There are plenty of backpacking tents on the market, but they aren’t all created equally. Finding the best camping tent with enough interior space for your next backpacking trip takes time. If you’re planning a hiking trip and you’re looking for a one or two-person tent for backpacking, especially an ultralight tent, we’ve got a few suggestions.
What Makes a Great Backpacking Tent?
First, it’s important to think about what’s important to you in a backpacking tent.
Start with how much you want to spend on a camping tent. You can find a tent in just about any price range and lower or higher prices don’t necessarily mean a worse or better tent. Chances are if you spend a little bit more you’ll get better quality, but this doesn’t mean you need to rush out and spend thousands of dollars to get a two-person tent with rain fly or an ultralight backpacking tent that’s right for you.
Have a budget range in mind before you begin to shop and unless you realize you absolutely can’t get the tent you need within that budget, do your best to stick to it.
Next, you’ll want to consider the number of people who can fit into the tent. Chances are every single hiking trip won’t be the same for you but, in general, people tend to hike alone or with others. If you’re taking your family along on tents you’ll need to accommodate them. If you travel alone, you’ll need a tent for one for the most part, unless you know you’ll occasionally invite a friend.
In addition to capacity, you’ll want to think about overall size. Size means more than just capacity. For instances, there are small one-person tents and large ones, so it’s important to get a feel for how much space you and your fellow hikers need in addition to how much space there is to sleep.
In some cases, the length of your hiking trips will determine the overall size of your tent because you’ll need space for your gear. On the other hand, some people just like to carry a lot of gear with them when they camp, even if they are only going for a short period of time. Just remember, if you’re hiking, any gear you have with you will need to be carried on your hike.
Tents are designed for various weather conditions, meaning that they’ll be appropriate in different seasons. Three season tents mean they work in spring, summer, and fall. In most cases, they are made from mesh and are pretty lightweight. This means they are great for hiking, but less than great when it comes to severe weather conditions. You definitely won’t want to use a three season tent during the winter or if you plan to hike in areas known for violent storms.
Three and a half season tents offer a little more protection from the elements and usually have solid panels that zip out under milder conditions.
Four season tents are supposed to be appropriate for year-round conditions, but some of this depends on the area where you intend to hike and camp. These are the most weatherproof tents available and feature strong poles and fewer mesh panels. They are heavier and can hold off rainstorms and provide some insulation. Four season tents are heavier, so unless you plan to camp in harsher conditions, there’s no sense in taking on the added weight.
Additionally, if you’re looking for a tent that can stand up in extreme weather conditions, you’ll want a tent with a waterproof floor to keep the bottom of the tent dry and protected.
There are a few different shape options for an ultralight backpacking tent. Most people choose a domed tent because they are simple to set up and offer plenty of space. They also operate well in windier conditions because they are so aerodynamic.
Tunnel tents are less common but are lightweight and easy to set up. They aren’t that wind resistance so you’ll want to set up camp in an area that offers some natural protection if it is windy.
A-frame tents are not as common as they used to be but are considered a traditional option. They are simple to assemble and handle snow well but don’t supply the same space as domed tents.
Staked or Not Staked?
The final choice you’ll make when it comes to choosing the best backpacking tent for your hiking rips is whether you want a staked or non-staked tent.
Staked tents offer more protection, but it means you’ll be carrying the stakes with you. This adds weight and bulk to your load, so make sure a staked tent is necessary before heading down this route. Ideally, you’ll want the fastest and lightest set up anywhere, especially since many hikers are only at a site overnight, so oftentimes non-staked tents are the best choice.
Our Picks for Best Backpacking Tents for Hikers
The Big Agnes is a popular choice among hiker because it’s an ultralight tent, but still provides plenty of space. It weighs three pounds and the dimensions are 88”X52” X42”, which is more than most people expect considering the weight. Two people can fit into this tent. It’s stable during windier conditions and as two doors and an extra vestibule for privacy. The Big Agnes offers an option to get the tent equipped with LED lights for an added cost.
This tent weighs almost four pounds and has fairly comfortable dimensions at 89”X52” X42”. It’s easy to set up and won’t set you back all that much financially. It’s lightweight enough to carry on longer hikes but doesn’t sacrifice space. It also has a bathtub floor, so we love it in rainier weather.
This three-season tent is made from polyester and feature two doors. It’s plenty spacious with a two-person vestibule and room for to sleep two people. Its bathtub floor means it’s going to stay dry in the rainy spring months. It’s a budget-friendly tent that’s great for two people camping.