What are the best backpacking tents? The majority of backpackers purchase two person tents so they can bring company or enjoy more interior space. Favorite tents include the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2, the MSR Hubba Hubba, the REI Quarter Dome, the Tarptent Rainbow, and the NEMO Hornet 2P, among others.
1. Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 2
Review: See the SectionHiker review of the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 2
2. Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL 2
Review: See the SectionHiker review of the Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL 2.
3. MSR Hubba Hubba NX
Review: See the SectionHiker review of the MSR Hubba Hubba NX.
4. REI Quarter Dome 2
The fly is made with a 15 denier ripstop nylon to minimize weight while the floor and walls are made with a slightly more robust 20 denier ripstop. Gear weight without stakes in 3 pounds, 5 ounces, slightly lower weight than the MSR Hubba Hubba, but the Quarter Dome’s setup is not as straightforward. Click for specs and customer reviews.
Review: See the SectionHiker review of the REI Quarter Dome 2 Person Tent.
5. REI Half Dome 2 Plus
The Half Dome 2 Plus is very easy to pitch with a hubbed pole assembly that simplifies set up. Two side doors make this a very comfortable tent when shared with a partner, with separate side vestibules for external gear storage. The tent comes with mesh pockets and a gear loft for storing personal effects and features roof vents for enhanced ventilation. More durable fabrics and excellent waterproofing seal the deal. Click for specs and customer reviews.
6. Zpacks.com Duplex
The Duplex is made with an ultralight fabric called Dyneema Composite Material (formerly called cuben fiber – see cuben fiber FAQ), which is waterproof and won’t sag at night or when it rains. It is translucent however, which can compromise your privacy when camping in a group. The Duplex is also available in more opaque colors for an extra customization fee. Click for specs and customer reviews.
7. Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo
Review: See the SectionHiker Review of the Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo.
8. Tarptent Double Rainbow
The tent has a bathtub floor to prevent rain from entering the tent as well as large mesh sidewalls. Roof vents also help vent moisture and prevent internal condensation. This tent is very popular with ultralight backpackers and provides excellent value for the price. Click for specs.
9. NEMO Hornet 2P
Review: See the SectionHiker Review of the NEMO Hornet 2P Tent.
10. Kelty Salida 2
The inner tent is freestanding, making setup easy. Ample vestibule space and high sidewall protection provide privacy. Made with durable materials and aluminum poles, the Salida 2 is a bombproof tent good for beginner backpackers, scouts, and families who want a reliable waterproof tent that’s easy to use. Click for specs and customer reviews.
Tent Selection Criteria
Here are the most important variables to consider when buying a backpacking or camping tent.
WEIGHT/TRAIL WEIGHT – The total weight of a tent usually measures the tent and all of its packaging, while the trail weight is the weight of its poles, inner tent, outer rain fly, minus any tent stakes. Why the difference? Most people replace the tent stakes that come with a tent with lighter weight or stronger ones and leave all the extra stuff sacks and packaging at home rather than carry it.
TENT POLES – Tent poles are made using fiberglass, aluminum, or carbon fiber. Aluminum is the most durable of the three, while carbon fiber is normally only used in very high-end tents where the focus is on light weight. Fiberglass poles are the least durable tent poles and break frequently. So much so, that we recommend avoiding any tent with fiberglass poles. All the ones above have aluminum poles or use trekking poles. Most manufacturers who sell trekking pole tents offer regular tent poles as an add-on purchase.
DURABILITY – The floor of a tent is the part of a tent most likely to be punctured or torn as a result of ground abrasion. While using a footprint on floors that are 20 denier thick or less is always recommended, it’s far less necessary on 30 denier or higher floors, except on highly abrasive or rough terrain.
DOORS – Tents with two side doors are often preferable when purchasing a tent for two because it means each occupant can each get in and out without disturbing one another.
INTERIOR STORAGE – Interior pockets and storage organization is a plus in a multi-person tent. Look for internal pockets and gear loops to hang gear from the ceiling. A gear loft is an added bonus. Vestibule space is always a plus as well, but especially if there are multiple doors, so that gear storage does not block entry and exit.
VENTILATION – All tents experience tent condensation, but good tentsite selection and ventilation are the best ways to avoid it. Look for tents that have lots of mesh netting to facilitate airflow, top vents to release moist air, and door tie-backs to roll up tent doors and keep them open at night.
Check out SectionHiker.com’s other 10 Best Gear Guides!
- 10 Best Backpacking Packs of 2018
- 10 Best Backpacking Water Filters of 2018
- 10 Best Hiking Boots and Trail Shoes of 2018
- 10 Best Hiking Daypacks of 2018
- 10 Best Hiking Pants of 2018
- 10 Best Backpacking Rain Jackets of 2018
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