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The Best Backpacking Tent for Every Type of Adventurer

Whether you're a beginner or planning a trek with the whole family.

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With the weather warming up and alpine lakes tantalizingly in reach, many nature fiends are starting to set their sights on summer backpacking. Backcountry trips differ from their car camping cousins, though, with a tent's weight, roominess, ease of setup, and weatherproofing top-of-mind for most on-foot travelers. 

Seasoned campers know that a tent is perhaps the most crucial piece of gear in a trekker’s pack, but today’s outdoor technology has gotten mind-bogglingly complicated. That’s why we’ve narrowed down the backpacking tent competition into our top picks in six key categories, from solo expedition tents to ultralight shelters fit for crushing big miles, and we’ve even thrown in key stats like vestibule area (the size of your covered outer “porch”) and weight. 

Read on for the best backpacking tents for every occasion.

Best all-around backpacking tent

NEMO Dragonfly 2 tent

Ditch tricky-to-find shelters and spring for NEMO’s best in class freestanding tent in lime green. Surprisingly roomy for its trail weight of just over three pounds, the large mesh side doors and spacious, trapezoidal vestibules on this three-season home-away-from-home ensure maximum livability for two campers pressing snooze or escaping a bout of bad weather. Plus, the Divvy Sack storage system allows for two hikers to easily split the carry between their packs

  • Packaged weight: 3 lbs. 1 oz.
  • Peak height: 40 inches
  • Floor area: 29 square feet
  • Vestibule area: 10 square feet on either side

Best for beginner backpackers

REI Co-op Passage 2 tent

It’s rare for a tent at this price point to also come with a durable footprint (a small tarp) that protects against abrasive sticks and rocks, but REI’s Passage 2 hits the mark, and is jam-packed with even more desirable features (like adjustable ceiling vents and thoughtful interior pockets). It’s a bit on the heavy side for a backpacking tent at roughly five and a half pounds, but this cozy hut’s rectangular sleep space of 31 square feet and ultra-durable polyester fabric that you won’t have to be precious about help make for a worry-free camping experience that won’t break the bank. New to backpacking? Consider pairing it with a sleeping bag and pad bypurchasing the REI Backpacking Bundle.

  • Packaged weight: 5 lbs. 10 oz.
  • Peak height: 40 inches
  • Floor area: 31 square feet
  • Vestibule area: 9.5 square feet on either side

Best ultralight shelter

Zpacks Duplex tent

A fan-favorite with long distance hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail and the Appalachian Trail, the Zpacks brand has become synonymous with lightweight, ultra-packable camp shelters. The popular Duplex model needs two trekking poles and eight stakes (not included, but may be purchased separately) for a proper set up, keeping the overall weight low. Backpackers can also buy an 11-ounce freestanding add-on for a top-notch, low-weight tent that’s ready for anything. Factor in the rain-proof bathtub floor, which keeps puddles from entering your tent, and the inner stash pockets for easy gear access, and you’ll see why thru-hikers swear this is one of the best backpacking tents.

  • Packaged weight: 1 lb. 3 oz. (without stakes)
  • Peak height: 48 inches
  • Floor area: 28 square feet
  • Vestibule area: 20.75 inches of depth on each side

Best for solo trekkers

Sea to Summit Alto TR 1 tent

Weighing in at just under two and a half pounds, the Alto TR 1 goes big on the features and light on the heft. This comfortable trail cocoon sports a floor-to-ceiling mesh door for sky-high views and easy in-out access (even for taller hikers), while adjustable vents help you control humidity and condensation in the wettest conditions. Though the tent does not come with a footprint (the protective ground tarp is available for purchase separately), included are nine Ground Control Light Tent Stakes and a three-piece FairShare storage sack system to evenly distribute the load around your pack.

  • Packaged weight: 2 lbs. 7 oz.
  • Peak height: 42.5 inches
  • Floor area: 19.5 square feet
  • Vestibule area: 7.5 square feet

Best for groups

Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL4 tent

The Copper Spur HV UL series is well known in the world of backpacking, and for good reason. Big Agnes is one of the best in the business at creating incredibly livable base camps with plenty of headroom, rain protection, and stash pockets. This four-person tent is constructed with waterproof-coated rip-stop nylon for maximum durability while also providing enough space for a quartet of adult campers to doze side-by-side on narrow sleeping pads (though we feel it’s at its best with two adults and one to two kids). With included stake-out poles and pre-cut guylines, which are the cords used to hold the floor and rainfly taut, setup’s a snap. Plus, the double vestibule awning option (trekking poles not included) adds a front and rear porch to enjoy when the sun is shining.

  • Packaged weight: 5 lbs. 11 oz.
  • Peak height: 50 inches
  • Floor area: 57 square feet
  • Vestibule area: 14 square feet on either side

Best for winter adventuring

MSR Access 2 tent

Beloved for its lightweight materials and four-season durability, the MSR Access 2 is the ultimate in tent technology for trekkers and alpine skiers who want to go fast and light when there’s snow on the ground. With a slimmed-down trail weight that’s just over three and a half pounds, it’s as light as you’re going to get for wind protection, two doors, a strong frame, and a warmer minimal-mesh design. With Xtreme Shield waterproof coating to help shed snow and rain and increase the life of the shelter, it’s well worth the steeper price point.

  • Packaged weight: 4 lbs. 1 oz.
  • Peak height: 42 inches
  • Floor area: 29 square feet
  • Vestibule area: 8.75 square feet on each side