Tents have been around for a long time and they are still commonly used today. Many nomadic peoples live in them.
Armies all around the world are using tents as an important part of their infantry equipment. But, the most widespread use of tents is for recreational purposes.
Since backpacking is an activity that involves walking and carrying weight, for backpackers the best backpacking tent is a light tent.
The overall mass of the tent is very important, but its functionality depends on many other factors too.
The quality and the characteristics of the materials the tent is made of, the complexity of the assembly process, the packing requirements, and the size of the space inside all need to be considered when you are searching for the best backpacking tent.
To help you make the right decision, we will observe the pros and the cons of the best backpacking tents through seven categories. We will consider all the relevant factors and answer the frequently asked questions.
In the end, it is up to you to use all the carefully gathered information and, based on your needs and preferences, decide which tent is the best backpacking tent for you.
(On a tighter budget? See our favorite backpacking tents under $100 here)
The Quick Answer
The purpose of all tents is pretty much the same; they should keep you protected from the elements, most importantly keep you dry, and they should give you privacy.
Backpacking tents today do not differ much in shape either. So what should you look for when you are choosing the best backpacking tent?
Well, this depends on your particular needs. Are you satisfied with having space only for yourself?
Are the simplicity and speed of the assembly process your priorities? Do you believe in the old school, rigid poles and fabric, or do you prefer more flexible solutions?
Whatever it is, this article has some good suggestions to help you choose the best backpacking tent.
Let’s take a look now at the best backpacking tents in each of the categories.
For a single person, the best available option is the ALPS Mountaineering Lynx tent. If you enjoy sharing your tent or you plan to go backpacking with a partner or friend, the best backpacking tent for two people is the Campla Backpacking Tent.
For those who do not think that three is a crowd, Winterial Three-person Tent is a fine option.
A party of four would feel really comfortable in the ALPS Mountaineering Meramac, four-person tent.
The budget can be a limiting factor sometimes. Luckily, there are more than a few backpacking tents for those who are looking not to overspend.
A superb low-budget solution is the iCorer Waterproof Lightweight tent, for two to three persons.
If you are looking to spend a bit more, but still keep the expenses under $100, the WolfWise Two-person Four-season tent is the best backpacking tent for you. In a price range under $200 is another great tent - the Kelty Salida Tent.
Most people do not see the winter as the best time to sleep outdoors, but there is a tent for those who do. The Lux Tempo Two-person Four-season is the best backpacking tent for all-weather conditions.
The Weanas Professional Backpacking Tent is definitely the family’s choice for backpacking and camping.
Our Backpacking Tent Comparison
Backpacking Tent Reviews
The previous table is like a bikini: It shows everything but reveals nothing. Sure, it is useful to know the dimensions and other physical characteristics, but there are many more factors that contribute to what makes these tents the best backpacking tents. Keep reading for a deeper analysis of each of these products.
This is an overview of all the category-winning tents, with a special insight into all the pros and cons that make them the best backpacking tents.
1. ALPS Mountaineering Lynx Tent (Best 1 Person)
The best thing about this tent is its simplicity. There are no unnecessary complications here. The two-pole design is a perfect solution for easy assembly.
You might even argue that the ventilation is “too good” because most of the walls are made of mesh. For all that matters, this is a three-season tent and winter adventures are excluded.
The tent is equipped with eight large zippers and the floor insulation is 2cm (almost an inch) thick. So, you should not wake up wet if the rain tries to ruin your trip.
Still, keep in mind that this is not some tent with superpowers. Handle it with care and assemble on higher ground, out of direct sunlight.
The size of this tent is perfect for a single person and the weight is not out of the ordinary. However, the height of only 36” might seem low. Tall backpackers beware, as this one is not your best backpacking tent.
Who is it best for?
This tent is a good pick for those solitary travelers who are happy to use their polyester accommodation for sleeping only. Although no one expects to walk into a backpacking tent, the height of this particular one could be just a bit too low.
2. Campla Backpacking Tent (Best 2 Person)
A very modern backpacking tent. If other tents were throwing a casual party, this one would definitely come overdressed.
The basic cover layer is well ventilated through mesh-made doors and two small triangle-shaped windows, but the additional wind and rain cover is included as well. This promising feature should be enough to guarantee a safe stay outdoors, no matter the weather.
Another innovative and rather cool feature is the LED waterproof, detachable, light strip. It is USB-charged and provides useful, long-lasting illumination.
This is a very convenient and eco-friendly way to light up your evening of camping. Let’s just hope that the bears are not curious.
The manufacturer states that this tent is very simple to disassemble and that it accommodates two people.
Who is it best for?
This is a tent for couples or those who prefer more space over practicality. The additional cover and LED light are useful but can be too much to handle for beginners or people who prefer to carry as little as possible.
If you don’t believe that less means more, this could be your perfect backpacking tent.
3. Winterial Three-person Tent (Best 3 Person)
A very light three-person tent. Two aluminum poles and four stakes are all you need to put together to assemble this tent.
Looks simple enough for anyone and features no unnecessary parts. This is not a five-star tent but a basic shelter for up to three people.
Roof ventilation is a nice feature as long as it performs well in heavy rain. The manufacturer does not supply any data about the floor insulation, but everything else about this tent makes it seem like a very sturdy and durable option.
Having one door only is not the best solution for a tent that is supposed to accommodate three people. For the person furthest away from the door, it could prove to be a bit of a quest to exit.
Who is it best for?
If you don’t care, you don’t share. This then is not a tent for you. Also, a three-person tent is all about space and practicality.
There is no room for additional, fancy features. Do you want to enjoy nature and use your tent only for resting? If so, this is your best backpacking tent.
4. ALPS Mountaineering Meramac (Best 4 Person)
A bestseller in its category and coming from a company whose name really rings the bell, this tent is the best four-person backpacking tent currently available. The design features some innovations, such as the shock-corded fiberglass poles.
This is a truly spacious tent. Standing at 60 inches high, it looks like it’s a whole size larger than other tents in its category. This size comes at a price too. When packed, the tent weighs over 11 lbs.
The polyester cover offers good protection against rain and UV radiation, and a two-door design is very handy. The storage pockets and the gear loft, located on the inside, support a better use of space.
Who is it best for?
This is a group tent. It is tall, spacious, and well-vented. The two doors make it very practical as well.
If you are a social camper and you have good friends or family to share your outdoors experience with, share the weight of this tent too.
Best Budget Backpacking Tents
5. iCorer Waterproof Lightweight Tent (Best Cheap Tent)
This is a truly convenient and spacious backpacking tent too. It can accommodate two to three adults.
Polyester cover and fiberglass poles are the materials of choice for this budget tent. The overall weight is low (4.8 lbs.) for a rather large backpacking tent. No cuts were made where it matters the most.
The floor is 2cm thick and waterproof, and the mesh-made walls keep the tent well-vented. An additional sun-protection roof is included.
The manufacturer offers a 90-day limited warranty for this backpacking tent.
Who is it best for?
This truly is a lightweight tent, so anchoring it down well is very important. Also, some terrains (ex. rocky) might not provide the best surface for assembling it.
More experienced backpackers could find this tent to match their needs and skill level.
6. WolfWise 2-Person, 4-Season Tent (Best Under $100)
If you could start a fire inside this tent, you could be camping all winter. This is the kind of feeling that the manufacturer is aiming for with this tent.
Double-stitched seams and aviation-grade aluminum leave an impression of superior durability. It is a big and tall tent that can accommodate two people in most weather conditions.
Eight stakes hold it firmly on the ground and an extra wind rope is thrown in as well. The tent comes with a rain cover and a USB LED light. Two doors are a very convenient feature too.
Who is it best for?
For all the persistent backpackers who refuse to stop wandering until it gets too cold. This tent is built to be completely windproof and waterproof. It is an all-year tent for camping enthusiasts.
7. Kelty Salida Tent (Best Under $200)
This tent is just about as small as a two-person tent can get. Compact packing dimensions and light weight could be an advantage to some. For tall people, however, this only means more diagonal sleeping.
The Kelty Salida is a freestanding tent with one door. Like most of the tents in this category, it is simple to assemble and to pack.
The interior is equipped with storage pockets and gear loft loops. Materials are solid, reliable, and should last a long time.
All put together, this is a very affordable, classical two-person tent.
Who is it best for?
If you need a two-person tent and you don’t feel like experimenting with more modern solutions, this is the best backpacking tent for you. It has all the features you would need in a tent, it can fit two people and it is still a lightweight, easy to carry and assemble, highly durable backpacking tent.
8. Lux Tempo 2-Person, 4-Season Tent (Best Four Season Tent)
This is a very good example of an all-weather tent – because tents are not all about bad weather and worrying about whether you will stay dry or get wet. This tent has it all.
Cross-ventilation to keep you cool and stop condensation in warm weather and a 3 cm thick PU coated floor, to keep you and your gear dry even in pouring rain.
The inner tent has a mesh roof to enable stargazing on clear, warm nights. Another mesh layer is on the inner side of the door and can be opened only from the inside, guaranteeing privacy. This is a two-person, four-season tent and it has space and the equipment to prove it.
Who is it best for?
It is a tent for campers and backpackers who are passionate about their gear. More importantly, it is truly a four-season tent.
Sun, rain or snow, this tent has everything necessary to perform well. Only low temperatures can stop you from staying outdoors in a tent like this.
9. Weanas Professional Backpacking Tent (Best for Family)
This is an easy-to-set-up family tent. The tent is clipped to two aluminum poles, there are no sleeves, which makes the whole assembly process much faster.
It is a four-person tent, so two doors really simplify going in and out. However, the dimensions show that people taller than six feet will probably have some issues with sleeping in this tent.
The 6.2 lbs. of weight do not seem as very light to carry, but then again, this is a big tent. For any reason, the manufacturer offers a thirty-day money-back guarantee. For quality-related issues there is a 12-month warranty.
Who is it best for?
This tent is perfect for families or larger groups of campers looking to share the shelter. As long as the occupants are not too tall, this tent will provide enough space for a comfortable night of sleep. It is affordable even for those on a tight budget.
Buying Guide: What to Look for in Your Next Backpacking Tent
This is really important. You will never feel comfortable if you cannot fully fit inside your tent. Some people choose to sleep diagonally.
Others don’t mind squeezing in for a night or two, but sleeping is not something you should try to save money on.
There is no room for compromise here, no matter how attractive the low price and some fancy additional features are. Size is important in the world of tents. Your best backpacking tent has to be the right size for you.
It’s not all about the floor size – the height is important too. If you cannot sit in the tent, don’t buy it. Also, take into consideration all the gear that you might want to keep inside.
Do you want to use the sleeping bag or an inflatable mattress? Only when everything fits, and you still feel comfortable inside the tent, is it good enough for you.
A special concern for every backpacker is the weight of the load they are carrying. A tent is a great contributor to the overall weight of the backpack, even though the common materials used for making tents are light, like aluminum or fiberglass.
When it all adds up, you might be left with quite a big load to carry if you are not careful. So, choose wisely, always check the manufacturer's specifications and the weight of the fully packed tent.
Assembling and disassembling the tent is a process some people find complicated, time consuming or even boring. Others take pride in their tent-assembling skills and do it with joy and ease. It is up to you to decide to which group you belong to.
If you are a beginner, choose a tent that is simple to put up. There are many tent models available on the market which can be put up by following just a few simple steps.
Those tents have a low number of parts and take little time and effort to assemble. Bigger, more demanding models can be a headache for inexperienced campers.
If you are fond of puzzle-like challenges, this is a good opportunity for you to put that logical thinking to work.
Think of the Weather and the Terrain
Before choosing the best backpacking tent, ask yourself a few questions. What do you need the tent for? Where are you going to use it?
You need to choose a tent that will perform well in the terrain and weather conditions where you will be spending most time. Heavy rain, strong winds, and extreme cold or heat can seriously affect your outdoor time and your equipment too.
Some terrains can also be demanding. Stakes can hardly be driven into the rocky soil and wetlands are not the best place to put up a tent.
The bottom line is that your best backpacking tent has to be able to withstand the conditions and keep you safe and dry everywhere.
Backpacking on a Budget?
Budget control is the reality of most people’s lives. If you are looking for a quality tent but you don’t want to spend too much money, it's definitely possible. Check the cost appropriate recommendations above--something to suit every budget.
Best Backpacking Tent FAQ
Is my tent truly waterproof?
This is probably the number one concern regarding all tents. The answer is not so simple and straightforward. Many factors influence the waterproof characteristics of a tent. The most important one is certainly the quality of the tent and the materials it was made of.
All tents are made to be waterproof but usually only under certain conditions. Proper use and handling of a tent should result in it functioning accordingly.
This means that if you, for example, assemble your tent in the foothills during a shower, the water is bound to enter it at some point.
The main purpose of a tent is to provide a temporary shelter. This means that tents cannot be seen as a permanent solution to rain, snow, and other weather conditions that may occur in nature.
Always choose a slightly higher ground for positioning your tent. Avoid depressions, slopes, soft ground and any areas that look wet.
Can this tent be used In all temperatures?
Changes in temperature affect us all and everything around us. Even steel is affected by sharp and constant changes in temperature in the long run. Tents are no exception.
What matters more here are the short-term effects of temperature changes. Extremely cold or extremely hot temperatures are more likely to make us unable to spend time in tents than they are to cause any damage to them.
It is important to know that tents offer little protection against direct sunlight and heat, and no ventilation system can change that. The same applies to extreme cold; advising anyone to stay in a tent in freezing temperatures is utterly irresponsible.
To sum it all up, tents will suffer little or no damage in extreme temperatures over short periods of time. But we should be very careful about the time we choose to spend inside the tents.
What does the expression “three-season tent” mean?
Expressions like “three-season tent” or “four-season tent” have, surprisingly, caused confusion with some people. If a tent is a three-season tent that does not imply it should be used for three seasons only and then scrapped.
What this actually means is that the tent’s characteristics allow it to be used for three seasons during the year (usually spring, summer, and fall). Following the same logic, we can see that a four-season tent is really a tent that can be used all year long.
Does this tent protect against dust as well?
Many people ask this question. Considering that all tents are set up on the ground, dust can be a serious issue in places with extremely dry soil. Dust particles are extremely fine, and it is hard to stop them from penetrating almost everywhere.
Most tents are composed of the inner tent, usually mesh-made for dry weather and ventilation purposes, and the outer cover, or rain cover. The rain cover is used to protect from the rain but the bad thing about it is that it also does not let any air through.
Talking about dust, the inner tent is useless for stopping it. The only way to stop the dust from entering the tent is to use the rain cover. The heat becomes a problem here because dusty areas are usually hot and sunny.
This could make your choice harder. Will you accept some dust in return for a breath of refreshing wind, or block the dust but suffer the heat?
What is a freestanding tent?
All backpacking tents are freestanding. The meaning of this is that they do not need any outside support to stay erect. Some other types of tents need to be kept tied to other objects, such as trees, or else their parts need to be inserted into the soil.
Although backpacking tents support themselves, they still need to be secured with stakes driven into the ground. This is not for support but to stop them from flying away. Due to their light weight, backpacking tents can be swept away by a stronger breeze.
How to stop condensation in a tent
Condensation is a normal occurrence in tents but it also a very annoying one. You can never be completely safe from condensation but there are a few tricks that can help you prevent it.
Keeping your tent well-vented is the most important thing. Don’t keep any wet things inside the tent and don’t use heaters.
Don’t put your tent up close to a large body of water. Instead, try to find a spot that gets plenty of natural breeze. Last but not least, never cook inside the tent.
Even with all the precaution, condensation might still occur in your tent. The only smart thing to do if you notice it is to wipe it off with a towel.