Guide to Choosing the Best Backpacking Tent

A Complete Guide to Choosing the Best Backpacking Tent

During a time where it is uncommon to not see someone with their eyes glued to a screen, it is becoming harder and harder to be reminded of the importance of stepping away from technology and going back to our roots. Nature is disappearing behind a seemingly endless array of buildings and factories, and we are continuing to lose sight of it.

Thankfully there are still ways in which we can combat this and escape the busyness of the city and our daily lives, and one of the most popular is through backpacking. It brings back our sense of freedom and allows us to see, hear, and touch nature again in the most natural way we know how.

But, to do this effectively and have a great experience every time, you will need a reliable tent to provide you with the protection, shelter, and security that nature doesn't always offer.

It is important to get a tent that can meet all of your backpacking and camping needs, and with such a saturated market, it can be a real challenge to do this. That is why we have created a guide that can help you narrow down the best tent for you based on quality, affordability, weight, and more, to give you a clear picture of how the perfect tent looks.

After we go over all of the details of the products, we will discuss the important features that you need to get to know so that you will be better equipped to choose the right pick on your first try. Read on to learn about our top five picks that are guaranteed to make your trek through the wilderness one that you’ll always remember.

Our Recommendations

Best 2 Person Backpacking Tent

Mountainsmith Morrison 2-Person 3-Season Tent

Mountainsmith Morrison Tent
OUR RATING
Specificatio​ns:
  • Tent and tent fly are made out of polyester to make it waterproof and lightweight
  • Equipped with ventilation windows on the tent fly
  • The total area of the tent is 35 square feet with a height of 43 inches
  • Two-door layout
  • Weight: 4lbs, 11oz
  • Three-season tent for spring, summer, and fall
  • Freestanding
  • Bathtub design

Overview

If you are looking for a spacious tent for yourself or that can comfortably fit an additional companion, the Morrison 2 by Mountainsmith is an excellent option to consider. It is very affordable compared to similar high-end designs with many of the same features and quality.

Usually, with tents in this price range, you will see a poor choice of material and bulkiness that should be avoided at all costs with backpacking, but this tent offers much more. It is made out of polyester, which isn't as great as the polycotton used in expensive models but gets the job done well.

It comes with a tent fly that is specially designed to protect you from rain and to give you the privacy you want when night time rolls around. There are two ventilation windows on either side to prevent condensation buildup, which is a common occurrence when using polyester. We also love that the tent fly provides two vestibules where the doors are for extra storage.

Material of Mountainsmith Morrison

Our favorite part about the tent is how much room there is inside. The area is about 35 square feet and gives plenty of room for two sleeping bags, no matter the sizes. The floor itself is made similar to that of a bathtub, so it is cozy and makes it feel more like a den when enclosed in the space.

We also love how lightweight this model is. It is a two-person tent, so naturally, it will be the lightest one out of the Morrison tents, but the weight isn't that far off compared to the top-notch models in store. This is thanks to the polyester that it is made out of, and the aluminum that the poles are made out of to make traveling lighter.

The last feature that we will talk about with this tent is how easy it is to set up. The tent comes in a nylon storage bag that has the instructions printed on the surface with visuals for reference. With the color coded poles and grommets on both sides of the tent, set up took us only a few minutes.

Best 3 Person Backpacking Tent

TETON Sports Mountain Ultra Tent

TETON Sports Mountain Ultra 3 Tent
OUR RATING
Specifications:
  • Comes with a micro-mesh inner tent with additional rainfly
  • Easily broken down after use and fits perfectly in storage bag
  • Mesh ceiling allows stargazing
  • Ventilation system that keeps it breathable and cool no matter the climate
  • Deep floor for a comfortable and cozy night’s sleep

Overview

Next up on our list is the Mountain Ultra Tent by TETON Sports. It is the best tent for backpacking available in its price range and is a very affordable place to start for anyone new to backpacking. The price point is about $160.

Despite its low price, the quality and performance is outstanding and doesn't diminish in the slightest. One of the things that separate it from the rest is the material that the tent is made out of and how it is used to make the product more enjoyable.

TETON Sports Mountain Ultra 3

The inner tent is made out of a micro-mesh material that gives the tent great ventilation, keeps out bugs, and makes the tent very lightweight. Because the mesh is see-through, you can enjoy the surrounding area even when you are inside, and the ceiling provides an incredible view of the night sky.

Like the first tent on the list, the rainfly provides two vestibules for storage and to keep the inside of the tent dry when it is raining. It also came with a footprint that is placed underneath for further protection from the ground.

Our favorite part of the tent overall, however, is its spaciousness and how it easily fits three people without a problem. Because of this, it is a little heavier since naturally it will weigh more being a bigger size, but it wasn’t too much of an issue. The trail weight with just the tent, rainfly, and pole is 6.6 pounds, and with everything included is goes up to 8.1.

Even though the weight isn’t ideal for most backpackers, the best part of this one is that the weight can be distributed among more people throughout your journey to make up for it. To balance the issue, the weight makes the tent more sturdy and able to hold up better against wind and rain. We thought that the mesh material wouldn’t be able to mask these sounds, but it was surprisingly quiet.

Best 4 Person Backpacking Tent

Coleman Dome Tent

Coleman Dome Tent for Camping – Sundome Tent
OUR RATING
Specifications:
  • Incredibly spacious tent, measuring at 9x7 feet with 4’11” center height
  • Three different color options
  • Quick and easy setup that only takes 10 minutes
  • Equipped with a WeatherTec system to provide ample protection from rain and wind
  • Large windows and ground vents for added ventilation

Overview

Next up on the list is the Coleman Dome Tent. It is the best budget backpacking tent for families and groups of four people due to its large, spacious size and incredible value per dollar. The first thing that we noticed when we set up and tried out the tent was how sturdy it was. It is common with other brands that the bigger a dome tent is, the less stable it will be.

We didn't have this issue at all, and the tent performed great in rainy and windy weather. There are two main reasons for this, the first being the way that the tent is set up. Usually, tent assembly is done one of two ways: clips or sleeves. With this tent, both are used to give the poles the support needed to keep such a big tent upright.

The other feature that contributes to its performance is the WeatherTec system incorporated into the product. The system is a collection of features that ensures that not even a single drop of moisture can get inside. While all tents are waterproof in some way, this one has inverted seams, zipper protection, waterproof floors, and a wind-proof frame to take it to the next level.

It is also a sundome tent, meaning that it doesn’t have a full coverage rainfly like others. But, it does have one that covers the non-waterproof areas on the top, like the windows. This creates a door awning that keeps rain out without having to cover the entire tent.

Coleman Dome Tent Overview

If this makes you a bit worried about lack of privacy, the body of the tent is made out of the same material as the fly, so it is not see-through like many tents in this price range. The windows are the only part that is. Plus, with the center height being 4’11,” there is enough room to give you the privacy you need.

Speaking of space, the tent provides an area of 9 x 7 feet, enough to fit a queen-size airbed inside. The vents on the bottom of the tent and the windows on top provide adequate ventilation, with there being an e-port on one of the corners to give you electrical power where applicable.

Best Ultralight Backpacking Tent

MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2-Person Backpacking Tent

MSR Hubba Hubba NX Backpacking Tent
OUR RATING
Specifications:
  • Three-season, 2-person tent
  • 20-denier ripstop nylon with 15-denier nylon mesh
  • Very lightweight at only 3.5 pounds
  • Great amount of room with 29 square feet of space
  • Includes DuraShield Coating for weather protection

Overview

The MSR Hubba Hubba NX Tent is the perfect tent for backpacking if you are willing to pay more for better quality. It is a little on the expensive side, starting at around $350. The price is worth it due to how well it performs in the rain and how little it weighs compared to other brands.

Our favorite part about this tent is how it is specially designed to be as light as possible, but in a way that is not commonly seen with other tents. If you are really in a pinch for space or want your carry on to be as light as possible, you have the option to leave the tent body completely behind. The rainfly provides enough protection on its own to protect you from the outside.

If you are okay with taking everything, though, the total weight is about 3.5 pounds, which isn't bad in the slightest when traveling, even if you are by yourself. It comes with the tent body, stakes, poles, rainfly, guy lines, and a compression pack that enables you to break down the tent to as small as 18x6 inches.

MSR Hubba Hubba NX Backpacking Tent Features

The weight is even more impressive when you consider the size of the tent. The tent has 29 square feet of space with a peak height of 39 inches. Unlike ridge and standard dome-shaped tents, this one has a unified hub system that creates a geometric shape with the polls to provide more shoulder and head room throughout the tent.

The hub system also makes the tent very simple to set up, as the poles are already interconnected. We saw that the corners of the tent where you connect the rainfly are color coded so that it will be even easier to maneuver. The minimalist setup cuts it down to half the time.

If you are wondering how such a lightweight tent can withstand rain and wind, the Hubba Hubba uses DuraShield coating on the exterior of the tent body and rainfly for added protection. The DAC Featherlite NFL poles are designed to be as light as possible while maintaining the strength and durability needed to keep the tent upright, even with 30mph winds.

Best Lightweight Backpacking Tent

Featherstone Outdoor Backpacking 2-Person Tent

Featherstone Outdoor Backpacking 2-Person Tent
OUR RATING
Specifications:
  • Made with lightweight tear-resistant fabric that is waterproof and great for ventilation
  • Weather protected with seam taped construction to prevent leakage
  • Bathtub floor design elevates the bottom of the tent to keep the ground beneath dry
  • Two-person design with a two-door/vestibule layout for added room
  • Equipped with a single aluminum pole structure to make assembly and packing a breeze
  • Freestanding, 3-season tent

Overview

The Outdoor Backpacking 2-Person Tent by Featherstone is the last item on our review list and is the best lightweight backpacking tent on the market.

Featherstone has worked to create a tent with the backpacker in mind, making it as convenient as possible on long journeys and adventures. The first thing we noticed right off the bat was not only the easy assembly but the view that the tent provided of the surrounding area.

The micro-mesh material that the tent body is made out of is see-through. It provides a view of the outdoors throughout the entire tent rather than just the roof or windows. The mesh also provides excellent ventilation and breathability, which is a must for all tents to keep cool and comfortable during hotter seasons.

Featherstone Outdoor Backpacking Tent

It is a three-season tent, so it is made for temperate climates during the spring, summer, and fall. During these seasons, however, rain is common in most places, and the tent has special features in place to make sure that nothing inside can get wet. The rainfly is made out of polyester and has a 3000mm polyurethane hydrostatic rated coating to make it as durable as possible.

The seams are also taped so that they are protected from the rain as well since the thread can wither away with too much exposure to rain over long periods. The polyester used on the rainfly also prevents sagging and ensures that the tent will stay nice and taunt.

Perhaps the best part of the tent is the single pole set up, making it ready in a matter of minutes. Just like other ultralight tents, you have the minimalist option where it’s even easier to assemble. The overall weight of the tent with all parts included is 6 pounds, the trail weight with just the tent body, rainfly, and poles is 5 pounds, and the minimalist setup is 3.8 pounds.


What Features to Look Out For

Now that you have an idea of what each of these five products has to offer, we will go over the key features to look out for when investing in a tent so that you can make a more personalized choice that suits your needs.

Capacity

The first thing to consider is the capacity of the tent that you are interested in, especially if you are using it for backpacking purposes. Knowing how much space you will need with your tent will significantly influence how comfortable you are and how much you will enjoy your experience.

Choosing the Best Backpacking Tent Capacity

You will have to ask yourself how many people will be with you for most of your adventures. Tents are measured by the number of people that will be using it at once, so it makes it easy to choose the perfect size without having to know specific measurements and surface areas. The height of the tent and its shape will determine how much headspace and room you have to move around.

Weight

Weight is the most important feature to look at when it comes to backpacking tents. It may not be that important if you are taking a road trip or going camping, but if you are trekking through the wilderness, it is a crucial component.

Not only is the weight determined by the size of the tent, but it is also influenced by the materials used for its components. Lightweight materials like polyester and nylon can drop quite a few ounces off the overall weight, along with using aluminum and carbon fiber for the poles. You also have trail weight once you get familiar with the product, which drops the tent to only the essentials that you need.

Ease of Setup

The next thing to look out for is the assembly process. After a long journey of hiking and you find the right place, the last thing you want to do is spend an extra twenty minutes trying to figure out how to set up your tent. It can be frustrating and time-consuming.

Choosing the Best Backpacking Tent Setup

You want something that will be ready in a matter of minutes. Most dome tents have made this a necessity and have made it simple with just having to lay the tent on the ground, position the poles in the right place, clipping the sides of the tent,  and you are good to go. If it is not a freestanding tent, or you want extra security, you can place stakes in the ground and guy lines to make sure that it stays rooted to the spot.

Type of Protection and Materials Used

As we stated above, the type of materials used plays a big role in determining the weight of a tent, but it also determines the overall quality and performance. Using high-quality polyester or nylon will give it the durability and strength that it needs to make it long-lasting and survive the long periods that it will be used for outdoor use.

There also needs to be added protection against weather, and these two materials are great at providing it on their own, but look for special reinforcements to get the most out of your tent. Things like special waterproof coating and seam protection can help to beat the rain even more. Strong poles and the right materials used for the rainfly can create a wind-proof frame as well.

Durability

The durability of a tent is greatly influenced by the materials of the product and how well it is constructed. Just like in the protection and materials section, the exterior material of the tent determines how long it will last.

In high-quality tent models, you can find extra features in place like a shield on the outer layer or ripstop fabric to ensure that the material is resilient enough to withstand the elements of the outdoors. Look at the testimonials of other customers who have had your tent of interest for a while to see how it holds up over weeks of backpacking, as some aren’t able to withstand constant use.

Guide to Choosing the Best Backpacking Tent

Warranty

Ensuring that there is a warranty or some promise of compensation if you are not satisfied with the product is a must-have with the right tent. Anything can happen after you first buy the tent, so being able to get replacements or refunds is an important part of choosing the right product.

Conclusion

So there you have it, a complete guide telling you the ins and outs of the top five backpacking tents on the market and all the features that make up the perfect tent. We hope that this article has given you enough information to choose the best product for you. Thank you for reading.

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