If you’re planning on heading out on an adventure, hopefully not one fraught with danger, surly elves, and the hoarding dragons, you need the backpacking gear to keep your entire hiking life inside. This doesn’t just include the best backpacking backpacks, but also the best backpacking tents, because it’s not all about walking through mazing trails and taking pictures of the scenery.
You also need somewhere to sleep, too, and a backpacking tent is much better than fashioning a makeshift shelter from leaves, string, and fallen logs even if you could do it, anyway. Top quality backpacking tents are lightweight enough to not bog you down as you strive to reach the summit and keep your backpack light and comfortable, but they’re also durable and reliable enough to withstand the many environments and conditions you’re likely to encounter.
Whether you’re taking a short weekend trip to your favorite secluded backpacking spot or embarking on a long trek you’ll talk about for years to come, we’ve found a selection of backpacking tents we think will be exactly what you need.
The Best Backpacking Tent
Our top pick for the best backpacking tent is the Coleman Dome Tent, which is large enough for 2 people, or you plus as much gear as you want to carry, while still offering enough space for you to move around without stepping on one another.
It’s wholly reliable for a variety of conditions, and boasts the WeatherTec system for maximum protection from both above and below, with inverted seams and welded floors to keep you dry and cool on your trek. The zippers aren’t as heavy duty as others, but as long as you take care of it, you won’t have an issue.
Sleeps 2 people
Domed design with spacious interior for comfortable movement
WeatherTec system with patented welded floors and inverted seams
Large windows and ground vent offer superb ventilation
- Weight8.8 pounds
Easy setup in just 10 minutes
Rain fly awning for shade and rain protection
Compact rolled-up design
Poles are not as durable as more expensive options
The ALPS Mountaineering Lynx 1-Person Tent boasts freestanding design for a simple setup (which is what you need with a solo tent), while also offering versatile functionality across a variety of situations. It’s equipped with 8 rugged zippers plus storage pockets and a gear loft for easy storage solutions while also ensuring you’re comfortable.
The 75D tent fly is also sturdy, and will resist wear and tear like few other options around. Despite this durability, it’s also lightweight, but not as lightweight as larger multiple-person tents. At least, though, you’;ll get a viewing window to wake up to your stunning surroundings.
Free-standing aluminum two-pole design allows easy setup
Fully equipped with 8 zippers, storage pockets, gear loft, and stakes, and guy ropes
Polyester 75D tent fly resists water and UV damage
One vestibule included for additional storage space
- BrandALPS Mountaineering
- Weight4.2 pounds
Roomy enough for one person
Lightweight construction for easy transportation
Viewing windows to enjoy your surroundings
No footprint included to help protect material
The Kelty Salida Camping and Backpacking Tent is a backpacker friendly tent like few others on the market with folding poles that snap easily into your backpacking straps or into the back for easy portability up and down the trail. It also has a freestanding design for simple setup, while the super lightweight design is ideal for keeping your comfortable on your hike.
For those unfamiliar with camping and erecting tents, Kelty has you covered. The color-coded fly attachment makes it easy to stay dry with minimal effort while also saving you the struggle of poles to keep everything secure. You’ll also be happy to learn it stands stable without pegs, but we’d still advise taking them with you.
Backpack friendly with compact folding poles
Freestanding design for easy setup and take down
3 season construction ensures durability
Over 10 feet of vestibule space
- Weight4.57 pounds
Gearloft loops and color-coded fly attachment
Super lightweight to minimize unnecessary strain
No-See-Um Mesh ceiling allows you to stargaze without bug interference
Carry bag a little too loose for compact carrying
Those looking for a great deal on their new camping tents should look no further than the River Country Products Trekker Tent 2. This lightweight backpacking tent is the easiest to carry we’ve selected and is so lightweight, you’ll forget you’re even carrying it.
You can set it up in minutes to save those awful but inevitable campground arguments, and the interior is large enough to sleep 2 people, but only if you’re willing to sacrifice gear, which we doubt. For a single person, though, you’ll have plenty of space to sprawl like you do at home, with all the sounds of nature surrounding you, and not your partner’s snoring.
Fast and simple setup for experts and beginners
Huge interior for a comfortable sleep
8 ultralight aluminum stakes included to keep tent secure
Two-layer door offers protection from elements
- BrandRiver Country Products
- Weight3 pounds
Ideal one-person trekking tent plug gear to 2 people without gear
Packs down as small as a football
Versatile ventilation options
Low interior doesn’t allow standing room
Another option is the Kelty Grand Mesa Tent which is an ideal pick for two backpackers who believe both weight and value are essential. This hiking tent has it all, including 68D polyester material to keep you safe from both rain and sun, which allows it for use throughout 3 seasons.
The freestanding design also makes it easy to set up and allows you to get started with dinner almost immediately. This simplicity is enhanced by Kelty’s famous color-coded construction to ensure you put nothing on the wrong way round or inside out.
68D polyester material protects from rain and sun
Room for 2 people over 3 seasons
Freestanding design is easy to move when erected
Color-coded clip construction to increase simplicity
- Weight4.75 pounds
1 door and 1 vestibule
Internal storage pockets and gear loops
Easy to carry at less than 5 pounds
Slightly cramped inside with your gear
The TETON Sports Mountain Ultra Tent is a vibrantly colored camping choice for those who love to throw themselves into the thick underbrush of the wilderness. It’s built to withstand these environments, too, despite being so lightweight, the durable construction ensure it can handle swaying branches, high winds, and curious wildlife like few other option around.
If you like to watch the stars as you drift off to sleep, the full mesh top makes this a possibility and delivers an experience you’ll only find in the most remote parts of the world. As for the floor, the durable oxford footprint is there to save your roll mat from feeling a little too soggy come morning.
Lightweight but durable design ideal for rugged conditions
Full mesh top for perfect stargazing experience
Built-in cutaway vents provide optimal airflow
Free-standing design allows you to camp anywhere outdoors
- BrandTETON Sports
- Weight6 pounds
Lightweight carbon poles outlast carbon-fiber varieties
Two-doors with smooth-rolling zippers
Durable Oxford footprint protects tent floor
Little overlap with rain fly and base of tent
Anyone scared to venture out on their own all by themselves (and to be fair, we don’t blame you) the ALPS Mountaineering Taurus 2-Person Tent is the perfect other backpacking companion for the worldly curious.
It comes with durable 75D polyester tent fly to cope with both sun and rain, while the extra large zippers are easy to grab and unzip without the risk of tearing the tent material. Inside, you’ll get mesh storage pockets and a gear loft maximize your own relaxing space, and guy ropes and stakes are included, although they may contribute to some extra weight.
Easy assembly with two-pole freestanding design
Polyester 75D 185T tent fly resists UV damage and water
Extra large zippers provide durability
2 zippers panels built into doors allows ventilation
- BrandALPS Mountaineering
- Weight7.1 pounds
Mesh storage pockets, gear loft, stakes and guy ropes included
Factory sealed fly allows further rain protection
Shock corded fiberglass poles ensure stability
Windows ensure easy nature watching but little privacy
The Naturehike Cloud-Up Lightweight Backpacking Tent is a great option for minimizing bulk in or attached to your pack while still offering excellent performance in a variety of conditions. The 210T ripstop nylon keeps you and the tent protected, and as soon as the rain clears, it’s easy to pack away and carry on with your hike.
It offers enough space for 2 people all year-round thanks to its 4-season capabilities, and you’ll also have a plethora of additional (but necessary) accessories included such as gear pockets and guy ropes for extra stability.
210T ripstop nylon construction ensures durability
4 season capabilities allows you to camp anywhere
Free-standing design ensures easy setup
Double layer design keeps you warm in winter and cool in summer
- Weight3.86 pounds
Spacious enough for 2 people
Carry bag, tent stakes, foot print, guy ropes, gear pockets, and loft loops included
Packs small to minimize bulking
Not high enough inside for comfortable standing or movement
The Featherstone Outdoor Backpacking 2 Person Tent brings 2 doors and 2 vestibules for easy access and storage for both solo and double backpackers.
The construction is both lightweight and breathable, making it perfect for summer jaunts into the woods, while the seam taped construction protects you from the elements should a freak storm occur. You’ll also get reflective guy ropes so nobody trips over them to go bump in the night and for extra protection from the weather, the waterproof footprint keeps your base dry all night long.
Lightweight and breathable design is still durable
2 doors and 2 vestibules for easy gear storage and organization
Seam Taped construction protects from weather
Freestanding design for simple, straightforward set up
- Weight4 pounds
Suitable for 3 seasons
Reflective guy ropes, aluminum stakes and waterproof footprint included
210 denier nylon material protects from rain and sun
Top cover slightly difficult to install
Our final pick is also our selection for the premium backpacking tent option around. The Marmot Crane Creek Backpacking and Camping Tent delivers everything you’d expect from a high-quality brand such as Marmot and is ideal for the serious backpacker who spends more time on the trail than they do in their own home.
It’s durable and reliable, but still lightweight enough to carry comfortably without risking backache at the end of a long trek. The full coverage rain fly will also keep you protected from rain, snow, sleet, falling fish, and similar apocalyptic scenarios, while the dual-doors make for easy access (and escape) when needed.
Durable aluminum poles protect from adverse weather
Seam-taped full coverage weatherproof rain fly
Dual D-shaped doors for easy access both sides
Dual overhead vestibules for maximum storage options
- Weight4.9 pounds
Spacious interior ensures comfort relaxing and sleeping
Waterproof without sacrificing air circulation
Top mesh for stargazing or cloud watching
No instructions for set up
Backpacking Tent Buying Guide & FAQ
Features To Look For In A Backpacking Tent
We’re sure some of you have already identified which option is the best backpacking tent for you, but for anyone still on the fence or for those who struggle to make absolute decisions, we’ve compiled an extra list of the key features to look out for when choosing a backpacking tent.
You don’t want to be caught out with a tent that’s insufficient for your backpacking adventure, and you also don’t want to risk maybe choosing one you won’t use again even if you have the chance to. With these features, you can make sure and be 100% certain you’ve found the best tent, and won’t wake up wondering why you’re socks are wet.
Weight - Anyone looking for a back-stress and strain-free hike should look into a tent that’s as light as possible. For this, an ultralight tent is the way to go, as they’re so light you’ll hardly notice them in your backpack.
There are different levels of ultralight tents, though, and while most of them are what you’d consider lightweight, there’s still a discrepancy between the lightest and (to use the word almost redundantly) the heaviest.
Of course, the lighter the tent, the easier it will be to carry, and it should (depending on how many people it sleeps) be easier to pack, but we’ll get to size in a minute.
Consider the number of parts you’ll get with the tent. This can include the body, guy ropes, tent poles, a rain fly, ground stakes, and maybe a footprint if you’ve splashed out on one. Some of these, such as stakes and poles, will add to the weight of the tent, but they are also necessary, so consider looking for an option that has as lightweight features as possible.
Your tent is likely to be the largest thing you pack, so consider what else you’re taking with you and see if there are any items you can discard confidently without hindering your experience and hiking success.
Size When Packed - You don’t need to be a camping expert to know a packed tent that’s too large will hinder your progress greatly and make it more difficult to navigate the trail than one that packs small. It’s important to consider this packed size when planning your trip and also considering what you are taking with you besides the tent.
A tent that’s easy to pack or attach to your backpack will make the experience much more enjoyable and will allow you to set up camp and pack up your camp faster than a larger tent may demand. If you’re traveling with a group, you can elect to separate parts of the tent such as poles and ropes and distribute them among your group.
Also think about how easy it is to pack down, and it’s advised you should do a few practice runs beforehand to make sure you can pack it down to the same or similar size after using it. This will also help you get sorted faster in the morning so you’re not holding the rest of the group up and you can make it to the next camp in time.
Size When Open - As much as you want a tent that’s not too heavy or cumbersome to carry, you also want one that’s large enough for you to sit in comfortably at the end of a long day to rest your weary legs. A one-man tent for backpacking won’t be huge, but it will be enough for you to relax in in between meals, sleep, and socializing, whereas a two-man tent will take up more space, but may give you more room inside despite sharing it with another body.
Even with this space for one man or two, consider a place for gear. The enjoyment of your downtime and a good night’s sleep can be ruined by insufficient space for your backpack and cooking tools, and if you’re not experienced with space-management while camping, this could be uncomfortable.
Tents with multiple vestibules or gear loops will solve this problem, but it will contribute to a larger footprint of the tent which could also be an issue if you’re camping somewhere with limited space.
Water/Weather Resistance - The main fear of anyone camping is whether their tent will withstand the weather. No matter where you are, rain is always a concern, even if it’s not rained in over a century, so you’ll need a tent with adequate water and weather resistance.
A rain fly is your first defense from rain to ensure your gear stays dry, but another way to protect you and your gear from waking up soaked is the stitching. Modern backpacking tents will come with inverted seams, which are pinched to provide better protection from rain but also more durability from the elements.
If you’re hiking through trails where the weather is unpredictable, a tough, reliable tent is a must, but it’s not just the rain fly you need to think about. While most tents don’t come with a footprint, you can purchase them to give you greater protection on the floor and stop moisture seeping through from the ground.
Another measure of protection for your tent is the seasonality. Tents range from 3-season to 4-season durability (with a flexible design in between). More seasons ensure greater protection throughout the year, and 3-season tents are perfect for spring, summer, and fall backpackers.
The 4-season tent is also useful, but while they are technically suitable for all climates, they are primarily designed for mountaineering and so have better insulation. Because of this, they can get a little too stuffy in milder conditions and could cause discomfort.
Ventilation - Your tent needs to cope with the moisture you exhale while sleeping and relaxing after a long day (plus all the sweat that seeps off you after you take your hiking shoes and socks off. Without good ventilation, you risk moisture building up within the tent which won’t just make it stink but also risks growing mold if it is not aired out correctly.
For top quality ventilation, look into options with adjustable rain fly vents or mesh paneling to allow the moisture to escape. Don’t worry about getting wet with these, either, as your standard rain fly should cover it. You can also take advantage of the doors to keep you cool and maintain good airflow, especially in the summer.
However, leaving the panels and doors open overnight can risk you getting cold, which isn’t ideal, so make sure you remember to close them before sleeping or at least only leave them partially open to still allow the moisture to escape and prevent condensation buildup.
Waking up in a sauna-esque tent isn’t the worst thing in the world, but it’s not the best either, regardless of the views you’ll be able to take in once you open the tent door at the crack of dawn, we just hope there’s not a curious critter waiting for you on the other side.