It can be overwhelming (and expensive) to find the perfect backpacking tent—but we don’t think it has to be. Whether this is the first or the hundredth time you’ve trekked into the wild to set up your tent, your night out should be about rest and relaxation. That’s why we’ve rounded up our top tent picks—from single-person to family-size.
To bring you the best backpacks of 2018, we relied on our customers. These are the top rated tents in each category, rated by verified purchasers. That means real outdoorspeople actually used these tents and came back from the wilds to give us the details. Learn more below.
Best Single-Person Tent
Weight: 2 lbs. 14 oz.
"I love everything about this tent: weight, set up, head space, durability, etc. A couple of days ago while in the Sierra Nevada mountains, a friend and I experienced a severe hailstorm: one inch size hail that lasted well over an hour. My tent held up like a charm without a tear or leak." —Reno hiker
Are you going fast and light but don’t want to sacrifice space? We are certainly biased, since we built this tent, but we think the Quarter Dome 1 is perfect for the job. We’ve combined rugged yet lightweight materials with new, more livable architecture to create a single-person tent that is just two pounds, 14 ounces, effortless to set up and surprisingly roomy. Want to go extra light? Ditch the tent and just use the fly, poles and footprint (sold separately) to create a minimalist shelter.
Features we love:
- New pole architecture increases head and shoulder room by 49%
- New dual-stake vestibule is 46% larger
- Color-coded pole assembly simplifies setup
- Reflective stake loops and guylines minimize nighttime trips
- Fly/poles/footprint pitch option lets you leave the tent at home
Best Ultralight Option
Weight: 2 lbs. 5 oz.
"My girlfriend and I took this tent with us on our thru-hike of the PCT. It stood up incredibly well over 2,665 miles, multiple landscapes, eco-zones and weather conditions. The dual vestibules and doors made it easier for the two of us to share such a small space for so long ... I recommend this tent to any thru-hikers or hikers/campers looking for a high end product worth every penny." —Jamieson
Look, two pounds, five ounces is insanely light for a two-person tent. In fact, we're happy when tents weigh less than three pound per person. We couldn’t believe the weight when we saw it for the first time. So we felt the need to double-check the weight for this story—and yes, it’s for real. Add in the large doors and two vestibules (absolutely necessary, if you want to continue camping with your hiking partner after the first trip) and always-fast NEMO setup, and you have the perfect ultralight tent. Whether thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail or going on a weeknight backpacking date after work, this is the ultralight two-person tent you need.
Features we love:
- Large side doors mean easier ins and outs
- Super fast setup, thanks to a single hubbed pole and ball-and-socket end tips
- Tub floor reduces seam construction and seam tape, offering increased longevity
- Intelligently designed stuff sack allows you to split the tent between two people
- DAC Featherlite NFL aluminum poles weigh less than nearly all other poles on the market
Best for Livability
Weight: 3 lbs. 1 oz.
"I've been backpacking and climbing for about 55 years, and have owned perhaps 20 mountain tents. This is by far the best design I've ever had in a lightweight tent. The pole and fly system with color coding make for very easy setup. Keeping in mind that it is incredibly light (it is easy to make a strong, secure tent that is heavy), it does the job admirably." —Geezerhiker
A roomy backpacking tent? That seems like an oxymoron, until you meet this tent. Clocking in at three pounds, one ounce, you get a massive amount of room (29 square feet of floor space). We’re talking enough room to actually sit up and change your clothes while in the tent. Or play cards for hours to escape the rain. Or even snuggle a human and large adventure dog comfortably (or two adventure cats, if you have them). Hence, the HV—high volume—in the name. The two doors keep you sane (see above) and roomy vestibules keep your stuff dry and out of the way. When you actually want to be comfortable in the woods, this tent is necessary.
- High-volume hub and steep wall architecture for strength and increased living space (without additional weight)
- Four-way hub design increases stability, strength and livable space
- Proprietary double ripstop pattern nylon is 20% stronger than regular nylon
- Huge ceiling pocket offers great storage space
- All seams are taped with waterproof, solvent-free polyurethane tape, with no PVC or VOCs
Best for Bad Weather
Weight: 9 lbs. 13 oz.
"After much research and product testing, my wife and I finally pulled the trigger and bought this tent - NO regrets! The best 4 season backpacking tent in my humble opinion. It comfortably sleeps two adults and one pug. The tent body uses 4 DAC poles, 2 of which pull the sidewalls out yielding more room inside and makes for a drum-tight, bombproof structure. The front vestibule uses a 5th DAC pole and offers ample storage for your gear. The rear vestibule is just big enough to keep 2 packs out of the rain ... I cannot recommend this tent enough!" —nelly md
Is mountaineering or snow camping in your future? Are high winds or freezing temperatures around the bend? If so, The North Face Mountain 25 should be too. This rugged tent is made to withstand high winds, buckets of snow and everything else that comes with high-mountain adventure. It’s big enough to comfortably fit you and your partner, without sacrificing any strength. With plenty of ventilation, you won’t find yourself soaked in condensation, and the glow-in-the-dark, color-coded zipper pulls make midnight starts a little less awful.
Features we love:
- Nylon bucket floor provides structural strength
- Two doors and a dual-entry front vestibule let you get in and out with ease
- New venting options throughout the tent allows versatile temperature regulation
- Glow-in-the-dark, color-coded zipper pulls mean you can find your way at night
- DAC poles and stakes deliver awesome strength-to-weight ratio
Best for Families
Weight: 8 lbs. 8 oz.
"Picked this tent up for a 2 week camping trip with my fiancée and two dogs. It was perfect! We fit our exped megamat duo and two dog beds with ease. The vestibules are really roomy. This tent is completely storm proof- we had some really intense thunderstorms roll through a couple nights and we stayed dry and felt completely comfortable despite the high wind. The walls of the tent are vertical toward the bottom and it really makes it feel roomier and makes it easier to avoid rain pooling anywhere on the rainfly. A+" —Benjamin G
Backpacking with the whole family brings up many considerations, but which tent to pick shouldn’t be one of them. We love the Marmot Limelight 4P, which clocks in at eight pounds, eight ounces. It’s big enough for four (plus a dog, if your kiddos in tow are still small) and one of the less expensive options on the market—making it the ideal tent for a family starting out. Best yet? The color-coded clips make setup a breeze, especially when teaching younger backpackers the ins and outs of tent camping.
Features we love:
- Super-size double door and rear door, and two vestibules allow for easy access and gear storage
- Lampshade pocket lights up your living space with a headlamp
- Color-coded clips and poles makes pitching simple
- Pre-bent poles creates vertical interior walls, for a big sleeping area and extra head space
- Footprint is included!
How to Choose Your Tent
Choosing the right tent comes down to a few key decisions: capacity, seasonality, weight and livability.
- Capacity: Backpacking tents come in one- to four-person models. There are no industry standards, so make sure to get inside your tent and see if it has the space you need for comfort. Plus-size tent options offer extra length and width.
- Seasonality: Choose from three-season tents, extended-season tents or mountaineering tents, depending upon the conditions you'll be encountering.
- Weight: Tents have come far over the years, and now you can easily find a tent that weighs under three pounds a person. When checking weight, you should know that minimum trail weight is measured without the footprint and stakes, while packed weight includes stuff sack, instructions and more. Your actual trail weight will be somewhere in between the two.
- Livability: Newer tents manage to open up interiors without adding weight, making for more comfort. Pay attention to the number and location of doors, protected exteriors and ventilation. What makes sense for your needs?