10 Best Freestanding Backpacking Tents of 2022

10 Best Freestanding Tents

Freestanding tents are the holy grail of backpacking tents because they can be set up quickly just about anywhere, on wooden tent platforms, rock, sand, snow, and even climber’s portaledges, without having to be staked to the ground first. This is particularly useful in poor weather when you need to get out of the weather and can’t search for a protected tent site or dig one out in the snow.

Here are the 10 best freestanding tents for backpacking that we recommend:

Make / ModelPeopleTrail Weight
Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2243 oz / 1219g
MSR Hubba Hubba 2246 oz / 1304g
NEMO Dagger OSMO 2254 oz / 1531g
Zpacks Duplex and Freestanding Kit229.2 oz / 828g
NEMO DragonFly 2241 oz / 1162g
NEMO Aurora 2273 oz / 2070g
Mountain Hardwear Aspect 2246.7 oz / 1324g
Slingfin Portal245 oz / 1305g
Tarptent Rainbow (multiple models)1, 224-48 oz / 680g-1248g
Marmot Tungsten UL2247.3 oz / 1361g

Most freestanding tents are wedge or dome-shaped, making them highly weather and wind-resistant. However, freestanding tents tend to be slightly heavier than non-freestanding ones because they have to be self-supporting, with long tent poles that add additional weight. Some two-person models can be cramped, particularly ones designed for mountaineering where comfort is often sacrificed in the name of reduced gear weight. Still, the experience of setting up a freestanding tent is liberating because you can pitch one anywhere there’s flat ground. That kind of flexibility is highly valuable when you need to get out of the weather and into a secure and stable shelter.

1. Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 2

Big Agnes Copper Spur 2
The Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 is a popular two-person backpack tent and with good reason. This freestanding tent is easy to set up and has two doors so you can get in and out without having to crawl over your companion at night. It has a spacious interior with lots of headroom and vertical sidewalls so you can change clothes and sit up inside without touching the sides.  Off-the-floor storage in the form of an oversized ceiling pocket in the head, side pockets, and media pockets provide plenty of space for personal items you want close at hand. Weighing just 2 lbs 11 oz, the Copper Spur is an exceptionally lightweight but fully featured backpacking palace. Read the SectionHiker Copper Spur HV UL2 Review. The freestanding one-person Copper Spur HV UL 1 is also a hiker favorite.

Check out the latest price at:
REI | Backcountry | Amazon

2. MSR Hubba Hubba 2 Tent (Updated)

MSR Hubba Hubba 2
The newly updated MSR Hubba Hubba 2 is a great tent for two people. Now even lighter weight, it’s easy to set up and has two doors so you can come and go at night without disturbing your partner. Freestanding, the pole configuration creates an interior space that has near-vertical walls and a truly rectangular floor plan, enabling the use of wide 25″ sleeping pads. With a trail weight of 2 pounds and 10 ounces, the Hubba Hubba 2 is lightweight enough for backpacking use when shared by two people. Read the SectionHiker review.

Check out the latest price at:
REI | MSR

3. NEMO Dagger OSMO 2 Tent

NEMO Dagger OSMO 2P
The NEMO Dagger OSMO 2P Tent is a spacious freestanding double-wall tent for two people with two doors and two vestibules. Weighing 3 lbs 6 oz, the tent is made with NEMO’s new OSMO polyester/nylon ripstop fabric which reduces rain fly sag when wet and improves waterproofing. The spacious interior and numerous livability accents make the Dagger OSMO 2P a great tent for tall people or couples that want more room to spread out. Read the SectionHiker Dagger OSMO 2 Review.

Check out the latest price at:
REINEMO

4. Zpacks Duplex + Freestanding Flex Kit

Freestanding Duplex Kit
The Zpacks Duplex is one of the most popular Dyneema trekking pole tents today. Weighing just 19 oz, it can accommodate two adults and has two doors and two vestibules. It can also be turned into a fully freestanding tent with the addition of the 10.2 oz Duplex Freestanding Flex Kit (trekking poles not required.) The kit includes two Easton carbon fiber tent poles and easy-to-install adapters that allow you to set up the Duplex as a freestanding tent so you can set it up on rock ledge, snow, or wooden platforms, where it can be difficult to secure tent stakes. Note: The Duplex + Duplex Freestanding Flex Kit is not the same as Zpacks FreeDuo Tent, which we do not recommend.

Check out the latest price at:
Zpacks

5. NEMO Dragonfly 2 Tent

The NEMO DragonFly 2 is a lightweight freestanding two-person tent with two doors and two oversized vestibules that provide ample storage for backpacks and wet hiking boots. Weighing 2 lbs 9 0z, its exoskeleton architecture comes with prebent tent poles that maximize head and shoulder space, providing plenty of room inside to change clothes or sit out rainy weather. The large D-shaped doors make it easy to enter and exit the tent and can also be rolled back in hot weather for extra ventilation. Overhead light pockets at both ends use special light-diffusing fabric to cast an even glow throughout the tent while interior gear pockets in the corners offer occupants ample storage for personal items. Read the SectionHiker DragonFly 2 Review.

Check out the latest price at:
REINEMO

6. NEMO Aurora 2 Tent w/Footprint

Nemo Aurora 2
The NEMO Aurora 2 is a freestanding two-person tent with two doors, two vestibules, and a lot of interior space. Weighing 4 lbs 9 oz, it has steep walls and a floor plan that’s wide enough to accommodate 25″ wide sleeping pads. Built-in gear pockets offer ample storage for personal items, while overhead light pockets use special light-diffusing fabric to cast an even glow throughout the tent. This tent comes with a footprint and includes snaps, so you can snap in an add-on pawprint interior liner to protect the floor from your dog’s paws.

Check for the latest price at:
REI | NEMO | Amazon 

7. Mountain Hardwear Aspect 2 Tent

MH Aspect 2 Freestanding Tent
The Mountain Hardwear Aspect 2 is a spacious two-person tent with two doors and two vestibules that weighs just 2 lbs 14.7 oz. Despite its extraordinary lightweight (for a tent of this size), it’s made with durable fabrics including a 40 denier floor ensuring many years of use. The rain fly is coated with silicone on both sides for longevity, waterproof protection, and enhanced resistance to the sun’s harmful rays.

Check for the latest price at:
Backcountry | Mountain Hardwear 

8. SlingFin Portal 2

Slingfin Portal Tent

The Slingfin Portal is a lightweight two-person tent that can be used year-round in more extreme weather (Slingfin was founded by Martin Zematis, the guy who started Mountain Hardware). Weighing just 2 lbs 13 oz, it has a unique internal guyline system that adds superb wind resistance without additional weight. Two large vestibules and numerous internal pockets provide best-in-class livability, while its freestanding, dome-shaped exoskeleton makes it easy to set up. Kickstand door vents provide unrestricted cross-tent airflow for excellent condensation management without sacrificing weather protection. Read the SectionHiker SlingFin Portal Review.

Check for the latest price at:
SlingFin

9. Tarptent Rainbow

Rainbow Li
The Tarptent Rainbow is available in multiple models: as a one or two-person tent, as a single or double-wall tent, and made with silnylon or Dyneema Composite fabrics. Most of the time, the people stake out the corners and vestibules of the Rainbow when they pitch it on ground that is soft enough to hold tent stakes. But it can also be set up as a completely freestanding tent by connecting the corners to the tops and bottoms of a pair of trekking poles. There’s no add-on kit required. You could set it up that way all the time if you wanted.

Check out the latest prices at:
Tarptent

10. Marmot Tungsten UL 2P

Marmot Tungsten UL 2

The Marmot Tungsten UL 2P is a two-person freestanding tent with two doors and two vestibules. It has a low-stretch polyester rain fly that won’t sag when it’s wet, which is a big plus in keeping the inner tent dry and free from internal condensation transfer. Weighing just under 3 lbs, the Tungsten UL is fully seam-taped and has a ceiling pocket to hold a headlamp for ambient light. Note: This tent is different from the much heavier Marmot Tungsten 2.

Check for the latest price at:
REI | Backcountry | Marmot

Freestanding Tent Selection Criteria

When evaluating freestanding tents, it helps to research the climate conditions you expect to use the tent in, as this will inform the degree of tent pole strength and breathability required.

Tent Ventilation

Tents windows, doors, and vents are Important to minimize and reduce internal condensation. This is achieved by keeping the door(s) open when feasible, through peak and side vents, and in some cases through the use of breathable wall fabrics. You can never have too much ventilation in a tent, although the addition of doors and zippers can result in increased weight.

Tent Pole Architecture

Most freestanding tents have two or three crossed poles, anchored inside or outside the tent walls. Exterior poles that are anchored in sleeves are much stronger than poles that connect to an inner tent using clips or velcro tabs. They’re much more wind resistant and capable of withstanding heavier snow loads.

Interior Tent Space

Freestanding tents designed for high alpine mountaineering use are often smaller and more cramped than those designed for four-season use because weight savings are so critical when you have to climb many thousands of feet to reach your destination. When selecting a tent be realistic about your length and width requirements, particularly when choosing a two-person wedge style tent.

Number of Doors

Tents designed to hold two occupants are more comfortable and convenient to use if they have two doors and vestibules because you can come and go without waking your tent partner. Dome-style tents often provide greater covered vestibule storage, which can make a significant difference in livability.

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25 comments

  1. Used to be on BPL

    I was going to check-in on my aging family, as I do every day, instead I stopped to read your article. Priorities Priorities Priorities.

    I look forward to reading your articles.
    Soothing to the soul.

    Next article should be: Eliminate arthritis joints pain in 10 seconds with no side effects.

    Thank you for the article.

  2. That Tarptent Rainbow in DCF sounds pretty interesting.

  3. It is a good idea to stake down your freestanding tent, or it may leave the area in a wind gust when you’re not inside.

    • The Mary Poppins Effect. Great to hear from you grannyhiker!

    • Outside Magazine used to have the last page devoted to an ironic photo called “Parting Shots”. My favorite was a tiny red dot in the sky over some mountains. The caption read, “Eureka Mushroom airborne over Adirondacks Park, New York.” Someone neglected to stake down his tent!

  4. Phillip, I’m making the jump to DCF. As a northeasterner doing most of my hiking and lightweight canoe tripping in the Adirondacks, I’m tired of slimy saggy sil nylon. I’m between the Duplex and some Tarptent models, mainly the rainbow li. Any thoughts on what might be best between those two?

    • Either the Duplex or the Rainbow Li. It will probably come down to who has the inventory. Zpacks makes all their stuff in their own factory in the US while Tarptent outsources to China, so the latter has shipping issues this year.

      • Right. I’ll buy either used so hoping to get lucky. Is there any stormworthiness or other major differences between the two that you can think of if both were available hypothetically?

  5. What happened to 1 person tents?

  6. I was surprised to see the venerable REI Quarterdome 2 absent from the list. Guess I have a soft spot for it since it was my first freestanding 2 person backpacking tent.

  7. I have no idea why you don’t recommend the ZPacks Free Duo. I have used the Duplex (with and without the Flex Option) for many years and love it. But there were times I wanted the versatility of freestanding, so I got the Free Duo. It’s a vast improvement over the Flex option. So for those reading the review, I offer my 2-cents worth: The ZPacks Free Duo is fantastic and I really don’t know why anyone wanting a true freestanding tent would pick the Duplex Flex over the Free Duo. If you like the idea of having one tent that you can use with either trekking poles or freestanding, the Flex makes sense… just be advised, it’s not a particularly strong set up and it is questionable in wind. By contrast, the Free Duo is strong! I’m lucky, I have both. The reviews of it have been very positive, so it’s hard for me to understand why it’s “not recommended.”

    • https://backpackinglight.com/zpacks-free-duo-tent-review/
      Ben, the author, has published several reviews on SectionHiker and is someone who is an excellent gear reviewer that I trust. We also observed livability issues and issues with the vestibules in the FreeDuo review we published.

      -Vestibules too small
      -If you have two people in the tent (2 sleeping pads @ 20″), you can’t zipper closed the rainbow doors, which means bug city.
      -Internal Condensation drips into living area

      None of these are issues with the duplex. In fact, you can get two people into it quite comfortably.

  8. Good list Phil but may I suggest inserting the KUIU Mountain Star 2 in place of the SlingFin Portal?
    The Mountain Star can be set up WHILE the inner tent is attached to the fly so it does not get wet in a storm or require contortions to attach an inner tent after getting the fly erected with the poles inside.

    This fly-with-inner-tent-attached is absolutely the best design and pitches faster in any weather. Just ask TT RAINBOW owners (or any of us Tarptent owners, for that matter0.

  9. Check out the Kuiu Mountain Star 2 person 3 season tent

  10. Hello, i’ve just read your nemo firefly review, the item however seems to be out of this list, so was wondering what’s your actual ranking for it? If its actually not one of the top 10s, may I ask what’s your reason behind that ? (or is it simply because this post was posted earlier than the product review)

    • I avoid listing tents that you cant buy. While we like the Firefly, NEMO has had a problem getting it manufactured this year or shipped back to the US/North America. For all practical purposes, it doesnt exist.

      • Thanks for the quick response! Here in APAC i could find some online retailers still selling Firefly (and even other discontinued tents from other brands, but in low stock) so I was unsure abt the reason at first, but now i see. Since the nemo firefly and the durston x-mid 2 (while not freestanding but still easy) are similar in terms of price in my region, which one will you choose out of the two? (Just narrowed my list down to these 2 and would like to seek for your professional advice since im a beginner…) If you have other recommendations, I’m open to other options as well! Thanks!!

        • If freestanding is a requirement, the firefly. I haven’t used an X-mid 2, just the one which I like quite a lot, but it is a trekking pole tent. A very different animal.

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