Best Backpacking Tents in 2020

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

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. We’ve broken them up into the following sections:

  • Best 1-person backpacking tents
  • Best 2-person backpacking tents
  • Best 3-person backpacking tents

We’ve listed them in order of their packaged weight. We’ve included a budget option in each category as well, and since a tent is usually one of the largest outdoor gear purchases 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
  • Full Price: $249
REI Co-op Flash Air Tent // One of the best ultralight 1-person tents for backpacking

Check Price: REI / Optional Footprint Sold Separately: 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
  • Full Price: $449
NEMO Hornet Elite backpacking tent // One of the best ultralight 1-person tents for backpacking

Check Price: REI / Backcountry / Moosejaw

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.


REI Co-op Quarter Dome SL 1 Tent

  • Packaged Weight: 2 lbs, 6 oz
  • Peak Height: 38″
  • Floor Size: 88 x 35/27 inches
  • Floor Area: 18.9 square feet
  • Vestibule Area: 9.6 square feet
  • Full Price: $299
REI Co-op Quarter Dome SL 1 Tent // One of the best lightweight 1-person tents for backpacking

Check Price: REI

The REI Co-op Quarter Dome Tent SL provides a little more headspace than the options listed above for only a couple more ounces. A large door makes getting in and out easier, and a variety of pockets and loops in the interior help with organization. One thoughtful feature is that the guylines and stake loops are reflective to help prevent tripping when you’re walking around in the dark. As a bonus, this tent is extra versatile because it’s made with a minimalist pitch option in mind, so on summer days with clear weather, you can leave the tent at home and set up a lightweight shelter using the fly, the poles, and the footprint (sold separately).


Budget-Friendly: Marmot Tungsten 1p Tent

  • Packaged Weight: 3 lbs, 8 oz
  • Peak Height: 38″
  • Floor Size: 84 x 36 inches
  • Floor Area: 21 square feet
  • Vestibule Area: 8.75 square feet
  • Full Price: $179
Marmot Tungsten Tent // One of the best budget 1-person tents for backpacking

Check Price: Backcountry

Budget friendly option: The Marmot Tungsten Tent is a great 1-person budget backpacking tent that comes with the footprint included. It has handy features like a light pocket and interior organizational pockets, and the fly and floor are waterproof. It’s a roomier option like the REI Quarter Dome tent above at a fraction of the price. It does weigh a little over a pound more, but if your budget is more important than going super lightweight, this is still a great lightweight backpacking tent option.


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.

NEMO Hornet Elite 2 Tent

  • Packaged Weight: 2 lbs, 1 oz
  • Peak Height: 37″
  • Floor Size: 85 x 50/42 inches
  • Floor Area: 27.3 square feet
  • Vestibule Area: 6.2 square feet x2
  • Number of Doors: 2
  • Full Price: $500
NEMO Hornet Elite 2 Tent // One of the best ultralight 2-person tents for backpacking

Check Price: REI / Moosejaw / Backcountry

Best ultralight 2-person option: The NEMO Hornet Eite 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. As with the 1-person version of this tent mentioned above, the NEMO Hornet 2 has to be staked out to be fully set up, and the the optional footprint is recommended to protect it from wear and tear.


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
  • Full Price: $550
Big Agnes Tiger Wall Platinum 2 Tent // One of the best lightweight 2-person tents for backpacking

Check Price: REI / Backcountry / Moosejaw

The Big Agnes Tiger Wall Tent is the one of 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 head space. The downside of this tent is that the mesh is very thin and can tear easily if you aren’t careful.


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
  • Full Price: $349
REI Co-op Quarter Dome SL 2 Tent // One of the best lightweight 2-person tents for backpacking

Check Price: REI
Optional Footprint Sold Separately: 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
  • Full Price: $450
MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2 Tent // One of the best lightweight 2-person tents for backpacking

Check Price: REI / Moosejaw / Backcountry

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
  • Full Price: $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 air flow 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
  • Full Price: $699
Zpacks Triplex Tent // One of the best ultralight 3-person tents for backpacking

Check Price: Zpacks
Optional Footprint Sold Separately: 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: Backcountry / REI / Moosejaw
Optional Footprint Sold Separately: Backcountry

The Big Agnes Copper Spur is the lightest free-standing 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 setup with just the fly, poles, and the footprint (sold separately).


Mountain Hardwear Aspect 3 Tent

  • Packaged Weight: 4 lbs, 2 oz
  • Peak Height: 43″
  • Floor Size: 90 x 68 inches
  • Floor Area: 41.25 square feet
  • Vestibule Area: 9.5 square feet x2
  • Number of Doors: 2
  • Full Price: $480
Mountain Hardwear Aspect 3 Tent // One of the best lightweight 3-person tents for backpacking

Check Price: REI / Moosejaw
Optional Footprint Sold Separately: REI

The Mountain Hardwear Aspect Tent is another great freestanding lightweight 3-person option. The mesh canopy allows for airflow and star gazing 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
  • Full Price: $530
NEMO Dagger 3 Tent // One of the best lightweight 3-person tents for backpacking

Check Price: REI / Moosejaw / Backcountry
Optional Footprint Sold Separately: 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 air flow 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: Sierra Designs Meteor 3 Tent

  • Packaged Weight: 5 lbs, 6 ounces
  • Peak Height: 42″
  • Floor Size: 84 x 70 inches
  • Floor Area: 40.8 square feet
  • Vestibule Area: 9 square feet x2
  • Number of Doors: 2
  • Full Price: $300
Sierra Designs Meteor 3 Tent // One of the best budget 3-person tents for backpacking

Check Price: Backcountry / Moosejaw

Best budget 3-person backpacking tent: The Sierra Designs Meteor tent is a great budget option. It’s still 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 Meteor is spacious and easy to set up with a simple two pole system, and it has all the basics like two doors and vestibules, a large mesh canopy for stargazing, and vents for airflow even with the fly on.


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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There are 13 comments on this post.

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Hi! I'm Kristen....blogger, hiker, sunset-watcher, and dance floor shredder. I feel most alive in the outdoors and created this website to help you enjoy the best that the West has to offer.

13 Comments on “Best Backpacking Tents in 2020

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  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.

    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

      Hey Patrick – agree that tarps can save a bit of weight…maybe that’s something I’ll cover in another blog post. Thanks for the tips! Kristen

    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.

      Cool! I love my Skyledge and glad to hear that MHW’s customer service has been helpful. Have fun out there this summer!

    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.

      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!

    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?

    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

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