MSR Access 1. This tent is specially designed to handle snow and cold within the treeline; winter hiking, snowshoeing, and backcountry skiing are all within easy reach with this tent. While not quite robust enough for mountaineering, the MSR Access 1 still shines in its own wooded arena and is one of the best backpacking tents for winter.
the North Face Stormbreak 2
Best budget backpacking tent
CAPACITY: 2-person tent
DIMENSIONS (L x W x H): 87 x 50 x 43 inches
PACKED WEIGHT: 5lb 14.2oz
PACKED SIZE: 22 x 7 inches
PROS: Very budget-friendly – Plenty of headroom – Two doors
CONS: Heavy – Lower Durability and Quality
CLOSE LOOK: If you’re just beginning to dip a toe into backpacking or looking for a basic tent for infrequent trips, then the Stormbreak 2 is a fantastic option. It’s basic, with minimal features and functional but heavy materials, but it gets the job done for a very accessible price. Don’t expect it to last as long as higher-quality tents, but the Stormbreak 2 is certainly one of the best backpacking tents as an entry-level option.
Sea to summit telos tr2
CAPACITY: 2-person tent
DIMENSIONS (L x W x H): 84.5 x 53/43 (head/foot) x 43.5 inches
PACKED WEIGHT: 3lb 10.7oz
PACKED SIZE: 18.9 x 5.1 inches
PROS: Fresh design geometry to maximize door size and interior space – Reasonable weight for a 2-person tent – Well planned and robust design
CONS: Expensive – Brand new design untried for the longterm – Thin floor material
CLOSE LOOK: Sea to Summit entered the world of backpacking tents in 2021 with their impressive Telos TR2, and they’ve already carved out a name for themselves with this tent’s unique geometry. The upward-curving poles on the tent’s side provide noticeably more headroom along with larger doors, making it a spacious option that still maintains a reasonable packaged weight. Adjustable ventilation and rainfly coverage (for stargazing) also add to this tent’s appeal. However, as a shiny new tent from a brand just entering the market, we’ll have to wait and see how the Telos and future Sea to Summit tents hold up in the long term.
More Information About Backpacking Tents
PACKED WEIGHT VS. MINIMUM TRAIL WEIGHT
While looking for a backpacking tent, you’ll observe different weight categories – packed weight and minimum trail weight. Regrettably, there is no mandatory or even accepted standard for determining tent weights across the outdoor industry, but let’s dive in and figure out exactly what the different numbers mean so you can decide which is your top backpacking tent choice.
Packed weight – Officially called the “Packaged Weight,” this number denotes the total weight of all components of the tent in addition to all accessories that come “out of the box” when it’s purchased. We changed this term in our Gear Guide to be “Packed Weight” because it is the most accurate spec to estimate what your tent will weigh when it’s packed in your backpack.
Minimum trail weight – This spec is the most variable because – again – there is no standard for measuring the weight of a tent. Manufacturers calculate Minimum Trail Weight differently. For the most part, this calculation includes only what’s needed to keep you dry. It always includes the tent body, the rainfly, and the poles. Often this is all it includes. Items such as tent stakes, guy lines, and the footprint are normally not included.
Doors and vestibules
While easy to overlook in your search for the best backpacking tent, don’t forget to consider these two critical points! It may be tempting to opt for a 2-person tent with a single door because of its alluring low weight, but don’t underestimate the hassle of crawling over your hiking buddy to enter and exit the tent. So decide what your priorities are before rushing into a purchase.
Additionally, vestibules – ground space that’s covered by your rainfly but not located inside the tent body – are a crucial feature to consider. This protected space is ideal for storing backpacks overnight or simply for lacing up your hiking boots if you wake up to a morning rain shower. However, the extra rainfly material required to create large vestibules also adds weight to your tent, so again, consider your priorities.
What is a footprint and is it necessary?
A footprint is a lightweight tarp (similar fabric to the rainfly) of the exact size as the floor of your tent. Footprints help protect the floor, extending the life of your tent. All of the backpacking tents we recommend either come with footprints or have matching footprints available to purchase.
Footprints are not necessary, and in fact, many backpackers do not use them. On most Wildland Trekking backpacking trips, we do not use them. Similar to the weight vs. durability question above, footprints offer greater durability but at the cost of increased weight and expense.
Freestanding vs. Semi-Freestanding Tents
You’ll often see most backpacking tents classified as either freestanding or semi-freestanding. The benefits and drawbacks to these two designs are very much a matter of personal preference, but let’s take a look at what these designs entail to help you make the best decision.
Freestanding – These tents feature a strong pole system that allows the tent to be completely set up without any stakes whatsoever. This design typically provides a little extra flexibility when you’re setting up your tent on different terrain types, especially hard surfaces where staking is very difficult.
Semi-Freestanding – This type of tent requires stakes and guy lines in addition to the tent poles for the tent to be set up. Many ultralight tents opt for this design as reducing the number of poles can also reduce the tent’s overall weight.
Why Trust Us?
Choosing the right outdoor gear and apparel can be difficult. But at Wildland Trekking, we live and work with hiking gear every single day. It’s an integral part of what we do, and we understand better than anyone how important it is to have the right equipment. In addition to our vast knowledge of backpacking gear, we also offer:
- Independence – our recommendations are not influenced by partnerships or sponsorships with outdoor gear and apparel manufacturers.
- Experience – as one of America’s top guide companies, we take 8,000-10,000 people on hiking and backpacking tours annually. Since our inception in 2005, we have guided more than 75,000 people into the wilderness.
- Cutting Edge Knowledge – we regularly attend trade shows and pay close attention to the leading edge of new developments.
- Up To Date Recommendations – we update our recommendations regularly as new products are developed and released.
- Dedication to our Readers – we know that the gear we select as our top picks will end up in the field with our readers, and we take that responsibility very seriously. We view our readers as guests on our guided trips, just without the guides. We are committed to helping you be as well-outfitted and prepared as possible for your adventures.
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MORE GEAR RECOMMENDATIONS
Check out our Wildland Gear Guide for more recommendations about hiking, trekking, camping and outdoor gear. We are always adding new products to help our guests and readers make the best choices to outfit their adventures.