Best Tents for Backpacking

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There is something satisfying about being able to head out on a trip and being able to carry everything you need on your back. In those situations finding a tent that will take a beating, is roomy, and dry enough makes all the difference.

Whether you are hiking, trekking, or globetrotting, having a lightweight, quality tent just makes things easier. There are a number of options when it comes to backpacking tents.

We have put together a list of what we feel our some of the best backpacking tents out there.

Best Backpacking Tents

  1. Nemo Dagger Ultralight Tent Best Overall
  2. MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2-Person Tent – Best Lightweight Tent
  3. Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2 Tent – Best UltraLightweight Tent
  4. Eureka! Mountain Pass Tent – Best 4 Season Tent
  5. Kelty Dirt Motel Lightweight Tent – Best For Tight Budgets
  6. Sierra Designs Meteor 2 Person Tent – Best Tent For Gazing at the Stars
  7. Marmot Ajax 2 Tent – Best Storm Proof Tent

1. Nemo Dagger Ultralight Tent

Best Overall Tent

Specs: 2 person / 3 seasons

Fabric: quality nylon ripstop

Floor space: 31.3sq ft

Weight: 1.75kg

Features: Full rain fly, 2 doors and 2 vestibules, Divvy dual-stage stuff sack, Lifetime Warranty

Pros: Very lightweight, Spacious design, Actually designed for two, Divvy dual-stage stuff sack (for splitting the load into two), Doors and vestibules are adjustable and can be customized in many different ways, Great weatherability, Environmentally conscious company

Cons: Not completely waterproof, some leakage reported with floor, Does not come with a footprint (which would solve floor leakage issue)

Nemo Dagger Ultralight Backpacking Tent

Special Features: Due to its special design this tent can comfortably accommodate 2 people.  Two-person tents can sometimes be a bit cramped, however, with the Nemo Dagger this isn’t so much the case as we find it quite roomy. 

Pre-bent poles are one aspect which allows for more vertical walls, headroom and sitting-up space. This means both members can comfortably sit up at the same time without bumping heads. 

The two doors and vestibules also make this ideal for sharing, each person having his own spot for gear and for coming in and out.  It’s always better not to have to crawl over someone in the middle of the night when nature calls.

Another nice feature is the special flashlight pocket on the ceiling which can create a more ambient and diffused light.

NEMO actively researches and uses materials that are as eco-conscious as possible, like its waterproofing compounds as well as minimizing waste in all aspects of tent fabrication.

2. MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2-Person Lightweight Tent

Best Lightweight Backpacking Tent

Specs: 2 person / 3 seasons

Fabric: quality 30D nylon ripstop

Floor space: 29sq ft

Weight: 3lbs 14oz

Features: Full rainfly, 2 doors and 2 vestibules, 3-year limited warranty

Pros: Lightweight, Spacious design, Great weather proofing, (waterproofing and strong wind resistance), Very durable, Flashlight defusing pocket in the ceiling, Good air vents

Cons: Need to do your own seam sealing, Footprint not included

MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2-Person Lightweight Backpacking Tent

Special Features: This tent has a very high quality waterproofing coating called Xtreme Shield which is said to last 3 times longer than regular coatings. 

In general the tent’s structure is also designed to withstand hard winds and adverse weather in general.  Another nice feature is that the two vestibules can be rolled up on starry nights or in warmer weather conditions. Another notable quality to mention is that since this is a two-pole tent it can be set up super quickly with minimal bits and bobs so you won’t get confused.

If you know the company behind the tent Mountain Safety Research though most commonly known as MSR, you will know that they make high quality tents. They have been around since 1969 and are made in Washington, USA.

There are tons of knockoffs that are made in China and Vietnam, but let me tell you they are just not the real deal. Knock-offs never really are. The simplest way to know if you have the real one is that MSR will give you a full 3-year warranty.

3. Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2 Tent

Best UltraLightweight Backpacking Tent

Specs: 2 person / 3 seasons

Fabric: Ultralight ripstop nylon (waterproof PU coating)

Floor area: 28sq ft

Weight: 2lb 8oz

Features: Full rain fly, 2 doors, 2 vestibules, Single-pole architecture, Upgradable size to 3 person model

Pros: Very lightweight, Good ventilation design, Simple setup with single pole, Sturdy construction, Media pockets with cord-routing option, More usable space in the tent corners (‘foot-end corners)

Cons: Light weight fabric gets caught in zippers more easily, Footprint not included

Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL - Ultralight Backpacking Tent

Special Features: The ‘single-pole architecture is worth mentioning since it makes setting up easy and efficient, a no-brainer essentially. 

As well, the tent is equipped with two specially designed ‘dry-entry’ doors to keep things dry in the rain when coming in or out. As much as we like the lightweight and simple setup a few things to be aware of is that the tent material is super thin, which does not bode well for both colder temperatures and for the accidental tear.

That being said if you are a die-hard thru-hiker and camp mostly in warmer months I would say this is your guy.

4. Eureka! Mountain Pass Tent

Best UltraLightweight Backpacking Tent

Specs: 2 person / 4 seasons

Fabric: Waterproof Polyester Taffeta

Floor area: 32sq ft

Weight: 5lb 9oz

Features: Full rain fly, 2 doors, 2 vestibules, Includes footprint, Upgradable size to 3 person, Limited Warranty

Pros: Actually built for four seasons, High/Low Vent air exchange system, Great rainfly, actually waterproof, Removable side panels (converts into a 3 season easily), Specialty poles built to weather big storms, Lots of gear space (2 large vestibules and inner gear loft)

Cons: A bit bulkier, A bit heavier

Eureka! Mountain Pass Four-Season Backpacking Tent

Special Features: The Eureka Mountain Pass 4 offers a very high quality 4-season shelter and in this case it really is built for all four seasons unlike some tents which claim to be 4-seasons but are not.  

One plus is that it can easily convert into a 3-season tent, with its featured removable side panels.  If winter is far away, you can even leave these panels at home before setting out. 

This tent also offers more space in the interior which is a plus when there is a party of two.   Of course as with most Eureka! tents, it offers the High/Low Ventilation system which allows cooler air to enter through its lower vents and hotter air to flush out through the top vents.

This is a high-quality tent that will last for several years when properly cared for.  It’s built to withstand the toughest weather conditions and is spacious and well designed.  The only trade off perhaps is that it is more bulky and heavier than some of its competitors.  However, if you can handle a little extra weight, this is a great choice to consider.

5. Kelty Dirt Motel Lightweight Tent

Best Budget Backpacking Tent

Specs: 2 person / 3 seasons

Fabric: 40 denier siliconized rip stop nylon

Floor area: 28sq ft

Weight: 3lbs

Features: Full rain fly, 2 doors, 2 vestibules, Limited Lifetime Warranty

Pros: Lightweight, Affordable price, Spacious, Big vestibules, High quality lightweight poles, Waterproof, Shark mouth stuff sack makes packing it up easy

Cons: No gear loft, Footprint sold separately

Kelty Backpacking-Tents Dirt Motel

Special Features: The stargazing fly system is a great addition to this tent, making it easy to roll up the fly at night and of course in general when the climate is warmer.  

The guy lines are made of reflective material which increases night time visibility so you don’t trip on them. This is a cheaper tent on our list in comparison with many others we have listed, though we find you are still able to get a premium for 50% of the price.

Kelty brand is also no cheapo tent company either. They know their stuff and you can see that coming out in the big thick vestibule, (70 denier nylon with a 3000 mm water-resistant rating) as well as the fine mesh tent material that makes it super breathable.

The downside is that the breatheability is going to make things a bit chilly if you are camping in a cold fall night in the mountains. But for the price point you can’t really beat it.

6. Sierra Designs Meteor 2 Person Tent

Best Backpacking Tent For Star Gazing

Specs: 2 person / 3 seasons

Fabric: Poly Taffeta 

Floor area: 29.8sq ft

Weight: 4lb 8oz

Features: Full rain fly, 2 doors, 2 vestibules, Fast two pole setup, Limited Lifetime Warranty

Pros: Affordable price, Good mid-range quality tent, Spacious, Easy setup and stow away

Cons: Heavier weight, Lower quality ground stakes

Sierra Designs Meteor 2/3/4 Person Backpacking Tents

Special Features: This Sierra Designs 2 person tent has a lot going for it. The ridge pole design increases the interior space, it’s easy to setup and pack away in the burrito stuff sack, and the peel-back rain fly for stargazing on clear nights is a nice addition.

It has a nice size vestibule so you can fit all your gear in the tent without your gear having to take up the extra space inside the tent.

Sierra Designs offers a great Limited Lifetime Warranty, so you can be sure the company put out a durable product.

7. Marmot Ajax 2 Tent

Best Storm Proof Backpacking Tent

Specs: 2 person / 3 seasons

Fabric: polyester

Floor area: 36sq ft

Weight: 5lb 5oz

Features: Full rain fly, Waterproof floor, 2 doors, 2 vestibules, Press-Fit poles (increased durability)

Pros: Very affordable, Waterproof floor, Spacious, Lightweight and good quality poles

Cons: Not many extra features, A bit heavier

Marmot Ajax 2 Tent - 2-Person, 3-Season - PALE PUMPKIN/TERRACOTTA

Special Features: This Marmot tent might be the most underrated out of the whole list. It is actually one of the cheapest on this list, and is a great option if you are on a tight budget.

Everywhere you look this tent has raving reviews. Though it’s not exactly lightweight it makes up for it in weather protection.

Heavier tents are usually more sturdy and made of thicker material, making them better for harsher weather conditions. And this one continues to support that argument as it will leave you high and dry in just about any violent weather. Wanna bet?

How to Find the Best Backpacking Tent?

5 Elements to Consider

Whether you are hiking out into the mountains on a trekking trip, bushcrafting in some forest or away on some indefinite backpacking adventure in a foreign land, the most important elements you’ll be looking for in a good tent will be more or less the same.  These elements are

  1. Weight
  2. Quality
  3. Weatherability
  4. Size
  5. Comfort

Of course, in juxtaposition to these five elements comes the price.  All of us adventuring folk wish for an affordable, high quality tent that keeps all the above elements in mind and the good news is that the tent market these days has many great options to fulfill our needs.

Tent Cost

In what follows we’ll share some of our top picks as far as 2-person backpacking tents go, and what makes them stand out beyond the massive jungle of tents in today’s outdoor camping market.  We have focused our attention on high quality tents that will protect you from the elements and when properly cared for, will last you many years.   

The tents presented here are dependable, versatile, and meet the 5 important elements mentioned above.  We’ve purposely excluded the very low quality budget tents since they are less reliable in many aspects and not likely to weather many storms, let alone tag along with you for years to come. 

This of course means that you’ll be paying more for your tent as compared to the low baller options but cashing in on the benefits in the short and long run.   Therefore, the final element to consider is cost.  

You Dont Want A Cheap Tent

Another simple way to put it is that, when buying a high-quality tent you are investing in a good, dry and comfortable sleep.  Most of the time when trekking or traveling,  sleep is not a luxury but a necessity.  

If you have ever camped out in a very cheap tent in the pouring cold rain and tried sleeping you probably know what is meant here.  Perhaps some memories come of a time where the rain fly blew off or the main tent zipper broke and all the hungry mosquitoes in the woods got given the v.i.p. pass in. 

We’re not sure which is worse, mosquitoes or being soaked and cold, probably the latter, yet both will almost definitely keep you up at night.  While such adventures may still be memorable, why suffer?

Tent Space When Camping for Two

In the tents we’ve listed and presented below, focus is on a two-person tent size which can be sufficient for a party of two and definitely ample room for a solo trekker/traveller. 

However, if you are sharing and are planning a longer journey where many nights will be spent in your humble tent abode, you may want to consider sizing up to a three-person tent if weight and space in your packs is not an issue. 

Some of the tents covered in what follows have a three-person version which we will mention in the ‘specs’ section when applicable.  Nevertheless, if you are more than familiar with your tent-mate, be it your best friend or significant other, the two-person format will usually suffice but it is often a matter of preference and personal sensitivity. 

Fortunately, some of the tents mentioned below are specially designed to capitalize on lost space and have transformed and made spacious what was a previously crammed two-person space.  It is also good to consider how long your trip will be.  If it is going to be a long one then you may want to consider sizing up if a little extra weight is not going to be an issue. 

Increasing your Tent’s Lifespan and Durability

If you are investing in a tent with the idea of using it for many years to come there are a few simple things that you can do to prolong its life and maintain its peak quality performance. 

1. Using a tarp for extra shelter and protection

If you are going to be sleeping in your tent for many nights at a stretch and are not concerned about a little extra weight nor a bit more time for camp setup, then installing a tarp above your tent and camp site is hightly recommended.  

A decent tarp doesn’t cost much and it will act as a good extra layer between you and the elements.  You might wonder why this is necessary if you’ve just bought a high quality waterproof tent. 

One of the main reasons is that your tent will be exposed to strong u.v. light from the sun (even more so if you are at higher altitutdes) which will degrade the waterproofing material of your rain fly over time.  So having a tarp above will prevent the tent fabric from deteriorating quickly and preserve its weatherproofness.  

A tarp can also increase the sheltered space outside your tent and make things more easeful in downpours when getting in and out of your tent.  Of course, setting up a tarp out in the open where there are no standing trees will require a little more creativity and extra time but is well worth the effort.

2. Check that the tent seams are sealed properly

You will want to inspect the seams of your tent and make sure that they are sealed.  This will further increase the waterproof quality of your tent and keep you dry in big downpours.  Many tents manufacturers seal the seams for you but sometimes this is not the case.   Also re-sealing seams might be something you need to after some years of use if the tent begins to wear. 

There are a number of sealing products on the market and the process is usually quite simple and easy.

3. Dry your tent out

Always dry your tent out completely before storing it for longer periods of time to avoid mold issues.   Once a tent has mold it usually doesn’t smell very nice and airing it out will not always get rid of the problem if it has already set in. 

Mold can also cause long term damage to the tent especially to parts that are glued rather than sewn.  

4. Set it up properly, using guy lines

Be careful and mindful while setting up your tent, not to bend poles in the wrong way or hastily pull on it which could cause it to rip.  When setting up in stormy weather or using the tent in more adverse conditions in general, always use the guy lines and ensure that the tent is properly set up. 

Failure to do this can sometimes result in your tent blowing away in strong winds when you are not home to weigh it down.  If a tent blows away it can easily get torn up and become unusable.  


If you keep the 5 things in mind that we talked about then you can’t really go wrong when you are picking out a backpacking tent. There are tons of tents out there that will suit you. Best of luck!


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