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10 Best Backpacking Tents

10 Best Backpacking Tents

What are the best backpacking tents? The majority of backpackers purchase two person tents so they can bring a friend 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

Best Tents Big Agnes Copper Spur HV Ul2

The Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 2 Person Tent ($449) is the most popular backpacking tent purchased today. Lightweight, but fully featured, it boasts an impressive interior space to weight ratio. A hubbed pole architecture and steep walls provide lots of interior space, while two doors and vestibules add convenience when used with a partner. Ample mesh provides circulation to fight condensation build-up, with plenty of interior pockets for personal items. Tent weight minus stakes is a miserly 2 pounds 12 ounces. Read the SectionHiker review.

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REI | Campsaver | Amazon

2. Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL 2

The Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL 2 ($399) is an ultralight double-wall tent that only weighs 2 lbs 4 oz. It has two doors, making it ultra-convenient for couples, or as a palace for one, with dual vestibules for gear storage. But the star of the show on this tent is the all-mesh inner-tent front wall, making it the most highly ventilated tent in Big Agnes’ line of lightweight tents. Read the SectionHiker review.

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REI | Campsaver | Amazon

3. MSR Hubba Hubba NX

MSR Hubba Hubba
The MSR Hubba Hubba NX ($449) is a great tent for two people. It’s incredibly easy to set up, lightweight, and has two doors so you can come and go at night without disturbing your partner. Nearly freestanding, the pole configuration creates an interior space that has near vertical walls, providing excellent interior space and livability. With a trail weight of 3 pounds and 8 ounces, the Hubba Hubba NX is lightweight enough for backpacking use when shared by two people, but on the heavy side if used by one. Still, MSR has done a fine job designing this tent which is a spacious and comfortable. Read the SectionHiker review.

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4. REI Quarter Dome 2

REI Quarter Dome 2
The REI Quarter Dome 2 Person Tent ($349) has two doors and two vestibules, providing better access and gear storage when shared with a partner. A multi-hub pole architecture creates near vertical walls so occupants can both sit up inside the tent at the same time, but the tent pole and spokes can be unwieldy to set up. The inner tent has good airflow with ample mesh, with solid fabric panels that provide privacy and keep wind and dust from blowing into the tent. Convenience features including light hang loops and interior pockets are also provided.

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. Read the SectionHiker review.

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5. REI Half Dome 2 Plus

REI Half Dome 2 PLus
The REI Half Dome Plus 2 Person Tent ($229) is a great crossover tent for car campers who want to start backpacking. At 4 pounds 14 ounces, it is heavier than the REI Quarter Dome 2, but it’s significantly less expensive and has many features only found on high-end tents.

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.

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6. Zpacks.com Duplex

Zpacks-duplex-top 10 tents
The Zpacks Duplex ($599) is an ultralight trekking pole tent that only weighs 21 ounces. It has ample space for one person plus gear to spread out, but can also fit two people comfortably. It has two doors, so you get good ventilation and vestibule space on both sides of the tent, plus you don’t have to climb over your partner at night to go for a nighttime walk. The Duplex has a full bathtub floor, seam taped seams, and mesh sidewalls for insect protection. Pitching the tent requires two trekking poles, but the dual apex structure is quite wind resistant provided it’s staked out securely.

The Duplex is made with an ultralight fabric called Dyneema Composite Material (formerly called cuben fiber – see Dyneema Composite  Fabrics 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.

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7. Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo

Six Moon Design Lunar Solo
The Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo ($200) is an ultralight style, single walled tent that’s pitched with a single trekking pole. It’s also the only truly one person tent, listed in the top 10 tents purchased and recommended by backpackers. Weighing just 26 ounces, the Lunar Solo is quite lightweight and easy to set up. It has a bathtub style floor to prevent flooding in rain and a side door, making entry easy. The interior is quite roomy, with a pentagon shaped floor, providing room to store your gear in the tent, and plenty of head room to sit up inside. A large vestibule also provides gear storage and room to cook in bad weather. Read the SectionHiker review.

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Six Moon Designs

8. Tarptent Double Rainbow

Tarptent Double Rainbow
The Tarptent Double Rainbow ($299) is a single walled, two person tent that weighs 41 ounces. It has two side doors and two large vestibules for gear storage. Constructed as a single unit, the tent requires a single tent pole, which is inserted into a long sleeve sewn onto the top of the tent. Trekking poles can also be used in lieu of tent stakes, to stretch out the tent corners, such as on wooden platforms or rock ledge.

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.

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9. NEMO Hornet 2P

Nemo Hornet 2P
The Nemo Hornet 2P ($369) ultralight double-walled tent weighs just 1 pound 14.3 ounces rivaling many single-walled ultralight tents in terms of weight and cost. Featuring two side doors and a deep bathtub floor, the Hornet 2P is a comfortable tent for two, but lightweight enough for one person who wants more space to use. The inner tent hangs from an exoskeleton style hub and spoke pole using plastic clips. This creates a large air gap between the inner tent and the rain fly, that improves internal airflow and eliminates internal condensation. Mesh side walls improve air circulation while solid side panels provide privacy and wind protection. Read the SectionHiker review.

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REI | Campsaver | Amazon

10. Kelty Salida 2

Kelty Salida 2
The Kelty Salida 2 ($149) is a 2 person, side entry backpacking tent with one door and one vestibule, and two shock-corded poles. Weighing 3 pounds 14 ounces, it’s roomy for one and spacious for two, but still lightweight enough for backpacking.

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.

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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.

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