This detailed guide to the best camping and backpacking tents covers it all — waterproof tents, tents for families, couples, solo travelers and more!
Choosing the best camping or backpacking tent for your needs is crucial in keeping you safe and comfortable in the great outdoors. Qualities of a great tent, no matter the circumstance, are durability, easy pitching, and smart use of living space. These qualities should be non-negotiable in your search for a tent.
Whether you’re heading out on the hiking trail or camping for a weekend with friends and family, we’ve compiled the best camping and backpacking tents on the market.
Best Camping & Backpacking Tents 2020
Best Waterproof Tents
Night Cat Waterproof Camping Tent
Featuring waterproof oxford fabric, waterproof tape on the seams, and a waterproof tarp on the bottom, the Night Cat tent is one of the most rain and condensation-proof options on the market. Not to mention, the fiberglass poles, pegs, and strong ropes keep this tent stable in heavy winds.
This tent is roomy for two adults, and its hydraulic pressure system means that you can put it up in less than a minute.
NTK Arizona GT
A roomy tent that can fit a family, the NTK Arizona GT is also incredibly waterproof. The tent features a full-coverage rainfly, double layer laminated polyester, and large mesh vents for added ventilation.
Additionally, the heavy-duty floor material is bathtub-style and anti-fungal, meaning you’ll stay dry and clean throughout even the dewiest of nights.
Bessport Camping Tent
A two-person tent, the Bessport tent’s seam-taped construction, welded floor design, and full-coverage rainfly means that not a drop of water will be able to seep inside.
This freestanding tent is also very breathable, with ventilating mesh walls, large bug-proof windows, and zippered micro-mesh doors.
Best One-Person Tents
Paria Bryce Ultralight Tent
With a weight of only 2lbs, 15 oz., the Bryce Ultralight Tent is a great one-person option. The tent comes fully-featured with two-way inner and outer zippers, a rainfly, three stuff sacks, mesh pockets, a back ventilation system, a pole repair splint, taped seams, and waterproofing.
ALPS Mountaineering Lynx 1-Person Tent
The highly-rated Alps Mountaineering Lynx single person tent is perfect for those who want an easy-setup and lots of pockets. The tent is freestanding, has mesh walls for ventilation, and the fly and seams are sealed to keep moisture out.
Not to mention, it’s one of the most affordable single-person tents you can buy!
Winterial Single Person Bivy Tent
Another extremely lightweight tent, the Winterial Bivy Tent weighs only 3lbs, 3oz., comes with roof mesh for ventilation and a zippered door for easy access. This single-person option also has pre-sealed seams for extra waterproofing, three bundles of cord, and 14 heavy-duty stakes.
Read more: The Best Cameras for Hiking and Backpacking
Best Tents for Couples
Paria Zion Lightweight Tent
An affordable ultralight option, the Paria Zion 2 Person tent is durable with mesh vents, vestibules, and packs down very small. It comes with its own footprint and gear loft, and altogether the configuration weighs in at a little over 4 lbs.
Mountainsmith Morrison 2
A highly rated camping tent option, the Mountainsmith Morrison 2 is a two-door, three-season, two-person tent with attached vestibules for storage. The interior space comes in at 35 square feet, while the vestibule adds on an additional 17 square feet.
The tent has a freestanding design with a color-coded system for easy setup, durable shock-corded aluminum poles, and mesh end walls and fly windows for ventilation.
Kelty Grand Mesa
With two to six person size options, the Kelty Grand Mesa is an excellent three-season affordable tent. With one door, one vestibule, and two aluminum poles, the tent still comes in at less than 5lbs for the four-person option.
The tent also features a freestanding design, internal storage pockets, gear loft loops, a D-shaped door, and compact folding poles. The tent’s mesh body makes for great ventilation, and the 7000 series aluminum poles are highly durable.
Read more: The Ultimate Camping Packing List
Best Tents for Families
Coleman Weathermaster Tent
A great family camping tent, the Coleman Weathermaster is a great mid-budget option with six or ten person sizes. The tent features a screened porch to use for either relaxing or additional space, a rainfly and meshed roof, snag-free poles, and a strong steel frame.
The North Face Wawona 6
With room for six people, high ceilings, and great ventilation, the North Face Wawona 6 is perfect if you prioritize comfort and are looking for a home away from home. The tent is regarded as being very easy to set up and take down, very durable, and especially waterproof.
In addition to interior pockets for additional storage, the tent comes with a massive porch that will easily fit two adult chairs and a small table.
CORE 9P Instant Cabin Tent
An all-around great tent, the CORE Instant Cabin tent features a no-fuss instant setup – meaning you can spend more time enjoying your surroundings and less time worrying about pitching your tent.
The tent is also perfect for families or large groups, as it sleeps nine people and features a room divider, wall storage pockets, a rain fly, tent stakes, and an electrical cord access port. Not to mention, the tent is waterproof and the unique adjustable venting system circulates warm, damp air out of the tent to keep you and your belongings dry.
Best Backpacking Tents
River Country Trekker 2
Whether you’re using the tent to shelter one or two people, the River County Trekker Tent 2 is a highly-rated, ultralight tent weighing in at just 2lbs, 12 oz. A great 3-season tent, it is easy and quick to set up is highly compact (it packs down to about the size of a football), and comes with eight ultra light aluminum stakes. The tent also features a two-layer door with an interior mesh layer to provide ventilation.
However, keep in mind that while the tent doesn’t come with trekking poles, it can be set-up with almost any stick that is over 42 inches or can be tied between two trees.
The Naturehike Cloud-Up is a very lightweight, affordable tent with one, two, and three-person options, The tent is made with anti-scratch nylon mesh, has a water-resistant guarantee, is free-standing, and 4-season.
Nemo Hornet Ultralight
A great tent for extreme minimalists, the Nemo Hornet Ultralight comes with light, but durable, poles, a tub floor construction, and light pockets on the ceiling to use with your headlamp.
This one person, three-season tent also features a large door, two vestibules, color-coded guylines, stakes, and a repair kit.
What to Look for in a Tent
Ventilation is important whether you’re camping or backpacking, but especially so when you’re sharing the tent space with another person. Having mesh atop your tent is great for ventilation, but be sure to take note of what kind of ventilation is equipped within your rain fly.
When looking for a camping tent, living space is an important aspect to consider. Space within tents is generally hard to measure, as pole angling and tent construction play such big factors in the overall room, but when considering floor space, you’ll want at least 25 inches of width and 80 inches of length per person.
There’s nothing like heading out on a trip and finding that your tent has a rip or snag. Make sure that the materials of the tent are strong, the poles are made of tough aluminum, and that the seams are tight.
Canvas and cotton tents are always safe bets as they insulate well, but it’s also important to keep the brand reputation and reviews in mind.
If you’ll be sharing a tent with someone else or even multiple people, then purchasing a tent with more than one door is something to consider. In backpacking tents, more than one door generally equates to more weight, but when weight isn’t an issue as in most camping situations, more than one door will keep you and your tentmates from crawling over each other every time you need to leave the tent.
Footprints add a waterproof layer between the bottom of your tent and the ground, so if you want to keep your tent in good condition and have it for years to come, make sure to either choose a tent that comes with a footprint, or buy one separately.
For anyone carrying the weight of their belongings entirely on their back, having gear that is lightweight is super important. For backpackers, every ounce counts – from food and utensils to tents and sleeping bags. Ultralight tents tend to be more expensive than regular tents, but this style packs more punch when it comes to comfort.
Storage is important when considering a backpacking tent. Many tents come with either indoor or outdoor vestibules that will allow you to stash away your backpack for a night, so try to get one with this feature. Additionally, make sure these vestibules come in the right size for your gear.
Another factor to consider is how many seasons your tent is useful for. Many tents are usable for three seasons, but if you’re interested in camping during winter, then definitely invest in a tent that is built for that specifically.