7 Best Backpacking Tents of 2015

 
 

2016 UPDATE: Don't miss my latest tents post: 10 Best Backpacking Tents of 2016

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 easily become overwhelming.

That’s why I put together this list of the best backpacking tents currently on the market. I’ve researched and tested hundreds of backpacking tents to narrow down the field and I'm including only the very best of the best. I’ve heavily factored characteristics like weight, cost, interior space, design, storage space, and weather protection into my choices.

I hope this post helps you find that perfect backpacking tent to keep you warm, dry, and protected for many years of outdoor adventures. Enjoy!

CRITICAL TENT CONSIDERATIONS:

WEIGHT - A pound or two might not seem like a big deal, but keeping your pack weight down is critical to enjoying backpacking trips. Lightweight tent options tend to be slightly smaller and less durable, but they make the hiking much more fun and will last for many years if treated with care.

COST - You shouldn’t have to spend a fortune to get a great backpacking tent. That’s why I’ve provided an array of solid options in a variety of price ranges. That said, if you backpack a lot, it might make sense to spend more for a quality product that will get lots of use for many years. 

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

INTERIOR SPACE - Interior tent space is often a tradeoff between comfort and weight. Just remember that you'll have to carry that tent on your back when you hike too. I specifically chose tents for this list that maximize interior space while keeping weight down. Tents with designs that promote vertical walls tend to have much more interior space.

DESIGN ELEMENTS – 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, and air vents to reduce condensation.

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

CAPACITY RATING – 2-person tents tend to be the most popular models, and for good reason. A lightweight 2-person tent can be used for solo hikes or with a partner. Group tents tend to be more crowded and won’t always be practical. This post is focused on 2-person tents. But if you’re in the market for a 1-person tent or a group tent, many of the manufacturers I list here make the same great tents in alternate sizes. 

SETUP STYLE - Freestanding tents tend to be easier and quicker to set up because they come with a fixed pole system. Non-freestanding tents use stakes and trekking poles for setup, but they save a lot of weight by cutting out tent poles. Both are solid options. 

WALL CONSTRUCTION – Double-wall tents come with two separate parts – a tent body and a rainfly. The advantage to this design is that the mesh inner-tent provides a barrier against any condensation that may form on the rainfly. Single-wall tents reduce weight by combining the two layers and promoting airflow to keep condensation down. Both are solid designs.

FOOTPRINT – Most tents do not come with an included footprint these days and many lightweight backpackers (myself included) view them as unnecessary. The main benefit of a footprint is extra durability for the floor of your tent, so if that's a concern for you, consider buying a footprint for your tent. 

Enchantment Lakes Campsite

7 Best Backpacking Tents of 2015

Listed from lightest to heaviest

2016 UPDATE: Don't miss my latest tents post: 10 Best Backpacking Tents of 2016


ZPACKS - DUPLEX TENT

WEIGHT: 20oz (1.25lb)

FLOOR DIMENSIONS: 90in x 45in

MATERIAL: Cuben Fiber

DESIGN FEATURES: 2-person, 3-season, Single-wall, 2-doors, trekking poles & stakes setup

BEST USE: Thru-Hiking, Ultralight Backpacking, General Backpacking

PROS: The ZPacks Duplex Tent has quickly become one of my all-time favorite backpacking tents. Cuben Fiber is a material that’s quite expensive, but incredibly effective. The beauty of the Duplex is that it’s unbelievably light yet completely waterproof.  It also won’t sag when it gets cold and wet like silnylon shelters. That makes the Duplex your best friend in a downpour and barely noticeable in your pack. It’s light enough to bring on solo trips and roomy enough to sleep two comfortably.

CONS: Condensation is an important factor to consider with all single-wall shelters. That said, the Duplex does a great job of keeping condensation down because its design promotes a lot of airflow. If you avoid camping in low-lying areas near water that will help to reduce condensation as well. The Duplex has the smallest amount of interior space of any of the tents I recommend, but it's still a very roomy option for ultralight tents. 

BOTTOM LINE: The ZPacks Duplex is a fantastic tent for those that spend a lot of time on the trail and place a premium on utilizing the lightest tools available.


SIX MOON DESIGNS - LUNAR DUO

WEIGHT: 41oz (2.56lb)

FLOOR DIMENSIONS: 90in x 54in

MATERIAL: Silnylon

DESIGN FEATURES: 2-person, 3-season, Single-wall, 2-doors, trekking poles & stakes setup

BEST USE: Ultralight Backpacking, General Backpacking, Camping

PROS: The Six Moon Designs Lunar Duo is the most spacious ultralight backpacking tent on the market. With a rectangular bathtub floor, vertical sidewalls, a peak height of 45in, and arched roof poles, the Lunar Duo is able to create the type of interior space and protection that other lightweight shelters can only dream about.

CONS: The main enemy of single-wall shelters is condensation and the Lunar Duo is susceptible just like the rest. Large air vents help to promote airflow in the Lunar Duo and if you avoid camping in low-lying areas near water that will help too. Also, make sure to seam seal the Lunar Duo (or have SMD do it) because the base model will not be fully waterproof.

BOTTOM LINE: The SMD Lunar Duo is an incredibly roomy and lightweight option for savvy backpackers that know how to get the most out of single-wall shelters. 


BIG AGNES – COPPER SPUR UL 2

WEIGHT: 44oz (2.75lb)

FLOOR DIMENSIONS: 90in x 52in x 42in (at foot)

MATERIAL: Ripstop Nylon

DESIGN FEATURES: 2-person, 3-season, double-wall, 2-doors, freestanding

BEST USE: Ultralight Backpacking, General Backpacking, Camping

PROS: The Big Agnes Copper Spur UL 2 provides all the convenience of a traditional freestanding tent at a fraction of the weight. It's quicker and easier to set up than tents that require trekking poles and it's spread-pole design allows for near-vertical sidewalls, which maximize interior space. The Copper Spur also comes with some convenient features like interior mesh pockets and reflective guyline. 

CONS: Big Agnes is able to keep the Copper Spur UL 2 light by using thin materials, so you'll want to treat it with care. If you do that, it'll last for many years. If you're tough on gear, consider using a footprintThe Copper Spur 2 is built with an asymmetrical shape and has a tapering floor. That’s a great design for saving weight, but it does slightly reduce overall headspace for two.

BOTTOM LINE: If you're looking for the ease, convenience, and comfort of a freestanding tent at a minimal weight, the Copper Spur UL 2 is one of the best options out there. 


TARPTENT – STRATOSPIRE 2

WEIGHT: 46oz (2.88lb)

FLOOR DIMENSIONS: 86in x 52in

MATERIAL: Silnylon

DESIGN FEATURES: 2-person, 3-season, double-wall, 2-doors, trekking poles & stakes setup

BEST USE: Ultralight Backpacking, General Backpacking, Camping

PROS: The Tarptent StratoSpire 2 is a double-wall ultralight tent that's big on interior space, flexibility, and protection. The trekking pole support system of the StratoSpire creates large vertical sidewalls and offsetting ceiling peaks, which is a very spacious design for two people. The inner netting can be pitched independently or with the rainfly. Dual offsetting doors, huge vestibules, and reflective guylines add to the convenience of the StratoSpire 2.

CONS: It will take practice to learn how to pitch the StratoSpire 2 properly. Setting it up will be more cumbersome than pitching a freestanding tent, but once you have it down it's easy. In addition, make sure to seam seal the StratoSpire 2 (or have Tarptent do it) because the base model will not be fully waterproof.

BOTTOM LINE: If you're an experienced lightweight backpacker looking for a double-wall tent that provides lots of space and flexibility, the StratoSpire 2 just might be right for you.


REI QUARTER DOME 2

WEIGHT: 49oz (3.06lb)

FLOOR DIMENSIONS: 90in x 54in x 44in (at foot)

MATERIAL: Ripstop Nylon

DESIGN FEATURES: 2-person, 3-season, double-wall, 2-doors, freestanding

BEST USE: Lightweight Backpacking, General Backpacking, Camping 

PROS: The REI Quarter Dome 2 is a lightweight freestanding tent that’s easy to use and comes at a very reasonable price. Its pole structure creates near-vertical sidewalls, which greatly increases interior headroom. It also has a convenient large top vent that allows for excellent air circulation, even with the rainfly fully cinched. Inner mesh pockets, hang loops, and large vestibules add to the convenience of the Quarter Dome 2. 

CONS: The Quarter Dome 2 is light because it’s built with thin materials, so you'll want to treat it with care. If you do that, it'll last for many years. If you're tough on gear, consider using a footprint. The Quarter Dome 2 is built with an asymmetrical shape and has a tapering floor. That’s a great design for saving weight, but it does slightly reduce overall headspace. 

BOTTOM LINE: If you're looking for the ease, convenience, and comfort of a freestanding lightweight tent at a reasonable price, the REI Quarter Dome 2 is a good option. 


MSR HUBBA HUBBA NX

WEIGHT: 55oz (3.44lb)

FLOOR DIMENSIONS: 84in x 50in

MATERIAL: Ripstop Nylon

DESIGN FEATURES: 2-person, 3-season, double-wall, 2-doors, freestanding

BEST USE: Lightweight Backpacking, General Backpacking, Camping

PROS: The MSR Hubba Hubba NX has been a popular model among lightweight backpackers for a long time and it’s easy to see why. The Hubba is designed with nearly vertical side and end walls that help to maximize interior space. It also has a full rectangle floor and symmetrical shape, which allows hikers to spread out on opposite sides of the tent. Kickstand vents help to reduce condensation and mesh pockets add to the Hubba’s convenience.

CONS: The Hubba Hubba NX is spacious and convenient, but it’s not the lightest option on the tent market. Also, the Hubba is built with thin materials to keep weight down, so you'll want to treat it with care. If you do that, it'll last for many years. If that's not your style, consider using a footprint.

BOTTOM LINE: If you’re willing to carry a little extra weight for a spacious and convenient design, the MSR Hubba Hubba NX just might be your jam.


REI HALF DOME 2

WEIGHT: 73oz (4.56lb)

FLOOR DIMENSIONS: 88in x 52in

MATERIAL: Ripstop & Nylon Taffeta 

DESIGN FEATURES: 2-person, 3-season, double-wall, 2-doors, freestanding

BEST USE: General Backpacking, All-Around Camping

PROS: The REI Half Dome 2 has been a popular model for many years and it’s a fantastic budget buy for the average backpacker. The large overhead crossbar creates nearly vertical sidewalls and a ton of headroom. The Half Dome was also built with durability in mind, so it’s made with thicker materials than most lightweight tents. And if you want even more space, you can bump up to the Half Dome 2 Plus model (81oz), which is a popular option. Those looking to increase tent floor protection can use a Half Dome 2 footprint or Half Dome 2 Plus footprint

CONS: The main downside with the REI Half Dome 2 comes in the form of weight. It’s not actually that bad if you split it between two people, but the Half Dome is far heavier and bulkier than any other backpacking tent I recommend. I’m a big believer in packing light, so that’s my preference. But you certainly don’t have to pack ultralight to have fun in the backcountry.

BOTTOM LINE: The REI Half Dome 2 is far from the lightest tent on the market, but it does have a lot of upsides. If durability, convenience, space, and affordability are your primary concerns, the Half Dome 2 is tough to beat.


AFFORDABLE TENTS WORTH MENTIONING

The tents I recommend above are high-quality products that will last a very long time, but quality does come at a cost. If you're not prepared to make that type of financial investment just yet, have a look at the Mountainsmith Morrison 2 (75oz) or the REI Passage 2 (78oz). The main issue with these tents is that they're heavier, they utilize cheaper materials, and they have less interior headroom than the tents I prefer to recommend. That said, the Morrison 2 and the Passage 2 still have a lot of good things going for them and they provide an affordable option for the price-conscious backpacker.

Mountainsmith Morrison 2

REi Passage 2


WRAP UP

2016 UPDATE: Don't miss my latest tents post: 10 Best Backpacking Tents of 2016

Hopefully this post has helped you to find the perfect tent to fit your backpacking style. If you have any questions, please leave a comment below. If you enjoyed this post and feel like spreading the love, click the "like" or "share" buttons below. Thanks and have a great day! 

 

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.