10 Best Backpacking Tents of 2017

Packing a top-notch tent is one of the best ways to increase comfort, safety, and enjoyment on backcountry trips. But when you’re in the market for a new tent, you’ll quickly find that there are A LOT of options out there. Trying to find the best tent to fit your needs can quickly become overwhelming.

That’s why I put together this list of the best backpacking tents on the market. I’ve spent hundreds of hours researching and testing to narrow this list down to the very best of the best. I’ve heavily factored characteristics like weight, cost, interior space, durability, and weather protection into my choices.

I hope this post helps you find the perfect backpacking tent for keeping warm, dry, and protected in the wilderness for many years to come. For more of my top gear recommendations, have a look through these popular CleverHiker Gear Guide links:

Author: Dave Collins
Last Updated: May 7, 2017

CRITICAL TENT CONSIDERATIONS

PRICE - You shouldn’t have to spend a fortune to get a great backpacking tent. That’s why this list contains an array solid options in a variety of price ranges. If you backpack a lot, it probably makes sense to spend more for a quality product that will get many years of use. If you're on a limited budget or unsure how much you'll enjoy backpacking, you may want to check out my budget backpacking tent recommendations

WEIGHT - A few ounces here and there might not seem like a big deal, but keeping pack weight down is critical for enjoying backpacking trips. Lightweight tents make hiking more fun, and that’s what it’s all about. Your tent will be one of the four heaviest items you carry (shelter, backpack, sleeping bag, and sleeping pad), so it’s a great place to keep weight to a minimum. The tents I recommend on this list represent the best blend between weight, comfort, and convenience, but if you're willing to make sacrifices to go even lighter, check out my favorite ultralight tarps and tents

PROTECTION – A backpacking tent that doesn’t protect against the elements is worse than worthless, it’s dangerous. So be careful about extreme budget tents you'll find elsewhere. Every tent on this list will provide excellent storm protection to keep you safe, dry, and warm.

CAPACITY – 1-Person tents are great for dedicated solo adventurers looking to hike fast and light. 2-Person tents tend to be the most popular, because they strike a good balance between weight and interior space, just don't expect the interior to be palatial. 3 & 4-Person tents tend to get crowded and impractical, though they can be a good fit for hiking partners wanting more interior space for gear storage and extended hangouts.

INTERIOR SPACE - Interior tent space is usually a tradeoff between comfort and weight, so it’s important to strike a good balance. I specifically chose tents for this list that maximize interior space while keeping weight to a minimum. If you prefer hiking light and crushing miles, stick with a 2-person model for two hikers. If you’re willing to carry more weight for camping comfort, you may want to bump up one tent size.

SEASON RATING – 3-season shelters are the most popular type of backpacking tent and the style I’m focusing on for this guide. They're built for spring, summer, and fall trips where you’ll need to keep bad weather out while promoting air circulation.

DESIGN – A single design flaw can easily ruin an otherwise solid backpacking tent. Great tents keep design elements simple and include multiple doors, adequate vestibule space, lots of headroom, air vents to reduce condensation, and interior pockets for gear storage.

SETUP - Freestanding tents are generally prefered because they’re easier and quicker to pitch. They come with a fixed pole system that can be set up almost anywhere, even on solid rock. Non-freestanding tents use stakes, guylines, and often trekking poles for pitching. They save weight by cutting out tent poles, but take more time and practice to master.

WALL CONSTRUCTION – Double-wall tents come with two separate parts – a mesh tent body and a rainfly. The mesh inner-tent acts as a barrier from any condensation that forms on the inside of the rainfly. Single-wall tents reduce weight by ditching the mesh inner-tent, but that leaves inhabitants vulnerable to condensation in wet/cold conditions. Rubbing up against a wet tent interior is the pits, so that's why I'm focusing on double-wall tents for this post. For ultralighters open to the idea of single-wall shelters, have a look at my ultralight tarp and tent recommendations.

DOORS & VESTIBULES - If you plan on sleeping two people in your tent, it's more comfortable to have two doors and vestibules. Having separate entrances will ensure that you’re not climbing over a tentmate and two sets of gear every time you want to get in or out of your tent. That’s a huge benefit, and it's why almost every tent on this list has two doors/vestibules.

DURABILITY - The main tradeoff with ultralight tents is that they're built using thinner materials that tend to be less durable than heavy-duty shelters. That said, ultralight tents will last for thousands of miles if treated with a little care. It's also important to remember that a sharp stick will go through just about any kind of tent fabric. So if you're tough on gear and don't want to deal with lightweight materials, choose one of my heavier recommendations built for durability. For me personally though, I think ultralight tents are well worth the tradeoff.

FOOTPRINT – Most tents don’t come with a footprint these days and many lightweight backpackers view them as unnecessary. The main benefit of a footprint is adding durability to the floor of your tent. A footprint will protect your tent floor from abrasion, so it will last longer and need fewer repairs. If you’re willing to carry a little extra weight to extend the life of your tent, consider picking up a footprint.

BUYING ONLINE - Check the seller's return policy before you buy, but you can almost always return an unused tent within a certain timeframe after purchasing. I recommend buying your top choice, testing it at home, and returning/exchanging it if it doesn’t feel quite right. I’ve been buying lightweight tents online for years and I’ve yet to have a single problem.

10 Best Backpacking Tents of 2017

1-Person Tents

2-Person Tents

3 & 4-Person Tents

Honorable Mention


BEST 1-PERSON TENTS

1-Person tents are an excellent choice for dedicated solo backpackers looking to keep weight and cost to a minimum. If you sometimes hike with a partner or prefer more interior space, it may make sense to choose an ultralight 2-person tent that can serve both purposes.

 

NEMO HORNET 2P

WEIGHT: 2lb

DIMENSIONS (L x W x H): 85 x 51/43 x 40in (wider at head, narrower at foot)

FEATURES: 1-2 Person, 3 Season, Double-Wall, 2 Doors/Vestibules, Semi-Freestanding

BEST FOR: Roomy Ultralight Solo Comfort

The NEMO Equipment Hornet 2P is an incredibly light double-wall semi-freestanding tent. It has two doors and two vestibules, which is a rare benefit for tents in its weight class. It's listed as a 2-person tent, but it's better suited for solo backpacking in my opinion. It's slanted walls limit interior space, making it a tight squeeze for two, but a luxury setup for one. The Hornet’s only real drawback is its semi-freestanding design (it requires two stakes at the foot), which can be inconvenient in rocky terrain. So if you're a solo ultralight backpacker looking for all the comforts of a traditional tent, the Hornet 2P is a fantastic option.

MORE: Pick up the Hornet 2P footprint if you want to increase tent floor durability. This tent is also available in Hornet 1P, Elite 1P, and Elite 2P sizes, but the 2P model is by far my favorite.


REI Co-op Quarter Dome 1

WEIGHT: 2lb 7oz

DIMENSIONS (L x W x H): 88 x 35/27 x 42in (wider at head, narrower at foot)

FEATURES: 1 Person, 3 Season, Double-Wall, 1 Door/Vestibule, Freestanding

BEST FOR: Spacious Ultralight Solo Budget

The redesigned REI Co-op Quarter Dome 1 is a fantastic budget option for solo backpackers. The new QD 1 is fully freestanding, easy to pitch, and has plenty of interior space without sacrificing much weight. It's also loaded with convenient features like a large roof vent, spacious vestibule, and a variety of pockets/hang loops. So if you're a lightweight solo backpacker on a budget, the REI Co-op Quarter Dome 1 just may be your jam.

MORE: Pick up the QD 1 footprint if you want to increase tent floor durability. This tent also comes in 2-person, 3-person, and hammock models.  


BEST 2-PERSON TENTS

2-Person tents are the most popular choice among backpackers. They offer the best balance for hikers looking to minimize weight without sacrificing too much comfort. A 2-person tent will allow you and your hiking partner to enjoy the trail as much as your campsite, but don't expect it to be a palace. If you want interior space for gear storage and extended camp hangouts, you'll probably want to bump up to a 3-person tent. Just remember that the ounces add up.

 

BIG AGNES COPPER SPUR HV UL2

WEIGHT: 2lb 12oz

DIMENSIONS (L x W x H): 88 x 52/42 x 40in (wider at head, narrower at foot)

FEATURES: 2 Person, 3 Season, Double-Wall, 2 Doors/Vestibules, Freestanding

BEST FOR: Ultralight Quality, Features & Interior Space

The redesigned Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 has an exceptional blend of weight, interior space, and functionality. It’s light enough to disappear in your pack, but roomy enough to wait out a prolonged storm without going stir crazy. It has all the features for maximizing comfort - freestanding, double-wall, near-vertical side walls, two large doors/vestibules, interior pockets - and it's still somehow under 3lb. For freestanding tents in this weight class, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better option.

MORE: Pick up the UL2 footprint if you want to increase tent floor durability. This tent also comes in UL1, UL3, and UL4 sizes.


WEIGHT: 3lb 5oz

DIMENSIONS (L x W x H): 90 x 50 x 42in

FEATURES: 2 Person, 3 Season, Double-Wall, 2 Doors/Vestibules, Freestanding

BEST FOR: Ultralight Livability, Comfort & Convenience

The NEMO Dagger 2P is big on livability, but doesn't take on extra weight to get there. The Dagger’s key benefit over other tents in its weight class is its rectangular floor and symmetrical ceiling. This greatly increases elbow room and usable interior space. The Dagger also has two huge vestibules with lots of room for gear storage. My main qualm with the Dagger is that I wish it had more ventilation for condensation management, but it's not a dealbreaker. So if you’re looking for ultralight livability in a convenient design, the NEMO Dagger 2p is a fantastic choice.

MORE: Pick up the Dagger 2P footprint if you want to increase tent floor durability. This tent also comes in a 3-person model.


WEIGHT: 3lb 5oz

DIMENSIONS (L x W x H): 88 x 52/42 x 42in (wider at head, narrower at foot)

FEATURES: 2 Person, 3 Season, Double-Wall, 2 Doors/Vestibules, Freestanding

BEST FOR: Ultralight Budget, Features & Interior Space

The redesigned REI Co-op Quarter Dome 2 is a feature-loaded ultralight tent that comes at a reasonable price. It has a comparable layout to the best-in-class BA Copper Spur HV UL2, but it's easier on the wallet. In addition, I like that the large top vent can be accessed from inside the tent in nasty weather and the spacious side vestibules have lots of room for gear storage. So if you’re on a budget but you still want an ultralight shelter with all the bells and whistles, the REI Co-op Quarter Dome 2 is a great choice.

MORE: Pick up the QD 2 footprint if you want to increase tent floor durability. This tent also comes in 1-person, 3-person, and hammock models.  


WEIGHT: 3lb 4oz

DIMENSIONS (L x W x H): 88 x 54/46 x 42in (wider at head, narrower at foot)

FEATURES: 2 Person, 3 Season, Double-Wall, 2 Doors/Vestibules, Freestanding

BEST FOR: Ultralight Budget & Interior Space

The new Marmot Tungsten 2P UL strikes a good balance between weight, cost, and livability. It has a similar floorplan to the Copper Spur HV UL2 and Quarter Dome 2, but comes at a lower cost. I like that its polyester rainfly won’t sag as much in wet/cold weather, but I do wish it had more ventilation for keeping condensation at bay. I also wish it’s two side vestibules were larger and symmetrical (one side is bigger than the other). Still, for it’s weight, cost, and interior space, the Marmot Tungsten 2P UL ranks among the best.

MORE: Pick up the 2P UL footprint if you want to increase tent floor durability. This tent also comes in a 3-person model.


WEIGHT: 5lb 1oz

DIMENSIONS (L x W x H): 96 x 56 x 42in

FEATURES: 2 Person, 3 Season, Double-Wall, 2 Doors/Vestibules, Freestanding

BEST FOR: Maximum Space, Minimum Cost

The REI Co-op Half Dome 2 Plus is a tent that maximizes interior space and durability while minimizing cost. Its generous dimensions and overhead crossbar create a ton of interior space and it's materials are more durable than most lightweight tents. The main downside with the Half Dome 2 Plus comes in the form of weight. It’s not too bad if you split the tent between two hikers, but this is one of the heaviest and bulkiest tents I recommend. Still, if durability, convenience, interior space, and affordability are your primary concerns, the Half Dome 2 Plus is tough to beat.

MORE: Pick up the HD 2 Plus footprint if you want to increase tent floor durability. This tent also comes in smaller Half Dome 2 and larger Half Dome 4 models.


BEST 3 & 4-PERSON TENTS

Larger tents like these can be a good option for small groups, but they’re also nice for duos wanting more elbow room. To be honest, I almost never sleep more than two people in one tent because things tend to get claustrophobic. That said, the roominess of a 3-person tent can be a nice upgrade for two hikers if you’re willing to carry the extra weight. I tend to spend more time on the trail than in camp, so I usually forgo the extra comfort to keep my pack as light as possible. But if camping comfort is a priority, a 3 or 4-person tent can be a great way to go.

 

Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL3 & UL4

WEIGHT: 3lb 7oz & 5lb 3oz

DIMENSIONS (L x W x H): 90 x 70/62 x 43in & 96 x 86 x 50in

FEATURES: 3-4 Person, 3 Season, Double-Wall, 2 Doors/Vestibules, Freestanding

BEST FOR: Maximum Space, Minimum Weight

The Big Agnes HV UL3 and HV UL4 tents are incredibly light for the interior space they provide. The UL3 is an especially appealing option for couples because it has significantly more room than the UL2, but only costs a little more. In addition, the UL3 only weighs 2-3 ounces more than some of the best ultralight 2-person tents. The UL4 is a solid option for groups because it allows hikers to sleep with their head/feet near the doors. That saves middle sleepers from climbing over tentmates to get in and out during the night.

MORE: Pick up the HV UL3 footprint or HV UL4 footprint if you want to increase tent floor durability. This tent also comes in UL1 and UL2 models.


WEIGHT: 4lb 1oz

DIMENSIONS (L x W x H): 88 x 70/64 x 44in (wider at head, narrower at foot)

FEATURES: 3 Person, 3 Season, Double-Wall, 2 Doors/Vestibules, Freestanding

BEST FOR: Budget Interior Space & Features

The REI Co-op Quarter Dome 3 is another solid upgrade for backpackers wanting more room in their 2-person shelter. Choosing the QD 3 over the QD 2 will only increase price a small amount for a big increase in elbow room. The downside to that exchange is a 12oz increase in weight, but that will be well worth it for those that prioritize camping comfort over maintaining an ultralight pack.

MORE: Pick up the QD 3 footprint if you want to increase tent floor durability. This tent also comes in 1-person, 2-person, and hammock models.


WEIGHT: 4lb 1oz

DIMENSIONS (L x W x H): 90 x 66 x 46in

FEATURES: 3 Person, 3 Season, Double-Wall, 2 Doors/Vestibules, Freestanding

BEST FOR: Lightweight Budget & Interior Space

The Marmot Tungsten 3p UL is another tent that strikes a good balance between weight, cost, and interior space. Unlike the 2P version, this model has a fully rectangular floor, which increases livability. This version also has more vestibule space than the 2P model, which is great, but the vestibules are still asymmetrical (one side is larger than the other), which is a bummer. That said, very few tents can compete in the same weight, cost, and size range as the Tungsten 3P UL.

MORE: Pick up the Tungsten 3P footprint if you want to increase tent floor durability. This tent also comes in a 2-person mode.


HONORABLE MENTION

The following tents didn’t make my final list, but they’ve got a lot of good things going for them. In this section I’ll try to quickly highlight each tent’s main strength and explain why it didn’t make the final cut. And you never know, maybe one of these tents will be the right fit for you.

 

REI Co-op Passage 2

The REI Co-op Passage 2 deserves a mention on this list as a solid budget buy. It didn’t make the final cut because it’s a better fit for my best budget backpacking tents list. I would personally prefer to spend more money for a higher quality tent, but for beginners and weekend warriors on a limited budget, the price and durability of this classic design may just do the trick.


The ZPacks Duplex is one of my all-time favorite ultralight tents, but it’s a better fit for my best ultralight tents and tarps list. At only 1lb 5oz (trekking poles required), to say the duplex is ultralight is an understatement, but this really isn’t a tent for the casual backpacker. It’s a non-freestanding, single-wall shelter with a steep price tag, so it’s best for serious ultralighters and thru-hikers willing to forgo camp comforts for an extremely light pack.


The MSR Hubba Hubba NX has been one of the most popular tents in the backpacking community for years, and with good reason. It's a solid, roomy tent with great features and durability. Compared to the Nemo Dagger 2P though, it falls short. The Dagger has roomier dimensions, larger vestibules, and weighs slightly less for roughly the same cost and durability.


The the Hilleberg Anjan 3 could be a good choice if you commonly camp above treeline in harsh, exposed conditions. Tip: choose the 3-person model over the Anjan 2 for the extra space at a minimal cost/weight increase. This tent does have several key downsides though - only 1 door/vestibule, non-freestanding, no rainfly off option, and a steep price tag.


The Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL2 is among the lightest double-wall, semi-freestanding tents on the market. It has a similar floorplan to the Nemo Hornet 2P (both work best as 1-person tents in my opinion), but unlike the Hornet, The Fly Creek only has one door and vestibule, which severely limits its livability.


The Tarptent Double Rainbow has one of the best price to weight ratio of any tent on the market, but it also has some considerable downsides. It’s single-wall (hybrid) design makes it susceptible to interior condensation and it's not freestanding unless paired with trekking poles. It also has minimal space for two and requires seam sealing before it will be fully waterproof.


The Nemo Blaze 2P is one of the lightest and roomiest full-featured tents on the market, but its non-freestanding, asymmetrical support system leads to sagging walls in cold, wet, or windy conditions. You’ll also have to sleep head-to-toe with your tentmate for headroom.


The MSR Freelite 2 is on the right track with it's weight and features, but the final product leaves something to be desired. It’s semi-freestanding design needs to be staked down at the corners of one end, which leads to sagging in cold/wet weather. It also has a low peak height and short length, which greatly limits livability.


MORE INFORMATION

If you enjoyed this review you'll probably like my other gear lists as well. Here are some popular resources from the CleverHiker Gear Guide.

I hope this guide was helpful for finding the best backpacking tent to fit your needs. If you want to provide feedback or recommend an item I missed, please use my contact form to get in touch.

Thanks for reading and happy trails! 

Dave Collins
 

Disclosure: The trust of my audience is of the utmost importance to me. That’s why I only recommend equipment I love from companies I trust. I have not been paid to review any of the products listed above. A couple of items were provided to me for free to review, but I purchased most of this equipment myself. Also, I am under no obligation to give positive reviews to any of the products listed above. This gear just rocks. This page contains affiliate links. Check out my terms page for more info.