11 Best Backpacking Tents for All Budgets

Camo Zpacks Duplex backpacking tent, the best ultralight shelter of 2023, in front of a mountain range
The Best Backpacking Tents: One through Six-Person Shelters for All Hikers

Picking out one of the best backpacking tents for your gear list is no small task. Because, in the wild and unforgiving backcountry, your shelter is the only thing protecting you from the wind, rain, and critters that await outside.

That’s why we’ve carefully chosen the eleven best backpacking tents on the market and given you a detailed rundown of each. From budget to high-end, one-person to six-person, minimalist to full-featured, freestanding to trekking pole — our recommendations run the gamut to suit every type of backpacker.

And, because we’re gear nerds, we’ve analyzed each product for seven essential factors: weight, floor dimensions, capacity, primary material, style, weather resistance, and price.

We’ve also recommended four top-notch sets of stakes and put together a list of helpful add-on accessories that can maximize your tent’s potential. Much like the shelters on this list, we’ve got you covered.

So, whether you’re a thru-hiker looking for a one-man ultralight shelter or a family of five searching for their next backcountry home, we hope you find exactly what you’re after.

Ready to dive into the best backpacking tents?

Let’s do it.

Table of Contents

Best Backpacking Tents

Best Overall Backpacking Tent
Zpacks Duplex + Optional Flex Kit Add-On

Grey Zpacks Duplex

MSRP: $649
Weight: 1 lb 3 oz | 539 grams
Floor Dimensions: 90″ x 45″
Capacity: 2-person
Main Material: DCF
Weather Resistance: 3-season
Freestanding? No, but can be with Flex Kit
The Good:
Extremely lightweight, reliable, fantastic weather resistance, doesn’t stretch or wet out
The Not-So-Good:
Pricey, difficult setup

If you’ve backpacked regularly, you’ve likely seen a Zpacks Duplex or two dotting the landscape. Why? Because this cutting-edge ultralight backpacking tent is the best option on the market, and it’s not a secret anymore.

I’ve learned from experience that it doesn’t get much lighter, more compact, and weather-resistant than this. I’ve hunkered down in my Duplex during torrential downpours, 100-mph wind gusts, dust storms, and more – all the while staying dry and comfortable each time.

Thanks to its DCF material, the Duplex is 100% waterproof and won’t ever sag or stretch out, even in the worst weather. It’s spacious for one person, pretty snug for two, and would work perfectly for a single hiker and their dog.

So, why am I recommending a trekking pole backpacking tent as the best option overall? Because it can transform into a freestanding tent with the optional 10.2-oz Flex Kit add-on. This clever upgrade gives backpackers the versatility to add poles to their setup when they expect tough conditions to stake down, fear volatile weather, or just want a little extra room to stretch out inside.

The Duplex is a high-performance option that rings in at $649, and the Flex Kit is $125. These prices are a bit spendy, but for those ready to slash their base weight and step up their backpacking game, the splurge could be well worth the investment.

Other Versions: Plex Solo, Altaplex, Triplex


Best Freestanding Backpacking Tent
Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2

Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 2 shelter

MSRP: $450
Weight: 3 lb 2 oz | 1.42 kg
Floor Dimensions: 88″ x 52″/42″
Capacity: 2-person
Main Material: Silnylon
Weather Resistance: 3-season
Freestanding? Yes
The Good:
Vestibules double as awnings, spacious internal storage, lightweight, great weather resistance
The Not-So-Good:
Could be cramped for two people

If trekking pole tents like the Duplex aren’t quite your style, the freestanding Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 will make you a very happy camper. It’s one of the most lightweight, comfortable, and well-designed tents available today.

The Copper Spur is chock full of incredible features that can’t be measured in ounces or inches. For example, it has two built-in awnings that can be held up by trekking poles to expand your living space and create shelter from the sun and rain.

Its mesh above-head-and-foot storage is massive and will keep your toiletries, stinky clothes, and other backpacking essentials suspended off the ground. It packs small, holds up well in strong wind, and ventilates well. Like the Duplex, the Copper Spur HV UL2 is roomy for one person and cozy for two. It’s a hell of a shelter.

Some reviewers say it makes them feel a little cramped, so if its dimensions are a concern, look into the HV UL3, which offers an extra foot-and-a-half of floor width.

Though I’m quite smitten with my Duplex, if I ever were to switch to a freestanding tent, the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 would be the one. It’ll work perfectly for backpackers who want to keep their base weight down but who also want to enjoy a few small luxuries along the way.

Other Versions: HV UL1, HV UL3, HV UL4



Best Pure Ultralight Option
Hyperlite Mountain Gear UltaMid 2

White DCF ultralight pyramid backpacking shelter

MSRP: $735
Weight: 1 lb 3 oz | 531 g
Weight w/ Netting & Floor: 2 lb 9 oz | 1.16 kg
Floor Dimensions: 107″ x 83″
Capacity: 2-person
Main Material: DCF
Weather Resistance: 4-season
Freestanding? No
The Good:
Extremely spacious, excellent weather resistance, very lightweight and packable
The Not-So-Good:
Expensive, doesn’t come with bug netting or floor, must lash trekking poles together to pitch

Perhaps you’re intrigued by the incredibly lightweight Zpacks Duplex from earlier, but you’re a tad wary of its tight dimensions for two people. Well, as luck would have it, the Hyperlite Mountain Gear UltaMid 2 exists for backpackers who share your concerns.

Made entirely of stretch-proof and waterproof DCF, the UltaMid 2 is crazy packable and boasts double the floor area of the Duplex. You’ll have much more headroom, too, so long as you’re not trying to hang out near the edges of the tent.

Its aerodynamic pyramid design drastically reduces wind drag and easily sheds rain and snow, offering dependable weather resistance in all four seasons.

So, why didn’t we recommend the UltaMid 2 above all others? For starters, it doesn’t come standard with bug netting or a floor, which cost a whopping $405 to add on.

You’ll need to lash two trekking poles together to reach the proper height to set this bad boy up, so keep that in mind, as well. Other than that, it’s hard not to get excited over this absolute beauty of an ultralight shelter.

The UltaMid 2 is a high-end piece of gear that’ll thrive for serious backpackers and thru-hikers who crave a lightweight, packable, and roomy four-season refuge. If you can afford it, this tent will be your loyal companion from day one.

Other Versions: UltaMid 4


Budget Trekking Pole Tent Under $100
River Country Products Trekker 2.2

River Country Products Trekker 2.2 under $100

MSRP: $57
Weight: 3 lb | 1.36 kg
Floor Dimensions: 84″ x 60″
Capacity: 2-person
Main Material: PU Coated Polyester
Weather Resistance: 3-season
Freestanding? No
The Good:
Very affordable, pretty lightweight for its living area, good ventilation, seam-sealed
The Not-So-Good:
Only one door, material will absorb some water after heavy rain

I know, I know. The first three products I recommended aren’t cheap. That’s why I slipped in the Trekker 2.2 as the best budget option on this list. I wanted to show you that not all backpacking gear has to break the bank.

At 5′ x 7′ of interior space, this a-frame trekking pole tent can work as a roomy solo shelter or a cozy refuge for two. Its thoughtful large mesh sidewalls will keep bugs out, provide great ventilation, and also catch any condensation that might drip down from the tent’s main polyester shell.

This tent will not be as lightweight, packable, or as meticulously engineered as many other products on this list, but you probably knew that already. It only has a door at one end, which isn’t a huge deal but could make camping partners feel a little claustrophobic.

The goal with a budget recommendation is to put you in a tent that’ll keep you dry and comfortable in the backcountry for under $100, and the Trekker 2.2 will do just that.

Other Versions: Trekker 1, Trekker 1A, Trekker 3


Beginner Budget Buy Under $200
REI Passage 2

REI Passage 2

MSRP: $159
Weight: 5 lb 4 oz | 2.37 kg
Floor Dimensions: 88″ x 52″
Capacity: 2-Person
Main Material: Polyester
Weather Resistance: 3-season
Freestanding? Yes
The Good:
Affordable, Easy set up, durable, reliable
The Not-So-Good:
Heavy, bulky

I recommended most of the tents on this list with intermediate to advanced backpackers in mind. Don’t worry, though, newbies. I haven’t forgotten about you. Here’s a budget two-person beginner option I think might be right up your alley: the REI Passage 2.

When I first started backpacking, I sported the strikingly similar REI Camp Dome 2. It was effortless to set up, very comfortable, and stood up to a wide variety of bad weather.

I trusted this tent endlessly throughout my college years and used it for countless nights of car camping and backpacking. It was the exact shelter I needed to fall in love with backpacking and start my never-ending journey into the rabbit hole of ultralight backpacking gear.

It weighs a couple more pounds than the other two-person shelters on this list and won’t pack down quite as small, but it’s durable, very easy to set up, and the price is right.

If you’re ready to dabble in the world of backpacking, the sub-$200 REI Passage 2 is a great value buy and will be all you need to get hooked.

Other Versions: Passage 1, Passage 3, Half Dome 4


Rock-Solid for All Four-Seasons
Big Agnes Copper Spur HV 3 Expedition

Big Agnes Copper Spur HV 3 Expedition

MSRP: $550
Weight: 6 lb 3 oz | 2.80 kg
Floor Dimensions: 90″ x 70″/62″
Capacity: 3-person
Main Material: Silpoly
Weather Resistance: 4-season
Freestanding? Yes
The Good:
Built for all four seasons, lots of pockets inside, large vestibules
The Not-So-Good:
Breathability could be an issue if not properly pitched

Sometimes the weather can get so gnarly that a three-season tent simply isn’t going to get the job done. If you suspect that’s the case for your upcoming trip, give the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV 3 Expedition a look.

Big Agnes wasn’t lying when they described this as “a beefed-up, burly addition to the award-winning Copper Spur HV series.” While it shares many of the features that make the aforementioned HV UL2 outstanding, it also utilizes burlier poles built to handle high winds, nonstop rain, and heavy snowfall.

Further, it comes equipped with highly weather-resistant Dominico polyester ripstop fabric, which will shed downpours and stifle polar gusts with ease. The interior boasts spacious dual doors, ten different pockets to stash gear, and guy loops for increased stability on those extra windy days. This tent is an absolute beast.

Its breathability won’t be excellent, but proper venting techniques should fix any condensation issues that arise. Unlike the HV UL series, the HV Expedition doesn’t have the option to convert its vestibules into awnings and expand its living area.

If you plan on visiting a more touch-and-go backpacking destination weather-wise — think: Alaska, Iceland, Patagonia, New Zealand — you need a rock-solid four-season tent that leaves nothing to chance. If that’s the case, the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV 3 Expedition was built specifically for your style of adventure.

Other Versions: HV 2 Expedition



Crazy Light One-Person DCF Shelter
Zpacks Altaplex

Lightweight Zpacks Altaplex

MSRP: $625
Weight: 15.4 oz | 437 g
Floor Dimensions: 90″ x 36″
Capacity: 1-person
Main Material: DCF
Weather Resistance: 3-season
Freestanding? No
The Good:
Incredibly lightweight and packable, great weather resistance, built for tall hikers
The Not-So-Good:
Expensive, pretty snug

If you’re passing up a roomier two-person shelter for a one-person model, you might just be trying to shed a few ounces and keep your base weight as low as possible. That’s why I’ve tossed a solo ultralight trekking pole tent in the mix with the Zpacks Altaplex.

Weighing in at a ridiculous 15.4 ounces, the Altaplex is about as lightweight of a fully-enclosed solo shelter as you can find on the market. Sure, it’s a pretty niche option that only ultralight backpackers are likely to consider, but I couldn’t resist.

Why? Because it’ll lighten your load on the trail significantly while keeping you dry, safe, and comfortable in the process. Its lofty ceiling accommodates hikers up to 6’4″ tall, and its waterproof DCF material won’t ever stretch, sag, or let you down.

Much like other one-person tents, the interior space inside your Altaplex is only big enough to hold your sleeping pad, sleeping bag, and a few other backpacking essentials. You’ll likely need to stash your backpack and everything else underneath its storm door.

As I mentioned earlier, the Zpacks Altaplex will only attract the type of backpacker or thru-hiker passionate about counting ounces and scoring some serious weight savings. If that’s you, this may be the perfect one-person tent. For everyone else, the Nemo Dragonfly 1 or the Copper Spur HV UL1 might be more your style.

Other Versions: Plex Solo, Duplex, Triplex


Tried-and-True for Two People
NEMO Dragonfly 2

Nemo Dragonfly 2-person shelter

MSRP: $400
Weight: 3 lb 2 oz | 1.41 kg
Floor Dimensions: 88″ x 50″/45″
Capacity: 2-person
Main Material: Silnylon
Weather Resistance: 3-season
Freestanding? Yes
The Good:
Spacious interior, lots of storage under large vestibules, great ventilation
The Not-So-Good:
No awnings like the HV UL2

Though I recommended the Copper Spur HV UL2 above all other freestanding tents, I’ve heard nothing but great things about the NEMO Dragonfly 2 from fellow backpackers. It has an impressive set of features and definitely deserves all the praise. Don’t overlook it.

Highlighted by a crossbar and split main pole, the Dragonfly 2’s clever structure creates ample room for two campers to comfortably sit up and share the shelter. Its far-reaching vestibules stake down to make plenty of space outside the tent for larger gear, and its spacious gear loft and side pockets work to stash smaller essentials inside.

But the Dragonfly 2’s vestibules cannot be manipulated into awnings like the HV UL2, which is the main difference between the two. Both options are almost equal in terms of weight, dimensions, and weather resistance, but the HV UL2’s ability to create a cozy lounging area outside of the shelter makes it more appealing than the Dragonfly 2.

The NEMO Dragonfly 2 is undoubtedly one of the very best two-person backpacking tents on the market. It’s a comfortable, spacious, and well-ventilated option that would make an intelligent addition to anyone’s backpacking gear list.

Other Versions: Dragonfly 1, Dragonfly 3



Lightweight Three-Person Shelter
MSR Mutha Hubba NX 3

MSR Mutha Hubba

MSRP: $550
Weight: 4 lb 13 oz
Floor Dimensions: 84″ x 68″
Capacity: 3-person
Main Material: Silnylon
Weather Resistance: 3-season
Freestanding? Yes
The Good:
Lightweight for its size, does great in high winds, pole and hubs are singular
The Not-So-Good: 
Could be a little tight for three adults

Whether you’re backpacking in a group of three or you’re a couple who wants to bring their beloved dog along, the MSR Mutha Hubba might be the compact and sturdy tent you’ve been looking for.

I’ve met multiple backpackers in Patagonia with Hubba NX series tents, and everyone raved about their performance in the region’s high winds. Considering how well it performs in gnarly gusts, this is also very lightweight and packable once its poles, rain fly, and main body are divided among three hikers.

And, though it may look complex at first, the Mutha Hubba NX’s pole and hub structure is held together as a singular unit, making pitching the tent straightforward.

Depending on your personal space boundaries, this shelter could be a pretty tight squeeze for three full-grown adults, so I’d look towards the Papa Hubba NX if you want an option with a tad more personal space. I did also meet a hiker who told me the rainfly on his Hubba NX let in a little moisture after an extraordinarily heavy night of rain, but he didn’t seem to be too bothered by it.

The MSR Mutha Hubba NX would be a sound investment for backpackers who want a lightweight three-person tent with optimal wind resistance. It’s an extremely popular option amongst backpackers worldwide and could thrive for you as well.

Other Versions: Hubba NX 1, Hubba Hubba NX 2, Papa Hubba NX 4



Sturdy Four-Person Fortress
Marmot Tungsten 4

Marmot Tungsten 4 man backpacking refuge

MSRP: $366
Weight: 8 lb 7 oz | 3.83 kg
Floor Dimensions: 93″ x 82″
Capacity: 4-person
Main Material: Polyester taffeta
Weather Resistance: 3-season
Freestanding? Yes
The Good:
Simple to set up, large doors, excellent weather resistance
The Not-So-Good:
A little heavy, could be a bit tight for four people

The Marmot Tungsten 4 is one of the top-rated four-person backpacking tents on the market and will safely shelter you and your crew at a great price.

The Tungsten 4 is extremely simple to set up for starters, and dividing up its weight to carry among four hikers should be a breeze. Thanks to its two large doors on either side, getting in and out without disturbing your buddies shouldn’t be an issue.

Users rave about its top-notch weather resistance and say it stands strong in the face of heavy winds and rain. Marmot has a reputation for engineering outstanding products, and I have no reason to believe this shelter is any different.

One reviewer did complain that he found the vestibule fabric to be a bit loose and added that using the zipper with one hand was difficult. Petty gripes aside, this solid piece of gear checks all the boxes.

I believe Marmot Tungsten 4 would work perfectly for small groups or families looking for a dependable four-person tent that can stand up to bad weather. It’s a top-rated option in the backpacking industry and is a tremendous value buy. What else could you ask for?

Other Versions: Tungsten 1P, Tungsten 2P, Tungsten 3P



Spacious Six-Person Family Tent
MSR Habitude 6

MSR Habitude 6 family tent

MSRP: $600
Weight: 13 lb 6 oz | 6.01 kg
Floor Dimensions: 120″ x 100″
Capacity: 6-person
Main Material: Polyester taffeta
Weather Resistance: 3-season
Freestanding? Yes
The Good:
Comes with a porch light, standing-height inside, good weather resistance
The Not-So-Good:
Heavy, proper ventilation is tough to achieve when fully packed

We’ve now arrived at the most family-friendly shelter of the bunch, the MSR Habitude 6. Boasting generous floor space and an integrated porch light, this behemoth would work perfectly for a family of backpackers or small groups who want to share the same living area.

Dubbed a “standing-height haven” by MSR, the Habitude’s ceiling is lofty and can accommodate guests up to six feet tall. The floor space of this tent is spacious enough to hold up to six sleeping pads and some stray gear.

Can it house six adults? That’ll be a tight squeeze. But two adults and four children? Bring it on. Wind and rain should never be much of an issue, as the weather resistance on this tent is top-notch.

At over 13 pounds, some might view the Habitude 6 as more of a car camping tent than a backpacking tent. But if its weight is distributed amongst the group — one adult carrying the rainfly, one carrying the body, and three children carrying a set of poles each — weight shouldn’t be an issue.

If you’re a family with multiple young children, the MSR Habitude 6 could be the optimal shelter to introduce the little ones to the wonderful world of backpacking. It’s spacious, comfortable, and could act as the perfect shelter for you and yours to get to know the great outdoors together.

Other Versions: Habitude 4



Tent Stakes I Recommend

Eight carbon fiber tent stakes on a log
Zpacks carbon fiber tent stakes are my top pick

Red MSR Groundhog stake

Best Overall Tent Stake: MSR Groundhog

If you’re searching for a do-it-all tent stake that’ll work in most conditions, look no further than the MSR Groundhog. I own these sturdy stakes and pack them on trips when I anticipate high winds. They’ve stayed anchored in violent gusts and haven’t failed me in loose soil, either.

Black Zpacks ultralight carbon fiber stake

Best Ultralight Stake: Zpacks Carbon Fiber

The MSR Groundhogs I mentioned above are terrific but might be overkill if you’re not expecting crazy weather. When conditions are looking good, I recommend the ultralight Zpacks Ultralight Carbon Fiber Stakes. They’re only .22 oz apiece, less than half the weight of the Groundhogs (.46 oz).

Red MSR stake for loose terrain, snow, and sand

Best Stake for Loose Terrain: MSR Blizzard

Keeping your shelter anchored atop sand, snow, ice, or gravelly earth can be a nightmare if you don’t have the correct stakes for the job. Grab the MSR Blizzard stakes if you’ll be camping in less-than-ideal conditions where the terrain is too loose to grip traditional stakes properly.

Budget tent stake from Amazon

Best Budget Stake: All One Tech

Sometimes you’ve just got to save some cash. (Backpacking costs can add up, I get it.) Check out the All One Tech aluminum stakes if you’re looking for a reliable stake for a bargain. They’re $12 for a pack of 12, and, at .53 oz apiece, they weigh about the same as the MSR Groundhogs.

Accessories & Add-Ons I Recommend

Lightweight aluminum Montbell trekking pole

Trekking Poles: Montbell Alpine

You’ll need a quality set of sticks to keep your trekking pole shelter standing upright, and a couple of these lightweight Montbell Alpines will do the job well. They’re sturdy enough to prevent slips and falls and will save your knees during ascents and descents, as well.

Grey DCF groundsheet/footprint with a yellow backpacking sleeping pad on top

Groundsheet/Footprint: Zpacks

I don’t use a groundsheet under my tent, but I’d have prevented a few aggravating pinhole leaks in my sleeping pad if I had. Use a footprint to add an extra layer of protection between your floor, your pad, and the pesky, pokey, prickly earth below.

Two rolls of black gear repair tape

Repair Tape: Tenacious Tape or Zpacks DCF Tape

Tearing a hole in your tent is unsettling and gut-wrenching but can be easily remedied with suitable repair tape. Pack some Tenacious Tape for nylon/silnylon and polyester/silpoly shelters and use DCF-specific tape for, you guessed it, DCF shelters.

Roll of paracord (or guylines) for shelters

Paracord/Guyline: Nite Ize Shine Line

If you need to upgrade your guylines or simply want to carry some lightweight paracord as a backup, check out the Nite Ize ShineLine. It weighs almost nothing, reflects light so you won’t trip over it, and has multiple other uses in the backcountry.

Green ultralight towel for wiping off tent condensation

Ultralight Towel: PackTowl

Pesky condensation will show up inside your tent from time to time, especially if it’s made of DCF. Use a fast-drying hand-sized microfiber towel to wipe down the damp walls before you pack it up and get back on the trail. Nobody wants to unpack a soggy shelter.

Big Agnes gear loft for freestanding tents

Gear Loft: Big Agnes

A gear loft will suspend your belongings off of the grubby floor as you sleep and give you more interior space to stretch out and move around. I would carry a gear loft in my bag if I used a Big Agnes freestanding tent, but alas, I guess I’ll have to keep dreaming.

Our Criteria for Analyzing Backpacking Tents

Grey ultralight DCF shelter in front of a lake and a mountain range
There’s a lot of factors to consider when mulling over your next backpacking tent

I spend far more time than I’d like to admit poring over products before I buy them. Just like you, I want to make sure that my next significant investment in backpacking will be a perfect fit before I make my decision.

I’ve also analyzed each product for the following seven measurable factors: weight, floor dimensions, capacity, primary material, weather resistance, style, and price. Because understanding these vital details will help you visualize a product in ways a photo never could.


Unless you hire a sherpa to lug your gear around, the weight of your pack matters and should be a significant factor when considering your next shelter. The more your tent weighs, the heavier your pack will be and the slower you’ll move on the trail.

As an ultralight enthusiast, I recommend going with the lightest possible shelter within your price range that’ll keep you dry, comfortable, and secure. I’ve backpacked with unnecessarily heavy gear and have learned to save weight every chance you get.

Floor Dimensions

Each shelter has its own unique floor dimensions, which will give you an idea of how much interior space to expect when it’s set up. To help visualize a tent’s floor space, measure out its dimensions on your floor, mark them off with tape or string, and lie down within them.

Height is another dimension to consider, especially if you’re on the taller side and often have issues bumping your head on the top of your tent. Measure your height when seated on your sleeping pad and reference it to the tent’s specs to get an idea of how comfortable you’ll be sitting up inside of it.


A tent’s floor dimensions directly play a part in how many people can sleep comfortably inside. The manufacturer decides a tent’s capacity, though, so pay more attention to the floor dimensions, as they’ll give you a better idea of exactly how much interior space you and your backpacking partners will have.

Each shelter on this list is rated to sleep between one and six people. I recommend sizing up to a bigger shelter — for example, sleeping two people in a three-person tent — if you or your hiking partners get claustrophobic or like to stretch out while you sleep.

Main Material

All of the shelters on this list are constructed from one of three types of materials. Here are the basic characteristics you need to know about each:

  • Dyneema Composite Fabric (DCF): DCF is an extraordinarily lightweight and completely waterproof composite material used for sailing and ultralight backpacking. It doesn’t stretch out or sag over time, but it is delicate and should be treated with care. DCF is the most expensive material on this list.
  • Silnylon: Made from nylon ‘impregnated’ with liquid silicone from both sides, silnylon is typically stronger and durable than DCF but not nearly as lightweight. It’ll sag and stretch slightly over time, especially in wet and/or windy conditions. Silnylon is significantly more affordable than DCF.
  • Polyester/Silpoly: Polyester and silpoly (polyester + silicone) are typically heavier than silnylon but are also more abrasion-resistant and affordable. Polyester/silpoly absorbs water more than silnylon and DCF, which leads to more sagging and longer dry-out times.

Weather Resistance

Nobody wants wind, rain, snow, sand, sleet, extreme temperatures, or anything else Mother Nature has in store to ruin their backpacking trip. Naturally, your tent’s materials and design will play a huge part in its ability to handle the weather and protect you from the elements.

The shelters on this list are rated with either four-season or three-season weather resistance. Four-season tents are rated to protect you during winter conditions when you can expect significant snow, wind, and low temperatures. Three-season tents are rated to protect you in typical spring, summer, and fall conditions but not the winter conditions listed above.

Freestanding vs. Trekking Pole

All of the shelters on this last stand up one of two ways:

  • Freestanding: Included aluminum poles feed through the fabric of the tent to give it a dome-shaped structure and help it stand upright
  • Trekking Pole: One or two trekking poles act as a frame for the tent to help it stand along with tension from the guylines and stakes that anchor them into the ground

Freestanding tents are usually easier to set up than trekking pole tents but usually weigh more and take up more space in your backpack. Trekking pole tents are generally more lightweight and packable than freestanding tents but also tend to produce more condensation and provide less insulation.


For most backpackers, cost comes into play when researching and buying that next shelter. With options on this list running from $50 up to $750, there’s a wide range of ways to spend your hard-earned money.

Shelters made from super lightweight (and pricey) DCF will inevitably cost more than shelters made from nylon, silnylon, polyester, silpoly, and other materials. So, if you want a well-made ultralight tent made of DCF, get ready to shell out at least $650.

Which Backpacking Tent Will Anchor Your Trip?

Orange backpacking tent with a silhouette of mountains against a pre-dusk sky
Which tent do you have your eye on for the backpacking season?

If you’ve made it this far, I hope that means you’ve found the best backpacking tent possible for your upcoming season. If that’s the case, congratulations. You’ve just set yourself up for success from the moment you set up camp on your next overnighter.

If you didn’t find a shelter you like, that’s okay too. Just remember this:

Fewer things are more important in the world of backpacking than a safe, comfortable, and dependable shelter. Mother Nature doesn’t pull any punches, so you’d better not, either. Keep searching until you find a tent or tarp that has your back when you need it most.

Thanks for stopping by to check out the best backpacking tents. Do you have experience with any of these shelters? Are there any questions I left unanswered? Which product do you have your eye on? Leave a comment, shoot me an email, or find me on the trail if you have any feedback. I’m all ears.

Cheers, and happy backpacking.

Last Updated on March 19, 2024

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Noel Krasomil

Hey, I'm Noel Krasomil, the founder of The Packable Life. I pack light and explore the globe searching for awe-inspiring hiking trails, rich cultural experiences, and ways to continue traveling indefinitely.

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