Best Backpacking Tents 2018 For Camping
Backpackers carry all the items that they need for camping in their packs. This makes it necessary to lighten the weight wherever possible. The contents must be light-weight, or you'll break your back carrying them. Our guide is written to cover all the information that you need to know about picking the best backpacking tents. Your tent will give shelter from the elements. With so many tents on the market, it can be hard to know which will be the right choice. We've narrowed our reviews to the top ten choices with backpackers specifically in mind.
Why are Backpacking Tents Necessary?
Backpacking into remote areas means that you'll be doing a lot of hiking. A backpacking tent is one that is made to be lighter and more compact for easier carrying. They aren't as heavy or bulky as other tents. It's important to shave off as much weight as possible and to have a tent that is small enough to carry for many miles. Tents are a necessity for backpackers because they serve as a shelter from the elements. They help to keep the wind and rain out and offer a warmer and dry place to get out of the weather. Your tent can mean the difference between survival or falling victim to hypothermia.
Night temperatures can reach extremes when you are backpacking into higher elevations. Windy conditions can make it even colder when wind chill factors come into play. Even though a tent can add a few extra pounds to your backpack, it's not something that you want to leave out of your essential supplies. Here are ten of the top-rated tents for backpacking. They include detailed descriptions of the features and benefits of each for your consideration.
Top 10 Backpacking Tents Comparison Table
2 Person Tents
Kelty salida 2 tent
Mountainsmith Morrison 2 Person 3 Season Tent
ALPS Mountaineering Lynx 2-Person Tent
Kelty TN 2 Person Tent
4 Person Tents
Coleman 4 Person Instant Tent
ALPS Mountaineering Lynx 4 Person Tent
Coleman Sundome 4 Person Tent
8 Person Tents
Wenzel 8 Person Klondike Tent
Coleman 8-Person Red Canyon Tent
Coleman 2000018295 8-Person Instant Tent
2-Person Backpacking Tents
2-Person Tents are the most common used by backpackers. They are lightweight, easy to carry and offer enough space to accommodate two hikers for sleeping and gear storage.
The perfect tent for two. Built for backpacking with folding poles and a compact size that fits easily into a backpack which can use for three season.
Features & Benefits
It easily fits into a backpack with a total weight of around 3 pounds. It doesn't overburden the pack. This tent is an easy one person set up a task that comes with handy internal pockets for storage of personal items. The fully taped seams keep out the wind and add strength to the integrity of the structure.
Two-person tent for easy entry and exit with two doors and two vestibule layout. Compact and light for easy carrying. This is the ideal tent for backpackers and hikers.
Features & Benefits
The Mountainsmith Morrison 2-person tent is ideal for backpackers who need protection from the elements for 2. It sets up quickly and can be easily done by one person without the need for assistance. Tent poles break down into a compact size for easy storage and carrying. This lightweight tent doesn't create a burden of weight for hikers and backpackers.
The ALPS Mountaineering Lynx 2-person tent is a best seller. This essential camping gear for backpackers is packed with useful features and benefits.
Features & Benefits
The ALPS Mountaineering Lynx is a best seller that is rated with 4.6 out of 5 possible stars. It gets high marks for providing protection from the elements while allowing some air flow. Two doors make it easy to get in and out of and the addition of storage areas gives users a place to store valuables and necessitates. The total weight is just under six pounds.
Ideal tent for the backpacking couple. Two-person tent in a compact size and light-weight that is perfect for backpackers.
Features & Benefits
The Kelty TN 2-person tent is popular among backpackers who give it an overall score of 4.4 out of a possible 5 for quality, usefulness and convenience. The light weight of 4 pounds and 9 ounces makes it easier to carry in a backpack. It offers good protection from the elements without being a burden to pack into remote locations.
4-Person Backpacking Tents
A 4-person tent is a larger tent that backpackers often choose when there are two to four people hiking. They can sleep up to 4 persons, but there is more room when used for just 2 or 3 hikers. They may weight a little more than a 2-person tent, but many backpackers think it’s worth carrying the extra weight for additional space and comfort.
Lightweight and compact family size tent accommodates four persons comfortably. Setup is simple and quick, so you can spend the extra time doing things you enjoy.
Features & Benefits
The Coleman 4 person Instant tent is one of the more popular models that goes up quickly, has plenty of room and is fully waterproof. There is very little assembly required, and it allows good airflow ventilation while keeping the elements out.
Enjoy space, convenience and comfort with the ALPS Mountaineering Lynx 4-person tent. You won't bump into each other upon entry and exit in this well-designed family tent.
Features & Benefits
The ALPS Mountain 4-person tent is rated at 4.5 out of 5 with outstanding marks for user satisfaction. This is one of the best tent for small families. One of the best features is the two-door entry which makes it more comfortable to use. There is plenty of room to store essentials and personal items to keep them out of the weather. It is well constructed with waterproofing at the seams and the fly for a dry and comfortable night's sleep.
Coleman's Sundome sleeps a family of four with a 59-inch center height for more room and greater comfort.
Features & Benefits
While a few users reported defects in the tent material, the majority were very satisfied with the performance of this four-person tent. It offers extra space and easy access to a power source.
8-Person Backpacking Tents
An 8-person tent is meant for larger groups or families. It can sleep up to 8 people and often comes with extra comfort features. These include privacy dividers to create 3 to 4 rooms, a screen room, an awning, additional vestibules, doors, windows and mesh storage areas. The weight can be up to 40 pounds, so this could be a sacrifice for one of the backpackers in the group.
Extra-large 8-person Klondike Tent for spacious comfort and an additional recreation area. Two room family size tent makes a great addition to your backpacking camping gear.
Features & Benefits
The Wenzel 8 person camping tent is ideal for larger families or groups who enjoy camping in comfort. It comes packed with useful features and a built-in recreational or storage screen room. This tent has been given a score of 4.1 out of a possible 5. While it takes longer to setup and tears down, it offers more of the comforts of home for larger groups.
Camp in comfort and style with the Coleman 8 Person Red Canyon Tent. Enjoy a generous 17x10 feet of floor space with a 72-inch center that allows most people to stand straight without hitting their heads on the roof.
Features & Benefits
The Coleman 8 Person Red Canyon Tent is one of the largest tent made for sleeping up to 8 people. It is loaded with features that add comfort and roominess to the camping experience. Your entire family can sleep together in one tent and there is also room to store clothing, camp gear and other accessories inside. Shock-corded poles are simple to set up, but instructions are included so you won't need to guess.
Coleman's 8 Person Instant Tent is one of the best choices for large families who like to hang together.
Features & Benefits
This tent offers an extra-large shelter that stays dry on the inside, even when it's raining outside. It is large enough for eight people to sleep comfortably. The weight of 36.3 pounds is heavy for backpacking, but when providing shelter for a large group, it is one of the better options for achieving maximum comfort at camp. This deluxe family sized tent offers protection from weather and man of the comforts of home.
Backpacking Tents Buying Guide
You don't need to spend a lot of money to buy an excellent backpacking tent. We've included several price options in our reviews, so you can get an idea of how the brand name and features affect the cost. In general, you get what you pay for, but bear in mind that some brands are a bit overpriced. If you do a lot of backpacking, then you should consider spending the extra money to get a tent that will give you more features that you will use and enjoy. If your budget is limited, there are still good options available for lower costs.
Tent Weight and Types
When you are choosing the best backpacking tents, the features and size are important, but you need to also consider the weight. A few ounces or pounds here and there may not seem like a big deal, but when you add the total weight of the contents of your pack, it will be when you're carrying it on your back. Consider the distance you'll be hiking and how much weight you can reasonably carry. This is the reason why the weight of the tent is so important. You need to do what you can to keep the weight at a minimum.
Go as light as you can on tent weight, but don't sacrifice the features that you really want and need. Tents can range from just a few pounds to nearly forty pounds. The choice is yours, but you'll be stuck carrying it.
The backpacking tent that you choose is your shelter that is intended to protect you from the elements. Some of the budget-priced tents fail miserably at keeping you warm and dry and they are not worth carrying because they cannot keep you safe. Make certain that the tent you buy gives you protection from the rain and wind.
Tents made for backpacking are usually lightweight. This means that less material is used and there may be a sacrifice of interior space. Bear this in mind when you are choosing the tent size because a 4-person tent may really be closer to a 3-person tent with regard to space and comfort. Larger tents weigh more so there will be a trade-off either in interior space or in the amount of weight you're carrying in your backpack.
The capacity refers to the number of persons that a backpacking tent can accommodate. As previously noted, space is usually sacrificed for less weight. If you're willing to forego the comfort, then 2 people will be a bit cramped in a 2-person tent. If you want a little extra room for comfort and gear storage, then a 4-person tent is a good choice for 2 to 3 people.
An airtight tent may sound like a good idea to keep out the wind and rain, but there needs to be some ventilation. Mesh air vents and other features that allow for air flow keep the tent from becoming stuffy. It's miserable to be closed in a tent that is not well ventilated because it causes difficulty breathing and moisture in the form of condensation. Go with a tent that has good ventilation. You'll be much more comfortable.
Seasonality refers to the type of shelter that the tent provides. Three seasons are the most common. They are suitable for use in spring, fall and winter and are considered to be light weight tents. This means that they offer protection for temperature and weather that is typical for these three seasons. Three Season tents will help when there is a light amount of snow, but they do not offer the protection needed for heavy snow or extreme freezing temperatures.
Design and Durability
The elements of design are what make or break a backpacking tent. Simple elements which include good headroom, air vents for good ventilation and lower condensation, waterproofing, interior pockets and other storage design are important elements. Skipping one can make a backpacking tent less valuable. Thinner materials are used in this tents because they are lighter to carry, but this is a trade-off for quality and durability. Thicker materials will hold up much better, but they will be heavier to carry. Ultra light tents require more careful use, or they won't last. This is a decision that every backpacker must consider and make based upon preferences.
Fast and Light Setup
Most backpackers prefer a tent that is quick and easy to setup. Freestanding types are the fastest and easiest. The pole system is fixed, and they can be set up in most locations. Tents that require guylines, stakes and tent poles are more difficult to pitch and can require more than one person to set up.
Tents come in two different kinds of wall construction. There are the single wall and double wall. The double wall construction includes a mesh tent interior with a rainfly to deflect moisture. The mesh helps prevent condensation from forming and it keeps the tent drier on the inside. The downside to single wall construction is that when you touch the wall of the tent, it is usually wet. Double wall tents are recommended for wetter climates while single walls should only be used in very dry conditions.
Doors and Vestibules
When there is more than one person sleeping in a tent, having two entrances is preferred to just one. Two allow for easier entry and exiting without disturbing the other person. A vestibule is an area at the entrance that is generally used for storing gear and other items.
Your tent should be highly rated for weather resistance, or it can't protect you from stormy weather. Even in warmer seasons, storms at high elevations can leave you soaking wet with a cold wind that lowers the temperature even more. It is possible to become hypothermic in early spring and late fall months. Don't sacrifice on weather resistance. This Tent will have double wall construction, a highly rated rain fly, and fabric that is resistant to water.
Tent Poles and Stakes
Tent poles and stakes can make your shelter more secure, especially in a windstorm Most tent poles are made of a durable aluminum which is lightweight and affordable. They offer flexibility and will give generously before breaking. When it comes to tent stakes, the cheaper aluminum models aren't the best choice because they are not as reliable as a more heavy-duty type that is thicker and stronger for extra support.
Size: Floor Area
The floor area of the tent is the amount of space that you will have to set up sleeping quarters and store your gear. This is an important consideration to be made so you won't come up short on space. Think about how many people will be sleeping in the tent and how much space that you will need for storage. Allow for room to move around and get in and out of the tent as well. Trying to sleep in a cramped tent can ruin the entire trip because it will rob you of a good night's rest. When judging the amount of space that will work for you, consider the length, width and headspace of the tent so you can gauge the dimensions and how you will plan the layout for sleeping, storage and living space.
Intended Use: Serious vs. Casual Backpacking
If you are a casual backpacker who only goes out once or twice a year, it may not be worth a big investment on a backpacking tent that has multiple cool features. Of course, the tent should be of good quality and provide you with the needed protection and comfort to make the trip enjoyable and safe, but you don't need to break the bank if it isn't your passion If you are a serious backpacker then it may be worth an additional expense to go with a backpacking tent that will make your time in the wilderness safer, more comfortable and more enjoyable.
Since you'll be spending more time in it, your tent should have built-in features including mesh storage areas, two door entrance, excellent ventilation and thicker material that keeps the interior of the tent warmer and dryer. You may even want to bump the size up for additional storage and living space. Serious backpacking also means that watching the weight is important. Although there are tradeoffs when it comes to tent size and the amount of weight that you'll be carrying, this is a decision that only you can make. There are some lightweight tents available that do have some amazing comfort features.
When buying a backpacking tent online it's always a good idea to check on the reputation of the company that you're buying from. Are they highly rated for providing excellent customer service? If not, it's best to find one that is. Also, pay attention to the return policies. If you're not completely satisfied with the quality and condition of the tent that you buy, you should have the option of returning it for replacement or full refund. Not all online companies offer decent return policies to it pays to check them out. It's a good idea to check your tent out at home within the allowed time frame for returns. If it isn't a good fit, return it and try another one until you find the best backpacking tents to meet your needs.
Footprints and Tent Care
Footprints are nearly a thing of the past as most newer models don't come with this feature. You can add this to your tent bottom to help protect it from wear and tear. It's a little heavier to carry in your pack, but it can extend the life of your tent. It can also cut down on the number of repairs that you'll need to make.
They can be expensive to purchase, and you can make your own by using a space blanket as a ground cover underneath the tent when you set it up.
Your tent needs care and maintenance as much as any other piece of camping or backpacking equipment. When not in use, it should be taken down and shaken out to remove any debris before it is rolled up. This can help to prevent damage to the materials by puncture or fraying from rubbing up against sharp objects. Even pine needles, which may seem harmless, can cause damage over time.
You should maintain your tent by giving it a good washing to loosen embedded dirt and environmental toxins including smoke residue or chemicals from insect repellent. Wash while the tent is still standing and clean the inside as well as the outside. Keep the vestibules and interior pockets clean and empty prior to breaking down. Allow the tent to air dry completely before you take it down and store it.
Any amount of dampness can cause mold or mildew to form. This is why it is vital to make sure that there are no moist areas after washing. Sealing The waterproofing that covers your tent will eventually wear away. If this happens, the only recourse that you have is to apply polyurethane coating because it is the only type of waterproofing that will hold up. Any small tears or other damage should be repaired immediately.
Preventing damage is the best line of action to take. Your tent should be clean, properly rolled exactly like it came in the package and stored in a cool, dry place. The two longest sides are folded inward so the edges meet in the center with the floor on the outside. Make one more lengthwise fold, then follow the same pattern with the fly. lay the folded fly on the top of the tent, then place the bundled poles in the center, roll up and place in the bag. The stakes go in last but take care not to damage the tent when you add them.
FAQ- Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Why get yourself a backpacking tent?
If you do any amount of backpacking, then having a tent that is made for the activity makes sense. Backpacking tents are made of lightweight materials and they are designed to fold up into lighter more compact packages that are easier for backpackers to carry. Before you make your purchase, there are a few things to consider.
Q: How much do you want to spend?
The most expensive backpacking tent may not necessarily be the best choice for you and the cheapest may not really be the best value. Consider your budget and find a tent that has the quality and features that you need before you make your decision.
Q: How Should Your Tent Look? Does Appearance Matter?
Some backpackers like to maintain a certain image. They take great care to coordinate colors and styles. If this is important to you, there are many backpacking tents available in a variety of styles and colors. Find one that has the aesthetics that please you, if it matters.
Q: Are There Specific Features That You Will Need from Your Tent?If you backpack into an area that has a power source, you may want to choose a tent that comes with a built-in power access port. Another important feature is storage space. Vestibules and side pockets give you areas to store gear and other personal items for quick and easy access when you need them. How many people will be sleeping in the tent, and how much room will you need? These are all important considerations to make.
Why You Should Trust Us
We have collectively spent years traveling around the world, much of this time spent living in tents. From frigid mountain peaks to warm and humid climates, we understand the importance of having the right tent for the circumstances. Your health and safety can depend on it. Comfort features are also important when tenting becomes a way of life. Last but certainly not least is the fact that the tent you're carrying shouldn't break your back because it's a few pounds too heavy. Some features are worth sacrificing to save a pound or two while some others are not.
Who should buy our pick?
Our pick is intended for the occasional and casual backpacker in need of a safe and reliable shelter that will keep them dry when it's wet outside and shield them from the elements. It may not be the most attractive tent or one that is heavily endowed with great comfort features, but it is a good tent for backpackers that is lightweight and will do the job that it needs to do. In addition, it is offered at a reasonable price.
How we picked
We made our selections by collecting information from outdoorsmen via survey. We discovered that most were interested in three to four-person tents. The most important features for them were storage space in the form of a vestibule.
They also want visibility, so they can look out a window and night and see the starts on clear nights. Another request was for spaciousness inside for comfort.
Finally, half of the respondents were backpackers and the other half were car campers. We took the side of the backpackers and searched for tents that offered the most space for the lightest possible weight.
How we tested
We narrowed the tents to be tested to the top five based on the criteria that we'd gathered. We chose the lightest tents and set them up outdoors to test for ease of setup. None of them required the use of instructions because they were insanely easy and fast to set up. Some even came with color-coded clips for adding the rainfly.
The tents were allowed to sit in the elements for five days with wind, rain and hot sun. At the end of the period, all five tents chosen out of our initial ten picks weathered nicely. We tested for ease of setup, durability, inside environment, e.g. condensation formation, spaciousness when packed with gear and ease of tear down. Of the ten original picks, only five met our criteria, and this is how we completed our testing in an outdoor environment.
What is a Freestanding Tent?
A Freestanding tent is one that is held up by poles that area attached to the body of the tent. This gives it a solid structure and it can stand on its own. The setup is fast and easy, and they can also be easily moved.
What Materials Are Backpacking Tents Made Out of?
Most backpacking tents are made of the lightest possible materials. The walls are usually polyester fabric that has been treated with polyurethane weather coating. The best poles are a lightweight aluminum. Some poles are made of fiberglass, but these tend to be heavier.
Consideration to choose a tent
Number of People
Before you buy a tent, consider how many people are going to be sleeping in it. This will give you an idea of the size that you will need. Most tents are labeled as 1-person, 2- person, 4-person, 8-person and so forth. In addition to the number of people who will be sleeping inside, you will also want to consider the gear that will be stored inside during the night. Choose a tent that has enough room for sleeping, storage and for moving around inside on rainy days.
Where Are You Going?
If you are going to be doing a lot of hiking, the weight of the tent that you are packing in will be a big consideration. For long treks, a lighter weight in your backpack will be appreciated. Another thing to consider is the elevation and weather conditions. Will you need extra protection from the cold, wind, rain, and possibly snow? It can get very cold when you’re in high terrain so you may want to consider a double wall construction.
How Long at Camp?
Tent space along with additional storage space becomes a bigger issue when you’re going to spend a longer time at camp. For short trips, a smaller and lighter tent with fewer features may be okay. The longer you’re planning to spend time in the tent, the more features and comforts you’re going to want. If you’re not going to break camp frequently, consider choosing a tent type that gives everyone the room that they will need to be comfortable.
Backpacking Tent Brands
Our careful research and personal experience with backpacking tents have shown us which the best brands are. They are consistently the most reliable on the market because of their outstanding performance when compared to other brands.
When we look at the Coleman Sundome, it offers a spacious design in a light-weight backpacking tent suitable for 2 to 4 persons. The design promotes ease of carrying, setup and a comfortable night’s sleep. The large 8-person tent is heavier to pack in, but it comes loaded with comfort features. A roomy extra-large family tent that features high ceilings, removable dividers, storage areas, a screen room, great ventilation and 7 viewing windows. High-quality materials are used to enhance the comfort of the occupants. Whether large or small, Coleman has the right idea.
The ALPS Mountaineering Lynx 4-person tent meets our criteria for top pick because it’s roomy and offers excellent ventilation. The two-vestibule design and 2 door entries give it a lead in design genius. There is plenty of sleeping and storage room and the protection factor is high. Space, convenience and comfort are about all you could ask for in a backpacking tent and it delivers.
Kelty also delivers the backpacking tents with lightweight materials that are also durable. The TN 2-person model comes through with good protection from the elements without burdening the guy carrying it with a lot of extra weight.
There are quite a few considerations that go into finding the best backpacking tent. It’s not a decision that should be made quickly because there is a lot on the line. Now that you know what you need to factor in before making your decision, you’re better able to choose a backpacking tent that is going to meet your real needs and suit your preferences.
It’s better to know in advance that there are always some kinds of trade-offs whether it is in sacrificing features for carrying weight, or the other way around. The final verdict is this: The best backpacking tent is the one that best meets your needs, suits your tastes and preferences, and most importantly, keeps you safe and dry on your journey.