Best tents for camping and festivals
Whether you're camping, glamping or have been thrown out by your spouse and lost your job, we've got the canvas temporary abodes you crave: tents.
There’s nothing like sleeping out, but you still need protection from the elements. These tents fit the bill, whether you're sheltering on the side of a tough mountain, chilling at a festival, or living the life of a latterday gypsy.
Ultimately, the type of vacation you embark upon will dictate the type of tent you need. So, if you’re hiking up the side of the mountain you’re going to need something light, packable and sturdy in inclement weather, while a more relaxed kind of vacation calls for something as big and comfortable as possible.
There are absolutely loads of tents out there and all sorts of shapes and sizes. We’ve rounded up the best available, from one-man bivvy bags to sprawling family canvas stockades. Grab your guy ropes and get hammering.
The following tents are listed roughly in the order in which we rate them, starting with our favourite of summer 2016.
Best tent: Hilleberg Anjan 3
The Hilleberg Anjan 3 is your Nordic superhero tent - light, invincible and unpronounceably Swedish.
Hilleberg has been creating well-priced and robust tents since 1971, and the experience shows. So although this tunnel tent design is old-school, it’ll stand up to the very worst 3 season weather you can find - something that your campsite neighbour in his supermarket pop-up item will be very jealous of come the storms.
Weighing in at a mere 1.8 kg - that’s just 600 grams per person - and made out of extremely robust Kerlon 1000, this is a premium tent in all senses. The Hilleberg folks tested the Anjan’s weatherproofness with an eight-hour snow machine wind session, so you don’t have to.
Bargain tent: Alpkit Ordos 3
A three-man tent for those in the know, Alpkit is UK-based and online-only, thus cutting its costs to the bone… Just for YOU, sir/madam.
Its Ordos 3 is one of the lightest three-man tents you’ll find at just 1.6kg, but is still fully featured. From the robust DAC Featherlite poles (green anodized for increased eco credibility), through the factory-taped seams and bathtub 20D groundsheet to the ultra-light but robust v-pegs, this roomy 3-man will leave your wallet heavy, but your pack light.
If you want less space and financial outlay there’s a little brother, logically named the Ordos 2, that’s also worth checking out.
£245 | Buy Alpkit Ordos 3
Superlight tent: MSR Carbon Reflex 2
The MSR Carbon Reflex is a technical, three-season tent designed to be as ultralight as possible while remaining roomy and reliable.
One of the tricks MSR has used is to employ Easton carbon fibre poles and lightweight fabrics, which propel this two-man tent down to a frankly gobsmacking 840 grams in total, or slightly heavier than two cans of Coke.
If that’s too heavy for you, you can pitch it with just the outer fly and a footprint to get the weight down to 660 grams. Despite the lack of heft, you still get decent headroom, taped seams, anti-mozzie mesh and gear storage space.
£380 | Buy MSR Carbon Reflex
The bloody Yurt: Nordisk Alfheim 19.6
Sometimes, only a yurt or a circus top will do the job, and in the former case, the Alfheim is the big tent you’re looking for.
Sporting a super-heavyweight 18kg cotton construction, the Alfheim is for car camping trips and semi-permanent dwelling only, unless you’re a circus strongman, but it will sleep 8-10 people in luxurious comfort.
Named after the home of the light elves in Norse legend, obviously, it proffers enough room for a stove or a campfire in the centre, and the top of the tent opens like a chimney for just this purpose.
Don't worry about draughts as a result: there are a series of internal ‘cabins’ available to sleep up to 4 people, as well as a zip-in floor - also handy for keeping the cobras out if you’re on safari.
£540 | Buy Nordisk Alfheim
The minimalist tent: Rab Storm Bivvy
No, it's not one of T3's Dan Grabham's condoms. It's a bivvy bag; the exact opposite of a yurt, and the most minimalist form of camping, short of sleeping under a tree.
Bivvying is an acquired taste, but if you want solo, superlight and the ability to pitch and sleep on even the smallest ledge, then it's the way to go. The Rab Storm Bivvy weighs a mere 664 grams, is constructed of the finest breathable 70D Hyperlite Storm fabric, and has a mesh window for ventilation without letting the midges in.
Other than that it’s a fairly spartan beast, but then that’s the point...
£96 | Buy Rab Storm Bivvy
Terra Nova Laser Ultra 1
When you’re already laden with 30 kilos of hiking equipment, the last thing you want strapped to your already-aching back is a tent that weighs another 10 kilos. Serious walking requires a very specific tent – one that’s light enough so that you barely notice it’s there, and one that’s small enough so that you can easily carry it with the rest of your gear.
Enter the Terra Nova Laser Ultra 1: the world’s lightest 1-person tent when it launched at just 552g. With titanium pegs, carbon fibre poles and a transparent outer cover, nothing has been comprised. Not good for privacy, but perfect for carrying up a mountain.
£800 | Buy Terra Nova Laser Ultra 1
Outwell Montana 6
When you've got a family to think about, your camping needs are pretty simple – you want as much space as possible. Outwell makes tents exclusively for families, and its range is vast – there are over 40 to choose from on the website, ranging from simple to out-of-this-world. The Montana hits the middle sweet spot, with space for up to six and loads of room to relax inside. It also has a range of customisation options, such as a porch extension and a beefed-up roof for when the weather turns extreme.
£400 | Buy Outwell 6
Coleman Instant Dome 3
Pop-up tents are pretty much synonymous with festivals these days, thanks to the speed and simplicity of pitching, but they're not really designed for the more mature audience looking for a little more comfort. Coleman has come up with a grown-up alternative – the Instant Dome 3, with space for three people and a 1-minute pitching system thanks to poles that are already attached to the tent.
£90 | Buy Coleman Instant Dome
Rab Group Shelter
If this looks to you like a large plastic bag that you take shelter in, well, that's because it is.
If you suddenly find yourself facing torrential weather on a hike, but you've no-where to find cover and don't fancy getting soaked or blown away trying to pitch a tent, an emergency shelter is the perfect solution. The Rab Group Shelters come in various sizes, to keep you and up to nine close friends safe from the elements. The two-man one takes up only a small amount of space in your backpack, and even the largest is decently portable.
From £33 | Buy Rab Group Shelters
Decathlon Quechua Arpenaz
The thought of spending more than £100 on your first camping trip is probably a little off-putting for most people, especially if you don't need a load of space or a tent that folds down to the size of an orange.
Decathlon's sizeable Quechua range offers solid options in just about every size and type of tent, starting with this perfectly fine two-man job, the Arpenaz 2. Easy to put up and good value, it won't let you down.
From £64 | Buy Quecha tents
MSR Pappa Hubba NX
Adventures can be a little boring without other people to share the experience with, so if you want to swap stories of bravery and dare do before bedtime, get yourself a tent that's light but spacious for more than a few people. MSR's Pappa Hubba is capable of accommodating up to four friends in relative comfort, while keeping weight and packed size down to a level that's possible to carry with a backpack.
£440 | Buy MSR Pappa Hubba NX