Hiking and backpacking shelters come in all shapes, sizes, and prices. Big, heavy tent options offer plenty of room for people and gear but weigh you down while trekking to the next camp. Ultralight models save your legs from burning on the trail but rarely provide proper living space or weather protection. Buying the right tent requires shopping a wide range of solutions. If you’re looking for a camping tent that falls somewhere in the middle, you’re going to want a backpacking tent. Thankfully, we’ve done the hard work for you to round up the best backpacking tents, from budget to ultralight and everything in-between.
True to its name, Mountain Hardwear delivers some of the world’s most “hard-wearing” camping gear. The Nimbus UL2 Tent is one of the lightest two-person backpacking tents on the market, with a minimal trail weight of just two pounds. Despite that featherweight design, it offers more than 28 square feet of floor space with almost eight square feet of vestibule storage. Plus, it promises solid weather protection with a 20D nylon rainfly impregnated with silicone on both sides to increase waterproofing and durability.
We’re fast becoming fans of Big Agnes. The brand’s Copper Spur HV UL2 is a solid backpacking tent that just received a significant upgrade. The latest incarnation is better in every way, with lighter, more durable materials and improved pitchability that make it easier to set up than ever before. At under three pounds, it’s a great solution for backpacking duos who appreciate saving a few ounces on the trail.
If you value convenience above all else, few solo tents are as quick and easy to pitch as Kelty’s Late Start 1. So named for “late starters” who often find themselves setting up camp after a long day at work or on the trail, everything about the Late Start is designed to be dead-simple, thanks mainly to the brand’s Quick-Corner Technology. At north of three pounds, it’s a bit heavy for a solo backpacking tent. But, we think the easy pitchability makes up for the added bulk in your outdoor backpack.
MSR’s two-person Hubba Hubba has been a favorite tent among backpackers and ultralight hikers for ages. Pared-down, it boasts a minimum “fast-pitch” trail weight of just three pounds or 3.8 pounds for more typical users. Even with such a trim design, it boasts almost 30 square feet of living space and a 39-inch interior height. StayDry doors and a canopy-compatible rainfly combine for excellent wet weather when camping in the rain.
Marmot’s Limelight 2P strikes a balance between weight, living space, and weather protection. With a minimum trail weight of just over five pounds, it’s well-sized for even weight-conscious backpackers. But, the three-season design offers excellent wet weather protection, and the 33-square-foot-floor plan and 9.5-square-foot vestibule provide plenty of space for two.
Finding the right tent for a three-person backpacking trek can be tricky. Eureka’s Summer Pass three-season tent is relatively lightweight (the seven-plus-pound weight can be divvied up amongst everyone in your group), airy, and durable enough for all but the coldest weather. It also features the brand’s Camp Comfort Sleep System — a three-part system with a quiet but grippy layer on the tent floor to keep everyone in the same spot all night. So, if you move, at least it’ll be quiet enough not to wake your tentmates.
For backpackers who value saving grams at any cost, Hyperlite Mountain Gear always delivers. The brand’s Ultamid 2 Pyramid Tent has become something of a gold standard for ultralight backpacking tents. The pyramid style is arguably the most time-tested of any tent design. It’s durable, pitches easily, and provides outstanding weather protection with its 100% waterproof Dyneema Composite Fabrics. The best part? It tips the scales at just over one pound (yes, you read that correctly).
Carrying a camping tarp instead of a full tent is the ultimate move in packability. Six Moon Designs’ Deschutes Solo Tarp is purpose-built for that reason. Set up a ground mat, a pad, and a sleeping bag under the 44-square-foot area for a great night’s rest with plenty of ventilation. If the bugs are getting at you, add the Serenity NetTent inside for 15 square feet of bug-free bliss. Like the Ultamid 2, the whole thing pitches by guying out the corners and holding the center up with a single trekking pole.
For those who appreciate car camping and modest weekend backpacking trips, REI Co-op’s Half Dome SL 2+ Tent is a near-perfect compromise. It’s among the heaviest on this list at more than four pounds packed, but that’s really the only downside. That weight can be easily split between two campers. It’s also one of the roomiest, and most storage-friendly, affordable, and straightforward to pitch, thanks to color-coded poles.
Backcountry.com’s exclusive Stoic Driftwood 2 Tent is another solid bet for those who split their time between car
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