Backpacking is one of the best ways to enjoy the great outdoors. Sleeping under the stars is a fantastic experience for both new and experienced backpackers, alike.
But, backpacking is a gear-intensive pursuit. One of the most important things you can buy for outdoor activities is a quality tent. Unfortunately, with so many different models available today, it can be tricky to find the right one for your needs.
To get you started, we’ve created this ultimate guide to the best backpacking tents. We’ve reviewed ten of the best models on the market today and even created a buyer’s guide so you know exactly what to look for. Let’s get started!
If you don't have time for the details, here are our picks for the best rated backpacking tents:
- 1Best One Man Tent For Backpacking (Solo) - Nemo Hornet Ultralight 1
- 2Best 2 Person Backpacking Tent - MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2
- 3Best 3 Person Backpacking Tent - Marmot Fortress 3
- 4Best 4 Person Backpacking Tent - Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 4
- 5Best Under $100 - Kelty Acadia 2
- 6Best Under $200 - Big Agnes C Bar 2
- 7Best Budget Backpacking Tent - The North Face Stormbreak 2
- 8Best Lightweight Backpacking Tent - Nemo Hornet Elite 2
- 9Best Winter Backpacking Tent - MSR Access 2
- 10Best In Snow - Black Diamond Eldorado 2
Table of Contents
- Best Backpacking Tent on the Market Reviews
- 1. Best One Man Tent For Backpacking (Solo) - Nemo Hornet Ultralight 1
- 2. Best 2 Person Backpacking Tent - MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2
- 3. Best 3 Person Backpacking Tent - Marmot Fortress 3
- 4. Best 4 Person Backpacking Tent - Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 4
- 5. Best Under $100 - Kelty Acadia 2
- 6. Best Under $200 - Big Agnes C Bar 2
- 7. Best Budget Backpacking Tent - The North Face Stormbreak 2
- 8. Best Lightweight Backpacking Tent - Nemo Hornet Elite 2
- 9. Best Winter Backpacking Tent - MSR Access 2
- 10. Best In Snow - Black Diamond Eldorado 2
- How to Choose a Tent for Backpacking?
- What to Look for in a Backpacking Tent?
- Best Backpacking Tent Brands
- Backpacking Tent FAQs
- The Verdict
Best Backpacking Tent on the Market Reviews
Here are our reviews of the top 10 backpacking tents on the market today:
1. Best One Man Tent For Backpacking (Solo) - Nemo Hornet Ultralight 1
Designed specifically for those solo missions in the mountains, the Nemo Hornet Ultralight 1 is a lightweight shelter that’s also surprisingly comfortable. The tent has plenty of mesh for added breathability on hot summer nights. Plus, it has a unique pole design that maximizes interior space for added comfort.
The Hornet Ultralight is quick and easy to set up in just minutes. It also weighs just 30 ounces (0.8kg) and is super easy to split between two people, thanks to Nemo’s proprietary Divvy stuff sack design.
2. Best 2 Person Backpacking Tent - MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2
The MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2 is an award-winning two person tent for any three-season backcountry adventure. The Hubba Hubba is lightweight, yet durable, thanks to its Easton Syclone poles.
You can set up the Hubba Hubba in just a few minutes because of its single hub-pole and color-coded design. The tent features two large doors with sizable vestibules that are perfect for gear storage. Oh, and the whole thing packs down into a tiny stuff sack that’s easy to pack, day in and day out.
3. Best 3 Person Backpacking Tent - Marmot Fortress 3
Comfortable and roomy, the Marmot Fortress 3 is a great shelter for small groups. This three person tent features a highly vented inner body with two partial-mesh zippered doors for the perfect mix of breathability and durability.
The Fortress comes fully seam-taped with a catenary-cut floor that keeps water out during rainstorms. It also has a vertical wall construction to provide plenty of headroom and comfort at night. The tent also has two large vestibules for ample gear storage on longer trips.
4. Best 4 Person Backpacking Tent - Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 4
If you value your comfort above all else, the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 4 just might be what you’re looking for. This fully-featured four person tent has everything you need for an epic adventure, including two vestibules that can be instantly converted into awnings for extra living space.
The Copper Spur has plenty of internal gear storage options and lots of internal space, thanks to its straight-wall design. It’s also quick and easy to set up in just a few minutes. Oh, and at 5lb 4oz (2.38kg), it’s one of the lightest four person tents on the market today.
5. Best Under $100 - Kelty Acadia 2
Budget-conscious campers can rejoice with the Kelty Acadia 2. This simple, yet functional two person tent sells for just under $100 so it’s perfect for nearly any budget. It is quick and easy to set up with its easy color-coded pole clip design.
The Acadia is fully seam taped for water-resistance. It has two D-shaped doors and spacious vestibules for easy entry as well as internal pockets for gear storage. The tent also has a Stargazing Fly, which can be completely rolled up on those clear nights for a great view of the sky above.
6. Best Under $200 - Big Agnes C Bar 2
If you need a quality tent that won’t empty your bank account, you’ll want to check out the Big Agnes C Bar 2. This affordable backpacking tent is relatively lightweight and comfortable without a huge price tag.
The C Bar 2 has a high ceiling for plenty of headroom inside the tent, as well as an overhead pocket for added storage. It can be set up in just minutes with its DAC Pressfit single pole system. Plus, the C Bar 2 has a single door with a large vestibule for storing wet gear on stormy nights.
7. Best Budget Backpacking Tent - The North Face Stormbreak 2
Simple, yet functional, the North Face Stormbreak 2 is a budget-friendly tent for summertime backpacking excursions. This tent has two large doors and two sizable vestibules that allow for plentiful gear storage and easy entry and exit.
Fully seam-taped, the Stormbreak 2 is perfect for staying dry in those afternoon summer showers while the built-in high-low ventilation keeps things cool on warm days. The tent is also easy to pitch and has lots of interior headroom for added comfort.
8. Best Lightweight Backpacking Tent - Nemo Hornet Elite 2
When it comes to weight savings, it’s hard to beat the Nemo Hornet Elite 2. The extra-light version of the Hornet Ultralight, the Hornet Elite is a great choice for long-distance hikers. This minimalistic tent has a unique pole design that maximizes interior living space while cutting weight.
The tent has lots of mesh netting for plentiful ventilation as well as two vestibules for gear storage. You can even split the weight of the tent between two people with Nemo’s Divvy stuff sack design. But, with a tent that weighs just 1lb 11oz (0.77kg), you won’t even know it’s in your pack.
9. Best Winter Backpacking Tent - MSR Access 2
Just because the temperatures are dropping doesn’t mean you have to stay inside. With the MSR Access 2, backcountry adventures can continue on well into the middle of winter. This two person tent is durable enough for treeline adventures in the colder months of the year.
It features high-end Easton Syclone poles that can withstand the added pressure of heavy snow. Setting up the tent is quick and easy so you can take shelter in the middle of a storm. It also has an Xtreme Shield waterproof coating and built-in vents to keep you warm and dry all year long.
10. Best In Snow - Black Diamond Eldorado 2
When the conditions demand the world’s most durable gear, you can’t go wrong with the Black Diamond Eldorado 2. This four-season tent is made for the harshest weather on Earth, thanks to its super-durable dome-shaped design and burly materials.
The Eldorado is a compact mountaineering tent that can be set up from the inside during a storm. It features robust ToddTex single-wall fabric to cut weight while staying impenetrable to foul weather. Although it doesn’t have a lot of fancy features, the Eldorado is your go-to tent for long-term durability in the worst of storms.
With so many different options to choose from, it’s easy to get overwhelmed when buying a new backpacking tent. So, here’s our guide to finding the perfect tent for your needs.
How to Choose a Tent for Backpacking?
First things first, let’s discuss how to choose a tent for backpacking. Before you even start shopping, though, it’s important to know precisely what you’re looking for. Otherwise, you may spend a lot of time looking at tents that just aren’t right for your camping style. Here’s what you need to keep in mind when shopping for a backpacking tent:
If you primarily head out on weekend camping trips in your local mountains, your tent needs are going to be very different from someone that enjoys thru-hiking. So, when searching for a new backpacking tent, you need to first think about what you’re going to use it for.
Longer trips generally require tents that are lightweight and compact. People that go out on longer adventures are often willing to sacrifice some comfort to minimize their pack weight. Alternatively, weekend warriors will often prioritize comfort over weight savings, since they’re outside for a shorter period of time, which means the extra weight isn’t as big a deal.
Three Season v. Four Season
If you plan to camp in the winter months, you’ll need a tent that’s designed to withstand the rigors of the season. Most backpacking tents are three season models, which means they’re made for warmer, milder weather.
Four season tents, though, are built to be extra durable. This is important because four season tents need to be strong enough to hold up in heavy snow and high winds. However, this means that they’re often heavier and bulkier than their three-season counterparts.
So, if you like winter camping, you’ll probably need a four season tent. However, if you exclusively camp in the summer, the extra weight, bulk, and cost of a four season tent just aren’t worth it.
The sleeping capacity of a tent refers to the number of people that can comfortably sleep inside. Most backpacking tents will be able to house 1-4 people. However, the sleeping capacity you need will greatly depend on the number of people you tend to camp with.
If you generally camp with just one other person, a 2 person tent is sufficient. If you have a small family or sometimes camp with multiple friends, you might be better off with a 3-4 person model. Alternatively, if solo camping is your thing, a 1 person tent is going to be your lightest and most compact choice.
Tents come in a variety of different shapes, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Here are some of the tent shapes you might encounter while shopping for your next shelter:
What to Look for in a Backpacking Tent?
When shopping for your next backpacking tent, consider the following:
No one likes to carry around more weight than they have to. So, it’s often best to choose a lightweight tent for your backpacking trips. Keep in mind, though, that lightweight tents tend to be either expensive or not very durable.
Generally, if you want to prioritize weight savings in a tent, you have to be willing to sacrifice a bit of durability or pay a premium for a quality shelter. But, if you enjoy longer backpacking trips, a lightweight tent is well worth it.
The packed size of a tent has a direct effect on how easy it is to pack up every morning at camp. Big, bulky tents are difficult to stuff into a backpack, which can be frustrating on a camping trip. Compact tents, however, make taking down camp a breeze, which means more time spent on the trail.
Ease of Set Up
Unless you really love pitching tents, it’s best to look for a shelter that’s easy to set up. Most modern backpacking tents make set up quite easy. Many of them will have a color-coded system that simplifies the process.
Additionally, quite a few tents have switched to the “hub” pole design. With hub designs, you have just one tent pole that’s connected in the middle. This makes the whole pitching process way faster and means you can’t misplace any of the poles.
The interior space of a tent affects its livability. However, larger, more spacious tents tend to weigh more than their compact counterparts. So, if you truly value lots of interior space, you usually need to be willing to carry a heavier tent.
Let’s face it: Backpacking involves a lot of gear. So, when you’re out in the mountains, you need a way to stay organized. These days, many tents come with built-in pockets that are great for organizing those smaller bits of gear.
Additionally, the best tents will also have vestibules, which are ideal for storing wet gear. Vestibules are a must-have on longer trips, especially if you’re camping somewhere with a lot of rain and snow.
Vestibules basically act like miniature garages where you can keep all of your gear safe in a storm without getting your tent wet. Of course, they often add weight to your pack, but vestibules are definitely worth it for those more remote adventures.
Best Backpacking Tent Brands
If you’re going to invest a lot of your hard-earned money into a backpacking tent, it’s worth buying from a reputable brand. Here’s some background on some of the top tent manufacturers out there today:
Black Diamond is a Utah-based climbing and skiing brand that also manufactures some of the best tents in the world. The company was founded by legendary climber, Yvon Chouinard, of Patagonia fame. Originally, Black Diamond produced only technical climbing gear, but they have since expanded into the backpacking world.
Black Diamond’s backpacking tents are known for being highly durable. The vast majority of the company’s tents are single-wall and are made with the super-high-end ToddTex fabric. However, Black Diamond’s tents are known to be quite pricey. But, they are highly durable, so they’re worth the investment.
MSR (Mountain Safety Research) is a camping and mountaineering company that’s been making top of the line gear for over 50 years. The company is best known for its line-up of stoves, water filters, and snowshoes, but their tents are second to none.
MSR makes a wide range of tents that are suitable for use in a variety of environments. Their Hubba series is award-winning and includes tents for various group sizes. They also make a collection of ultralight tents and shelters for thru-hikers.
Nemo is a New Hampshire-based company that specializes in innovation. Nemo’s tents regularly push the boundaries of what most tent manufacturers think is possible.
These days, most of Nemo’s tents are very lightweight. But, they still manage to be very durable, thanks to their high-quality materials. The company frequently uses its proprietary “AirSupported Technology” to incorporate air-strengthened beams into tents for added stability and support.
Based out of Steamboat Springs, Colorado, Big Agnes is an outdoor gear manufacturer that specializes in sleeping bags, sleeping pads, and tents. Big Agnes makes a wide range of tents, each designed for a specific purpose.
All of Big Agnes’ tents try to integrate style, function, and livability into a single product. Big Agnes also makes tents to meet a wide range of different budgets, so there’s something for everyone with this company.
Marmot got its start back in the mid-1970s as a way to produce high-end mountaineering equipment. Eventually, Marmot branched out and started making outdoor clothing and backpacking gear.
Their tents are both affordable and functional, which makes them ideal for new backpackers. Additionally, Marmot has a line of high-end mountaineering tents which are ideal for more remote adventures.
Backpacking Tent FAQs
Here are our answers to some of your top questions about backpacking tents:
How much should I spend on a backpacking tent?
Backpacking tents vary widely in price. While you can find some budget-friendly options that sell for around $100, the most expensive backpacking tents will easily run you over $700.
However, price does not necessarily correlate with quality when it comes to a backpacking tent. There are certainly some low-cost tents on the market that are more than sufficient for a short trip in the woods.
But, if you need a tent that can withstand the rigors of a mountaineering trip, you’ll need to spend a bit more for high-end materials. Likewise, lightweight tents will cost you a pretty penny.
Unless you’re on a really tight budget or you need a tent for an extended mountaineering expedition, you should expect to spend between $200-$400 on your tent. Within this price range, you can find a good selection of tents that are well made.
If you pay more than $400 for a tent, you’ll likely end up with a very lightweight and highly packable model. Pay any less than $200, and you’re probably going to have a tent that’s either not very light or not very durable.
How much should a backpacking tent weigh?
Modern backpacking tents truly run the gamut when it comes to weight. The lightest backpacking tents on the market today weigh just under 1lb (0.9kg) while the heaviest can tip the scales at over 15lbs (6.8kg).
Unless you truly need a very lightweight tent, anything in the 3-4lb (1.4-1.8 kg) range is probably going to be sufficient. This is especially true if you’re camping with another person, as you’ll be able to split the weight.
Of course, if you get a tent designed for 3 or 4 people, it’s probably going to be heavier than your average 2 person tent. In these instances, you should expect to get a tent that’s between 4-7lbs (1.8-3.2 kg).
Anything higher than 7lb (3.2kg) is really quite heavy for a backpacking tent. In general, we’d recommend avoiding any tent that’s outside this range unless it’s a four-season tent that’s designed for mountaineering. This kind of tent is usually quite heavy because it’s made with highly durable materials to withstand the harshest conditions on Earth.
How to pack a tent for backpacking?
There are two schools of thought when it comes to packing a tent for backpacking: the stuff sack and the “stuffing” method. Here’s what you need to know:
The Stuff Sack Method
Your first option is to simply stuff or roll up the tent into its included stuff sack.
This is perhaps the most “organized” way to pack a tent because it keeps all the parts of the tent in one place. If you choose to pack your tent in its stuff sack, though, you’ll probably have to strap it to the outside of your pack.
While this method is quite convenient, it’s important to remember that anything on the outside of your pack can get caught on rocks and branches as you hike. We often see a lot of backpackers on the trail with things dangling off of their pack.
This is not a great situation as it’s an easy way to lose or damage your gear. Plus, it’s a good way to get your tent soaking wet in the rain. Ideally, everything will be packed on the inside of your pack as this is the best way to protect your gear in rough terrain.
The “Stuffing” Method
Your other option for packing a tent is to use the “stuffing” method. To use this method, you’ll want to use a pack liner or a heavy-duty garbage bag to keep your gear dry.
When using the “stuffing” method, you’ll place your tent poles in your pack, somewhere in the corner along the back panel. Then, you’ll put your pack liner in your tent and pack your pack with all of your other gear, just like normal.
Once everything is in your pack, you’ll then take your tent and stuff it into the area between the pack liner and the pack fabric. When stuffing the tent, you can be sure to fill any “gaps” that have formed when you packed your gear. This is a great way to ensure that your pack is well balanced and packed properly for a long day on the trail.
How do I set up a backpacking tent?
Although each tent is slightly different, there are some basic principles you can follow when setting up a backpacking tent. This is what you should do:
- 1Find a good campsite. Your first order of business is to find a suitable campsite for the night. Campsites should be at least 200ft (60m) from water, trails, and roads. Additionally, you’ll want to take a look around and ensure there are no dead trees standing over your campsite, nor any cliffs with loose rock that could fall on you at night. Ideally, you’ll have a campsite that’s flat with great views and no bugs.
- 2Unpack your tent. Once you have a campsite picked out, you’ll want to unpack your tent. Ensure that you have your tent poles and tent stakes, as well as the tent body and rainfly.
- 3Lay out the tent. Take your tent body and lay it out on the ground where you hope to pitch your tent. Ensure that there are no sharp rocks or twigs underneath that could puncture your tent or your sleeping pad. You’ll also want to orient the door so it’s facing in the most convenient direction for entry and exit.
- 4Place the tent stakes. As soon as your tent is in the right spot, you’ll want to start anchoring it to the ground. If it’s particularly windy, you may need a friend to help with this step. To anchor your tent, you’ll want to find firm ground that’s not too rocky. Then, you’ll take a guyline and wrap it once around the tent stake, using a trucker’s hitch to achieve the appropriate tension. Repeat this process for all of the tent stakes on the tent body.
- 5Set up the rain fly. The last thing you need to do is set up the rain fly. You’ll place the rainfly on top of the tent body and orient it so the doors line up. Then, using the trucker’s hitch, you’ll anchor the tent fly to your stakes. Finally, place the tent stuff sack inside the tent so it doesn’t blow away!
Ultimately, a backpacking tent is your home away from home when you’re in the mountains. Whether you head out on weekend excursions or month-long expeditions, finding the best backpacking tent is all about narrowing down your options. When searching for a tent, functionality is your top concern, so be sure you choose a model that’s specifically designed for your intended use.