Best Backpacking Tents for 2023

Choosing a backpacking tent can be overwhelming due to the cost and number of options available. These are my recommendations for the best options based on comfort, weight and budget.

In this post

Freestanding Tents

Freestanding tents are the easiest to setup and retain their structure, especially when staking is difficult. They include hubbed-poles that allows them to be setup without stakes – although it is still recommended to use stakes so the tent doesn’t blow around. They also tend to be the best option for comfort, with features not found on other tents. The tents listed below include all required stakes, poles and stuff sacks.

ModelWeightFabricWallsStructureInteriorPrice
Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 12 lbs 6 oz15/20D nylondouble-wallfreestanding88" x 38/28"$450
Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 23 lb 2 oz15/20D nylondouble-wallfreestanding88" x 52/42"$550
MSR Hubba Hubba 12 lbs 7 oz20D nylondouble-wallfreestanding84" x 30"$469
MSR Hubba Hubba 23 lbs 4 oz20D nylondouble-wallfreestanding84" x 50"$549

Semi-Freestanding Tents

Semi-freestanding tents are similar to freestanding with hubbed-poles, but usually have at least two corners on the tent that require staking in order to save weight. The tents listed below include all required stakes, poles and stuff sacks.

ModelWeightFabricWallsStructureInteriorPrice
Tarptent Moment DW2 lbs 6 oz30D silnylondouble-wallsemi-freestanding84" x 42/20"$349
Tarptent Moment DW Li1 lb 10 ozDyneemadouble-wallsemi-freestanding84" x 42/20"$639
Tarptent Rainbow2 lbs 3 oz30D silnylonsingle-wallsemi-freestanding88" x 40"$279
Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL 12 lbs 2 oz15/20D nylondouble-wallsemi-freestanding84" x 38/28"$400
Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL 22 lbs 8 oz15/20D nylondouble-wallsemi-freestanding86" x 52/42"$450
Nemo Hornet 12 lbs10D/20D nylondouble-wallsemi-freestanding87" x 43/31"$360
Nemo Hornet 22 lbs 6 oz10D/20D nylondouble-wallsemi-freestanding85" x 51/43"$400
REI Quarter Dome SL 12 lbs 6 oz15D nylondouble-wallsemi-freestanding88" x 35/27" $329
REI Quarter Dome SL 22 lbs 14 oz15D nylondouble-wallsemi-freestanding88" x 52/42" $379
Sea to Summit Alto TR 12 lbs 7 oz15D nylondouble-wallsemi-freestanding84.5" x 42/24"$449
Sea to Summit Alto TR 22 lbs 15 oz15D nylondouble-wallsemi-freestanding84.5" x 53/38"$549

Non-Freestanding Tents

Non-freestanding tents are the lightest weight option and require staking all corners of the tent to create the structure. These tents are usually pitched with trekking poles, but if you don’t use trekking poles – or like me, prefer to basecamp and use trekking poles for day hikes from camp – you can purchase additional poles to use instead. For the tents listed here that do not include stakes or poles, I’ve included weights for both additional items so it’s easier to make direct comparisons with other types of tents.

ModelWeightFabricWallsStructureInteriorPrice
Tarptent Aeon Li
(plus pole)
1 lb 3 oz
(1 lb 7 oz)
Dyneemasingle-wallnon-freestanding88" x 30"$569
Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo
(plus 6 stakes)
(plus 6 stakes & pole)
1 lb 10 oz
(1 lb 13 oz)
(2 lbs)
20D/40D silpolysingle-wallnon-freestanding90" x 48"$260
REI Flash Air 1
(includes stakes & pole)
1 lb 10 oz15D nylonsingle-wallnon-freestanding88" x 35/27"$279
REI Flash Air 2
(includes stakes & poles)
2 lbs 2 oz15D nylonsingle-wallnon-freestanding88" x 52/42"$349
Zpacks Plex Solo
(plus 10 stakes)
(plus 10 stakes & pole)
14 oz
(1 lb 1 oz)
(1 lb 5 oz)
Dyneemasingle-wallnon-freestanding90" x 28/38"$599
Zpacks Duplex
(plus 10 stakes)
(plus 10 stakes & poles)
1 lb 3 oz
(1 lb 6 oz)
(2 lbs 1 oz)
Dyneemasingle-wallnon-freestanding90" x 45"$699

Best Ultralight Backpacking Tents

If weight is your primary concern in choosing a shelter, these ultralight tents are all great options. In order to shave weight, most of these are single-wall and non-freestanding.

Tarptent Aeon Li

Tarptent Aeon Li backpacking tent

This is the main backpacking tent I’ve been using for several years. The Aeon Li has a small footprint but has a large vestibule and can easily fit a wide sleeping pad with a 30″ wide rectangular floor. It’s also taller and longer than most one person tents. The end struts in the back wall corners add height to keep you from touching walls at the head and foot ends. While it can be setup using a trekking pole, I almost always use the additional pole I purchased from Tarptent to set it up so I can use my trekking poles for day hikes. Cons: it’s expensive, and the end struts (which are removable) prevent the tent from fitting inside most backpacks. Check out my full review of the Tarpent Aeon Li.

  • weight: 1 lb 3 oz (includes 6 stakes), 1 lb 7 oz (with additional pole so it can be setup without trekking poles)
  • structure: single-wall, non-freestanding, Dyneema fabric
  • interior size: 88″ x 30″ x 47″ (length, width, height)
  • price: $569

View at Tarptent

Tarptent Moment DW Li

Tarptent Moment DW Li

Newly introduced in late 2022, the Tarptent Moment DW Li is a two door, double-wall, one-person tent made with Dyneema fabric. Setup is easy, requiring just one arch pole and two stakes. And since the interior is clipped to the rainfly, the inside stays dry when setting up in the rain. The double-wall construction provides protection from condensation, and the interior is offered in a mesh-only or full fabric option for four season use. Cons: it’s expensive, and the end struts (which are removable) prevent the tent from fitting inside most backpacks.

  • weight: 1 lb 10 oz (includes 2 stakes and arch pole)
  • structure: double-wall, semi-freestanding, Dyneema fabric
  • interior size: 84″ x 42/20″ x 39″ (length, width, height)
  • price: $639

View at Tarptent

Zpacks Plex Solo

Zpacks Plex Solo backpacking tent

One of the lightest tents available, the Plex Solo weighs less than a pound (without stakes). The Plex Solo and the larger Duplex listed below are extremely popular with long distance hikers due to the low weight and simple design. Six stakes are the minimum requirement for setup, but 10 stakes are recommended for additional tie-out points on the ends and back of the tent. Cons: it’s expensive, prone to condensation, and the high vestibule walls can allow wind to enter the tent.

  • weight: 14 oz (no stakes or poles), 1 lb 1 oz (including 10 stakes), 1 lb 5 oz (including 10 stakes & pole)
  • structure: single-wall, non-freestanding, Dyneema fabric
  • interior size: 90″ x 28/38″ x 52″ (length, width, height)
  • price: $599

View at Zpacks

Zpacks Duplex

Zpacks Duplex backpacking tent

Extremely lightweight for the space provided, the Duplex is a palace for one person. Six stakes are the minimum requirement for setup, but 10 stakes are recommended for additional tie-out points on the ends and back of the tent. Cons: it’s expensive; poles can get in the way when entering/exiting; rainbow doors fall into tent or onto ground when opened fully.

  • weight: 1 lb 3 oz (no stakes or poles), 1 lb 6 oz (including 10 stakes), 2 lbs 1 oz (including 10 stakes & 2 poles)
  • structure: single-wall, non-freestanding, Dyneema fabric
  • interior size: 90″ x 45″ x 48″ (length, width, height)
  • price: $699

View at Zpacks

REI Flash Air 2

REI Flash Air 2 backpacking tent

The REI Flash Air 2 is an ultralight tent with plenty of room for two people at a much lower price than similar options. This is a hybrid single-wall construction tent, with mesh sewn to a single layer of fabric that covers the top front and back. Most single wall tents only have mesh to the top of the side wall, but the Flash Air tent tapers the mesh beyond the wall at an angle up to the roof of the tent. This feature has several advantages: better ventilation which provides less chance of condensation, and the ability to stargaze from inside the tent. In addition, the unique pole structure provides vertical walls for more interior space, especially important when using the tent for two people. An option to use trekking poles instead of the included vertical poles saves about 3 ounces. Cons: setup takes time; nylon material sags when wet. Check out my full review of the Flash Air 2.

  • weight: 2 lbs 2 oz (includes 6 stakes and 5 poles)
  • structure: single-wall, non-freestanding, 15 denier nylon
  • interior size: 88″ x 52/42″ x 42″ (length, width, height)
  • price: $349 (clearance price: $173.93)

View at REI

Best Budget Backpacking Tents

Quality backpacking tents don’t have to be expensive. These options are all lightweight without breaking your budget.

Tarptent Rainbow

Tarptent Rainbow

The Tarptent Rainbow is a very popular tent due to the amount of interior space provided at a low weight. With a crossing pole and four stakes, setup is easy. The 30 denier fabric is more durable than fabrics found on other backpacking tents, and the vestibule doors can be setup as an awning for protection in the rain. At 40″ wide, there’s enough space for a wide sleeping pad with extra space for gear, or two 20″ wide sleeping pads can fit inside for accommodating two people. Cons: can be condensation prone; the vestibule space is smaller than other options.

  • weight: 2 lbs 3 oz (includes 6 stakes and 1 crossing pole)
  • structure: single-wall, semi-freestanding, 30 denier silnylon
  • interior size: 88″ x 40″ x 43″ (length, width, height)
  • price: $279

View at Tarptent

Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo

Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo backpacking tent

The award-winning Lunar Solo is incredibly spacious for the weight, with plenty of room for wider sleeping pads and gear storage inside. The polyester material doesn’t sag like nylon when wet, and extra coverage on the outer fly provides protection from inclement weather. Cons: setup takes more effort; sloping walls limit interior space; can be prone to condensation.

  • weight: 1 lb 10 oz (no stakes or poles), 1 lb 13 oz (includes 6 stakes), 2 lbs (includes 6 stakes & 1 pole)
  • structure: single-wall, semi-freestanding, 20/40 denier polyester
  • interior size: 90″ x 48″ x 49″ (length, width, height) note that the width is at widest part of hexagonal shape
  • price: $260

View at Six Moon Designs

Tarptent Moment DW

Tarptent Moment DW backpacking tent

The Moment DW is the same design as the Moment DW Li listed above, but this version uses a durable 30 denier silnylon fabric for a much lower cost option.  A two door, double-wall, one-person tent, the Moment DW setup is easy, requiring just one arch pole and two stakes. And since the interior is clipped to the rainfly, the inside stays dry when setting up in the rain. The double-wall construction provides protection from condensation, and the interior is offered in a mesh-only or full fabric option for four season use. Cons: the end struts (which are removable) prevent the tent from fitting inside most backpacks. Check out my full review of the Tarptent Moment DW.

  • weight: 2 lbs 6 oz (includes 2 stakes and 1 arch pole)
  • structure: double-wall, semi-freestanding, 30 denier silnylon
  • interior size: 84″ x 42/20″ x 39″ (length, width, height)
  • price: $349

View at Tarptent

REI Quarter Dome SL 2

REI Quarter Dome 2 backpacking tent

The REI Quarter Dome SL 2 is a solid choice for a lower cost tent that’s well built. With a spacious interior and nearly vertical walls, the interior space and vestibules are large. Additional features include roof vents, multiple interior pockets, and hang loops for lights or drying gear. Cons: thinner material requires extra care. Also available: Quarter Dome SL 1.

  • weight: 2 lbs 14 oz (includes stakes and hubbed poleset)
  • structure: double-wall, semi-freestanding, 15 denier nylon
  • interior size: 88″ x 52/42″ x 38″ (length, width, height)
  • price: $379 (clearance price: $264.93)

View at REI

Best Backpacking Tents for Comfort

If you are looking for a spacious tent for one person, consider upgrading to a two person tent. These tents are big on comfort with large interiors that are good for wider sleeping pads, storing gear inside, and/or bringing a dog on your trip. Since they are freestanding, they are also easy to setup and include features not found on other tents.

Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2

Big Agnes Copper Spur 2 backpacking tent

The Copper Spur has been a popular tent for a long time, and for good reasons. It’s feature rich, including multiple large interior pockets for keeping gear organized, two doors with awning setup options, roof vents, and partial fabric walls for privacy and wind protection. Cons: this tent is expensive and slightly heavier than other options. Also available: Copper Spur HV UL1.

  • weight: 3 lbs 2 oz (includes stakes and hubbed poleset)
  • structure: double-wall, freestanding, 15/20 denier nylon
  • interior size: 88″ x 52/42″ x 40″ (length, width, height)
  • price: $550

View at REI

Sea to Summit Alto TR 2

Sea to Summit Alto 2 backpacking tent

A wide brow pole creates nearly vertical walls that provide a lot of interior space compared to similar sized tents, and two vents at the top help with ventilation. Innovative features include three separate multi-purpose stuff sacks: one for the tent poles that can be attached across the top of the tent and used as a light bar by placing a headlamp inside it; and two stuff sacks that allow for carrying the tent body and rainfly separately (especially handy when the rainfly is wet), then both snap into corners of the interior to be used as pockets. Cons: it’s expensive. Also available: Alto TR 1.

  • weight: 2 lbs 15 oz (includes stakes and hubbed poleset)
  • structure: double-wall, semi-freestanding, 15 denier nylon
  • interior size: 84.5″ x 53/38″ x 42.5″ (length, width, height)
  • price: $549

View at REI  View at Sea to Summit

MSR Hubba Hubba 2

MSR Hubba Hubba 2 backpacking tent

The Hubba Hubba is a high quality and durable tent that holds up well in inclement weather. With a rectangular floor, there’s plenty of room for wide sleeping pads and gear storage, and the higher fabric walls protect from harsh conditions. Cons: this tent is heavier than other options. Also available in a one person size.

  • weight: 3 lbs 4 oz (includes stakes and hubbed poleset)
  • structure: double-wall, freestanding, 20 denier nylon
  • interior size: 84″ x 50″ x 40″ (length, width, height)
  • price: $549.95

View at REI  View at MSR

Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL 2

Big Agnes Tiger Wall 2 backpacking tent

The Tiger Wall UL provides a lot of interior space at a low weight while including extras such as large interior pockets and doors with two-way zippers. Since it’s a semi-freestanding tent, the foot end corners require staking. Cons: there are no roof vents, but the vestibule doors have double zippers to allow for ventilation. Also available: Tiger Wall UL 1.

  • weight: 2 lbs 8 oz (includes stakes and hubbed poleset)
  • structure: double-wall, semi-freestanding, 15/20 denier nylon
  • interior size: 86″ x 52/42″ x 39″ (length, width, height)
  • price: $450

View at REI

Nemo Hornet 2

Nemo Hornet 2

The Nemo Hornet is a good option at a lighter weight and price than similar two person tents. Cons: Narrow at the top, this tent has less interior space than other options listed here; thinner materials require extra care; the cutaway rainfly at the head end provides less protection in inclement weather. Also available: Nemo Hornet 1.

  • weight: 2 lbs 6 oz (includes stakes and hubbed poleset)
  • structure: double-wall, semi-freestanding, 10/20 denier nylon
  • interior size: 85″ x 51/43″ (length, width)
  • price: $400

View at REI

Comparison details

Weight: for ease in comparisons, I’ve included the total weight of the tent body, rainfly, poles, stakes, and stuff sacks. Most of the tents on these lists are in the 1 lb. to 3 lb. range, with most weighing around 2 lbs.

Fabrics: The majority of tents available are made of nylon or polyester fabric with a polyurethane (PU) waterproof coating on the inside of the rainfly and a DWR or silicone coating on the outside to repel rain. These coatings can wear off over time due to sun exposure and abrasion and may need to be reapplied. The weight of the fabric is designated as denier, with most tents on this list utilizing 7-30 denier. Lightweight and ultralight tents typically use 10 denier or lighter fabric which tends to be less durable.

  • Silnylon fabric tents are coated or embedded with silicone. Fabrics with embedded silicone makes the fabric stronger, lighter weight, and more waterproof than coated fabrics. Since seam tape won’t stick to silnylon, seams must be sealed with a liquid sealant. Check to see if the tent comes with this already applied, or if it can be added for an additional cost. To save on cost, you can do it yourself with a silicone product made for this purpose. Silnylon fabric has a tendency to stretch, which makes it sag when wet. To mitigate this, adjust the tension on the tent’s guylines.
  • Polyester is similar to silnylon, with either PU or silicone coatings, but polyester material doesn’t have as much stretch so it doesn’t sag like silnylon does.
  • Dyneema (also called DCF) is the lightest fabric option currently available and is completely waterproof without the need for coatings. Dyneema is also the most expensive and currently not in use by most major tent manufacturers. However, there are many cottage-industry gear manufacturers offering ultralight tents utilizing this fabric. Dyneema is stronger than nylon or polyester, but isn’t as resistant to abrasion. Repairing holes and tear is easy with tape made of the same material.

Double-wall tents: the most utilized type, with a mesh inner tent and a separate rainfly that covers it and provides weather protection. These tents work well to keep water from the outside out, while allowing moisture and condensation from the inside to escape. They also provide flexible set up options, including the removal of the rainfly in good weather. Some offer a “fast-pitch” option, utilizing the rainfly with a footprint and leaving out the inner tent for a lighter option.

Single-wall tents: can be advantageous to those wanting to cut down on pack weight. These tents are made of a combination of fabric and mesh and do not have the rainfly and internal walls as separate pieces. While all tents can experience condensation build-up on the inside of the walls, it’s more apparent with a single-wall tent since there’s only one layer of material. Careful site selection and set up can help to alleviate condensation by allowing greater air flow.

Interior: size of the interior floor (length by width). Tents that have varying widths at the head and foot ends are shown with both widths. Most of the tents listed here are best for one person, with only a few options that would provide acceptable space for two people. Carefully consider the interior space you’ll need based on these dimensions.

Footprints: the use a footprint is optional, but can help protect the floor of a tent from abrasion and punctures and prolong its life. Larger tent manufacturers often produce footprints that are sold separately for each model of tent they offer. For a lighter weight and less expensive option, materials such as Polycro and Tyvek can be used. The footprint should be slightly smaller than the floor of a tent to prevent water from pooling under the tent.

 

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