If your in the market for a backpacking tent you will quickly realize there are quite a few to choose from. Spending the time to find the right tent will make your trip into the backcountry much more enjoyable.
To help you make that decision we evaluated many of the top brands of tents based on weather resistance, ease of setup, weight, packed size, livability and of course cost.
First lets take a look at the best backpacking tents, then we’ll talk about how to choose the right one for your needs.
- Mountainsmith Morrison 2 Person 3 Season Tent
- ALPS Mountaineering Meramac 2 Tent
- Winterial 2-Person Light Weight Backpacking Tent
- Alps Mountaineering Alps Zephyr 2
- Big Agnes – Copper Spur Backpacking Tent
Here is a feature overview of the tents with full reviews and our buying guide below.
The Best Backpacking Tents
Backpacking Tent Reviews
While backpacking all day, the last thing you want is the burden of a heavy load. If you are hiking, camping, canoeing, or just spending a night or two in the great outdoors—finding the right tent is essential. When you are looking for the best backpacking tent, you want something lightweight, yet durable enough to handle whatever Mother Nature throws your way.
The Mountainsmith Morrison 2 person 3 season tent is a freestanding tent that weighs about five pounds and measures 7.5 by 18 inches (W x D) when it is packed in its stuff bag. You will have plenty of room to include all your other important gear in your pack. If you dread the thought of erecting a tent, you will love the color-coded pieces, providing easy assembly.
This tent is generally ready to go in five minutes or less. This citron green color is relaxing, as it blends well with nature.
Design and Features
- 14 square feet of vestibule space plus 35 square feet of main floor space
- Measures 56 by 43 by 92 inches (W x H x D) when set up
- 190T polyester floor with 5,000-millimeter rated polyurethane coating and tapered seams to keep interior dry
- 185T polyester rain fly with 2,000-millimeter rated polyurethane coating and color coded rainfly attachment system
- 185T polyester tent material
- Color coded aluminum two-pole design with instructions printed on stuff sack for quick reference
- 30-denier 244T nylon storage sack
- Limited lifetime manufacturer’s warranty
The Mountainsmith Morrison 2 person 3 season tent will withstand wind, rain, and light snowfall. It is a freestanding two-person tent with two doors and a vestibule at each door, to assist in blocking the wind and rain.
The vestibule doubles as a storage area for any extra gear and boots so that it isn’t taking up room in the main part of the tent or getting anything wet or muddy.
The tent is easy to pitch because of the color-coded fly attachment system and has a quick setup guide printed on the stuff bag. This is an asset when there is a possibility that your camping trip may turn wet without warning. The clip-pole attachments give this tent better breathability and make it a lighter weight.
The Mountainsmith Morrison has vented windows on the rainfly for ventilation as well as keeping out the mosquitoes, gnats, and other “no-see-ums” that like to bite at night. The tent is fairly roomy for a two-person tent and the second door is a great asset to prevent you from crawling over, in order to reach the door.
Is It Worth It
For the value, this is an excellent deal for any looking for a roomy, lightweight, backpacking tent. Mountainsmith Morrison proudly makes this tent in the USA, in Golden, Colorado. You will also appreciate the peace of mind, knowing that it is guaranteed for life!
The Bottom Line
The Mountainsmith Morrison is not the cheapest tent on the market but for the quality you get, and is the best backpacking tent under $200.
The two door feature and color-coded system makes this tent nice for a novice or the seasoned expert. This tent can even be assembled in the dark. The Mountain Morrison is our top pick for the best lightweight backpacking tent.
This two-pole designed, two-man tent is an excellent buy. Its reliable features, such as the shock corded fiberglass poles, a weatherproofed fly, and a limited lifetime warranty make it worth looking into. It is designed for high durability combined with a sleek look, and it achieves both with ease.
Design and Features
This polyester, taffeta tent has several eye-catching features. Its freestanding pole design utilizes just two shock corded fiberglass poles, and each door (one on each side) features a zippered window. The weatherproof rain fly, has its own ridgepole to create the awning. Since the rain fly is factory sealed, along with the floor seams, this tent is great for braving the rain or any unexpected elements that come your way. The tent set includes:
- Carry bags
- Two shock corded fiberglass poles
- Polyester taffeta tent
- Polyester rain fly with ridgepole
The Alps Mountaineering Meramac 2 is an awesome two-man tent. Its roomy interior of 38 square feet is perfect for two people or one person with a dog. The door and two windows seem to add the illusion of additional volume in the space. The mesh walls are a nice compliment to the mesh interior of the zippered doors and windows, creating the perfect flow of ventilation.The weatherproof rain fly comes with its own ridgepole and provides a small awning over each door, so that you can experience a little bit of extra protection from the elements.
The single zip operation with large #8 zippers makes getting in and out of this tent easy, too. The fly also safeguards the door zippers, further protecting the tent, zipper system, and giving you extra protection while you rest in the great outdoors.
One thing this tent has that other tents in its class typically do not have is external guy-out loops, which stabilize the tent in windy weather. These features make the Alp Mountaineering Meramac 2 perfect for all weather types. Although, it is highly recommended that you make the extra investment and purchase a tarp to keep the floor protected in all terrain types. An inexpensive tarp is a small price to pay for the longevity and comfort it adds to the tent.
Is It Worth It
The Alps Mountaineer Meramac 2 comes in at a lower price point than other tents in its class, while still providing high quality. It is offers excellent weather resistance, which is always a plus, since a surprise storm can always pop up.
Having an unreliable tent can completely ruin your trip. This tent will last a long time if you take care of it, and with a limited lifetime warranty, it is worth it.
In my opinion it is the best backpacking tent under $100.
The Bottom Line
This tent has many great features packed in a small price: it is tough against rain, it has added stability through guy-out loops, and it has a great low price with a warranty. It is the best backpacking tent for the money.
This basic two-person backpacking tent is an excellent choice for most any occasion. It is spacious, waterproof, has two doors, and sets up and breaks down easily. Its compact size and low weight (5.1 pounds shipping weight) make it a good addition to your backpacking ensemble.
Design and Features
This two-person tent fits easily onto any backpack. It has a rain fly with a vented roof and a system of just two metal-tipped poles, making for easy for quick setup and tear down. The included four metal stakes are easy to hammer down. The tent packs up at 4x4x23.5 inches. This lightweight tent features a few essentials right out of the bag:
- The tent
- A carry bag
- Two metal-tipped poles
- Four tent stakes
- A thirty-day 100% satisfaction guarantee
This tent is a great value for the price, and it does an excellent job of keeping out the weather. The floor space provides plenty of room for two people. The tent itself rolls up and stores back in the storage bag easily, a feature any camper knows is worth its weight in gold.
The fly is designed well, angling away from the tent so that water flows away from the two entrances, which are on either side.
The fly also has flaps you can prop open, creating comfortable airflow. Both doors are zippered for easy access and the double layers work well to keep out the rain.
The pole system isn’t designed with durability in mind: the poles are fed through a mesh track, which is easily ripped. A snapping system would have made more sense for easy setup. It’s basically a cheap tent, but it does its job for the money.
Is It Worth It
The low cost on this tent is suitable for what the tent does. Not a huge value, but if you are on a budget and do not need a tent to stand up to a ton of wear and tear, this tent will do the trick.
The Bottom Line
This tent is a great fit for first-timers or occasional backpackers. It is inexpensive and not meant for longevity or severe weather.
We decided we couldn’t leave this tent out, so this is our 4th best tent. The Zephr 2 fits its name (zephyr means “a soft gentle breeze”) with its lightweight fabric and smooth zipping system: it’s a breeze to carry and set up. However, the best part of the Zephr 2 is its protection from the rain and its roomy size.
This two-person tent comfortably fits into a backpacking system with a 5.9-pound weight inside its compression sack. The fly stretches to create a roomy vestibule in front of both doors (one on each side) perfect for stashing shoes and extra gear. Looking for a tent that performs as it promises? You might have just found it.
Design and Features
The Alps Mountaineering Zephyr 2 is a polyester-backpacking tent that measures thirty-one square feet inside, enough space to accommodate two adults with ease and room. This freestanding tent has two vestibule square footage areas, and has a roomy peak height. It comes with a 75D 185T taffeta floor with a 2000mm coating, and a 75D 185T polyester rain fly that stays tight and does not absorb UV rays. You should be ready for whatever elements Mother Nature throws your way! Out of the box, this handy tent set includes:
- Two freestanding poles made of 7000 series aluminum with their own bag for safe storage, when not in use
- Convenient pole clips that easily snap over tent poles
- Sturdy polyester rain fly
- Tent with two doors and mesh walls
- Compression sack measuring eighteen inches in length with seven inch circumference
- Spare ties and stakes
This tent is true to its claim of standing up to UV rays and rainy weather. The fly stays tight, and the factory sealed fly and floor seams battle excess water like a champ. The extra square footage outside the tent provided by the pair of vestibules on each side adds a little luxury when you are out camping on the trail.
If you are going to use this as your ‘go to’ backpacking tent for the long term, it is best to purchase a tarp, or the manufacturer floor saver for an extra $20, to protect the floor, as this tent struggles to stay dry on uneven surfaces.
We all know finding an even surface can be quite the challenge out in nature. Large #8 zippers on the single-zipper system make it a breeze to open and close, and the mesh walls provide good ventilation, a must for any backpacking trip.
Besides the need for added floor protection, the Zephyr 2 is a great little backpacking tent. In fact, for a lightweight tent with a floor, this is a great, economical buy. Keep in mind that many backpacking tents forego floors to save on weight.
The floor setup on the Zephyr 2 only takes two or three minutes thanks to the two-pole design. One thing to be aware of is the possibility of the back plastic window leaking after a few trips, but Alps Mountaineering customer service will get out a replacement in the mail immediately if this happens to you.
Is It Worth It
On the upper end of lightweight 2-person backpacking tents, the Zephyr 2 is still a good buy. Its reliable weatherproofing system and quality design, not to mention easy two-pole storage and setup, make it a solid investment for your adventures. To top it all off, the tent comes with a limited lifetime manufacturer’s warranty.
The Bottom Line
Overall, the Zephyr 2 is a great combination of quality and convenience for an inexpensive backpacking tent. The weatherproofing is sound and the added floor is a bonus. Though the floor is not the best of quality, it is still an added special feature for this type of tent.
A small investment of a tarp will greatly increase the longevity of the flooring and appreciation of the tent floor, while adding a little extra comfort. The Zephyr 2 might be the best 2 person tent for the money.
The Big Agnes is an excellent backpacking tent overall. It is not the best in any particular category but as an over package it is one of the best and worthy of you consideration.
I like the overhead ventilation that reduces condensation build up that usually happens in the cool morning air. The Big Agnes is comfortable with a 42 inch head height and steep walls for maximum space.
The guy points provide the tent with a solid footing that will hold up to strong winds. The Big Agnes is not the lightest tent but not overly heavy either, coming in about 3.2 pounds for the 2 person model.
The Big Agnes is a free standing tent so not pegs are required, ideal for small camp sites or hard/rocky soil.
Design and Features
This Big Agnes two-person tent fits easily onto any backpack. It has a vented roof to reduce condensation and with aluminum lightweight tent poles.
- Weighs 3lb 2oz
- 2 Doors
- Packed Size: 5.5″ x 17.5″
- Head Height 42″
- Floor Area 29 sq ft
- 2 Vestibule Areas of 9 sq ft each
The Big Agnes is a free standing, 3 season tent that is ultra-lightweight. Considering its size and features, they packed in a lot in a small package that only measures when packed 5.5″ x 17.5”.
I like that it has four interior mesh pockets and a couple of media pockets for keeping essentials handy and out of the way and ideal for your smart phone or GPS mapping device.
The tent is made from an ultra lightweight nylon and polyester mesh that provides excellent ventilation, especially with both doors open. The floor and the fly are made from a water proof rip stop nylon with a silicone coating.
The Big Agnes is a pretty easy to setup that uses single hub interconnected pole for ease of setup and lightweight. It comes with 8 aluminum J stakes and the poles and connectors are color coded to make setup quick and easy.
Is It Worth It
I wouldn’t consider the Big Agnes a “bargain” but for the quality and features its definitely one of the top backpacking tents on the market. The fabric is fairly tough ad durable but you still need to take care of it and store it properly to maintain its life.
The Big Agnes is big enough to use for all your camping needs, whether you are car camping or taking a 2 week trip into the backcountry. In my opinion this the best backpacking tent under $300 you will find.
The Bottom Line
For such a lightweight and feature rich tent the price tag on is reasonable in my opinion. The Big Agnes is a worthy contender for an all-around backpacking tent. With features like 2 doors and vestibules, totally weather resistant 3 season tent the Big Agnes should be at the top of your list.
How To Choose a Backpacking Tent
Backpacking requires some good forethought, planning and equipment. The tent you choose may save your life. Your tent will not only provide you shelter in the woods; it will also protect you from the elements. The backpacker that is going to call their tent home for a period of time must consider several things.
When your carrying everything on your back for days, every ounce is important. Naturally you want the lightest possible tent. Keep in mind that light weight must balanced against durability. In many cases lightweight tents sacrifice durability to achieve their light weight.
Seems like a bit a strange consideration but it actually is something you need to consider. Having a second door is a nice feature. The biggest advantage being better air flow and ventilation in warm or hot weather. A secondary advantage is if you are traveling with a companion, you can each use one of the entrances and keep all your gear on that side of the tent.
This is pretty easy to determine. Just consider what time of year you will be using the and the conditions you will be camping in. Its always best to prepare for the coldest possible conditions you will likely be exposed to.
3 Season Tents
You find this to be by far the most common tent. They are an excellent option assuming you will not be camping into the winter season. 3 season tents are usually lightweight and most have 2 doors for air flow.
4 Season Tents
If you are going to be heading into the backcountry in winter conditions then you will need to go with a 4 season tent. This type of tent is able to handle the wind and weight of a snowfall. If you wll be camping in early spring or late fall, consider going with a 4 season tent.
Ventilation and Air Flow
We have already mentioned this but it is a major consideration in your choice of backpacking tent. The choice of fabric the tent is made of determines how well air flows through the tent. A poorly ventilated tent will allow condensation build up leading to an annoying dripping, getting you and your gear wet.
What you need from your backpacking tent will vary by where you are going and conditions. A good tent will be able to handle a thunderstorm with a torrential downpour on one day and strong winds trying to blow your tent away the next. Don’t forget about having a screen for protection from mosquitos and other annoying insects.
Type of Tent
Freestanding: As you might expect a freestanding tent does not need tent pegs to hold down the tent. This is course makes them easier and quicker to setup. This is especially important in rocky conditions where getting a peg into the ground is difficult. They are also an excellent choice where you have a limited area for setting up the tent.
Pegged: A pegged tent typically has the advantage of light weight but needs guylines and pegs to pitch the tent.
Double Wall Tents: This type of tent has 3 parts, an inner tent that is usually water resistant and a floor that is water proof plus poles for setting up the tent. This type of tent is very popular because they are easy to pitch, comfortable and good protection.
Tunnel Tents: As you might expect, this tent uses a couple hoop shaped poles and guylines to hold the tent up.
There are 2 main types of fabric used in backpacking tents.
Polyurethane Coated: By far the most common fabric for tents because it is the cheapest. It provides a good waterproofing with reasonable durability. There are varying levels of quality with polyurethane, on the cheaper tents the coating will dry up and flack off. They are especially prone to this is hot and humid conditions.
Silnylon: This is a step up from polyurethane, nylon coated with silicone is extremely water resistant, stretches and is UV resistant. It’s also a great choice for winter camping as snow slides easily off it. The downside is that it is more expensive than polyurethane. Silnylon is an ideal choice of fabric.
How big a tent you need is determined by 1. How many people are going and 2. How much gear do you have? A 2 person tent is the most popular and versatile. Going with a partner, you will have room for 2, and if your going by yourself you can still use it and enjoy the extra room. If your bringing a lot of gear or a big person, you will be better served going up in size in rating.
There a few additional things to consider when evaluating what size is best for your preferences. Will you be sleeping in a sleeping bag or on a sleeping pad? How much gear you will be holding inside your tent? Are you comfortable sleeping in close quarters or do typically like a little extra room?
The most important consideration is the number of people that will be sleeping in the tent during your backpacking trip. If a tent specifies that it sleeps two people, it typically means that has reasonable space to accommodate two people for sleep, not enough to turn it into a “mobile home”.
Backpacking tents have come a long way in design, they used to be strictly for sleeping and livability was not a concern. They used to have steeply sloped walls and very little headroom. Newer designs have opened up the living space without adding weight with the use of modern materials and fabrics.
Volume: A backpacking tent with steeply slopes walls, the tent was designed for weight savings in mind while sacrificing livability. Unless you are able to get in the tent ahead of time you will need to study the design. Fortunately this is not too difficult, you can tell the interior volume by looking at the pitch of the tent walls.
Floor Plan: The width and length measurements will give you a good idea of floor space. It doesn’t give you a good idea how its laid out but it is a useful comparison between tent models.
Height: How high the peak of the tent is will give you a good idea how roomy the interior of the tent is. Keep in mind that peak height is measured from a single spot so its not perfect.
Tent Wall Shape: This is the biggest factor in how livable the tent is, even more so the peak height. The more vertical the walls the more room will be inside the tent and more livable.
Vestibule: These extensions on the front of a tent give you some area for storage of gear that is sheltered from the elements. Bigger is better but must be balanced against extra weight.
Tent Color: Not normally one of your chief concerns but it is something to consider. If your looking to blend into the environment, probably more so important for hunting, look for greens and browns. If your looking to be seen, in say an emergency situation, brighter colors would be a better choice.
New to camping? I created a guide for beginners: Essential Camping Gear. Also remember what you carry the tent in, your backpack is a critical, here is my guide to the best backpacks and backpacking stoves.
And of course what you have on your feet, might be the most important gear of all. I review my favorite hiking shoes here.