What are the best backpacking tents to buy?

camping at altitude

Choosing a backpacking tent

It is always difficult to choose a single tent and call it "the best" even when you start by narrowing things down and looking at a smaller group, like backpacking tents, that all weigh less than 100 oz or 2.83 kg. As prices start from $34.99 climbing up to $629.95 along with the size ranging from 16 sq. ft. for the smallest up to 57 sq. ft. for the largest. I decided it best to divide the 36 tents that I have hand picked from 10 different manufactures into 6 more manageable sections. This way we can compare like with like.

At the bottom of the page you can see a summary of the 6 backpacking tents that scored the best overall, based on where they ranked in each of the 6 sections. TLDR To busy to read through each section? Jump straight to the Top 10 Backpacking Tents

Start by selecting one of the sections below.

Top Rated Backpacking Tents

Eight of the thirty-six tents have what one could consider awesome ratings along with lots of reviews.

The Lynx 1 is an extreemly poular tent made by Alps What I like about the Lynx 1 is it excels in so many other areas. It is ideal for someone who has never camped before. Easy to setup and breakdown, you can even move it easily once it is up. Currently priced at $89.99 info_outline one could be forgiven for thinking it is a low quality product, far from it Alps have a fantastic reputation, I was quite surprised to see a tent from them for under $100 with more than 500 reviews and excellent ratings in all areas, there is nothing to fault with the tent. Plenty of room to lie down for a solo camper, a small vestibule and 3' of headroom allows you to sit up inside. It is not one for those looking to shave every single ounce they can, at 3 lbs 8 oz it's more than respectable and a tough little all round tent ideal for 3 seasons. If you are looking for a little more space, check out the Lynx 2 it's near double the size for just a few extra dollars.

The Zephyr 1 also made by Alps it gets an honorable mention in this section because of its great ratings. It is available in three different sizes, all get good ratings. A little heavier than the Lynx above it looks like Alps is slowly phasing these out.

Eureka makes the Midori 2 I really like Eureka's tents, they seem to have found the right balance when it comes to price and quality. At its current price of $139.45 info_outline it is an ideal starter tent for a couple that will last you for many years. 3' 7" is a decent amount of headroom for a tent of this size, along with a 10 square foot vestibule. Set up is quick and easy the only thing one could possibly question is that it only has one door so both campers would not have easy access in the night. The Midori 2 "pictured below" is described as "affordable with the ability to handle storms" Many of the reviewers give it excellent ratings.

One that continually shows up in different sections accross this website is Marmot's Tungsten 2 person tent "pictured below" weighing in at 4 lbs 13 oz it is not going to win any awards in the ultralight section for sure. It does though have 4' 10" of headroom more than any of the other 36 backpacking tents. If you are looking for a quality light tent that you do not need to crawl into on your stomach and weight is not your main priority. The Tungsten 2 could make a great choice for cyclists and couples, fairly priced at $189.01 info_outline Marmot offers a "no need to register the product warranty" If there is a manufacture's defect they will fix it plain and simple.

Another manufacture that has a history of creating tents that just seem to last forever is Big Agnes They are behind the Copper Spur HV model, available in 4 different sizes this model pops up in a lot of the different sections on this page. The Copper Spur HV UL1 has very good reviews and is more than light enough to slip into the ultralight section. It is easily the lightest of all in this highly rated group. Weighing just 2 lbs 2 oz Larger than other 1 person tents is a plus also. If you are in this for the long haul and you would like to keep weight to the bare minimum, the investment of $339.99 info_outline in this tent is one that will not be wasted.


Ultralight Backpacking Tents

Seven of the tents weigh less than 2lb 12oz Two of those are made by Mountain Hardware their Ghost UL model "pictured below" occupies 2 of those 7 places, including the number one spot, which goes to the Ghost UL 1 It is the only tent that weighs less than 2 lbs Even though it is truly light one has to ask, how much difference does 8 oz really make? The slightly more expensive Ghost UL 2 is 58% bigger weighing just 8 oz more. Niether of two have a lot of reviews they do though get decent reviews. If you are looking for a true ultra "they only require three stakes" and your happy spending upwards of $300 they have their place. The Ghost UL 3 also looks like a better value choice than the Ghost UL 2 if you want a 2 person ultra.

Another that gets great reviews and lots of them more than 75 is the Backpacking Bivy Tent made by Winterial. As the name suggests it is compact on the headroom side of things with only 2' 4" the sleeping area is quite large at 24 sq. ft. compared to the others. On the price front it wins hands down costing less than $100 Ideal for those wanting a solo tent without breaking the bank.

Next up is the North Face Stormbreak 1 "pictured below" it is not large even when compared to other 1 person tents. It is though a tad larger than the Ghost UL 1 above and considerably cheaper, priced at only $165.55 info_outline it has the same headroom as the Ghost UL 1 with an extra couple of square feet and is 10 oz heavier, it also has more reviews and slightly better ratings. Similar to the Mountain Hardware model, the Stormbreak 2 is quite a lot bigger for not a lot extra cash, making it a better value buy if your ok with an extra 10 oz

Big Agnes is getting rave reviews all over the web for its Copper Spur HV UL model. Available in four different sizes the smallest of them all is the Copper Spur HV UL1 weighing only 2 lbs 2 oz it easily slots into the lightest backpacking tents available on optimumtents.com It is the third lightest behind the two Ghost UL models above. With more than 75 reviews and a near perfect rating it is hard to find anything wrong with this tent at all. It has the most headroom of all the Ultras along with ample sleeping space and a small vestibule also. Price is the only thing that could put some people off. With a MSRP of $379.95 it is never going to be considered a cheap tent, value for money? Yes if your someone who loves to camp solo and likes to get away often, it is a great investment. Katie does a great job in the video below of explaing the difference between the older version and this newer upgraded version.


Best Value Backpacking Tents

Figuring out what could be considered "best value" is kind of tricky. As we all know quite often the Manufactures Suggested Retail Price is rarely the price that the item is actually sold at. For this reason I try to focus more on the price per square foot in this group, rather than looking at how much a tent has been discounted. Currently $6.21 is the average price per sq foot for all the tents that I consider light enough for backpacking on this site. All the tents below fall squarely in to what one could call the mid range of prices and they are all considerably less than or very close to the average price per square foot for all tents as mentioned above.

The Mystique 2 "pictured below" is made by Alps It scores well in all areas with great ratings and lots of them. It is also one of the largest 2 person tents on the market today. Weighing in at 4 lbs 9 oz it sacrifices a little weight for more space and durability. The Mystique 2 is light enough for a solo camper wanting a bit more space at the reduced price of just $103.54 info_outline

Kelty is another of those manufactures that just seems to have figured out the right mix when it comes to value for money. Their Trail Ridge model has been around for many years always selling well and getting great reviews. Early 2016 they decided to give it an overhaul and re launched it with a different color scheme adding the footprint at no extra cost, whilst still keeping the overall price the same. This newer version continues to sell well and get good reviews just like the old one. Both the Trail Ridge 3 and the Trail Ridge 2 "pictured below" with their footprints are heaviest in their own groups, 2 person and 3person. The Trail Ridge Three is actually the heaviest of all the backpacking tents just making the cut at 98 oz

Heavier than most, yes: there are benefits though, these tents are hardy and large in size compared to many of the others, ideal for those wishing to get out earlier and later in the year. The extra weight also keeps the cold out better. Choosing between the two is quite easy the larger version cost just $31 info_outline extra for a lot more space and only weighs an extra 13 oz Both would work for those touring on a motorbike along with cyclists and couples hiking that can share a bit of extra weight.

Another Kelty tent gets an honorable mention the Salida 2 it is lighter than the Trail Ridge 2 "above" and the cheapest of all tents in this section currently priced at only $118.95 info_outline It is covered in more detail below in the most popular group.

Whenever I see the brand North Face pop up I start to think about just how much it is going to cost, quality does come at a price, normally, so I was very surprised to see one of their tents slide into this section, go figure it didn't just creep in, it was one of the top selections. The Stormbreak 3 "pictured below" out ranked near all the others when it comes to getting value for money, per square foot. It is also one of the lightest mid sized backpacking tents. Perhaps a little tight for three, yet roomy for two this would make a great buy for a couple wanting a tent that will last years, if looked after properly. Due to it's color you might struggle if you do a lot of stealth camping. With two doors and a 10 ft vestibule $186.20 info_outline seems like a steal at this price.

Marmots's Tungsten 2 needs a mention as it also offers great value. I have covered it in greater detail above in the top rated section


The Largest Backpacking Tents

Five of the tents have a sleeping area greater than 40 sq feet, they all weigh 4 lbs or more except one. Through out this website I try to show examples of how the choosing a tent based on how many people a manufacture suggests it should sleep, is not the best starting point. In this group their are tents suggested for all sizes, even though they are all pretty much have the same sleeping area, go figure.

As this page is all about lightweight tents that you can easily carry around I was quite surprised to see one of the 4 person tents drop into the mix. Big Agnes makes the largest of all the lightweight tents their Copper Spur HV UL4 is a good 10 square feet bigger than the next biggest. If your looking for the unique combination of space and ultralight any of the four different Copper Spur HV UL models will deliver above and beyond, compared to any of the other tents I have looked at. All this comes at a price though the 4 person version pictured below will currently set you back $629.95 info_outline weighing in at just 5 lbs 3 oz considerably less than other much smaller tents, it gives you 57 sq. ft. of space along with another 14 sq. ft. of space in the vestibule. Two large dual zipper doors make it easy to get in and out. The smaller 3 person version also makes it into this largest group, it is quite a lot smaller and a lot lighter at only 3 lbs 7 oz On the size front it is 18 sq. ft. smaller, and costs not a great deal less. The larger version represents much better value, if you can handle the extra 28 ounces. Either of the two can only be considered as a great investment, if you are planning on camping often.

Kelty's Trail Ridge 3 is the next largest, with 11 sq. ft. less than the Copper Spur HV UL4 "pictured above" The Trail Ridge model excels on a price per square foot basis, offering exceptional value. I have wrote more about it above in the best value section

Two tents share third place both have 42 sq. ft. the first is the Willow 2 person tent Yep that's a two person tent larger than a whole bunch of three person tents on the size front. I cover the Tahoe Gears Willow 2 in more detail below in a section devoted to the cheapest backpacking tents The second of the two is Marmot's Limelight 3 "pictured above" It gets good ratings. With two doors and two vestibules it is well laid out. A tad over 6 lbs makes it quite heavy compared to the others. With the price been closer to $300 than $200 the fact that it is 15 sq. ft. off been the largest. I feel this tent ends up in no mans land, a little to expensive to be considered cheap and in a different world compared to the Copper Spur HV UL 4 that I believe merits that extra cost. I like Marmot tents a lot, this one just seems like it is not the best choice if your looking for a large backpacking tent, when compared with the others in the same class.


Cheapest Backpacking Tents Under $100

Nine of the backpacking tents currently cost less than $100 info_outline With larger tents finding a good one that's under $100 is no easy feat. As all the tents covered on this page are smaller in size, quite a few are not just cheap they are also great tents. Cheapest of them all is Tahoe Gear's Willow 2 "pictured below" I normally shy away from tents that are less than $50 in this case I could not resist adding it to optimumtents.com I look at a lot of tents and this one is a true winner, not only is it ridiculously cheap at only $34.99 info_outline it is larger than most of the three person tents, sliding into the bottom of the largest backpacking tents with 42 sq. ft. and 4' of headroom. Weight wise it is only 4 lbs and it has more than 50 good reviews. Ideal for someone or even a couple that are going on a short camping trip with friends, not wishing to spend a lot on a tent.

The Lynx 1 gets a mention as it is more often than not discounted below $100 You can read more about it in the top rated section

Winterial have three tents under $100 all of them have good ratings each has at least 50 reviews. Largest of the three is the Winterial 2 with 32 sq. ft. it is a good 10 sq. ft. smaller than the Willow 2 above and near double the price. It is also more than a pound heavier and kind of small for two and a tad heavy for one.

The Elite "pictured below" is a small 1 person tent that is best compared against the Lynx 1 the Elite has a tad more headroom after that they are both exactly the same size and weight, the difference in price is negligible. Both have great ratings and lots of them the Lynx 1 fairs slightly better. The decider for me is the extra vestibule that comes with the Lynx 1

Last of the three from Winterial is their Backpacking Bivy Tent "pictured below" I like this tent a lot. It is as suggested, a small lightweight tent that comes with a small price currently only $79.99 info_outline I say "only" because due to its weight of just 2 lbs 9 oz it slides into the Ultralight tents section where you would normally expect to pay $300 and up. With more than 75 reviews and great ratings, this tent would be ideal for a solo camper looking for a lightweight tent that will not break the bank.


The Most Popular Backpacking Tents

Two of the backpacking tents are so far ahead of the competition in this most popular section it is kind of shocking. They both have awesome ratings and more than 400 reviews each. The first is made by Mountainsmith It is easy to see why people love the Morrison 2 and why it won some awards a few years back. It is a large 2 person tent with two doors and a huge 17 sq. ft. vestibule. At a tad under 5 lbs, it could even be considered light for two people sharing the weight. At its current price of $129.90 info_outline along with the great reviews it is very popular 3 season tent. In the video below Dan Nash shows how easy it is to setup.

The second of two most popular, is the their Alps Lynx 1 appearing in 3 different sections of this page it is easy to see why it is so popular. It is difficult to compare it with the Morrison 2 above, simply because one is a decent sized two person tent whilst the Lynx is only suitable for solo campers. What they do have in common is a huge amount of reviews that for the most part are all very good.

The Larger Lynx 2 "pictured below" also falls into this group of very popular tents. If you are not concerned about an extra 1lb 12 oz and you would like a lot more space it is an easy choice between the 1 person version and the 2 person version, the larger is only an extra few dollars for 85% more space.

When compared with the Morrison 2 it is not easy to spot an obvious choice. The Lynx 2 is a tad bigger and a tad heavier, it is though slightly cheaper. Both have the same ratings and lots of reviews, along with 2 doors and large vestibules in both. On paper the Lynx 2 wins it is bigger not a lot heavier and cheaper. In favor of the Morrison 2 a lot more people have bought it. Both will make a great buy. Your own personal preference will be the only factor when choosing between the two.

Kelty's Salida 2 "pictured below" is another with more than 150 reviews that for the most part rave about how much they love this tent. It is a little different to the Lynx 2 and Morrison 2 above. The Salida 2 seems to be firmly targeted at those backpackers wanting to save on weight. Square footage is 20% less than the two above removing about 1 lb in weight. At just 30 sq. ft., I say just because this is suggested as 2 person tent. With one single door and a small vestibule it looks like this tent would work well for a solo backpacker that would like extra space whilst keeping weight to the minimum, without resorting to an Ultralight tent. For two it looks a little tight to just save a single pound in weight. I really like Kelty's tents they make solid tents that keep you dry at a price that is affordable to everyone.

Last in this section is the Winterial Elite 1 a very popular 1 person tent with good reviews. Like the Lynx 1 it is a tent that can be bought for less than $100 I have compared the two in a section above devoted to the cheapest backpacking tents


The Top 10 Backpacking Tents

Each of the six sections above is a selection of tents that rank well in those particular categories. Reading through the sections, you will notice that some tents rank well in more than one category, some appear in only a single category, and some are obvious winners in only one category. Each time a tent ranks well in any of the six different categories above, it gets a few points, the more sections and the higher up a tent appears, the more points it gets. This is how the top ten list shown below, is created and updated daily.


You can compare all of the backpacking tents side by side in an Interactive Comparison Table