There’s no better way to connect with nature than by camping; and your tent can really make or break your trip. Whether you’re looking for the best winter tent, the best pop-up tent, or anything in between, there will be tons of options available.
We know that really good backpacking tents can be super hard to find and the search can be overwhelming, so we’ve created a comprehensive guide to help you find the best lightweight tent for your travel style.
Our Top Picks: If you are a minimalist and traveling solo then the best 1 person tent is the ALPS Mountaineering Lynx 1P. Backpackers who want a little bit more space or are traveling with a partner should look into the NEMO Dagger 2P as it is the best 2 person tent. The best 4 person tent is the Coleman Sundome 4P and the best family tent is the Coleman Montana 8P.
Comparison Chart of the Best Tents for Backpacking
Below is a list of the best tents for camping. Click on the tent name to read reviews and check prices.
|NEMO Dagger 2P/3P||$$$|
|Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2||$$$|
|MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2P||$$$|
|Marmot Tungsten 2P||$$|
|Mountainsmith Morrison 2P||$$|
|Coleman Sundome 4P||$|
|ALPS Mountaineering Lynx 1P||$|
|Kelty Grand Mesa 2P||$|
|Coleman Montana 8P||$|
What Makes the Best Backpacking Tent For You?
Everyone has different travel needs and there are many good tents on the market, but these are the things you should consider before purchasing your tent…
How many people are you traveling with and how much equipment will you have? If you’re traveling solo and minimalist then any of the best 1-person camping tents should be fine for you. Two-person tents tend to sell the best because they offer more interior space but are still pretty lightweight.
If you have a three or four-person tent and there are three or four campers with their travel backpacks, it will definitely be a bit crowded, but these size tents can be super practical if two or three people want a little extra space.
If you’re traveling with your family or a big group and want everyone in the same space then skip the smaller tents and search for the best family backpacking tents.
2. Design / Features
Some tents are made with convenience and practicality in mind and others are designed to be minimalist. As a general rule of thumb, the more features as tent has, the more it will weigh.
The design of the tent can have a big impact on your experience. For example, some tents have a symmetrical and rectangular floor so everyone can lay parallel with no problem. Other tents are more narrow at the bottom so you’re more likely to end up having to play footsies :)
The shape of the tent will not only impact the foot- and headspace but also the way it performs in the wind. Dome tents are the most common backpacking tents and are best in higher winds.
3. Doors & Vestibules
This is another convenience issue that some people don’t consider. If at least two people are camping, two doors and two vestibules make everything easier so you’re not crawling over the other person or getting things mixed up in the vestibule.
While some people are okay with keeping their travel shoes and backpack outside, others are not, so the size of the vestibules are also important depending on how much gear you’ll be bringing and what you want to store in them.
While the best ultralight camping tents are super easy to travel with, keep in mind that the lighter materials may make it less durable. If you know you’re rough on your camping gear then consider getting a tent that uses thicker materials so it lasts a bit longer for you. It will be a little bit heavier than an ultralight camping tent but at least you won’t have to buy a new tent every so often.
If you know you’re super careful with your gear, then even the lightest weight tents should follow you through countless adventures whether you’re exploring some of the great US national parks or tackling the world’s best hikes.
5. Ease of Setup
Putting a tent together can be confusing, overwhelming, and time consuming depending on the type, so be sure you know what type of tent you’re buying and what the setup is like. Freestanding tents come with a fixed pole system and can usually be set up quickly and easily on a variety of surfaces. Tents that are not freestanding can be lighter because they don’t have a fixed pole system, but because they use trekking poles, stakes, and guy-lines for pitching, the setup can be much more difficult if you don’t know what you’re doing. Also, tents that aren’t freestanding take a bit more space to pitch.
A footprint will protect the floor of your tent so it lasts longer. Although most of the lightweight tents won’t come with a footprint, they are an easy add-on. They’ll add some extra weight to your bag, but in the long run they’re a good investment.
When you go on your camping trip to Big Sur, the last thing you want to happen is rain dripping through your tent and everything getting wet. Quality of materials and waterproofing are big contributors to how well the tent will protect you. Tents with bathtub-type floors have a waterproof lining that prevents water from coming in.
8. Season Rating
The climate and weather where you plan to use your tent depends on what rating you’ll need. Three-season tents are good for the spring, summer, and fall seasons. These are the ones that tend to be the lightest and easiest to pack. They’re the most common for backpacking tents, however they will not work well in winter weather. If you know you’ll be camping somewhere cold and snowstorms are a possibility, you’ll need a winter tent or a four-season tent. The best 4-season backpacking tents are heavier because they’re stronger, and they will stand up to the elements much better than a three-season tent.
The easier it is to pack, the quicker you can get back on the trail. Not only should you consider the size of the tent when packed, but if you buy a freestanding tent, consider the length of the poles as well.
10. Wall Construction
Double-wall tents are the most common backpacking tents. They have an inner layer usually made of mesh and sections of fabric, and the rainfly is the waterproof outer layer. Single-wall tents are lighter because they only have the one waterproof layer, but they are more likely to collect condensation in cooler conditions. Tents with double walls tend to be easier to use and less costly.
Weight is probably the most important thing you need to consider when traveling. If you do a hike like Australia’s Great Ocean Walk then you’ll be carrying your backpack for more than 100 kilometers, and the last thing you want is to be in pain when you’re supposed to be having a blast. The pounds and ounces in your backpack can add up quickly. The more spacious the tent, the heavier it will be, so consider your priorities and what will work best for your trip.
Best Backpacking Tent Reviews
Now that you know what to look for, here are the best backpacking tents you can buy:
NEMO Dagger 2P/3P
With a peak height of 42.2 inches, more space doesn’t mean more weight for the Nemo Dagger 2P/3P tent. With a packed weight of only 3 pounds 12 ounces, this three-season tent is leading the way as the best lightweight backpacking tent. For convenience, the 31.1-square foot floor is symmetrical rather than tapered and there are two large vestibules to store your gear. There are even overhead light pockets, mesh ventilation panels, and a built-in privacy panel. This freestanding, double-door tent is easy to set up and even includes a guy-line, drawstring stuff sack, and a repair kit. For the minimalist backpackers, feel free to set it up with only the fly, footprint, and poles. If you’re looking for the best tent for backpacking, it doesn’t get much better than the NEMO Dagger 2P/3P.
Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2
If you’re looking for maximum durability, the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 highlights the best tents for camping. The proprietary nylon increases fabric tear strength by 25% and it’s 20% stronger than standard materials to guarantee ample durability. Designed with functionality and storage in mind, it comes with media pockets, four interior mesh pockets, and eight loft loops. Also the best waterproof tent on the market, each and every seam is secured with waterproof tape. So if you’re the victim of some bad weather, no worries, this tent will have you well-covered.
MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2P
Known for having the best backpacking tent reviews, the MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2P is continually ranked among the best 2-person camping tents available. The freestanding three-season tent gives you a floor space of 29 square feet, a 39-inch peak height, plus a vestibule area of 17.5 square feet while only weighing 3.8 pounds. Its two doors and nearly vertical walls makes it feel super roomy when you’re sleeping or just hanging out. It also has mesh panels for breathability along with solid panels to keep you warm and protect your privacy. Need the best camping tent for your next adventure? You can’t go wrong with the MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2P.
Marmot Tungsten 2P
When shopping for the best 2-person backpacking tents, make sure you don’t overlook the Marmot Tungsten 2P. It’s among the best-rated tents because it almost perfectly combines space, weight, and price. It’s .38 meters wide, .17 meters high and can be pitched in less than five minutes. It has two doors and two vestibules to keep everything and everyone safe and protected from the elements. And you’ll be happy to know that its polyester rainfly won’t sag when it rains. To get a lot of bang for your buck, the Marmot Tungsten 2P may just be the best backpacking tent for the money, weight, and space on the market.
Mountainsmith Morrison 2P
The quality of Mountainsmith products means that they’re one of the best tent brands available, and the Morrison 2P definitely lives up to the hype. When it comes to the best 2-person tents, this tent has pretty much anything you could ask for. With a peak height of 43 inches, 35 square feet of floor space, and 17 square feet of vestibule space, it’s hard to beat the livability of the Morrison 2P. The three-season freestanding tent offers ventilation windows, reflective guy-lines, and clip-pole attachment for breathability and lighter weight. For convenience, there are interior mesh storage pockets and a removable gear loft. You can get all of that without having to pay an arm and a leg, giving it the honor of the best value backpacking tent for two people.
Coleman Sundome 4P
If you’ve been tirelessly searching through the best 4-person camping tents, your search has come to an end. And not only does it highlight the list of the best 4-person tents, but it’s also known as the best cheap backpacking tent even though it doesn’t sacrifice quality. The dome tent measures 4 feet 11 inches in the center and is 9 feet by 7 feet. Its rainfly awning gives you excellent protection and shade while the windows and ground vent give you ample ventilation. The tent is equipped with storage pockets for your gear as well as rings to hang clothing or even a lantern. The electrical access port feature makes running electricity super simple. The inverted seams and welded floors secure its spot among the best camping tents and are sure to keep you dry throughout your adventures.
ALPS Mountaineering Lynx 1P
The ALPS Mountaineering Lynx 1P is loaded with features that have ranked it among the best 1-person backpacking tents. When you’re in the market for the best 1-person tent it can seem like there are a lot of great options, but everything is just missing one crucial aspect. Well, this tent has it all. The freestanding tent is super easy to set up and comes equipped with a vestibule, storage pockets, and a gear loft. Its 7 feet 6 inches by 2 feet 8 inches, has a center height of 36 inches, and has a minimum weight of 3 pounds 8 ounces, so some argue that it’s also the best ultralight tent on the market considering all that comes with it.
Kelty Grand Mesa 2P
The list of good camping tents isn’t complete without the Kelty Grand Mesa 2P. With a minimum weight of 4 pounds 1 ounce, it’s among the best backpacking tents because of its packability and compact folding poles. For livability, you’ll have 30 square feet of floor space, 43 inches in height, as well as a 6-foot vestibule area. The setup is made stress-free by the color-coded clip construction, thank goodness :) This three-season tent is ideal if you want a premium tent without a premium cost. For the best lightweight camping tent, be sure to check out the Kelty Grand Mesa 2P.
Coleman Montana 8P
The Coleman Montana 8P stands proudly as the best family camping tent. This list of reasons why it’s the best family tent is endless, so we’ll just mention the highlights. Measuring 16 feet by 7 feet and boasting a center height of 6 feet 2 inches, there’s more than enough room for everyone in the group to be comfortable. It has excellent breathability with a mesh ceiling and three windows, but its inverted seams and patented corner welds will keep you dry in the event of rain. The fly awning stretches past the door to give you a porch-type area where you can hang out with your family or store your shoes to keep them dry. You’ll have an electrical port, so it’s no problem if you want to bring lights or a TV in the tent. When you’re traveling with a group, there’s no question that the Coleman Montana 8P is the best tent for camping.
This newly updated tent has quickly become a best-seller as it’s been named the best tent for backpacking lightweight. 7 ounces lighter than the previous model, its minimum weight of only 2 pounds 10 ounces guarantees its spot among the best tents for backpacking. This tent is made of high-quality materials and you can be sure you’ll get your money’s worth. The mesh and rainfly are both 20 deniers while the tent floor and footprint are 40 deniers. It has 5,000 mm silicon/PU waterproofing and the poles are made from a 7000-series aluminum alloy. The rectangular floor stretches 85 inches by 53 inches and has a height of 3 feet. The perfect companion for all of your outdoor adventures, the Bryce 2P can’t be beat as the best ultralight backpacking tent.
Now that you’re privy to the best camping tents available, you can be sure your next camping trip will be both exciting and comfortable.
Tiffany Bolgert says
I definitely think the Bryce 2P should be higher on the list… It does everything you’d need a tent to do while being a lot lighter and more portable than most other tents. And believe me, reducing your pack weight by even a little bit matters a lot when you’re hiking for hours.