Best Backpacking Tents in 2020

The best backpacking tents are lightweight, durable, weather-proof, and a cinch to set up. Sounds simple enough, but with all the choices out there, the search for a tent can quickly get out of hand. We’ve rounded up the best lightweight tents for backpacking in 2020 to help you narrow down your search and find the right tent for you.

All of the tents on this list are lightweight, can stand up to the elements, and are good for 3-season use. They’re listed in order of their packaged weight, and we’ve included a budget option in each category as well. Since a tent is usually one of the larger gear investments you’ll make, this is a great item to catch on sale.

Pro Tip: The packaged weight includes everything that the tent comes with, including stakes, stuff sacks, guy lines, and the instruction manual. You can shed a few ounces by swapping out the stakes for lighter ones, like these aluminum tent stakes and/or leaving the fly behind (although you’ll want it if there’s any possibility of weather).

At the end of this post, you’ll find more info on what features to consider when shopping for a backpacking tent, and how to choose the best backpacking tent for your needs.

Here are the best backpacking tents of 2020.


Best 1-Person Backpacking Tents

1-person backpacking tents are the lightest, smallest option you’ll find and are a great choice if you plan on sleeping solo.

REI Co-op Flash Air 1 Tent

  • Packaged Weight: 1 lbs, 10.5 oz
  • Peak Height: 42″
  • Floor Size: 88 x 35/27 inches
  • Floor Area: 21.3 square feet
  • Vestibule Area: 8.4 square feet
  • MSRP: $249
REI Co-op Flash Air Tent // One of the best 1-person tents for backpacking

Check Price: REI / Optional Footprint: REI

Ultralight option: At 1 lb, 10.5 oz, you really can’t get much lighter than the REI Co-op Flash Air Tent. Actually, you can: shave off even more weight by leaving the vertical pole at home and using one of your trekking poles instead.

One thing to consider is that this tent is single-walled, meaning there isn’t a separate fly (which also means you won’t be able to do any stargazing in bed). Single-walled tents are also more prone to condensation, so you’ll want to use the vent and avoid bringing wet gear and clothing inside the tent or the vestibule.

Another thing to note is that this tent does have to be staked out to be setup properly. That means you’ll need to set it up on a surface that you can drive stakes into. If you find yourself eyeing a campsite on a granite slab, you can wrap the guy lines around large rocks instead. One dowside of this Overall, if you want a lightweight, 1-person tent, this is a very well thought out tent at an incredible price for this low of a weight rating.

NEMO Hornet Elite 1 Tent

  • Packaged Weight: 1 lbs, 14 oz
  • Peak Height: 39″
  • Floor Size: 87 x 40/32 inches
  • Floor Area: 21.8 square feet
  • Vestibule Area: 6.9 square feet
  • MSRP: $449
NEMO Hornet Elite backpacking tent // One of the best 1-person tents for backpacking

Check Price: Backcountry / REI / Moosejaw
Optional Footprint: REI

The NEMO Hornet Elite Tent is a lightweight, 1-person backpacking tent. Unlike the REI Flash tent above, this tent is double-walled meaning it has a removable fly. However, like the REI Flash, this tent has to be staked out to be set up properly. The mesh canopy makes for great stargazing and open air sleeping while keeping the bugs out. This tent has a handy light pocket that diffuses light throughout the inside of the tent, turning your headlamp into more of a lantern. This tent is a great minimal, lightweight option with just enough space to sleep and sit upright. The material on the NEMO Hornet is quite thin, so the optional footprint is recommended to protect it from wear and tear.

Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL1 Tent

  • Packaged Weight: 2 lbs, 3 oz
  • Peak Height: 39″
  • Floor Size: 84 x 38/28 inches
  • Floor Area: 19 square feet
  • Vestibule Area: 8 square feet
  • MSRP: $350
Big Agnes Tiger wall UL1 Tent // One of the best 1-person tents for backpacking

Check Price: Backcountry / REI /
Optional Footprint: REI

The Big Anges Tiger Wall UL1 Tent is a great option for solo missions that require lightweight, yet reliable, gear. A large door makes getting in and out easy, and a variety of pockets and loops in the interior help with organization. Its single-pole architecture makes set-up and breakdown extra efficient and the large vestibule allows for gear storage without taking up space inside.

Budget-Friendly: North Face Stormbreak 1 Tent

  • Packaged Weight: 3 lbs, 7 oz
  • Peak Height: 34″
  • Floor Size: 81 x 21/34 inches
  • Floor Area: 18.1 square feet
  • Vestibule Area: 3 square feet
  • MSRP: $129
North Face Stormbreak 1 Tent // One of the best budget 1-person tents for backpacking

Check Price: Backcountry / Moosejaw

Budget-friendly option: The North Face Stormbreak Tent is a great 1-person budget backpacking tent that’s still pretty lightweight for the price. It’s straightforward to set up and has all the basics you’ll need like mesh for breathability, a rain fly, and a small vestibule. The floor and canopy are sealed to prevent moisture from getting in and it packs down small.


Best 2-Person Backpacking Tents

If you plan to shack up with a friend or partner, or if you’re backpacking with your pup, you’ll want a 2-person backpacking tent at least. The best 2-person backpacking tents have two doors so you don’t have to climb over each other when getting in and out of the tent, and a good sized vestibule (or two) so you have space to stash your backpacking packs and hiking boots in case of rain.

Big Agnes Tiger Wall Platinum 2 Tent

  • Packaged Weight: 2 lbs, 4 oz
  • Peak Height: 39″
  • Floor Size: 86 x 52/42 inches
  • Floor Area: 28 square feet
  • Vestibule Area: 8 square feet x2
  • Number of Doors: 2
  • MSRP: $549.95
Big Agnes Tiger Wall Platinum 2 Tent // One of the best 2-person tents for backpacking

Check Price: REI / Moosejaw

Ultralight Option: The Big Agnes Tiger Wall Tent is the lightest freestanding tent of this bunch. Ultralight tents often cut ounces by sacrificing space, but with the near-vertical walls, this Big Agnes tent remains quite livable. While your feet may be a bit cramped with the tapered foot, it still has two doors and vestibules as well as ample headspace. The downside of this tent is that the mesh is very thin and can tear easily if you aren’t careful.

NEMO Hornet 2 Tent

  • Packaged Weight: 2 lbs, 6 oz
  • Peak Height: 39″
  • Floor Size: 85 x 51/43 inches
  • Floor Area: 27.5 square feet
  • Vestibule Area: 7.1 square feet x2
  • Number of Doors: 2
  • MSRP: $369.95
NEMO Hornet 2 Tent // One of the best 2-person tents for backpacking

Check Price: REI / Backcountry
Optional Footprint: REI

The NEMO Hornet 2 is a great ultralight tent for a solo hiker or two folks that don’t mind a tight squeeze. While you’ll have to get cozy, this ultralight tent does have a few features that make it more comfortable for two people compared to other comparably sized lightweight tents. First, many tents in this weight class only have one door, but the Hornet 2 has two doors and two vestibules. When sharing this small space with another person, having a door on each side makes it so much easier to get in and out, and having two vestibules makes it easier to keep your gear organized and dry. The NEMO Hornet 2 has to be staked out to be fully set up, and the optional footprint is recommended to protect it from wear and tear.

REI Co-op Quarter Dome SL 2 Tent

  • Packaged Weight: 2 lbs, 14 oz
  • Peak Height: 38″
  • Floor Size: 88 x 52/42 inches
  • Floor Area: 28.7 square feet
  • Vestibule Area: 21.5 square feet
  • Number of Doors: 2 doors
  • MSRP: $349
REI Co-op Quarter Dome SL 2 Tent // One of the best 2-person tents for backpacking

Check Price: REI
Optional Footprint: REI

Similar to the Big Agnes tent above, the REI Co-op Quarter Dome SL 2 Tent is a relatively spacious 2-person backpacking tent that also has two doors and two vestibules but at a fraction of the price. The near-vertical walls provide more space for sitting up and the vents on the fly allow for breathability even in the rain. A large door makes getting in and out easier, and a variety of pockets and loops in the interior help with organization. Just like the 1-person version of this tent, the SL2 is extra versatile because it’s made with a minimalist pitch option in mind, so on clear summer days you can leave the tent at home and set up a lightweight shelter using just the fly, the poles, and the footprint (sold separately).

MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2 Tent

  • Packaged Weight: 3 lbs, 14 oz
  • Peak Height: 39″
  • Floor Size: 84 x 50 inches
  • Floor Area: 29 square feet
  • Vestibule Area: 8.75 square feet x2
  • Number of Doors: 2
  • MSRP: $449.95
MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2 Tent // One of the best lightweight 2-person tents for backpacking

Check Price: Backcountry / Moosejaw / REI

The MSR Hubba Hubba Tent has been around for over 10 years, and this year’s model is a great compromise between durability and weight. It has a non-tapered design so you have just as much room on both ends of the tent. This tent has two doors and two vestibules but the features that make it stand out are the built-in rain gutters and the cross-ventilating rainfly that provides airflow in any weather. It also comes with a compression sack, making it super packable. Other features include waterproof coating and durable yet flexible poles that can handle challenging weather. Poles are on a hub system.

Budget-Friendly: REI Co-op Passage 2 Tent

  • Packaged Weight: 5 lbs, 10 oz
  • Peak Height: 40″
  • Floor Size: 85 x 52 inches
  • Floor Area: 31 square feet
  • Vestibule Area: 19 square feet
  • Number of Doors: 2
  • MSRP: $159
REI Co-op Passage 2 Tent // One of the best budget 2-person tents for backpacking

Check Price: REI

Best budget 2-person backpacking tent: While all the tents on our list are pretty easy to set up, the REI Co-op Passage 2 Tent takes the cake. Two poles cross over in a straightforward design making set up plain and simple. While this tent is on the heavier side of backpacking tents, it’s a basic, budget option that will allow you to get out there and sleep comfortably in the backcountry. Plus, the footprint is included in both the packaged weight and the price. It has two doors and two vestibules so you won’t have to climb over your tent partner, and the height and non-tapered design make this tent feel relatively spacious. The mesh canopy allows for stargazing and open-air sleeping without the bugs, and the ceiling vents help with airflow even when the fly is on.


Best 3-Person Backpacking Tents

If 3 people will be sharing a tent or if you and your partner or friend are backpacking with your pup, you’ll want a 3-person backpacking tent. This is what I backpack with most often since my partner and I always backpack with our pup, Charlie, who is a diabetic alert dog.

Zpacks Triplex Tent

  • Packaged Weight: 1 lb, 5.9 oz
  • Peak Height: 48″
  • Floor Size: 90 x 60 inches
  • Floor Area: 37.5 square feet
  • Vestibule Area: 14.4 square feet x2
  • Number of Doors: 2
  • MSRP: $699
Zpacks Triplex Tent // One of the best ultralight 3-person tents for backpacking

Check Price: Zpacks
Optional Footprint: Zpacks

Best ultralight 3-person backpacking tent: The Zpacks Triplex Tent stands in a class of its own. At less than a pound and a half, this tent is uniquely ultralight. Since this is a tarp style tent rather than a free-standing one, it does require a little more effort to set up right and utilizes trekking poles instead of tent poles (although you can purchase tent poles separately if you prefer). This is a single-walled tent which can be more prone to wetness and condensation, but the only time I struggled with this was when I was hiking several days in a row in the rain in the Pacific Northwest and was putting it away every morning wet. For a tent this light, it’s extremely spacious.

Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL3 Tent

  • Packaged Weight: 4 lbs
  • Peak Height: 44″
  • Floor Size: 90 x 62 inches
  • Floor Area: 44 square feet
  • Vestibule Area: 9 square feet x2
  • Number of Doors: 2
  • Full Price: $500
Big Agnes Copper Spur Tent // One of the best lightweight 3-person tents for backpacking

Check Price: REI / Moosejaw / Backcountry

The Big Agnes Copper Spur is the lightest freestanding 3-person backpacking tent on this list and still has all the features you could want. The large mesh canopy helps keep this tent light and breathable, vents help with airflow even when the fly is on, interior pockets help with organization, and reflective guy lines and webbing help with visibility. The steep walls make this tent feel extra spacious and the double doors and vestibules are a must. Similar to the REI Co-op Quarter Dome tents, the Copper Spur has a “Fast Fly” option that allows it to be set up with just the fly, poles, and the footprint (sold separately).

Marmot Tungsten UL 3P Tent

  • Packaged Weight: 4 lbs, 5.5 oz
  • Peak Height: 46″
  • Floor Size: 90 x 66 inches
  • Floor Area: 41.3 square feet
  • Vestibule Area: 10.6square feet, 7.8square feet
  • Number of Doors: 2
  • MSRP: $322
Marmot Tungsten UL3P Tent // One of the best ultralight 3-person tents for backpacking

Check Price: Backcountry / REI

The Marmot Tungsten UL 3P Tent is another great freestanding lightweight 3-person option. The mesh canopy allows for airflow and stargazing when the weather’s clear while the solid space along the bottom portion stops dust and wind. It has dual doors and vestibules and multiple interior pockets for easy organization.

NEMO Dagger 3 Tent

  • Packaged Weight: 4 lbs, 5 oz
  • Peak Height: 41″
  • Floor Size: 90 x 70 inches
  • Floor Area: 43.9 square feet
  • Vestibule Area: 11.4 square feet x2
  • Number of Doors: 2
  • MSRP: $530
NEMO Dagger 3 Tent // One of the best lightweight 3-person tents for backpacking

Check Price: Backcountry / REI

The NEMO Dagger Tent is the roomiest 3-person backpacking tent on this list and still manages to be very lightweight for a tent of this size. It also has all the features you could want in a multi-person backpacking tent like two large doors and vestibules that make getting in and out easy with plenty of space to keep your gear dry in the event of a rainstorm, light pockets to help cast an even glow throughout the tent with just your headlamps, gear pockets in each corner to help with organization, and vents to help with airflow and breathability even when the fly is on. The dual stuff sack it comes with allows you to easily split the load with a partner.

Budget-friendly: ALPS Mountaineering Phenom 3 Tent

  • Packaged Weight: 6 lbs, 10 ounces
  • Peak Height: 44″
  • Floor Size: 66 x 90 in
  • Floor Area: 41 square feet
  • Vestibule Area: 22 square feet
  • Number of Doors: 2
  • MSRP Price: $279.95
ALPS Mountaineering Phenom 3 Tent // One of the best budget 3-person tents for backpacking

Check Price: Backcountry / Steep and Cheap

Best budget 3-person backpacking tent: The Alps Mountaineering Phenom 3 Tent is a great budget option. It’s still relatively lightweight for a tent of this size especially at this price point. Plus, the durable floor of the tent is specifically made to withstand the ground so you won’t have to purchase or carry a separate footprint which is an added weight and expense for many of the tents on this list. The Phenom is spacious and easy to set up with a simple two-pole system, and it has all the basics like two doors and vestibules and a large mesh canopy for stargazing.


How to Choose the Best Backpacking Tent

Shopping for a lightweight backpacking tent can quickly get overwhelming with all the options out there, not to mention pricey. To help you hone in on what’s most important to you in a good backcountry tent, here are the main factors you’ll see mentioned, what they mean, and some helpful things to consider when making your decision.

Tent Weight

When searching for a backpacking tent, weight is the first factor I consider. Most backpacking tents weigh somewhere between 1-4 pounds. The lighter the tent, the more comfortable you are going to be when you are carrying it on your back. That said, there is often a trade-off between weight and durability. Ultralight tents require more care when setting them up and storing them when you get home. They also come with a heftier price tag.

When comparing tents, you’ll typically see two different weight specs. The packaged weight is the weight of the complete tent set when you buy it including the tent itself, the fly, poles, stakes, guy lines, stuff sacks, and any other accessories. The minimum trail weight is the weight of the tent, fly, and poles only. Realistically, you’ll likely be carrying something close to the packaged weight since you’ll want to bring the tent, fly, poles, stakes, and guy lines. One way to save weight is to swap the stakes that come with the tent with a set of lightweight aluminum stakes.

Capacity / Interior Tent Space

Who and how many people will you be sharing your tent with? And how tall are you? Many of the 2-person backpacking tents (especially the ultralight options) are very tight for two people and have space for two sleeping pads directly next to eachother and not much else. If you plan to mostly camp with your significant other and are ok cuddling, then a 2-person backpacking tent will likely work for you. On the other hand, if you are super tall or tend to share your tent with friends who you don’t necessarily want to sleep directly next to, you might want something a little more spacious like a lightweight 3-person tent. Things to pay attention to are the floor space, whether or not the tent has a tapered design (where the head side is wider than the feet side), and whether there is enough headspace for you to sit up and hang out if you get stuck inside due to bad weather.

Get recommendations for the best tents for backpacking and learn what key features to consider when choosing a new lightweight tent.

Number of Doors

Two doors will make getting in and out of the tent way more comfortable when you are camping with someone else. It means you won’t have to crawl over each other and in most cases, you will also have your own separate vestibule to store your stuff which helps you stay more organized and to keep your gear dry in case of rain. (A vestibule is the area outside of the tent door underneath the tent fly).

Get recommendations for the best tents for backpacking and learn what key features to consider when choosing a new lightweight tent.

Seasonal Rating

A majority of backpackers will be fine with a 3-season tent which are designed to breathe well in moderate weather conditions (including heavy rain and light snow) during spring, summer, and fall. If you plan on camping in heavy snow or in extreme, exposed conditions, you may need a 4-season tent. Four-season tents have less mesh and retain heat better, but the lack of ventilation can make them feel a bit stuffy.

Wall Construction

Most of the popular backpacking tents are double-walled – which means they come with the actual tent as your shelter and a separate rain fly that you attach to the outside of the tent for weather protection. Double-walled tents ventilate better and experience less condensation due to airflow.  A single-walled tent is weatherproof all around without the need for a fly, and that often helps shave off some weight. Single-walled tents also typically have no windows and no mesh. This means that condensation can be a problem in wet conditions. It also means that you likely won’t be able to do any stargazing from bed or have the option to sleep in the open air since there’s no removable fly. Single-walled tents are best in cold, dry conditions (like the southern Utah desert in early spring).

Free-Standing vs Tarp-Style

A free-standing tent is one that comes with poles that support it. They are quick and easy to set up and can be pitched almost anywhere, which is why this style is more popular. A tarp-style tent (like the Zpacks tent listed above) is one that you set up using your trekking poles for support and by tying guy lines to trees, rocks, etc to get it taut. Tarp-style tents are lighter since they don’t have poles and tend to appeal to experienced long-distance hikers.

Get recommendations for the best tents for backpacking and learn what key features to consider when choosing a new lightweight tent.

What backpacking tents have you tried? Do you have any questions about picking the best backpacking tent? Let us know in the comments below or join the conversation in the Bearfoot Theory Outdoor Adventurers Facebook Group

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Written by Kristen Bor

Hey there! My name is Kristen, and this is my outdoor blog. I discovered the power of the outdoors in my 20s, at the time I needed it most. Now 15 years later, prioritizing that critical connection with nature continues to improve my life. My goal at Bearfoot Theory is to empower you with the tools and advice you need to responsibly get outside.

16 comments on “Best Backpacking Tents in 2020

  1. I’ve owned the same Hubba Hubba for about as long as they’ve been around. Nothing but high praise for it. I really like the large overhead mesh of the roof, and the fact that with a footprint, the rainfly alone can be set-up. I’ve used it 99% of the time solo, and use the left over space inside for my own gear. If I were to head out with a guest for any length of time, I’d upgrade to the Mutha Hubba.

  2. What no teepees or tarps?
    I personally prefer a teepee and woodstove to just about anything for space to weight and comfort. Also with a woodstove there is no need to carry propane cans and camp stoves. And no eating freeze dried yuk either! You have the option to slow cook food on the woodstove. My teepee that sleeps five weighs 6 pounds including the woodstove. My 3 man teepee tarp and woodstove weigh 4 pounds total. Also I have used them in pretty extreme conditions – I live on Kodiak Island, Alaska and it rains all the time. I also once did a 10 day sojourn in the Brooks Range. Anyway floorless shelters and woodstoves are the way to go if it is really wet and raw.
    But for when the mosquitoes are really bad I do like the enclosed environment of my Nemo veda 2P!
    Patrick

  3. I too am taking my brand new Mountain Hardware Skyledge on the JMT this year. A big thanks to the guys at MH for replacing my old tent when it started to delaminate. I definitely store it differently now – loosely folded in a spare room. Used the old one on the Thorsbourne Trail on Hinchinbrook Is. in both beautiful weather and tropical downpour. Never missed a beat.

  4. I have been rereading your blog as I get ready to have my first real backpacking adventure. A friend wants to take us to the Wind River range in Wyo. I was thinking something more like Coyote Gulch. What do you suggest as a first time backpacking adventure? I really love reading your adventures and learning from your blog.

    1. I actually haven’t done either, but I’ve heard amazing things about both. I’m sure you’ll have a blast no matter where you go! Just pick a trail that isn’t too tough for your first time and make sure you try your boots out before you embark on your hike. And makes sure to come back and tell me how it goes!

  5. Hi I really want to begin backpacking but I don’t really know where to begin in choosing gear. Plus I have been look in to tents but I was wondering if you had a four seasons list?

  6. Hello, its good article about media print, we all know media is a
    great source of information.

  7. I had 3 weeks to prepare for my thru hike of the AZT and buy all my gear. I picked the 2 P REI Quarter Dome. I love it. It’s easy to put up and down. Plenty of room for one person. And I love the fact it has 2 doors – 1 on each side of the tent.
    ~Allie

  8. Been pack packing for decades a tried many tents. My life changed when I discovered the MSR Mesh House 2. Paired with the MSR 70 wing tarp and lightweight stakes it comes in right at two pounds. It sleeps me and the hubby snugly but is absolutely spacious for just me. Funny after trying fancy dome tents I end up back with an old school pup tent style.

    1. Thanks for sharing that Amie! The MSR Mesh House 2 tent looks nice – simple and lightweight. I’d love to try something like that one day to test out the difference. Have you used it in windy or rainy conditions at all? I’m wondering how well it would stand up to wind and rain.

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