10 Expert-Recommended Backpacking TentsPublished on 07/28/2022 · 9 min readHiking and Camping Expert Jessica LaPolla lists her top 10 recommended tents for backpackers! She explains why each one is awesome and shares a few pros and cons.
Photo by Joshua Sukoff
Selecting the perfect backpacking tent can be confusing, with so many products on the market. The type of shelter you purchase will be dependent on the activities you plan on using it for and the environment you plan on using it in. Luckily, there are many high-quality options for backpacking tents. Whether you are a weekend trekker or an aspiring thru-hiker, there is something on this list for you! Some important details to consider when choosing a tent include materials and ventilation, peak height, seasonal suitability, and square feet of floor space. Let’s get into it!
The MSR Hubba Hubba is a two-person freestanding backpacking tent built for three-season use. Whether you’re camping with a four-legged pal or backpacking with a friend, this sturdy tent provides ample room for movement along with two doors for convenience. Tech-friendly pockets with cable ports and overhead gear pockets maximize space and help keep you organized. For gear you don’t want to store inside, the rainfly has large vestibules that have you (and your gear) covered. The DuraShield™ waterproof coating and built-in rain gutters ensure that you will stay dry and cozy on rainy nights. On dry nights, leave off the rainfly to reduce condensation and do some stargazing through the tents' durable and breathable mesh walls. With a minimum trail weight of 2 lbs 14 oz, this tent is suitable for car camping or backpacking solo or with a partner.
- Roomy enough for two people and gear
- Thoughtful interior design that keeps you and your gear organized
- The price is on the high side
The Nemo Dagger is a versatile ultralight backpacking tent that comes in a two or three-person model. Aluminum poles and a thoughtful design reduce the packaged weight of this tent. The three-person tent weighs 3 lbs 12 oz, making it the perfect lightweight option for a family of three or a couple with a fur-baby. With large floor dimensions and plenty of headroom and gear storage, this tent is also a great option for weekend camping trips. Overhead light pockets illuminate the tent and the white no-see-um mesh tent walls offer privacy. Vents increase airflow while the waterproof design gives you plenty of weather protection. The tent includes a repair kit and comes with a lifetime warranty, ensuring you get your money's worth.
- Ultralight option for families
- User-friendly design
- High price
- The thin material of the tent requires more care and upkeep over time
3. Big Agnes Scout 1 Platinum Tent
The Big Agnes Scout 1 is the ultimate ultralight backpacker’s dream. Carry the minimum and lighten your load with a trail weight of 13 oz. You won’t even feel this tent in your pack! The Scout uses the support of your trekking poles to stand, creating a surprisingly spacious floor plan. This one-person tent is suitable for three-season backpacking. Waterproof taped seams and storm flaps on the exterior zippers help keep water out. The 3 oz footprint is sold separately but is recommended to increase the longevity of the tent.
- The ultralight design makes it desirable for long treks
- The use of trekking poles creates good headroom
- Thin walls make them susceptible to tears and damage, especially in windy conditions.
- Doesn’t come with a footprint
The Big Agnes Tiger Wall is a one-person, three-season ultralight backpacking tent, weighing 1 lb 14 oz. Aluminum tent poles and high-quality materials decrease weight. This single-wall tent was created with solution dye fabrics, which reduces the number of chemicals used by 80%. It also reduces the amount of water required for the production of each tent by 50% and reduces the amount of energy required by 80%. Not only is this great for the environment, but the solution-dyed fabrics have a high UV resistance, making them great for campers too. The Tiger Wall has a simplified set-up and take-down with reflective guylines and color-coded webbing. Despite this being a one-person tent, it is roomy enough to fit you and a four-legged friend. It also handles well in the wind and rain, especially for an ultralight tent. However, if you do not stake all corners/sides, the tent will experience some leakage if it rains. Overall, this is one of the best backpacking tents on the market. Check out the Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2 if you are looking for a larger tent.
- Environmentally-conscious design
- Ultralight yet sturdy construction
- The tent needs to be fully staked out during rain or may experience seepage
- Footprint sold separately
The Lunar Solo Backpacking Tent by Six Moon Designs boasts a long list of awards for its innovative design, overall quality, and budget-friendly price. Weighing 26 oz, this semi-freestanding tent is easily pitched with one of your trekking poles. It offers 26 square feet of total living space, making it big enough for you, your gear, and your pet. While the bathtub floor and waterproof canopy help keep you dry, to fully waterproof the tent you must apply a sealer to the seams before use. The large mesh door makes entering and exiting the tent a breeze, while the minimalistic design means you can pitch this tent in about two minutes flat.
- Large living space
- You have to seal the seams to fully waterproof the tent
At just under $100, Kelty’s new Discovery Trail tent is an affordable option perfect for the beginner backpacker or camper on a budget. This three-season freestanding tent has a dome design for extra headroom and interior space. It also boasts a super easy set-up. At 3 pounds 6 ounces, this isn’t the lightest backpacking tent on the market, but the price and sturdy design make the extra pounds worth it. This tent is also available in larger sizes, so you can bring the whole crew along for the weekend.
- Sturdy design
- On the heavy side for backpacking
If you are looking for a four-season lightweight tent that will hold up during those cold winter backpacking trips, the REI Co-op Arete ASL 2 person tent is a noteworthy option. At 5 lbs 10 ozs, the Arete is on the heavier side for backpacking but is much lighter than most four-season tents. It is also much more affordable. The four-pole design increases structural stability, making it suitable for all weather conditions, while also increasing living and storage space. You can easily fit two people plus gear in this tent, using an integrated roof and corner pockets to store supplies. This tent is constructed using bluesign approved solution-dyed fabrics, reducing water and energy use during the manufacturing process.
- Affordable lightweight four-season tent
- Environmentally-conscious design
- Lightweight construction may lead to tears/seam issues in high winds
8. The North Face VE 25 Tent With Footprint
Whether you are planning on making a high-altitude trek to snowy summits or are going winter camping for the weekend, the North Face VE 25 Tent has got you covered (literally). A longtime staple in the mountaineering world, this North Face model keeps improving over the years. At 9 lbs 8 oz, the VE 25 stays as light as possible without compromising on quality. The bucket floor and ripstop nylon fly with welded reinforcements will keep out the snow and rain, while glow-in-the-dark zipper pulls make it easy to find your way in and out. The polyurethane port window is cold-crack tested to -60 degrees Fahrenheit, ensuring durability in the high mountains.
- Four-season, mountaineering suitability
- Heavy tent that should only be used during winter camping/backpacking and alpine expeditions.
For trips to the backcountry with the whole family, the Marmot Tungsten four-person tent is spacious and well-designed for your comfort. This three-season tent has near-vertical walls that maximize living space and sports two vestibules to store all of your gear. Color-coded clips and poles make setup easy, and a footprint is included to protect the floor and keep your tent in use for many years. At 7 lbs 14.5oz, this tent is on the heavy side, but when split between a few friends or family members, it becomes very manageable. The Tungsten is light enough to hit the trail for your backpacking adventures but is luxurious enough to be used for a weekend camping trip. For less weight, check out the three-person ultralight version.
- Spacious, liveable design
- Sturdy construction
- Heavy unless distributing the weight between several people
Reduce your pack weight with this highly functional two-person tent. Voted the most popular ultralight tent by Appalachian Trail Thru-Hikers, the ZPacks Duplex tent will have you flying on the trail. Designed specifically for long-distance backpacking and thru-hikes, this 19-ounce tent packs down nicely in its stuff sack and can be set up in tight spaces. The storm doors and bathtub floor keep you dry in the worst of conditions, while the tent body itself is made with naturally waterproof materials, devoid of any harsh chemicals. You have the option to set up the Duplex with either two trekking poles or ZPack poles designed to support the tent. Eight tent stakes are required to fully stake the tent. Though a more expensive option than most backpacking tents, the quality, and functionality of this tent are well worth the price.
- High-quality ultralight design
- Versatile set-up
Selecting a backpacking tent is a big investment that will ideally bring you safety and comfort for many magical nights spent in the backcountry. No matter what your budget is or what adventures you have your sights on, there is a tent out there that fits your needs. If you have questions about choosing the right tent, reach out to a Camping & Hiking Expert here at Curated. We love sending recommendations and can’t wait to help you gear up and get outside. Happy hiking!