There are a huge variety of backpacking tents available and it takes some digging to see which are the best. The best ultralight backpacking tents tend to be expensive. While it’s certainly worth paying more for an ultralight tent that’s of the highest quality, not everyone wants to spend too much on these tents. Camping gear, in general, can add up when you look at everything you need.
So this article is going to give you the whole hog. For those who are looking for the ultimate in backpacking convenience, we’ll be reviewing the best ultralight backpacking tents. Their prices will vary, but they are all amongst the more expensive options. These are for the serious hiker who’s prepared to pay for the best.
For beginners, occasional backpackers and those who simply don’t have all that much to spend, we’ll also be reviewing a whole lot of budget-friendly lightweight backpacking tents. Buying a cheap tent that’s going to work fine for the average backpacker, need not be a massive compromise. There are some perfectly good backpacking tents that won’t cost you an arm and a leg.
Yes, this article has something for everyone. Possibly the best selection of backpacking tents that you’ll find anywhere, with an amazing variety of options. It’s not easy to decide which the best backpacking tent is – we’re all different. Obviously, weight is a big consideration, an ultralight tent is going to be the best in this regard, but lightweight backpacking tents (that don’t cost as much) are a good enough option if your budget won’t allow for the best ultralight tents. Quality is paramount when you’re spending your hard-earned cash. To this end, we’ve gone the extra mile in ensuring that we’re only recommending tents that have been tried and tested. They come highly recommended and each have their own merits.
When it comes down to the details, some may prefer more storage and innovative solutions for things like iPods and cell phones. Others may be looking for the most compact while others may want more space. When reviewing these tents, I’m going to look at these specifics and point out where some offer better or worse features within the framework of what the various campers are looking for.
With such a wide variety of backpacking tents in one comprehensive review, you’re going get what you’re looking for. There’s no need to spend hours searching the web for the best backpacking tent. That’s all been done for you in the form of this review.
In this section, we’re not just looking at price, we’re focusing the best, perhaps the ultimate, ultralight backpacking tents. Because of the ultralight nylon material used to fabricate these tents, they are all three season tents. If you’re going to be camping in snow, you’ll need a heavier tent. These are the options that we’ll be looking at:
- Big Agnes – Copper Spur HV UL Tent
- MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2 Person Lightweight Backpacking Tent
- Nemo Hornet Ultralight Backpacking Tent
- Bryce 2P Two Person Ultralight Tent
- Marmot Unisex Tungsten 2P Tent
- Kelty Unisex TN 2 Person Tent
- ALPS Mountaineering Mystique 1-Person Tent
Available in either 1; 2; 3 or 4 person format, this ultralight tent provides maximum usable floor space and is extremely durable. It also has amazing storage solutions to make your camping experience as pleasurable as one can hope for. It’s a fantastic product and everyone who owns one has said that it is by far the best backpacking tent they’ve ever used. It’s really easy to see why.
This is a superbly lightweight tent, the 2-person version has a trail weight of only 2LBS 12oz. This ultralight design has in no way compromised the strength and structural integrity of the tent. The canopy is made from proprietary-patterned double rip-stop nylon which is breathable for extra comfort and there’s plenty of mesh for the true outdoor experience. The floor and the fly are made from random rip-stop nylon for extra durability.
The poles erect incredibly easily to form one of the most rigid frames that a tent can have. The Big Agnes Copper Spur is not going to buckle in harsh winds. As a tall guy, I find the most remarkable feature of this tent the steep wall design. The two longest walls are completely vertical and the sloping sides, at the furthest ends, come down at a very steep angle. This gives you an amazing 7-foot length and the height at the highest point of 40-inches. Just about every square inch of the floor space is maximized by the vertical design.
It has two great doors on the widest sides of the tent with storage vestibules at each door. Though many users have said they would have preferred larger vestibules. Inside the tent, you have great storage compartments. There’s a huge ceiling pocket and media pockets with cable routing for things like cell phones and flashlights. Clips are provided for an optional triangular gear loft, but you’ll have to buy this separately.
A few other features that make this one of the best ultralight backpacking tents include solvent-free PU tape waterproofing for the seams, reflective guy lines and Velcro tabs for connecting the fly to the poles. Many will also like the really large dual zippers on the doors with a neat stow away to keep the open doors out of the way.
What can I say? This is clearly a magnificent tent, they’ve thought of absolutely everything. It’s not a cheap tent, but you’re paying for ultimate quality and a design that few can match – let alone beat.
It’s quite surprising to see how much cheaper the MSR Hubba Hubba NX is compared to the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV. This is a heavier tent, I wouldn’t really call it the ultimate ultralight tent, though it’s no heavyweight. It doesn’t have all the cool stuff that you get if you opt for the more expensive Big Agnes, but the price difference may sway the decision of even the most discerning camper. It is actually unfair to compare any of these ultralight tents to the exceptional Big Agnes but, since the Hubba Hubba comes the closest to this high standard, I will be comparing them where applicable.
In terms of quality, there’s no denying that this tent one of the best. The 20-denier rip-stop nylon and 15-denier mesh can hold their own in all conditions. The design maximizes your floor space with nearly vertical walls on three sides. The usable floor space doesn’t quite match that of the Big Agnes but is still good, it has the same 7-foot length which is great.
The poles are strong and make for a solid structure. It has an excellent fly with gutters that direct the water away from the entrances – this is a really cool idea and will make your life more comfortable in wet weather. The Hubba Hubba has two large doors on either side with reasonably large vestibules at either entrance. It does, however, lack interior storage pockets. I guess, at this price, that’s a small compromise to make.
Although they call this an ultralight backpacking tent, its weight is not its strongest point. With a 3-pound, 7-ounce trail weight, it’s certainly not heavy but not the best either. It packs into a very compact storage bag and one can reduce the weigh to a little over 2-pounds by leaving out the fly or inner section.
Considering its price, the Hubba Hubba NX is an irresistible deal for penny-wise consumers. So it’s not the lightest and doesn’t have the best storage, it has the quality and design to rival any of the best ultralight backpacking tents.
I have mixed feelings about the Nemo Hornet. In some ways, it’s the best, especially for its price. Though there are a few things that I would have preferred they’d done differently. I’ve seen some customer reviews stating that the tent leaks, but this is not a very common complaint. It looks to me that the pole design, while very innovative, needs some care when erecting. If you don’t set the tent up properly, it could sag. I guess some people haven’t figured out the finer complexities of the pole setup.
Don’t get me wrong, I think the pole design is excellent and does save on weight which is great. It has a single pole running the length of the tent which splits into a triangle at the pole hub. This is a very durable design and the poles are tough. But if you don’t stretch the tent properly with the guy lines, I would think it’s going to sag on the sides and this would cause it to leak. The guy lines are fantastic and triangulate to maximize the usable floor space.
The Nemo Hornet comes in two variants, being 1 or 2-person. What surprises me is that the 2-person Hornet is slightly shorter at 85-inches, compared to a length of 87-inches for the single person version. Though 2-inches isn’t a big deal for most people, I’d prefer the extra length and most tall people would agree.
This is a fairly basic tent, with no innovative storage solutions. It is a real winner in the weight department with the 2-person Nemo Hornet weighing only 2 Lbs 5 Oz. It looks to be a really well-made tent and should be as durable as the best of them.
I’m prepared to overlook the complaints about leaking as it seems to be more likely that some people haven’t erected the tent correctly. This seems to be the only complaint and that has brought the average rating on Amazon down which, to my mind, is unfair. This is a very reasonably priced tent and if the ultralight design is what you’re after, the Nemo Hornet is a real winner.
I’m always a little weary when an item’s price seems too good to be true. So, at first, I was skeptical about the Bryce 2P. It’s cheap but, upon some careful investigation, I can say that it’s nowhere near nasty. In fact, it’s a great tent at a fantastic price. Though I think they’re pushing the limits when calling this an ultralight tent.
The more I look at what you get for this amazing price, the more I’m inclined to call this the bargain of the century. The quality of the materials is up there with best of them – it cannot be faulted. This includes a 20 Denier rip-stop nylon fly, 40 Denier floor and footprint, as well as top-quality aluminum poles and Y-stakes. What impressed me, even more, is that the footprint is included in this fantastic price. You usually have to purchase this separately with other tent manufacturers.
As I mentioned, the trail weight isn’t the best – 3 Lbs 7 Oz and this doesn’t include the stakes and footprint. If you’re lugging the full kit, the weight increases to 4 Lbs 6 Oz. While this is not particularly heavy, it is pushing the boundaries of the ultralight concept. Storage is reasonable, but not the best. It has a single door with a vestibule at the door. You should fit two backpacks in this area, but not much more. There is a large pocket on the one wall for some reasonable interior storage.
The dome shape has steep sides, so the floor space isn’t too limited by this design. Plenty of mesh gives this tent a really airy and spacious feel when the rainfly is removed. In the end, I’m amazed at how cheap this tent is. Its quality is fantastic, it’s well designed and the price includes a footprint. What more could you ask for? Perhaps a pound off the weight tag, but that would be it.
I’ve never quite understood why some tents are called unisex, this seems to be a common question and I haven’t yet found a logical answer. It doesn’t really matter what the gender is, this is a great tent at an incredible price. Though not the lightest.
The partial dome design is practical enough and very sturdy but it can be quite low near the ends. It has two doors with vestibules on either side providing good storage for backpacks and other gear. It’s as tough as any of the best ultralight tents with great poles and high-quality nylon inner and fly. While the design isn’t as steep as some, it does make a solid structure that will withstand some pretty nasty weather.
As far as weight goes it is, like most of the cheaper options, on the heavy side (for a tent that is marketed as ultralight). It has a pack weight of 5 LBs 4 Oz. Among the ultralight tents in this review, the Marmot Unisex Tungsten is the heaviest.
This is a basic backpacking tent with no frills like storage compartments and the like. It is a very durable tent on the higher end of the weight scale but on the lower end of the price scale. This another example of one of the best value for money ultralight backpacking tents.
This is also a very nicely priced 2-person tent. It’s downright cheap, in fact. This means you’re getting a basic tent without any extras and it also tends toward the heavier end of the ultralight spectrum.
The dome design with steep walls on two sides offers a good deal comfortable, usable space. It’s a durable and sturdy tent with only one complaint. Quite a number of customer reviews have pointed out that the apex of the rainfly forms a low area, and in heavy rain, this can result in a water drip. While it seems to be waterproof in most conditions, it could be problematic in a heavy downpour. On the other hand, I really like the way the fly can be rolled back to the center of the tent. This means you can have half the tent covered and the other half open for stargazing through the expansive gauze area.
It has one door with a really large vestibule for plenty of storage. There are no special interior storage pockets though. Weight is okay, but not overly impressive – 4 LBs and 4 Oz minimum weight with a full packed weight of 4 LBs 13 Oz.
As one of the cheapest high-quality ultralight tents, the Kelty TN is another fantastic deal and compares well to all the others in this review. Weight is on a par with the other cheap options and better than some.
For a 1-person tent, the ALPS mystique is incredibly spacious and comfortable. It’s light and packs into a very compact format. This is the ideal tent for one person and is great for cyclists and mountaineering. On top of all this, it’s very affordable too.
With a really fantastic length of 7’10” and a width of 3’6”, this tent won’t feel as cramped as many other 1-person tents. It has an airy feel and a reasonably large 9.5 Square foot vestibule at the single door. It’s great quality and the easy to erect pole structure keeps the tent taught in rough weather conditions, there’s virtually no chance of any damp or water creeping in.
This is a beautifully designed 1-person tent and looks like it can withstand any weather conditions. Considering its size, this tent has a very acceptable weight of 3 LBs 15 Oz for the tent and fly with a total weight of 4 LBs 6 Oz.
If 1-person tents make you feel claustrophobic, the ALPS Mystique will brighten your day. It’s spacious and well-designed. This really is one of the best tents in its class and is refreshingly inexpensive.
These lightweight tents will have a higher weight to size ratio than the ultralight tents in the previous section. You can typically expect any of the 1-person lightweight tents to be roughly the same weight as the 2-person ultralight tents. Instead of nylon, they mostly make use of thicker polyester which means some of them will be four season tents. In terms of being the best budget friendly backpacking tents, you won’t be paying much more than a hundred bucks for any of the tents in this section of the review. These are the budget tents we’ll be reviewing:
Because of its affordability and great, robust design, this is one of the bestselling backpacking tents to come from ALPS Mountaineering. It’s spacious, has plenty of great storage solutions, and is lighter than one would think.
The aluminum poles are strong and two-pole design makes it simple to erect and very stable. It has a tough, UV resistant fly and you get a spacious gear loft with the tent. It also has handy storage pockets inside and a roomy vestibule at the single door.
You have plenty of leg room – 7’6” but it isn’t as wide as I’d have liked at 2’8”. It’s still spacious enough not to feel cramped and the extra storage helps to maximize your usable space. It has a full pack weight of 4 LBs 4 Oz and a minimum trail weight of 3 LBs 8 Oz.
It’s easy to see why this is such a popular backpacking tent. It’s as tough as one wants it to be and has perfect storage for everything that you would take with you. All this in a lightweight tent that doesn’t cost much at all – an amazing deal.
This tent takes the phrase best budget backpacking tent to new heights. It’s unbelievably cheap for a 2-person tent made to a very high standard. It’s heavier than most but, then again, it’s a robust 4-season tent so it’s never going to be all that light.
The LED light strip in the roof of the tent is a really nice addition and very handy. It has a USB inlet, so it can draw power from any USB device. The 190T anti-tear embossed fabric is highly durable and can handle harsher weather conditions than most lightweight tents. This, naturally, pushes up the weight to just over 5-pounds. Which isn’t too bad for a 4-season 2-person tent. It has doors on either end of the dome and the rainfly extends to provide two reasonably large vestibules at either end. There’s also a small storage pocket inside the tent for your loose items.
The aviation-grade aluminum poles are excellent and the tent is easy to erect with eyes in the tent straps into which the poles fit. This is a backpacking tent that will make perfect sense to the budget-minded camper and it offers a lot for a very little money.
Among the best lightweight tents for the budget buyer, this one is on the more expensive side of things. Though the extra money is well-spent. This is a very tough backpacking tent with a limited lifetime warranty.
It’s one of the few that have a footprint included in the price and this is one tough piece of 150D Oxford material. It is also one of the easiest tents to put up with a single aluminum pole design. Inside, you have heaps of space and it hardly feels like a 1-person tent, measuring 82” X 32” X 39.5”. The 2; 3; and 4-person options are also more spacious than most. The rainfly is exceptional and, although this is rated as 3-season tent, it can handle a fair amount of snow. I suppose the full gauze inner makes it colder in extreme conditions and that’s why it’s not recommended as a 4-season tent.
The weight is very reasonable with the 1-person variant having a trail weight of 3.3-pound and a full pack weight of 4.5-pounds. It packs into a very compact bag that’s also tougher than most, keeping all the tent components safe.
Even if your budget is tight, this tent is worth looking at. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a lightweight backpacking tent of this quality at a better price.
This is another 3-season 1-person tent that exceeds the norm when it comes to quality and it has a good deal of space. Both in the materials used and in its design, this a lightweight backpacking tent that stands out from the crowd.
The two rounded hoop pole setup make it an easy tent to erect and the aluminum poles are tough. They combine to make a really rigid structure with a good length of 90-inches, a maximum height of 38-inches and width of 28-inches. This makes it a very spacious 1-person tent and it has a storage pocket for your flashlight and a few smaller items.
The rainfly offers superb protection from the elements and provides a decent sized vestibule at the door. All of this packs into a compact 18” X 4.5” X 4” with a full pack weight of 3-pounds 3-ounces and a trail weight of only 2-pounds.
I would have thought a lightweight backpacking tent of this quality would cost substantially more than it does. This makes the Winterial, a great bargain and worth every cent.
The Kelty Salida is one of the most spacious 1-person lightweight tents that you can get and the dome design gives you a lot more height than most. It’s tough, light, and packs into a very compact cube shape which fits perfectly into any backpack.
If a roomy 1-person tent is what you’re after, there can be no better backpacking tent than this one. With a length of 86”, a width of 38” and a height that ranges from 38” at the highest point to 29” at the edges, it gives you room to spare when compared to most to 1-person backpacking tents. It also comes in larger sizes (2 and 4 person). There are handy storage pouches inside the tent and a large vestibule. It also has hooks for a gear loft, which few 1-person backpacking tents have the space for.
Two DAC Pressfit poles make it easy to pitch and this forms a good strong structure. The weight is also very reasonable – 3 LBs 6 Oz trail weight with a full pack weight of a little of 4 LBs. The walls are made from 68D polyester and 40D mesh. The fly is also 68D polyester and the floor is 68D nylon. This makes for a good mix of durability and lightweight convenience.
There’s no need to slum it if you’re buying a backpacking tent on a budget and the Kelty Salida is proof of this. With some extra space and great storage for gear, it’s the ideal affordable backpacking tent.