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10 Best Backpacking Tents of 2024

best travel tent for backpacking

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The NEMO Hornet OSMO 2 and Big Agnes Tiger Wall 2 backpacking tents pitched in a campsite surrounded by granite peaks in the Sawtooth Mountains

Your backpacking tent will be one of the most important gear purchases you make. Finding one that has the best balance of weight, interior space, convenience, and weather protection will make it much easier to stay happy and comfortable on trail.

Our team of gear experts has spent over a decade testing more than 50 backpacking tents – from budget beasts to minimal ultralight shelters. We’ve hiked upward of 20,000 miles on trails all over the world, including treks through the alpine peaks of Patagonia, summer monsoons in the Rockies, and sweltering days in the desert, with more than 1000 nights in the wilderness. We’ll use our experience in this guide to help you find the best backpacking tent for you.

Though a regular backpacking tent will suit most people, anyone planning a long-distance adventure should definitely check out our guide to the best ultralight tents available. On the other hand, if cost is your primary consideration, we’ve caught some Zs in plenty of budget tents as well as larger camping tents for weekends away with the family.

Quick Picks for Backpacking Tents

Check out this quick list of the best backpacking tents, or continue scrolling to see our full list of favorites with in-depth reviews.

Best Backpacking Tent Overall: Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 ($530)

Best Ultralight Backpacking Tent: Zpacks Duplex ($669)

Best Budget Tent for Backpacking & Car Camping: REI Half Dome SL 2+ ($349)

Best Semi-Freestanding Backpacking Tent: Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2 Solution Dye ($450)

Best Lightweight & Sturdy Tent for Harsh Conditions: SlingFin Portal ($560)

Spacious Tent with Innovative Features: Sea to Summit Telos TR2 ($599)

Great Option for UL Hikers Wanting More Space: NEMO Hornet OSMO 3 ($550)

Most Affordable Backpacking & Car Camping Tent: REI Trailmade 2 ($199)

We’ve updated all of our reviews with more long-term testing results after several hundred more miles of experience with each tent over the past year.

  • The Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 remains the best overall pick for over five years running.
  • We still highly recommend the classic Zpacks Duplex , but we also had a chance to test out and review its sibling, the Zpacks Duplex Zip .
  • The REI Half Dome SL2+ remains one of the best deals for a backpacking/car camping hybrid tent.
  • The Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2 Solution Dye continues to be our favorite semi-freestanding backpacking tent.

best travel tent for backpacking

  • Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2

Best Backpacking Tent Overall

Price: $530

Weight: 3 lb. 2 oz.

Dimensions (LxWxH): 88 x 52/42 x 40 in.

Size: 1-Person , 2-Person , 3-Person , 4-Person

Type: Freestanding

  • Ultralight for a freestanding tent
  • Quick and easy to set up
  • Ample headroom
  • Very useful pocket layout
  • Large doors/vestibules
  • Quality construction/materials
  • Rainfly zippers can snag

The Copper Spur HV UL2 is one of our all-time favorite backpacking tents – the CleverHiker team has spent hundreds of backcountry nights in this shelter. Its ultralight freestanding design enables hikers to pitch it almost anywhere, and it doesn’t sacrifice convenience, weather protection, or livability.

The Copper Spur is a popular choice among thru-hikers of the AT , PCT , and CDT , all of which are notoriously tough on gear. Despite the ultralight materials used in the construction of this tent, it can last for thousands of miles if you take the time to clear pokey debris from your campsites. We’ve taken several iterations of the Copper Spur 2 over a thousand miles each on trail, and they’re still going strong.

The bent-pole structure and ridge pole of the Copper Spur create nearly vertical sidewalls – maximizing interior volume and providing ample headroom. The UL2 has enough space inside for two regular-width sleeping pads and some gear. You can even squeeze a tapered wide pad plus a regular pad inside but you’ll likely need to store gear outside in that case. 

If you and your hiking partner both use wide pads (or you just prefer extra space), you’ll want to bump up to the Copper Spur HV UL3 . Pretty unique in the backpacking tent category, the Copper Spur 2 and 3 are also offered in Long versions. The Copper Spur Long gives you a whopping 96 inches of floor length, so it’s a lot more comfortable for hikers over six feet tall who prefer to store all their gear inside. Whichever size you go with , you’ll have a backpacking tent that provides an exceptional balance of camp comfort and low packed weight.

Full Review: Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2

best travel tent for backpacking

  • Zpacks Duplex

Best Ultralight Backpacking Tent

Price: $699

Weight: 1 lb. 1.9 oz. (no stakes or poles)

Dimensions (LxWxH): 90 x 45 x 48 in.

Size: 1-Person , 2-Person , 3-Person

Type: Non-freestanding

  • Very durable for the weight
  • DCF material won’t sag when wet
  • Trekking poles can double as tent poles
  • Needs condensation management
  • Non-freestanding design has a learning curve

The Zpacks Duplex is our go-to ultralight backpacking tent for thru-hiking and long-distance adventures. This tent provides an excellent amount of interior space and weather protection at a low weight.

The Dyneema Composite Fabric (DCF) is a big part of what makes the Duplex such a great choice for thru-hikes. It’s waterproof, tough, incredibly light, and doesn’t sag when wet; the downside is that it’s very expensive. That said, the Duplex is a very worthwhile investment if you love to backpack light since it can last for several seasons if you treat it with care. 

The other key to the ridiculously low weight of the Duplex is its non-freestanding, single-wall design. This eliminates the need for dedicated tent poles (you use your trekking poles to create the structure) and a rainfly. It may take a few pitches to get it perfect if you’ve never used a backpacking tent like this before, but you’ll quickly get the hang of it with a little practice. Condensation can also be a bigger issue in single-wall tents because there isn’t a mesh layer to keep the interior separate from the flysheet, so ventilation and campsite selection become a lot more important.

The high ceiling of the Duplex allows you and your hiking partner to sit up comfortably at the same time, and the two-door design will keep you from crawling over each other to get in and out. If you’re looking for the best ultralight backpacking tent on the market, this is your guy.

The Duplex is spacious enough for two hikers, and it’s an absolute palace for one. But pairs of hikers who really like to spread out should look at the Triplex for even more square footage with a negligible amount of added weight. CleverHiker Founder, Dave Collins, has used both extensively, and the Plex tents are his absolute favorites for big mileage trips and hikes with a ton of elevation gain. For ultralight solo trips he packs the Duplex, but when he needs more space to share with a tentmate – like on his JMT thru-hike – he brings the Triplex. On the flip side, solo hikers who prioritize saving weight above anything can’t go wrong with the Plex Solo .

Full Reviews:   Zpacks Duplex , Zpacks Duplex Zip , Zpacks Triplex , and Zpacks Plex Solo

best travel tent for backpacking

  • REI Half Dome SL 2+

Best Budget Tent for Backpacking & Car Camping

Price: $349

Weight: 4 lb. 11.5 oz. (including footprint)

Dimensions (LxWxH): 90 x 56 x 42 in.

Size: 2-Person , 3-Person

  • Less expensive
  • Very roomy interior
  • More durable than many others
  • Freestanding design is quick/easy to set up
  • Footprint included
  • Heavier than some
  • Bulkier than some

REI’s Half Dome SL 2+ has an unrivaled blend of affordability, durability, and interior space. Its symmetrical freestanding design and very roomy dimensions make it comfortable and user-friendly for hikers of all experience levels. This is our favorite budget-friendly crossover tent for those who want a single shelter that works for camping in the frontcountry and the backcountry.

The spacious interior comfortably fits two hikers plus their gear – you could pack along two wide/long sleeping pads and still have room to spare. The generous amount of headroom also allows two campers to sit up comfortably which is a real perk on rainy days spent inside. While this isn’t the most glamorous camping tent nor the lightest backpacking tent, the Half Dome suits both needs well and costs far less money and storage space than buying a separate tent for each activity.

Though the weight of the Half Dome is more than we prefer for multi-day backpacking adventures, it’s not too bad when split between two hikers. In addition, you can save about 8 ounces by leaving the included footprint at home. Footprints aren’t strictly necessary and we often choose to hike without one. Just taking time to clear your campsite of debris before setting up will go a long way toward preserving your tent floor (but we wrote a whole post that’ll help you decide whether or not you should use a footprint ). Plus the Half Dome already has a pretty robust floor as it is (40-denier nylon).

The NEMO Dagger 2 below is in this same crossover category, and – if money was no object – we’d recommend the Dagger over the Half Dome for its lower weight and larger amount of headroom. But budget is a top consideration for many of us when buying big-ticket outdoor gear, and the much friendlier price point of the Half Dome SL 2+ gets you a very comparable tent that won’t disappoint.

Full Review: Half Dome SL 2+

Stock photo of the Tiger Wall 2 with a white background

Big Agnes Tiger Wall 2

Best Semi-Freestanding Tent

Price: $450

Weight: 2 lb. 8 oz.

Dimensions (LxWxH): 86 x 52/42 x 39 in.

Type: Semi-freestanding

  • Roomy for one
  • Two doors/vestibules (a perk for solo hikers)
  • A bit tight for two
  • Not as durable as some (floor material is thin)
  • No rainfly vents

Solo backpackers who want some space to sprawl and ounce-counting pairs of hikers will love the ultralight design of the Big Agnes Tiger Wall 2 . With enough structure to perform well in inclement weather but a weight that’s barely over a pound per person when split between two hikers, the semi-freestanding Tiger Wall is a more convenient alternative to non-freestanding ultralight tents.

The Tiger Wall 2 and Tiger Wall 3 are top picks for CleverHiker Managing Editor, Ben Applebaum-Bauch. He’s used the 2-person version on over 1,000 miles of trail – including the Oregon Coast Trail and Superior Hiking Trail – and the 3-person version for his 3,000-mile CDT thru-hike with his partner. Both sizes of the Tiger Wall held up beautifully on trail, and only have minor signs of wear and tear to show for all the hard miles put on them – very impressive for such lightweight shelters.

Semi-freestanding tents can often feel a bit cramped, but – while the quarters in the Tiger Wall 2 are still a bit tight for two – this tent has a wider ridge pole than most others in this category. The ridge pole creates more livable space where we want it most – at the head when sitting up. Additionally, you can save valuable floor space by storing gear in the large mezzanine pocket at the foot of the tent. 

Another comfort feature of the Tiger Wall is the easy-to-use door toggles that give you the ability to roll back both sides of the vestibule to take in grand views or max out ventilation on clear nights. Since the Tiger Wall doesn’t have vents on the rainfly like many other tents, we prefer to sleep with one or both doors rolled back whenever possible for airflow.

Out of the three semi-freestanding tents on our list, this is the one we’d recommend most for pairs of hikers looking to balance weight and space most efficiently. Overall, hikers who prioritize saving weight and don’t mind sharing a tighter space will love the minimal yet functional design of the Tiger Wall 2. If you prefer more room to spread out, the excellent Tiger Wall 3 has extra floor space and a few more inches of peak height but is still lighter than many 2P tents.

Full Review: Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2

best travel tent for backpacking

  • SlingFin Portal

Best Lightweight & Sturdy Tent for Harsh Conditions

Price: $560

Weight: 3 lb. 5 oz.

Dimensions (LxWxH): 85 x 51/42 x 44 in.

  • Excellent weather protection
  • Lightweight
  • Roomy interior
  • Useful pockets

With an extra stable frame, generous headroom, and top-quality construction and materials, the SlingFin Portal is an excellent lightweight shelter for hunkering down when nasty weather hits. 

The Portal can be set up with internal guylines that run along the interior walls at the head and foot to give the structure significantly more strength in wind than external guylines alone. In the most basic terms, the internal guylines take the stress imposed on the structure by wind and transfer it to the stakes where your tent is anchored to the ground. This keeps the tent from bending and contorting in the wind like most other lightweight backpacking tents would. Comfort is increased as a result, but it also bumps safety up several notches since your poles will have a far lower chance of snapping in strong gusts.

Thicker poles, internal guylines, and the ability to attach trekking poles for added structural integrity make the Portal super solid in wind, rain, and even light snow. These features are unique for a lightweight backpacking tent and are generally more common in high-end 4-season mountaineering shelters . Many hikers would probably be better off buying the versatile Portal rather than a dedicated winter tent that’s heavier and less practical for summer and shoulder season hiking.

One of our favorite features of the Portal is its generous headroom, which makes it feel much more livable than the average lightweight 2-person backpacking tent. While we wish there was a smidge more floor space from head to foot on this tent, the solid amount of breathing room up top keeps the Portal from feeling cramped.

Other details like great pockets and included replacement zipper sliders come together with the stormworthy design to make the Portal one of the best backpacking tents we’ve ever tested for staying comfortable and safe in harsh weather.

Full Review: SlingFin Portal

best travel tent for backpacking

  • NEMO Hornet OSMO 3

Great Option for UL Hikers Wanting More Space

Price: $550

Dimensions (LxWxH): 88 x 68/62 x 44 in.

  • Ultralight for the size
  • Well-priced for the specs
  • Roomy for two
  • Convenient pockets
  • High-quality materials/construction
  • Good ventilation
  • Innovative stuff sack makes it easy to split the load
  • Only one side of the rainfly can be tied back

Ultralight doesn’t have to mean sacrificing comfort. With the NEMO Hornet OSMO 3 , a pair of hikers can have the conveniences of a traditional 2-person tent – two doors/vestibules, a roomy interior, and useful pockets – without the additional weight. As an added bonus, this spacious shelter costs around the same amount of money as many of the leading 2-person backpacking tents.

You might want extra space for a variety of reasons – maybe you want to fit two wide sleeping pads with room to spare, or you travel with a large dog or an adventurous kid, or you just want a little more breathing room when sharing your tent with a partner. Whatever the case may be, the generous floor dimensions and peak height of the Hornet 3 will accommodate.

NEMO’s proprietary OSMO fabric repels water better than standard nylon or polyester flysheets, and – best of all – it stretches far less when wet. This means your pitch stays taut in the rain, and you won’t have to worry about saggy rainfly material creating wet spots on the tent body, your sleeping bag footbox, or your head.

We’ve always been big fans of NEMO’s attention to detail, high-quality construction, and innovative designs, and the Hornet OSMO 3 doesn’t disappoint. For those who prioritize saving weight over having extra space, the NEMO Hornet OSMO 2 is also a great choice and is a bit more affordable than similarly designed tents.

Full Review: NEMO Hornet OSMO 2

best travel tent for backpacking

  • Sea to Summit Telos TR2

Exceptionally Spacious Backpacking Tent with Innovative Features

Price: $599

Weight: 3 lb. 10 oz.

Dimensions (LxWxH): 84.5 x 53 x 43 in.

  • Excellent headroom
  • Quick/easy to set up
  • Very light for the amount of space
  • More comfortable living space than others
  • Excellent ventilation
  • A bit heavier than some in this price range

The Sea to Summit Telos TR2 is an innovative tent with a lot of unique features to love. The biggest standout is its pole structure which provides far more headroom than any 2-person backpacking tent in its weight class.

The inverted ridge pole of the Telos points upward instead of sloping downward like most others. This creates tall door openings and practically vertical sidewalls that translate to a massive amount of headroom throughout the length of the tent. We find that having ample headroom inside a tent considerably increases comfort, and the Telos is certainly best-in-class for this spec.

CleverHiker Senior Gear Analyst, Casey Handley, took the Telos on a rainy test hike over the 40-mile Timberline Trail with her partner. This spacious tent provided a cozy retreat for the pair to wait out inclement weather when the rain really started coming down. There was plenty of room to keep gear dry inside as well as enjoy a game of cards until the weather quieted down.

The Telos also has exceptional ventilation – it features a huge apex vent that can be opened or closed plus low venting on the vestibules that can be deployed when necessary. We find that the vents create truly excellent circulation and provide comfortable and practically condensation-free nights. Other creature comforts, like the light-dispersing Lightbar and shady Hangout Mode, add to its livability and make the Telos feel like a little slice of luxury in the backcountry. 

Though it’s pretty spendy, the comfort the Telos provides is worth the cost if you’re looking for a versatile 2-person backpacking tent with all of the details dialed in. There’s really nothing else on the market like this tent, and we recommend it to hikers whose main priority is comfort on trail.

Full Review: Sea to Summit Telos TR2

best travel tent for backpacking

  • NEMO Dagger OSMO 2

Best Crossover Tent for Backpacking & Car Camping

Weight: 4 lb. 2 oz.

Dimensions (LxWxH): 90 x 50 x 42 in.

  • Very spacious
  • Light for how much space it offers
  • Great pockets
  • On the heavy side

The NEMO Dagger OSMO 2 offers a ton of interior space at a reasonable weight, so it’s perfect for those wanting a tent that’s comfortable for both backpacking and car camping.

When split between two hikers, each will carry just over two pounds. While that’s not as impressive as some others at first glance, it’s actually very respectable when you consider the whole picture. The Dagger offers significantly more interior space than much of the lighter weight competition thanks to its long, rectangular floor and nearly vertical side walls. 

Since the Dagger has enough floor space for two wide/long pads and plenty of interior volume to comfortably hang out inside, it works quite nicely for car camping as well. Crossover tents like this one will save the user storage space at home and a ton of money over buying a dedicated tent for each activity.

The Dagger has many convenient features built in, like two huge, trapezoidal vestibules for gear storage, light-dispersing headlamp pockets, and an included tub accessory for the vestibule that keeps your gear clean and dry. The innovative OSMO fabric also doesn’t sag when wet (unlike Silnylon), and it remains waterproof for longer than the coated fabrics used for many other tents.

Though the Dagger is among the more expensive tents on our list, its ability to pull double-duty as a luxurious backpacking tent or a comfortable car-camping tent makes it a versatile option that’s worth the high price tag. Those looking for lightweight livability in a convenient design will find that the NEMO Dagger OSMO 2 is among the best of the best.

Full Review: NEMO Dagger OSMO 2

best travel tent for backpacking

  • MSR FreeLite 2

Good Balance of Weight & Livability for Solo Hikers

Weight: 2 lb. 5 oz.

Dimensions (LxWxH): 84 x 50 x 39 in.

  • Rainfly gutter prevents drippy entry
  • Tight for two

The MSR FreeLite 2 is a great option for those looking to go lighter without sacrificing the convenience of a double-wall tent. It has two large doors/vestibules, a smart rainfly design that prevents drippy entry in the rain, and a lower weight than many similarly designed tents.

We view the FreeLite as more comfortable for solo hikers since the interior headroom can feel a little cramped when spending any extended amount of time inside. But for pairs that value saving weight over having more interior space, the FreeLite has the dimensions to accommodate two people.

The rainbow shape of the FreeLite is effective at shedding precipitation, and the unique rainfly gutters direct water away from the zippered entry to prevent it from pooling up and pouring onto the floor while moving in or out of the tent in wet weather. 

Solo backpackers wanting the best mix of weight, livability, and weather protection will love the FreeLite, and pairs who would opt to save weight and don’t mind tight quarters will find that this tent delivers excellent performance.

Stock photo of the REI Trailmade 2 tent with a white background

  • REI Trailmade 2

Most Affordable Crossover Tent for Backpacking & Car Camping

Price: $199

Weight: 5 lb. 7 oz. (including footprint)

Dimensions (LxWxH): 88 x 52 x 40 in.

Size: 1-Person , 2-Person

  • Durable (strong zippers & thick material)
  • Lack of ridge pole limits headroom a bit

The affordable REI Trailmade 2 is a great tent for backpackers on a tight budget or those wanting to save money on a crossover tent that works for both car camping and backpacking. 

Though none of the Trailmade’s specs (other than price) are really standouts, the tried-and-true dome design holds up well in bad weather. The quality materials and construction of the Trailmade (strong zippers and thicker material) ensure this tent will remain reliable through many seasons of use. And the symmetrical free-standing design is quick and easy to pitch, so this is a great starter tent for beginners.

What holds the Trailmade back from ranking higher on our list is the lack of a ridge pole across the top. Most backpacking tents nowadays include this pole to pull out the sides of the tent and increase headroom – significantly increasing livability without much added weight. Since the Trailmade omits this pole, it feels a bit narrow inside across the spine – especially when the space is split between two hikers.

While we consider the Trailmade a bit heavy for backpacking, the weight and bulk aren’t too bad when split between two hikers. You can also save about 8 ounces by leaving the included footprint at home.

The budget-friendly Trailmade is an excellent investment for beginners and those wanting to get into the backcountry without spending a fortune. We would recommend trying to stretch your budget a bit for one of the more comfortable options on this list if you plan to backpack often, but you won’t be disappointed by the Trailmade if you really just need to keep costs down.

Full Review: REI Trailmade 2

best travel tent for backpacking

  • Six Moon Designs Lunar Duo

Affordable & Spacious Ultralight Backpacking Tent

Price: $395

Weight: 2 lb. 13 oz. (no stakes or poles)

Dimensions (LxWxH): 90 x 54 x 45 in.

  • Small packed size
  • Seam sealing costs extra

The Six Moon Designs Lunar Duo is one of the best value backpacking tents on our list due to its excellent blend of space, weight, and durability. CleverHiker Gear Tester, Heather Eldridge, has put the Lunar Duo through the wringer on multiple thru-hikes covering thousands of miles, and it continues to hold up like a champ.

The Lunar Duo is a bit heavier than many other ultralight non-freestanding tents, like the Zpacks Duplex above, but we find the weight tradeoff is worth the significant monetary savings for hikers on a budget. One thing that makes the Lunar Duo unique among non-freestanding tents is the arched brow poles over the doors. These poles maximize headroom along the entire length of the tent and give the Lunar Duo the most luxuriously spacious interior of any model in its class. 

The large vestibules are designed to open completely without disturbing the structure of the tent so you get the same ventilation and view benefits as a double-wall tent. On top of that, the floating canopy and peak vents work together to create ample airflow in the Lunar Duo – cutting down significantly on interior condensation. 

If you’re looking for a roomy ultralight shelter at an exceptionally affordable price, few tents come close to the Lunar Duo. 

Solo hikers wanting to cut down on weight even more, should check out the Lunar Solo . It’s one of our top 1-person tent picks because it’s very spacious for one hiker and their gear, it’s easy to set up, and it’s incredibly affordable for the specs. 

Full Reviews: Six Moon Designs Lunar Duo & Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo

Stock photo of the MSR Hubba Hubba 2 with a white background

  • MSR Hubba Hubba 2

Great Balance of Weather Protection & Weight

Weight: 3 lb. 4 oz.

Dimensions (LxWxH): 84 x 50 x 40 in.

  • Great weather protection
  • Lightweight for the weather-worthiness
  • Lack of headroom makes interior feel a bit tight

The long-time crowd favorite MSR Hubba Hubba 2 is a standout on the backpacking tent market for its durability and weather protection. The rainbow shape of this tent leaves very little surface area along the spine to catch gusts of wind, and there aren’t any flat surfaces on the fly for water to pool. 

One of our favorite details of the Hubba Hubba is the gutter on the vestibule doors. This little feature directs water down a groove behind the rainfly closure providing a drip-free entry in wet weather.

The Hubba Hubba’s symmetrical freestanding design makes it quick and easy to set up and provides just enough space to squeeze two wide pads inside. However, we find that the pole structure causes the walls to slope inward – limiting interior headroom. 

That said, if you tend to be hard on gear or you often backpack in places with temperamental weather, the Hubba Hubba is still a top choice for its high-quality build at a relatively low weight.

Full Review: MSR Hubba Hubba 2

The Zpacks Triplex pitched in a rocky, high-alpine campsite on the John Muir Trail

Product Comparison Table

How we test & methodology.

We assessed each backpacking tent based on five criteria: comfort, weight and packability, weather resistance, ease of setup, and durability. We have spent a minimum of 20 nights (but in some cases, over 100) in each of these models in a range of hiking conditions, from the hot, dry deserts of the southwest to the coldest, wettest reaches of northern New England.

Comfort spans a wide range of characteristics. We pay careful attention to things like floor dimensions, including maximum dimensions and any head-to-foot taper; peak height (as well as interior volume and shoulder space); number and style of doors; zipper pulls and door tie-backs; number, size, and placement of storage pockets; and any special features that make the experience of living in the tent more enjoyable. We get an extremely good sense of each of these characteristics by sleeping, eating, and living side-by-side with our hiking partners.


Manufacturers often list multiple weights, which include different combinations of tent components . We consider the packaged weight – the tent body, fly, poles, and included stakes) – as well as the packed size of each model, testing out how easy it is to stuff each one into a pack and around other gear, noting any especially streamlined or chunky hardware that takes up space.


We look at weather resistance inside and out. Our assessment includes the rain, hail, and snow resistance of the fly, including both water penetration/dripping through the fly, as well as splashback from underneath the fly, and any sagging from saturation. In addition to precipitation, we consider the wind resistance which entails assessing the quality and stability of stakes; number and location of guypoints; and vestibule geometry. Lastly, we analyze interior condensation, paying attention to the number, size, and location of vent points, as well as, obviously, the amount of moisture on the underside of the fly when we wake up each morning.


Most of these tents are fairly easy to set up but some go a little faster than others. Here, we measure how long it takes on average to set up each model. The differences come down to whether or not the tent is symmetrical (thus providing two correct orientations for a tent and fly instead of just one); the pole-to-tent connection system; the fly-to-tent connection system; the quality and bite of the included stakes, as well as whether or not there are enough of them; and any tensioning systems that make it easier to get a good taut pitch.

Durability includes both on trail wear and tear as well as longevity season after season. We set up each model on a variety of surfaces, from soft soil to sandy, gravely clearings. Pinholes in the floor, micro-fissures at the ends of poles, and zipper snags are all top-of-mind. In addition, our experience has taught us that certain materials and waterproof coatings are more resilient than others so we assess fabric type, thickness, and chemical treatments, also noting if a model provides a repair kit (e.g. pole sleeve or adhesive patches) for fixes in the field.

best travel tent for backpacking

What’s Most Important to You in a Backpacking Tent?

We rank tents based on our overall experience with them but maybe you prioritize a particular characteristic way above the rest. If that’s you, check out our curated mini-lists below.

Your backpacking tent will be one of the four heaviest items in your pack – tent, backpack , sleeping bag , sleeping pad – so this is a great place to save weight. We consider weight one of the most important specs for backpacking gear. The lighter your backpack, the more comfortable it will be, the more miles you’ll be able to hike, and the more enjoyable your trip will be.

Best lightweight backpacking tents

  • Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 2

Best ultralight backpacking tents

  • Zpacks Duplex 
  • Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL 2

We’re typically willing to spend a bit more for a high-quality backpacking tent with a low packed weight because we truly believe that leads to more comfortable and enjoyable backcountry trips. Livability and weight tend to trump cost in our books, but we recommend quality options at a variety of price points in our list below. If price is a key issue for you, make sure to check out our Best Budget Backpacking Tent list .

Best mid-range backpacking tents

Best budget backpacking tents

Best high-end backpacking tents

When choosing a backpacking tent, look for one with a good balance of space and weight. Many backpacking tents come in multiple size options (1P, 2P, etc.), but it’s very common for tents to feel smaller than their capacity ratings imply. If you plan to share your tent with another hiker, think about how comfortable you are with tight spaces and the width of your sleeping pads (many 2P backpacking tents won’t fit two wide pads).

Most spacious backpacking tents


If you tend to be tough on gear or you often backpack in harsh, exposed conditions, picking up a more durable backpacking tent will likely be a smart choice. Small abrasions can easily be fixed , but all tents have their breaking points. If long-term durability is one of your top concerns, it may be beneficial to go with a tent that’s a bit more burly. Sturdier tents usually weigh more, but they’ll shed nasty weather easily and last a very long time.

Most durable backpacking tents


Going with a 1-Person tent is an easy way for a solo hiker to drop a lot of bulk and weight out of their pack. However, some solo hikers prefer having more space and would be happier in a lightweight 2-person tent. You’ll need to decide which is more important to you: saving space and weight in your pack with a 1P tent or having more room and versatility with a 2P tent.

Best 1-person backpacking tents

  • Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo
  • Copper Spur HV UL1
  • Zpacks Plex Solo
  • NEMO Hornet OSMO 1

Best 2-person backpacking tents for solo hikers

best travel tent for backpacking

Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 2 – Photo credit: Heather Eldridge (

best travel tent for backpacking

Six Moon Designs Lunar Duo – Photo credit: Heather Eldridge (

The Sea to Summit Telos TR2 backpacking tent set up in a windy campsite with burnt trees in the background

Sea to Summit Telos TR2 – Photo credit: Heather Eldridge (

How to Choose a Backpacking Tent

You shouldn’t have to spend a fortune to get a great backpacking tent. That’s why this list contains an array of solid options at a variety of price points. If you backpack a lot, it probably makes sense to spend more for a quality product that will get many years of use. If you’re on a limited budget, you may want to check out our budget backpacking tent recommendations , but they do tend to be much heavier. 

best travel tent for backpacking


The reality with tent sizes is that a lot of manufacturers exaggerate how many people can sleep comfortably in them. For example, many two-person backpacking tents are a tight fit for two average-sized people. If you plan on sleeping two people in your tent and want more space, you may find a three-person tent to be more comfortable. Extra space will add weight, so you’ll probably want to choose a lightweight tent to keep your backpack light. Check out our Tent Size Guide for more info on finding the right fit for you.

best travel tent for backpacking


When researching tents, you’ll likely notice a few different specs listed for weight and it can get a little confusing. Some manufacturers may even exaggerate how light a tent is to make it seem more appealing. Unfortunately, there is no required set standard for measuring backpacking tent weights across the industry, but here are some tips to help you decipher all the numbers:

best travel tent for backpacking

Packaged Weight

This spec refers to the weight of all parts of the tent plus any accessories it comes with when you buy it. This is usually the most accurate measurement to consider, and it’s the spec we’ve listed with all the tents on this list. After all, you’re going to be using tent stakes with your tent, right?

Minimum Trail Weight

This one gets a little hairy. Since there’s no required industry standard for calculating this, some manufacturers exclude more items than others. Minimum trail weight is generally accepted to mean just the essential components to keep you dry. It will always include the tent body, the rainfly, and the poles. This measurement usually excludes tent stakes (unless your tent is semi-freestanding), guy lines, and stuff sacks.

best travel tent for backpacking


Almost every backpacking tent on this list comes with the option to buy a footprint that will help extend the life of your tent floor. Footprints are not necessary, though, and many choose not to use them. It’s totally a personal choice, but a footprint will ensure that your tent floor lasts as long as possible. If you need help deciding if a footprint is right for you, check out our post Do You Really Need a Footprint for Your Tent .

best travel tent for backpacking

A backpacking tent that doesn’t protect against the elements is worse than worthless, it’s dangerous. So be careful about extreme budget tents you’ll find elsewhere. Every tent on this list will provide excellent storm protection to keep you safe, dry, and warm.

best travel tent for backpacking


Backpacking tents keep weight to a minimum by limiting interior space (and thus, use less material). One-person tents are great for dedicated solo hikers looking to travel fast and light. Two-person tents tend to be the most popular, because they strike a good balance between weight and interior space. Most two-person tents have just enough room for two sleepers and a few stuff sacks , with backpacks and extra gear stored in the vestibules. If you want more interior space for camping comfort, you may want to bump up one size in tents (for example, buy a three-person tent to fit two hikers). Just remember, interior tent space is a tradeoff between comfort and weight. Check out our Tent Size Guide for more information on choosing which model to go with.

best travel tent for backpacking


Three-season shelters are the most popular backpacking tents and the style we’re focusing on in this guide. They’re built for spring, summer, and fall trips where you’ll need to keep bad weather out while promoting ventilation, which helps keep interior condensation to a minimum. Three-season tents can usually handle a little snow, but they’re not made for heavy snow and harsh winter conditions. If you’re looking for a winter worthy tent, make sure to check out our list of the Best 4-Season Tents .

best travel tent for backpacking

Freestanding tents are generally preferable because they’re easier to use and quicker to pitch. They come with a fixed pole system that can be set up almost anywhere – even on solid rock. Non-freestanding tents use stakes , guylines, and trekking poles for pitching. They save weight by cutting out tent poles, but require more time/space to pitch and will take more practice to master.

best travel tent for backpacking


If you plan on sleeping two people in your tent, it’s more comfortable to have two doors and two vestibules. Having separate entrances will ensure that you’re not climbing over a tentmate and two sets of gear every time you want to get in or out of your tent. That’s a huge benefit, and it’s why almost all of our backpacking tent recommendations have two doors and vestibules.


Double-wall tents come with two separate parts – a mesh tent body and a rainfly. The mesh inner-tent acts as a barrier from condensation that forms on the inside of the rainfly. Single-wall tents reduce weight by attaching the fly sheet directly to the mesh inner-tent, but that leaves hikers vulnerable to interior condensation in wet/cold conditions. Rubbing up against a wet tent interior is the pits, so we mostly recommend double-wall tents unless you usually backpack in arid, dry climates. For ultralight hikers open to the idea of single-wall shelters, have a look at our Best Ultralight Tents list.

best travel tent for backpacking

The main trade-off with lightweight backpacking tents is that they’re built using thinner materials, which tend to be less durable than heavy-duty shelters. That said, ultralight tents will literally last for thousands of miles if treated with care . It’s also important to remember that a sharp stick or rock will puncture just about any kind of tent fabric. If you’re tough on gear and don’t want to deal with lightweight materials, we recommend choosing one of our heavier recommendations built for durability or adding a footprint to to increase the durability of your tent floor. For our personal use, we think lightweight tents are well worth the tradeoff.

best travel tent for backpacking

Honorable Mentions

The following backpacking tents didn’t make our final list, but they’ve still got a lot of good things going for them. You never know, one of these tents might be perfect for you:

REI Flash 2

REI has made some of our favorite tents over the years, but few have been as impressive as the Flash 2. This tent was a new offering from REI in 2023, but it’s currently out of stock for the foreseeable future. It’ll be back at some point down the line, which is why we felt it still deserved an Honorable mention on our list.

This freestanding tent has a weight and interior volume that rivals some of the most popular backpacking tents, but it costs far less than anything in its class. With its unique pole architecture, the Flash 2 manages to feel more spacious than tents with the same dimensions – like the Big Agnes Copper Spur 2. The headwall of the Flash 2 stands vertically and is supported by an arch pole that pulls the sidewalls out. As a result, you end up with more headroom where you need it most.

We’re eagerly looking forward to the return of the REI Flash 2.

REI Trail Hut 2

The affordable REI Trail Hut 2 is almost identical to the REI Trailmade 2 on our main list. The biggest difference is that the Trail Hut has a ridge pole at the peak that creates more headroom than the Trailmade has. The other key difference is that the Trail Hut has more opaque nylon on the walls for privacy, while the Trailmade includes more mesh on the walls for airflow.If you’re after a crossover tent that you’ll mostly be using for car camping and only backpacking with it occasionally, you’ll probably find this tent more comfortable. If you’ll mostly be using your crossover tent for backpacking, we recommend saving the money and going with the lighter Trailmade 2.

NEMO Dragonfly OSMO 2

This tent feels a little tight for two, but it’s a roomy option for solo hikers. This tent is very similar in design to our top pick – the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2.  We prefer the ridge pole design on the Copper Spur since it pulls the headroom out more and creates more interior volume at the peak where you really want it.

The Dragonfly is very light for a freestanding tent and has a tiny packed size, so it’s a good choice for hikers looking to shave weight and bulk from their packs. 

The proprietary OSMO fabric on the Dragonfly makes it a great choice for hikers who frequently go out in foul weather. OSMO sags less than sil-nylon when wet, doesn’t absorb water, and stays waterproof for longer than standard coated fabrics.

A granite peak over the Six Moon Designs Lunar Duo

Why trust us?

We understand how tough it is to find trustworthy gear advice, and that’s one of the main reasons we built CleverHiker. We live for outdoor adventure, and we take these guides very seriously.

  • Our recommendations are completely independent and based on hands-on experience.
  • We test outdoor gear for a living – we’ve logged over 20,000 trail miles and 1,000 nights in the wilderness.
  • Our team has thru-hiked some of the most iconic long trails, including the Continental Divide Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, Appalachian Trail, Colorado Trail, Long Trail, Oregon Coast Trail, Arizona Trail, Pinhoti Trail, Superior Hiking Trail, as well as extensive peak bagging, and international treks.
  • We field test every product we recommend, which is sadly not the norm.
  • We travel to industry trade shows to stay up-to-date on product innovations.
  • We continuously update our guides throughout the year and when new products launch.
  • We treat recommendations to our readers as if they were for our family and friends.
  • We’re lifelong learners and we’re always open to feedback. If you think we’ve missed a worthy product or got something wrong, we’d love to know about it.

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The 8 Best Backpacking Tents for Three-Season Adventures

We tested 12 tents in the wild this year. these were our favorites..

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! >","name":"in-content-cta","type":"link"}}'>Download the app .

Every year, tents get lighter, stronger, and more sustainable. 2024’s batch of three-season shelters was no exception, with ultralight trekking pole designs, purpose-built bikepacking bivvys, and cleverly guyed-out basecamps. The eight winners of this year’s exhaustive testing process proved themselves over and over in wind, rain, and even snow.

At a Glance

  • Editors’ Choice: Durston X-Mid Pro 1 ($549-639)
  • Best Bikepacking Tent: MSR Hubba Hubba Bikepack 2-Person ($580)
  • Best Budget Tent: Mountain Hardwear Meridian 2 ($275)
  • Best Basecamp: Seek Outside Twilight 3P ($480)
  • Best Strength-to-Weight: SlingFin Portal 3 ($600)
  • Best Ultralight 2-Person: Zpacks Offset Duo ($799)
  • Most Spacious 1-Person: Argali Owyhee 1p ($345)
  • Most Improved: Exped Mira II ($449)
  • How to Choose a Tent

How We Test

All gear in this guide was tested by multiple reviewers. When you buy through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission. This supports our mission to get more people active and outside.   Learn more .

Note: All tent weights are “packaged” weights, not minimum weights.

Durston X-Mid Pro 1

Editor’s Choice

Durston x-mid pro 1.

$549-639 at Durston Gear

Weight : 17.8 oz (DCF floor); 1.2 lbs (sil-nylon floor) Interior Space : 20 square feet Peak Height : 45 inches

Pros and Cons ⊕ Incredibly lightweight ⊕ Tall peaks ⊕ Weatherproof ⊕ Small footprint ⊗ Setup has a learning curve

With the Durston X-Mid Pro 1, Durston Gear has perfected its signature asymmetrical tarp-tent design to create the most comfortable, storm-worthy one-pound shelter we’ve ever tested. The secret sauce behind founder Dan Durston’s ultralight success, both in his one- and two-person tents, is a deceptively simple offset design: Where many other trekking-pole tents are set up with poles at the midpoint of the tent, the X-Mid’s poles sit with one towards the feet and the other towards the head. That means 45 inches of peak height at both ends, which lends an airy, vaulted feeling and enough room to change. Offset poles also mean that there’s no obstruction in front of the mesh doors, which can be operated easily with one hand thanks to two easy-sliding zippers.

“It felt positively palatial for a one-person tent,” said one tester after backpacking on the Art Loeb Trail in the Pisgah National Forest. “And yet, it weighed less than my sleeping pad, and was small enough to get lost in my pack.”

Interior space is optimized, too, with a parallelogram (instead of rectangular) floorplan that sits diagonally under the Dyneema fly. With 90 inches of floor length, it’s possible to store all of your clothes, electronics, and ditty bags inside while an astonishing 22 square feet of vestibule space is more than enough for even the most gear-heavy ultralighters.

The X-Mid Pro 1’s double-pole pitch, steep walls, tall bathtub floor, and ten stake-out points (plus four guylines) give it the edge over competing tarp-style tents, allowing for increased sturdiness in windy and wet conditions. One tester put it through a late-season windstorm in Vermont’s Green Mountains, with 40-mile-per-hour gusts that flattened a freestanding tent in the same campground. There are lighter Dyneema tents on the market, but few that can handle those windspeeds.

Two generous top vents and an all-mesh interior to minimize the dreaded single-walled condensation factor. Durability is solid for an ultralight Dyneema tent, but careful campsite selection is a must. Thankfully, the one-person footprint is svelte enough to squeeze into the tightest third-choice nooks.

MSR Hubba Hubba Bikepack 2-Person

Best Bikepacking Tent

Msr hubba hubba bikepack 2-person.

$580 at REI $580 at Backcountry

Weight : 3.75 lbs Interior Space : 29 square feet Peak Height : 42 inches

Pros and Cons ⊕ Portability ⊕ Weather protection ⊗ Livability ⊗ Ventilation

It’s a testament to the growing popularity of bikepacking that the folks at MSR decided to release a brand-new version of their long-running Hubba Hubba tent to cater specifically to those exploring the wilderness on two wheels. Our testers were unanimously glad they did, touting its portability and weather protection.

Weighing a tick over three pounds, the Hubba Hubba Bikepack is just 3 ounces heavier than the original, with shorter poles and increased vestibule space (17.5 square feet total) to stash bike shoes and helmets. Inside, a gear loft holds electronics while a clothesline dries out wearables. An average peak height of 42 inches allows most folks to sit up and change clothes, and its 29 square feet of interior space is small but acceptable given the Bikepack 2’s weight and portability (though two broad shouldered bikepackers should be prepared to get cozy).

Despite its low weight and small size, this tent doesn’t skimp on protection and durability, utilizing lightweight aluminum poles and 20-denier ripstop nylon for fly and body (with 10-denier poly for the canopy.) Its lack of mesh improves weather and wind protection, but makes for poor ventilation. “I felt stuffy at lower elevations when the temperature was about 50 degrees,” reported one tester from Pisgah National Forest in North Carolina. Best of all for our bikepacking testers, the whole thing packs down into a waterproof stuff sack, which is roughly the size of a small paper towel roll—just right for most handlebar shapes.

Mountain Hardwear Meridian 2

Best Budget Tent

Mountain hardwear meridian 2.

$275 at Amazon $275 at Mountain Hardwear

Weight : 5.6 lbs Interior Space : 31.8 square feet Peak Height : 43 inches

Pros and Cons ⊕ Price ⊕ Easy setup ⊗ Weight ⊗ Lack of features ⊗ Durability

The Meridian 2 occupies a special bottom-shelf status in the backpacking tent world: It’s cheap, reliable in moderate rain and wind, and made by a bonafide outdoors brand with longevity and quality in mind. You can go lower at a sporting goods store, but it won’t do you any favors when an afternoon thunderstorm rolls through. “This is a no-frills tent that you can rely on when the weather turns sour,” reported one tester after a trip in Moab, Utah.

Mountain Hardwear’s entry-level shelter is both the most affordable and spacious two-person tent we tested this year, with a near 32-square-foot interior, an ample 43-inch peak height, and 18.3 square feet of vestibule space. Five interior pockets allow the interior to stay free of clutter.

At nearly five and a half pounds, the double-walled Meridian is also the heaviest tent in our testing class. The increase in weight comes from heavy materials, including a 68-denier polyester floor and fly with a perfectly serviceable 1500mm waterproof coating that kept us dry during light afternoon rainstorms, but showed signs of seepage in more sustained, heavier rains. A bathtub floor and side panel provide coverage halfway up the tent at the entrances, and the included groundsheet bolsters that weatherproofing prowess. But thanks to a full mesh upper canopy and easily-secured rollback fly, stargazing is still an option.

Seek Outside Twilight 3P

Best Basecamp

Seek outside twilight 3p.

$480 at Seek Outside

Weight : 4.2 lbs Interior Space : 105 square feet Peak Height : 72 inches

Pros and Cons ⊕ Massive floor plan ⊕ Versatile ⊕ Stove-compatible ⊗ Finicky guyline setup ⊗ Extra cost for stove/poles/mesh insert

By far the largest tent in our testing group, the Twilight offers an excellent space-to-weight ratio with a gigantic 105 square-foot floor plan that can be used in a variety of ways. Our testers loved it as a floorless basecamp, with ceilings tall enough to allow for standing, plenty of room for three sleepers and gear, and a stove jack that allows it to convert to a hot tent using a lightweight titanium stove (sold separately, starting at $309). “It was cold and raining when we woke up in the morning, so we set up our chairs inside, threw some wood in the stove, and cooked breakfast by the fire,” reported one tester from Grand Mesa National Forest in Western Colorado.

The non-freestanding Twilight can be set up using two carbon fiber poles (sold separately, $150), or three trekking poles with a hitch to connect two of them together. Like all mid-style tents, it needs to be guyed out extensively to provide proper weather protection. Setup is made a bit more complicated than a typical pyramid owing to the two-pole design, but most testers were able to pitch it in fifteen minutes or less. With nine guy-out and eight stake points, the Twilight stood tall in 20 mile-per-hour wind gusts and kept the interior dry during storms. That waterproofing is thanks to the silicone-coated 30-denier Nylon 6.6 ripstop body which has a 3000mm waterproof coating. A peak vent helped keep condensation at bay, although airflow was never an issue when running the shelter floorless. In bug season, a half-mesh insert can be installed (sold separately, $200), with the other half serving as a giant vestibule.

Testers were split on Seek Outside’s proprietary zipperless technology, which forgoes a traditional zippered door on the vestibule and instead allows entry by sliding the bottom edge of the tent along a fixed guy line. In the pro camp: No stuck zippers from ice or dust and dead-quiet nightly pee breaks. Cons? Some testers felt the zipperless technology was difficult to operate from the inside, and that its setup required patience.

SlingFin Portal 3

Best Strength-to-Weight Ratio

Slingfin portal 3.

$600 at SlingFin

Weight : 4.2 lbs Interior Space : 41.5 square feet Peak Height : 44 inches

Pros and Cons ⊕ Bombproof ⊕ Durable materials ⊗ Livability

SlingFin’s new double-walled Portal 3 is the bigger brother to the brand’s bomber Portal 2, adding about fifty percent more space while maintaining a reasonable 4-pound weight.

There’s nothing flashy about this tent on the surface: The Portal 3’s setup is quick and straightforward, using two poles connected with a swivel as well as one cross-pole to create a standard freestanding pitch. But, like the two-person variant, the Portal shines in the details of its construction materials and weather protection, including thick, lightweight aluminum poles, a 20-denier PE-coated bathtub floor, and 10-denier Nylon 66 Ripstop silicone-coated fly that wards off inclement weather. Ten external guy-out points (with included lines) and the two internal pre-installed guylines allow for increased stabilization in high winds. “By the time we staked out all ten guy lines, it was clear that this tent would survive just about anything,” one tester reported from Kaibab National Forest in Arizona. “We had gusts of 25 miles-per-hour and the tent didn’t move.”

Sleeping in the 41-square-foot interior was more or less shoulder-to-shoulder for three people, but the generous 44-inch peak height, 20 square feet of vestibule space, and eight pockets—including one that runs the entire width of the tent—lend a feeling of spaciousness. An all-mesh body allows for stargazing on clear evenings, while kickstand vents on the fly aid with ventilation during inclement weather.

Zpacks Offset Duo

Best Ultralight 2-Person Tent

Zpacks offset duo.

$799 at Zpacks

Weight : 1.2 lbs (does not include stakes or stuff sack) Interior Space : 31.4 square feet Peak Height : 48 inches

Pros and Cons ⊕ Livability ⊕ Weight ⊗ Price ⊗ Condensation

The Zpacks Offset Duo came as a bit of a shock to ultralighters who thought the brand’s popular Duplex was the peak of ultralight two-person design. Weighing just over 1.25 pounds while offering more than 31 square feet of interior space, 100 inches of length, and a peak height of 48 inches, our testers raved about its space-to-weight ratio, which bests the Duplex in almost every regard.

One tester who took the Offset Duo to the Lost Lake Trail in Chugach National Forest, Alaska, was able to comfortably fit two people and a medium-sized dog without issue (watch those claws, though). The non-freestanding Dyneema shelter owes its voluminous shape to a pitch that utilizes one small 32-inch carbon fiber support pole at the foot of the tent in addition to the usual double-trekking pole setup found on most tarp-style tents. All three must be securely guyed out to ensure a solid pitch, so patience and experience is required to prevent collapse in high winds. The foot pole also introduces a potential weak point in windstorms, although testers never encountered any issues.

It’s single-walled with a built-in tent body, so condensation was a factor, though air circulation is aided by two vents and a mesh interior. In dry conditions, magnetic toggles make rolling the doors up a cinch. Vestibules are small (two-by-six-and-a-quarter square feet) but adequate for ultralighters with limited gear.

Argali Owyhee 1p

Most Spacious 1-Person Tent

Argali owyhee 1p.

$345 at Argali

Weight : 2.1 lbs Interior Space : 27.91 square feet Peak Height : 50 inches

Pros and Cons ⊕ Livability ⊕ Storage space ⊗ Add-ons increase price

Because many one-person tents lack large vestibules or adequate interior space, some solo backpackers end up carrying a two-person tent, taking on extra weight and bulk in the process. The new Argali Owyhee strikes a much-needed balance, offering the low weight, quick setup, and packability of a one-person tent paired with the increased storage of a two-person tent.

“One-person tents usually don’t have enough storage for me,” one tester said after a climbing outing in Colorado’s Uncompahgre National Forest. “But I could fit all my gear in the Owyhee with room to spare.” Sporting a generous interior floor plan of nearly 28 square feet plus more than 11 square feet in its front-door vestibule, it weighs a hair over two pounds and can be pitched with a single trekking pole or carbon fiber pole (sold separately), packing down to the size of a liter Nalgene.

An all-mesh body and top vent keep air moving, and a peak height of 50 inches will allow most to sit up and change. Utilizing 20–denier Nano-Ripstop SilPoly fabric—an increasingly popular cottage industry fabric choice that doesn’t sag like silnylon—with 2000mm double silicone coated waterproofing, aluminum stakes, and six stake-out points (with 5 additional guy-outs), the Owyhee kept us dry during moderate rain and stood up tall to 15 mile-per-hour winds in the Uncompahgre.

Ding: The mesh insert is sold separately ($130); otherwise, it runs floorless without interior pockets. Double-ding: Seam sealing will cost you another $45.

Exped Mira II HL

Most Improved

Exped mira ii hl.

$449 at Exped

Weight : 3 lbs Interior Space : 30 square feet Peak Height : 42 inches

Pros and Cons ⊕ Easy setup ⊕ Solid weather protection ⊗ Durability

The latest version of Exped’s double-walled Mira II HL boasts a lower weight and speedier setup, two improvements that made our testers love this weekend warrior even more than the previous iteration.

First, the new tent drops roughly three ounces from the previous version thanks to material changes, using slightly thinner 15-denier ripstop nylon on the body and 10-denier on the fly; a footprint is recommended for rocky sites. The Mira II HL’s packability is a huge improvement: “For a freestanding tent, this one is fairly light and really compact—it packs down as small as many trekking pole tents I’ve used,” said one tester after an outing on the Art Loeb Trail in North Carolina’s Pisgah National Forest.

Another big change? The tent now uses DAC’s lightest type of 8.7mm pole, hubbed together for a much easier and more intuitive setup. Weather protection still punches above its weight thanks to a beefy pole arch design running the length of the tent and a half dozen guy out points.

Inside, livability is the same as the previous version, with 30 square feet of interior space, a 42-inch peak height, and more than 18 square feet of vestibule space. One downside: The tent is technically freestanding, but the foot needs to be staked out to take on its full shape.

How to Choose a Three-Season Tent

Capacity, size, and vestibules.

The first thing to consider when buying a tent is its size. You’ll want to know the number of people it’s designed to hold, but also look closely at the square-footage to ensure it will work for your specific needs. Check the length of the tent if you are more than 6 feet tall—a couple inches of head and leg room are critical for a good night’s sleep, and not all tents are created equal. Pay attention to the amount of vestibule space a tent offers, especially if you plan to backpack in colder, more gear-heavy months.

Weight vs. Durability and Weatherproofing

While the best tents offer a lightweight balance of livability, weather protection, and durability evenly, those qualities often come at a weight penalty. Consider how far you’ll be hiking and how much weight you can comfortably carry over that distance. Some folks are happy to carry a five-pound tent that has a large floorplan and ample headroom, while others will prefer to minimize weight at the cost of comfort. Once you get a sense of your maximum weight, think about the weatherproofing you’ll need in the environments you plan to visit. Campers in Florida have different needs than campers in Colorado. An all-mesh tent body will improve ventilation in hot climates, but let heat escape in cold climates. If heavy rain or bad weather is the norm for you, invest in heavier-weight, more waterproof tent fabric and thicker, stronger poles. Burlier floor materials also add weight to the tent, but offer more durability on abrasive ground.

Freestanding vs. Semi- vs. Non Freestanding

Another thing to consider is the type of pitch a tent uses. Freestanding tents are supported by a set of structural poles and can be pitched anywhere, without the use of guy lines or added tension. They are the easiest to pitch, but offer minimal customization in foul weather. Semi and non-freestanding tents all use poles of some sort (structural aluminum poles or trekking poles), but need to be staked out using guy lines. This requires more patience and know-how when pitching, however it also allows the tent to be pitched in a variety of ways, making it easier to fit into tight spaces. Non-freestanding and semi-freestanding tents also typically weigh less than freestanding tents because they don’t come with as many—or any—poles.

Finally, a Pro Tip

Know the return policies. The only way to truly know a tent is to spend a couple of nights in it. Some stores and brands allow you to return used products without a penalty.

  • Number of Testers: 11
  • Number of Products Tested: 12
  • Number of Miles Hiked While Testing: 382
  • Number of Nights Slept Outside: 88

Our testing group spanned the country, in wilderness areas from Maine to Hawaii. Testers come from a variety of backgrounds, genders, and professions, from public school teachers to park rangers. All of them are backpackers, ranging from veteran trekkers to weekend warriors. Over the course of two months, these testers evaluated tents on a multitude of criteria, including livability, ventilation, design, weather protection, setup, and price, among other intangibles. Those that didn’t stand up to the elements, were uncomfortable to live inside for weeks on end, or simply weren’t worth the price tag, didn’t make it onto this list

Meet Our Lead Tester

Will McGough has been writing about the outdoors and testing tents for Backpacker and Outside since 2015. Specs aside, he believes the most important quality of a tent is how it makes you feel—a good tent should make you feel at home, regardless of climate and conditions.

When you buy something using the retail links in our stories, we may earn a small commission. We do not accept money for editorial gear reviews. Read more about our policy.

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Home » Gear » best backpacking tent

5 Best Travel Tents (MUST READ! • 2024 Buyer’s Guide)

Let’s be honest now, do  you actually even NEED to buy a travel tent? With an abundance of cheap hostels, nice airbnbs and moving trains to sleep on, you may well be wondering if modern backpackers need to burden themselves by hauling a tent around with them.

But hear me here. A backpacking tent offers you a home . Anywhere you go, be it parks in the urban sprawl or glorious remote vistas in the wilderness, you’ll have your home with you!

Camping out in the woods, on the beach, or at the foot of some mighty mountain is a truly amazing way to reconnect with nature. I love to camp and have been lucky enough to camp out in over fifty different countries across five continents. Plus I saved a hell-a-lotta dough on accommodation costs in the process too…

In this in-depth post, I’ll  condense my years of traveling with a tent down and review the best tents for backpacking for all budgets and styles of travel – cheap tents, light tents, hiking tents, travel tents. It’s a goddamn tent city and we’re finding you a sweet crib!

A group of the best hiking tents at K2

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Quick Answer: Best Backpacking Tents for 2024

The 5 best backpacking tents of 2024, how to pick the best backpacking tent for you, thoughts on camping hammocks  , how and where we tested to find the best backpacking tent, faq about the best backpacking tent, so, what is the best tent for backpacking.

  • Overall Best Tent for Backpacking –>  MSR Hubba Hubba
  • Best One Man Tent –>  REI Co-op Trailmade 1 Tent
  • Best 3 Person Tent –> MSR Hubba Hubba
  • Best Ultralight Backpacking Tent –>  Nemo Hornet
  • Best Hammock Tent –> Lawson Blue Ridge Hammock Tent
  • Best Bivvy Style Tent –> Crua Hybrid
  • Jump to –>  Backpacking Tent Reviews

MSR Hubba Hubba 2 Tent

MSR Hubba Hubba 2

  • Price > $$$$
  • Weight > 3.25 lbs.
  • Capacity > 2 Person
  • Free Standing > Yes

NEMO Hornet OSMO Ultralight 2P Tent

Nemo Hornet

  • Price > $$$
  • Weight > 2.5 lbs.
  • Capacity > 2 person
  • Free Standing > No

REI Co-op Trailmade 2 Tent with Footprint - Nic

REI Co-op Trailmade 1

  • Weight > 4.6 lbs.
  • Capacity > 1 Person

Lawson Blue Ridge Hammock Tent

Lawson Blue Ridge Camping Hammock

  • Weight > 4.25 lbs.
  • Capacity > 1-2 Person

Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL 2

Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL 2 Solution Dye

  • Price > $499.95
  • Weight > 1.13kg
  • Capacity > 2
  • Free Standing > Semi free standing

best travel tent for backpacking

Crua Hybrid

  • Weight > 6.6 lbs
  • Capacity > 1

#1 Overall Best Tent for Backpacking: MSR Hubba Hubba

MSR Hubba Hubba 2 Tent

  • Price: $549.95
  • Weight: 3 lb. 4 oz
  • Dimensions: 84 x 50 inches
  • Size when packed: 4.5 x 19 inches

Discover the perfect blend of lightweight design and robust performance with the MSR Hubba Hubba tent. Weighing just 3.5 pounds, this tent is a backpacker’s dream, offering an incredibly spacious interior without the extra weight. Its durable construction, intuitive setup, and eco-friendly materials make it an ideal choice for any adventure. Enjoy ample headroom, two large vestibules for gear storage, and a mesh canopy for ventilation and stargazing. The Hubba Hubba stands out for its quick assembly, compact packing, and adherence to high environmental standards, ensuring that your outdoor experiences are not only comfortable but also sustainable.

While it IS expensive at $500, it’s a great bloody tent. MSR is one of the most respected brands in the backpacking tent and gear industry and they have seriously decent customer support – when you buy an MSR tent it comes with a lifetime warranty so you can see it as an investment, it’ll be the last tent you ever have to buy!


Finally, the MSR Hubba Hubba comes in three sizes, 1 man, 2 man and 3 man. We have tried all of them. The one in the picture is the One-Man.

  • Ultra Light Weight
  • Great weight to space ratio
  • Leading material in technology
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Expensive (but the lifetime warranty makes it worth it!)

best travel tent for backpacking

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#2 Best Ultralight Backpacking Tent: Nemo OSMO Hornet

NEMO Hornet OSMO Ultralight 2P Tent

  • Price: $429.95
  • Weight: 2lbs 8 oz
  • Dimensions: 85 x 51 x 43 in
  • Size when packed: 7.5 x 12.5 inches

Check out our epic full review of the Nemo Hornet here!

Step into the future of backpacking comfort with the Nemo OSMO Hornet tent, where innovation meets affordability. Priced competitively, this tent offers exceptional value, combining Nemo’s cutting-edge OSMO fabric technology with a design that’s both ultralight and ultra-durable. Weighing barely over 2 pounds, the OSMO Hornet is an ideal companion for hikers and backpackers looking to minimize their load without sacrificing space or comfort.

Experience the OSMO difference with its advanced waterproof and breathable fabric, ensuring you stay dry and comfortable no matter the weather. The tent’s spacious interior, innovative pole structure, and two-door design provide ample room and easy access. With its quick setup, compact pack size, and focus on sustainability, the Nemo OSMO Hornet is not just a shelter but an investment in comfortable and eco-conscious adventures. Enjoy the wilderness in a tent that balances price, weight, and remarkable living space, making it a smart choice for any outdoor enthusiast seeking value and performance.

  • Well designed
  • Waterproofing has mixed reviews
  • So does it’s strength
  • No lifetime warranty

#3 Best One-Man Tent: REI Co-op Trailmade 1 Tent

REI Co-op Trailmade 2 Tent with Footprint - Nic

  • Price: $159
  • Weight: 4 pounds 9 ounces
  • Dimensions: 88 x 36.5  inches
  • Size when packed: 7.5 x 22.44 inches

Are you a backpacking enthusiast searching for a practical yet sustainable tent? This 1-person, 3-season offering might just be the one. The REI Co-op Trailmade 1 prioritizes usability with eco-friendly construction. REI is a Climate Neutral Certified brand, meaning it’s a great way to look after our planet whilst backpacking.

REI Coop Half Dome Tent

Weighing in at 4 pounds 9 ounces, this tent won’t slow you down either on the trails or backpacking around a new town. Packing down to an incredibly small 7.5 x 22.44 inches, it’s the perfect compact companion for your next adventure. Where it might be small when packed down, it opens up like a tardis when pitched. With floor dimensions of 88 x 36.5 inches, it offers a spacious 20 square feet of floor area and a height of 41 inches. On top of that, you’ve also got a super useable 9.5 square feet of vestibule area which is perfect for storing your gear.

One of the areas that we really love about this tent is the way in which its construction reduces its carbon impact. REI’s commitment to sustainability can be seen in its use of recycled materials and solution-dyed mesh meaning no harmful chemicals have been used during the process to make it fire retardant.

Need more options? Check out our list of the best one-man tents for some more ideas.

  • Lightweight
  • Pretty durable
  • Center seam can tear
  • Entry level

best travel tent for backpacking

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 #4 Best Camping Hammock Tent: Lawson Hammock Blue Ridge

Lawson Blue Ridge Hammock Tent

  • Price: $199
  • Weight: 4.25 pounds
  • Dimensions: 90 x 42 inches
  • Size when packed: 6 x 22 inches

Hammock tents are super versatile, well made and can be set up like a normal tent on the ground if needs be – this offers the best of both worlds. If you are looking for a quality one-man tent for backpacking but also want to hang out on the beach in a hammock during the day, the Lawson Hammock Tent offers incredible versatility and best of all these bad boys are tough and you can put them through hell.

This particular hammock tent comes with an integrated mosquito net to keep bugs out and a waterproof ripstop nylon rain fly to keep you dry (it actually rained hard when we tested it too). It’s also easy enough to put up despite the novel design. They felt it wasn’t overly complicated to put up despite being a very different design than they were used to.

Super lightweight Best of two worlds Seriously cool

Not cheap for a hammock Not everyone likes hammocks

#5 Another Great Travel Tent – Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL 2 Solution Dye

Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL 2

  • Price: $499.95
  • Weight: 1.13kg

Big Anges have really outdone themselves with the Tigerwall UL Solution Dye series. Now being their smallest and lightest tent, it is designed to be the perfect travel companion for 3-season multi-day trips. When this parcel arrived in the post, at first, I thought I had the wrong order; it was way too small for a 2-person tent. How wrong I was. Every tiny detail, from the poles to the pegs have been meticulously thought about to reduce every single gram – yet maintaining that balance of strength and structure. Boasting their solution dye fabric, this tent doesn’t just reduce weight; its fabrication even has a reduced energy and water usage – making it one of the most eco-friendly tents on the market too. 

The single pole structure is made with DAC Featherlite NFL aluminum. It comes in a Y-shape with a small, built-in T-bone to add the necessary dimensions, while also creating a super-fast build time. The inner canopy is made of a breathable ripstop nylon/polyester mesh which allows perfect airflow with a bug protector. It has a large built-in pocket for storage.

As much as I love the Big Anges Tigerwall, like everything, it comes with its flaws. The footprint is made of the same Silicone-treated ripstop Solution Dye nylon that the raincover is made from. Although this maintains that super ultralightweight design, I can see it ripping. This is the only disappointing part of the design of this tent for me.

#6 Best Bivvy Tent for Backpacking: Crua Hybrid

best travel tent for backpacking

  • Price: $299.99
  • Weight: 6.6 lbs
  • Length of Sleeping Area:  6.1ft
  • Size when packed: 29.1 x 13.3 x 13.3 in

If you’re looking to travel light, quickly and lay your head wherever you can, then the Crua Hybrid might just be for you. This tent is probably one of the most versatile on the market at the moment and for backpacking it makes the perfect accompaniment for those on a real adventure.

Whether you choose to use it as a bivvy or hang it off the nearest palm tree as a hammock, you’ll be able to bed down whenever and wherever the need arises. Luckily, the tent is made up of super-strong and durable rip-stop polyester meaning wherever you put it night in night out, it will last the course of your trip!

Make no mistake, this thing is most definitely a one-person tent but that doesn’t mean it isn’t spacious! The interior of the tent is a mummy shape meaning it’s tapered for the wider parts of the body and it features a pretty large vestibule for the style of tent. This area is not only ideal for keeping your gear but it can also be used by those who want a bit more headspace.

Another great feature of this tent is the integrated anti-bug mesh meaning during the warmer months or whilst travelling around tropical areas you can pull the waterproof flysheet off and let the breeze blow through without getting eaten alive. It also makes the tent less claustrophobic than you might imagine for a bivvy-style tent.

The tent is predominantly designed for the summer months but it can be combined with the Crua Culla Solo, an insulation insert built specifically for this tent. This adds not only insulation for the winter months but can also be used to keep out the blazing sun as well as acting as a sound and light barrier for the ultimate night’s sleep. But of course, this is to be purchased extra and does add extra weight to your pack.

  • Hybrid design can be adapted to different travel styles
  • Super durable
  • Quick and easy set up

Ten years ago, I hit the road with almost no money in my pocket, a battered tent and an old camping stove. I hitchhiked my way across Europe, thriving on a shoestring budget and having an incredible adventure. Since then, I’ve personally tried and tested dozens of backpacking tents in my travels.

If you’re a long-distance hiker, your needs will be pretty different to a backpacker traveling around the world. Weight is arguably the most important factor to look at when choosing both a travel or hiking tent and personally I would never carry a tent that weighs more than 5 pounds – it’s just too heavy.

Personally, I opt to go for a light and compact tent which I can pitch quickly. All of the tents that I’m reviewing weigh under 5 pounds and are quick to set up but some of them are lighter, or faster to set up, than others.

best travel tent for backpacking

Price is obviously an important factor and if you’re on a budget, your choices are plentiful! Once upon a time, cheap backpacking tents were dogshit, falling apart and breaking before long. These days, however, many kickass companies have stepped up to the plate and offer some seriously good cheap tents; so much so that we have a roundup of the best budget backpacking tents!

Think carefully about what you need your personal tent for and how many people you envision sleeping in it. Most of the time, three-man backpacking tents only weigh a little bit more than two-man tents so if you will be camping with a buddy, it’s well worth picking a three-manner and taking the extra sleeping space.

Two-man backpacking tents can be pretty cramped, especially if you want to roll around a lot. 😉

Considerations to make about your backpacking tent.

When choosing the best backpacking tent for yourself, here’s what you should consider…

  • Size when packed
  • Size when open
  • Pitching time
  • Functionality
  • Durability and strength

Having a backpacking tent with you opens up a whole new world of possibilities – you can save a ton of money by camping and if you’re hitchhiking you really MUST have a tent as there is no way of knowing where you’ll end up sleeping!

best travel tent for backpacking

If you are on a long-term budget adventure, having a tent for camping really is a necessity as it will save you so much cash and gives you so many more options. A backpacking tent not only saves you money in the long run but frees you up to stay in a place you otherwise could never have stayed in. Some of my most memorable travel experiences were only possible because I was camping.

Check out the comparison table and detailed tent reviews below so that you can choose the best backpacking tent for your needs.

best travel tent for backpacking

Now, you  could spend a fat chunk of $$$ on the WRONG present for someone. Wrong size hiking boots, wrong fit backpack, wrong shape sleeping bag… As any adventurer will tell you, gear is a personal choice.

So give the adventurer in your life the gift of convenience: buy them an REI Co-op gift card!  REI is The Broke Backpacker’s retailer of choice for ALL things outdoors, and an REI gift card is the perfect present you can buy from them. And then you won’t have to keep the receipt. 😉

If you just don’t want to take a tent, at least take a hammock! Camping hammocks are compact, light and give you a ton of freedom.

If you’re travelling solo then I would suggest getting a hammock rather than a tent (depending on where you are travelling) or even getting both as a hammock opens up a whole new world of outdoor sleeping…  Check out The 10 Best Camping Hammocks to find the best backpacking hammock tent for you or, if you’re feeling lazy – buy this one; it’s the best value camping hammock around (but it can’t be pitched on the ground like the Lawson Blue Ridge).

Also, if you ever want to step up your camping game to another level, check out our epic review of the best rooftop tents .

the best tent for backpacking

The only way to really test a tent out, to be honest, is to get all up inside it! So in the name of science we took each tent out for a proper few nights camping to give them all a proper old test drive and find you the perfect backpacker tent!

In order to fairly and consistently assess and compare them to one another, our testers applied the following metrics to each of them;

Packed Weight

You can go onto a tent manufacturer’s website and find out what the packed weight of a tent is but that KG/Ibs number only really comes into sharp focus once you’re 5 hours into a hike, halfway up a mountain and your shoulders a screaming bloody murder!

The lighter a tent feels when strapped to your back, the better, simple as that! Either way, you’re going to want a compact tent for backpacking.

Packability (Packing and Unpacking!)

One of the most annoying features when it comes to tents is twofold. The first is pitching and unpitching. No one wants to be messing about with an overly complicated tent in gale-force winds and a downpour! Equally, many tents can be a nightmare to pack back into the inhumanly small bags they come in. Again, having to be a master in origami to get the thing back into its bag is no fun for anyone!

Our testers awarded each tent points for being easy to pack and unpack and deducted points for being difficult. Fair enough right?

Warmth, Waterproof and Ventilation

When you spend a night sleeping in a tent, you really get to know it. Nothing brings into reality those temperature ratings until you’re freezing your arse off for hours on end or alternatively spending the night rolling around in what feels like a tropical swamp!

Insulation and ventilation are key components to a good tent and an enjoyable experience! One great way to really get on top of your temperature rating outdoors is a solid insulated tent .

Obviously, when assessing the warmth and ventilation capabilities of a tent our testers took into account the weather and the sleeping bag they were using.

In terms of testing out the waterproofing, if our testers ended up somewhere dry, they just went back to basics and threw a whole heap of water over it! Leaky mofos were sent packing!

Spaciousness and Comfort

Tents are not exactly designed for throwing parties (ok, some are) unfortunately… but I mean, we can try! Either way, you still want to have enough space to sit up and store your gear.

Again, this is something you only really get a feel for after spending a night inside a tent which is exactly what we did. 

Build Quality and Durability

All of our testers were instructed to subject tent poles to a good bit of good-natured force, look closely at the seam sewing and take notice of the thickness of the fly sheets.

As a side note, ultralight tents are not as durable as heavier ones so there is always a tradeoff between longevity and packed weight when it comes to this type of tent.

Still have some questions about the best tent for backpacking? No problem! We’ve listed and answered the most commonly asked questions below. Here’s what people usually want to know:

What is the overall best backpacking tent?

We think the MSR Hubba Hubba 2 offers the best value, however, the Nemo Hornet is a very strong competitor.

How many people can fit in a backpacking tent?

Backpacking tents are generally smaller than camping tents. Therefore, they can only fit 1-2 people at a time. There are some 3-man backpacking tents on the market as well.

Are backpacking tents durable and waterproof?

Loads of backpacking tents are durable and waterproof, however, they also cost accordingly. Budget tents don’t offer as much quality. The highest value tent is the MSR Hubba Hubba 2 .

What do I need to consider when buying a backpacking tent?

Keep therse things in mind: 1. Size and Price 2. Durability, strength and functionality 3. The season you’re backpacking in 4. The weight as you need to carry it

best travel tent for backpacking

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I decided to break down all the information you really need to pick the best tent for backpacking so hopefully, you have found this post useful and can now pick out the best tent for your needs.

If I had to pick one overall epic tent for backpacking I would say go for the  MSR Hubba Hubba .

So pick up the best budget solo backpacking tent and head out there! Happy camping amigos!

Found the right tent? Now check out the best backpacking sleeping bags to put inside!

best travel tent for backpacking

Aiden Freeborn

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best travel tent for backpacking


I appreciate this post. Looking for ultralight tents that are easy to carry and setup, also made without flame retardants / VOCs.

Hey there, Will. Thanks for this useful resource.

Very curious about your take on the newly launched NEMO Firefly. Perhaps it’s too new for you to have any first-hand experience, but interested especially in how you feel it might stack up to the HHNX2.

I know that’s your go-to (and mine), but I have to admit this Firefly has me intrigued. Thoughts?

Looking for as in-depth as you’re capable of offering, in light of the fact I might consider purchasing one myself. Pros/cons/etc.

Hello, We do not yet have personal experience with the Nemo Firefly, but from all reports, it sounds like a good tent. If you end up buying one, let us know how you like it!

Hello, We do not yet have personal experience with the Neo Firefly, but from all reports, it sounds like a good tent. If you end up buying one, let us know how you like it!

Recently read through the Broke Backpacker web site and see you make recommendations on various backpacking gear. I represent a manufacturer of light weight backpacks designed for a backpack and or motorcycle pannier. Would you be so kind as to let me know how I might be able to participate in your web site helping people become aware of the DL Adventure products.

Thank You Al

Hello, Please email us for this sort of inquiry. Thanks!

So, after shopping around for tents and giving myself a headache from staring at the screen, I gave up and decided to purchase the Bearheard Emergency tube tent, a quick backup in case I couldn’t find a room to rent in a hostel or wanted as little set-up hassle as possible on camping grounds. (Plus, hey! Super lightweight, doesn’t take up much space in my pack, and will keep me dry and warm in harsh climates.)

And now I’m in post-purchase regret because I have no clue how I’d secure myself and my backpack within this doorless/flapless tent, but buying another tent that’s going to break my bank and add too much weight to my pack just doesn’t seem like an option. I guess I’m thinking too much about this, but for anyone who’s reading:

Any tips on keeping myself and my stuff safe in this humble thing? I have a retractable cable lock, if I can do anything with that.

Hey Timmmy,

Hmmm, your options are limited in such a small space. I recommend keeping your valuables in your tent with you when possible. Good luck!

Is there is any tent that suits for hot weather ? I mean while travel in the summer which tent is perfect?

The MSR Zoic 2p is great for hot weather if you don’t use the rainfly. The tent has a ton of mesh all the way around the tent body, allowing for maximum airflow. Cheers!

Hi Will. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your site. I’m planning a trip in the summer of 2020 full of firsts (first backpacking, first solo, first SEA) and your insights have been extremely helpful. So I have a question about the need for a tent. I’m gonna be doing a modified banana pancake trip, but i’m really planning on hostel hopping. I have a travel hammock, but not one I’d sleep in without jerry-rigging a mosquito net. Is it worth me bringing a tent just in case or am I better served saving weight/space in my pack?

Hey Dan, and Hi from Chiang Mai! We’re on the pancake trail right now and you’ll do well in hostels on the pancake trail. You can bring a tent if you’re planning on camping up in the hills outside of civilization, but depending on your travel style, you’re likely to get invited into people’s homes more often than not if you’re off the beaten track, respectful, and like spicy food. If it comes down to it, you can pick up a mosquito net here. Happy adventuring!

Couldn’t find the Vango Banshee for the listed price… Seems it has gone up to 240$ for the Banshee 300 Pro I see on Amazon. Is it still worth the price?

The Vango is a solid tent for its price bracket.

Well done . Great review. Totally covered all I needed on Pakistan. Also one of my favourite countries to travel . I hitched from Calcutta to London way back in 1995 and Pakistan was the Jewel . Doing it all again and should be back there in a couple of weeks .I can’t wait .

Do you have any negative experience with the MSR mutha hubba 3 person tent regarding waterproofness? Almost all the negative feedback state that the rainfly touches the inner tent during heavy rainfall. Is this a manufacturing default or just the result of a wrong set-up?

Hi Nicolas,

If tensioned properly, the rainfly should NOT touch the inner tent body during heavy rain. That said, if many people are reporting the issue, it could be a design flaw that MSR may well have addressed for their upcoming release of the updated 2019 MSR Hubba Hubba tent series. I have personally never encountered such an issue with the rainfly (I have an older Hubba Hubba tent as well as the 2019 updated version), but that is not to say that it can’t happen. I have always been 100% dry in my Hubba Hubba, and I have spent weeks sleeping in it. If you follow the steps to tension the rain fly properly using all the grommet straps and guy lines you should be enjoying night after night of (dry) sleeping in the tent. Hope that helped! Good luck!

In the reviews online I’ve read on the MSR Mutha hubba NX 3-person tent, there seems to be a recurrent problem with condensation/leaks, specifically the fact that the rain fly touches the inner tent. Do you know if, for the 2019 version, this problem has been taken care of? Is this, in your expertise, a real problem or just a consequence of a bad set-up? I am going backpacking in a very wet country for 3 months so this concerns me a bit. I am torn between the Big Agnes copper spur HV UL 3 and the MSR Mutha hubba NX 3 person tent, so I’d like to get an experts opinion!

Kind regards,

Brilliant review, thank you. It says the MSR Hubba Hubba is a 3 season tent, does that mean its no good for winter?

This definitely depends, but it is not built to handle intense winter/mountaineering camping and snow, nor extremely low temperatures, so I guess it depends how harsh your winter is.

I love your articles and I’m going to follow your advice for haggling in Vietnam and Thailand in my near future. Just wondering if you’ve ever tried a bivy sack or a sleeping pad/air bed and could you comment on it?

I will choose the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL1 all the way. It might be expensive but it’s totally worth it!

Thank you very for your great review.

For a travel of several months in Latin America, I would like to take an MSR Hubba NX tent. I will hiking with my tent several times and will volunteer in places where I will have to stay in my tent. I think that MSR Hubba NX tent is good alternative for this travel, but I hesitate between solo or two person tent. Taking into consideration that I will stay a lot of days in the tent, I would like to be able to move a little in the tent (I am 1.80 tall), perhaps to store my backpack, but I am hesitating for the extra weight (1/2 kg) /place that I will have to carry.

Do you think that it will worth taking the NX2, for the extra room that it will provide? I will not always be in camp and will carry this tent in cities, buses, etc. when I am not using it..

Personally, if I am camping a lot – I always opt for more room, however if I am going to be carrying that over a multi-day trek, I would sacrifice comfort for weight. It’s really a matter of personal preference and what kind of activities you will be doing 🙂

Really useful comments, thanks Confused on the name of the 3 man MSR Hubba Hubba. The link takes you to the MSR Mutha Hubba NX. Is it the same thing or am I missing something.

That’s correct buddy – the 3 man is the Mutha Hubba NX.

Really useful review! Can I ask what your thoughts on the MSR Elixsr – seems similar to the Hubba Hubba, but a little heavier and bigger to pack down, but quite a lot cheaper (£200 vs £360). Or would you say the Vango Banshee is better than the Elixsr? Seems like there’s more livable space and vestibule space with the Elixsr… Thanks, Sky

The MSR Elixsr is definitely superior to the Vango Banshee but obviously it’s twice the price… I genuinely think that the Vango Banshee is the best value backpacking tent around but if you have more money to spend, and want to splash out on a tent that will last a lifetime, MSR simply make the best tents in the world. Really though it depends on how many people, and how much stuff, you need to get into your tent… The Vango Banshee 300 is good for two people, not the advertised three people that Vango say you can comfortably fit inside.

Sorry dude, but the vango banshe is a piece of shit… barely no ventillation, not enough screens, useless in a tropical climate and fire retardent, pigs arse, half the fly burnt down on mine I informed vango and they told me bad luck, as I needed another fly, they told me to buy another tent….wankers !!! Also its a pain to put up the way the inner bag attaches to the fly, stupid design. Rant over.

I respectfully disagree dude… I traveled with a Vango for years and it was a trusty workhorse, it ain’t as light or as tough as some of the other tents out there but for what you pay – it’s a great backpacking tent! Probably shouldn’t have been cooking in your tent porch if you didn’t want it to burn 😛

Hi, can you name the tent on the first picture? The triangle-ish one (doesn’t look like the Vango..?!).

Thank you annette

That’s actually an ANCIENT North Face tent that my mates in Bhutan lent me.

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The Best Backpacking Tents of 2024

Whether you’re looking to spend 100 nights on the trail or want to stick to a tight budget, we’ve found the best backpacking tents of 2024.

best travel tent for backpacking

From PCT hikers spending 6 months on the trail to the nascent hiker spending 6 days on their first solo backpacking trip,   a good tent is the cornerstone of outdoor preparedness . The right tent can be a shelter from the elements and critters. In the wild, it’s a home away from home.

When it comes to picking a tent, one truth stands out: no single tent will work well for every situation. Sometimes you want a superlight bivy that just keeps the bugs away on a long hike. Other times, you want a burly winter abode capable of standing up to gale-force winds and heavy snow. Maybe you want that tent that can do a little of everything.

We considered six factors while evaluating the best backpacking tents: ease of setting up, durability and materials, weight and packed size, interior space, weather resistance, and value.

Floor space and packed weight were the most important factors to our panel, while extra features such as pouches and pockets weighed less heavily in our evaluation.

Each tent excels in one or more of these aspects, and we have awarded outstanding models “Best of Rating” corresponding to their outstanding qualities. So whether you are pinching pennies, are ready to splurge on the tent of your dreams, or just want to replace your tattered gear, we have found a tent that can fit your budget and needs.

Our team of testers have spent hundreds of nights in tents in weather conditions that run the gamut from excruciating desert heat to frigid winter nights at high elevations to bring you our selection of the best backpacking tents for this year.

Senior Editor Chris Carter has put over 10 different backpacking tents to the test in the past year alone. He pitched them all over the world to determine their worth, from snow-blasted alpine ridges in the San Juans to wind-whipped dusty sandflats in the African bush. No stone was left unturned in an effort to narrow in on the most deserving models on the market.

Scroll through to see all of our recommended buys, or jump to the category you’re looking for. At the end of our list, be sure to check out our  buyer’s guide , comparison chart , and  FAQ  section.

Editor’s Note: We refreshed this article on November 30, 2023,   adding additional details about our testing practices, and more information and photos in the buyer’s guide. We also made sure our product list is up-to-date with current models, colorways, and designs.

  • Best Overall Backpacking Tent: Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2
  • Best Budget Backpacking Tent: REI Co-op Trail Hut 2
  • Best Ultralight Backpacking Tent: Zpacks Plex Solo
  • Best Value Ultralight Backpacking Tent: Gossamer Gear The Two
  • Best Minimalist Backpacking Tent: Hyperlite Mountain Gear UltaMid 2

Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2

  • Weight 3 lbs., 2 oz.
  • Height 40 in.
  • Floor space 29 sq. ft.
  • Materials Nylon, aluminum, and composite
  • Vestibule area 18 sq. ft.

Product Badge

  • Roomier than expected
  • Excellent storage and vestibule design
  • Struggles in high winds (above 40 mph)
  • Somewhat fragile

Looking for a three-season freestanding tent that tips the scales at just 3 pounds, 2 ounces? Enter the  Big Agnes Copper Spur  ($550). Although you can find lighter tents on the market, this tent is light enough to make it a contender for the best backpacking tent, even for the gram-counters among us.

This tent boasts a good overlap between the bathtub floor and the rainfly, ensuring a dry night’s sleep. Above the floor material, quality mesh provides a breathable, well-ventilated space that should keep condensation low.

With so little weight in your pack, you get a really comfortable abode for the trail. It has two doors, two vestibules, 29 square feet of floor space, and 18 square feet of combined vestibule space. The vestibules transform into awnings with trekking poles to cook under or to allow airflow.

Easy-to-use tent buckles on the corners where the fly attaches make for quick setup in a storm. We also appreciated the storage pockets at the feet and head for electronics, snacks, or layers. Plus, the ceiling pocket at the head has media pockets with cord-routing for electronics if you are stuck in bad weather.

The Copper Spur is a lightweight tent, therefore, the materials are more delicate to save weight. The ripstop floor and fly have 1,200mm polyurethane (PU) coating but are very thin. The poles are a mix of DAC’s NSL and NFL, and are the lightest the brand offers. The four-way hub at the apex where the poles join aids in a speedy setup.

Remember, it is important to exercise caution when setting up to avoid ripping or breaking poles. Always double-check to make sure poles are properly seated before flexing them into position.

Be careful when packing light tents into your pack, too. With conscientious care and maintenance, these tents can last a long time.

This  Big Agnes Copper Spur tent  is ideal for lightweight backpacking so long as you take good care to protect the materials. Hikers who use electronics more, or who think they may take a rest day or two in the tent, will enjoy the extra features.

There are lighter tents available for ultralight hikers and beefier ones for those who will be within spitting distance of a car. Overall, this tent is great for summer camping, backpacking, and any multiday trip where you’re looking for a balance of comfort and weight.

Check out our full GearJunkie Review on the Copper Spur HV UL2 for more info.

REI Co-op Trail Hut 2

  • Weight 5 lbs., 15 oz.
  • Floor space 31.7 sq. ft.
  • Materials Polyester, aluminum, and coated nylon taffeta
  • Vestibule area 19 sq. ft.

The Best Backpacking Tents of 2024

  • Fully featured
  • Durable design

Fast is slow — and slow is the REI Co-op Trail Hut 2 ($199). You won’t be setting a land speed record with this in your pack, but for durable, consistent functionality in the backcountry, it’s hard to beat this budget bargain. Unabashedly tipping the scales with a chunky six-pound packaged weight, the Trail Hut is for casual trekkers prioritizing comfort and utility over streamlined minimalism. It boasts one of the lowest price tags on this roundup, and given its broad feature set, sturdy construction, and thoughtful design, we think it punches well above its weight.

We’ve pitched, lived in, and wrestled mid-storm with enough tents to know a piece of junk when we see it — and the Trail Hut is anything but. Right out of the box it sets up intuitively, the poles and materials feel premium, and the fly provides comprehensive protection from the elements. Leave it to the REI Co-op to deliver a quality design that won’t break the bank.

While this wouldn’t be our abode of choice for an ultralight foray across the country, for shorter backpacking trips with a partner, we have no qualms about braving inclement weather or burly wind in this fortified shelter. The 66- and 68-denier materials are much tougher (and heavier) than many models on this list, and instill heaps of confidence when Thor’s Hammer charges up. The fly snugs down close to the ground, with generous vestibules and low-profile vents, making this a cozy, well-ventilated escape in wild downpours. In mild weather, the fly can be rolled back almost entirely, opening up the full side of the tent and affording a stellar cross breeze.

A ridge pole lays under the two primary poles, giving the Trail Hut near vertical walls, and greatly boosting the interior living room. This comes at the cost of some significant bulk, but it becomes a manageable package when one person carries the fly and poles, and the other the tent body.

If casual, occasional trips are on the docket, you’ll love this reliable, hard-working beast . Split the weight between the two of you, get after it, and you’ll forget you’re hauling a budget model.

Zpacks Plex Solo

  • Weight 13.9 oz. (for the blue color scheme)
  • Height 52 in.
  • Floor space 20.6 sq. ft.
  • Materials Dyneema (0.75 oz./sq. yd.)

The Best Backpacking Tents of 2024

  • Extremely ultralight
  • Well-ventilated
  • Unique system of dealing with condensation buildup
  • Only uses one trekking pole instead of two
  • Somewhat annoying not having a zipper on the vestibule

A sub-14-ounce, fully enclosed tent using only one trekking pole? Yes, please! How Zpacks keeps managing to crank out top-shelf, ridiculously durable gear catered for the gram-conscious backpacking crowd, we’ll never know. But the  Plex Solo  ($600) carries the torch of their reputation.

When we got this package in the mail, we thought they had literally forgotten to include the tent in the padded envelope. Yes, a shelter you live in for months came in an envelope and was left in our mailbox. This thing is light light.

Retaining the durability and function we have grown accustomed to with Zpack’s flagship models like the Duplex, the Plex Solo shaves ounces by using a single 132 cm trekking pole, and implementing a no-frills, simple design.

They’ve also eliminated a zipper from the storm flap/vestibule, using metal hooks to keep it closed. This system pairs down on weight, but we also found it to be a little less convenient than a zipper, primarily if you are trying to faff around with it late at night to go to the bathroom. Using only one trekking pole, the Plex Solo maximizes space with a series of guylines all around the tent that pull the fabric outwards from the center pole.

One of the things that plague single-wall, ultralight shelters the most is condensation buildup. The Plex Solo addresses this with one of the best designs we’ve seen in the industry, and we’ve been mega thankful for the lack of drips on our sleeping bags in the morning.

There is a screen between the bathtub floor and the tent walls, which can be sloped downward by an elastic cord that keeps the bathtub elevated. This allows the condensation to run down the wall and fall through the sloping screen, as opposed to onto the floor.

As one of the lightest, fully enclosed shelters you can buy for dedicated long-distance backpacking, the  Plex Solo  is quickly becoming the gold standard for the ultralight and thru-hiking crowd. It’s just so hard to beat 13.9 ounces, with a design that doesn’t skimp on performance or comfort. If you’re staring down the barrel of a multimonth thru-hike, or just want an ultralight shelter for fast forays in the backcountry, look no further.

Gossamer Gear The Two

  • Weight 23.5 oz.
  • Height 43 in.
  • Floor dimensions (LxWxH) 84 x 48/42 (head slightly wider) x 43 in.
  • Materials Custom 10D nylon ripstop SIL/PU fabric
  • Vestibule area 10 sq. ft.

The Best Backpacking Tents of 2024

  • Super spacious
  • Condensation tends to build up pretty easily
  • Internal mesh pockets are placed a little awkwardly

As far as lightweight, spacious, and extremely durable single-wall shelters for two go, it’s hard to find something that compares to the value of  Gossamer Gear’s The Two  ($320). Simple, affordable, and super easy to set up, The Two gives weight-conscious backpacking couples looking to streamline their kit a solid ultralight option.

At 23.5 ounces and packing down to just over the size of a Nalgene, The Two can easily be carried by one member of the party, or the weight can be shared slightly by one hiker carrying the tent stakes (its poles are your trekking poles). All in all, it’s a no-frills, weatherproof escape from the elements that serious backpackers can rely on to last the distance.

At $320 (a significant drop from last season’s $375 price tag), this is one of the least expensive ultralight shelters that has been thoroughly tested by countless thru-hikers (usually with its smaller sibling,  The One ), and weekend warriors alike. Similar single wall, trekking pole style tents such as the Zpacks Duplex will put you out $700 or so, don’t stuff down as small, and aren’t, in our experience, quite as long-lasting.

The Two is constructed with a light nylon and SilNylon combo, a fully waterproof, slightly stretchy material perfect for reducing weight without sacrificing strength and durability. It holds out rain phenomenally, and the catenary cut allows for solid drainage so water doesn’t build up anywhere.

This tent can feel like a castle. With ample headroom and a generous bathtub floor, it offers plenty of space for two tapered 25-inch-wide sleeping pads. The massive double vestibules add even more living room, and are plenty big enough to cook in if the weather turns foul around dinner time. One of our testers was 6’2″, and she was able to easily sit up without hitting her head, and stretch out fully without touching the top and bottom of the tent.

Despite being heavily ventilated, condensation does build up pretty significantly in The Two, but you can greatly reduce this if the weather allows by keeping the two vestibules fully opened on either side. Two internal mesh pockets allow for ample storage but are placed a little awkwardly in the middle of the tent. This makes them harder to access while lying down.

These gripes aside, this is one of the best shelters you can buy for ultralight backpacking with a partner. If a 6-month thru-hike is in your future, or sporadic outings to remote alpine lakes are on the docket,  The Two  will keep you cozy and dry without weighing you down.

Hyperlite Mountain Gear UltaMid 2 Dyneema Tent

  • Weight 1 lb., 2 oz.
  • Height 64 in.
  • Floor space 50 sq. ft.
  • Materials Cuben fiber, your trekking poles

The Best Backpacking Tents of 2024

  • Very strong
  • Trekking pole tents aren’t for everyone
  • Need space to set up guy lines

The  Hyperlite Mountain Gear UltaMid 2  is incredible, but it’s also super expensive. So, while we do love this model for several reasons, it comes with a caveat of a $730 price tag, plus another $399 if you want the mesh insert to keep bugs away. For serious hikers, the hefty investment may be worth it, as it’s definitely one of the best backpacking tents available.

Hyperlite builds the UltaMid 2 with Dyneema fabric, an extraordinarily durable material that withstands tons of abuse yet remains incredibly light. This tent, which uses trekking poles for support, weighs in at just 1.19 pounds for the main tent body.

Add 1.3 pounds for a matched mesh insert, and it’s still super light. It provides a floor area of over 50 square feet, enough space for two hikers and packs.

The only drawbacks are the price and that you must have trekking poles. You also are going to need space to guy out the lines, as it is not freestanding.

While expensive, this is a top-tier tent that will last a very long time. If you’re looking for an ultralight tent our tester called a “wonder of engineering” that will give you many seasons of use, this one is worth considering. For more, check out our  full review of the UltaMid 2 .

NEMO Hornet Elite OSMO 2P

  • Weight 2 lbs., 1 oz.
  • Height 37 in.
  • Floor space 27.3 sq. ft.
  • Materials OSMO poly-nylon ripstop fabric
  • Vestibule area 12.4 sq. ft.

The Best Backpacking Tents of 2024

  • Packs small
  • Withstands weather
  • Fragile for car camping or sharp rocks

With solid upgrades to the already legendary Hornet Elite 2 tent, the  NEMO Hornet Elite Osmo 2P   ($650) offers greater water resistance and less sag when wet than its predecessor with Nemo’s proprietary Osmo fabric. We absolutely love this tent. Mostly, we love how much this tent saves both weight and pack space. It’s a marvel of engineering and is truly one of the best backpacking tents ever designed.

The Hornet Elite Osmo weighs a scant 2 pounds, 1 ounce. And you can ditch some stakes and the stuff sack for a minimum trail weight of 1 pound, 11 ounces. For gram-counters, that makes it a contender on weight alone.

This tent is more than just light. It’s also a very legit abode in bad weather. On rainy, stormy nights on the trail, the  Hornet Elite Osmo  kept our team dry and comfortable.

Unlike many ultralight options, which depend on trekking poles, this is a freestanding tent. It uses a clever three-pole design with a small “Flybar” where they all connect to give it that extra bit of volume. It has a mesh interior and utilizes an integrated rainfly to keep out bugs, rain, and wind.

Inside, a 27.3-square-foot floor gives a small but acceptable space for two adults. This is certainly not a large footprint, and you will be shoulder-to-shoulder with your tentmate. Remember, we’re ultralight backpacking here, so snuggle up.

Fortunately, there is enough room under the two vestibules (serviced by two doors) for a large pack, shoes, and some other gear. We’ve used it many times in the rain, and it’s enough space to keep your kit dry, even in nasty weather.

Setup and takedown are also easy. Once familiar with the tent, our testers were able to set it up easily in less than 5 minutes.

Of course, at $650, the Hornet Elite Osmo is a significant investment. But we’ve used it for enough nights to be impressed with its durability. That said, this is a super light OSMO poly-nylon ripstop fabric tent. That means it won’t hold up to tons of abuse, and we don’t recommend it for car camping, as that would put wear and tear on a very expensive tent.

For those who want a lightweight tent to carry over big miles, the  NEMO Hornet Elite Osmo   is one of our favorite ultralight backpacking tents on the market right now.

Zpacks Duplex

  • Weight 1 lb., 3.4 oz.
  • Height 48 in.
  • Floor space 28.1 sq. ft.
  • Materials Dyneema (0.55 oz./sq. yd.)
  • Vestibule area 11 sq. ft.

The Best Backpacking Tents of 2024

  • Hard to set up
  • Requires large area, stakes, and guylines

For minimalist backpackers and thru-hikers who put weight savings at the top of the list, it’s hard to beat the  Zpacks Duplex  ($669). This non-freestanding, trekking pole-supported design has been a long-time favorite on the AT and PCT thanks to its excellent mix of minimal weight, ample space, and protection from the elements.

Featuring a Dyneema Composite construction (rather than nylon or SilNylon found on most backpacking models), the tent is legitimately ultralight at just 1 pound, 3.4 ounces. But the unique fabric holds up well to rough use and isn’t prone to sagging, even in heavy moisture.

The Duplex offers good all-around livability for two backpackers with a peak height of 48 inches, two side doors and vestibules, and a symmetrical rectangular floor.

What do you give up with the ultralight build? For one, the setup process is much more involved than a typical, pole-supported backpacking tent. You’ll need a fairly large area to stake out all the guylines, and it takes quite a bit of practice to get an even pitch.

Also, condensation buildup can be an issue at night, especially along the canopy peak. This model utilizes single-wall construction (and no mesh insert). Finally, in particularly rough and windy weather, we did find it to be pretty drafty due to the mesh sidewalls.

As such, the  Duplex   likely isn’t the best choice for casual backpackers, four-season adventurers, or those looking for a great value. (It costs $669, and that doesn’t include stakes.)

This tent is ideal for the type of person who cuts their toothbrush in half and takes pride in overall base weight. Overall, the Duplex is a standout option for serious hikers who plan to log a lot of miles and aren’t shy about paying for quality ultralight materials.

REI Co-op Arete ASL 2 Backpacking Tent

  • Weight 6 lbs., 5 oz.
  • Floor space 32.9 sq. ft.
  • Materials Nylon and aluminum
  • Vestibule area 8.7 sq. ft.

The Best Backpacking Tents of 2024

  • Storm-ready
  • Lightweight for a four-season tent
  • Single door

The  Arete ASL 2  ($449) is a chunker, but offers a ton of versatility and protection from the elements in an affordable package, which earned it a spot on this list. With a minimum trail weight of 5 pounds, 10 ounces, it’s not ultralight by any stretch, but it is surprisingly light and reasonably priced for a winter-ready four-season tent. It does well in the summer too, with plenty of mesh for ventilation.

We found the four-pole setup quick and easy, thanks to the intuitive color coding. The vestibule provides enough room for two packs and hiking shoes. The corner pockets and hang loops keep essentials at hand. For better durability and comfort, we recommend  adding on the footprint , which is sold separately.

We don’t love the single-door design, but at least the door is large and easy to access from either corner of the tent. Previous models of this tent experienced issues with the rainfly seam sealant, but it appears that REI has fixed that problem with this newest update.

Overall, the  Arete ASL 2  is a sturdy, all-season tent, and comes in at about half the price as other four-season tents. This tent is great for any winter enthusiast not ready to spend a lot of cash on a specialized winter tent, but it’s too heavy for most warm-weather backpackers.

Read Review: 4-Season Strength, 3-Season Weight: REI Co-op Arete ASL 2 Tent Review

Sea to Summit Telos TR2

  • Packed weight 3 lbs., 10.7 oz.
  • Height 43.5 in.
  • Floor space 23 sq. ft.
  • Materials Polyester and aluminum
  • Vestibule area 19.5 sq. ft.

The Best Backpacking Tents of 2024

  • Light but fairly durable
  • Accommodating for people over 6 feet tall
  • Steep walls
  • Storage system overly complicated

Sea to Summit launched its first tents, the  Alto   and  Telos   ($599), for spring 2021. We tested both models and found that we preferred the free-standing Telos between the two.

The Telos is an excellent first attempt from the brand in this crowded market. It definitely stands apart from other tents, with unique architecture that creates very steep sidewalls and a high 43.5-inch peak height.

This gives even tall users (like our 6’4″ editor-in-chief) plenty of headroom to lie down or sit upright. It also proved to have strong architecture. Our test faced very strong winds, pushing 50 mph, and the Sea to Summit Telos did not collapse at all, even when receiving heavy gusts.

However, our testers did not love everything about the Telos. The biggest complaints surrounded the tent’s unique storage system. Sea to Summit opted to use two bags and a “light bar” tube (a separate narrow stuff sack for the poles that has a light-diffusing material to create a night light when a headlamp is placed in it).

We agreed that the light bar idea was overly clever and that we would probably never use it. Furthermore, you stuff the tent body into one bag, the fly into another, and the poles into the tube. This allows users to split the load or drop elements of the tent from the trip (as you can set up the fly without the body for ultralight use).

However, our testers found it unnecessary and confusing. We all agreed that you’d likely end up losing parts this way. In short, while Sea to Summit really thought through this design, we would prefer a simple stuff sack and pole bag.

All that said, the  Telos   is an excellent backpacking tent that offers good ventilation, excellent interior space, two doors, and two vestibules.

We would not hesitate to buy one primarily as a backpacking tent that could flex into car camping, thanks to fairly durable materials and an available footprint. For those who like versatility in setup and are good at keeping track of stuff sacks, this is a solid choice.

Read our  full review of the Sea to Summit Telos .

NEMO Dragonfly OSMO 2P

  • Packed weight 3 lbs., 2 oz.
  • Height 41 in.
  • Floor space 29.0 sq. ft.
  • Materials OSMO ripstop/nylon blend, aluminum
  • Vestibule area 10.0 sq. ft. x 2

The Best Backpacking Tents of 2024

  • Quick, simple setup
  • Lightweight but durable
  • Thoughtful storage design
  • Narrow floor plan

One of our litmus tests of a solid shelter is how intuitively we can throw the thing up right out of the box. With color-coded “Jake’s Foot” pole clips, hubbed pre-bent poles, and a simple rainfly, the NEMO Dragonfly OSMO ($500) can be deployed in mere minutes.

But the magic definitely doesn’t stop there. There’s been a lot of hype around NEMO’s proprietary OSMO polyester ripstop fabric — and for good reason. Boasting four times better water repellency and three times less stretch than previous iterations, this is a massive upgrade in overall quality and dependability. Like the Hornet Elite Osmo, the lightweight Dragonfly weathers gnarly storms like a champ, and will keep you snug as a bug when Mother Nature reveals her savage side.

Let’s talk living space. The Dragonfly is, in many respects, the streamlined, lightweight cousin of the wildly popular Dagger OSMO, and shaves weight with a tapered floor plan and sloping roof. This makes the tent feel noticeably more confined compared to the Dragonfly or Copper Spur. Our tester has clocked some serious miles while sharing a tent with partners, and he felt it was a bit too tight of a fit when juggling gear, food, and sleeping systems at night.

We do like the overall design of the tent, and it allows for a smooth camp setup, and efficient transport. The tent’s stuff sack is what NEMO calls a Divvy Cube. This is a rectangular pouch that allows you to easily split the tent’s weight with a partner carrying the poles and stakes, while still packing down efficiently in your pack. We are always dividing up the weight on group trips, so appreciated this simple, unique touch.

An interior gear loft and adequately large gear pockets provide solid storage, and an overhead Nightlight Pocket diffuses a headlamp’s light to illuminate the tent with a soft orange glow. Pretty nifty. We found The Dragonfly to be warm and condensation-free during rainy nights, and the new fabric significantly alleviates our previous complaint about this tent sagging when wet.

Overall, we loved the newest model of this crowd-favorite, and feel it provides stellar weather protection and lightweight durability for long trips in the wild. It’s not the most spacious tent out there, but if that isn’t a deal-breaker for you, it’s hard to go wrong with this lightweight offering from NEMO.

Durston X-Mid 1

  • Weight 1 lb., 14.4 oz.
  • Height 46 in.
  • Floor space 46.5 sq. ft. (fly), 20 sq. ft. (insert)
  • Materials 20-denier polyester with 2,500mm sil/PEU coating
  • Vestibule area 20 sq. ft. (10 sq. ft. x 2)

The Best Backpacking Tents of 2024

  • Durable construction
  • Unique, double-wall design
  • Simple, four-stake pitch
  • On the heavy side for an ultralight tent
  • Small internal storage pockets
  • Guy lines are a bit difficult to adjust

With a unique geometric design, stellar weather resistance, and an approachable price point, the Durston X-Mid 1 ($240) is making a significant splash in the ultralight backpacking community. Our author decided we needed to get our hands on one of these to test after seeing over seven of them pitched in various campsites on a recent overnight trip into the Grand Canyon. These things are blowing up — and for good reason.

We set it up in our front yard soon after receiving it in the mail, and immediately got an idea of why these are flying off the shelves. It’s now one of our favorite ultralight shelters for trips where featherweight minimalism isn’t our biggest concern.

First, it’s extremely intuitive to pitch, requiring under half the time as some other ultralight shelters we’ve tested. The tent can miraculously be pitched with a minimum of four stakes, and requires little to no guesswork on stake location. We aren’t aware of any other shelter using two trekking poles that boasts this ability.

This is due to its rectangular design with offset trekking pole locations between a diagonal sleeping area. Without getting too much into the weeds of this mathematical layout, this effectively maximizes sleeping and vestibule space, utilizing a shape that handles wild wind and snow like a champ.

The X-Mid is also a double-wall shelter. Anyone who’s dealt with the condensation calamities of single-wall tents can appreciate the value of this. The removable mesh inner has a waterproof bathtub floor, and easily clips into the tent, or can be removed to shave weight.

We also love the 2,500 mm sil/PEU coated polyester used as the waterproof fabric, as it doesn’t sag when wet, and holds up longer to UV exposure than other fabrics that are commonly used. This adds some weight but boosts durability, and our tester was pleased that he didn’t have to worry about tightening up stakeout points mid-rainstorm late at night.

We barely have any complaints about this lightweight phenomenon, but some slight cons stood out. The X-Mid is on the heavy side for an ultralight shelter (30.8 ounces), which is a turnoff for many in the ultralight community. We also found the guy lines to be a bit difficult to tighten, and we wish there were bigger storage pockets in the mesh insert.

These gripes aside, we think the Durston X-Mid is one of the better trekking pole-style backpacking tents you can buy. Its thoughtful design and quality materials make this a reliable, spacious escape from the elements for rugged forays into the backcountry.

Kelty Late Start 2

  • Weight 4 lbs., 8 oz.
  • Floor space 29.5 sq. ft.
  • Vestibule area 7.85 sq. ft.

The Best Backpacking Tents of 2024

  • Quality construction
  • Not built for extreme weather conditions

If price is your primary concern when buying a tent, but you still want good quality, the  Kelty Late Start 2  is a good place to look. At $160, the Late Start 2 is a modestly priced tent. And it has quality construction while hitting a price point that most people won’t balk at.

It sets up super fast with a simple two-pole design. Once up, the bathtub floor offers a slight overlap with the rainfly, so splashback could be an issue in heavy rain and wind.

The tent packs down to 16 x 7 inches. While certainly not tiny, it will work in a backpack. Similarly, at a minimum weight of 4 pounds, it’s not ultralight but works for short backpacking excursions.

The vestibules are barely big enough for a single backpack, but they will suffice for hikers on a budget. Two small pockets offer space to stash a couple of important items.

There are better tents out there, but you’ll pay more for them. For $160, this one is a value that should last through lots of happy camping.

REI Co-op Flash Air 2 Tent

  • Packed weight 2 lbs., 13.7 oz.
  • Height 46.85 in.
  • Floor space 49.9 sq. ft.
  • Materials Nylon, mesh, aluminum
  • Vestibule area 28.7 sq. ft.

The Best Backpacking Tents of 2024

  • 2 vestibules
  • Can be supported with trekking poles
  • Setup takes practice
  • Not freestanding

The REI Flash Air 2 ($399) borrows the popular one-piece design from the Zpacks Duplex and offers up a moderately priced alternative for the backpacker who’s looking to cut weight without parting with too much of their hard-earned dough. While not quite as light or easy to set up as its high-dollar competition, those willing to compromise will enjoy plenty of beautiful nights in the backcountry without breaking their backs to get there.

Weighing in at just over 2 pounds, this tent is light without skimping on features. It has two doors, each with a small vestibule, and several pockets for gear storage so you’ll always know where your headlamp is at night. Its hubbed pole design allows you to swap out the included vertical support poles with your own trekking poles for even more weight savings.

The Flash Air 2 isn’t a freestanding tent, meaning you’ll need to properly stake it out at six points to keep it from falling over. For the experienced camper in a forest or meadow with soft soil, this is a fairly easy task. In the high desert outside of Gunnison, Colo., our team of seasoned testers had to fight hard to pitch this tent in heavy winds on top of a rock slab, where they needed additional cordage to use boulders as anchors. In short, a little practice and planning go a long way when pitching the Flash Air 2 .

This tent employs ripstop nylon (now recycled and Bluesign-approved) which is heavier and less durable than the Dyneema composite material used by the Zpacks Duplex . But the Flash 2 is almost half the price, and with careful campsite selection, you can keep the Flash 2 rip-free and watertight. If you’re an experienced backpacker who wants to go ultralight without going ultra-expensive, this tent is the perfect choice.

Six Moon Designs Haven Bundle

  • Weight 2 lbs., 2 oz.
  • Height 45 in.
  • Floor space 38 sq. ft.
  • Materials Nylon

The Best Backpacking Tents of 2024

  • Packs down small
  • Can function as a tarp alone at just 17 oz.
  • The 30-denier fabric is somewhat fragile
  • Requires hiking poles (or a pole kit, purchased separately for $30-80) to set up

The cottage brand Six Moon Designs focuses on building very light equipment with long-distance hikers in mind. While quite specialized, the  Haven Bundle  ($375) is an easy-to-use trekking pole tent that tips the scales at just 2 pounds, 2 ounces, including a tarp and interior net.

You can use the tarp alone on the trail, which, for 17 ounces of packed weight, gives you a large 53 square feet of shelter. If you’re in a buggy locale, add the Mesh Nest inside the tarp for even more protection.

The nest is 48 inches wide and 114 inches long, providing 38 square feet of space for two adults. In this configuration, you end up with two large vestibules and two doors. At $335 for the package, it’s a fairly priced ultralight tent.

Thanks to the ability to be set up as a tarp alone, the system packs a lot of versatility and can stretch from fast-and-light missions to more leisurely base camps.

It’s held back mostly by the ultralight 30-denier silicone-coated nylon. This lacks the durability of bulkier fabrics. It’s a little trickier to set up and requires good guyline attachments for stability and ample space because it is not freestanding.

The  Haven   is the most versatile ultralight system we tested, as it is able to be set up as a simple tarp without the insert. This is especially nice in stormy weather so that you aren’t bringing water and detritus into the sleeping area. This tent is great for any gram counter and is a steal compared to other tents in its class.

MSR Hubba Hubba 2

  • Weight 2 lbs. 14 oz. (10 oz. reduction from previous model)
  • Materials 20D ripstop nylon & DWR (canopy fabric), 20D ripstop nylon 1200mm Durashield polyurethane & DWR (floor fabric)
  • Packed Size 19 x 4.5 in.

The Best Backpacking Tents of 2024

  • Lightweight
  • No-curve door zippers
  • Rain gutters on the fly
  • Pretty expensive
  • Rainfly somewhat difficult to set up

Shaving over 10 ounces off the original model (for the two-person model), the new  Hubba Hubba  ($549) by MSR somehow improves on an already legendary classic. With new technology and added features, this durable, lightweight, and comfortable shelter promises to still be a top pick for die-hard backpackers and casual campers alike.

For 2024, the Hubba Hubba tent is available as a  one-person ,  two-person , and  three-person  and includes some key improvements.

Some new features included on the Hubba Hubba mirror those that are also on MSR’s new 2022 Freelite version. These updates include easy-open, no-curve door zippers, cable ports in all storage pockets for electronics, and rain gutters on the fly to guide condensation away from the tent when opening the doors.

The tent has a durable floor material made of 20D ripstop nylon and 1,200mm Durashield polyurethane, as well as a DWR treatment. Its symmetrical rectangular shape provides plenty of space for full-size sleeping pads.

The ventilation is ample even when the rainfly is on. There can be some vibration and flapping on the rainfly in the wind. And if you use this tent in the winter, make sure your sleeping bag is warm when it’s cold out.

Launched in 2002, this is MSR’s bestselling tent for a reason. It manages to combine everything you want into one compact package. It’s lightweight, durable, and spacious when set up, and the new upgrades shave off weight and offer more durability, which is a win-win in our book.

Be sure to check out  our full review  of the new Hubba Hubba for more info.

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Unbound 2P

  • Packed weight 1 lbs., 8 oz.
  • Floor space 28 sq. ft.
  • Materials DCF5, DCF8, No-See-Um Mesh
  • Vestibule area N/A

The Best Backpacking Tents of 2024

  • Time-tested, simple design
  • Stable in high wind
  • Comparatively roomy
  • Hot when in direct sun
  • Waterproof zippers a bit difficult to close

Ahh, the crinkle of Dyneema in the morning! Rounding out this guide with a bang, a new DCF player on the ultralight field is already impressing the difficult-to-sway thru-hiking crowd on a number of fronts — with the hefty price tag to accompany its fame. Cutting ounces costs, though, and if you simply won’t settle for anything but the best, HMG’s fresh-off-the-press Unbound 2P ($699) should be on your radar.

Dyneema Composite Fabrics are the crème de la crème of lightweight weatherproof materials, and at a scant 0.5 oz/yd 2 , DCF5 stands at the bleeding edge of the most premium ultralight tent fabrics on the market. Its performance-to-weight ratio is next to none. This makes up the bulk of the Unbound’s body, while the slightly heavier 0.8 oz/yd 2 DCF8 is found in its floor, affording a smidge more durability where it counts.

Our tester was definitely giddy to get his hands on this new model. Quite frankly, the pyramid layouts, extra mesh inserts, and single pole designs of other HMG tents could never do it for him. A sturdy two-pole build with a single wall, fully enclosed silhouette, constructed with that top shelf HMG Dyneema magic we’ve grown to cherish — now that he can get behind. This is our tester’s favorite ultralight tent configuration, and the Unbound knocks it out of the park with thoughtful touches and features that aren’t present on similar, cheaper models.

Is it worth $700 though (pre- stake kit ), when you can snag a similar design (GG’s The Two) for nearly half the price? Dyneema vs. SilNylon aside, it boasts noticeably more headspace and living room than The Two with the same weight, and even three more inches of width than its closest competitor, the Zpacks Duplex. Pile on a power concoction of deep vents on the vestibules, 3-D side walls, magnetic door closures, and waterproof zippers — and that’s why it’s tough on the wallet.

The Unbound can’t evade the common complaints of single-wall trekking pole shelters: condensation calamities, difficult setups on hard ground, and large footprint requirements. But these are to be expected, and impact all tents in this category. The DCF5 canopy, fully taped seams, and generous bathtub floor keep all-day rain at bay, and we love the low-profile waterproof zippers. Though we did find them to be a bit difficult to close when the tent is taught.

If the tent isn’t pitched in the shade, we felt like the translucent white DCF lets a lot of light and heat into the tent, making it a toasty oven in desert climates. If you only crawl into it in the evening this isn’t an issue, but it’s not a great refuge from the sun. Also, while the vents help with condensation buildup, we wish they were held open by stays to allow more cross-breeze. Finally, we found it tough to pitch with our trekking poles pre-set to 125 cm. Once placed in the loops at the base of the tent, we were able to extend them to 125, but with some difficulty.

Don’t let these quibbles or the sticker shock dissuade you though. This is undeniably one of the best ultralight tents on the market at the moment, and would be a stellar shelter for pace-pushing thru-hikers or dedicated weekend warriors alike. Its bomber construction, simple setup, and sleek design make this a standard bearer in the backpacking community.

Check out GearJunkie’s coverage on HMG’s Unbound Collection for more info.

Backpacking Tent Comparison Chart

best travel tent for backpacking

How We Tested Backpacking Tents

It’s no exaggeration to say that the GearJunkie squad has spent thousands of nights under the stars in these lightweight shelters. We’ve schlepped backpacking tents to just about every corner of the globe, and have weathered the gnarliest conditions cocooned within their thin walls. A good shelter is your first line of defense for escaping life-threatening elements in the backcountry — and as such, we don’t take our testing lightly. If you see a model in this guide, you know it’s been vetted by our stone-cold pros and proven to be worthy.

Editorial Director Sean McCoy, a seasoned backcountry hunter, hiker, and all-around outdoorsman, led the charge with this guide back in June 2020, amassing our initial selection of 11 top-shelf tents. Sean is intimately familiar with the necessity of a dependable shelter in the wild, and has battled through enough tempestuous nights to know that not all tents are created equal.

Senior Editor Chris Carter took over this guide in August 2022, and has been lurking in online backpacking forums, bugging the seasoned pros, and religiously scouring the interwebs to bring you the current, deserving selection of 16 tents you see today.

Chris has thru-hiked the Triple Crown of long trails in the United States: the Pacific Crest Trail, the Continental Divide Trail, and the Appalachian Trail. He’s spent so much time in flimsy backpacking tents that he almost sleeps better in them than under a solid roof. He’s frustratingly fastidious about the shelters he depends on during lightweight missions, and allowed only the best of the best to squirm their way into this guide. He believes every adventure requires the right tool for the job, and a good night’s sleep in a capable tent is essential for success in the backcountry.

Finally, we realize the fight for the backpacking tent podium is a vicious, ever-evolving landscape of Dyneema blends, futuristic pole designs, and otherworldly geometric shapes. We work hard to stay on top of current trends as they surface, and get our grubby paws on the newest and greatest out there. Rest assured, the selection above represents the crème de la crème of these portable homes.

Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose a Backpacking Tent

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Do you plan to camp alone or with your family? Are car camping tents your jam, or do you regularly head out for weeks in the backcountry? Are you strictly a summer camper, or do you sleep outside all year long?

There’s no right or wrong answer, but being clear on how you want to camp will make choosing a tent easier. The Zpacks Plex Solo may work for some users who want to go as light and minimalist as possible.

On the other hand, the REI Co-op Trail Hut , while heavier, provides a budget option for those who don’t plan to hike as far and want a little more room. Using the six factors we listed at the start of this article as a guide, finding the best backpacking tent can be a simple errand of choosing which qualities are most important to you.

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Ease of Setup

This is your first moment with your brand-new tent and maybe you can intuitively figure out where everything goes, or maybe you need to reference the manual every step of the way. Some tents make setup easy with color-coded poles or poles that are all the same length.

Single-walled winter tents are notorious for barely making room for poles in the material to hold a taut exterior. Still, other tents need numerous guy lines to hold in place and aren’t freestanding without them. Some tout complicated geometric designs with multiple crisscrossing poles, while others are simply held up by one or two trekking poles.

Whatever the case may be, our preference is that the easier a tent is to set up, the better. Of course, domes for alpine basecamps are going to be more difficult than a two-person bug net, but will be able to weather much more gnarly terrain compared to a trekking pole-style ultralight option.

The Sea to Summit Telos has many hubs connecting different length poles, so it pays to try and set this type of tent up in advance. However, the Hyperlite UltaMid simply calls for two trekking poles lashed together in the center with equalized guy lines. Preference is king and no matter what design suits your experience level, always practice setting it up at home before you go.


Freestanding and Non-Freestanding Backpacking Tents

Many manufacturers have opted to shave ounces by structuring their tents around the trekking poles hikers are already lugging around, simplifying the setup and greatly reducing pack size. These designs are often found in ultralight tents, such as Gossamer Gear’s The Two , and Durston’s X-Mid . They usually require a minimum of four stakes in the ground for them to stand up. Some non-freestanding tents, such as REI’s Flash Air 2 , come with lightweight vertical support poles that can be used in lieu of trekking poles, for those who tend to hike without them.

Non-freestanding tents use the tension provided by stakes firmly planted around the trekking or support pole to hold the poles in an upright position. The stakes should consequently be on the longer side, and driven into the ground at an angle, or reinforced with large stones. Short stakes placed in loose or sandy soil can be easily plucked out by a strong gust of wind, causing your nylon home to fold in around you at three in the morning.

These non-freestanding models are often lighter but are not the best choice for every environment. Ensuring you have adequate ground for stakes can be frustrating for some, and sporting a simple freestanding tent, like Nemo’s Dragonfly , could be a game changer for easy camp setup. Frantically poking around in rocky earth to pitch your tent as a surprise storm sweeps in is a deflating experience.

Freestanding tents tend to, in general, boast higher durability in inclement weather than their non-freestanding siblings. Introducing trekking poles to the equation eliminates some of the integrity in its structure, making them less ideal in truly heinous storms or driving wind. Ultralight trekking pole tents can hold their own — don’t get us wrong — but a freestanding tent will almost always prove the more stable shelter.

best travel tent for backpacking

Durability and Materials

Most tents for backpacking are made from nylon fabrics, Dyneema Composite fiber, or polyester. Each of these materials has its unique benefits, from lower cost to tougher weather resistance or ripstop qualities.

Cuben fiber has proven to be an excellent material that is very lightweight and extremely weather-resistant. It also resists tearing — but it is expensive. Unfortunately, it can puncture relatively easily, but crosshatched reinforcement prevents further tearing.

Nylon is a less costly material but is also less durable. Often it is reinforced against the elements with polyurethane, silicone, or acrylic coating. This makes it more water-resistant but less breathable. Polyester is heavier than nylon and also not particularly breathable.

The thickness of the material is measured in denier units, which are basically the density of fibers measured in grams over meters. The lower the denier count, the lighter the material. Lower deniers are great for reducing pack weight but require more care to prevent rips and tears.


Lightweight tents will usually have 15-20-denier fly and floors. And a heavy car camping or winter tent will have a rating as high as 75 or more.

Then there are the poles. In an effort to reduce weight, as mentioned above some tents such as the Zpacks Duplex or Hyperlite UltaMid  forgo their own poles and instead rely on trekking poles to provide structural support. Always be sure to check that your trekking poles are compatible with your tent.

Tent-specific poles are composed of carbon fiber, aluminum, composite, or a combination. Aluminum is light but not nearly as light as carbon fiber or some of the proprietary composites offered today. Aluminum poles are usually found in more affordable models and can withstand rougher handling.

For durability, we like to use a footprint, which usually has to be bought separately. You can always fashion a custom footprint by cutting a piece of Tyvek, which is available at most hardware stores but lacks the grommets and fastening points of a manufactured footprint.

Buying from the manufacturer ensures a proper fit and usually will snap, click, or tie in to integrate with the tent. A lot of ultralight backpackers are going with a crazy light polycryo footprint like this one to shave even more grams.

best travel tent for backpacking

Tent stakes also come in a variety of materials. Carbon fiber tent stakes, such as those offered by Hyperlite , are light but have a thicker circumference compared to aluminum and are therefore bulkier. Saving weight is an important goal, it all just depends on how much you are willing to spend.

Weight and Packed Size

If you only plan to car camp, weight and packed size aren’t major concerns. But anyone planning to haul their tent into the backcountry should take a hard look at these considerations.

An ultralight tent, such as Gossamer Gear’s The Two or The One , is a great option for backpacking or thru-hiking. It doesn’t take up a lot of space or weight in your pack, meaning you can justify bringing a favorite flask or a few extra snacks. But due to the light materials, it’s not as durable as heavier tents and requires more care. The Kelty Late Start 2 is over twice the weight at 4 pounds, 8 ounces, but is significantly cheaper.

So, you need to balance your needs for weight against durability and cost. You may find that some tents, like the Zpacks Duplex , hit the best of both worlds by using ultra-strong, super-light Dyneema (cuben fiber) fabric.

Two backpacking tents set up in the Grand Canyon

The REI Arete can seem a like backbreaker compared to lighter tents, but it has loads of headroom and luxurious space. If you are splitting a tent between many people, the extra pounds get spread out. If you are planning a solo thru-hike, coughing up the cash for a small, light tent can save you a lot of back pain. It’s also a good idea to make sure your tent fits well in your backpacking backpack , and leaves space for the rest of your kit, before heading out on extended trip.

Regardless of your choice, be honest with yourself in considering your likely uses. If you expect to do a lot of car camping, it’s smart to carry a little more weight in exchange for durability.

There are large books written on shaving weight for backpacking. The uninitiated may balk at tent prices before a trip, only to learn the hard way that every gram really does add up.

Interior Space

best travel tent for backpacking

To save weight, you have to be willing to snuggle into a two-person tent and rub shoulders or smell your partner’s feet. Ceiling height is an important consideration as well.

Ultralight tents like the Six Moons Designs Haven or the Hyperlite UltaMid still offer high ceilings, but they often have more roof angles and less overall room compared to freestanding tents.

The UltaMid is one of the roomiest tents, with over 50 square feet of floor space and a 64-inch ceiling. The benefit of a traditional tent like the REI Co-op Arete is that it doesn’t have a pole through the center of it.

Interior space in a tent equals comfort. The main things to consider are floor dimensions, length, and ceiling height. Tents have a stated number of people they sleep, but how roomy or cramped they will be at capacity varies by brand.

If you are only packing the tent for “just in case” or to mostly store gear, you can downsize to a lighter, more cramped model. Pay attention to dimensions in the specs from a manufacturer, as they can give you a good idea of how many sleeping pads will fit in it.

Weather Resistance

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Basic tents handle pleasant weather like a champ and can even manage light rain and wind. But if you plan to camp during rain or snow storms (which often roll in unexpectedly), it’s worth it to save up and buy a sturdier tent.

In the event of a storm or condensation buildup, all tents also need ventilation to adequately remove moisture. The Sea to Summit Telos excels in this category with a rollaway fly that can be left open on a warm day to allow all of your items to dry while you are away.

Anything can happen on an extended backpacking trip, and you need to have a shelter that will protect you in driving rain or hail, brutal heat during summer months, or snowy whiteouts in the winter — all while maintaining a lightweight package that easily fits in your bag.

It’s a tall order. But all of the tents on this list have been tested for durability and quality, and we would feel comfortable battling the elements with them.

Many four-season tents are single-wall models. The benefit of a single-wall design is that there is no gap for wind or precipitation to sneak in. Check out our Winter Tent Review for more insight on this topic.

Testing the waterproofness of the Durston Xmid

Double-wall designs are far more common for three-season or summer tents. Removable rain flies are a plus if all you need is a barrier from the mosquitos and you want to stargaze.

If you are confident in the forecast, dropping the fly can bring you to what some call “trail weight,” which refers to leaving out the extra parts to achieve the bare minimum weight.

Vestibules are an important feature to have in inclement weather. They act as a miniature mudroom and provide space for gear storage.

The Big Agnes Copper Spur adds a unique design with its awning vestibules. Sealed seams also help buffer against the elements and leakage.

If you plan to use a tent in a wet, rainy, or snowy environment, consider doing this yourself, as seams are a weak point in the waterproof protection of a fly or single-wall tent. Conveniently, Six Moon Designs will seam-seal its tents for an extra fee, but this will likely delay shipping time.

best travel tent for backpacking

It is hard to put a price tag on the nights of adventure and comfort that a backpacking tent provides. Cost is directly related to the quality of the materials and the packed weight.

The REI Co-op Trail Hut is a case in point when it comes to value for the budget hiker, as it’s light on the wallet but heavy on the back. A frugal hiker can save money on this piece of gear to spend more on other necessities like a sleeping bag and backpack.

Manufacturers realize that the entry cost of this passion is steep and provide economical options to fit any budget. With proper care and maintenance, the most affordable tent can last many seasons.

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The Kelty Late Start 2 is an example of an entry-level tent that provides great features for a fraction of the cost of something like the Hyperlite UltaMid . On the other hand, the UltaMid gives the savvy, dedicated hiker what they have longed for on many arduous miles — a tent that weighs next to nothing and is durable and easy to set up.

The value of a tent is really the ratio of enjoyment versus cost. All of the tents we tested have a high value when paired with the right user. Sit down, and write out a budget that not only includes how much you have in the bank but also indicates how dedicated you are to the sport. Plan to spend about a quarter to a third of your budget on a tent.

The true backcountry addicts — and those who feel the hook sinking in their lip after their first adventure — will almost certainly own more than one tent for their lifetime of outdoor adventuring.

Not all tents can handle every environment perfectly, but are instead tailored to a range of conditions. A good rule for gear is to start within your budget with a versatile option. As your passions grow, your gear will become more specific. Purchasing the best backpacking tent for your needs is no small task, but it is also exciting and will open up many new doors to the natural world.

best travel tent for backpacking

Prices of backpacking tents vary considerably. Materials and the weight of the tent cause prices to range from under $200 (such as the  Kelty Late Start 2 ) to over $1,000 out the door.

Specialized ultralight tents such as the  Hyperlite UltaMid  or burly all-weather mountaineering tents are usually the most expensive and are made from very strong and light materials.

Less expensive tents are priced for the beginning or occasional hiker. Expect to spend a third of your budget on a tent, another third on your sleeping bag, and the rest on your cooking supplies, etc.

The amount you are willing to spend depends on your commitment to the sport. Affordable options are a great place to start, as you can then gauge your willingness to invest.


When buying a backpacking tent, pay attention to whether it is freestanding, like the  REI Co-op Arete ASL 2 , or requires trekking poles, like the  Zpacks Duplex . Tents that use trekking poles are on average far lighter, but they take guy lines and know-how to set up.

Materials are important to consider as well. The more expensive tents offer light rip-resistant materials like cuben fiber (such as the  Hyperlite UltaMid ), while more economical models are bulky and heavier (see the  REI Co-op Trail Hut ). This affects not only weight but also packed size.

Make sure the tent has adequate space for your needs, with floor space, vestibules, and storage. Minimalist tents will be lighter but usually offer less in terms of extra pockets and storage. Tents more suited for car camping will have those amenities but weigh considerably more.

Ultralight tents are fragile, expensive shelters exposed to potentially harsh conditions in the wilderness. The major benefit of a tent like the  Six Moon Designs Haven  comes in very little weight and volume on your pack.

Having used several ultralight tents, we would say that most backpackers should steer clear of the absolute lightest tents unless they are extremely cautious with their gear.

And by that, we mean they put it away perfectly every time, and even go so far as to load their car and backpack with the care of their gear in mind. We’ve had holes worn in ultralight tents from nothing but friction and vibration during a 2-hour drive, so this isn’t an exaggeration.

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So, if ultralight is too light for you, what is a reasonable weight for a backpacking tent? A well-established guideline is about 2.5 pounds per person, meaning a tent under 5 pounds for a two-person tent is reasonable.

The  Big Agnes Copper Spur  weighs in at 3 pounds, 2 ounces, which is very light split between two people, while the  Zpacks Duplex  is 1 pound, 3 ounces. Both tents are for two people but are made from different materials, and the Duplex depends on your trekking poles to set up.

Many tents offer footprints as an aftermarket add-on. A footprint is a piece of fabric that matches the shape of the tent floor. It often will clip into your tent poles or stake system to integrate with your setup under your tent.

The footprint offers protection against sharp objects on the ground and may increase the lifespan of your tent. However, carrying a footprint adds to the weight of your pack. So, you need to balance the need to protect your tent with the added weight of the footprint.

For ultralight tents such as the  Hyperlite UltaMid  or  Zpacks Duplex , a footprint is often important to prevent damage. That’s somewhat ironic, as the tent is meant to be as light as possible.

For that reason, sometimes a slightly heavier floor build, as on the  REI Co-op Arete , makes more sense, as you can leave the footprint behind. For car camping, a footprint is always a good idea, as it will increase the life of your tent.

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The Best Backpacking Backpacks of 2024

Head into the backcountry with the best backpacking backpacks of 2024. From budget-friendly options to ultra-comfortable picks, we’ve got you covered.

The Best Backpacking Sleeping Bags of 2024

The Best Backpacking Sleeping Bags of 2024

A sleeping bag is one of your most important pieces of camping gear. We’ve found the best backpacking sleeping bags for every use and budget.

Writer and editor Sean McCoy

Sean McCoy is the Editorial Director of GearJunkie, and 5+ other AllGear websites.

He has been writing about hunting, fishing, trail running, camping, skiing, and more for 15+ years.

Prior to GearJunkie, he was the chief photographer for the Virgin Islands Daily News and former editor-in-chief for GearJunkie. Based in Denver, Colo., McCoy is an avid trail runner, camper, hunter, angler, mountain biker, skier, and beer tester.

best travel tent for backpacking

Based in beautiful Chattanooga, Tennessee, Chris Carter is a Senior Editor for GearJunkie, while squeezing in side gigs as an adventure filmmaker and content creator in the outdoor industry. Drawing from his childhood in Africa, experience as a rock climbing and backpacking guide, ultra-marathon running, and years of extensive thru-hiking, he’s passionate about journalism that gets people into the wild. He has thru-hiked the Triple Crown of long trails in America: the Pacific Crest Trail (2018), the Continental Divide Trail (2021), and the Appalachian Trail (2021), and has explored, rock-climbed, and backpacked all over the world. He hopes to spread his love of adventure and travel through his writing, art, and videography.

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Best Backpacking Tents of 2024

When you’re on a multiday trek, your backpacking tent is your shelter and bedroom at the end of each long day. During the day, however, your tent is simply more weight on your back, which is why choosing a backpacking tent is a delicate balance between weight and comfort. You need one that can accommodate you (and perhaps a companion) and your gear, but that packs down small enough and is light enough to be carried day after day.

We've curated this selection of the best backpacking tents based on firsthand experience, expert input, research, and close review of the opinions shared by confirmed customers. When considering the best backpacking tents, we looked at weight, packed size, water resistance, dimensions, and more. Whether you’re a long-distance thru-hiker or a weekend trekker, you’ll find the right backpacking tent for your adventures here.

Table of Contents

  • Best Backpacking Tents
  • Things To Consider When Buying
  • How We Chose

REI Co-op Half Dome SL 2+ Tent  »

REI Co-op Half Dome SL 2+ Tent

Comfortably accommodates two sleepers

Easy setup with hubbed poles

Multiple interior pockets and hanging loops

Fair price point

Waterproofing breaks down over time

The REI Co-op Half Dome SL 2+ Tent is a genuine two-person tent, which not all "two-person" tents are. It has a generous 90-inch by 54-inch floor, which comes to 33.75 square feet of internal floor space. This tent has plenty of room for two adults and their packs, and when its rainfly and poles are carried by one backpacker and the tent itself by the other, its rather heavy weight is no longer an issue.

As with a lot of tents, the waterproofing can break down after a couple of years, but you can always treat your tent with aftermarket waterproofing products. The color-coded hub pole system allows for quick and easy setup of the Half Dome SL 2+ and its nearly vertical sidewalls let you make the most of that roomy interior. The tent’s peak height of 42 inches allows for easy sitting up or crouching, and the 22.5-square foot of vestibule space allows for convenient gear storage just outside either of the tent’s two doors.

MIER Lanshan Ultralight Tent  »

MIER Lanshan Ultralight Tent

Great price point

Very light weight

Small packed size

Requires hiking pole for setup

Single interior pocket

A MIER Lanshan Ultralight Tent costs so little compared to other tents in this category that one could fairly assume it’s a low-quality tent, but it's not. And at a 1.7-pound trail weight, it’s a low-weight option, too. The tent packs down just 12.4 inches long and 4.7 inches deep, so it will easily tuck away in your pack and leave plenty of room for your other gear. When set up, it has only one interior mesh pocket – fewer than most backpacking tents, but the dual vestibules can be used to house most of your gear.

That gear needs to include at least one hiking pole for proper setup of the MIER Lanshan Ultralight Tent, though in a pinch you could tie a line to a tree and pitch it that way. When properly set up, this tent can stand up to gusty winds and heavy rains, with its seam-taped rainfly shedding water well and its raised bathtub floor keeping splashes out as well. Setting up this tent takes longer than many other backpacking tents, and there's a bit of a learning curve, but the price tag makes that tolerable.

MSR Hubba Hubba 2-Person Backpacking Tent  »

MSR Hubba Hubba 2-Person Backpacking Tent

Spacious but lightweight

Quick and easy setup

Reliable rain protection

Long packed size

Some tents arrive damaged

The MSR Hubba Hubba 2-Person Backpacking Tent can easily accommodate two adult-sized sleeping pads laid side-by-side. It measures 84 inches long by 50 inches wide and 40 inches tall, and dual vestibules offer gear storage space just outside the sizable interior. The tent has multiple mesh panels that allow for great airflow, which is especially important when two people are sharing a tent. The tough and reliable rainfly can be rolled back to allow for airflow or cinched down tight to keep even heavy rains at bay. Any way you arrange the rainfly, this tent is very easy to set up, which can reduce frustration between couples or camping buddies.

The MSR Hubba Hubba 2-Person Backpacking Tent is slightly smaller inside than the REI Half Dome SL 2+, so why is this the tent we specifically recommend for two backpackers to share? Because it weighs more than a full pound less; with its hardware evenly divided, each of you will have less than 1.5 pounds of tent to haul. At least one of you will have to do some Tetris-style packing to fit parts of the tent into your pack, as it measures 19 inches long when broken down. But for most medium- to full-sized hiking packs, that shouldn’t be an issue.

Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo  »

Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo

Weighs very little

Generous interior space

Tall center peak height

Seams not sealed or taped

Single-wall design allows condensation buildup

Lots of companies slap terms like “ultralight” on their tents, but the Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo really fits the bill. It weighs just 1.6 pounds, which is well under half the trail weight of several other tents covered here. Yet it's a spacious tent for a single user, with 26 square feet of interior space, a 49-inch tall peak, and an 8.5-square foot covered vestibule for gear. The Lunar Solo packs down small, making it a great choice for use by the thru-hiker who has to carry a lot of gear on his or her back.

Not so great: This tent isn't fully waterproof when it arrives. Its exterior canopy is made from a waterproof treated polyester fabric, but the seams are neither taped nor sealed, so you will need to apply your own sealer to ensure the tent can keep the rain out. But with that done, you’ll have a reliable, lightweight, three-season tent that’s a savvy choice for the long-distance backpacker.

Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 Tent  »

Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 Tent

Excellent ventilation

Overhead pocket for lighting

Zippers snag often

If you're heading out on a backpacking trip in the heat, the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 Tent is the best choice. That’s because when you use a couple of pairs of trekking poles in the setup, you can create twin shady vestibules and expose huge mesh walls, allowing for ideal respite from the sunshine and plenty of airflow. Then, if rainfall threatens, you can convert this breezy redout into a water-tight shelter with those vestibule panels lowered and cinched tight.

That breeziness will be welcome when you share this tent with another person, as the quarters are a bit close, but it can accommodate two adults just fine if you leave all but your essential gear outside. Inside, multiple pockets can help you store your smaller sundries, while an overhead mesh pocket makes it easy to use a headlamp or flashlight as a lantern. The zippers on this tent tend to snag on its fabric too often, which is a shame given its price point. But if you zip slowly and steadily each time, that shouldn't be a problem.

NEMO Hornet OSMO Ultralight 2P Tent  »

NEMO Hornet OSMO Ultralight 2P Tent

Reliably dry even in downpours


Nightlight pockets

Low maximum peak height

Very cramped for two people

Don’t let a little thing like a rainstorm spoil your fun when you’re out backpacking – not when you can quickly create a rainproof shelter with the NEMO Hornet OSMO Ultralight 2P Tent. At just a hair over 2 pounds, this tent uses a rainfly made from durable ripstop nylon and polyester blended fabric the company developed. NEMO calls it OSMO and claims that it's four times more water-repellent than otherwise comparable tent fabrics. From our close reading of scores of reviews, it seems that claim is substantiated. The tent sheds water with ease and with its double-wall design, it resists building up moisture inside as well.

When it’s time to doze off, set your headlamp to its low light setting and drop it into the tent’s “Nightlight” pocket, which cuts blue light but still lets a soft glow through, and tuck your phone and other sundries into the larger storage pocket. This tent has a unique design that is 8 inches wider at the “head” end than the “foot end." While it’s a capacious tent for one sleeper, that shape makes it quite snug for two adults to share, especially as two sleeping pads might not even fit. But if your primary concern is rain resistance, this is the tent to buy.

MSR Remote 2 Tent  »

MSR Remote 2 Tent

Suitable for bad winter weather

Rugged poles withstand winds, snow load

Plenty of space for two users

Very expensive

With four-season tents, the season of most concern is winter. But if you head out with the MSR Remote 2 Ten, winter shouldn't concern you. This capable piece of hardware can stand up to howling winds and heavy snow loads and can keep you and your adventure companion warm in frosty temperatures. The frame of this tent is created with three Easton Syclone poles made from a blend of materials including carbon, ballistic fiber, and resin; they will resist snapping even when bent by driving winds or under heavy snow load. Plus, the thick, DWR-treated rainfly takes the teeth out of wind gusts and sheds water with ease.

This is a pricey tent, but it’s ready even for a multiday trek through high-altitude glacial traverses. It’s heavy at 6.68 pounds minimum trail weight, but that’s to be expected for a tent that can see you ride out a winter storm. The interior offers 33 square feet of space, which is plenty for two people to share, and a pair of internal pockets let you keep important items close at hand.

The Bottom Line

The REI Co-op Half Dome SL 2+ Tent is our choice of the best backpacking tent overall because it's spacious enough for two sleepers, and its quick, freestanding setup lets you pitch it and hit the sack fast at the end of a long day. Each of the other backpacking tents we reviewed has many merits that might make it the best backpacking tent for your needs, though, so consider each one of its own accord.

Things To Consider When Buying a Backpacking Tent

Tent Weight: “A tent is one of the heaviest items we carry, and there's a wide range of options on the spectrum of weight versus functionality,” says Alissa Bell, a lifelong adventurer and founder of Exploring Wild. Lighter is better if you're going for a multiday or even multiweek backpacking trip. You'll sacrifice some comfort in terms of sleeping space and extra features like a large vestibule or freestanding setup, but your body will thank you as you trek. For shorter hikes or when you can share the weight among two backpackers who will occupy the tent, prioritize floor space over light weight.

Capacity and Size: Always be wary of the stated capacity of any tent. “The ‘two-person tent equals a one-person tent’ maxim is true,” says Joe Bassett of Valiant Outfitters. Two sleepers usually can fit into a “two-person” tent, but it's often very snug. Thus, many backpackers who will be sleeping solo opt for a two-person backpacking tent and enjoy the extra space for storing gear and stretching out. Also, make sure your backpacking tent is tall enough inside for you to sit up comfortably and has vestibule space if you need it.

Packed Dimensions: Your backpacking tent should fit into your backpack once it's packed down and stowed away, so first consider its packed-down size and then think of all the other gear that will be essential for your hike. If the tent you thought was the best choice won’t pack down small enough to fit in with the rest of your kit, it’s not the best backpacking tent for your needs.

Seasonality: “Most backpacking tents are ‘three season,’ which simply means they aren't designed for heavy snow,” says Bell. “A true four-season tent can handle a blizzard, but at the expense of much heavier weight. As long as you don't plan to camp in snowy winter conditions, a three-season tent is fine and can even handle a light dusting of snow.” If you'll be mountaineering at high altitude or are headed out for a winter trek, then a four-season backpacking tent may be needed.

Weather Resistance: For the best weather protection, consider “a standard double-wall tent,” Bell says. This design provides maximum protection against rain incursion and also prevents moisture build-up as the temperatures rise or fall during the night. Single-walled tents can still be reliably waterproof. They're more prone to condensation buildup, but that's the tradeoff for lighter weight.

Ease of Setup: The easiest backpacking tents to set up are also usually the heaviest, as they use dedicated poles to form their frame. The lightest tents are usually the most finicky, using stakes, wires, and trekking poles to create their structure. Thus, you need to find the right balance between convenience and heft.

Also consider the differences between freestanding, semi-freestanding, and non-freestanding tents. “Non-freestanding tents have to be staked down or else they won’t keep their shape," says Claire Ramsdell of The Detour Effect. "Because they usually don’t come with any tent poles, you’ll probably use your trekking poles to prop them up instead. They are the most ultralight, but you may be sacrificing comfort and convenience for weight.”

How We Chose the Best Backpacking Tents

U.S. News & World Report contributor Steven John is a seasoned outdoorsman who has used many different backpacking tents, including on two- and three-day mountain ascents and on multiday overland treks. He brought his firsthand experience with these lightweight, packable, and reliable shelters to bear when considering the best backpacking tents for different users.

John also reached out to other seasoned outdoors people for their input on what to consider when buying a backpacking tent and for specific brand and product recommendations. These included Alissa Bell, the avid backpacker and travel guide writer behind Exploring Wild ; Joe Bassett, the founder of outdoor guide company Valiant Outfitters ; and backpacker, travel writer, and former outdoor adventure consultant Claire Ramsdell of The Detour Effect .

Bell, Bassett, and Ramsdell, who have collectively logged thousands of miles on the trail and hundreds of nights in tents, each offered advice on what to look for in the best backpacking tents and tips for choosing the best backpacking tent for varied specific criteria. John weighed their input against his own experience and cross-referenced it all against scores of reviews posted by verified buyers of each tent considered.


Our contributor Steven John has been a backpacker for many years, and he has relied on a backpacking tent in settings ranging from South American jungles to glacial Pacific Northwest mountains to trailside East Coast campsites. He is also an experienced product reviewer with an emphasis on testing and writing about outdoor gear and apparel. In addition to his writing for U.S. News & World Report, John also works with New York Magazine, Business Insider, Architectural Digest, Dad Gear Review, Forbes, The Daily Beast, and other publications.

Think of who will be using the tent and for how many nights, then make sure it's long and wide enough at its base to accommodate people and their gear. On weekend treks, tent weight doesn’t matter nearly as much as it does on long thru-hikes; your body will forgive you for the extra pound or two carried for two days. But gear weight really does add up as the days tick by. “For longer hikes, like three or more nights, pounds outweigh comfort,” Bassett says.

Generally speaking, a high-quality tent will weigh less, last longer, and perform better than a low-quality one. Still, even high-priced tents don't have it all. "Backpacking gear always involves a trade-off between weight, comfort/convenience, and price point,” Ramsdell says. “You have to prioritize two of these things. Although luckily, because of modern innovations, we keep getting closer and closer to having a good deal on all three.”

The way a tent is set up will greatly impact its rain resistance and performance in high winds. Freestanding tents that don’t need lots of stakes to hold their shape might be convenient, but they can also be battered by winds that a staked-down tent could resist. In terms of rain resistance, look for a floor with interior sides that rise multiple inches above the ground to prevent splashes. But note that even the best backpacking tents can stand to be improved a bit. “I re-apply DWR and seam sealant to all of my tents at least once per season,” Bassett says.

If you'll be making camp in humid conditions, we recommend a double-walled tent, as they provide much better resistance to interior condensation than single-walled tents. If you'll be pitching your tent in hot weather, ventilation is a key consideration. Look for backpacking tents with mesh panels that can be exposed to the breeze on opposite sides of the tent, as you need airflow through the tent to truly cool things down.

As with garments, bedding, and any other fabric-based products, the faster you repair a tear or puncture in your tent, the better you will preserve it. Keep a patch kit on hand and quickly patch up any damage you discover. Also, it’s imperative that you properly store your backpacking tent between uses. Set it up somewhere that you can use damp cloths or paper towels to wipe it down and then let it fully dry before you carefully pack it away for storage.

About Our Team

Steven John

Steven John


Jeff Kinney

Jeff Kinney

Senior Editor

U.S. News 360 Reviews takes an unbiased approach to our recommendations. When you use our links to buy products, we may earn a commission but that in no way affects our editorial independence.

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10 BEST Backpacking Tents – Ultimate Buyers Guide [2024]

Picture of Alesha and Jarryd

  • Last Updated: February 6, 2024

Finding the best backpacking tent can be a challenge with so much information out there. But having spent more than a decade camping in the wilderness, we’re here to make your choice easier with our top recommended products and the best idea of what to look for when buying a tent for backpacking.

Some of the best backcountry views on the planet are miles from the nearest parking lot and hotel. Trust us, we know. It’s been our life’s mission to find them.

That’s why we never leave home for any adventure, whether it’s close to home or overseas, without packing a backpacking tent.

And seeing as you’re reading this post, we feel like you’re the same and are looking for an awesome tent that fits your particular needs.

Not all hiking tents are created equal though, which we’ve found out through years of personal experience.

Unfortunately, when you’re backpacking, you’ll have to carry every piece of essential gear with you every step of the way, which eliminates most traditional tents from consideration. 

Backpacking tents are a whole new breed. These aren’t flimsy bits of nylon you pick up from any old department store.

They represent some of the most expensive pieces of camping equipment on the market, but their higher price is for a good reason.

These tools must delicately walk the line between comfort and performance, striking a perfect blend of lightweight materials, weather-resistant outer layers, and durable floorings, all while staying comfortable and roomy enough for you to grab a great night’s rest after a long day’s walk. 

Plus they need to be compact enough to pack away inside your travel backpack and still leave room for food, clothes and technical camping equipment.

We all know how easy it can be to fall asleep after hiking all day. But there is nothing that can ruin a backpacking trip like a night spent shivering in the rain or waking up dripping in your own condensation.

*Cue our soggy memories of a 48-hour rain-drenched weekend we had camping in Mongolia*

The best backpacking tents must be uniquely capable of bringing weather protection for at least three seasons of whatever mother nature has to offer at both 15 feet and 15,000 feet above sea level.

Best Backpacking Tents In The Outback

All this versatility is not easy to come by. There are hundreds of backpacking tents out there, and they’ll set you back anywhere from $100 to $1000.

A market this packed means there is a tent out there perfect for everyone. But it also means there are loads of tents that simply aren’t up to the task. 

Before you find yourself up the creek without a shelter, this ultimate buying guide will highlight some of the best tents this crowded industry has to offer.

No tent brings climate control and wifi to the backcountry, but there are plenty of tents that can make the difference between a great night’s sleep in the woods or ending the trip a few days early. 

Your backpacking tent will take you to sweeping vistas and new surroundings, so choose wisely. A high-quality shelter should last a decade and allow plenty of room for growth as you push yourself to new heights.

Follow along with this buying guide, and you’ll be one step closer to your perfect backcountry partner. 


Big Agnes Copper Spur

Big Agnes isn’t some large corporation churning out outdoor gear of all shapes and sizes. This company is totally dedicated to bringing backpackers a great night’s sleep.

As their signature tent, the Big Agnes Copper Spur redefines what a lightweight backpacking tent can bring to your next adventure. 

Big Agne Copper Spur Tent

With a flexible minimum trail weight, plenty of comfort features, and weather-resistant protections from the poles to the guylines, the Copper Spur HV UL2 stands above the crowd and sets a high bar for the best backpacking tents to follow. 

Read on to find out what makes this tent special and learn more about the rest of the competition. 

Table of Contents

MSR Mutha Hubba 

Nemo hornet, north face storm break 2, marmot tungsten, rei co op half dome 2, big agnes tiger wall, sea to summit telos tr 2, rei co-op flash air 2 , north face wawona 6, packaged weight, weather resistance & seasonality, interior space, ventilation, ease of setup & breakdown, conclusion , the best backpacking tent.

After a long day’s walk through the woods, any backpacking tent worthy of your adventure will set up in a hurry, keep you protected through three seasons of weather, and stay light enough for you to get to camp before sunset. 

Very few tents on the market check off all three of these boxes, and even fewer tents fill out the rest of the requirements to qualify for our list.

These are the few, the proud, the best backpacking tents on the market. 

Tent For Backpacking In Storm

Although we’d never say a product is perfect , the Copper Spur HV UL2 is the closest thing on the market to a sure thing. This sleek tent is built for the backcountry, shedding weight at every corner to make sure you make it to the mountaintop with your back intact. 

A lightweight backpacking tent has to bring protection deep into the woods, and the copper spur makes it look easy, providing a luscious interior spacious in an incredibly light package.

Fair-weather excursions can shed weight even further by travelling with just the rain fly and a footprint for a 2 lb shelter.

If 2 pounds is still too heavy, the Copper Spur HV UL2 can be easily divided into two packs, so each adventurer will travel with a light tent that weighs less than a water bottle. 

All this power packed into a freestanding tent only comes with one flaw; durability. While Big Agnes is known for weather protection and pumping out ultralight tents, their offerings aren’t the most beginner-friendly.

Treat this tent with care, and it will help you sleep comfortably for years to come. 

With a weight this low, you might expect a cramped interior, but the Big Agnes Copper Spur doesn’t just want you to reach the summit, it wants to hang out and enjoy the mountains no matter the weather.

Large interior pockets and plenty of gear storage helps you make the most out of your interior space and rounds out this incredible backpacking tent that performs highly across every metric.

  • Incredibly lightweight and still provides 2 doors
  • 29 square feet of interior floor space
  • Trekking poles cna double as tent stakes and open up more vestibule space
  • Does not provide beginner-friendly durabilty
  • One of the more expensive tent options

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MSR’s Hubba Hubba series might just be the most well-rounded piece of outdoor gear on the planet. In fact, we’ve had ours for 5 years and it’s still going strong!

While the tent doesn’t quite have the packed weight to rank as our best overall backpacking tent, you’ll have a tough time finding a tent body that can fit into more situations than this contender.

As one of the larger tents in the series, the Mutha Hubba semi-freestanding tent is one of the few backpacking tents on our list that can legitimately work as a three-person tent but truly excels for two hikers and their gear.

Other tents get stoked about reaching 25 square feet of interior room, but the Mutha Hubba packs almost 40 square feet of rolling room inside a durable backpacking tent body with loads of weather protection. 

Floor space is never free, which means the Mutha Hubba won’t be able to provide the minimum trail weight required for ultralight backpacking gear lists.

While every ounce counts at mile 30, most backpacking tents won’t offer a better combination of durable weather protection and luxurious interior space that turn casual backcountry adventures into glamping in a bag. 

The only reason the Mutha Hubba doesn’t run away with the competition is that this buying guide is emphasising backpacking tents.

Shoppers who only want to own one tent will find these lightweight tents equally capable of international travel, backpacking, and car camping.

  • 3-person tent that truly packs space for 3 to sleep
  • Vertical walls and 2 vestibular doors increase livability
  • Hubbed tent poles increase wind resistance
  • Slightly heavy for an ultralight backpacking tent
  • Not completely freestanding

Open Backpacking Tent

Most popular backpacking tents try to delicately toe the line between comfort and lightweight convenience, but not Nemo.

This beast provides one of the lowest packaged weights of any tent on our list, and Nemo optimised every inch of their signature offering to focus on being the best ultralight tent on the market. 

Built for backpacking trips of more than a week, these easy-to-pitch freestanding tents are perfect on warm nights and cold, rainy afternoons.

It stops short of a true four-season tent, but the Hornet has sacrificed interior space and luxury in favour of high-performance protection. 

While it’s not the roomiest tent on our list, the Hornet is more than a glorified bivvy. Fly bar tent stakes and pole clips bring enough headroom to get changed inside the two-person tent, and two separate doors mean you won’t have to climb over anyone for a midnight trip to the loo. 

That’s about all the comfort features you’ll find in this super technical offering. Nemo isn’t known for churning out car camping hits, and this robust backpacking tent is no exception. It’s closer to one person and a dog than a true two-person backpacking tent.

Still, any hiking tandems or adventure where every ounce is a premium will enjoy just enough interior space to get by, as long as you don’t expect much room for gear storage.

  • One of the lightest packed weight options in the market
  • Flybar tent poles make the most out of limited headspace
  • Affordable for such a technically advanced ultralight tent
  • Cramped quarters compared to other 2-person tents
  • Doesn’t include many interior pockets

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The StormBreak 2 is practically the exact opposite of the Nemo Hornet. hikers can have both of these midrange backpacking tents for less than $200, but that’s where the similarities stop. 

The North Face may have made their name providing technical gear capable of talking the most technically advanced terrain on earth, but they know as well as anyone that not every piece of outdoor gear in your closet has to sacrifice comfort for performance.

The StormBreak is one of the heavier tents on our list, but it’s chock full of interior space, headroom, and comfort features that allow most casual adventurers to sleep in style without breaking your back. 

Not every one of the best backpacking tents needs to break weight records. The StormBreak emphasises the floor space and provides a wide rain fly that helps campers stretch out after a long day in the woods. 

This system isn’t just comfortable; it’s also durable as all get out. You can completely customise the weather protection on these semi freestanding tents to bring in extra ventilation, wind resistance, and enough interior space to play cards through a rainy afternoon.

You can certainly find a lighter tent out there, but if tent weight isn’t your biggest concern, this cosy budget tent with a bathtub floor is a perfect car camping tent or weekend warrior. 

  • Incredibly roomy headspace and interior
  • Plenty of rain fly adjustments and ventilation options
  • Most affordable tent on our list
  • Slightly too heavy for a long-distance backpacking trip
  • Needs a larger vestibule space

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You’ll find plenty of lighter tents built for two, and maybe a few more ultralight tents, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find another entire tent package that performs as well as the Tungsten at such an affordable price.

Our pick for the best budget backpacking tent comes with a footprint and plenty of interior space, all wrapped up by classic X-shaped tent poles for an affordable backpacking tent that doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel. 

The Tungsten is the complete package, making it a great option for burgeoning adventurers’ first tent or a safe gift to encourage a life outside.

Most of the backpacking tents on our list are chock full of special features and quirky designs that travellers will either love or hate, but not the Tungsten. This lightweight tent body takes up a rectangular shape and provides an unassuming shelter that’s tough to find things to complain about. 

In fact, if you were asked to imagine a backpacking tent, chances are you’d conjure up an image similar to this classic semi freestanding design. Two doors take up most of the tent body, and an unassuming rainfly holds firm through three seasons. 

It’s the whole-wheat bread of the tent world. There are many more exciting tents out there, but the Tungsten takes care of all the little things to have a place on any adventure.

  • Classic design is incredibly easy to figure out
  • Includes a footprint
  • 2 doors and plenty of vestibule space
  • Nothing out of the ordinary to get excited about
  • Too heavy for a through-hike

Msr Backpacking Tent With Stars

Representing the largest outdoor company on the planet, the REI Half Dome SL has big shoes to fill as this outdoor behemoth’s signature tent.

This tent well represents REI’s brand by providing middle-of-the-road value for every adventure at an affordable price. No, the Half Dome is not going to break lightweight or performance records.

Instead, expect this tent to check off every category and fill in every corner with quality, all at an incredibly affordable price. 

There is no safer choice in the industry than an REI tent. That’s not just because of the company’s impressive track record or their national dominance, it’s also thanks to their insane return policy.

Try out the REI Co Op Half Dome SL 2 risk-free for six months, and even if you don’t find anything wrong with your tent you can still return it with no questions asked. 

This policy wouldn’t be around long if the REI co-op didn’t trust in the Half Dome SL 2 to exceed your expectations.  It’s no ultralight tent, and you can certainly find lighter trail weight options, but that’s not what this middle-class tent is built for.

This tent is built to help intrepid explorers fall in love with the great outdoors. 

An entirely mesh interior wall helps accomplish just that. Clear out the rain fly on the REI Co-op Half Dome SL 2 and you’ll fall asleep under the stars. On worse nights, the rain fly extends out above the two-door set-up to keep your gear, and your head, cosy and dry.

The Half Dome is an ideal definition of three-season tents, providing a durable tent floor space, comfortable headspace, and an affordable price point to serve as one of the safest bets in the industry.

  • Plenty of ventilation makes this one of the best fair weather backpackign tents on the market
  • The user-friendly design will have you setting this tent up in seconds
  • The half dome is quite literal, with a beautiful roll-back mesh exterior on warm nights
  • Things start to get shaky in strong wind
  • Not even trying to be a lightweight tent

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Big Agnes can’t squeeze into many of the market’s tiniest tents, so they set out to make a backpacking tent that has some room to stretch out.

A unique crossbar pole stretches out the interior space across this rugged tent floor and allows two backpackers to sit up comfortably. 

The Agnes Tiger Wall UL2 is an ultralight tent designed for long-distance backpackers who want to carry a splash of extra comfort into the backcountry without adding on excess weight.

The difference between good and the best backpacking tents on the market is not often more than a few inches here or a few ounces there, and Big Agnes got creative to provide an ultralight tent unlike anything else on the market. 

A splash of an extra living room is excellent, but it means nothing if it’s not surrounded by a high-quality tent design and durable structure. The Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2 doesn’t just try to be different, it also takes care of the details, like keeping two separate doors and throwing in loads of extra storage pockets. 

Colour-coded tent poles and DAC feather-light technology will have this tent set up in minutes, rain or shine, all coming from a miniature size and packaged weight that let the tiger wall hang with any of the best ultralight tents on the market.

  • Big Agnes’ most roomy lightweight backpacking tent
  • Durable tent floor
  • Ultralight and still packs in 2 doors
  • Very loose definition of free-standing
  • Not the most durable tent floor

Sea To Summit Telos

The Tiger Wall provides a crossbar that opens up headroom, but the Telos TR 2 smashes it out of the park, providing a reverse curved crossbar that brings more interior space than any other 2-person backpacking tent on the market. 

A reversed head pole and two large canopy doorway openings allow this tent to open up to levels far beyond its weight class and will enable you to carry a uniquely luxurious backpacking tent with you deep into the backcountry.

Sea to Summit is one of the only tent manufacturers on the market that figured out how to bring on extra living space without adding extra weight. Their unique use of tent poles and rain flies are well on their way to revolutionising the market, but there are still a few kinks to work out.

The current iteration won’t quite hold up to extreme downpours as the reverse bar structure is known to pool a bit of water. 

That inability to function in a cascade brings this tent down a few notches, but we love to see what Sea to Summit is trying to accomplish, and you probably shouldn’t be camping through a hurricane anyways.

As long as you don’t get poured on, you’ll relish the precious few extra inches this tent provides the next time you and your partner have to get changed inside your backpacking tent.

  • Best in class headroom
  • Easy to split between 2 hikers
  • Huge doors stretch out the living space
  • Water can sometimes pool on the reverse head pole

Rei Flash Air

Most big chain stores have their own line of products that are more affordable than the competition but are not near as technically advanced, but REI isn’t just any corporation.

The Flash Air 2 is the company’s largest foray into the ultralight backpacking tent industry yet, and the insanely light packaged weight on this bad boy proves REI can hang with any of the best backpacking tent options on the market. 

If you’re looking for a luxuriously comfortable tent, look elsewhere. The Flash Air two is all about shedding weight.

This backpacking tent provides 30 square feet of tent floor space at less than 2.5 pounds, which is a ridiculous combination of size and weight. It still feels a bit cramped for two or more adventurers, but what ultralight backpacking tents won’t?

Two side doors and two raised staked ends help add on a bit of breathing room, but the stakes are set upright in the middle of the doorway, making it a bit cumbersome to manoeuvre at night.

You can set up these single-wall tents with the included stakes or your own trekking poles to help you cut out a few extra ounces, but make sure you’ve got your guylines set up properly before any rainstorms. Single wall tents are known to pool a bit of water through a heavy downpour. 

This tent is a surprising niche pick from a brand that has a little something for every adventure. It’s not a great choice for a novice outdoorsman, but anyone looking for something lightweight and compatible with their trekking poles will love this unique shelter.

  • Competes with the Nemo Hornet to rank as one of lightest affordable tents
  • You can set up this tent with the included stakes or your trekking poles
  • One of the more durable ultralight backpacking tents
  • Single wall design is prone to leaking
  • 2 people cannot sit upright comfortably inside

North Face Wawona

As every backpacker’s favourite anti-hero (allegedly) scrawled before he died in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness, happiness is only real if it’s shared.

Bring along a friend or two and enjoy plenty of space to wait out a few rainy afternoons with this backpacking tent. 

The North Face has made it easier than ever to backpack with the whole family, or your whole crew, with this incredibly roomy backpacking tent .

Any tent capable of sleeping six isn’t going to qualify as an ultralight but once the Wawona is set up you’ll be glad you brought along the extra packed weight. 

This two-room townhouse has unparalleled floor space in a backpacking tent, largely thanks to the nearly 50 square feet of vestibule space. 

A wide-open canopy style living area provides a shelter for the whole team’s gear or a lovely spot of shade while the family gathers around the breakfast table.

You might think a tent this large will crumble at the first strong gust, but the updated tent carries with it DAC MX poles that reinforce your shelter without adding to its packed weight. 

There’s no denying that this tent is a bit of a bear to haul with you through the backcountry. Solo and even duo backpackers have no business carrying something this heavy with them on long adventures.

But any family of outdoorsmen or car campers who want to bring their friends with them on their next adventure won’t find a tent that feels more like home than the Wawona. 

  • Provides a porch big enough for a table and 4 chairs
  • Enough sleeping room for full-sized and twin mattresses to fit inside together
  • All this space and it still holds up against high winds and rains
  • Weighs over 20 lbs
  • Not an easy tent to pitch

Tent In Outback

Choosing the Best Backpacking Tent

Now that we’ve seen the best backpacking options on the market, let’s get personal. As you can see from our list, there is no one size that fits all in the backpacking industry.

We’ll walk through a few key components that make up the industry’s most popular tent so you can have a better idea of what you want out of your gear. 

Choosing the best backpacking tent for your adventure involves some tough questions. The most ultralight tent on Earth may not be the best backpacking tent for your needs.

Each one of these factors helps define the differences in industry-leading tents and will help you narrow down the playing field and find your perfect companion.  

There are various types of backpacking tents, some more suitable to actual adventure activities than others. The biggest criteria to look for in the type of tent you’re shopping for is its tent body and layout structure.

Most of the tents we have recommended would fit in the freestanding tent category, meaning they have a good internal structure to hold up to their own weight when set up without requiring the tension of stakes to hold them up.

Freestanding tents are by far the most popular and common for most backpacking trips.

Best Freestanding Tent: Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2

On the other end of the spectrum, non-freestanding tents require staking to give them shape and form.

These are typically not the most durable backpacking tent to use, particularly in inclement weather. But they will be the most lightweight due to minimal reliance on tent poles.

And in between, semi freestanding tents may require some staking, but will primarily hold their form internally without exterior assistance.

Best Semi Freestanding Tent: REI Co-Op Flash Air 2

Tent In Woods

When you’re talking about backpacking tents, the weight will always come first. The difference between a three and four-pound tent may not sound like much, but every ounce quickly adds up, especially when your adventure hits day four. 

There are a few varying weight classes that make up modern backpacking tents:

  • Ultralight – 1-2 lbs per person
  • Lightweight – 2-3 lbs per person
  • Standard – 5-7 lbs

Ultralight tents reach their featherweights by using best in class technology across the tent poles and body. This tech isn’t cheap, and some companies will ignore durability in favour of shaving off a few ounces.

On the flip side, there is definitely such thing as too much tent, especially if you plan on walking a few miles to camp. Anything above 7 pounds is too heavy to be carried for any considerable distances unless you’re bringing the whole family.

But I wouldn’t walk more than a mile with anything heavier than 5 lbs in my pack. 

It is important to remember that while weight should be the deciding factor in choosing a backpacking tent, there is no need to overdo it.

Unless you plan on walking 15 miles a day for the next three weeks, you can probably afford to carry a slightly heavier tent in the name of interior comfort. 

The lightweight class generally provides a great balance of weight and comfort, and the standard class will be a few hundred dollars cheaper than any other option. 

Best Lightweight Tent: Nemo Hornet 

Without weather resistance, what’s the point of carrying a tent? Obviously, you’ll want your tent to protect you from a surprise downpour, but there are varying degrees of weather resistance even amongst the best backpacking tents on the market.

The best choice for your adventure will depend on what conditions you expect to travel through. 

Every tent on our list is rated as a three-season tent, which means it should hold strong through wind gusts up to 30 miles per hour, temperatures at or above freezing, and rain showers. The taller and more roomy your tent’s interior, the less weather resistance it will provide.  

Backpackers who plan on sleeping in extreme conditions should look towards four-season tents, which by nature are rarely considered lightweight.

That is because these tents use extra insulation across the tent body and reinforced poles to help keep the heat inside on below-freezing nights and hold firm through snowstorms.

You should only carry a four-season tent with you if you expect to sleep through a snowstorm or two.

Tent In Mountains

The best backpacking tents on the market are all lightweight first, but that doesn’t mean you have to live a spartan life in the woods.

Some of our favourite backpacking tents, like the MSR Mutha Hubba and REI’s Half Dome, leave just enough room to stretch out after a long day’s hike.

Other tent options can feel more like bivvies with hardly enough room for one person to sit up inside. 

Every backpacking tent on the market wants to fit as much into as light a space as possible. This means companies can sometimes get a bit creative when defining their interior space.

A great rule of thumb when shopping for your next backpacking tent is to take manufacturers’ sleeping definitions with a grain of salt.

A three-person tent is more realistically suited for two people and their gear, and a four-person tent is best for three people, etc.

Sure, you can technically squeeze two people into the Nemo Hornet, but you had better know each other pretty well. Interior space is not a huge concern for weekend trips, as we all want to spend as much time outside as possible.

Anyone shopping for an extended trip or who plans on spending a week at a time in their tent will eventually run on some foul weather, and every extra inch of interior space will become incredibly valuable on your first rainy afternoon. 

You don’t have to go overboard and pack a ten-pound tent in your bag for a bit of extra breathing room, but unless you’re planning on walking hundreds of miles, give your trip enough space for a sleeping bag tag.  

Best tent for interior space: MSR Mutha Hubba 

Weather resistance doesn’t stop when there is a break in the clouds. Ventilation should be one of your chief weather concerns when shopping for a tent, as fair-weathered nights are when we all love to spend more time outside.

Modern tents with completely mesh interiors and flexible rain flies that roll up on hot nights can be the only thing preventing you from sweating through your tent floor. 

Ventilation is the silent killer. Everyone frets about their trip being rained out, but a lack of tent ventilation will turn your home in a bag into a hot box. 

Campers who plan on backpacking through sticky tropical climates should make sure their tent has two doors and shouldn’t rely on single-wall tent designs to get the job done.

Instead, look towards tents with at least two air vents near the roof, or something like the REI Half Dome SL 2’s completely mesh top half. 

A tent with a removable rain fly like the half dome will allow you to sleep under the stars and bring much-needed relief on hot, windless nights. 

Best tent for ventilation: REI Half Dome SL 2 

Tent And Lake

When you’ve been hiking all day the last thing you want to do is spend an hour or more fumbling through parts of your tent trying to piece it together in freezing cold howling wind!

So you want to have a backpacking tent that you feel comfortable setting up and breaking down quickly and efficiently. Typically these will be our freestanding tent recommendations.

Easiest Tent to Setup: Big Agnes Tiger Wall

Like all great hiking gear, sometimes the best overall backpacking tent options are not the most affordable ones.

And the best budget backpacking tents may be good in ideal circumstances but will leave you wet and cold during torrential rain or snowfall.

So finding a great budget backpacking tent that ticks off most of the criteria that matter the most to you and your hiking preferences is going to involve some trade-offs.

We’re not going to try and sell you on the Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2 just because we like it. It may be a bit outside your price range and maybe a bit more than what you need for where you plan to hike.

Make a list of what is most important for you in terms of what you want in a backpacking tent and see which one on our list fits your budget best.

Best Budget Backpacking Tent: Marmot Tungsten

Big Agnes Copper Spur Tent

Now that we’ve explored everything there is to know about the industry’s best backpacking tent options, all that’s left to do is set up camp and start exploring! 

Our editor’s choice, the Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2, has made its name by providing an incredible mix of lightweight packed size, interior comfort, and powerful weather resistance to serve as a worthy addition to any backpacking trip. 

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With a wealth of hostels, Airbnb’s, and trains to sleep on you may be wondering whether the modern backpacker really needs to burden themselves with carrying a tent around with them. But actually, when you have a tent with you, it allows you the freedom to explore and experience nature in a way that these hostels, hotels, and Airbnb’s don’t offer. They also provide a movable home that goes wherever you do, whether that’s a glorious remote vista or a canopy under the trees in a dense forest. 

When you go backpacking you don’t want to have to haul around heavy equipment especially when camping out in the middle of the woods or at the foot of a mighty mountain that you trekked to. What you need is something lightweight, easy to carry, and is relatively small in size, which is why travel tents are now becoming more and more popular. But how do you know which is the best backpacking tent for your needs? 

We’ve put together a comprehensive guide so that you know what to look for as well as the seven best backpacking tents on the market for 2022. So you can enjoy a stress-free backpacking adventure that reignites your soul and reconnects you with nature. 

Table of Contents

What To Look For When Choosing A Backpacking Tent

When choosing a backpacking tent for yourself, there are a few things you’ll want to take into consideration as they can open up a world of possibilities for you. So what should you look for when choosing a backpacking tent:

Find A Travel Buddy!

You will need to have in mind the number of people you are likely to share the tent with. They are normally categorized by capacity from one to four persons. You’ll also need to remember that there is no standardized size for per-person dimensions so a 2 person tent, for example, can vary from brand to brand.

  • Seasonality

Another important factor to consider when looking for a tent is the season you will be using it for. Your main choice is between a three-season and a four-season tent. The majority of hikers, especially newcomers will opt for a three-season tent and frequently backpackers will often choose to have more than one tent. 

Three-season tents can withstand downpours and light snow but are not designed to withstand harsh storms, violent winds, or heavy snow. Other key features of three-season tents are ample mesh panels to boost airflow, more upright walls for increased interior headroom, and fewer poles to keep weight down.

Four-season tents on the other hand are engineered to withstand fierce winds and substantial snow loads, however, they tend to have less ventilation so can feel stuffy in milder weather. Other key features of four-season tents are that they tend to contain more poles and heavier fabrics, rounded domed roofs to eliminate the chances of snow and rain collecting, and rainflys that extend close to the ground for better anchorage. 

Some four-season tents are lightweight single-wall tents that have waterproof and breathable walls with no rainfly. These tents are best for cold, dry conditions as humid conditions can mean condensation accumulates inside the tent.

The weight of your backpacking tent is a huge part of your overall load, that’s why tent designers work hard to keep the weight of your tent low. As a compromise to your backpacking tent being lightweight you will lose space, have fewer features and may be less durable over the long haul. That’s why looking around is always a good idea as you are likely to find some lightweight tents that feel reasonably roomy and comfortable for you.

As the word suggests livability is a word for features that make spending time inside your tent more enjoyable. Backpacking tents traditionally have steeply sloped walls, minimal floor space, and hardly any headroom, but thanks to advances in materials this is now a thing of the past. You’ll want to bear in mind the floor dimensions, the floor area, peak height, and wall shape as this will help provide you with a comfy backpacking tent that you will enjoy sleeping in. If possible go to a shop and ask to set up your desired tent so you can hop inside and test it out.

The Best Backpacking Tents For 2022

Backpacking is a fun and adventurous way to reconnect with nature and to explore the world with the ultimate freedom you need to be able to pitch up anywhere. Having a travel tent is the perfect way to do this, so here’s our list of the seven best backpacking tents for 2022. 

1. Weanas Waterproof Double Layer Aluminum Rod Double Skylight Outdoor Camping Tent

Weanas Waterproof Double Layer Aluminum Rod Double Skylight Outdoor Camping Tent

While tents are often used for shelter, protection, and comfort they can decrease your visibility of the world. The Weanas Waterproof Skylight Camping Tent has this key factor in mind. It features a large skylight that opens at the top of the tent to reveal a see-through panel for ventilation and more importantly a view of the starry night sky without any fabric in the way. But that’s not all this tent has to offer. This three-season tent weighs just five pounds and can accommodate up to three people. 

It’s easy to install with high-strength, lightweight aluminum poles and as it’s freestanding you can move it without having to disassemble it. The tent is dual-layered for waterproofing, however, the inner label can be used alone for better ventilation and the outer layer can also be used alone for sunshade on a warm day. The Weanas tent can be used for multiple purposes and is the perfect addition to your backpacking tool kit.

2. First Gear Cliff Hanger Single Person Camping Backpacking Tent

First Gear Cliff Hanger Single Person Camping Backpacking Tent

If you’re looking for a solo backpacking adventure then the First Gear Cliff Hanger Tent is a great addition to your backpacking tool kit. Weighing only three and a half pounds you’ll barely feel this tent on your back. Covered in a polyurethane coating, this backpacking tent is durable and can withstand all types of harsh weather. The tent features two air vents for better ventilation and the fiberglass poles help keep this tent lightweight while making it easy to set up even for a novice. The Cliff Hanger tent also comes with its own storage bag with a handle so you can easily attach it to your backpack.

3. Texsport Saguaro Single Person Personal Bivy Shelter Tent for Backpacking

Texsport Saguaro Single Person Personal Bivy Shelter Tent for Backpacking

Backpacking tents don’t have to be expensive and the Texsport Saguaro Bivy Shelter Tent will fit most budgets. Weighing only four pounds, this tent is designed specifically for outdoor activities like backpacking or hiking. This single-person tent is perfect for solo backpackers or those who prefer their own space, just like the Cliff Hanger tent, it’s equipped with a polyurethane coating making it resistant to harsh weather such as sun and rain.

The two-pole frame system with shock-corded fiberglass poles makes setting up and disassembling this tent a breeze. The polyester taffeta walls with silver lining keep this tent cool in hot weather and helps to protect against harmful UV rays. This tent also comes with a three-year manufacturer’s warranty against defects in materials and workmanship.

4. Wenzel Ridgeline Three Person Tent

Wenzel Ridgeline Three Person Tent

Like many backpacking tents these days, the Wenzel Ridgeline has a high-quality polyurethane coating so it can handle harsh weather conditions. It’s been designed to fit up to three people so is relatively large in comparison to some, however, being a three-person tent does mean it weighs more at around seven pounds. The tent has multi-diameter fiberglass poles for extra headroom and more livable space. 

The Dutch ‘D’ style door gives you easy entry and exit from the tent and the mesh window, door, and roof provide superior ventilation. The polyethylene tub-style floor has been welded and not sewn eliminating needle holes that could create a potential area for water seepage. This backpacking tent is large enough for up to three people yet compact enough to fit conveniently into a backpack or saddlebag. It’s the ideal tent for all types of camping, hiking, and weather conditions.

5. Alps Mountaineering Lightweight Backpacking Tent

Alps Mountaineering Lightweight Backpacking Tent

There are several choices out there for lightweight single-person tents, however, none quite compare to the Alps Mountaineering Backpacking Tent . This tent has a whole range of features you never knew you needed until now. With a simple two-pole design this tent can be set up in a matter of minutes and as it’s free-standing you won’t need to disassemble it to move it. It also features a vestibule to store your gear and keep it dry in wet weather.

Another great feature with this backpacking tent is the overhead gear loft and side mesh storage pockets so you know your valuables are within reach when you’re inside your tent. The half mesh walls increase ventilation and the UV resistant fly helps keep you protected against harmful UV rays. Weighing just four pounds the Alps  Mountaineering tent can be carried easily in your backpack.  

6. Hyke & Byke Yosemite Backpacking Tents with Footprint

Hyke & Byke Yosemite Backpacking Tents with Footprint

One of the best backpacking tents for 2022 is the Hyke & Byke Yosemite Tent . It features a ‘no-see-um’ mesh and an ultra-lightweight polyester fabric to keep you dry and warm. The tent is designed to be the ultimate backpacking tent for everyone to enjoy whether you are backpacking, hiking, or even car camping. The Yosemite backpacking tent comes as either a one-person or a two-person tent and weighs between four and six pounds. 

The premium aluminum poles were designed to save space and shave weight, they also make setting this tent up super easy. This tent also boasts a superior weight-to-size ratio, a fully encompassed fly, and a durable waterproof double wall with ventilation. Additional features include a gear loft pocket, proprietary stake presser, 2 corner pockets, and four reflective guy lines.

7. Naturehike Four-Season Cloud-Up Lightweight Backpacking Tent

Naturehike Four-Season Cloud-Up Lightweight Backpacking Tent

Naturehike is a professional outdoor product brand that was established in 2005 with the concept of light outdoor travel in mind. They are committed to providing high-quality outdoor products and the Cloud-up Backpacking Tent delivers on their promise. This four-season tent is both waterproof and windproof. It’s designed for 2 people and provides good thermal insulation and UV protection and weighs just over four and a half pounds. 

The lightweight aluminum poles can easily support this tent in heavy snow and strong winds, they also make setting up the tent really easy. It has additional fixing points for durability and stability as well as additional vents for superior ventilation. When not in use it folds down to just 40cm which allows it to easily fit inside most hiking backpacks. The tent is multi-functional as the free-standing inner tent can be used as a mosquito net and the flysheet can also be used independently to save weight.


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Best backpacking tents 2024: lightweight shelters for adventurous explorers

The best backpacking tents for fast, lightweight and comfortable adventuring in any season

  • 1. Best overall
  • 2. Best 2-people
  • 3. Best fast-pitch
  • 4. Best solo
  • 5. Best 3-season
  • 6. Best ultralight
  • 7. Best budget
  • 8. Best summer
  • How to choose
  • How we test

Matt Kollat

Best backpacking tents 2024: Quick links

Best backpacking tent

01. Best overall : The North Face Trail Lite 2-Person Tent 02. Best 2-person : Sea to Summit Alto TR2 03. Best fast-pitch : Sierra Designs Meteor Lite 2 04. Best solo : Vango F10 Project Hydrogen 05. Best 3-season : Alpkit Soloist 1-Person Tent 06. Best ultralight : Sierra Designs High Route 1 3000 07. Best budget : Alpkit Ordos 2 08. Best for summer : MSR Hubba Hubba NX 09. How to choose 10. How we test 11. FAQ

Looking for the best backpacking tent? Welcome to the ultimate guide where we pitch the top contenders against each other – metaphorically speaking, of course. Because let's be honest, no one wants to carry extra weight in their pack unless it's a bag of marshmallows for those campfire s'mores.

Choosing the right backpacking tent is like picking a hiking trail: you want something that fits your style, won't weigh you down, and can handle whatever nature throws your way. Whether you're a solo adventurer or part of a dynamic duo, we've got options that'll make you say, "I'm tenting with that!"

When it comes to backpacking, every gram counts. That's why our selection focuses on lightweight yet sturdy tents that won't have you questioning your life choices halfway up a mountain. From single-wall wonders to spacious shelters for two (or even three if you're cosy), we've got your back – literally.

So, grab your lightweight sleeping bag and camping mat , lace up those hiking boots , and get ready to hit the trails with confidence. And remember, the best part of any adventure is the journey – especially when you've got the perfect backpacking tent waiting for you at the end of the trail. Happy hiking!

Best backpacking tents to buy right now

Why you can trust T3 Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test .

Best overall

The North Face Trail Lite 2-Person Tent review

1. The North Face Trail Lite 2-Person Tent

Our expert review:


Reasons to buy, reasons to avoid.

Part of The North Face's Technical Collection, the Trail Lite 2-Person Tent is currently the best backpacking tent. While lighter options exist, none match its combination of spaciousness, portability, and waterproofness.

Equipped with premium features, it's a valuable investment for serious backpackers. Constructed with a 20D nylon Ripstop fly and a 75D polyester floor, it offers durability and protection. Oversized doors and vestibules provide ample ventilation and storage.

During testing, it proved resilient against rain and wind, boasting easy assembly and stability. Despite its lightweight, it offers generous space and comfortable height. The DWR-treated bottom layer ensures dryness even on wet ground, while large openings allow for excellent airflow.

Versatile and reliable, The North Face Trail Lite 2-Person Tent is ideal for backpackers seeking quality and performance. While cheaper alternatives exist, this tent is a worthwhile investment for those prioritising durability and comfort on their outdoor adventures.

Read our full The North Face Trail Lite 2-Person Tent review .

Best 2-people

Sea to Summit Alto TR2 tent

2. Sea to Summit Alto TR2

The Sea to Summit Alto TR2 tent is a brilliant backpacking tent. At just 1.3kg, it's almost, but not quite, ultralight, and it comes in three separate stuff sacks, which makes it easy to pack or split between two people.

It can be pitched in under 10 minutes and is versatile enough to be set up in a few configurations, such as having the inner tent on its own for warm, dry nights or leaving the fly half-off so you can see the stars. It's also brilliantly designed and really well made. Bear in mind it's a little snug for two full-grown adults (although if there's just one of you, it's awesome). 

Read our full Sea to Summit Alto TR2 tent review .

Also consider: The Sea To Summit Telos TR2 boasts several innovative new features, incredible amounts of headroom, and perhaps the best ventilation in its class. Multiple modes allow you to set up the tent to fit both your needs and the conditions outside.

Best fast-pitch

Sierra Designs Meteor Lite tent

3. Sierra Designs Meteor Lite 2

We tested out the 2-man version of this tent, but there are also different versions for one and three people available. It's very lightweight when packed (the brand has even shaved off a few grams compared to the previous iteration of this tent) but surprisingly spacious when pitched – it'll fit two people side by side, with room at your feet for two backpacks, and there are also two generous porches which provide extra space for storage.

The design is split into two parts: an inner mesh tent and an outer waterproof 'fly'. That means when the weather's warm and dry, you can roll back the outer layer and engage in a spot of stargazing. It's also quick and easy to pitch and pack away and stands up very well to high winds and rain. Well worth investing in for years of lightweight adventuring.

Read our full Sierra Designs Meteor Lite review .

Vango F10 Project Hydrogen

4. Vango F10 Project Hydrogen

The Vango F10 Project Hydrogen deserves inclusion here for two key reasons: technical innovation and ludicrous lightness. That last metric is pretty essential when carrying tents on your back, and Project Hydrogen's 680-gram trail weight is as light as they come – there are plenty of heavier sleeping mats. Although it's not a large tent, there's still a good amount of living space for one person, with a porch for storage and enough room to sit up inside. 

This innovative design uses air poles to lower the weight, and they're surprisingly sturdy, even in bad weather. Inflating it using the included bike pump is speedy and simple. Vango hasn't skimped on the details here, serving up a twin-skin build (important to fend off condensation), as well as a Yunan carbon fibre singular pole which sits at the foot-end of the tent. A cotton thread that expands to seal gaps when wet means there's no seam tape here, shaving a few more grams, while a 7D nylon with a double silicone flysheet should keep the wet stuff outside in all but the worst weather.

Read our full Vango F10 Project Hydrogen review .

Also consider: The Vango F10 Neon UL1 surprises with its ultralight design yet robust performance. Suitable for thru-hiking, wild camping, and bikepacking, it offers ample space for one person and gear. Waterproof and warm for three seasons, its spike-style pegs may lack effectiveness in windy conditions, suggesting a need for sturdier alternatives.

Best 3-season

Alpkit Soloist backpacking tent

5. Alpkit Soloist 1-Person Backpacking Tent

The Alpkit Soloist, a 1-person, 3-season backpacking tent, boasts a semi-geodesic shape that ensures remarkable stability even in harsh wet and windy conditions. Setting up and taking down the Soloist is a breeze, thanks to its simple and quick assembly, and it packs away neatly and compactly for easy trail transport.

With a standard interior length of two meters, most users will find ample space to lie down comfortably, while taller backpackers can opt for the extra-large version. While the tent's design features a reasonably spacious porch area, it may not be large enough for cooking during heavy rain. However, it provides sufficient room for food preparation and storage of wet gear.

Though lacking interior storage pockets for better organization, the Soloist performs admirably in heavy weather conditions, as demonstrated in Scotland. Additionally, in warmer months, the tent can be used without a flysheet, while its kelp-coloured exterior offers discreet camping opportunities for wild campers.

Read our full Alpkit Soloist review .

Best ultralight

Sierra Designs High Route 1 3000 1P tent

6. Sierra Designs High Route 1 3000

Need an ultra-lightweight tent for hiking adventures? The Sierra Designs High Route 1 3000 1P tent is made for just that scenario. In fact, thanks to a smart design twist that we're amazed nobody's thought of before, it's only suitable for hikers. To keep it light and packable, this tent doesn't come with poles; instead, you pitch it using your own trekking poles for support.

That's a brilliant idea, frankly, but we should warn you that you'll need decent poles; we tried it with cheap and flimsy ones, and it wouldn't stand up properly, but got much better results with higher-quality poles. Sierra Designs insists that pitching is simple and intuitive, but we'd caution that it takes a bit of practice to get right. Breaking camp is quick and easy, though, and in between, you'll enjoy a roomy and well-specced tent that's versatile in its pitching options.

Read our full Sierra Designs High Route 1 3000 1P review .

Best budget

Alpkit Ordos 2 tent review

7. Alpkit Ordos 2

The Alpkit Ordos 2 is a superb lightweight backpacking tent, thanks to its combination of ease of pitching and affordability.

While it's designed for two people, it's particularly well-suited for solo adventurers. It offers reliable weatherproofing and comes in a compact, lightweight package, making it ideal for backpacking trips where space and weight are critical considerations.

Despite its small size, it provides enough room for two campers and their gear, though the porch area is somewhat cramped. One minor downside is the lack of multiple doors, which can make entry and exit slightly less convenient, especially for two occupants.

However, these drawbacks are outweighed by the tent's overall performance and value for money. The optional footprint accessory enhances waterproofing and protects the tent floor, making it a worthwhile investment for those venturing into wet or rocky terrain.

The Alpkit Ordos 2 strikes a balance between functionality, affordability, and portability, making it a practical choice for backpackers and wild campers seeking a reliable shelter for their outdoor adventures.

Read our full Alpkit Ordos 2 tent review .

Best for summer

MSR Hubba Hubba NX lightweight backpacking tent

8. MSR Hubba Hubba NX

Despite the cheeky name, this award-winning MSR backpacking tent is all business. The hub pole design cleverly maximises the usable space inside the tent, including the head and elbow room, while ensuring it stays stable. There’s also a breathable mesh canopy offering up unrestricted views of the scenery surrounding you. That, combined with a cross-ventilating flysheet, works to a) keep condensation at bay and b) boost airflow. That’s ideal for taking the edge off hot, sticky nights during summer backpacking trips. Built-in rain gutters are a godsend during wet weather trips, though in general, we’d recommend the Hubba Hubba for warm weather trips.

How to choose the best backpacking tent for you

Choosing the perfect backpacking tent is like finding the ultimate adventure sidekick – it needs to be reliable, lightweight, and always up for the journey.

Pack size plays a starring role in this backpacking saga. You want a tent that plays nice with your backpack, not one that feels like an unwanted guest taking up precious space. Bonus points if it squeezes into your pack like a pro, but fear not if it ends up hitching a ride on the outside – it's all part of the adventure, right?

When Mother Nature decides to throw a tantrum, your tent should be your trusty shield against her wrath. Waterproof and sturdy enough to withstand gusty winds? Check. Easy to pitch and pack up in a flash? Double-check.

Comfort is key, my friend. A little extra space can go a long way when you're spending nights under the stars. Mesh windows for stargazing, pockets for tidying up your tent floor, and a cozy porch for rainy-day gear storage – these are the little luxuries that turn a good tent into a great one.

And let's not forget the golden rule of backpacking: a good night's sleep is worth its weight in gold. After a day of conquering trails, you deserve to rest and recharge in comfort. So, when you're on the hunt for the perfect tent, remember to strike a balance between weight, durability, and comfort. Your back, and your dreams of epic adventures, will thank you for it.

How we test the best backpacking tents

To test backpacking tents, we take them on backpaking trips, as many as possible, to see how they fare in real-world conditions.

We pay close attention to how the tent handles these conditions – are the seams watertight? Does the rainfly effectively repel moisture?

Ease of setup is another crucial factor to consider. A backpacking tent should be intuitive to pitch, even for beginners. We often time ourselves as we assemble lightweight tents.

We look for features like colour-coded poles and simple clip systems that make setup a breeze, even in low light or inclement weather.

Then, we climb inside and take stock of the space – is there enough room for you and your gear? Can you sit up comfortably without feeling cramped? We look for features that enhance comfort, such as interior pockets for storage, mesh panels for ventilation, and vestibules for storing muddy boots or wet gear.

Finally, we pack ithe tent away. A backpacking tent should be compact and lightweight, fitting seamlessly into your pack without adding unnecessary bulk. We practice rolling (or folding) the tent and stowing it in its stuff sack.

Is 3kg too heavy for backpacking tent?

Most backpacking tents weigh less than 2kg, so unless you need a 3-people tent for your adventures, and happy to carry around the extra weight. As a general rule, you want to allow a maximum of one kilo of tent weight per person. That said, some of the 2-people tents can weigh as little as 1.4kg.

What type of tent is best for backpacking?

The best type of tent for backpacking is typically a lightweight, compact, and durable tent designed specifically for backpackers. These tents are often categorised as backpacking tents and are designed to be easy to carry in a backpack while offering sufficient protection and comfort for overnight stays in the wilderness.

They usually feature lightweight materials, such as nylon or polyester, and have a minimalist design to reduce weight without sacrificing functionality. Additionally, backpacking tents often have features like a rainfly, mesh panels for ventilation, and a sturdy frame to withstand various weather conditions encountered during backpacking trips.

Is 4 lbs too heavy for a backpacking tent?

Generally, backpackers aim for lightweight gear to minimise the strain on their backs during long hikes. A tent weighing 4 lbs (approximately 1.8 kg) would be considered on the heavier side for backpacking, especially for solo hikers or those embarking on multi-day trips where every ounce counts.

That said, a 4-lb tent might be perfectly acceptable for certain situations. For example, if you're sharing the tent with a partner and splitting the weight between two packs, or if you prioritise durability and comfort over ultralightweight construction.

What is the difference between a camping tent and a backpacking tent?

Camping tents are spacious with amenities for comfort and ideal for car camping and group outings. They're heavier due to their size and features. Backpacking tents are lightweight, compact, and designed for wilderness trekking. They prioritise portability for hikers carrying gear over long distances. Backpacking tents sacrifice space and amenities for minimal weight and pack size.

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Matt Kollat is a journalist and content creator who works for and its magazine counterpart as an Active Editor. His areas of expertise include wearables, drones, fitness equipment, nutrition and outdoor gear. He joined T3 in 2019. His byline appears in several publications, including Techradar and Fit&Well , and more. Matt also collaborated with other content creators (e.g. Garage Gym Reviews ) and judged many awards, such as the European Specialist Sports Nutrition Alliance's ESSNawards. When he isn't working out, running or cycling, you'll find him roaming the countryside and trying out new podcasting and content creation equipment.

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A tent which is light and between the mountains at a high altitude.

Best Backpacking Tents of 2023

Find your best backpacking tent for backcountry fishing, hunting, or just getting away from it all.

We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs. Learn more ›

A backpacking tent is the single most important piece of camping gear you can bring with you when you’re venturing into the backcountry. The reason is simple: You need to be able to trust your shelter at all times. Unlike when you’re car camping, you won’t be able to run to your vehicle in case of inclement weather. You need to get a tent that will stay upright and keep you protected in rain and wind.

Just as important, you need to be able to take that tent to remote areas by foot. That means that the best tent for backpacking is both lightweight and portable. Here’s how to choose the best lightweight backpacking tent for where you camp.

Best One Person: ALPS Mountaineering Lynx 1-Person Tent

Best two person: kelty salida camping and backpacking tent, best three season: eureka timberline sq three-season tent, best four season: geertop tent for 2 person 4-season camping, best four-person: teton sports mountain ultra tent; 3-4 person, best bivy sack for backpacking: outdoor research helium bivy, best budget: bisinna 2 person camping tent, key considerations before purchasing the best backpacking tent s.

Are you planning to travel solo? Get a 1 person backpacking tent…but if portability is a big concern, you might get away with a minimalist approach with a bivy sack. If you’re going with a friend or partner, a 2 person tent is lighter than two 1-person tents…but the two of you need to be compatible, physically and socially. Is high wind an issue in the places you go? You’ll need to make sure to get a tent with poles sturdy enough to take a beating and still keep you dry and sheltered. Will you be backpacking in winter? You’ll need to invest in a four-season tent. Otherwise, a three-season tent will work.

Should You Buy a One Person Tent or Two Person Tent?

When you’re looking for a new tent, the first decision you need to make is its capacity, defined by how many people you can fit inside the tent comfortably. Backpacking tents fit between one and four people. That said, each tent manufacturer defines its tents’ capacity differently, meaning there are no standard capacity measurements. The size of two-person tents varies depending on the company that manufactures the tent. 

Most backpacking tents are quite snug. You won’t be able to fit more people than recommended into a tent without being seriously cramped. When in doubt, opt for a bigger tent. This applies if you will be sharing the tent with someone else at some point in the future,  as well as if you are a bigger person in general. Keep in mind, though, that the larger the tent, the heavier it’s generally going to be to carry.

A green camping tent with orange and blue parts in it, as well as two ropes that are attached to the orange tent from above.

It’s durable, waterproof, and easy to set up. ALPS Mountaineering

The ALPS Mountaineering Lynx 1-Person Tent is a phenomenal option for sleeping solo in the backcountry. Its sturdy aluminum poles hold up to high winds, and the polyester fly will keep the rain out. It has a floor area of 20 square feet and boasts a minimum weight of 3 pounds 8 ounces.

A camping tent is a person with an oval shape from above and all covered, which is white and only the sides have a thick green line.

It’s a great all-around backpacking tent for two people. Kelty

You can’t go wrong with the Kelty Salida Camping and Backpacking Tent. It’s a three-season tent that weighs only 4.57 pounds. It’s remarkably weatherproof and the interior is 30.5 square feet—spacious enough to fit two comfortably.

Consider Your Tent’s Seasonality

Different backpacking tents are made for different weather conditions. Make sure to get a tent that can handle the weather that you’re going to face. Most people go backpacking during the warm weather months. Most tents are made for use during the summer but can still handle the shoulder seasons as well. These are called 3-season tents and tend to have good airflow and breathability. 

If you go backpacking during the late fall and winter—hunting season—then you should consider a 4-season tent. What’s the difference? A 4-season tent can withstand heavier wind and is designed to keep snow drifts out. The fabric tends to also be thicker, which is good for insulation but will hinder the tent’s packability.

A small tent with a space from above, which is connected and shaped like a roof from above, white in color and with a thick brown and green stripe from below, and caught with orange rope by one corner of the tent in the other.

The two-person tent handles summer camping and the shoulder seasons equally well. Eureka!

The Eureka! Timberline SQ Three-Season Tent is a great three-season option. The high/low air vent regulates the inside temperature to keep you and one other person comfortable during both warm and brisk nights. The tent has a relatively spacious interior to boot, and weighs a fraction over six pounds.

A camping tent all closed and with a strong yellow color and some small black parts.

It has enough coverage to keep two people warm and comfortable during windy winter nights. GEERTOP Store

The 6.4-pound GEERTOP Backpacking Tent performs well all year long, but it’s an especially good option for late-season backcountry hunting trips for two people. It’s a double layer tent that sheds snow and rain easily. The fly extends all the way to the ground, which is important for keeping snow out of the tent.

Are you backpacking with your family or a large group?

The most common tents are one and two-person setups because larger tents are bulky and heavier to pack. That said, there are plenty of four-person tents that are certainly packable. However, if you’re going backpacking with a group of people or your family, consider packing multiple two-person tents. This option works well if you have multiple people in your party that are strong enough to haul a tent on their backs. 

If you’ll be traveling with several smaller kids, a lightweight four-person tent will get the job done. Opting for a tent larger than a four-person, even if it’s advertised as a backpacking tent, is a recipe for difficult hiking and back pain.

A bright brick color tent from above, as well as with the front part open and the bottom part black support.

It packs well and has a lot of space for a backpacking tent. TETON Sports

The Teton Sports Mountain Ultra Tent is somewhat of a ‘tweener. It fits between three and four people, depending on how much room each person needs. It’s easy to set up, and at 10.1 pounds, it’s significantly lighter than most four-person camping tents.

Go Ultralight with a Bivy Sack

If you’re traveling long distances, weight becomes an issue, especially if you’re moving quickly. If you spend a lot of time in the wilderness covering a lot of ground, the best backpacking tent might not actually be a tent at all. Instead, you should consider a bivy sack. 

What is a bivy sack? A bivy sack is a single-person, minimalist shelter that was designed for mountaineering expeditions. A bivy sack keeps you dry, but doesn’t provide any extra space to lounge around, or even sit up. Some describe it as sleeping inside a big trash bag. But if you want to pack light, and set up and break down camp super quickly, a bivy sack is the way to go.

A tent for camping and winds all in the form of a single bed.

It will provide a minimal—but effective—shelter from the elements. Outdoor Research

The Outdoor Research Helium Bivy is a high value bivy sack. It’s 100-percent waterproof and is extremely light to pack at only 1 pound and 0.8 ounces.

Want the Best Backpacking Tents on a Budget?

Backpacking tents can be quite expensive—and for good reason. They’re critical pieces of camping equipment. That said, if you don’t have much money to drop on a new tent, or you aren’t sure how often you’re going to go backpacking, you should be able to find a budget tent that will do just fine for now. What should you expect from a budget backpacking tent? These products won’t be as wind- or water-resistant as high quality offerings. Be aware that the tent poles may be prone to snapping under high wind. A low-quality tent will likely be heavier than more expensive offerings, meaning you’ll pay for it with sweat on the trail instead of cash.

A small camping tent with an oval shape which is all orange with some small blue markings.

It is a high value, low cost backpacking tent option. BISINNA

The two person tent weighs only 4.7 pounds, which is comparable to much pricier models, and has covered vents on two sides.

Q: How much should a tent weigh for backpacking?

How much a tent should weigh for backpacking depends on its size. One- and two-person tents should weigh 5 pounds or less. Three- and four-person tents should be well under 10 pounds.

Q: What is the best tent for backpacking?

The best tent for backpacking depends on personal preference. That said, almost all backpacking tents are “dome tents.” This style is portable, easy to set up, and is strong enough to withstand the elements.

Q: What’s the difference between a camping tent and a backpacking tent?

The main difference between a camping tent and a backpacking tent is size and weight. Backpacking tents are compact and light enough to attach to your backpack and carry into the backcountry. Car camping tents are not very compact or lightweight. You can still use a backpacking tent when you go car camping, but not vice versa.

A Final Tip on Buying The Best Backpacking Tents

Invest as much as you can in a backpacking tent. It’s going to be your home in the wilds, and you’ll want one that’s lightweight, easy to set up, and strong enough to resist wind and weather. One cold and wet night in the backcountry is one too many.

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The Best Tents for Every Outdoor Adventure, Tested and Reviewed

We have top picks for backpacking, car camping, and sticking to a budget.

best travel tent for backpacking

In This Article

  • Our Top Picks
  • Others We Liked

Our Testing Process

  • Tips for Buying

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why Trust T+L

Travel + Leisure / John Somerall

From multi-day forays into the deep backcountry to occupying a drive-up spot at a local park for the weekend, we love camping. It’s the best way to immerse yourself in nature, unplug, view the stars, and relax . And the key factor in a successful camping outing is having the right tent, one that keeps you dry if it rains, breathes well and doesn’t cause internal condensation, pitches easily, and is easy to transport.

We put 18 tents to the test, using real-world conditions to access every aspect of each product, from the ease of assembly to overall performance in variable weather conditions (even dousing the tent with a garden hose when it didn’t rain to evaluate its waterproofness) and key design features that make camping easier and more enjoyable. We also talked to Bill Gamber, Co-Founder and President of Big Agnes — one of the most innovative tent makers — about the evolution of tent construction as well as key considerations and tips on what to look for when buying a tent.

Some tents hit the sweet spot in terms of performance and versatility. Others honed in on key features specific to different types of camping, from ultralight tents built for the most discerning backpacker to cavernous car-camping tents big enough for your entire brood.

Best Overall

Nemo aurora highrise camping tent.

  • Ease of Setup 5 /5
  • Ease of Use 5 /5
  • Design 5 /5
  • Performance 5 /5
  • Durability 5 /5

Easy to assemble, durable enough for most weather conditions, and sporting ample internal storage, the Aurora Highrise is the perfect outdoor home for tall, gear-loving campers.

The rainfly doesn’t come all the way to the ground on all sides, a potential drawback for winter camping.

With a max peak height of 72 inches and near-vertical walls that really open up the interior space, the Aurora Highrise from Nemo won us over thanks to the ease of assembly, detailed internal gear storage, and ample headroom for tall campers. Despite its noticeable height, it stood up to heavy winds while camping on the beach even though the guy lines weren’t tied down. The durable fabric worked to block out the elements, and the aluminum poles perfectly balance the weight-to-strength ratio you’d expect in a high-end tent. Even after five months of use, it's holding up well without any signs of wear and tear. Large side windows worked well to help regulate air circulation, and the two doors open onto generous vestibules.

Nemo really packed in all the small details destined to woo you, including the brand’s Gatekeeper door clips, a pocket that transforms your headlamp into a tent lantern, and multiple gear pockets. And disassembly happened even faster than pitching the tent, taking about five minutes. The whole package can be easily stored in the included duffle storage sack for quick transport from car to campsite — checking an important box when it comes to great camping gear . The light blue color makes this tent stand out, and the internal 150D PU poly tent floor comes in a bold pattern, a design element that’s supposed to add a bit of whimsy and fun...but that some campers may not like.

The Details: 13.8 pounds | 90 x 100 x 75 inches | 4 people

Travel + Leisure / Dylan Thompson

Best Budget

Coleman sundome tent.

The Sundome Tent is incredibly spacious in terms of internal square footage and height, and it’s perfect for a basic night of camping for a large crew of campers.

The side gear pockets could be a bit larger, and there are no vestibules. 

Coleman stitched the pitching instructions onto the carrying bag of the Sundome Tent, but it was so easy to assemble, we didn't need it — the tent went up in five minutes, and assembling it solo was no problem. After five months of use, we love the snag-free, continuous pole sleeves that make set up a breeze. With a tent floor that spans 10 x 10 feet, the interior space is massive — enough space to accommodate two queen-sized airbeds, and a center height of 6 feet means most campers don’t have to bend over while entering or standing inside. Awnings at the front door and rear window provide added weather protection, which works with the brand’s WeatherTec system — a tub-like floor with welded corners, inverted seams, and taped seams on the rainfly and tent body to block out water — while the strong frame has been tested to withstand 35-mile-per-hour winds. In addition to two windows, the tent also has a ground vent that works well to allow cool air to circulate and push out the hot air. And when the tent was disassembled, everything fit neatly into the storage bag, a detail that we appreciated given the typical frustrations of trying to make all parts fit into most stuff sacks.

The Details: 18 pounds | 10 x 10 x 6 feet | 6 people 

Travel + Leisure / Alicia Dolieslager

Easiest Setup

Rei co-op half dome sl 2+.

The hub pole design of the Half Dome SL 2+ makes assembly intuitive and fast, and the interior provides enough space for two campers and loads of gear.

As it’s meant for backpacking, the internal space may feel constrictive to some campers longing for more space or a taller ceiling.

Rather than making you fuss with tent sleeves during assembly, the REI Co-op Half Dome SL 2+ employs a hubbed pole system — simply unfurl the tent, assemble the poles, and then clip the poles onto the frame and you’re done. After five months of use, we love that it's both easy to assemble and easy to break down and return to its stuff sack. The free-standing backpacking tent provides enough space for two people plus extra room for lots of gear (or your camping dog ), with a peak height of 42 inches. Two-sided entry (each with vestibules) made it easy for us to exit and store extra gear, and mesh panels in the upper portion of the tent improve ventilation — and views — while the fly design lets you roll up the sides and allow more airflow. There’s also two closable ceiling vents to avoid condensation build-up.

The Details: 4.7 pounds | 90 x 54 x 42 inches | 2+ person

Travel + Leisure / Frances Crouter

Best for Backpacking

Nemo dagger osmo 2p tent.

Low in weight and high in internal space, the Dagger Osmo makes for the perfect two-person backpacking tent with loads of camp-friendly extras and durable construction that’s meant to last.

The price is a bit higher compared to other tents on our list, but the overall quality of the product means it’ll last a long time.

With a feathery 3.3 pound minimal weight, the Nemo Dagger Osmo 2-person Tent will appease even the most arduous backpacker. A 31.3-square-foot interior and a peak height of 42 inches provide ample space for two campers and their gear, with additional storage options in the vestibules. The pitching instructions weren’t included, but thankfully the tent parts are color-coded, which helped us align the poles to the proper clips, and since all the poles are integrated into one system, the frame went up quickly. Built with a proprietary blend of poly and nylon, the tent boasts impressive water repellency, minimal stretch when wet, and a higher strength rating compared to similar fabrics, details that kept things dry when we were caught in a prolonged, heavy rainstorm.

In addition to the extra space and weather protection, Nemo packs in the small details, including a Landing Zone (a triangular piece of fabric that hooks to the outside of the tent for your shoes), an easy-to-use stuff sack that’s designed to let you split up the tent between two backpackers, one-handed door clips, and Nightlight Pockets, which transform your headlamp into a mellow, even tent lantern. After five months of use in various weather conditions, we even washed this tent following manufacturer instructions and it continues to look good-as-new.

The Details: 4.1 pounds | 90 x 50 x 42 inches | 2-person 

Travel + Leisure / Taylor Fox

Best Budget Backpacking

Rei co-op trailmade 2 tent.

  • Ease of Use 4 /5

With an approachable price point, the REI Trail Made Tent is a great way to introduce yourself to backpacking, offering enough space for two hikers along with wide vestibules to protect your gear.

After multiple camping trips over a five-month period, we felt it's just a bit too small for two adults to share.

Nothing makes for a more frustrating — and exhausting — experience than struggling to pitch your tent after a long day of backpacking , which is why we appreciated the ease of which the REI Trail Made 2-person Tent went up quickly. It uses hooks to secure the poles (rather than fabric sleeves), and we didn’t even have to refer to the instructions attached to the stuff sack. As you’d expect from a backpacking-focused tent, the 88 x 52-inch floor area provides enough space for two adults but little else, and a peak height of 39.9 inches allows for easy kneeling but not standing. But ample vestibules on both sides, along with two wide doors, make it effortless to keep your gear dry. Weighing in with a minimal packing weight of 4.4 pounds, it’s light enough to carry for days, and the packed dimensions of 8.5 x 22 inches means it won’t swallow up loads of space in your pack. The stuff sack also has a bit of extra space to accommodate a small tarp.  The rainfly employs straps that buckle into place, so you can loosen them for more ventilation or tighten everything down when the weather turns foul. Gear-heads will also love the internal organization, which includes pockets and gear loops — and, unlike most tents, it also comes with a footprint, which will help extend the life of this already-durable tent.

The Details: 5.4 pounds | 88 x 52 x 39.9 inches | 2 people

  • Travel + Leisure/Jessica Christopher

Best Weather Resistance

Hilleberg allak 2 tent.

With bomber materials, several options to control airflow, and the ability to be pitched securely anywhere, the Allak 2 will stand up to the worst of Mother Nature, season after season.

This is a tent for serious campers, backpackers, and boat or bike touring and is likely too much for a casual camper.

Foul weather can be an unavoidable consequence of heading outdoors, but if you like to camp year-round in any kind of condition, go with the Hilleberg Allak 2. After five months of use, we love that it stays cool during the day and retains heat well at night. This backpack-friendly two-person tent is constructed of durable, weather-resistant Kerlon 1200 on the outer that’s been triple-coated with silicone, along with a DWR ripstop nylon inner layer and a 70D tripe-coated poly floor, and it uses a three 9-millimeter pole frame that stood up to harsh winds during our testing. The freestanding tent can be pitched anywhere, with guy lines and stakes to help security, while the outer walls extend to the ground and include mesh areas backed with adjustable fabric panels to customize the air circulation for various conditions. With lots of car camping and backpacking experience under our belts, we found that the 31.2-square-foot interior felt roomier than other two-person backpacking tents, while the domed architecture allowed for ample headroom — though the 41-inch max height means you probably can’t stand. In addition to the lower mesh vents, the roof has an adjustable vent that circulated air almost like a ceiling fan, which really improved circulation to provide comfort and combat condensation. Overall, we were particularly taken by the quality of materials and craftsmanship, with each Hilleberg tent being hand-made and inspected to deliver the best product possible.

The Details: 7.2 pounds | 88 x 51 x 41 inches | 2 people

Travel + Leisure / Michael Weisbaum

Best Ultralight

Mountain hardwear nimbus ul 2 tent.

Mountain Hardwear

Though it’s one of the lightest backpacking tents on the market, the Nimbus UL 2 doesn’t skimp on the essentials, including ample ventilation, weather protection, a good-sized interior, and very quick setup.

The single door helps cut down on excess weight, but it means two campers have to use the same entrance, and it’s important to stake down the tent as you pitch it because it’s light enough to get blown by a strong wind if it isn’t weighed down.

Ounce-counters rejoice! The Nimbus UL 2 Tent from Mountain Hardwear weighs in at an astonishingly low 2 pounds (trail weight) — without sacrificing the key features you want in a backpacking tent, including 28.1 square feet of internal space, an additional 7.7 square feet of storage in the vestibule, and minimal pack size of only 6 x 12 inches. During our testing, the tent held up to variable conditions, including foul weather and wind gusts of up to 40 miles per hour, with the pointed rear of the tent positioned to distribute the force of the wind. Even after five months of use, the tent looks brand new inside and outside and none of the poles have bent in any way. We love that it comes with a three-quarter mesh canopy that allows for ample circulation and star gazing when the weather cooperates, and the sil-nylon rainfly goes on quickly and is 100 percent waterproof. Ventilation also proved to be plentiful, even with the fly on, and no condensation appeared after a particularly humid night. Setup and breakdown were a breeze, clocking in at around three minutes.

The Details: 2.28 pounds | 86 x 42 x 41 inches | 2 person

Travel + Leisure / John Somerall

Best 6-person

Marmot limestone 6-person tent.

  • Performance 4 /5

The Limestone 6P Tent is huge , providing ample space for a number of campers and their corresponding gear, and setup was quick and painless.

It takes a bit of practice to successfully fold the tent so that it fits in the carrying case.

The Marmot Limestone 6P Tent is downright cavernous, with a 89.9-square-foot floor area, an additional 40 square feet of protective storage in the vestibule, and a peak height of 76 inches, enough space for us to stand without issue. Yet, despite its massive size, it was easy to set up thanks to the color-coded poles, clips, and fly, taking one person about 15 minutes. The waterproof fly comes with taped seams for full coverage, with plenty of venting to avoid overheating or condensation — a key feature for a multi-person tent — though it could benefit from a bit more air circulation. When weather isn’t an issue, the mesh ceiling affords star gazing, and Marmot also adds all the right mini-features, like internal pockets for gear storage and a lampshade pocket to hold your handy headlamp and provide ambient light. Even after pulling on zippers and stretching the fabric during five months of regular camping, the tent still looks brand new.

The Details: 17 pounds | 120 x 100 x 76 inches | 6 person

Best Vehicle Rooftop

Thule 3-season x tepui foothill tent.

This tent can be set up on either the driver or passenger side of the vehicle.

It tends to run on the warmer side.

We like how the Thule 3-season x Tepui Foothill Tent is compact for packing but roomy enough for two people. When folded up for traveling, the small size and softshell design allow other items such as bicycles and kayaks to be transported on the roof as well. Although the compact, low-profile nature of this tent is fantastic, perhaps the only downfall is that the ladder has to be stored inside your car for traveling. The skylight and panoramic-style windows maximize views and ventilation capabilities, ideal for stargazing or sunrise watching from your sleeping bag. Sleep comfortably on the 4-centimeter foam mattress included with the tent. Both interior and exterior hanging loops and pockets help with storage needs, too. The Foothill tent is great for smaller cars and ideal for solo or duo travelers due to ease of setup, as well as its low and lightweight profile that won’t weigh you down. It’s a prime example of holding up to Thule’s reputation for superior durability and weather-proofing, keeping you warm and dry from the elements.

The Details: 84 x 47 inches | 83 x 24 x 9.5 inches packed | 122 pounds

Other Tents We Liked

The North Face Wawona 6 : The Wawona won high marks for its high-quality materials and ample weather protection, but the instructions weren’t very clear and it took a while — and at least two people — to pitch the tent for the first time, and though the tent is rated to fit six, four campers seemed more realistic. 

REI Co-op Wonderland 6 Tent at REI : This turned out to be plenty roomy, having space for a queen-sized air mattress, a twin cot, and a dog bed with room to spare, but the massive tent is hard to pitch solo and can take up to 30 minutes to assemble — a major drawback if you’re trying to set the tent up while it’s raining. The price was also a bit high, and it didn’t come with a footprint or vestibule, though the wide awning at the door offers some protection.

Travel + Leisure / Megan Wood

We tested 18 tents in real-world environments, everywhere from a palatial backyard to deep into the wilderness of a national park to assess how well each product performed in a variety of different temperatures and weather conditions. Each tent was then evaluated on the key features — the ease of setup and takedown, the overall design, durability, weatherproofness, portability, ease of use, internal air circulation, and overall value, which weighed the key features against its price point. Then, every tent was evaluated on a one-to-five scale on each of those key elements to narrow the selections to the ones included in this round-up.

To broaden the appeal of the tent offerings, our testers ranged from casual car campers to diehard backpackers who love to clock in serious miles in the backcountry so that there would be a preferred selection regardless of your skill level or desire to execute certain types of outings. In addition to confirming that each tent delivered the essentials — ease of assembly and portability, serious waterproof protection, and ample internal space for the desired number of campers — we also took note of the little features, like gear pockets or those that are designed for your headlamp to be transformed into a camp lantern, which helped narrow our suggestions even further.  We continued to test over a five-month period to see how well the tents performed over time during rigorous use.

Tips for Buying a Tent

Understand waterproofing levels.

Any tent worthy of its name will provide waterproof protection, typically by employing a rainfly that sits over the actual tent, which usually comes with a mesh ceiling to aid in air circulation and to allow you to soak in the views. But higher-quality tents utilize DWR and the latest waterproof fabrics to really seal out the elements. Just be sure that the fly goes all the way to the ground when it’s pitched, and ensure that you have guy lines and tie-off points that let you remove any slack in the fly, which can cause water to pool. Your tent should also be able to stand up to heavy winds. The better brands use wind tunnels to validate the tent’s stability.

Travel + Leisure/Ben Anderson

Choose ventilation wisely

Whether it's from humid and hot conditions or from the natural heat your body generates, the inside of a tent can get warm quickly, leading to uncomfortable sleep and the build-up of condensation, especially when the rainfly is on and the doors are closed. To combat this, tent designs employ venting within the fly itself so that you can allow a bit of airflow, as well as mesh panels at the base of the tent to improve circulation. If it’s not raining, there are also a few other things you can do. Be sure to pitch the tent so that the door faces the breeze (if there is any) and stake out the fly and provide ample tension so that it maximizes the airspace between the fly and the walls of the tent. Also look for tents that have mesh windows and ones that let you roll up and secure the doors on the rainfly to maximize circulation.

Remember ease of setup

In the best of worlds, you’ll have clear skies and ample help to pitch your tent. But the realities of the wild mean that the faster the tent can be set up, the sooner you’re dry. For all but the biggest tents, setup shouldn’t take more than ten minutes, tops. Tent manufacturers typically use a color-coded system to let you know which poles align with which clips and/or sleeves and also offer visual instructions (that are typically printed on the carry case so you never lose them). The quickest-to-pitch tents typically employ clips to attach the poles rather than fabric sleeves, and some have attached all the poles to one system, which makes pitching the tent faster and less confusing.

Car campers can benefit from bigger tents with more space without having to worry about the tent’s weight, while backpackers should find the sweet spot between size and weight — sometimes lugging a 4-pound tent is worth the trade-off to have extra internal space. The size of the vestibules – the space that’s at the door (or doors) created when the rainfly is assembled and staked out — should also be taken into account as it affords storage space for gear, keeping things dry while freeing up the internal space of the tent. For the most comfortable long-term camping experience, we recommend getting a tent with a listed capacity of two more people than you anticipate will be using it.

Prices vary greatly based on the type of tent, the size, and the key purposes (car camping versus backpacking, solo camping versus family camping, etc). Gamber advises that the price of a tent aligns roughly with the quality of the materials used as well as extra features. You can find lower-cost tents around $100, but they’ll be made of heavy materials that aren’t built to last and likely employ environmentally unfriendly manufacturing processes. So it’s smart to invest in a higher-quality tent, and that goes double for backpacking tents, which provide your only refuge when you’re out in the wild. You also benefit from lighter, more durable materials, smaller pack size, smart features like internal storage and hooks that hold your headlamp and double as a tent lantern, and ample vestibule space to store your gear.

A footprint is an additional piece of protective fabric that’s designed to lay under the floor of your tent, which adds another layer of moisture protection and also protects the tent itself from abrasive elements like rocks or roots, which in turn extends the life of your tent. Some tents come with footprints, and almost all tent-makers sell footprints for their tents, which exactly match the dimensions of your tent floor and will work with the poles and clips once the tent is pitched. But you can also get much of the same protection by using a standard tarp, provided it covers the floor of the tent.

In addition to using a high-quality, warm sleeping bag , wearing a hat, and other cold-weather hacks like sleeping with a water bottle with hot water, the tent itself can add 5 to 10 degrees of warmth. On cold nights, be sure all the doors are closed and that the rainfly extends to the ground to avoid any air circulating from underneath. On really cold nights, you can also close the vents (typically secured via velcro) to block cold air from circulating, but in more temperate conditions, a little bit of venting helps fight off internal condensation as the temperature of your tent responds to your body heat.

Gamber advises, first and foremost, to never store your tent when it’s damp or in damp weather. “The tents can really hold moisture and then that just kills the waterproofness, the polyurethane coating or silicone. It can also cause mold,” he says. Always be sure your tent is 100 percent dry before putting it into storage, and keep it in a room with low humidity. In terms of spot-cleaning stains or dirt, you can use a standard detergent to get rid of any marks. And also be sure the tent doesn’t have any branches or rocks inside, which could potentially tear the tent fabric or rainfly.

Why Trust Travel + Leisure

Nathan Borchelt has been rating, reviewing, and writing about outdoor and travel gear for decades, and is a life-long camper, with countless outings both backpacking and car camping throughout the world. In addition to his insight, he worked with a cadre of testers who put each tent through real-world tests to evaluate the key features, ease of set-up and take-down, overall durability and weather protections, key design features, and price–rating each key feature on a one-to-five scale. Then we layered in additional research and feedback from camping experts such as Bill Gamber , Co-Founder and President of Big Agnes to narrow and refine the final list of recommendations.

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The Best Tents for Campers, Backpackers, and Families

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Coleman tent

Best for Car Camping Coleman Dome with Screen Room (6-Person) Read more

REI Half Dome SL2 tent

Best Two-Person Backpacking Tent REI Half Dome SL 2+ (2-Person) Read more

Snow Peak Land Nest Medium Tent and Tarp Set

Best Outdoor Palace Snow Peak Land Nest Medium Tent Tarp Set Read more

Big Agnes tent

Best Ultralight Backpacking Tent Big Agnes Copper Spur (2-Person) Read more

Camping is intense! No, really. If you're going camping, you will probably be in a tent. Hammock lovers might disagree—and we love sleeping under the stars when weather permits—but most of the time, finding and preparing adequate shelter for yourself, your family, or your pets is a nonnegotiable step toward being comfy in the great outdoors. There are as many kinds of tents as there are ways to go camping, and they range widely in price and features. To help you figure out the best tent for your next adventure, we've pooled our favorites from years of testing—whether you're getting away for the weekend with the family or soloing Denali.

Be sure to check out our other buying guides , including the Best Rain Jackets , Best Hiking Gear , Best Camping Gear , and Best Barefoot Shoes .

Updated March 2024: We've added Nemo Equipment's new Mayfly Osmo Tent, along with a new section on tents to avoid, some more tent buying advice, and updated prices and links throughout.

Special offer for Gear readers: Get a 1-year subscription to WIRED for $5 ($25 off) . This includes unlimited access to WIRED. com and our print magazine (if you'd like). Subscriptions help fund the work we do every day.

Best for Car Camping

Stroll through any campground in America and you'll see plenty of these no-frills Coleman tents. For good reason—they're some of the best budget car camping tents around. They're reasonably cheap, available just about anywhere, and get the job done. They're all you need, especially if you're only camping for a week or two a year.

This budget tent is our top pick for newcomers and the experienced alike. It's easy to set up, provides good rain protection and three-season comfort, and the price doesn't break the bank. If you're not backpacking there's no reason to pay a premium for low trail weight or a tent that packs down impossibly small (the packed size on this one isn't bad, crammed down into the included stuff sack it’s about the size of your average collapsible camp chair).

If you forgo the extra vestibule with the bug screen, the Coleman Sundome Tent is even cheaper. But living in the southern United States, I really appreciate the bug barrier (and the extra room to stash stuff).

Best Two-Person Backpacking Tent

REI's Half Dome tent series has been a popular choice with backpackers for many years. It's still one of the best backpacking tents you can buy and we’ve toted it on many a backpacking trip. It's rugged, simple to set up, and offers generous living space for two with gear. The tent body is made of 40-denier ripstop nylon for durability at the base and on the floor, with 20-denier nylon mesh (both fabrics are bluesign approved). It also comes with a footprint, which is a rarity these days. The tent poles are aluminum and interchangeable, which makes it easy to setup and take down.

The mesh design, when coupled with the rainfly and good staking, will stand up to storms and not roast you when camping in the midsummer heat. The dual doors with dual vestibules ensure you aren't climbing over your partner in the middle of the night. That said, the vestibules are on the small side—big enough for boots and an empty pack, but not much else.

The Half Dome isn't the lightest tent on this list (see the Copper Spur below), but with a packed weight just under 4 pounds, it's not too heavy when split between two people. I also like that the rainfly is symmetrical—there's no "front" and "back," and the vestibules are identical—which makes setup easier.

Best Outdoor Palace

Snow Peak makes achingly stylish outdoor gear. It’s an exclusive club with a hefty buy-in, but there’s no denying the quality. The tent-tarp set consists of two pieces, the Land Nest Dome Medium ($540) and a matching tarp. The tent is a compact, self-supporting dome, with light but strong steel poles that took minutes to pitch, with barely a glance at the instructions. It weighs in at 19 pounds (9 kilograms), and it has two entrances, a removable bedroom pod (ideal for two adults and two small kids), and impressive ventilation for warmer months. There’s no communal area ground sheet, but Snow Peak sells a footprint if needed.

The generously sized Tarp ($390) sits neatly over the porch of the tent to extend the living space. It puts other vestibules to shame with a massive amount of extra living space, but it does add 16 pounds (7 kilograms) to the total. In fair weather, the tarp setup is open, comfortable and envy-inducing. First time pitching it, however, we experienced seven hours of torrential rain and 47-mph gusts. Thanks to the heavy-duty pegs, the tarp performed admirably in the high winds. We did take it down at night, but only to avoid noise from flapping, rather than out of concern for structural integrity. Despite the howling gale, the tent itself was utterly dependable and durable. I highly recommend it. — Chris Haslam

Best Ultralight Backpacking Tent

The Big Agnes Copper Spur series is the king of ultralight tents. I've used both the two-person and four-person models over the years, and Big Agnes has continually refined the design to the point that I have nothing left to complain about. This is a high quality, well-designed tent. We recently tried the updated one-person Copper Spur ( 8/10, WIRED Recommends ) and loved it. If you can afford it, this is one of the best tents on the market. It's lightweight, easy to set up, and stable even in strong winds. The Copper Spur is also very livable, with steep sidewalls to maximize interior space. Mesh pockets help with gear storage and give you a place to stick your headlamp for dispersed light. The ingenious “awning” design makes getting in and out a snap. All seams are taped with waterproof, solvent-free polyurethane tape. They're also durable despite their lightweight fabrics, standing up to years of abuse on the trail.

My only criticism is that it can be a tight squeeze. For a long trip where your partner isn't your significant other, you might want to go with the next size up. The three-person could be a spacious, comfortable living space for two people with all their gear, and will still be lighter than most two-person tents. WIRED reviewer Matt Jancer owns this tent and has broken sections of the aluminum poles twice now. Make sure you bring a repair kit (after the fact, Big Agnes will replace your pole section for $5).

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Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL3 Bikepack tent

Best Bikepacking Tent

Bikepacking (that’s backpacking on a bike, for the uninitiated) means adventurous types can explore further without having to carry mountains of gear on their back, and brands like Big Agnes are now designing tents that have shorter pole lengths, enabling them to fit between drop handlebars, or in panniers.

My pick of the bunch is the superlight, super premium Copper Spur HV UL3. It weights just 3 lb, 11 oz ( 1.6 kilos), and it has enough space for two (a squeeze for three). It’s also available in lighter, smaller, one- and two-person options, all with twin vestibules and doors, hidden helmet storage, and external webbing for hanging out wet clothes. The superb DAC Featherlite NSL poles fold short and fit between drop handlebars, secured in place with heavy-duty clips, while the eco-sensitive process dyed ripstop nylon is strong and exceptionally light. Oddly for a bike-specific tent, you’ll need to carry hiking poles if you want to create two awnings, but in truth, this tent is equally good if you are adventuring on foot.

There’s a whole range of Big Agnes bike-specific tents , but I want to give a special mention to the hammock-style Gear Lofts ($20) , which create a huge stash space without cluttering up the tent floor.

For more tips, check out our full guide to the best bikepacking gear .

MSR Habitude tent

Best Family Tent

If you're camping with a family, let me make an argument for backcountry camping. Paddling out to a distant shore might be preferable to figuring out how to keep a rambunctious dog or toddler from annoying everyone around them in a campground. If you're headed away from the car, you want a sturdy, more reliable tent like this MSR.

The Habitude is strong and light. It fits easily on a canoe or paddleboard and is easy to set up—the design is simple and the poles are color-coded. There's plenty of floor space for sleeping pads and sleeping bags to keep two adults, two toddlers, and a large-ish dog warm at night. It also has storage pockets, places to hang lights, and a vestibule. The only major downside is that it doesn't get quite as much airflow as our other picks. But otherwise, this is a good option if your family is ready to move past car camping but not quite prepared to snap the handles off everyone's toothbrushes and go full-on ultralight. —Adrienne So

Nemo Osmo Dagger Tent on blue backdrop

Best Super-Sturdy Backcountry Tent

Nemo's new Osmo fabric is the star of the show in the Dagger Osmo 3P ( 8/10, WIRED Recommends ). The new fabric resists sagging in wet weather, which means even when the rain is coming down, the fly is not. It's also nice that the Osmo nylon-polyester blend is made with 100 percent recycled nylon and polyester yarns, with no flame-retardant chemicals or fluorinated water repellents (PFC and PFAS). Nemo is using this new fabric on all its backpacking tents.

While the new fabric does a great job, what I really love is how low to the ground (the peak height is 42 inches) and sturdy it is—it holds up really well in even in high winds (45 mph when I was testing). Pair the sturdiness with large, spacious vestibules and a roomy interior with excellent stargazing potential thanks to the mesh roof, and you have a great backcountry tent. There's plenty of room for three sleeping pads, and mesh pockets help keep little items from getting lost. The color-coded poles make setup a snap. The only real downside is the weight. I find 4 pounds fine when split between two people, but the ultralight-obsessed will likely prefer Nemo’s Hornet or Dragonfly tents.

Mountain Hardware Bridger 6 tent

Best for Lots of Gear

Do you go all-out when you go out? No one at our group campsite could believe the size of our Bridger 6, especially since it packs down to around the same size as our 4-person MSR Habitude . Even though the assembly is pretty simple and fast, I am just a little too short at 5'2" to be able to manage it alone and needed to rope in my 5'10" husband. If you set up the multiple vestibules, the footprint also becomes a bafflingly big 18 feet deep. We did fit it on a backcountry site between some trees, but it took some trial and error.

Once it’s set up, though, it’s worth it. The tent floor area is a whopping 90 square feet, big enough to fit two air mattresses if Dad is tired of always being forced to sleep on the floor. The enormous vestibule is another 90 square feet, which is big enough to fit multiple mountain bikes. There’s all the interior storage you could possibly want, including guy lines to hang your wet clothes for when you’re swimming in the lake and forgot to bring your clothesline, as I always do. The full-coverage fly kept us pretty warm while camping with 40-degree nights, but there are also two saloon doors. On lazy days, there’s plenty of room to roll up the doors, admire the lake in front of you, and take a nap. It would also make a good base camp center if you have a bunch of kids that want to hang out in the heat of the day. — Adrienne So

Nemo Mayfly Tent

Best Budget Ultralight Tent

Nemo Equipment’s new Mayfly Osmo two- and three-person tents are everything you’d expect from Nemo—solidly built, cleverly designed, with weather resistance and durability in mind. I tested the Mayfly two-person, which has a trail weight of 3 pounds, 8 ounces. A little heavier than the Copper Spur above, but still pretty light when split between two people.

To save on weight, the Mayfly uses a semi-freestanding design, which means there are fewer poles, but you have to stake out or otherwise secure the foot-end of the tent. Two sewn-in ridged stays help ensure there’s plenty of room by your feet, but the Mayfly is on the tight side. Two sleeping pads fit and hikers under 6'4" will be fine, but if you’re not close with your hiking partner, the three-person model will be a better option.

The Mayfly has many internal pockets and storage options, as well as roomy vestibules with enough room for your pack. Like the Dagger, the dark mesh ceiling makes for good stargazing on clear, warm nights. The rainfly also uses the same Osmo fabric as the Dagger, giving you great weather protection without known toxic chemicals. If you’re looking for a great ultralight backpacking tent on a budget, the Mayfly Osmo delivers.

MSR Elixir 4 tent

Best Lightweight Family Tent

The MSR Elixir 4 tent isn't quite as pricey as the Big Agnes Copper Spur, but it's not much heavier (just under 8 lbs versus just under 6 lbs for the Copper Spur 4-person ). I’ve used this with my three kids on several backpacking trips, and there was plenty of interior space for all of us. That said, three adults will be more comfortable than four.

The Elixer is a solidly built tent, made of quality materials—the 70D taffeta nylon floor has proved durable in my testing. There are three color-coded aluminum poles with corresponding color-coded clips, making it easy to set up. The side walls are steep thanks to the crossover pole, making the interior roomy, though the storage pockets up top are on the small side. The mesh at the top provides great ventilation on warm summer nights (and leaving off the rainfly gave my kids and me a great view of the stars at night).

There’s double vestibules with enough room to keep boots and other gear out of the weather, though cooking under the vestibule is cramped and tricky. On the whole though, this is one of the better hybrid front/backcountry tents available. I should note that a number of people on the MSR site has reported the fly delaminating or tearing. I have not had that issue, but it’s something to be aware of.

Sea to Summit Alto TR1 tent

For Going Solo

Sea to Summit's ultralight Alto ( 8/10, WIRED Recommends ) is designed to keep weight down on your solo adventures. WIRED reviewer Matt Jancer recently took one to Hawaii, where he notes that despite the mere 33-ounce weight, it held up on the abrasive volcanic rock and high winds of the north shore on the Big Island and Kauai. The top's zippered vent should probably have mesh to keep the bugs from flying in between the tent’s inner and outer walls, but let's be honest—bugs will probably get in there anyway. You can use a tiny zipper to open and close the vent without leaving the tent. This tent and the Telos ($599) are Sea to Summit’s first tents, but the company nailed it. There's also a two-person TR2 model ($549) if you like the design but need more room.

Decathalon tent

Best Pop-Up Tent

We're not saying Decathlon is lying, but if you can get this tent up in two seconds, you're doing better than we are. That said, it sets up plenty fast, far faster than anything else in this guide. It's freestanding, although for maximum ventilation you'll want to use the side guy ropes, which help open up some space for air to flow.

Aside from the quick and easy setup, what makes the Quechua special is the black fabric, which gets you pretty close to darkness even in broad daylight. That makes it a good choice for festivals or a day at the beach, or anywhere you want to take a nap or just get out of the sun for a while.

MSR Habiscape 4Person tent

Tents to Avoid

Not every tent makes the cut, here are a few we suggest you avoid.

  • MSR Habiscape 4 : On paper this is a fine tent. In practice … The stuff sack carrying case is awkward and doesn’t stay closed, since it cinches up with a poor-quality drawstring. The color-coding is difficult to figure out, making setup a bit annoying no matter how many times you do it. The biggest flaw, though, is marketed as a feature: There’s a pass-through pocket near the main door. You can pass items through the wall without wrestling open the door. Sounds good, but the pass-through pocket doesn’t have a zipper or a way to seal it up. MSR says the pocket is bug-proof. It is not. Every single time I’ve camped in this tent, I’ve woken up to bugs in the pocket and in my tent. The tent does have excellent ventilation and nifty ceiling loops for lantern-hanging, and the interior is roomy. It’s just also full of daddy longlegs. Consider yourself warned. — Louryn Strampe
  • Inflatable Tents: They aren't all bad. In fact there are some upsides—easy to setup, stable in high winds—but they're expensive, heavy, and very bulky, often taking up most of your trunk, which leaves little room for that nice cooler and fancy new camp stove . Still, if you're a dedicated car camper looking for a dead simple tent, it might be worth checking out inflatable options.

Tent outside at night

How to Pick the Perfect Tent

There are hundreds of tents out there. If none of our top picks quite works for you, here are a few things to consider while doing your own research.

Know how you plan to use your tent. Are you a car camper? Backpacker? Bike packer? All of the above? If you're primarily headed to established campgrounds, there's no need for an expensive ultralight tent. By the same token, if you're not happy until the trail head is 20 miles behind you, it might be worth sacrificing living space to save weight. The unfortunate truth is that there are very few tents that work well in the backcountry and the campground. It's often worth buying a good backcountry tent and something cheap for campgrounds to spare your expensive tent the added wear and tear.

Keep the weather in mind. “Three-season” or “four-season” usually refers to how much ventilation (that is, mesh) the tent has. A three-season tent will offer better ventilation but will have a harder time retaining heat. For most people, a three-season tent is fine. But if you're planning to snowshoe into the backcountry, or if you live in northern climes and want some protection against the occasional early or late winter squall, then a four-season tent might be appropriate.

What specs are important?

  • Floor space: We look at all the dimensions, rather than the four-person or six-person designations. Those tend to assume that all campers are pint-sized people. Remember that you will probably want to keep spare clothes or a backpack in the tent itself and that you need it to be long enough to stretch out comfortably for your height. Be aware, though, that there are some restrictions on tent size; be sure to check out the regulations at the campground you're planning to visit.
  • Headroom: Can you stand up in the tent? How steep are the walls? The steeper the side walls the better, since that gives you more space to move around.
  • Storage areas: Are there plenty of pockets to stash your smaller items? The more mesh pockets the merrier, especially higher pockets that won't reduce sleeping space. We love corner pockets for stashing headlamps to give the tent a nice even light to read by.
  • Vestibule: Does it have one? Two? Is it big enough to store boots and other gear that you want to stay dry but don't want to have in the tent with you? If you're backpacking, is it big enough to safely cook under?
  • A footprint. What kind of tent, in the year 2024, doesn’t come with a footprint? Quite a few it turns out. We suggest them in most cases, so you'll want to factor in the added cost if the tent you're interested in doesn't have one.
  • Materials: These days, most tents are made from nylon that's coated in polyurethane, silicone, or acrylic to help it shed water. Most, but not all, tents come seam-sealed so water doesn't leak in, but if yours isn't, REI has a great guide to doing it yourself . We also like to look for more eco-friendly, possibly healthier fabrics that have certifications like bluesign .

How Heavy Should a Backpacking Tent Be?

Is a 6-pound tent too heavy for backpacking? How about 5 pounds? Four? The answer is that it depends how much everything else you're carrying weighs, but a good rule of thumb is that your tent should weigh about 2.5 pounds per person on the trip. So for two people, a 5-pound tent would be fine. Split the weight by having one person carry the tent and stakes while the other carries the poles and rain fly. That said, obviously a 4-pound tent is going to be even lighter divided like this. If you can afford it, go with the lighter tent, your back will thank you. It also may well be possible to shave some weight off the rest of your backpacking kit, thus making a 6-pound tent acceptable so long as you split the weight with your partner.

Less weight means more money. This isn't always true, but unfortunately, it usually is. If you want to go ultralight, you're going to have to spend more. But before you fork over the big bucks, ask yourself: Do I really care about saving 6 ounces? Are you going to notice those 6 ounces at the end of a 20-mile day? If the answer is yes, then rejoice. There is an internet subculture of people who obsess over saving ounces. The r/ultralight Reddit is a good place to start your research.

Nemo Mayfly Tent in the woods

How We Tested Camping Tents

It was intense! Sorry. But sometimes it really was. We test tents individually in most cases, taking them on real trips into the backcountry in the case of backpacking tents, and to the local campground in the case of camping tents. We try to use them the way you do, in the real world. It really doesn't matter much how a tent performs in a lab, what matters is how it does after a long day hiking as a storm is moving in. That's when a tent's performance, easy of setup, and durability really matter. We try to test each tent for several weeks at time to get a feel for what it's like to live in it day in and day out. We also set them up in our backyards during more extreme weather to see how they perform.

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Backpacking Tent Setup with Tetons in Background

Top 10 Backpacking Tents for Your Next Backpacking Adventure

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Backpacking, car camping, fishing expeditions, or alpine excursions there’s one thing you want at the end of a day of adventuring, and that’s a place to shelter up. You want a comfortable spot out of the elements to relax, sleep well, and be relatively safe from the elements. So we put together a list of backpacking tents to help get a good nights sleep under the stars.

Best Backpacking Tents

Grey and Orange Backpacking Tent

Klymit Maxfield 1 Backpacking Tent

Klymit tents are engineered for adventure durability without compromise. The Maxfield 1 offers a spacious interior with two vestibules giving this 1-person tent plenty of room to spread out your equipment. Speaking of equipment, Klymit has created a tent stuff sack that is made to lay your tent setup out on to make it easier to put up and to make repacking easier. It’s the little things in the woods that become the big things.

Klymit Maxfiled 2 Tent

This 3-season camping tent comes in at a low 2.0 lbs /.9kg of trail weight, making it very packable.

Nylon mesh and nylon ripstop make up the mesh and fly fabric of the Klymit Maxfield Tent , and it’s pitched with Yunan aluminum poles with an eco-friendly coating, a total package for lightweight overnighting in the bush.

Maximized storage area comes in the form of a 12.5 ft vestibule, that way you don’t have to sleep with dirty boots. Making this one of the best 1 person backing tents, as it can be hard if not impossible to get a pack inside a solo tent.

Priced right and ready for the trail, and as a bonus, they throw in a 2-year warranty on this lightweight tent.

Weight: 2.0 lbs.

Price: $319.99

best travel tent for backpacking

Mountain Hardwear Nimbus UL2 Backpacking Tent

Mountain Hardware has done it again with this superlight backcountry tent. Back on our list of best 2 person backpacking tents for the second year in a row. This single-door 2-person tent has some eco-friendly features as well as some technical features I think you will like.

No PU coatings, no chemical flame retardants, and no dyes used make this tent very eco-friendly. There’s one pole, one door and one vestibule, the power of one is strong in this one.

The Mountain Hardwear Nimbus Tent uses the G-Hook canopy attachment system for compressibility, and DAC Featherlite™ tent poles which are pre-bent give a substantial amount of headroom and more interior space. The sil-nylon fly will keep the rains at bay and the 30D floor will offer a durable surface to sleep on. With weight-dropping features added in the Nimbus is a superlight choice for your backcountry adventuring. A nonsense choice for an ultralight setup for someone looking for a small 2 person tent.

Weight: 2 lbs

Price: $400

Grey 2 Person Sea to Summit Tent

Sea to Summit Telos TR2 Backpacking Tent

Sea to Summit has been around for a while and is a name that you can trust when it comes to durable outdoor adventure gear. The detail that has gone into the Tellos TR 2 is a sure sign that the attention to detail will continue.

Living space is the name of the game with the Trelos, with high tent doors for nature gazing on those occasions when some honestly earned tent sitting is occurring.

Tents that are made to travel generally come with some options you can add on or in the case of the Tellos, they are part of the package.

The Sea to Summit Telos TR2 2 Person Tent comes with a stuff sacks that doubles as storage buckets that can be hung inside and the pole bag is called The Lightbar™. You can drop a headlamp into the pole carry bag and suspend it from the ceiling and have a light source.

Talk about cool options, the Trelos also has an optional “Hangout Mode” pole set that makes it possible to pitch a semi-open tarp shelter. So you can gather the “tramily” together and hang out and chill.

As a high quality 2-person freestanding tent Telos holds its own with a 28 sq ft floor plan, long enough for the tall folks and for two people to be comfortable.  A spacious 84.5 x 53 x 43 in. floor plan, rising 43.5 in at the peak, and a 19.5 sq ft vestibule area give two people a good amount of living space and a single can live in a pack-carried mansion.

Minimum Trail Weight 3 lbs 4.3 oz

Price: $559.00

Grey and Clear Tent from Decthlon

Decathlon Forclaz Quickhiker 2

This budget-friendly tent from Decathalon can be set up in three configurations. The separate elements of the full tent, fly sheet, and inner tent give you options to choose from. With its cationic nylon exterior “Blackout“ fabric offering 99% darkness even during the day you might catch yourself wanting to sleep in.

It may be a bit heavy for super long hikes but for the price, you can’t beat it for overnights or a good week of camping and backpacking.

Two porches give you plenty of room to stow your gear while you stretch out in the 82.7 inches of floor space. Four Interior pockets with a 42.5 in head space can make for a cozy house feel.

The Decthalon Forclaz Quickhiker Tent is wind tested and waterproof and since it is a freestanding tent with separate elements it will support three different assembly configurations to meet the weather head-on.

Total weight: 6.8 lbs

Price: $179

Blue Black Diamond 4 Season Tent

Black Diamond Hilight Tent 2

Have you ever been in a tent where the rain is pouring down and the rain fly and the entire tent begins to sag because the deluge is causing it to stretch?

Well, the HiLight 2P is not that tent. Let’s start with the fact that it’s already taped sealed at the seam lines, and is rain ready, and the 30D Poly fabric is the reason it doesn’t sag and stretch when it gets wet.

If that’s not enough it’s spacious and well ventilated, you know all that rain builds up condensation and everything in the tent is wet, that is alleviated with Black Diamonds Flow Manifold which draws moisture up and out.

One door in and out, this four season backpacking tent is ready to assist you on your adventure. The Black Diamond HiLight 2P Tent is redesigned and ready for you to pack up and head out.

Weight: 3lbs 25 oz

Price: $499.95

Light Yellow Big Agnes Carbon Tent

Big Agnes Tiger Wall 2 Carbon Tent

Counting ounces and cutting weight is the name of the game when it comes to ultralight and you won’t have to count very high with Big Agnes’s Tigerwall 2 Carbon tent. Coming in at a feather weight of 1 lb 6 oz / 624 g this ultralight backpacking tent featuring Dyneema fabric is a whisper when stuffed into your backpack even with the footprint. A footprint or groundsheet is a good idea when going with Dyneema to up its durability.

The Big Agnes Tiger Wall 2 Carbo Tent is durable but not indestructible, lightweight with trail creds this 2 man tent is one that a “careful” hiker can carry a few thousand miles and not be mad about it.

Easton® carbon pole set and Dyneema® Composite Fabrics make for a really innovative designs.

Trail Weight 1lb 6oz / 624g

Price: $1099.95

Orange MSR Tent Winter Camping Tent

MSR Access 2 Tent

When it comes to the backcountry and snow,  Access 2 is a spacious and warm retreat at the end of the day. Don’t worry if it decides to snow a little bit at night, the frame is designed to bear the load and not leave you laying in a flat tent. Cold weather can take its toll on poles but the Access 2 comes with cutting-edge composite material Easton® Syclone™ Pole that won’t snap due to the weather. Notice I said pole, there’s only one.  Cutting weight and making miles.

MSR Access 2 Tent is engineered to be just a bit warmer than an average backpacking tent, but not quite as warm as an alpine mountaineering setup. It is as close to being waterproof as a tent can be because the rainfly material is made of 20D ripstop nylon 1200mm Xtreme Shield™ polyurethane & silicone.

With a 20D ripstop canopy with DWR, 10D mesh, and a bathtub made with 30D ripstop nylon 3000mm Xtreme Shield™ polyurethane & DWR, this is a durable tent. Making the MSR Access 2 one of the best winter backpacking tents.

Weight ; 3 lbs 10 oz

Price: $659.95

Yellow Year Round Winter Tent from The North Face

The North Face Assault 2 FUTURELIGHT 2-Person Tent

North Face is synonymous with the outdoors and when you think of alpine adventuring it’s a no-brainer to go with a name and gear you can trust.

North Faces’ FUTURELIGHT is where you look to make sure your next alpine adventure is a success via a more dedicated mountaineering tent.

Alpine tents need to meet the weather head-on, no matter what the environment throws your way, and the FUTURELIGHT stands strong against rain, high winds, and harsh conditions with 3-layers of material between you and the elements, ensuring you will have the best experience possible.

A single door opens up into an ample sleep area with a back door escape hatch, while Inside the tent, you will find plenty of tabs to hang your lights and stoves, and drying lines. The recycled nylon canopy with a durable water-repellent DWR finish will keep you safe and cozy. 10 sq feet of vestibule is not super spacious but you will have a good bit of room in the vestibule for storing gear. If you need to cut weight or conditions allow it, the vestibule is removable. Remarkably, the weight is not an issue with this tent, coming in a few ounces short of 6 lbs.

The North Face Assault FUTURELIGHT is a 4-season backpacking tent well worth adding to your rotation especially if you’re interested in trying winter camping.

Trail Weight:5 lbs 7 oz (2.47 kg)

Price: $800

Orange and Green Kelty Tent Wireless 2

Kelty Wireless 2

First-time campers and those with a bunch of trail miles both love a good deal. Finding a durable quality tent that won’t bust the bank is some awesome trail magic.

Kelty Wireless 2 brings to the table a solid 2-person tent that won’t break your budget.

From car camping to motorcycle camping to hiking out into the bush, Ketly has you covered. Compact and easy to set up and break down, the Wireless 2 has Kelty’s “Quick Corner Technology” making it less of a chore to get pitched.

Two doors are the way to go for ease of entry and having two vestibules is a bonus that adds square footage for storage and keeping things organized. Wireless 2 offers plenty of headroom, its spacious cabin has plenty of good ventilation for a comfortable night’s sleep.

Coming in super strong with fiberglass poles, 68D Poly 1200mm walls with “no-see-um mesh” , the same 68D Poly but 1800mm for the floor, and a 1200 mm 68D poly fly cover, this is one rugged tent.

Pack up for a week and take the Kelty Wireless 2 Tent on a trip into the outback and get away from it all, and rest easy, Kelty has you covered.

Min Weight 6 lb 9 oz / 2,97 kg

Price: $134.95

Lightweight Backpacking Zpacks Tent

Zpacks Duplex

Zpacks brand is synonymous with ultralight. Their Dyneema tents are some of the lightest on the market. It can pack down into a tiny stuff sack and weighs virtually nothing. Its functionality and popularity are equaled by its perfect mix of durability and lightness.

Care needs to be taken with Dyneema, but with some restraint and conscious caution, this tent will last for quite a few seasons. It’s plenty big for two adults and it ventilates well.

It has a peak height of 48 inches and a ridgeline width of 53 inches, and it’s a whopping 100 inches in length. 7.5 feet in length.  Every tall hiker’s dream.

There are some things to know about this tent made of super lightweight material, one of which is that the strength-to-weight ratio is high. It’s waterproof without DWR coating, and it doesn’t absorb water adding weight to your pack. If you have ever packed a soaked tent this one thing alone is worth checking out the Zpacks Duplex Tent.

How about an oversized stuff sack as another perk? I know you know if you’ve ever tried to get it all back in the bag and literally wanted to throw the bag away.

Seams are taped and this material won’t sag when pulled taut. There is some semi-transparency you need to know about but it isn’t see-through.

All things must come to an end, and these tents have a life expectancy. Known to be around 2500 miles or the equivalent of one thru-hile on the AT or PCT.

Weight: 18.5 oz / 525 g

Related Articles:

  • Big Agnes Copper Spur Tent Review
  • MSR Elixir 3 Person Backpacking Tent Review
  • Kelty Dirt Motel 2 Review

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Everett Smith

Has worked in many trades over his 60 years, including work as an Executive chef, also in construction, personal trainer, martial artist, pro-Muay Thai fighter, bodybuilder, musician, and life coach... And still learning.

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The Best Backpacking Backpacks of 2024

best travel tent for backpacking

Our favorite packs feature straps to attach tents and other gear. Photo: Lindsey Gough//The Inertia

The Inertia

Over the years, we humans have become pretty good at surviving . We mastered the fire long ago, and some of us have even spent a decent amount of time in space. But there’s a catch – without the right tools, we aren’t going to survive for very long. If you are spending any length of time in the wilderness away from support, backpacking backpacks can help you carry the tools that make all the difference.

Our testing team has been hard at work finding the best backpacks for backpacking, and this list represents our favorite packs, from minimal, sub-two pound ultralight options to high-capacity, stable options. Since last year, we’ve been getting out into the backcountry around North America, taking with us more than just the necessities. These packs represent the best of the best, not only for quality, but for value and utility too.

Read on for the backpacks that truly stood out on our backpacking adventures. If you’d like to see how these backpacking backpacks stack up to one another, view our Comparison Table , below. To hear more about how we tested the backpacks, check out our How We Tested section. And to learn how to find the best backpack for your particular needs, check out the Buyer’s Guide.

Best Overall Backpacking Backpack: Osprey Aether/Ariel Pro 75

Runner-Up Best Overall Backpacking Backpack: Mystery Ranch Radix 57

Best Budget Backpacking Backpack: Kelty Glendale 65

Best Ultralight Backpacking Backpack: ZPacks Arc Haul Ultra

Best Overall Backpacking Backpack

Osprey aether/ariel pro 75 ($400).

best travel tent for backpacking

Pros: Tons of pockets, easy to customize to your liking, top-of-the-line materials Cons: Expensive, large for shorter trips

Being the largest model in our list, we worried that the Aether Pro 75 might sacrifice too much in the weight and comfort departments. But thanks to the incredibly comfortable shoulder straps and hip belt, we found Osprey’s Aether Pro to be one of the easiest to carry the test load. Thanks to the LightWire suspension, larger loads didn’t feel much worse, and it led us to confirm what we already suspected: The designers at Osprey know a thing or two about backpacking backpacks.

With excellent padding on the shoulder and hip, we found that the extra bulk was worth it for comfort on the long haul. The hip padding is removable (along with other aspects of this pack like the compression straps and pockets), should you prefer less weight. Add in large pockets on the hips with plenty of room to stash snacks, devices, and sunscreen, and we found ourselves taking the pack off less, resulting in a more efficient hike.

Osprey also has a huge commitment to sustainability, and all the materials in this backpack meet the bluesign standard, so you can feel good knowing that this choice takes a lower toll on the environment. All that is well and good but performance is still key, and we’re happy to say that this pack delivers. It’s the largest pack we recommended, and 75 liters is a lot of space. However, it’s easy to cinch this pack down smaller should you need to, and the plethora of pockets will be a bonus for if/when you do need more space.

The big downside is the weight, which isn’t exactly apples to apples considering it’s the largest pack on the list. At 5 pounds, the ultralight crowd may groan after a few hundred miles. The standard Aether series (made with beefier, less premium materials) do, however, come in smaller 55L and 65L versions, if 75 liters is just too much for your needs and wants. One thing to note, too, is that the standard Aether 55L is barely lighter than the Aether Pro 75L (4.87 pounds versus 5 pounds), so we love the extra capacity and premium materials with minimal trade-off in weight. One caveat, however: This Osprey backpack is also on the pricier end of the spectrum. That said, we felt that this pack is more than worth it. Osprey’s top-of-the-class repair and replacement policy means that this could very well be the last pack you’ll ever need to buy.

We also tested the female version called the Ariel , and our female tester remarked on the balanced weight thanks to the shaped shoulder straps. A few subtle differences really made all the difference for female-specific comfort, which translates into more mileage and less fatigue on the trail.

Check Aether Price on REI Check Ariel Price on REI

Runner-Up Best Overall Backpacking Backpack

Mystery ranch radix 57 ($299).

best travel tent for backpacking

Pros: Great middle-ground between lightweight and feature-rich Cons: Less premium materials than top pick, lacks a quick stash pocket

Mystery Ranch is a backpack company, first and foremost. Its packs are well-loved by professionals who need to perform under challenging conditions, such as firefighters and medics. Mystery Ranch’s latest backpack for backpacking, the Radix series, offers a multitude of customization options to really dial in the backpacking experience to your liking.

To make the best backpacking backpacks, companies must balance weight with relevant features, such as multiple compartments, easy access, and a balanced weight-distribution. This pack succeeded in all these categories and the added customization options are a huge boon, demonstrating Mystery Ranch’s expertise in the world of backpacks.

Conveniently, the frame and the waist belt are removable in case you want to cut down the 3 pound 13 ounce overall weight and go more minimalist. The pack as a whole is fairly pared down, enabling quick access to essentials on the outside pockets while holding 57 liters inside, a great all-around size for most multi-day adventures.

The main pocket zips fully down on the side for full access to your gear in a hurry. This speeds up camp setup, just in case the weather turns. Plus, we love the fact that the Radix pack is made from recycled materials and carries a lifetime warranty; we feel great about recommending a backpack from a company doing its part to keep more waste out of the landfill. Some extra options such as stash pockets on the exterior would have been handy, but the lightweight configuration balanced this downside. Overall, we felt that Mystery Ranch has a top-tier option with the Radix 57L.

Check Price on REI

Best Budget Backpacking Backpack

Kelty glendale 65 ($240).

best travel tent for backpacking

Pros: Great value, innovative design elements Cons: Straps have a lot of tail when cinched

Kelty has been around since 1952, and was an early innovator of external frame backpacks for backpacking use. With a ton of experience in the space, the brand has helped millions of people around the world enjoy the outdoors without breaking the bank. Its latest backpack, the Glendale , is the culmination of over 70 years of innovation, designed to deliver a comfortable, well-made, and versatile backpack at a more approachable price.

We love the internal stash pocket in the top to keep valuables accessible, the external stash pocket for tossing layers when it gets hot, and the all-around simplicity of the design where nothing felt excessive or out of place. Our only caveat is that the straps are a bit long and flapped around in the wind after cinching down. This makes them more susceptible to snags, so a rubber band or something to secure the excess straps would help.

Some may look at a lower-priced model and think the quality isn’t there, but Kelty backs up their gear with a lifetime warranty. That’s a welcome bonus to those who like to give their gear the run-around — we sure do. And through all the testing we never found a reason to file a warranty claim, but it’s nice to know it’s there if you need it.

Check Price on Kelty

Check Price on Amazon

Best Ultralight Backpacking Backpack

Zpacks arc haul ultra 60l ($399).

zpacks arc haul 60L backpack

Pros: Well-balanced, surprisingly comfortable backpack Cons: Can’t separate items inside

For the lightest pack we tested, the Arc Haul Ultra has plenty of going for it. It doesn’t have the multitude of features and pocket options that you get with other packs, but ultralight hikers will appreciate the attention to lightweight design over all else. However, just because it’s a slimmed-down design doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice comfort on this pack. The use of straps for airflow and support is a winner in the comfort department. ZPacks also offers a ton of add-on options to customize the pack even more, so if you want to add a few ounces and get a few extra pockets, that’s a definite possibility.

The daisy chain gear loops on the shoulder straps add even more opportunity for some nice-to-haves within reach, such as a multitool or a camera on a clip. For the fact that this is an ultralight pack, we appreciate how much thought went into the design and found that every cubic inch was useable. As with any ultralight backpacking backpacks, this ZPacks option still left us wanting certain features, like a separate internal pocket for wet/dry storage or quick access to small items without having them packed away. That said, ultralight packs are just that for a reason, and most people know what they are getting with this class of pack. Of any ultralight option, the ZPacks Arc Haul Ultra backpack is our favorite.

Check Price on Zpacks

Best of the Rest

The above represents our top picks for backpacking backpacks, but there are so many more awesome options out there. Here are a few that came so close to cracking our top picks.

Highly-Durable Backpacking Backpack

Fjallraven kajka 65 ($375).

best travel tent for backpacking

Pros: Impeccable quality, designed with sustainability top-of-mind, heritage styling Cons: Heavy, somewhat overladen with straps

There’s no denying it, and it’s worth noting right off the bat: This backpack is heavy. The heaviest on the list, it’s also the one we’d choose to have for extended trips where the pack will be taking abuse from the elements and the body. In the unlikely event of an apocalypse, this is the pack we’d choose to try to survive with. Basically, this backpack is made to last: Sustainability and longevity are crafted into the Kajka’s DNA.

If you’re okay with a few extra pounds on your back, having the Kajka 65 means a pack that will hold up when necessary. On top of that, it’s designed with great pocket placement on both sides for extra organization, as well as a bottom zip compartment that can either be separate or combined with the main pocket. That’s nothing revolutionary in itself, but on longer trips, separate compartments help keep gear tidy. Plus, we enjoy how durable the pack is in tough situations while hacking through thick alder patches and sticky underbrush in the second-growth forests of British Columbia.

Aside from the durability, we also love how the top compartment can be worn as a chest pack for easy access to a camera or snacks, without having to slow down and take the whole pack off one’s shoulders. This backpacking backpack — like much of Fjallraven’s gear — is a beautiful, well-made (albeit heavy) piece that should last generations.

Check Price on Backcountry

Runner-Up Best Ultralight Backpacking Backpack

Outdoor vitals cs40 ultra ($375).

best travel tent for backpacking

Pros: Material is softer than other ultralight packs Cons: No bottom straps

Outdoor Vitals is a newer company that has made a big splash in the ultralight scene thanks to their commitment to quality no matter what. They recently discontinued their sleeping pads because they realized they just didn’t hold up to other ultralight pads, which we found quite admirable. But their CS40 Ultra backpack is going strong and for good reason: It holds a ton of stuff, it’s strong and supportive, and it’s remarkably comfortable given the ultralight construction. The back padding was some of the most robust we found in the ultralight category, and the material felt broken in as soon as we got it, giving a much softer feel than other ultralight backpacks we tested.

If it had some straps for the bottom to fit a tent, etc, we’d be a lot more stoked. It was also about five ounces heavier than our top ultralight pick. Still, the amount that you can put in this pack is significant, and the comfort and ease of use makes it a great option for those who need to shed valuable ounces.

Check Price on Outdoor Vitals

Hyperlite Unbound 55 ($399)

best travel tent for backpacking

Pros: Large outer pocket fits extra layers no problem Cons: Lack of storage options for small items

Hyperlite Mountain Gear’s Unbound 55 backpacking backpack punches far above its sub-2 pound weight. The large outer pocket adds an extra 9 liters of useable space, making everything from extra layers to even your sleeping bag accessible for quick outer stashing. The materials are solid and despite being light, held up through thick and thin, with frequent packing and unpacking.

Perhaps the best testament to the Hyperlite’s quality was seeing it in action at 19,000 feet on Mount Logan in the Yukon. Although it wasn’t this specific model, it was enough to know that Hyperlite makes gear that can hold up in the worst possible conditions. The Unbound 55 we tested provided a great weatherproof main pocket that is easily expandable or compressible thanks to the large roll-top, and the no-nonsense design helps those who are counting grams. As with other ultralight packs, the lack of options to store small items is a bummer for gear-heads like ourselves, but not a deal-breaker. And for such a lightweight frame, the Unbound is comfortable and carried the test load well for the full duration of our hikes.

Check Price on Hyperlite

The North Face Trail Lite 65 ($240)

The North Face Trail-Lite 65 backpacking backpack

Pros: Well-designed, lifetime warranty Cons: Outer pocket isn’t too protected from the elements

The North Face makes gear for all kinds of activity levels, from casual day hikes to expeditions in the Himalayas. The Trail Lite backpacking backpack is somewhere between those extremes, allowing for multi-day jaunts in a nice package that has been designed for both comfort and efficiency. The pack is easy to adjust and has everything you need and nothing you don’t.

The Trail Lite has a user-friendly adjustment setup to really dial in a custom fit specific to your individual body shape. It’s especially beneficial for people who might share a backpacking backpack and need to change the settings quickly and easily. And on top of all that, it’s just a comfortable pack to wear that always felt secure, regardless of mileage. Speaking of, the pack itself is designed to go on and on as The North Face has a lifetime warranty to back it up should something go wrong. While this pack didn’t stand out in any one category, it is an excellent choice, especially considering it is less than $250.

Check Price on The North Face

REI Co-Op Traverse 60 ($259)

best travel tent for backpacking

Pros: Great value Cons: Fabric attracts mud/dust

We’ve had great luck with REI packs, and their latest backpacking backpacks represent a fantastic value. The Traverse series has gone through several versions in its time, always becoming slightly more refined, lighter, and more comfortable. The current iteration is a workhorse pack for a solid price.

In some ways the function takes a bit too much spotlight and the many straps felt overkill. But, we can appreciate the people who make use of all of them. You’ll be happy to have so many different ways to attach whatever you please onto this backpack. External attachments do speed up packing and access, however this also makes the pack (and your externally-attached gear) more prone to snagging.

The Traverse includes a rain fly for the trips that you need a bit more protection from the elements, something we appreciated while testing in the temperate rainforests of the Coast Mountains in British Columbia. One drawback: Without the cover, we found the pack’s material to attract dust and mud fairly easily. Some people might like that trail-used look, but we prefer something that cleans up a bit more easily. Overall, the pack performed admirably and comes in at a more affordable price than many of our top picks.

Arc’teryx Bora AR 65 ($320)

best travel tent for backpacking

Pros: Articulated hip belt, comfortable, easy to clean Cons:  Material gets hot easily

Before Arc’teryx gained global notoriety as an outerwear brand, they were busy tinkering away on all kinds of outdoor gear out of their North Vancouver, BC office, including backpacking backpacks. With access to the Coast Mountains at their doorstep, the designers had more than enough opportunity to dial in their products. These packs are built to withstand the rigors of trekking in the up-and-down climate (and topography) of the PNW. 20+ years later, the brand has skyrocketed in popularity, but thankfully the design team still toils away at the foot of the Coast Mountains.

Their latest iteration of the hugely popular Bora 65 pack has some impressive features that you don’t find in other backpacks in its class. The stand out is their proprietary Rotoglide hip belt. It articulates with your movement, helping to balance out the load no matter how your body undulates to changes in the terrain beneath your feet. This hip belt really helped us go the distance, and fatigue felt noticeably minimized when compared to stationary hip belts. The back plate is also worthy of mention, as it provided a solid frame without much added weight to give impressive ergonomics and ventilation for such a simple design. And the simple design in general is what we loved most about this pack, allowing for an easily balanced load. It was easy to maneuver in both long distance and challenging terrain features.

The material is great for keeping dust and mud out, and easily wipes off anything that does hitch a ride onboard. That same material, though, seems to attract heat, and we found anything close to the outer layer (such as in the outer zipper stash pocket, which is awesome, by the way), absorbed the sun a little too much—something to consider if you’re backpacking through the desert or other warm climates. But for more temperate weather this is an excellent pack with which to haul your gear.

Best Backpacking Backpacks Comparison Table

10 backpacks lined up next to the forest to showcase our list of the best backpacks for backpacking

The backpacks that made the cut. Photo: Steve Andrews//The Inertia

How We Tested The Best Backpacking Backpacks

With backpacks coming in a plethora of shapes and styles, it’s easy to get lost (so to speak) considering every single pack on the market. Instead, we narrowed our list down a bit so that we could test a few categories really well. That meant prioritizing sizes—typically over 50 liters—that were designed for longer than just overnight trips. We also wanted to make sure that we could properly test each backpack thoroughly enough to give an educated opinion on how it works over considerable mileage, which is really all that matters when it comes down to it.

Lead tester Steve Andrews set up a simple kit to load into each of these packs, keeping them all the same to help give a degree of consistency when testing them against one another. Since everybody has different needs and wants on a backpacking trip, we tried to make the kit as generic as possible, where people could add or subtract items as needed to dial in their comfort level.

We also set up the items to be fairly average in weight and size. That way people can either go ultralight if they want to shave ounces or add in the luxury if they can’t leave home without their electric toothbrush or coffee grinder. Here’s what we included:

an assortment of outdoor gear that we included in our guide to the best backpacks for backpacking

Some of the gear you might need for a walk into the wilderness. Photo: Steve Andrews//The Inertia

As you can see, there is plenty to work with here to include other items such as first aid equipment, a beefier camera, an ebook reader (or a traditional book/journal), extra clothing, snacks, or extra water bottles. We knew that there was some room for customization but didn’t want to get too locked in on personal preference, only sticking to essentials. Sure, the GoPro camera and charging unit probably aren’t in everyone’s kit, but as media folks we are typically packing at least some camera equipment.

We also neglected to test whether a pack could hold trekking poles under the assumption that most people are using poles more often than stowing them. However, if you’re someone who only occasionally needs poles then it’s worth checking to see what options are available. Most of the non-ultralight packs have dedicated loops or straps for poles, so we felt it wasn’t something that was necessary to include for this particular test.

Steve andrews, gear tester, testing backpacks in the forest

Our lead tester, Steve Andrews, cruising through the cedar forests in the Coast Mountains. Photo: Lindsay Gough//The Inertia

Testing Conditions

We took these backpacks out on the trail in two of the world’s premier backpacking locations: Idaho’s Sawtooth mountains and the Coast Mountains of British Columbia. Each zone is home to some beautiful mountain scenery, but also to some incredible trails to take you deep into the backcountry. Don’t tell too many people though, as part of the appeal is how easily you can get away from it all.

Both zones offer ample opportunity to put in a lot of miles on both dirt and rock in a short amount of time. It helped us to test these backpacks in their natural habitat, getting a proper feel for what they are made of, without rushing too much to allow for them to break in and test both uphill and downhill, on-trail and off, and in both wet and dry climates. Being able to really see what capabilities each backpacking backpack has involves a lot of packing and unpacking, and finding the sweet spot for optimum balance and comfort for logging big days on the trails.

a backpacker hiking next to a river while testing out the best backpacks to review

We went into the wild to test how these packs did both on and off-trail. Photo: Lindsay Gough//The Inertia

Backpacking Backpacks Buyer’s Guide

Read through our buyer’s guide for the best backpacking backpacks to help you decide what features you need and what packs are best suited to you.

Key Features to Look For in Backpacking Backpacks

As demonstrated above, there are a lot of different options for backpacking backpacks, from simple and lightweight to technical and durable. So, narrowing down the perfect backpack for your style might seem like an overwhelming task. Here are a few criteria to help you dial in what to look for when choosing the best backpack for your needs:

Measured in liters, the capacity you need depends on the length of your trip and how much gear you plan to carry. A weekend trip might require just a 30-50 liter pack, while a week-long adventure may demand 50-70 liters or more.

A good fit is crucial for comfort. Look for adjustable shoulder straps, a hip belt, and a torso length that matches your body. Many brands offer gender-specific designs for a better fit. When in doubt, read customer reviews for other user-experience or try packs on.

The lighter the backpacking backpack, the less strain on your body. However, don’t sacrifice durability for weight. Sometimes lighter packs offer less supportive load distribution. Consider a balance that suits your physical capabilities and the demands of your trips.

The fabric found in backpacking backpacks greatly impacts its durability, weight, and water resistance. Here are some common backpack fabrics:

Cordura: Known for its durability and resistance to abrasions, tears, and scuffs. It’s a bit heavier but excellent for rugged use.

Dyneema Composite Fabric (DCF): Formerly known as Cuben Fiber, DCF is ultralight, waterproof, and strong but can be prone to punctures and is expensive.

Ultra-High-Molecular-Weight Polyethylene (UHMWPE): Often found in high-end backpacks, it’s extremely durable and abrasion-resistant but also expensive.

Ripstop Nylon: Lightweight and durable, with a reinforced grid pattern that resists tears. It’s a common choice for lightweight backpacks.

Polyester: Often used in budget-friendly backpacks, it’s less durable than nylon but more resistant to UV degradation.


A backpack with good back ventilation (in the form of back vents or breathable materials) can prevent sweat buildup and increase comfort during long hikes.


Multiple compartments and external pockets can help you organize and easily access your gear. Look for features like a sleeping bag compartment, hydration sleeve, and tool attachments.

Load Support (Suspension/Frame Supports)

The suspension system of a backpack helps distribute the load evenly, reducing strain on your shoulders and back. Common types of internal frames include:

Stays: These are often aluminum rods that provide structure and support, helping transfer some of the shoulder load to the hip belt.

Pads: Foam padding can add comfort and support, especially in the back panel and shoulder straps.

Frame Sheets: These are rigid panels that add structure and support to the backpack, often made of plastic or composite materials.

A good suspension system can make a significant difference in comfort, especially for heavier loads.

a leatherman multitool on the gear loop of the zpacks arc haul ultra backpack

The daisy chain gear loops on the ZPacks Arc Haul shoulder straps make it easy to keep a multitool in close reach. Photo: Lindsay Gough//The Inertia

Determining Your Backpacking Backpack Needs

To find the best backpack for your needs, consider the following:

Trip Length: Choose a capacity that matches the duration of your trip or most frequent usage.

Personal Comfort: Prioritize a good fit and adequate ventilation.

Activity Type: Look for features that cater to your specific activities, such as climbing or snow sports.

Budget: Balance quality and cost to find a backpack that offers good value for your investment.

Best Overall Backpacking Backpack

The Osprey Aether Pro 75 was a well-designed, comfortable, and impressive backpack. The high-end, sustainable materials and spacious capacity led us to pick it as our top backpacking backpack of 2024. While it is pricey, no other pack in our list could boast the same combination of performance and quality.

Price: $400

Packing Your Backpacking Backpack

Packing your backpack efficiently can make a significant difference in your comfort and mobility on the trail. Here are some tips:

Bottom Layer: Pack your sleeping bag and other lightweight items that you won’t need until you set up camp.

Middle Layer: Place heavier items like your tent, stove, and food close to your back to keep the center of gravity near your spine.

Top Layer: Pack lighter items and essentials that you might need quick access to, such as a rain jacket or first aid kit.

Outer Pockets: Use these for items you need to access frequently, like water bottles, snacks, and maps.

Compression Straps: Use these to cinch down your load and prevent items from shifting.

Utilizing Features of Backpacking Backpacks

Here are some tips on how to make the most of various backpack features:

Cinch-Straps: These help stabilize your load and can be used to attach items like trekking poles or a sleeping pad externally.

Roll-Top: A roll-top closure can provide extra weather protection and allow you to adjust the volume of your pack.

Gear-Loops: Use these to attach equipment like ice axes or carabiners.

Hip-Straps: A well-fitted hip belt can transfer much of the weight from your shoulders to your hips, improving comfort.

Outer-Pockets: Ideal for storing items you need quick access to, like water bottles or a rain cover.

Rain-Covers: These are essential for keeping your gear dry in wet conditions. Many backpacks come with a built-in or included rain cover, or you can purchase one separately.

a backpacker out in the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho

The CS40 by Outdoor Vitals was at home exploring the Idaho Wilderness. Photo: Steve Andrews//The Inertia

Return to Comparison Table | Return to Top Picks

Editor’s Note: Going backpacking? You’ll need more than just a backpack. Check out our Gear Guides for Best Backpacking Stoves, Best Backpacking Tents , Best Backpacking Sleeping Pads, and Best Backpacking Sleeping Bags .  For more gear reviews and features on  The Inertia, click here .

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18 Best Travel Backpacks, According to Frequent Flyers

By Gabrielle Porcaro

Best travel backpacks for women collage featuring six different backpacks on black and white background.

As someone who frequently travels, I've slung duffels, totes , and travel purses on my arm, but nothing compares to using the best travel backpacks. Depending on the length of your trip, a suitcase can either be too bulky or not big enough, so you'll need the vital second bag to make sure all your clothes, tech, and gear securely arrive at your destination. Plus, traveling with a backpack can be more supportive for your back, freeing up your arms and hands to pull out directions on your phone or to hold an iced coffee. Backpacks can also be surprisingly roomy, so everything you need (or want) on your trip fits as comfortably as possible. The good news is there are a wide range of excellent options to suit any and all of your needs. Below, we found the most travel-friendly options and tapped Glamour editors and some of our frequent-flier friends to share the best travel backpacks.

What to look for in a travel backpack

When shopping for luggage items like a travel backpack, the comfort and capacity of the bag is key. You want it to feel easy on the body, which means wide straps or a hip belt to distribute weight, which comes in handy if you're running to catch a plane or carrying it through a crowded subway. Bonus points if the straps are they adjustable and padded. Consider the material: Is it lightweight, soft, and made of durable material like water-resistant fabric? As for size, think about the use of the backpack. There are weekender bags and carry-on size options you can use for long weekends or smartly packed weeklong vacations and styles for short day trips, hikes, or shopping excursions.

The best travel backpacks, at a glance

  • Best Overall : Cotopaxi Allpa 42L Travel Pack , $210
  • Best on Amazon : Shrradoo Extra Large 52L Travel Laptop Backpack , $33
  • Best Daypack : Lululemon Everywhere Backpack , $78
  • Best Budget : Coofay Carry On Backpack , $30
  • Best for Commuters : Everlane The ReNew Transit Backpack , $95
  • Most Stylish : Tumi Voyageur Just in Case Packable Nylon Travel Backpack , $150

All products featured on Glamour are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Best Overall : Cotopaxi Allpa 42L Travel Pack

Cotopaxi Allpa 42L Travel Pack  Del Día

Cotopaxi Allpa 42L Travel Pack - Del Día

Here's a simple, sleek backpack with plenty of built-in organization. “My twin sister and I have traveled the world together, and this bag came in particularly handy on our trip to South America when we both needed more room besides our carry-on luggage. What I loved about this piece is it's essentially a suitcase with straps. The wrap zipper fully opens up, allowing you to see and organize your goods into the compartments. Crafted in repurposed nylon, the exterior is one of a kind, and the colors made it easier to spot one another through the crowds,” says Glamour contributor Gabrielle Porcaro .

Capacity: 42 L / Waterproof : Water-resistant

  • Pros: Repurposed nylon body; suitcase layout; weight-distributing harness system
  • Cons: Can easily show dirt

Best on Amazon : Shrradoo Extra Large 52L Travel Laptop Backpack

SHRRADOO Extra Large 52L Travel Laptop Backpack

SHRRADOO Extra Large 52L Travel Laptop Backpack

As a runner-up, consider this the Swiss Army knife of backpacks. Hidden in this compact, durable bag are 20 pockets and compartments to accommodate and organize everything from clothes to an umbrella to power cords. A practical standout feature of this travel backpack is an external USB port with set-in charging cables to charge your phone (just remember to charge your power pack before heading out on your trip). Another noteworthy aspect is the U-shaped 3D breathable mesh straps designed to relieve stress from shoulders and reduce a sweaty back.

Capacity: 52 L / Waterproof : Water-resistant

  • Pros: So many pockets for organizing; USB charging port; comfortable
  • Cons: Chunky, technical look

Best Daypack : Lululemon Everywhere Backpack

Lululemon Everywhere Backpack 22L

Lululemon Everywhere Backpack 22L

Lululemon gets a lot of love for its Lulu leggings and activewear, but don't sleep on accessories like its laptop bags . A classic backpack with a modern design, the Everywhere Backpack has a clean appearance that will effortlessly match your look. Inside it's spacious and has a padded pocket that fits a 16-inch laptop. On the exterior is a front zipper pocket for keys, antibacterial wipes, headphones…whatever you need handy while on the go.

Capacity: 22 L / Waterproof : Water-repellent

  • Pros: Internal laptop sleeve; side water bottle pockets; lightweight
  • Cons: No luggage strap; not a ton of pockets

Best Budget : Coofay Carry On Backpack

Coofay Carry On Backpack

Coofay Carry On Backpack

This affordable, multifunctional pack is lightweight but can hold a lot and easily fit under an airline seat as a carry-on. “I loved the space and compartments of this bag. It's durable and packed a lot of room for so many things. The luggage handle strap is also a bonus if you're hauling a roller bag,” wrote one Amazon reviewer . Bonus: It has a shoes and a wet pocket compartment.

Capacity: 17 L / Waterproof : Yes

  • Pros: Separate shoe compartment, 29 color options; USB port design
  • Cons: Short luggage strap

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Best for Commuters : Everlane the ReNew Transit Backpack

Everlane The ReNew Transit Backpack

Everlane The ReNew Transit Backpack

Whether you're a college commuter or in the office most days, this is an excellent option for everyday travel or work trips. It's a go-to for Condé Nast associate director of box business operations Haley Welch . “The separate laptop compartment makes organizing seamless, as does the front and upper zipper compartments, which is great for a Kindle,” she says. She likes that the chic and minimal look effortlessly mixes with every outfit, from comfy travel joggers and hoodies to a work-appropriate suit or dress.

Capacity : 27 L / Waterproof : Water-resistant

  • Pros : Internal and external water bottle holders; zipper pocket on top; made from renewed materials
  • Cons : Only holds a 15-inch laptop

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Most Stylish : Best Tumi Voyageur Just In Case Packable Nylon Travel Backpack

Tumi Voyageur Just in Case Packable Nylon Travel Backpack

Tumi Voyageur Just in Case Packable Nylon Travel Backpack

For anyone looking for a dressier option for their everyday commute or regular work trips, Tumi has a gorgeous style. Don't let the sleek appearance fool you; the zipper reveals a very roomy interior but still folds flat. A two-way zipper makes it easier to grab whatever you need from the inside with a smaller front pocket as well. There’s also a very convenient add-to-a-bag sleeve to secure this nicely over your suitcase handle, making it one to use on daily and international excursions. It's so stylish it can double as a cute work bag for office days.

Capacity: 15"H x 12"W x 4 1/2"D. (Interior capacity: large) / Waterproof : Water-resistant

  • Pros :Packable; folds down flat; lightweight
  • Cons: Doesn’t fit a ton

Best for Organization : Snoffic Travel Backpack

Snoffic Travel Backpack

Snoffic Travel Backpack

If remaining organized is of the utmost importance while traveling or in everyday life, look no further than this Snoffic backpack. This wallet-friendly pick has a 4.6-star rating on Amazon and under $35 price tag. “I was able to pack a week's worth of summer clothes in it, which included two summer dresses," says one Amazon reviewer . Not only does this bag offer ample space and waterproof material, but it also includes two clear toiletry bags (also waterproof) to help you reduce your zip-lock baggie usage. Plus, it comes in a wide range of pretty shades.

Capacity : 40 L / Waterproof : Water-resistant

  • Pros : Nicely priced; roomy; includes two toiletry bags
  • Cons : Boxy shape

Best for Pockets : Athleta Excursion Backpack

Athleta Excursion Backpack

Athleta Excursion Backpack

This pick, courtesy of Glamour commerce editor Malia Griggs , is one that can hold every little trinket or gadget you own. “I thought this backpack was going to my go-to for hiking, but it’s actually my go-to for pretty much everything. I love how sleek it is, and yet, despite its slim appearance, it manages to fit my 15-inch laptop, my secondary screen, charger, headphones, e-reader, and mouse. It has handy organizational features, like an inner key ring, zippered outer pockets for me to stash my lip gloss and phone, and not one but two mesh pockets that fit my water bottle and an umbrella. Its handles are also made of a breathable fabric—so useful when I’ve worked up a sweat while out and about.”

  • Pros :Lightweight; ripstop material resists snags and tears; mesh back panel for added support
  • Cons: Larger on top shape

Best Minimalist Design : Dagne Dover Dakota Medium Neoprene Backpack

Dagne Dover Dakota Medium Neoprene Backpack

Dagne Dover Dakota Medium Neoprene Backpack

“On my last flight I saw not one, not two, but multiple travelers with this style hanging from their backs. As someone who regularly takes Dagne Dover bags on trips, I understand the popularity. The neoprene material is strong, soft, and stretchy, which causes the bag to flex to your body and whatever you put inside. It's forgiving, allowing you to fit in and possibly overstuff everything you need for a trip. It also washes well, ensuring it will always have that chic appearance even after some wear and tear,” says Porcaro. Dagne Dover also makes excellent diaper backpacks like this parent-approved Indi Diaper Bag .

Capacity: 16 L / Waterproof : No

  • Pros: Packs a lot; machine washable
  • Cons: Neoprene is a bit heavier than other material; material creases easily

Best for Airplane Travel : Augustnoa Classic Noa

Augustnoa Classic Noa

Augustnoa Classic Noa

“So many features drew me to this bag: the eco-friendly (plus water-friendly) material, smart design, and luggage sleeve—a must for any travel carry-on piece. There are ten pockets and compartments to organize essentials, something I took full advantage of when using. As an active person trying to hydrate more, I also appreciated the side pockets that securely held my water bottle (I bent over, and it didn't budge). It also includes a removable drawstring bag, something I always forget to pack for morning workouts and overnight travels,” says Porcaro.

Capacity: 21 L / Waterproof : Water-resistant

  • Pros: Pockets on straps; laptop and tablet sleeve; two water bottle holders
  • Cons: Pockets in the back and on straps are small

Best Roll Top : Roark Passenger 27L 2.0 Bag

Roark Passenger 27L 2.0 Bag

Roark Passenger 27L 2.0 Bag

Expandable storage is always a plus with any travel bag. This backpack, from super cool brand Roark, has an adjustable top to allow more room. The roll-top also has a magnetic entry, allowing for easy and secure access on the move. Interior and exterior pockets, including one for your tablet or laptop, sunglasses, and a hidden pocket for your passport, are specific details that make this a unique backpack. Ergonomic air mesh padded straps, a quilted back, and chest straps prevent this from adding any discomfort to your travels. The appearance calls for adventure, but it equally works in cities.

Capacity: 27 L / Waterproof : 100% Nylon

  • Pros: Streamlined look; quilted back; magnetic closure top
  • Cons: Could use more internal pockets

Best Large Travel Bag : Patagonia Black Hole Duffel 55L

Patagonia Black Hole® Duffel 55L

Patagonia Black Hole® Duffel 55L

The beauty of this bag is it says it right in the title—it's a black hole. With a 55-liter capacity, there's no doubt it will hold everything you need for a long weekend or even a long weekend trip. Ultra-comfortable to carry, it's perfect for hiking excursions, camping trips, or multi-city European backpacking adventures. Durably made with 100% recycled fabric, this fits in the overhead bin; if you want to check it, you can trust it will return to you just as you left it.

Capacity: 55 L / Waterproof : Water Repellent

  • Pros: Large, carry-on size, top and side handles; removable shoulder straps
  • Cons: Rugged design

Best for Laptop : Herschel Kaslo Dayback Tech Backpack

Herschel Kaslo Dayback Tech Backpack

Herschel Kaslo Dayback Tech Backpack

If you're looking for a laptop backpack , this is a top choice. Hershel backpacks are a go-to for marriage and family therapist and mom of two boys, Whitney Steller. “I have had this for almost six years, and the quality is amazing. No rips or anything and the straps are still comfortable. “The classic grade school look was also a draw and the fact that it fits perfectly under a plane seat. This style, in particular, is eco-friendly, made from post-consumer water bottles, and has a padded compartment to fit up a 15-inch laptop.

Capacity: 20 L / Waterproof : No

  • Pros: Optional strum strap to help disturbed weight; padded compartment for laptop
  • Cons: No luggage sleeve

Best Y-Pack : Topo Designs Y-Pack Backpack

Topo Designs YPack Backpack

Topo Designs Y-Pack Backpack

This is an awesome option for anyone who ends up leaving a trip with more than they brought. “The adjustable Y-shaped strap can be tight and secure or loosened to allow for more room, which is the reason why this is a piece of heavy rotation for me. It always shocks me how much I can fit/shove into the main compartment yet still slide my laptop out of the back sleeve. No matter if it’s filled with a hoodie and various pouches holding makeup, power cords, and snacks; it's easy to access. I like to use the zip pocket on the top to store antibacterial wipes, hand sanitizer, headphones, and anything else I want easy access to once I arrive on the flight,” says Porcaro.

Capacity: 23.8 L / Waterproof : No

  • Pros: Drawstring closure offers more space; zip pocket on top for easy access; durable material great for travel and the outdoors
  • Cons: G-hook buckle closure can sometimes be tough

Best Waterproof : SealLine Skylake Dry Pack

SealLine Skylake Dry Pack

SealLine Skylake Dry Pack

The beauty of this piece is that it rolls up for easy packing within a suitcase or larger travel backpack. The fact that it's created from an extremely lightweight material also ups the packability and wear factor. Jen Ator, a personal trainer, used this on her honeymoon in Thailand. “Not only was it super sturdy and waterproof, but it fits everything we needed during day trips.” She also pointed out how handy the exterior pocket was for easy access to essentials like a phone to snap a picture of her and her husband.

Capacity : 18 L / Waterproof : Yes

  • Pros: Lightweight; stowable
  • Cons: No interior pocket

Best Convertible : Thule Crossover 2 Convertible Backpack

Thule Crossover 2 Convertible Backpack

Thule Crossover 2 Convertible Backpack

Adaptability is vital when traveling, and this Thule convertible backpack offers various ways to hold it. If you're in a tight space, de-boarding, or want to give your shoulders a break, there is a longer shoulder strap and top handle to hold. Inside the backpack, you'll find compartments that look like your favorite easy-rolling carry-on suitcase, making it easy to keep everything with you secure and organized. Another standout feature is the exterior crush-resistant SafeZone compartment that's perfect for storing sunglasses or a phone.

Capacity: 21 ¾"H x 14"W x 8"D. / Waterproof : Water Resistant

  • Pros: Crust resistant, two-way zip closure, RFID-shielded pocket;
  • Cons: Expensive

Best for City Travel : PAK Large Nylon Backpack

PAK Large Nylon Backpack

PAK Large Nylon Backpack

“As a backpack I recently added to my collection, I was impressed by how many features were hidden in what seemed like a pretty basic bag. First, it’s worth noting how seamlessly this slid on and off my back, making it a breeze to sit on the subway or grab my wallet to buy coffee. At first glance, I was confused about the zipper on the bottom of the front pocket, but when I realized it was a coat sling, which, as someone who runs cold and always has an extra layer, is something I will use again and again. Another made-for-me feature is an extra large pocket for water bottles since it’s a personal pet peeve when they aren’t wide enough for standard sizes. Having only worn this around the city for daily life, I appreciate that the shape and look of the pack are city-ready and more polished. When I take this on international trips, I look forward to using the hidden theft-proof compartments,” says Porcaro.

Capacity: 13.5”L x 7” W x 14” H / Waterproof : No

  • Pros: Easy access pocket in the back, Coat sling, Large side pockets
  • Cons: Not super large

Best Customizable : Roam Continental Backpack

Roam Continental Backpack

Roam Continental Backpack

Anyone who is a fan of customization will appreciate this pick. Buyers can choose the color they want on the front, back, side, and straps to create a bag that is uniquely theirs. This is favorite of Glamour commerce editor Jenifer Calle , who has been using it for years. “It fits enough for weekend trips and vacation travel. I particularly like that the side zippers fit my Owala water bottle and there are plenty of zipper and pockets to hold my wallet, keys, chargers, lip balms, and more” says Glamour’s Calle.

Capacity : 26 L / Waterproof : Water Repellent

  • Pros : Customizable; 100-day trial period; soft material; luggage sleeve
  • Cons : Expensive

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The 8 Best Camping Tarps of 2024

A large part of enjoying Mother Nature is being prepared

We independently evaluate all recommended products and services. If you click on links we provide, we may receive compensation. Learn more .

Tripsavvy / Chloe Jeong

A camping tarp is a big piece of waterproof fabric meant to offer a bit of extra cover from the rain and wind, and it can also function under or inside your tent. The two biggest considerations when looking for the right tarp are its size and materials. The former is straightforward: The bigger the space you want to cover, the larger the footprint, while solo or two-person outings can likely get away with a tarp around 7 x 8 feet. Regarding fabrics, camping tarps break out into two categories: heavy-duty and lightweight. Heavier tarps offer more protection from the weather, while lightweight tarps are better suited for backpackers.

Beyond that, look for tarps with multiple reinforced attachment points—the four corners are a minimum, but the more places you can latch onto, the easier it is to set up and secure a taut fit. Some also include nice add-ons like guylines and small grommets to let you use hiking poles to convert the tarp into a makeshift tent. It should be noted that most tarps don’t come with rope, which you’ll need to secure the tarp to the nearest tree, pole, or car rack. To aid in your search, we researched the best camping tarps currently available, taking into account size, durability, weight, number of attachment points, and more.

Final Verdict

  • What to Look For

Why Trust TripSavvy

Best overall, sea to summit escapist tarp.



User friendly

Stuff sack can be hard to use

The Escapist Tarp wears its many functions on its sleeve—literally. The stuff sack includes illustrations for how you can pitch your tarp, including as a standard overhead shelter, a handful of A-frame shelters (from classic to ridgeline to tapered), a windshield (with or without a roof), a tent awning, a bivy, and as a ridgeline fly to cover a hammock. Made of taped seam-sealed waterproof 15 D PU-coated nylon, it provides cover against all conditions, but it only weighs 15.5 ounces and packs down to the size of a water bottle, making it ideal for backpackers. You get eight bar-tack reinforced tie-out points, with reinforced corners with cord locks and guylines that can be adjusted while under the tarp, a nice feature when the rain is really coming down.

Sea to Summit made the Escapist with the backcountry in mind, and it’s easy to convert the tarp into a variety of tents as well, with or without poles, though the tie-outs are configured to fit the tip of trekking poles, which can make setup a breeze. It also works with Sea to Summit’s Escapist Bug Tent/Net, which gets closer to a full-fledged tent at a fraction of the weight of other models.

Weight: 9.52, 12.3 ounces | Sizes: 8.6 x 6.6, 10 x 10 feet | Tie-out Points: 8

Best Budget

Stansport multi-purpose tarp.



Not the easiest to store

This workhorse is probably what most people picture when they think about tarps—in part because it's practically ubiquitous in camping, as well as to keep firewood dry, line the back (or cover) the bed of a pickup, cover a boat, or perform any other sort of rugged weatherproof task outside. Made of durable ripstop polyethylene and laminated on both sides, it'll stand up to years of serious abuse from Mother Nature and other trials. The edges are reinforced with rope and come with heavy-duty rust-resistant grommets positioned every 3 to 4 feet (depending on the tarp's size). It's far from the lightest camping tarp, and it's tough to pack down (even when using compression straps, and it doesn't come with a stuff sack), but it's reliable—and, given its low price point, easy to replace in the unlikely event that you need a replacement.

Weight: Starts at 0.25 pounds | Sizes: From 5 x 7 to 30 x 60 feet | Tie-out Points: 4

Most Weatherproof

Kelty noah’s tarp.


Easy to set up

Wide shade footprint

Irregular shape

The almost-aptly-named Noah's Tarp won't help you survive a flood during monsoon season —or house two of every known animal species—but it might be the most weatherproof camping tarp on this list. It has fully taped seam construction and is made of no-snag coated polyester taffeta that lets you pitch it tight, essential when the weather gets foul. Unlike most other tarps, it has loop tie-ins that extend off the tarp's edges, and it also runs tie loops down the tarp's center spines to let you create a veritable exoskeleton of support via poles or rope tie-offs. A smartly engineered pocket enables you to store lengths of rope, and it also comes with a carry sack. The three-season tarp comes in three sizes (144, 256, and 400 square feet), and a starting weight of 1 pound, 11 ounces means it's more appropriate for camping than backpacking.

"The polyester tarp may feel thin, but it’s coated and durable enough to withstand your average bumps and pokes, as our clumsy toddlers can attest. We also sprayed the tarp lightly with our backyard hose and found that the inside stayed dry with no leaks at all," our tester reported. "If you’re a frequent outdoor enthusiast looking for a sun canopy, the Noah’s Tarp in the 9-foot option is ideal. Just note that you’ll need to shell out some extra cash for the staff poles (which aren’t included) if you plan on setting it up as a free-standing shade."

Weight: 1.11, 2.3, 3.10 pounds | Sizes: 12 x 12, 16 x 16 feet | Tie-out Points: 21

TripSavvy / Danielle Directo-Meston

Best for Thru-Hiking

Msr thru-hiker wing shelters.

 Courtesy of Backcountry


You need your own poles

If Cheryl Strayed’s Wild (or the movie by the same name) inspired you to try your hand at thru-hiking the Pacific Crest or Appalachian trails—or if you just fancy a low-weight way to carry shelter on a two- or three-night backpacking trip —the MSR Thru-Hiker 100 Wing will work as double duty, providing shelter overhead, or as your actual tent, without adding on much pack weight. It comes in sizes 70 and 100 square feet, though both are big enough to accommodate two to three sleeping bags , and weighs as little as 12 ounces.

Made of 20-denier ripstop nylon along with 1,200-millimeter polyurethane and silicone, it’ll fight off wind and rain and comes with 10 reinforced tie points spaced out to accommodate a trekking pole tent setup, with four flanking the “edges” and only one on either side of the point where you’d pitch the pole to create an A-frame shelter. Naturally, the tarp does easy double duty as a traditional tarp, and it can also be paired with MSR’s Thru-Hiker Mesh House for a complete backcountry shelter solution.

Weight: 12 ounces or 1.1 pounds | Sizes: 9.6 x 8, 10.6 x 9.6 feet | Tie-out Points: 10

Best for Hammock Sleeper

Eno eagles nest outfitters profly rain tarp.

A little small

Asheville, North Carolina-based Eagles Nest Outfitters was deep into the camping hammock game long before hammocks started trending with Millennials, and they still make some of the best camping hammocks on the market. Their ENO ProFly Rain Tarp has been specifically designed to marry with their other products to provide reliable foul-weather protection to keep hammock sleepers dry and off the ground. That said, with six reinforced guy points, you can easily put the ProFly to other uses, providing cover for your side-country kitchen or blocking a persistent wind. Made of 210-denier ripstop nylon and measuring 10.6 x 6.4 feet, it’ll shed rain and snow and stand up to years of abuse.

Weight: 1.6 pounds | Size: 10.6 x 6.4 feet | Tie-out Points: 6

Best for Bigger Groups

Equinox egret tarp.

Double-stitched seams


Generous footprint

Not as water-resistant as others

At 12 x 16 feet, this tarp from Equinox will fit your entire camping crew. Its 16 individual reinforced tie-out points allow for various setups and a taut configuration. Made from rugged ripstop nylon, this extra-large tarp is robust enough to stand up to the foulest conditions of Mother Nature, with fully taped seams for added durability. But it only weighs 3 pounds and 13 ounces, making it suitable for lightweight hikers to haul . Reviewers noted this tarp is made from high-quality materials and loved how many camping trips it lasted.

Weight: 3.13 pounds | Size: 12 x 16 feet | Tie-out Points: 16

Most Durable

Chicago canvas & supply heavy duty vinyl tarp.

UV protection

Burly and resilient

This is the only option if you need a tarp that can do it all (for camping or being used as a canopy for your deck or porch). Unlike most tarps on this list, it’s not made of various thicknesses of PU-coated poly. This one comes in vinyl and is impervious to the soak-through that can happen when lesser tarps start to collect pools of water, and it’s highly damage-resistant; no fabric can fend off punctures, but this one will stand up to almost anything save a knife blade. It measures 8 x 10 feet and includes reinforced grommets every 2 feet on all sides, with double-thick hems that have been heat-sealed for added strength. At 10 pounds, it’s pretty much the opposite of lightweight, but it packs into a relatively trunk-friendly 12 x 10 x 4-inch package.

Weight: 4, 10 pounds | Sizes: 5 x 7, 8 x 10 feet | Tie-out Points: 4

Best for Car Camping

Kelty waypoint car tarp.

Roof rack optional mounting

Shark-mouth carry bag

Even seasoned car campers can make use of a bit of extra coverage, and with the Waypoint Tarp, it couldn't be easier. This innovative structure anchors to the rear wheels of your vehicle and is supported by a single steel pole, guylines, and steel stakes to create a stable shelter strong enough to be left in place overnight. Gear and people are shielded from wind, rain, and sunshine by 68-denier polyester fabric reinforced along the high-wear zones. At slightly over 8 pounds, this is not a light piece of equipment, but that shouldn't be an issue for this style of camping.

Weight: 8 pounds, 5 ounces | Sizes: 11.1 x 13.8 feet | Tie-out Points: 5

The Sea to Summit Escapist Tarp comes in first because it's lightweight while offering superior protection from the elements and can be used in a variety of configurations. Save a buck or two without sacrificing quality and utility with the Stansport Reinforced Multi-Purpose Tarp .

What to Look For in Camping Tarps

The best camping tarps are those that are waterproof and durable. Both nylon and polyester are inherently water resistant, but companies might also add a waterproof treatment. Other materials to look for are Silnylon (a synthetic nylon covered in silicone), Silpoly (polyester reinforced with silicone), and Cuben Fiber. Of the three, Cuben Fiber is by far the most expensive but also the lightest and the most waterproof. It's understandably great, but for a better balance of price and weight, go for tarps made of Silnylon or Silpoly.

It's really a matter of what will be covered and personal preference. A single hammock can get away with a size of 6 x 8 feet, whereas a group would need something larger. But remember, generally speaking, the larger the tarp, the heavier it'll be.

Interestingly, the lightest tarps are usually the most expensive. They're meant to be used by ultralight hikers who spend long periods in the wilderness and can't be bothered by wet belongings. Those that don't fall into that camp can probably opt for something a little heavier and cheaper.

Tarps can keep nature-seekers dry, but even if there are no clouds in the sky, a good camping tarp can provide shelter from the sun and a more coherent camp organization (along with a good camp trunk ). Plus, it can double as an extension of a tent’s vestibule for added privacy.

Some tarps—particularly those made specifically for camping and backpacking—come with guylines already attached to the tarp at most of the attachment points, making it easier to set up since it's unnecessary to pack an additional rope. And the more attachment points, the better; this makes it easy to pitch the tarp in various configurations—including under the tent —or lets users tie off sagging areas in the tarp with relative ease. Also, look for taped seams to reinforce the tarp's waterproofness.

Yes! A tarp under your tent protects the contents—and people—inside the tent from any moisture that may seep through from the ground. It also protects the bottom of your tent from abrasive terrain, effectively extending its usable life.

Rectangular tarps tend to offer more versatility by allowing more configurations. In the case of using a hammock, the diamond configuration is the most common and this is most easily achieved with a square tarp.

Nathan Borchelt has been caught in more downpours while camping and backpacking than he can remember—in fact, rainstorms are almost a guarantee in his favorite stretch of wilderness, West Virginia’s Dolly Sods. He’s pitched dozens of tarps in all types of weather and relies on them on any outdoor adventure—from multi-day backpacking trips to erecting a quick sun shelter in his backyard.

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Best Camping Tents of 2024

For your home away from home in the outdoors, we break down the year’s top tents for camping from premium to budget.

The North Face Wawona Camping Tent (installing pole clips)

Switchback Travel ( Jason Hummel )

We use affiliate links and may receive a small commission on purchases. Read more about us . 

Spacious, user-friendly, and feature-rich camping tents are made to facilitate a relatively luxurious experience in the outdoors. Many of these behemoths offer enough room to set up cots or even chairs and a table for card games on a rainy day. For car campers who take a couple trips each year during the summer months, even the cheapest tents on this list should perform fine. For tougher weather conditions or more frequent use, it's worth spending up for better materials and interior space. For going on a decade, the Switchback Travel team has been camping in all manner of environments to help you find the best shelters for the job. Below we break down the best camping tents of 2024. For more background information, see our comparison table and buying advice below the picks.

Editor’s note: We updated our camping tents round-up on April 22, 2024, to add the weather-worthy REI Base Camp 6 and canvas Springbar Highline 6. We also included more information about our testing practices and scanned the guide to ensure all prices, colorways, and product write-ups are current.  

Our Team's Camping Tent Picks

  • Best Overall Camping Tent: The North Face Wawona 6
  • A Close Second (With a Simpler Setup Process): Nemo Aurora Highrise 6P
  • Best Budget Camping Tent: Coleman Skydome 6P
  • Best Reliability in Rough Weather:  REI Co-op Base Camp 6
  • Best Crossover Camping/Backpacking Tent: Marmot Tungsten 4P

Best Overall Camping Tent

1. the north face wawona 6 ($500).

The North Face Wawona 6 tent

The North Face can be hit or miss in the camping market, but they have a winner in their Wawona collection. Updated fairly recently, the biggest shift was to a hybrid double-wall construction (the prior generation used a less breathable single-wall build), and they also retooled the pole structure to make setup easier. Offered in four- and six-person capacities, the tunnel-like design is reminiscent of REI’s Wonderland 6 below and provides a generous amount of interior space, including around 3 more square feet of floor area for about $100 less. And we love the massive front vestibule (44.7 sq. ft.) that easily doubles as a seating area—to achieve the same versatility with the Wonderland, you’ll have to purchase the Mud Room add-on ($125) separately. Added up, the Wawona is an impressively livable design and an excellent all-around value. 

That said, despite the updated pole structure, we still found the Wawona to be considerably time-consuming and tedious to set up. The vestibule, in particular, must be guyed out tightly to stay upright, and the unique pole structure took some time to get taut and secure. The upside is that the hybrid double-wall design vents considerably better than a single-wall tent, and it’s also less prone to collecting moisture in humid or rainy weather. Final nitpicks include the rainfly, which doesn’t cover the lower portion of the tent (this section is still waterproof), and the all-mesh door can be a source of heat loss and drafts in the cold. But no tent is perfect, and the Wawona’s mesh-heavy build, expansive interior, and reasonable cost earn it our top billing for 2024. It’s also sold in a  smaller four-person capacity ($400) if you don't need as much space.  See The North Face Wawona 6  

Camping tent (stepping into The North Face Wawona 6)

A Close Second (With a Simpler Setup Process)

2. nemo aurora highrise 6p ($500).

NEMO Aurora Highrise 6P camping tent

New Hampshire-based Nemo introduced the Aurora collection a couple of years ago, adding a competitor to crossover options like the Marmot Tungsten and Mountain Hardwear Mineral King below. The latest Highrise variation, however, takes aim at the premium and luxurious end of the market with a standing-height interior, steep sidewalls, and massive footprint that rival the livability of competitors like the top-rated Wawona and REI Wonderland. As we’ve come to expect from Nemo, the Aurora Highrise is thoughtfully built with windows at each side that make it easy to air things out and remain protected from rain when open, two large doors and vestibules, a rainfly that can be staked out as an awning (poles sold separately), and high-quality materials throughout—including robust aluminum poles and a thick 150-denier floor that’s outfitted with a fun checkered pattern.

We put the Aurora through a summer of testing in the Pacific Northwest and came away thoroughly impressed. The tent is surprisingly fast and intuitive to set up (it took around 5 minutes with two people and can easily be done solo), and all of the components have a very hard-wearing and confidence-inspiring feel. We also love the massive, oval-shaped main door that makes entry and exit a breeze, although we wish the second door shared the same design (it’s around half the size). The dome shape also sacrifices some headroom at the sides—REI’s tunnel-like Wonderland does a better job at maximizing the peak height—and you can get more vestibule space for big and bulky items with the Wawona above. But the advantages in usability and build quality are hard to beat, making the Aurora a quick favorite among our staff... Read in-depth review See the Nemo Aurora Highrise 6P  

Camping tent (interior of Nemo Aurora Highrise)

Best Budget Camping Tent

3. coleman skydome 6p ($150).

Coleman Skydome camping tent

Coleman is practically synonymous with affordably priced camping gear, so it comes as little surprise that their Skydome 6 slots in as our top budget pick this season. What is surprising to us, however, is how modern this tent looks and feels. In stark contrast to Coleman’s fairly dated and cheap-feeling Sundome below, the Skydome is far more weather-worthy with a full-coverage rainfly (most of the sides are exposed on the Sundome fly) and uses pre-bent poles and more vertical walls that open up the interior in a big way. We also love that the poles are pre-attached to make setup a breeze, and the wide door and generously sized vestibule really help boost overall convenience.

Diving deeper into the differences between the two Coleman models, the Skydome boasts 15 fewer square feet of floor area, but the aforementioned pole structure and vertical walls go a long way toward maximizing livability. In terms of value, the Skydome costs the same as the Sundome on Amazon at the time of publishing, but those who get out even just a few weekends each year will likely appreciate the modernized build os the Skydome. It’s true that it only has one door and uses cheaper materials than the more premium options on our list—including fiberglass poles that aren’t as hardwearing as aluminum—but the quick setup and roomy interior are a winning combination. A final budget-friendly design to consider is REI’s new Campwell , although the Coleman wins out in spaciousness and ease of use for considerably less money.  See the Coleman Skydome 6P

Best Reliability in Rough Weather

4. rei co-op base camp 6 ($549).

REI Co-op Base Camp 6 camping tent

Sitting near the top of REI's camping lineup for 2024 is their Base Camp 6, which takes cues from mountaineering designs for a sizable boost in weather-worthiness. The dome shape and overlapping five-pole system mean the walls aren’t as vertical as the Wawona's above, but it’s still very easy to move around inside, and the reward is far better resistance against strong gusts. And the rest of the design is equally up to snuff with an excellent mix of quality materials and design features, including four roof vents and a low side vent, functional organization, and even reflective detailing to help you see the tent in the dark. It's true that more specialized models like Cabela’s Alaskan Guide below are better suited for true four-season conditions, but the Base Camp will get the job done in most inclement three-season weather—which is realistically all most campers need.

It’s worth noting that the Base Camp is the third-priciest option in REI’s camping tent collection (right behind the Wonderland 6 and Wonderland X tents below). It’s far and away the most weather-ready option of the bunch, but it uses less mesh than both the Wonderland and Skyward below, which has a notable impact on ventilation. Additionally, despite a similarly sized floor area, the Base Camp feels noticeably less roomy due to the lack of vertical walls. In the end, we’d break it down as follows: The Skyward is the value leader and offers plenty of tent for most family campers, the Base Camp is best for those who plan to take their tent into relatively rough and rowdy weather, and the Wonderland is the most luxurious, fully featured option for those looking for the ultimate home-in-the-woods experience... Read in-depth review See the REI Co-op Base Camp 6  

Camping Tent (REI Base Camp 6 standing inside)

Best Crossover Camping/Backpacking Tent

5. marmot tungsten 4p ($399).

Marmot Tungsten 4P camping tent

Most of the tents on this list are strictly of the car-camping variety, meaning they’re heavy enough that you won’t be carrying them more than a few steps from your vehicle. However, there are a handful of crossover options that can pull double duty should you want to venture into the backcountry. Marmot’s Tungsten 4P is case in point: For car camping, the Tungsten can accommodate multiple sleeping pads side-by-side and has a peak height of 53 inches, which is enough for sitting up, changing, or playing a game of cards. Moreover, the pole design does a nice job of stretching the walls to be nearly vertical at the bottom, giving the interior a relatively open feel. At just over 9 pounds, the Tungsten isn’t a featherweight by any means (and we’re sad to see that weight jumped by a considerable 12.8 oz. recently), but it's perfectly serviceable for camping and short backpacking trips, especially if you can divvy up the carrying responsibilities.

However, as with nearly all crossover tents, the Marmot Tungsten has its fair share of compromises. For those who strictly car camp, a dedicated camping tent is far superior in terms of livable space and durability: The Tungsten uses thinner materials to cut weight, and Marmot dropped 5.6 square feet off the tent’s footprint with their most recent update (floor area went from 58.3 to 52.7 sq. ft.). On the other end of the spectrum, those who are more serious about backpacking may want a lighter and more compressible design like Big Agnes’ Copper Spur HV UL (the 4P model shaves off around 3.5 lb. and packs down much better than the Tungsten, although it costs a whopping $800). For smaller families or couples, Marmot also makes this tent in two- and three-person versions, which bring the weight down considerably, or a one-person version if your flying solo. See the Marmot Tungsten 4P

Best of the Rest

6. rei co-op wonderland 6 ($599).

REI Co-op Wonderland 6 camping tent

The North Face’s Wawona 6 above hits a better balance of price and roominess, but REI’s Wonderland 6 (which replaced the extremely popular Kingdom a couple seasons back) wins out in terms of features. Like the Kingdom, this luxurious tent is highlighted by near-vertical walls, lots of mesh for ventilation and stargazing (including well-placed triangular windows), and a tunnel-like shape that delivers fantastic livability. For families and larger groups, the six-person variation is excellent: There’s plenty of room to stand up and spread out, color-coded components to make setup quick and easy, and a center divider allows you to separate sleeping from daytime areas. It’s true the Wonderland is expensive at $599 (a notable $100 price jump over the Kingdom 6), but it’s on par with competitors like the Marmot Limestone and MSR Habiscape below, and being an REI Co-op member ($30 for a lifetime membership) gets you 10% back if you purchase the tent at full price.

What did REI change when replacing the Kingdom with the Wonderland? Despite an identical floor area and peak height, the Wonderland now features narrow awnings above each door that offer little in the way of protection. REI does sell a separate Mud Room attachment for $125 to cover the entryway and increase storage space, but it tacks on another 100 inches to the tent’s already-substantial footprint. The scalloped rainfly also leaves a good portion of the sides exposed to moisture, although REI did drop the top roof vents, which were a source of vulnerability on the Kingdom. Finally, the Wonderland has a less functional storage layout and trades the handy backpack-style stuff sack for a smaller and more basic design. But the standout livability and high-quality construction remain, making the Wonderland very appealing for families and large groups. For those camping in the sunniest of climes, REI also sells the Wonderland 6 Titanium for an extra $100, which features a UV-enhanced rainfly...  Read in-depth review See the REI Co-op Wonderland 6

7. Kelty Wireless 6 ($280)

Kelty Wireless 6 camping tent

Many of the tents on this list cost well over $300, but budget-oriented Kelty always seems to do a nice job at mixing quality and value. Their Wireless is case in point: It’s relatively affordable at $280 for the six-person version but includes a number of upgrades compared to cheaper tents like the Coleman Skydome above and Sundome below. Namely, you get two doors and two vestibules (both Colemans only have one), along with a full-coverage rainfly for wet and windy conditions (the Sundome’s covers just the top). Kelty also uses more mesh in the construction, making it easier to keep cool in the summer heat. Throw in a decently roomy interior with a center ridgepole that stretches the walls up and away (again, both Colemans lack this), and you have one heckuva value.

What do you sacrifice with the Kelty Wireless? First, the floor material and mesh are thinner than the more expensive options on this list. This does help keep weight reasonable, but it means that the tent will be less durable over time. Second, the fiberglass poles won’t hold up as well as aluminum in rough weather. Finally, the Wireless is a very popular budget option, and you may have a hard time getting your hands on one—we’ve seen the tent go in and out of stock several times over the past year, although it’s widely available at the time of publishing. These issues aside, the Wireless is a great camping tent for those who don’t want to break the bank. And for another good value from Kelty with a similar shape and floor area for a little less weight, see their $240 Tallboy 6 . See the Kelty Wireless 6

8. Marmot Limestone 6P ($529)

Marmot Limestone 6P camping tent

The livability of the TNF Wawona and REI Wonderland above are tough to beat, but Marmot offers another quality setup in the Limestone. This camping tent includes ample sleeping space for six (or four if you like to spread out), is easy to pitch, and is reasonably waterproof thanks to a full-coverage rainfly and taut DAC pole design. And in addition to its tall 76-inch peak height (the exact same peak height as the Wawona and just two inches shorter than the Wonderland), the Marmot’s poles also effectively stretch the walls outwards to create an even roomier-feeling interior. It’s true that the Limestone is on the pricier end at $529, but it’s cheaper than the Wonderland and lighter-weight and more packable, too.

For those who camp only on warm summer days, the Limestone is ideal: Its mesh-heavy design, vents, and near-vertical walls make it comfortable even with the fly on. That said, it can't match the burlier pole layout of the Aurora above, and the upright shape is susceptible to bowing in moderate gusts (the Aurora is more dome-like by comparison). Marmot’s own Halo is a more weather-ready option with a beefed-up pole structure and less mesh in the tent body, although it’s a substantial $150 pricier (for the 6P version) and makes sacrifices in weight and ventilation. In the end, the Limestone doesn't stand out in any particular category—price, interior space, or weather protection—but it's a solid all-rounder from a well-respected brand. See the Marmot Limestone 6P

9. Mountain Hardwear Mineral King 3 ($375)

Mountain Hardwear Mineral King 3

Mountain Hardwear typically focuses their efforts at the technical end of the spectrum—their 4-season Trango is a common sight at high-altitude basecamps around the world—but their camping tent lineup is gaining similar traction among the less extreme outdoors crowd. We especially like their Mineral King 3, which goes head-to-head with Marmot’s Tungsten above as a viable crossover camping and backpacking option. Comparing the three-person models (Mountain Hardwear unfortunately doesn’t offer a 4P version), the Mineral King is around $75 pricier than the Marmot but offers a nice boost in livability with a 1.9-inch-taller peak height and an additional 1.6 square feet of floor area. The details are equally well sorted, including hardwearing and pre-bent DAC poles, plenty of mesh for stargazing, a full-coverage rainfly, two large doors and vestibules, and five pockets lining the interior—all for just over 7 pounds.

As we touched on above, there are some inherent downsides to using one tent for both car camping and backpacking. For starters, the three-person Mineral King is the smallest option on our list and far less comfortable to spend time in than most options here, including the 52.7-square-foot Marmot Tungsten 4P above. The materials are also on the thinner end, and for trips into the backcountry, you can go much lighter with a targeted backpacking option like the aforementioned Big Agnes Copper Spur (alternatively, smaller groups can save with the $325 Mineral King 2 , which clocks in at 5 lb. 13.4 oz.). But for couples and small groups, the three-person model offers a really effective balance of livability, durability, and weight—especially if you only get into the backcountry occasionally. See the Mountain Hardwear Mineral King 3

10. Big Agnes Big House 6 ($600)

Big Agnes Big House 6 camping tent

Aptly named, the Big Agnes Big House offers excellent interior space in a thoughtfully built package. With 89 square feet of floor area (a 6-ft. increase over the past-generation model) and a host of high-end features including ample storage, a front door mat for stowing dirty shoes, and a convenient “shelter” mode for providing shade on hot days, the latest Big House goes head-to-head with premium designs like the Wonderland 6, Limestone 6P, and Wawona 6 above. And the Big House is impressively tall, with the sidewalls sloping upward aggressively to a peak height of 80 inches in the six-person model. Keep in mind that this extra real estate can create a sail-like effect in the wind, so make sure to stake the tent out completely and use the included guylines.

Offset mesh and polyester ripstop panels on the tent body make the Big House a good ventilator (it’s also great for stargazing), and we love the large doors and dual-closure windows. However, you do miss out on a vestibule on both models, as the standard rainfly does not cover the front door. Big Agnes does sell a compatible vestibule separately, although it’s steeply priced at $200, bringing the grand total up to a whopping $800 (though you can find the Big House at a sizable discount on Amazon at the time of publication). Alternatively, Big Agnes’ Bunk House 6 costs $100 more than the Big House but comes with a full-coverage fly and awning-style door that doubles as an oversized vestibule or hangout space and can be staked out on its own as a sunshade. Their $450 Spicer Peak 6 also has a full-coverage fly, although it can’t be staked out as a shelter.  See the Big Agnes Big House 6

11. REI Co-op Skyward 6 ($449)

REI Co-op Skyward 6 camping tent

REI’s Skyward was a new addition to their camping tent collection for 2022 and replaced the popular Grand Hut, which previously held the top spot in our rankings. Importantly, they took some key cues from the Grand Hut’s design, including a standing-height interior with a peak height of 78 inches, reasonably low weight, near-vertical walls that maximize roominess, and an easy-to-pitch freestanding design. Floor area and durability also stack up competitively, with the same thick materials along the floor (150D) and fly (75D) and a massive 83-square-foot footprint (the Grand Hut 6 was 83.3 sq. ft.). Taken together, it’s another well-made and highly livable option from our favorite outdoor co-op.

What are the downsides with REI’s new Skyward 6? While we like the large awning for hanging out on sunny days (it can also be rolled up partway in mild conditions), it doesn’t provide much vestibule space when zipped shut. For reference, the Grand Hut had two vestibules that totaled 38 square feet, while the Skyward’s single vestibule provides just 19.5 square feet of covered storage. The Skyward also only has one door, which is pretty big but makes it far less convenient for multiple campers to enter and exit. Final drawbacks include poor wind resistance due to the tall and upright shape and a small stuff sack that requires diligent packing to accommodate all of the components. These complaints are enough to push the Skyward to a mid-pack finish, but it’s nevertheless another spacious and well-built design from REI (and a solid value at 30% off at the time of publishing)... Read in-depth review See the REI Co-op Skyward 6

12. Gazelle T4 Hub ($400)

Gazelle T4 Hub

Popular among the overlanding community, Gazelle’s pop-up Hub tents offer the ultimate in convenience for those looking to minimize setup time. With the poles pre-attached to the tent body, it’s as easy as removing the tent from its bag and pulling the sides into place, which is a stark contrast to complex designs like the Wawona above and Snow Peak Alpha Breeze below. The rest of the design is equally up to snuff with six large mesh windows for ventilation, functional storage (including a removable gear loft), quality YKK zippers, and thick materials that stand up well to long-term use. 

While undeniably appealing from a convenience standpoint, the Gazelle T4 Hub does have a few noteworthy shortcomings. First is the lack of weather protection: The rainfly offers very limited coverage (plus no vestibule space), and the tent’s upright shape makes it prone to bowing in blustery weather. You do get taped seams and the ability to zip the windows shut in inclement weather, but it’s still a noticeable step down from many of the options above. And we’re not big fans of the triangular doors, which are positioned at the corners and result in an awkward lip that’s easy to trip over. Finally, like most pop-up designs, the T4 is decidedly bulky and will take up a sizable chunk of space in your vehicle. But we certainly understand wanting to cut down on setup time, and the T4 excels at that with a solid reputation to boot. For another quick-pitch option, the popular  Caddis Rapid 6 is both cheaper and bigger but falls short in overall build quality. See the Gazelle T4 Hub

13. Springbar Highline 6 ($649)

Springbar Highline 6 camping tent

Classic canvas tents are making a bit of a comeback, and Utah-based Springbar has been a major name in the space for decades. Compared to the nylon and mesh designs above and below, canvas is known for being both super long-lasting and reliable in inclement weather: The Highline can withstand heavy winds (the steel frame helps), serious precipitation, and rough handling. Further, it does a good job of both trapping warmth when it’s cold and breathing when it’s warm. Canvas tents are also extremely livable: The Springbar’s unique pole design, 100-square-foot footprint, and tall peak height (78 in.) make it feel almost more like a small cabin than a camping tent (some offerings from Springbar are even wood stove-compatible).

There are, however, a few notable downsides to canvas. First and foremost, this six-person tent weighs a whopping 75 pounds and takes up a ton of space in your car, so you’ll want to make sure you can park close to your campsite (and have enough space to store it at home). Compared to more traditional designs, canvas models also include a lot more—and heavier—parts, which translates to a longer and more involved setup process (advantages are excellent stability and wind resistance). Given these drawbacks, the Springbar certainly isn’t for everyone. But considering its roomy interior and weather-ready design, it’s an intriguing option for families, big groups, and basecampers spending considerable time in one place. See the Springbar Highline 6

14. Snow Peak Alpha Breeze ($500)

Snow Peak Alpha Breeze tent

Japan-based Snow Peak is making a big push in the U.S. market with a clear focus on minimalist designs that look good and perform well. Their Alpha Breeze tent is a nice reflection of the brand’s innovative approach: In contrast to the more traditional models above, the Snow Peak has a unique A-frame-inspired shape that does a great job at maximizing livability and headroom at the front and middle of the tent. For reference, at 77.4 square feet, it’s one of the largest four-person tents on the market (it's possible to squeeze a fifth in there if needed, especially a child), and the 73-inch peak height rivals many of the six-person designs here. Other notable features include an extendable vestibule that converts into an awning and four doors for convenient access from all sides. Finally, build quality is top-notch, including a UV-resistant finish on the rainfly and ultra-thick (300D) floor that eliminates the need for a footprint.

However, while we love the generous dimensions and clear attention to detail, the Snow Peak Alpha Breeze falls short in a few areas. In addition to being heavier and pricier than most options here (while also smaller), the tent’s slanted rear detracts considerably from usable space. Setup is also fairly involved given the unique pole structure, although many will find this to be a worthwhile trade-off for the convertible vestibule and all-around solid structure. In the end, the Alpha Breeze isn’t the most convenient or livable option here, but the combination of build quality, toughness, and sleek looks nevertheless stands out in the market.  See the Snow Peak Alpha Breeze

15. REI Co-op Wonderland X ($1,249)

REI Co-op Wonderland X camping tent

REI’s Wonderland above stands out for its very livable and well-ventilated interior, and the Wonderland X takes that design to the next level with customizable spaces for sleeping, cooking, and socializing. It’s essentially two tents in one: The rainfly can be pitched on its own as a shade structure or camp kitchen, while the clip-in inner tent offers space for up to four adults to sleep comfortably. And REI clearly put a lot of thought into the palatial build, including two oversized doors (they're big enough that you can back a standard wagon or SUV underneath) and four side panels along the fly that can be rolled up for extra airflow or staked out as awnings (poles sold separately). As expected, storage also abounds with ample pockets for stashing the essentials, and the tent is reasonably weather-ready with a silicone-treated DWR finish and coatings along the fly to fend off mildew and fading from UV rays. Taken together, the Wonderland X is the epitome of glamping and leaves little to be desired for avid car campers.

However, if it isn’t abundantly clear from the $1,249 price tag, the Wonderland X is decidedly overkill for most. Like the standard Wonderland tent above, the Wonderland X is unapologetically large, and you’ll need a big campsite to accommodate the massive footprint (the four-person inner tent measures 100 x 100 in., and the vestibule adds another 38.3 sq. ft.). It’s also heavy at just over 35 pounds and bulky when packed down, although the duffel-style carrying bag makes it easy to divvy things up with separate stuff sacks for the rainfly, inner tent, and smaller components like poles and stakes. Finally, given the complexity of the structure, it can take some time and finesse to set up, although most of the pieces are color-coded to help streamline the process. If you can justify the price, the Wonderland X stands out as one of the most uncompromised and customizable options on the market, making it a great pick for larger groups planning to basecamp for extended periods. See the REI Co-op Wonderland X

16. MSR Habiscape 6 ($600)

MSR Habiscape 6 camping tent

MSR is best known for their premium backpacking and four-season tents, but their Habiscape takes aim at premium camping options like the REI Wonderland and Marmot Limestone above. Similar to those tents, the MSR is a great pick for families thanks to a standing-height interior, generous floor space, and full feature set. Compared to the tunnel-like Wonderland, the MSR is much quicker and easier to set up thanks to its symmetrical design and intuitive pole layout, and storage abounds with 10 pockets that are well distributed for divvying things up (the stuff sack also transforms into an additional hanging pocket). Unlike the REI and Marmot tents, the Habiscape also features a convertible rainfly that can be rolled back out of the way, secured to one side for partial protection, or used as a shade structure with MSR’s 8-foot Adjustable Poles (sold separately). This tent is slightly less durable and expansive than the Wonderland, but the fast setup and well-appointed build make for a competitive alternative.

We previously had MSR’s own Habitude 6 ranked here, which is the Habiscape’s predecessor and bears a very strong resemblance to the newer model. In parsing out the differences, the Habitude was slightly sturdier and more wind-resistant with a stronger pole structure and thicker canopy fabric (68D vs. 40D for the Habiscape) but cost $100 more, only came with one door (the Habiscape has two), and had a more streamlined storage layout. Both designs come with a full-coverage rainfly—something the Wonderland lacks—and polyurethane coatings along the floor and fly for added assurance in inclement weather, which should be ample for most campers. All in all, both are excellent options for families, and a final decision will come down to how you prioritize price, weather protection, and features. For those who want even more exterior storage, MSR’s latest Habiscape Lounge features a larger (36 sq. ft.) customizable vestibule similar to the TNF Wawona above. See the MSR Habiscape 6

17.  Cabela’s Alaskan Guide Model 6-Person ($500)

Cabela's Alaskan Guide camping tent

For camping in rough weather, Cabela’s Alaskan Guide Model is a proven winner. With a strong six-pole hexagonal design, full-coverage rainfly, thick polyurethane floor and fly coatings, and tough fabrics, the tent is capable of handling brutal wind (it’s rated for 50 mph gusts), rain, and even snow. Importantly, it’s also comfortable in mild temperatures and rich in features. Mesh vents and windows can be opened to encourage airflow, the front vestibule is generously sized, and you get enough pockets along the interior to keep gear organized. The Wawona above has better organization and more mesh for warm weather, but the Alaskan Guide is the better option for hunkering down in a storm.

What are the downsides of Cabela’s Alaskan Guide tent? First, its hexagonal floor design doesn’t use space as efficiently as many models here, including the tunnel-like Wawona and REI's Wonderland above. Further, at this $500 price point, we’d prefer to see it offered with aluminum poles rather than fiberglass (though they are available for $100 off at the time of publishing). The tent’s burly construction should limit durability issues, but fiberglass is more prone to breaking under stress than aluminum (it’s worth noting that Cabela’s does also sell replacement poles if you need them). The Alaskan Guide also is very heavy at 33 pounds, but it’s a reasonable trade-off if you need a weather-worthy build for four-season camping adventures. See the Cabela's Alaskan Guide Model 6P

18. Coleman Montana 8P ($270)

Coleman Montana 8P camping tent

New York-based Eureka has been in the outdoor gear game for over a century (including wagon covers for horse-drawn carriages in the late 1890s). From their current lineup, we like the Space Camp 6, which combines a livable interior with reliable weather protection and durability. Storage and ventilation are two other hallmarks, including 10 total pockets and Eureka’s Air Exchange System that allows you to tweak airflow at the top and bottom of the tent depending on conditions. The Space Camp does cost a little more than REI’s similarly built Skyward 6 above while falling a little short in both peak height and overall build quality, but it’s a decent value for what you get.

It's worth noting that we had Eureka’s Copper Canyon LX 6  ranked here previously, which undercuts the Space Camp in price ($330 for the 6P model) and boasts more generous dimensions, including a 100-square-foot interior and taller 84-inch peak height. However, the Space Camp wins out in weather-worthiness with a full-coverage rainfly (the Copper Canyon’s only covers the mesh roof) and lower-profile design that’s more stable in blustery conditions. You also get an additional door with the Space Camp, which we appreciate for maximizing convenience. Both models offer a nice balance of price and quality, and a final decision will come down to how you prioritize outright spaciousness (the Copper Canyon wins out) versus protection and reliability (the Space Camp gets the nod). Note: Eureka's parent company recently announced they will stop selling Eureka products by the end of the year. While that's a loss to the camping industry, it also means it's a good time to keep an eye out for steep discounts. See the Eureka Space Camp 6

20. Coleman Sundome 6 ($130)

Coleman Sundome 6 (green) camping tent

Camping Tent Buying Advice 

Camping tent types, peak height and pole structure, capacity: how many people actually fit in these tents, number of doors, storage space: pockets, vestibules, and garages, weather resistance, ventilation, build quality and durability, setup and take down, ground dimensions, weight and packed size.

  • The Rest of Your Camping Kit  

The camping tent market generally falls largely into two categories: premium designs that utilize high-end materials and prioritize livability and comfort, and more affordable models that stick to the basics and typically cost less than $250. Below we detail the pros and cons of each type, as well as breaking down additional options like crossover camping/backpacking models and canvas tents. Premium Camping Tents Premium camping tents sit at the top of the heap pricewise but have all the trimmings we’d expect of a home away from home. To start, options in the mid- and high-end category (usually $350 and up for a six-person model) make the most of their livable space: Near-vertical walls, dividers, and spacious vestibules are a few examples. Liberal use of mesh in the tent body ventilates well in warm or muggy weather, and built-in vents in the rainfly help keep moisture from collecting inside. In addition, most of these tents can withstand the elements far better than budget options. Nearly all premium models have a full-coverage rainfly (or at least the option) and strong, aluminum pole designs. It’s true that some can be prohibitively expensive (for example, the REI Wonderland 6 is around $600), but for the family or group that heads out a number of times a year, even in bad weather, the long-term investment may be worth it.  

Camping tent (REI Co-op Wonderland 4 in Utah)

Budget Camping Tents In theory, camping is a way to simplify life and just disconnect for a while. In that spirit, budget camping tents are basic but fully functional options for fair-weather campers. There isn’t a clear line where a tent goes from mid-range to budget, but we’ve found for six-person options, it happens around $250. Typical budget tents use heavier fabrics, which make them bulky and adds weight to the bottom line, but they’re also durable and resist moisture. Weather protection is their downfall. When a storm blows through the campsite, more often than not, the budget tents are the ones with soaked interiors or are in a heap of broken poles. If camping is a new thing or you keep it casual in the summer, a budget tent will serve your needs just fine. Just don’t expect anything heroic if the weather turns sour.  

Camping tent (Coleman Sundome at campsite)

Crossover Camping and Backpacking Tents Even tents in the budget category can be a significant investment, so for those who plan on both car camping and backpacking with the family, it may be worth considering a crossover model. Although much less spacious than a dedicated camping tent, designs like the Marmot Tungsten 4P can fit four 20-inch-wide pads side-by-side, and the same goes for Mountain Hardwear’s Mineral King 3 with three pads. Both tents are small and light enough to manage on an overnight backpacking trip (especially when divvyed up among group members) but still have enough space to make most campers happy. That said, keep in mind that these models are built with less durable fabrics to make them easier to pack down, and they’re not the most comfortable for spending considerable time in. But if you need something to pull double duty, a crossover option can be a good compromise.  

Camping tents (family tent vs. backpacking tent styles)

Canvas Tents In some ways, canvas tents are as classic as it gets: The Springbar Highline, for example, hasn’t changed for decades—and for good reason. These burly designs can last for years, breathe decently well and regulate temperature in the summer, retain heat in the winter, stand up to the gnarliest storms, and maximize livable space. Plus, many options are compatible with wood stoves for keeping warm in exceptionally cold weather. If you’re a dedicated camper spending days or weeks out at a time, a canvas tent might be the ideal choice. If you’re a weekend warrior just getting out for a day or two, however, the bulk and additional setup requirements might not be worth the reward. As a general rule, the biggest downsides of canvas tents are their price, weight and packed size, and the time it takes to set them up. For reference, the Springbar Highline 6 above is a “budget” offering at $649, but the brand’s premium models can run over $2,000. Other brands worth looking into in the canvas space include White Duck and Kodiak, just to name a couple.  

Nearly every tent on the market will provide information about floor dimensions (or floor area), which is a key indicator of overall livability. In general, tents with similar sleeping capacities will have similar total floor areas (80 to 90 square feet for a six-person model). For example, the REI Wonderland 6 boasts 83.3 square feet of floor area, the Marmot Limestone 6P has 82.9 square feet, and Nemo’s Aurora Highrise 6P has 83.3 square feet. Coleman's Sundome 6 is technically bigger at 100 square feet, but the dome-style shape makes it harder to move around inside. In other words, floor area is an important spec to consider, but it doesn’t tell the whole story and should be looked at in conjunction with peak height and pole structure (outlined below) to determine overall spaciousness.  

Camping tent (Nemo Aurora Highrise interior)

In addition to floor area, peak height and pole structure make a big impact on overall livability. Peak height in particular is an indication of whether or not you’ll be able to stand upright, and most car camping-style tents have a peak height of around 72 inches. However, this number is just part of the equation, and it’s important to also look at the slope of the walls and pole design. Dome tents with simple, X-shaped pole structures only allow you to enjoy that peak height at the middle of the tent. On the other hand, a tent with a more advanced pole system can create nearly vertical walls for walking around. This is one of the main reasons we love the REI Wonderland and Marmot Limestone: Both ends of the tents have vertical walls, and the pole designs truly opens up the interior. The cabin-style The North Face Wawona , REI Skyward, and Big Agnes Big House are other standouts in maximizing interior space.  

Camping tent (sitting inside Big Agnes Big House)

The tents above are given a “_ person” capacity, which typically ranges from four to eight people. This listing is based on the number of standard adult sleeping pads that can be laid (usually side-by-side) inside the tent. For example, the six-person REI Co-op Skyward is 120 inches long, so six standard pads (20-inches wide) technically will fit. But this doesn’t mean you necessarily want to max out your tent.

If you use wide, 25-inch+ sleeping pads or air mattresses , or just want a little space to move around, we highly recommend sizing up. From our experiences, nobody wants to sleep in a tent that is jammed to capacity, so it’s best to order a slightly larger size than the actual number of people you have in your party. For example, a group of four should sleep comfortably in a six-person tent, leaving enough living space for playing cards, waiting out a storm, and spreading out while sleeping. And many couples and those with pets prefer a four-person model, which gives you plenty of room to stretch out.  

Camping tent (inside REI Co-op Wonderland 4)

For a large-capacity camping tent, we unabashedly prefer two doors. The additional access is convenient if you have a full house, and zipping it open is another way to encourage airflow in summer heat. A single-door build is one of the notable downsides of budget models like the Coleman Skydome and Sundome, and even some higher-end options like the REI Skyward 6 only have a single entryway. Put simply, stumbling and crawling over your tent mates in the middle of the night isn’t the best way to keep everyone happy. The very large openings on these tents do alleviate a little of the annoyance, but it’s still a compromise that’s worth considering when looking at an inexpensive tent. And for unparalleled access, REI’s unique Wonderland X structure has two oversized doors and four panels along the rainfly, while Snow Peak’s Alpha Breeze boasts four doors for easy entry and exit on all sides.  

Camping tent (REI Co-op Skyward 4 exiting tent)

Storage is a crucial consideration for many campers, starting with interior pockets. As expected, premium options like the REI Wonderland and MSR Habiscape include ample space for stowing items like headlamps, maps, books, and other items inside your tent, while budget offerings generally are more barebones. As far as exterior storage goes, a full-coverage rainfly that protects the door(s) of a tent creates a space in front of those doors, referred to as a vestibule. We’ve found a wide range of uses for a vestibule, but a few highlights include a spot to store gear away from rain and putting on/taking off shoes. If you don’t have a car close by to store your stuff, a vestibule should be on your must-have list. And note that vestibules most often come with mid-range and premium camping tents (budget tents with partial rainflies go without).  

Camping tent (NEMO Aurora Highrise vestibule)

Taking the concept of a vestibule to the extreme is REI’s Wonderland Mud Room . The palatial, pole-supported structure extends out for an additional 56 square feet of space, enough for a card table or area to store bikes. Also, you can zip up the entry door and roll up the sides to create an open and airy shelter from the sun or light rain. On extended camping trips or in large groups, this is a valuable add-on. And it’s worth noting that The North Face’s Wawona 6 above boasts a similar design that comes included with the tent, which adds a healthy 44.7 square feet at the front for stowing gear or use as an additional seating area. A final design worth calling out is REI's Wonderland X, which is essentially two tents in one: The outer rainfly can be pitched on its own for use as a shade structure or camp kitchen (with plenty of room in the vestibule for setting up chairs and a small table), while the inner tent functions as a dual sleeping/hangout space for up to four adults.  

Camping tent (The North Face Wawona 6 vestibule)

As we touched on in the section above, a weather-worthy tent is one of the main reasons to upgrade to a premium camping model. In most cases, the pole materials (aluminum is better than fiberglass) and designs are more robust, seam sealing and waterproof fabrics improve in quality, and the inclusion of full-coverage rainflies helps keep out blowing rain. It's good to keep in mind that the weather can still get plenty rowdy in the summer, particularly in the mountains (and some national parks).  

Camping tent (rainfly setup)

Two of the strongest tents on the list are the REI Co-op Base Camp and Cabela's Alaskan Guide Model, which utilize advanced pole designs that are inspired by mountaineering tents. The Cabela's can even be used for snow camping in less extreme conditions (for designs meant to withstand serious winter weather, check out our article on the best four-season tents ). Springbar's Highline 6 is another standout with a weather-ready canvas build and sturdy pole structure. For most three-season trips, any premium tent should do the trick, as long as it’s been properly staked out (and if the wind picks up, take the time to align the tent and guylines to brace against the wind).

Many campers head out in the warm summer months, which means a tent’s ventilation design is a key consideration. And in general, performance is closely tied to price tag. Many premium models utilize a double-wall construction (the outer rainfly is separate from the inner tent body) and lots of mesh, which help keep things reasonably cool and limit moisture build-up. In addition, deployable vents are often incorporated into the rainfly as a way to encourage more airflow, and some tents like REI’s Skyward 6 have adaptable rainflies that can be rolled up partway in mild conditions.  

Camping tent (The North Face Wawona deployable vent)

On the cheap end of the spectrum, you get less mesh and fewer options to get air flowing without opening up doors or windows (thereby compromising weather protection). In addition, some entry-level designs like Coleman’s Sundome include single-wall panels (this means there’s just one layer of fabric to protect you from the elements), which can lead to a muggy interior on warm days and more condensation at night. In the end, many campers are willing to compromise in ventilation given the large price gap between designs, but it’s undoubtedly another feather in the premium tent market’s cap.  

Camping tents (MSR Habiscape set up)

Simply put, the differences in build quality are noticeable between budget and premium camping tents. Spending more gets you higher-quality materials that are stronger relative to their weight and, in theory, should have a longer lifespan. If you only make it out once or twice a year (and mostly in good weather), you absolutely can get away with a budget model like the Coleman Sundome. That said, if you camp a lot, are looking for a long-term investment for multiple seasons, or simply prefer quality gear, we recommend splurging for a higher-end camping tent. Upgraded features like a full-coverage rainfly, large vestibules and lots of interior pockets for gear storage, and strong aluminum poles increase a tent’s functionality and weather resistance.  

Camping tent (Snow Peak Alpha Breeze)

Another factor to consider in gauging a tent’s lifespan is durability, and big factors include the thickness of the canopy, floor, and rainfly fabrics. Floor thickness is particularly important, as it will have direct contact with rocks, roots, and other potentially sharp objects at camp. In comparing the models above, the difference can be significant: The crossover Mountain Hardwear Mineral King 3 , for instance, shaves weight by using lighter materials throughout, including a 68-denier (D) floor. This isn’t thin by ultralight standards (targeted backpacking designs go down to around 10 or 15D), but dedicated camping designs like REI’s Skyward and Wonderland (both 150D) use much more robust fabrics, which boost weight considerably but will stand up much better to long-term use. Many camping tents fall somewhere in the middle and are decently hardwearing, but if you’re typically tough on your gear, make sure to factor this into your buying decision.  

Camping tent (The North Face Wawona tent body closeup)

Canvas tents like the Springbar Highline 6 are in a league of their own when it comes to durability. While the typical tent may last several seasons of rough use, a canvas tent can last decades. Their thick fabrics and bulky poles are designed to weather even the worst of storms. In this sense, their higher price tag may make sense for folks who spend a lot of time camping each year. They do require extra care, though: Canvas tents can develop mold and mildew if improperly dried. If you go this route, be extra careful to thoroughly dry your tent before storage.  

Given their large dimensions and multiple parts (tent body, rainfly, poles, and stakes), it shouldn’t come as a surprise that camping tents can be a bear to set up. It’s always best to do a test run at home to figure out the process; this also gives you a chance to verify you have all the necessary pieces. In general, we recommend setting up a car camping tent with a partner (some smaller four-person models can be done fairly easily by a single person), and you can expect it to take 10 minutes or more to fully deploy (tear down often is a bit faster). One exception to this rule is “instant” tents like the Gazelle T4 Hub , which streamline the process by having the poles permanently connected to the tent body. This design does add some weight and bulk, but some campers will find the trade-off in convenience worth it.  

Camping tent (instructions for Snow Peak Alpha Breeze setup)

When choosing between tent models, it’s a good idea to take the total footprint or ground size of the tent into account—some of the six and eight-person models are absolutely massive. Factoring in some of the large vestibules or “garages” that can be tacked on to the end of a tent, there’s a strong likelihood that it will extend beyond the size of the raised pads at some national parks or campgrounds. If you come from a backpacking background, keep in mind that many car camping tents require a much larger swath of space.  

Camping tent (setting up the Coleman Sundome)

The packed size of a tent typically will align with its weight. Crossover backpacking and camping tents pack down the smallest (the aforementioned Tungsten measures 8.3 x 24.8 in. when packed), while a tent like the Gazelle T4 Hub (8 x 67.5 in.) will fill up an extra-large duffel bag and take up a good portion of a car trunk. Again, if you have the space to store it and haul it around, this isn’t a big downside. But if either are at a premium, we recommend a more compact crossover design.  

Camping tent (MSR Habiscape 6 packed down)

While not a requirement, it's often a good idea to use some type of footprint or ground cloth when camping. The extra layer makes it easier to clean up if you're camping on dirt or mud and protects the tent’s floor from damage (thus extending the tent’s overall lifespan). But do you need to spend the big bucks and get the one specifically made for the tent? Oftentimes those are upwards of $50, which feels like a lot for a single sheet of fabric and some webbing. The advantage of using the footprint specifically designed for the tent is that it’s precut to the proper dimensions, and the grommets will attach to the tent poles directly. It’s an integrated system that you don’t need to worry about. 

Alternatively, a decent tarp can suffice for ground protection as long as there’s still space to store it in your vehicle. They are typically quite large, and if you don’t want to cut them up, you’ll need to layer or stuff the excess material under the tent floor, creating some uncomfortable lumps. Another popular choice for making a generic ground cloth is picking up bulk Tyvek. This relatively thin and packable material is cheap and offers sufficient protection. No matter your choice, if you decide to trim the ground cloth, make sure to measure in a few inches in all dimensions to guarantee you don’t have fabric hanging out the sides of the tent floor. This extra material sticking out can collect and pool rainwater and compromise your waterproof shelter.

What About Rooftop Tents?

We didn’t include any rooftop tents on our list above due to their notably different designs, but they’re nevertheless an up-and-coming category in the car camping world and worth a mention here. The concept is fairly simple: A folded tent attaches directly to the roof rack system on top of your vehicle or pickup bed, and when you arrive at your destination, you simply unfold it, climb the ladder, and go to sleep. Compared to standard camping tents, rooftop designs get you off uneven ground, make it easier to set up camp just about anywhere, and often include a cushy built-in mattress. That said, these models are very expensive (often $1,000 or much more, not including a rack system), extremely heavy, and storage can be an issue. The Roofnest Condor 2 XL , for example, weighs 180 pounds and has a footprint that’s comparable in size to a king-size mattress. But for those who prioritize convenience and don’t mind the added cost, rooftop tents have a lot of appeal. For a full list of our favorite options, see our round-up of the best rooftop tents .  

Rooftop tent (Roofnest Sparrow)

The Rest of Your Camping Kit

Since you’re essentially setting up a home away from home, camping can be heavy on gear. Tents are typically your biggest purchase—both in price and size—followed by items like camping pads or mattresses and sleeping bags . Depending on where you’ll be camping and for how long, other essentials include a gas-burning stove , cooler , and camping chairs . The beauty in all of this is that the same principles that apply to camping tents transfer to the rest of your gear. You can go cheap and still have a great time, but you’ll rarely regret spending extra for added comfort, performance, and longevity. Back to Our Top Camping Tent Picks   Back to Our Camping Tent Comparison Table

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Outside Festival feat. Thundercat and Fleet Foxes.


The author’s backcountry camp spot at Caribou Lake in Indian Peaks Wilderness

15 Super Cool Places to Camp in Colorado

From supported campgrounds to dispersed areas with stellar stargazing, we found the best places to sleep outside in the Rocky Mountains

The author’s backcountry camp spot at Caribou Lake in Indian Peaks Wilderness

Heading out the door? Read this article on the Outside app available now on iOS devices for members! >","name":"in-content-cta","type":"link"}}'>Download the app .

I’ve been hiking and camping in Colorado for more than 25 years, but last summer, I went on one of the most delicious backcountry overnights I’ve ever done, literally.

The gist? I met up with a group of outdoor experts, including Stephen Starks , aka “The Mountain Chef”, at the Fourth of July Trailhead, near Boulder, Colorado . There, we strapped on packs to haul 4.4 miles up and over the Continental Divide’s Arapaho Pass to Caribou Lake—an alpine oasis at 11,147 feet. Our goal? To test a bunch of gear and cook good food in the field.

I was stoked to tag along for two reasons: first, to hike and camp with other gear junkies who love being outside as much as I do; second, the trip’s head honcho scored a coveted backcountry permit for the Indian Peaks Wilderness, providing immediate access to this stunning (but popular) 74,000-acre chunk of Rocky Mountains in my backyard.

backcountry campsite at caribou lake in colorado

Because Caribou Lake sits in the exposed shadow of the Divide, it experiences rapid, severe weather swings, or in other words, becomes prime gear-testing ground. And unsurprisingly, as we crested the pass, horizontal hail and wind slammed us from the west. We descended to the lake, found our camp spot, slung off our packs, and pitched our tents.

Backcountry experts noodling around at their campsite by Caribou Lake

Just as we kicked back for happy hour, a slushy hail storm rolled in. So, we scooped handfuls of ice from the seats of camp chairs and plopped them into cocktails, then Starks whipped out new MSR stoves and cook kits and began frying up Korean BBQ, followed by hot pots piled with vegetables, noodles, and sizzled strips of salty meat.Within 15 minutes, the sky cleared up into a blood-red sunset, and we stood chatting, munching, and slurping to an alpenglow show, before crashing for the night and descending the next day. (For the record: the gear held up and The Mountain Chef’s cuisine was as stellar as the views.) It was bliss.

Camping in Colorado: With Hundreds of Options, These Are Some of the Best

camping in great sand dunes national park

Beyond burly backpacking overnights, Colorado has lots of other cool ways to catch Zzzs outdoors, including at trailheads and in fancy tents. Below, I’ve highlighted some notable and new places for camping in Colorado, broken down by type, from supported campgrounds to dispersed options, and more. Some of these spots are free and first-come, first-served, some require months of planning just to snag a reservation. But pick any one of these (mostly) off-grid gems and you won’t go wrong.

My bottom line? It doesn’t matter whether I’m camping with my kids, buddies, solo, or with other outdoor pros testing pots and pans in a hail storm—as long as I’m sleeping outside, I’m set.

Dispersed Camping

sprinter van and disbursed camping along Gross Reservoir’s Winiger Ridge in Colorado

In Colorado, dispersed camping, a.k.a. primitive campsites are usually interspersed along dirt roads in public lands, outside of designated campgrounds. Opt for these options for solitude and the best stargazing around. Just don’t forget your own drinking water or filter, follow Leave No Trace Principles and pack out your trash, and know how to responsibly poop in the woods , please and thanks.

Pawnee Buttes

pawnee buttes camping in colorado

📍 Location: Pawnee National Grasslands, northeast of Ault in Eastern Colorado

Just 13 miles shy of the Wyoming border in northeastern Colorado, the Pawnee Buttes is part of Pawnee National Grasslands. Dispersed camping is allowed on the Pawnee National Grassland year-round and there are numerous primitive campsites off the network of dirt roads that are a short drive from the Pawnee Buttes Trailhead. Per usual for dispersed camping, there aren’t facilities at any of these sites, but you’ll find a bathroom and shelters at the official trailhead.

East Pawnee Butte via Pawnee Buttes Trail map

💰 The Cost: Free 📆 Book It: First-come, first-served; get details here 🔎 Don’t Miss: The main reason to drive up here is to hike the Pawnee Buttes Trail , a short but inspiring 4.4-mile out and back walk to two enormous sand and rock formations rising up from the plains. Note: It’s completely exposed to the elements, and summer temperatures easily reach 90-100°F, but early morning, spring, and fall are perfect times to visit, and camping near the trailhead gives you immediate sunrise and sunset options when it’s not as hot and bright.

Gross Reservoir / Winiger Ridge

preparing to cook dinner out of a campervan near Gross Reservoir and Winiger Ridge in Colorado

📍 Location: West of Boulder, Front Range, Colorado

This chunk of White River National Forest only a few miles west of Boulder is accessible by high clearance 4WD only and offers a handful of free, dispersed camping spots, mostly along a ridge above Gross Reservoir. There is a vault toilet at Forsythe Canyon Trailhead , but none at the campsites, which are marked with numbered posts. Although this is technically still dispersed camping, you must find an available designated site and can’t just post up anywhere. National Forest System Road 359, which provides access, is open from mid-May through mid-November during a typical year.

Forsythe Canyon Trail map

💰 The Cost : Free 📆 Book It: First-come, first-served; get details here 🔎 Don’t Miss: The reservoir itself is open for regular and ice fishing, canoeing, and SUP (but no swimming allowed).

Bear River Developed Campsites in Flat Tops Wilderness Area

Man sitting by campfire at campsite in Flat Tops Wilderness area, northwest Colorado.

📍 Location: Near Yampa, in north-central Colorado

There are 30 designated dispersed campsites along the Bear River Corridor, which is the main eastern entrance road to Stillwater Reservoir and the Flat Tops Wilderness (Forest Service Road 900). You’ll find these spots with superb views along the road between several established Forest Service campgrounds, as well as a string of lakes and trailheads. Each site has a picnic table and fire grate and a numbered post.

Stillwater Reservoir via North Derby and Hooper Lake map

💰 The Cost : Free 📆 Book It: First-come, first-served; get details here 🔎 Don’t Miss: The Flat Tops Wilderness spans the Routt National Forest and White River National Forest, with elevations ranging from 7,640 to 12,354 feet. It’s the third-largest Wilderness area in Colorado. Check out the 7-mile out and back hike to Keener Lake from Stillwater Reservoir.

Camping at Trailheads

Most Colorado trailheads don’t permit camping, but there are a handful where it’s legal to stay overnight.

The following trails allow primitive camping either in or near trailhead parking lots, providing optimal early-morning access to stunning hiking trails. Usually it’s explicitly prohibited to camp at most trailheads in Colorado, but here are a couple of interesting exceptions.

Sheep Creek Hot Springs

There are a couple of primitive, flat areas near Sheep Creek Hot Springs trailhead where overnight camping is allowed.

📍 Location: East of Durango, southwest Colorado

Okay, let’s clear this up right from the start: there are no hot springs, just some warmish algae covered spots on the Piedra River, at the bottom of this short trail into San Juan National Forest (at least, that’s what I found when I hiked and camped here in 2022). That said, it’s still a lovely walk in the woods and you can sleep outside around here. The Sheep Creek Hot Springs Trail descends a few hundred feet to the confluence of Sheep Creek and the Piedra River, then heads upstream along the latter over a flat, mossy, other-worldly forested river bank. There are backcountry campsites down there too, as well as a few car camping spots at the trailhead, all primitive with nothing but a fire ring and some downed logs to sit on.

Piedra River Hot Springs via Sheep Creek and Poison Ivy

💰 The Cost: Free 📆 Book It: First-come, first-served; get details here 🔎 Don’t Miss: Trout fishing on the Piedra River. Plus, check out Chimney Rock National Monument and the town of Pagosa Springs nearby, where you will indeed find incredible hot springs, plus some lovely shops and restaurants.

Picture Canyon

Picture Canyon picnic area in Comanche National Grassland where you can relax for lunch before exploring the area

📍 Location: Comanche National Grassland, Southeast Colorado

This lonely, remote corner of the state doesn’t get as many visitors as mountainous destinations, making it all the more reason to visit. Archeologists estimate this area has been inhabited for over 12,000 years. Evidence includes projectile points, stone tools, charred bones, and rock shelter sites. There are 13 miles of hiking and horseback riding trails throughout this section of Comanche National Grassland. Dispersed camping is permitted in Picture Canyon, both in the picnic area by the parking lot, and along several dirt roads in the area. Campers may only use existing fire rings and park in designated areas, but there are a number of obvious spots to choose from with flat spots for tents and established fire pits.

💰 The Cost : Free 📆 Book It: First-come, first-served; get details here 🔎 Don’t Miss: The variety of habitat makes this a first-rate birding spot to view Eastern Phoebe, Scaled quail, Bullock’s oriole, eagles, burrowing owls, towhees, wrens, sparrows, grosbeaks, and more. You’ll want to hike to local examples of rock art, although much of it has been vandalized; there’s an interesting crack cave near an old homestead, about a mile’s walk in.

Best National Park/Monument Campgrounds

A sunrise hike across Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, San Luis Valley, Colorado

Many campers plan their entire Colorado trip around visits to the five national parks (this includes Amache National Historical Site , which was designated a national park in February 2024) and nine national monuments distributed throughout the state, most of which maintain and manage some pretty cool campgrounds. Here are a few of my favorites.

Aspenglen Campground

Aspenglen is one of four official campgrounds in Rocky Mountain National Park.

📍 Location: Rocky Mountain National Park , near Estes Park

One of the smaller, more remote-feeling campgrounds inside Rocky Mountain National Park, Aspenglen is located on the east side of the park, about a five-minute drive from the Fall River Entrance. The campground has four tight loops with 51 sites for tents and RVs up to 30 feet, including 10 tent-only sites. Its facilities are wheelchair-accessible, and picnic tables, grills, fire rings, and tent pads are provided by the National Park Service (NPS). Flush toilets, drinking water, dishwashing sinks, food lockers, campfire programs, an amphitheater, and a riding stable are also available. Leashed pets are permitted in the campground, but don’t forget they’re not allowed on any national park trails.

Deer Mountain map

💰 The Cost: $26 per night; campers must also purchase a vehicle day pass (or have an annual NPS pass) 📆 Book It: Reserve here ; note that this campground fills up quickly when spots open up to six months in advance 🔎 Don’t Miss: Check out Horseshoe Park, the best place to see elk and bighorn sheep, as well as the 6-mile out-and-back Deer Mountain Trail , a singletrack day hike with epic views of Longs Peak, both of which are accessible from the campground. The Lawn Lake Trailhead is also a short drive away and is a strenuous 12.5 mile out-and-back hike up to the pristine high-alpine lake (which has a primitive campsite requiring an overnight permit).

Saddlehorn Campground

a tent at saddlehorn campground colorado

📍 Location: Colorado National Monument, near Fruita

Most Coloradans drive by Colorado National Monument on their way to Utah, never realizing that some canyons and rock features they seek exist just south of the interstate here. The monument protects 32 square miles of rock ridges and plateaus on the northern end of the Uncompahgre Uplift. Saddlehorn Campground, which is inside the National Monument, near the Visitor Center, is perched 2,000 feet above the Colorado River, with stunning panoramic views over the valley, including the towns of Fruita and Grand Junction.

💰 The Cost: $22 per night, plus park entrance 📆 Book It: Reserve here ; available up to six months in advance 🔎 Don’t Miss: During summer months, the campground hosts ranger-led campfire programs and guided walks. In winter, you can cross-country ski the monument’s trail system. Mountain biking and dogs are prohibited within the monument, but you can take a spin or bring your pup to most of the surrounding BLM land, worry-free. Additionally, campers may have the opportunity to join the Grand Junction astronomy club, which occasionally sets up telescopes at the campground for stargazing sessions.

Piñon Flats Campground

At Piñon Flats Campground, snag a site on the outer loop for direct views of the dunes.

📍 Location: Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve , San Luis Valley, Colorado

Piñon Flats is the official campground inside the national park, located at the base of the 30-square-mile dune field, across the creek. Piñon Flats has 88 campsites, plus a section for big groups. It’s important to note you can’t collect firewood inside the national park, but the camp store, visitors center, and the Oasis store and restaurant (just outside of the park) all sell locally sourced firewood. Piñon Flats campground has two loops of sites in a piñon-juniper woodland, some with privacy. Note that all sites are small, most can only accommodate one tent, and it can be a bit noisy in the mornings and evenings, as generators are allowed from 7A.M.–8P.M. But sunrise access to the dunes makes it worth it.

Pinyon Flats Campground via Overlook Trail map

💰 The Cost: $20 per night (group sites are $65-80 per night for up to 40 people), plus park entrance 📆 Book It : Loop 1 is open year-round; the rest of the campground is open from late spring to early fall. Reservations are recommended and accepted for Loop 2 from mid-May to mid-September. 🔎 Don’t Miss : Most visitors spend a day exploring the dunes, hiking to any of the nearby shifting high points. If Medano Creek, the waterway that runs below the dunes, is flowing above ground (usually in late May and June), plan on some high-mountain “beach” time, splashing in the shallow water.

Unique Full-Service Campgrounds

Campfire Ranch Founder Sam Degenhard, in his camp hut that offers free firewood and rental tents, stoves, and other gear if you need it

These special spots sit on the camping spectrum, somewhere between forest service campgrounds and fancy glamping. They come in different sizes, with the biggest ones operating more like mini villages than remote nature experiences, but it’s that character that makes these worth visiting—especially for family reunions with large groups.

Campfire Ranch on the Taylor

Fly fishing on the Taylor River

📍 Location: Near Crested Butte, central Colorado

Campfire Ranch has several locations, including “on the Taylor,” where they offer tent, car, and van camping. They have onsite rental camping gear from leading outdoor brands and an “Adventure Concierge” that connects guests with local outfitters and activities. It’s located halfway between Crested Butte and Gunnison, about 15 minutes away from either outpost, and is surrounded by hundreds of miles of singletrack trails for day hikes, mountain biking, and trail runs.

💰 The Cost: Ranges from $67 per night for campsites to $130 per night for their “micro cabin” 📆 Book It: Season runs mid-May to early October. Most reservations can be made only 14 days in advance, though for 3+ campsites or for large groups you can reserve up to 6 months before your stay. 🔎 Don’t Miss: The Taylor Canyon is home to the gold-medal fishing waters of the Taylor River and decent whitewater for rafting and kayaking. Venture east to Taylor Park to enjoy one of Colorado’s most stunning high-alpine valleys for more fishing, boating, hiking, and off-roading adventures.

Sun Outdoors Rocky Mountain

Rent a vintage Airstream at Sun Outdoors Rocky Mountain

📍 Location: Granby, Colorado

This huge collection of accommodations near the Colorado River, just across the road from Granby, is especially nice if you’re traveling with children or older folks. You can all stay comfortably at camping and non-camping accommodations, including RV hookups, tent sites, Airstream trailers, and covered Conestoga wagons. There are on-site amenities like a big pool, hot tubs, restaurant and bar, playgrounds, recreation center, arcade, and more. When I last stayed here with my mother and children, I was able to head out early for a long hike in Indian Peaks Wilderness, knowing that my family had plenty to do on Sun Outdoors’ campus. Pro tip: rent a golf cart to get around for added fun.

💰 The Cost : Summer rates for tent spots start at $67 per night, Airstream and wagons start at $155. Book early, especially for summer weekends. 📆 Book It : Reserve here 🔎 Don’t Miss : Day hike in Rocky Mountain National Park or Indian Peaks Wilderness, both to the east; soak at Hot Sulphur Springs , just to the west; or visit State Forest State Park , an hour to the north.

Dolores River RV Resort

This campground sits along on the 241-mile Dolores River, a tributary of the Colorado River

📍 Location: Dolores, Four Corners Region, southwest Colorado

This river-side oasis in southwest Colorado is the perfect stopover between Four Corners and the San Juan Mountains, and it also operates like a micro-village. Most adventurers use this location as a basecamp, as it’s uniquely situated between destinations with awesome, 360-degree outdoor access. Stay in one of 78 tent or RV sites, or in a tepee, yurt, cabin, vintage trailer, or covered Conestoga wagon. All guests can use the community bathhouses, laundry machines, and a large common recreation hall, and enjoy grub from food trucks, as well as scheduled music and social events.

💰 The Cost : Tent and RV sites begin at $29 per night, and glamping options like a covered wagon start at $62 per night 📆 Book It : Reserve here 🔎 Don’t Miss: Check out Petroglyph Point Trail , a 2.5-mile loop, in Mesa Verde National Park . A little closer, just drive up Highway 145 which follows the Dolores River upstream toward the San Juans and Telluride. There are ample spots to pull off and explore, or head into the little town of Dolores and walk the Dolores River Trail.

Yurt and Wall Tent Camping

Stargazing at Rustic Rook Resort. Many of Colorado’s yurt and wall tent options are located in certified “Dark Sky” areas.

Yurts and wall tents feature sturdy, semi-permanent structures like wooden frames and tent platforms, providing a comfortable shelter in a rustic, natural setting. Tent material is typically thick, waterproof canvas, and you’re often sleeping on an actual bed, as opposed to the ground.

Rustic Rook Resort

One of the tents at Rustic Rook Resort

📍 Location: Near Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, in San Luis Valley, Colorado

Just off the approach road to the national park, this new camping compound offers furnished tents, upcycled grain bins (a.k.a. repurposed farm silos) with stargazing loft domes, plus a few vintage RVs. Rustic Rook is a family owned and operated business and has a handful of fully furnished platform tents with wood burning stoves (five have in-tent plumbing, guests at the rest use a community bath house). Rustic Rook serves fresh, pre-adventure breakfast burritos each morning and s’mores around the campfire at night.

💰 The Cost: $160-$330 per night 📆 Book It: Reserve here 🔎 Don’t Miss: In addition to the nearby national park, the San Luis Valley has an eclectic and alluring list of attractions, including a UFO Watchtower, Colorado Gators Reptile Park , and Joyful Journey Hot Springs Spa .

Dunes Desert Camp

Dunes Desert Camp’s wall tents make for ultra comfy nights outside

📍 Location: Near Mosca and Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, in San Luis Valley, Colorado

This 320-acre private property in San Luis Valley has luxury safari tents with views of the surrounding valley and Sangre de Cristo mountains. The owner, Chris Mahoney, spent 14 years guiding safaris in Africa, so he’s well versed in luxury camping and works with Narrow Ridge Outdoors to arrange guided hiking, biking, climbing, horseback riding, rafting, and 4WD tours. The tents are cozy and carpeted and have private stargazing porches. Plus, there’s a communal fire pit for grilling up tasty meals after a long day of adventuring.

💰 The Cost: Safari tents from $250 per night, campsites from $50 per night 📆 Book It: Reserve here 🔎 Don’t Miss: Plan to hike around Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve early, so the sand isn’t so hot. Plus, you’ll experience the post-dawn light show on the dunes. Other area activities outside of the park include taking the short hike to Zapata Falls, birding at Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge , and visiting the mountain town of Crestone.

Mudita Camel’s Yurt

Yurt and camels (yes, camels!) in San Luis Valley

📍 Location: South of Alamosa, in San Luis Valley, Colorado

I found this gem on Hipcamp—a solid resource for unique campsite reservations. Mudita Camel’s Yurt is a 35-acre, high-desert property in Trujillo Canyon surrounded by public lands and national forest in a striking and remote corner of the San Luis Valley. And, boy, does it deliver as advertised: a homey yurt next to a herd of photogenic camels that the owners take care of. Why camels? This herd is tangentially related to the now extinct Camelops that once roamed this valley, mingling with wooly mammoths and other Ice Age creatures, up until about 13,000 years ago. The yurt sleeps up to four, you can bring your pets, and your hosts may or may not be making soaps and other products from camel milk when you visit. Ask for a farm tour.

Elk Creek Trail map

💰 The Cost: $137 per night 📆 Book It: Reserve here 🔎 Don’t Miss: Ride the narrow gauge Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad , which follows the high passes between Antonito, Colorado and Chama, New Mexico. There’s also hiking in the Southern San Juan mountains (try Elk Creek Trail , a 3-mile out and back to incredible high-alpine meadows). After your train ride or hike, feast on the enormous platters at Dos Hermanas Mexican-American Steakhouse (on Main Street in Antonito).

Ask about the “Stargazing and Snuggles” experience

📍 Location: Naturita, in Western Colorado

This unique, under-visited part of western Colorado, west of Telluride, is on the site of a repurposed abandoned mining community. CampV’s mission is to “combine art, history, architecture, design, outdoor recreation, and unique spaces,” and the result is quite unique as far as outdoor stays go. Crash the night in one of the fully furnished Airstreams, a Lotus Belle or safari tent, a historic restored luxe cabin, or at the primitive riverfront campsites. There are RV hookup sites as well.

Shamrock (Y-11) map

💰 The Cost: Tent sites from $30 per night, glamping options from $155, cabins from $185 📆 Book It: Reserve here 🔎 Don’t Miss: CampV offers an on-site “Stargazing and Snuggles” experience in an old, empty water tank, where they’ll set you up with blankets, a fire, and hot drinks, and a chance to enjoy the certified Dark Sky above. You can also hike or bike the 4.1 mile out-and-back Shamrock Trail to the confluence of the San Miguel and Dolores River.

Snow Mountain Ranch Yurts

Yurt village at YMCA of the Rockies, Snow Mountain Ranch

📍 Location: Near Winter Park and Granby, Colorado

This is one of Colorado’s best family destinations, run by YMCA of the Rockies at Snow Mountain Ranch. It’s a massive 5,000-acre affair with lodges, cabins, campgrounds, and yes, a yurt village. Each yurt sleeps six guests via one queen bed and two bunk beds, and has a tent pad, picnic table, and fire pit outside. Available from June to October, yurt amenities include a public bathhouse with hot showers and flush toilets, and a dish-cleaning area.

💰 The Cost: $140 per night 📆 Book It: Reservations open the first Wednesday of January each year and fill up quickly for summer 🔎 Don’t Miss: There is an enormous menu of on-site activities right on site, both indoor and outdoor; my kids’ favorites are roller skating and the climbing wall. The craft center is also a big hit, not to mention, the campus has playgrounds, tubing hills (in both summer and winter), horseback riding, and a pool. You’re also not far from the west entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park. In winter, use the on-site nordic ski trail system, or head to Granby Ranch, a smaller, less crowded ski area minutes away.

The author, Joshua Berman, backpacking in the Rawah Wilderness, in northern Colorado

Joshua Berman is a teacher, wilderness instructor, writer, and former wildland firefighter, who has been camping and hiking in Colorado for 20 years. He is the author of seven books, including Moon Colorado Camping and Moon Colorado Hiking , and a contributor to The Denver Post travel column, “Around Colorado.”

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Best car tents for camping: compact rooftop designs from Thule, TentBox, Quechua and more

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A night out under the stars sounds idyllic, but traditional camping has drawbacks, from feeling every root and rock underneath the ground sheet to trying to get a good night’s kip on a slowly deflating airbed . 

But if you have your own set of wheels, there is an alternative: behold, the car tent.

The motorist’s camping hack uses a foldaway tent that attaches to the car’s roof. It means no frantic search for the flysheet and more chances to be spontaneous at the weekend.

Most car tents are straightforward to fix to your car using hardware that is supplied with the car tent (some manufacturers even offer an in-house fitting service), but you will need some form of roof bars fitted to your car first.

best travel tent for backpacking

How to choose the right car tent

When choosing a tent that’s right for your rooftop, there are some similarities between traditional camping and car camping. The first is how easy the tent is to set up. This is one of the joys of car tents, which unfold in a single motion usually controlled by the telescopic ladder that you’ll climb up to get into bed. There are battery-operated models available too.

Either way, the tent is usually pitched in less time than it takes to say ‘fly sheet’ with base camp ready so you can crack on with building a campfire or exploring your new setting.

All car tents have built-in mattresses of various thicknesses and foam densities, which unfold with the tent, so when we were testing we paid particular attention to how comfortable they were and how restful our nights were.

Apart from these criteria, we were mindful of how easy the tent was to get into, how spacious it felt when inside, what the visibility was like from inside and what the storage options were for all your camping kit.

Best car tents at a glance

  • Best overall: Thule Approach M - £2400, eBay
  • Best hard-shell: TentBox Classic 2.0 - £2,195, Outdoor Roadie
  • Best night’s sleep: Latitude Pioneer - £1,295, Outdoor Roadie
  • Best lightweight tent: OEX Vertex Lite Roof Tent - £889, Blacks
  • Best for active campers: Thule Foothill - £1699, eBay
  • Best for families: Tentbox Lite XL - £1,890, Outdoor Roadie
  • Best for quick pitching: Dometic TRT120E Forest - £2,000, Dometic
  • Best for that bedroom feel: B&Q Car Roof Tent - £1,699.99, B&Q
  • Best for smaller cars: Skycamp 2.0 Mini - £2,850, iKamper
  • Best for summer: Quechua MH500 - £1,149, Decathlon

If you’re considering investing in a car tent for summer’s adventures - and beyond - we’ve rounded up the best options available right now.

Best eco-friendly tents that are made from recycled materials

Best eco-friendly tents that are made from recycled materials

Best camping stoves: gas, wood and coal fired portable cooking devices

Best camping stoves: gas, wood and coal fired portable cooking devices

Best camping gear: from tents to cooking, the essential gear you need

Best camping gear: from tents to cooking, the essential gear you need

Best portable generators for camping to keep you powered up

Best portable generators for camping to keep you powered up

Thule Approach M

best travel tent for backpacking

Best: overall

Many soft-shell car tents are house-shaped, but Thule’s Approach uses four struts to elongate and maximise space, making it more of an elongated box. It makes all the difference from the inside out and even with two adults and a child aboard it doesn’t feel cramped – if it’s just two of you then there’s plenty of room to swing a hiking boot and the big windows and skylights add to the feeling of spaciousness.

Pitching was super quick and effortless and the tent fabric was tough enough to put up with a bad forecast. It was also breathable and all the windows allow good air circulation to keep you nice and cool in the heat.

We really liked the bracket mounting system for the Approach, which made short work of the installation and for a three-person tent. Thule have kept the weight down to 58kg making it easy for two people to get it up on the roof of the tallest car.  

This may have one of the highest price points in our line-up but the Approach is such a versatile, comfortable tent that you’ll always try and find an excuse to use it. If you’re an avid camper, it should save you money on accommodation in the long run.

TentBox Classic 2.0

best travel tent for backpacking

Best: hard-shell

The UK brand has made some improvements on its original Classic with the 2.0, which includes upgrades to the fabric that the tent is made from, making it more durable and breathable, as well as a thicker mattress and a redesigned, sleek matte black ABS shell that’s more robust and aerodynamic while driving.

The installation was quick and went without a hitch. To erect the tent, simply release the buckles at either end, push on the outer shell and the gas lifts will do the rest. As it doesn’t work with an integrated ladder mechanism, simply store the ladder in its bag inside the tent or in the boot and attach it when needed to allow access to the tent.

Two large side openings offer easy access and once you’re in, visibility is superb with two end windows letting in lots of light and offering 360° views. There are four large storage pockets, a roof mesh, and an integrated, rechargeable, dimmable LED light bar which is a useful detail. It’s great for low light if you need to read or plan tomorrow’s route.

When you are ready to go, the pillows, sleeping bags or duvet can all stay inside the pod making packing up a lot easier.

Available in black, green and orange colours.

Latitude Pioneer

best travel tent for backpacking

Best: night’s sleep

This UK manufacturer produces high-quality, functional tents suitable for a wide range of cars. We enjoyed our time with the Pioneer which weighed in at 54kg and didn’t give us any trouble during the installation process, although Latitude also offers a free fitting service if you’re anywhere near their HQ in Frome, Somerset.

The spacious two to three berther is made from quality materials and is stitched well giving us confidence that it could stand up to almost anything the British weather can throw at it.

The clamshell mechanism worked brilliantly, both for pitching and breaking down, with everything orchestrated via the telescopic ladder. We even found that we could store all our sleeping kit (pillows, bags or duvet) within the folded tent without it getting in the way of the mechanism. It’s all right where you left if for next time.

We had no issues getting a good night’s sleep on the 6cm, high-density, foam, double mattress. The tent’s considered details include a shoe bag that hangs outside the tent with openings at the bottom so wet hiking boots can drip dry overnight. More interior pockets offer further storage opportunities and eliminate clutter, while the Velcro fastenings mean you can run power cables into the tent where necessary. 

OEX Vertex Lite Roof Tent

best travel tent for backpacking

Best: lightweight tent

This is the first car tent from the Go Outdoors brand and it’s an excellent entry to the market.

Weighing in at just 37.5kg (including the ladder), it’s easy to manoeuvre and fix on to roof bars. The light weight means it can be used on smaller hatchback cars with bars too.

Setting up and breaking down the tent is a straightforward process thanks to a five-pole frame and easy, fold-out design. It took just under 20 minutes to pitch. Once you’re in, visibility is good with three windows and the tent opening itself, meaning that if you park at a scenic spot, you’ll be abe to make the most of panoramic views.

The ripstop outer is made from strong waterproof fabric, so you won’t need to worry about a sudden watery wake-up call in the middle of the night. To sleep, you’ll bed down on a plush mattress with a depth of some 8cm - one of the comfiest we slept on.  

This is a two-person tent but if it’s two of you sleeping in it, be advised that it’s going to get a little cosy. However, a lantern hanging point, two shoe bags and stash pockets will help you keep things functional and tidy.

Thule Foothill

best travel tent for backpacking

Best for: active campers

This two-person tent won’t take up much room on your roof (it’s only 61cm in width), which means if you are just using the tent as a base camp for biking or kayaking adventures, there’s room on the roof for both tent and transport.

Weighing in at 55.5kg it wasn’t unwieldy to install and has an aerodynamic, folded profile. Set up is simply a process of unfolding and rigging the telescopic poles and we were pleasantly surprised to find how easy it was to enter and how spacious it was inside, even for two.

The tent fabric feels highly durable and subject to the manufacturer’s rigorous testing schedule so we had no concerns that the tent wouldn’t be able to stand up to the elements. 

There’s a big rear window and two long skylights, which are fantastic for stargazing. The 4cm mattress ensures that after a day out on the trails, rivers or lakes you’ll have no problem recharging overnight.

Tentbox Lite XL

best travel tent for backpacking

Best for: families

As the name suggests, this is a tardis-like tent with a super-king mattress inside. There’s room for four adults, so you can lessen the impact if one (or more) of your camping buddies comes with the reputation for being a bit of a tent rhino.

For such a big tent, installation is straightforward for two people and once it’s in situ, it only took us around five to 10 minutes to get it ready to sleep.

There are two skylights and the rainfly is easily removed to take it into summer mode. In addition, the fabrics are breathable and there are a further four vents in the pod fabric to help you sleep on close summer nights. The tent will keep you dry if there’s a nighttime shower – just remember to close the windows!

The super-king 5cm mattress is crafted from dual-layer foam (with a soft layer on top and a harder layer beneath) offering a fantastic night’s kip. Other features include a multitude of pockets for essentials stashing.

There’s even a welcome pack included in the price, including fairy lights to give the tent instant ambience.

Dometic TRT120E Ocean

best travel tent for backpacking

Best for: quick pitching

If the light’s fading fast and you’re in a rush to get base camp set up, the Dometic offers pitching at the push of a button thanks to the 12V powered set-up. Just plug the 12V battery cable into a power source and the rest is done from a simple key fob with up, down and stop buttons.

Inside, there’s plenty of room for two and good 360° visibility with fly screens that are integrated into the design so you can maximise airflow through the tent when it gets warm while ensuring any insects stay outside.

The 5cm thick, high-density foam mattress offers an excellent night’s sleep and there are lots of options for storage within the tent to keep things tidy.

Breaking down the tent is another push-button exercise so you can be on the road in no time.

B&Q Car Roof Tent

best travel tent for backpacking

Best for: that bedroom feel

This is a good lightweight car tent that created no problems during installation. Like most hard shells, it unfurls thanks to helpful hydraulics which raises the roof in seconds.

You access the tent via a separate telescopic ladder and there’s plenty of room inside. The spacious design has enough room for a young family (two adults and one child) to sleep comfortably, or two adults who will have even more room. The 5.5cm mattress was comfortable and breathability was good throughout the night, but the tent also offers ample protection against any sudden showers, 

Four side pockets, roof mesh for storing bigger items, like jackets, and two exterior boot bags mean the tent is well set up for hikers and bikers. There’s even a solar-powered torch for illuminating the tent after dark.

The tent is available in camo, brown and grey but it’s an online exclusive so you won’t find it in store.

Skycamp 2.0 Mini

best travel tent for backpacking

Best for: smaller cars

This two-person tent proves that you don’t need a beast of a 4x4 in order to take advantage of the joys of car rooftop camping.

It weighs in at 57kg so is on the lumpy side for a smaller tent, but this didn’t hinder the installation process. We were set up and ready to go within half an hour.

The materials strike a good balance between durability, waterproofing and breathability and there’s good insulation on the interior that truly makes this a four-season tent. Speaking of the interior, although it offers enough room for two adults, it was one of the cosiest car tents we tested, thanks to its colour scheme and map of the world imprint on one of the side walls.

There’s a very nice Skyview window and there are two, three-layered canopy windows that incorporate an outer polyester window, a mesh layer and an inner see-through layer that can all be rolled up and installed for a clear view.  

The 4cm mattress was the thinnest on test but we still got a decent night’s sleep.

Quechua MH500 Roof Tent

best travel tent for backpacking

Best: summer tent

The Installation of the MH500 was more involved than the other tents in the edit and probably took us around an hour all in. Be patient, because you will be rewarded with an excellent rooftop experience when you finally pull over for the night.

The clamshell opening was easy (around 15 seconds) and a click from the telescopic ladder lets you know it’s in the right place and the tent is ready for occupancy.

Packing up was just as easy although some parts of the tent’s fabric don’t automatically tuck away as neatly as some of the other tents we tested.

What makes this tent so suited to warmer months is the brand’s patented Fresh and Black technology which uses fabric combinations that reflects and absorbs heat to keep you in a comfortable climate.

There are also plenty of side vents, which are always open, so you need to be sure that your rooftop getaway is going to be a dry one. 

The ingenious design of the Thule Approach M maximises the space that’s available on a car’s roof, which not only makes for a very comfortable night’s sleep but also means that the tent is a great place to hang out and have breakfast in the morning too.

Regarding a hard-shell tent, we couldn’t fault the TentBox Classic 2.0 , which is supremely convenient in terms of installation and set-up and offers a wonderful overnight experience, including great little details, like the rechargeable light bar.


  1. Best Backpacking Tents of 2020

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  6. Best 2 Person Backpacking Tents 2023

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  1. 10 Best Backpacking Tents of 2024

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