8 best backpacking tents 2020: travel light on your big outdoors adventure

Need a compact, storm-proof and lightweight tent? We got 'em! Actually, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at what these best backpacking tents can do...

8 best backpacking tents: travel light on your big outdoors adventure

There are many compromises to be made when choosing gear for a backcountry adventure, but finding the best backpacking tent needn’t be one of them. These clever shelters are much lighter and more compact than your average tent for camping, and will sit easier on your backpacking pack without adding extra weight. 

After all, depending on how far you’ll be walking each day, every kilo counts when backpacking and hiking. Speaking of which, don’t forget to check out our best hiking boots guide if you haven’t sorted your footwear yet. 

A backpacking tent needs to deliver ample protection from wind and rain, and from harsh sun if you’re adventuring in hotter climates. And it needs to do all those things without being cumbersome to carry or tricky to pitch once you’ve reached camp.

Many of the best backpacking tents offer different capacities, depending on how many people you plan on sleeping in one tent. They range from solo tents through to 2-man backpacking tents and more spacious 3-man versions. 

With tents, you generally size up for comfort, but a bigger tent means added weight, so here you may just have to suck up having less room but an easier time walking. Same goes for your choice of camping mat.

Choosing the best backpacking tent for you

When you’re spending long days on the trail, a good night’s sleep is important for helping you to rest and recover. A rugged, weatherproof and lightweight backpacking tent provides the shelter and warmth you need to get that kind of sleep.

The best backpacking tents go up quickly and come down in a jiffy. Some of our favourites have mesh windows and mini porches, which are a lifesaver for creating the illusion of extra living space when there’s more than one of you in the tent.

In-tent pockets are also a godsend, as you can stash your gear and keep the floor space clear. This is itself will help your living space look neater and more spacious. 

You may have to sacrifice some of these creature comforts to keep the weight down, but, depending on the tent’s design, you could split it up between you and your backpacking buddies. This way, you won’t be carrying the entire tent yourself.

Most importantly, your backpacking tent needs to be waterproof. Ideally you can fit it (either whole or split it up with your mates) into your backpack, but usually you’ll find that backpackers strap them to the outside of their backpacks. That means the tent you choose needs to be waterproof, just in case you’re caught out in bad weather.

The best backpacking tents to buy now

Best backpacking tents: Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2

(Image credit: Big Agnes)

1. Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2

Our best backpacking tent overall is loved by adventurers

Capacity: 2
Weight: 1.25kg (trail), 1.4kg (packed)
Packed size: 10x50cm
Number of seasons: 3
Reasons to buy
+Fast to pitch and break down+Lightweight design+Generous headroom+Feels quite spacious inside

We could write for days about the Big Agnes Copper Spur backpacking tent, but if you’re even remotely interested in backpacking, you’re probably aware of this mythical beast already. 

It’s easily one of the most popular and best backpacking tents in the world, acting as an ultra-light shelter to keep you safe, dry and warm at night… or during the day if there’s a downpour. So yes, the Copper Spur HV UL2 is quick to pitch and break down. This could make all the difference if there’s a storm rolling in and you need cover, fast.

Considering its lightweight design, there are plenty of features here to help you feel like you’re chilling in a more spacious tent. These include steep ‘near vertical’ walls and generous headroom, plus large dual zipper doors that you can fling open on sunnier days to let the outdoors in. 

Couple all that with two decent sized porches, and you have space for two to spread out, plus kit. Big Agnes’ free-standing backpacking tent is made from double rip-stop nylon, so it’ll withstand a bit of rough and ready action on the trail. Every seam has also been taped with waterproof, solvent-free PU tape, so there’ll be no nasties running off your tent and into the ground during a rain shower.

Best backpacking tents: MSR Hubba Hubba NX

(Image credit: MSR)

2. MSR Hubba Hubba NX

Hit the great outdoors with this award-winning backpacking tent for two

Capacity: 2
Weight: §.35kg (fast and light), 1.54kg (minimum), 1.72kg (packed)
Packed size: 15x45.72cm
Number of seasons: 3
Reasons to buy
+Space-saving hub pole design+Well-ventilated

Despite the cheeky name, this award-winning MSR backpacking tent is all business. The hub pole design cleverly maximises the usable space inside the tent, including head and elbow room, while ensuring it stays stable. 

There’s also a breathable mesh canopy offering up unrestricted views of the scenery surrounding you. That combined with a cross-ventilating flysheet works to a) keep condensation at bay and b) boost airflow. That’s ideal for taking the edge off hot, sticky nights during summer backpacking trips. 

Built-in rain gutters are a god-send during wet weather trips, though compared to the more waterproof backpacking tents in this guide (see the Mountain Hardwear Ghost UL 3), we’d recommend the Hubba Hubba for warm weather trips.

Best backpacking tents: Quechua Quickhiker Ultralight 4 Person Trekking Tent

(Image credit: Decathlon)

3. Quechua Quickhiker Ultralight 4 Trekking Tent

This backpacking tent is ideal for groups of 3-4

Capacity: 4
Weight: 4.15kg
Reasons to buy
+Surprisingly roomy+Boosted ventilation

A lightweight trail tent that’s also a great shout for cycling touring. There’s space for four people to sleep inside, and there’s a roomy porch for storing your hiking boots and backpacks at night.

Although it’s one of the heaviest tents in our best backpacking tents round-up, it’s  still lightweight compared to more standard camping tents. It’s fairly quick to pitch too, so you won’t be hanging around in inclement weather for too long while faffing with tent poles. 

Speaking of weather, the Quickhiker Ultralight 4 Person Trekking Tent has a 4000mm flysheet and 5000mm room groundsheet, while seams are taped with thermo-bonded tape to stop water dripping in. The inner tent is water-repellent and breathable, with a mosquito net section to stop condensation from dripping down.

Best backpacking tents: Paria Outdoors Bryce 2-Man Backpacking Tent

(Image credit: Paria Outdoors)

4. Paria Outdoors Bryce 2-Man Backpacking Tent

This cheap backpacking tent comes with a lifetime warranty

Capacity: 2
Weight: 1.56kg
Number of seasons: 2-3
Reasons to buy
+Budget friendly+Lots of features for the price+Stuff sacks included

Lightweight and easy to pitch, the Bryce backpacking tent is a no-frills shelter for three-season adventuring, and it offers big features for the small price. It’s waterproof and comes with a rain fly with vestibule area, a one-piece collapsible pole set, 12 aluminium alloy Y-stakes, reflective guy line, aluminium alloy line tensioners and pole repair splints. 

Considering the price, that’s impressive enough on its own. But there’s more here… Three stuff sacks are included for the Dyneema guy lines, the poles and the stakes. The brightly coloured tent itself has factory taped seams and has a 3,000mm PU coating on the rain fly. 

There’s 20D rip-stop silnylon on the rain fly, and 70D for the tent floor and footprint. The Bryce comes in 1-man and 2-man (shown) versions, and comes with everything you need to pitch it. This includes 12 Y-stakes, Dyneema guy lines and a pole repair splint. Just fasten it to the back of your backpacking rucksack and hit the trail.

Best backpacking tents: Alps Mountaineering Lynx 3-Man Backpacking Tent

(Image credit: Alps Mountaineering)

5. Alps Mountaineering Lynx 3-Man Backpacking Tent

The best backpacking tent for people who can’t pitch a tent

Capacity: 3
Weight: 2.94kg (minimum), 3.26kg (total)
Packed size: 58x15cm
Number of seasons: 3
Reasons to buy
+Simple to pitch+Large vestibule for storing gear

This isn’t the lightest backpacking tent by far and it doesn’t use premium materials like many of the others feature above, but it’s certainly one of the cheapest backpacking tents around right now, beaten only by the 2-Man Paria Outdoors (below).

In short, the Alps Mountaineering Lynx 3-Man Backpacking Tent is a total steal. It’s more than weatherproof enough to handle three-season backpacking in Europe, though obviously if you’re planning on hitting colder climes you wouldn’t pack this.

The Lynx comes in 1-Man and 2-Man versions also, but we love the spaciousness of this 3-Man backpacking tent. It has a large vestibule for storing your gear at night, and dishes out impressive protection from wind, rain and sun. Ventilation is decent too, with two vents at the top and a large door for better airflow and getting gear in easily.

Best of all, the freestanding two-pole Lynx backpacking tent is a doddle to erect. Even beginners will nail this with their eyes closed.

Best backpacking tents: Vango Nemesis Pro 300

(Image credit: Vango)

6. Vango Nemesis Pro 300

The best backpacking tent from a big name in outdoors gear

Capacity: 3
Weight: 4.13kg(trail), 4.35kg (total)
Packed size: 47x17cm
Number of seasons: 3
Reasons to buy
+Splittable doors; two entrances+Easy to erect

An all-seasons tent that’s compact and light enough to take backpacking? Then take a peek at this geodesic tent by Vango, designed for three-season backpacking trips.

The design is a harmonious marriage between advanced waterproofing and stability, and a packable, portable weight. That said, it is one of the heaviest models in our best backpacking tents round-up, so split it up, if you can, with others in your party. 

The Nemesis Pro 300 sleeps three comfortably, and the ability to split doors, plus two separate entrances, keeps you from getting in each other’s way. It stands up in bad weather too, so you'll be fine inside if the rain hits.

Best backpacking tents: Terra Nova Laser Competition

(Image credit: Terra Nova)

7. Terra Nova Laser Competition 2

Take your solo adventures seriously with this one-man backpacking tent

Capacity: 2
Weight: 1.08kg (minimum), 1.23kg (packed)
Packed size: 42x16cm
Number of seasons: 3
Reasons to buy
+Flysheet and inner pitch in one+Strong but very light

Lone wolves need look no further for the best one-man tent for their backpacking adventures. This one from Terra Nova looks simple, sure, but it squeezes in a surprising amount of functionality to suit three-season travel without overcomplicating things. 

The flysheet and inner can be pitched as one and, according to Terra Nova, in under five minutes. Those strong but featherlight end poles are small to maximise space, too. It’s also very compact when broken down and, most importantly, it stands up in wind and rain.

Best backpacking tents: Coleman Cobra 2

(Image credit: Coleman)

8. Coleman Cobra 2

Surprisingly spacious and sturdy, especially for the budget price

Capacity: 2
Weight: 2.05kg
Packed size: 48x18x15cm
Number of seasons: 3
Reasons to buy
+Spacious interior+Inexpensive but strong

This two-man backpacking tent is also great for a spot of wild camping, even if it's pouring down and the wind is blowing hard. It's spacious enough to sleep you and a buddy, as well as leaving room for you to keep your kit in the tent with you. 

Coleman's entry-level backpacking tent is perfect for beginners and casual adventurers who won't subject their tent to heavy, year-round use. 

The wedged tunnel construction is easy to crawl in and out of, with a wide entry that you can fling your gear into. Best of all, it packs down small so you'll have no issues getting it inside your backpacking backpack.