Finding the best backpacking tent isn't easy, but we're here to help. This guide gathers together the best lightweight tents for multiday adventures and includes options for one or two people, plus tents that'll see you right through winter. No ultralight camping kit is complete without one of the backpacking tents listed below.
The best tents are different from the backpacking tents. The key things to consider are carry weight, followed by pack size, performance and durability. Of course, the cost is always a factor, and the best backpacking tents can be a serious investment (although they're well worth it if you use them regularly).
Best backpacking tents to buy right now
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The Sea to Summit Alto TR2 tent is our pick for the best backpacking tent for most people (although it's an extremely close-run battle). At just 1.3kg, it's almost, but not quite, ultralight, and it comes in three separate stuff sacks, which makes it easy to pack or split between two people. It can be pitched in under 10 minutes and is versatile enough to be set up in a few configurations, such as having the inner tent on its own for warm, dry nights or leaving the fly half-off so you can see the stars. It's also brilliantly designed and really well made. Bear in mind it's a little snug for two full-grown adults (although if there's just one of you, it's awesome).
Read our full Sea to Summit Alto TR2 tent review
We tested out the 2-man version of this tent, but there are also different versions for one and three people available. It's very lightweight when packed (the brand has even shaved off a few grams compared to the previous iteration of this tent) but surprisingly spacious when pitched – it'll fit two people side by side, with room at your feet for two backpacks, and there are also two generous porches which provide extra space for storage.
The design is split into two parts: an inner mesh tent and an outer waterproof 'fly'. That means when the weather's warm and dry, you can roll back the outer layer and engage in a spot of stargazing. It's also quick and easy to pitch and pack away and stands up very well to high winds and rain. Well worth investing in for years of lightweight adventuring.
Read our full Sierra Designs Meteor Lite review
The Vango F10 Project Hydrogen deserves inclusion here for two key reasons: technical innovation and ludicrous lightness. That last metric is pretty essential when carrying tents on your back, and Project Hydrogen's 680-gram trail weight is as light as they come – there are plenty of heavier sleeping mats. Although it's not a large tent, there's still a good amount of living space for one person, with a porch for storage and enough room to sit up inside.
This innovative design uses air poles to lower the weight, and they're surprisingly sturdy, even in bad weather. Inflating it using the included bike pump is speedy and simple. Vango hasn't skimped on the details here, serving up a twin-skin build (important to fend off condensation), as well as a Yunan carbon fibre singular pole which sits at the foot-end of the tent. A cotton thread that expands to seal gaps when wet means there's no seam tape here, shaving a few more grams, while a 7D nylon with a double silicone flysheet should keep the wet stuff outside in all but the worst weather.
Read our full Vango F10 Project Hydrogen review
The Alpkit Soloist is a 1-person, 3-season backpacking tent, with a semi-geodesic shape, which makes it really sturdy, even in severely wet and windy conditions. Simple and quick to pitch and drop, the Soloist packs away nice and compactly, and it’s light and easy to carry on the trails. It has a single-hubbed pole, which unfolds into a double-ended Y shape, with a single spine pole. It's cleverly designed and easy to use, but if one part of it fails, the entire thing would need to be replaced.
At two metres, the interior length of the standard size is large enough for most people to lie down comfortably, but taller backpackers can opt for the extra-large version. The design incorporates a reasonably generous porch area – it’s not really big enough to cook in during times of driving rain when the outer door would need to be closed, but you can do some food prep, and there’s more than enough room for wet and dirty boots or a damp pack.
There’s a lack of storage pockets on the inside of the tent, which would make organisation easier. The HH rating isn’t as high as some other backpacking tents, but it performed well in heavy weather in Scotland. In warmer months, the Soloist works without a flysheet. And for all the wild campers out there, the flysheet is kelp coloured, which makes it ideal for discreet camping.
Read our full Alpkit Soloist review
The beautifully thought-out Sea To Summit Telos TR2 tent should give you all the space you want and allows all but the tallest campers to stretch out without issues, with 28 square feet of interior space as well as an additional 20 square feet of vestibule space.
Wonderfully versatile, the Telos TR2 lets you adjust the ventilation and features baseline vents to help reduce condensation. It can also be set up in stargazing mode and in hangout mode when the rainfly converts into a semi-open shelter. It comes in three small bags that you can distribute as you need around your backpack and features plenty of places to stow gear within the tent. In all, this is one of the roomiest and best-designed lightweight tents we've seen.
Read our full Sea To Summit Telos TR2 review
Need an ultra-lightweight tent for hiking adventures? The Sierra Designs High Route 1 3000 1P tent is made for just that scenario. In fact, thanks to a smart design twist that we're amazed nobody's thought of before, it's only suitable for hikers. To keep it light and packable, this tent doesn't come with poles; instead, you pitch it using your own trekking poles for support.
That's a brilliant idea, frankly, but we should warn you that you'll need decent poles; we tried it with cheap and flimsy ones, and it wouldn't stand up properly, but got much better results with higher-quality poles. Sierra Designs insists that pitching is simple and intuitive, but we'd caution that it takes a bit of practice to get right. Breaking camp is quick and easy, though, and in between, you'll enjoy a roomy and well-specced tent that's versatile in its pitching options.
Read our full Sierra Designs High Route 1 3000 1P review
Lightweight and with a small pack size, the Alpkit Ordos 2 tent is versatile and well-priced – even if you add the extra footprint, which we'd suggest you do. The tried-and-tested semi-geodesic shape is reliably weatherproof and gives enough headroom not to feel claustrophobic, although this is on the small side for two people. It's nice and simple to pitch, with helpful colour coding making the put-up process even quicker. The mesh inner can be used alone on hot, dry nights, too.
Read our full Alpkit Ordos 2 tent review
The Terra Nova Laser Compact All Season is pretty badass. Available in one- or two-person variants, this backpacking tent takes two of TN's most famous tents, the Laser (hilariously ultralight but somewhat delicate) and the Quasar (elephant-proof but weighty) and blends them into a light but a robust tent. The result is basically the well-proven Lazer single-hoop tunnel tent design, but made of Quasar materials that will stop a tank – or in other words, just what you want for year-round camping with only a small weight penalty.
Of course, the Laser is a hardcore classic tent that's completed the Original Mountain Marathon more times than there are hot dinners, so the two-man weighs in at 1.8kg for a full-winter tent, which is pretty jolly impressive. Neat touches abound, from the Dyneema guylines (stronger than steel cables) to the magnetic storm flap closures and the inclusion of a walking pole pocket in the porch so you can brace it out into a larger sheltered area for cooking in a hoolie.
There's even a widened central pole sleeve to allow you to double pole the tent 'if conditions are poor', according to TN, in which 'poor' is a euphemism for 'Force 10 winds'. Some have complained that this tent tends to collect condensation overnight, which is more of an issue if you're tall enough to be touching the sides. But overall, we were impressed by this light but a tough, dependable two-man tent.
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 the 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 godsend during wet weather trips, though in general, we’d recommend the Hubba Hubba for warm weather trips.
Rounding up our best backpacking tent list is the Snugpak Journey Solo, one of the long heritage of solo bivvies from Snugpak. Although it is a single-person tent, the hoops transform it from a real bivvi (which is basically a waterproof bag) into the realm of actual camping. This means that reading a book or checking a map from the comfort of your sleeping bag is a practical option. Essentially a mini tunnel tent, the Journey Solo has two aluminium hoops, a complete mesh inner-first pitch (so you can pitch mesh-only in the summer if you’re feeling brave), and is possibly the most wind-resistant tent available today.
A set of broad vents will keep condensation to the bare minimum, while a robust groundsheet and included protective footprint will prevent any nasty spiky surprises on the ground from ruining your snooze. At 2kg, there is a penalty to pay for this full-feature list, so it is worth looking at light 2-3 man tents if you need flexibility. For the lone ranger, though, this is a veritable tent palace.
How to buy the best backpacking tent for you
Weight is paramount while travelling, as you'll find even lightweight tents seem to get heavier and heavier with each extra mile you carry them. Pack size is also important for longer trips, especially in more rugged countries. Ideally, you'll be able to fit your tent pack (either whole or split it up with your mates) into your hiking backpack, but it's not uncommon for backpackers to strap it to the outside. The best backpacking tents should also be waterproof and durable enough to withstand blustery weather and go up quickly and come down in a jiffy.
While you'll generally want to prioritise weight savings, there's a balance to be had with comfort and features – a little extra internal space could save your sanity on longer trips. Things like mesh windows, pockets for keeping floor space clear, and porches for stashing kit in rainy weather can all help eke out extra room and make things that much more comfortable. When you're spending long days on the trail, a good night’s sleep is important for helping you to rest and recover.