Remember car camping as a kid? You had loads of gear and a tent that weighed 400 pounds (or so it felt). You’re an adult now with responsibility only to yourself. Your camping trip coming up is in a beautiful area with no car access, so you’re hiking in.
It isn’t just down the path, either. You’re going miles in and staying for a while. You need to cut down on the load without sacrificing functionality. You need a tent that straddles the line between the simplicity of hammock sleeping and the protection of a full-sized tent.
You need a backpacking tent, and we’ve chosen the ten best camping tents to help you make the right choice. We’ve chosen our list based on durability, construction, and most importantly, weight. A few have some really cool features that can make your camping trip a little easier, too. Let’s take a look.
Our first tent is a one to four-person tent built for rain and other moisture. It has a mesh inner lining for air flow and a clip-on rain fly. It comes with a footprint made of durable 150 denier Oxford material for extra waterproofness and to protect the tent floor from the ground.
It has two doors, and the bucket style floor keeps splash back away in more inclement weather. Cutaway vents prevent condensation but keep the rain out. On beautiful nights, you can roll back the rainfly for an uninterrupted view of the stars.
It comes in four different sizes depending on the number of people you want to fit, and the weight ranges from three pounds for the one-person size to just under ten pounds for the four-person size. Aluminum poles are lighter than carbon fiber but highly durable.
Kelty’s one to four-person, three-season tent is lightweight uses the rainfly to create ten square feet of vestibule space when zipped all the way down. It only has one door, but the color-coded clip and fly attachment make this better for beginning backpackers.
The wall fabric is micro mesh with 68 denier, 1800 mm nylon flooring. The bucket style keeps splashback away, and although it doesn’t come with a footprint, it’s very waterproof. The full zip fly helps keep wind and rain out during bad storms.
Lightweight aluminum poles fold easily into the carry case. The weight ranges from just over three pounds to just under seven pounds, shaving off a few ounces from the larger sized Teton model above.
Hilleberg makes tents that withstand some weather. The Anjan 2 GT is a two-person tent with a single door and removable inner tent. The full coverage rain fly zips down to create extra vestibule space while the tunnel design maximizes space without creating wind resistance.
The tunnel design may take some practice to get just right, but once you do, it’s highly wind and rain resistant. Kerlon 1000 outer tent fabric resists tearing and has a warp break strength of 22 pounds per inch (or three times the strength of many comparable tents).
It’s heavier than other backpacking tents on the list at over four pounds, but that’s the trade for a tent that can withstand terrible weather. If you’re camping for longer periods of time, you’ll appreciate the durability.
If your camping trips involve rocky or hilly terrain, this might make pitching easier. This free-standing tent has a semi-geodesic design with a multifunction fly sheet. The floor materials are durable, and the single front door makes orienting the tent easier in rough terrain.
The freestanding design allows you to pitch the tent elsewhere and move it to your desired spot to anchor with (included) guylines. The tent’s design provides excellent wind resistance, directing wind over the ridge and preventing toppling even on a hill.
The vestibule area has a ground sheet included, but the poles that come with the tent could be better. If you replace them with stronger poles, you’ll add weight but also durability.
When the weather is going to be fine, and you need to shave as much weight as possible, Nemo’s ultralight tent is one of the best options. It has vestibule space, and the trapezoidal design increases overall living space.
Two doors and two vestibules make it a lot more convenient for true three-person living, but we also like it as a roomier single person tent. The mesh top and removable fly give you a good view of the sky.
The design helps slough off some light snow, and the entire thing is highly waterproof. We’ll label it a three and a half season tent for that reason. The base is a little thin, however, so you’ll want to invest in a footprint of some kind unless you’re camping in ideal terrain.
The Copper Spur has gone through some changes in recent years, a major one being the improved hub design that strengthens the frame and increases living space without upping the weight.
It has a proprietary ripstop patterned fly that withstands a great deal of pressure and DAC poles for better durability without adding weight. The fly offers complete coverage with a bomb-out style and a small bit of vestibule space. It’s a highly livable ultralight that won’t collapse under some inclement weather.
It doesn’t come with a footprint, but unless you’re camping in terrible terrain, it should be fine. The improvements made in recent years have only added to what has become a staple with ultralight backpackers.
Nemo’s classic light shelter is a three-season tent with a dome design that maximizes living space without adding wind resistance. It’s a two-person tent with plenty of ventilation for muggy climates, but the fly zips down completely for better rain protection.
It has two doors and two vestibules for equipment storage and better coordination. It’s a little heavy, but the design makes it better for extended backpacking trips where you’ll need all the space you can get.
It comes with the footprint, guy outlines, poles, and stakes. Everything fits right into the bag easily, and when you’re setting up, it takes just a few minutes without extra hands helping.
The Survivalist Ultralight is the ultimate three-season backpacking tent. It’s not freestanding but designed to be used with your trekking poles or with the natural landscape. The A-frame style weights just over two and a half pounds and assembles easily wherever you are.
Mesh doors and windows give it better ventilation, and the roof and side walls are moderately waterproof (2000 mm). The bucket style floor is 4000 mm waterproof material for added protection from ground moisture.
It comes with guy out lines and a carry bag. Everything packs down to just 11.8 x 6.2 inches, so you have plenty of space for other things. It’s best for relatively fair weather and for when every single ounce and inch counts.
Our final tent is a two-person, three-season tent with aluminum alloy poles and a footprint plus gear loft. It has a detachable rain fly with full coverage and mesh walls.
It comes with reflective guy lines, stakes, and a proprietary stake presser. It has modular assembly options to account for the terrain, and the single aluminum pole design provides loft without adding weight.
It’s designed for thru-hiking and full-on camping with little modification. It’s tight for two people, but the direct to consumer brand gives you a professional tent with a smaller investment.