The 11 Best Backpacking Tents of 2021

Get way out there with a tent meant to be carried on your back

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The Rundown

Best Overall: MSR Hubba Hubba NX Tent at Amazon

"A strong, simple tent with room for one or two people that’s less than 4 pounds."

Best Budget: Ozark Trail 3-Person Dome Tent at Walmart

"A roomy tent for two or three that’s just over 5 pounds for a fraction of the cost of high-end tents."

Best One-Person Tent: Sea to Summit Alto TR1 Tent at Backcountry

"A semi-freestanding tent with lots of headroom at less than 3 pounds."

Best Two-Person Tent: Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2 Solution Dye at REI

"This ultralight tent combines smart features with an eco-friendly bent."

Best Three-Person Tent: Mountain Hardwear Aspect 3 Tent at Mountain Hardwear

"A solid tent that opens up for warmer weather airflow when sharing space."

Best Four-Person Tent: Marmot Tungsten 4P Tent at Backcountry

"An ultralight tent that a group can share to keep weight down."

Best Splurge: Big Agnes Tiger Wall 2 Carbon Tent at Moosejaw

"An impossibly light tent that uses the latest Dyneema fabrics for a paper-thin waterproof tent."

Best for Bikepacking: Nemo Dragonfly Bikepacking Tent at Amazon

"A purpose-built bikepacking tent with dimensions, weight, and performance for the long haul."

Best for Hot Weather: OneTigris Howlingtop Teepee Mesh Tent at Amazon

"An ultralight fully mesh canopy to maximize airflow while keeping bugs out."

Best for Beginners: REI Co-Op Quarter-Dome SL 2 Tent at REI

"An ultralight tent with a foolproof setup great for quick and easy setups."

There’s no better way to get away from it all than hiking into the backcountry with everything you need on your back and setting up camp. The core of your sleeping system for backpacking adventures is a solid tent. And while most good backpacking tents are light, easy to use, and durable, every adventurer is different and the “best” tent can vary depending on your camping style.

“For a backpacking tent, you want to look for a large space-to-weight ratio,” says Gabi Rosenbrien, product manager for NEMO Equipment. “Ultralight tents tend to compromise ease of setup and interior space in favor of weight savings, whereas camping tents prioritize spaciousness over weight.”

Below, we help you decide which factors are most important for your camping needs and share our picks for the best backpacking tents across several categories so you can find the right tent for your camping style and budget.

Best Overall: MSR Hubba Hubba NX Tent

MSR Hubba Hubba NX Tent

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Streamlined setup

  • Lightweight

  • Durable floor & waterproofing

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

MSR offers lighter, simpler tents that veer into the extreme end of the ultralight spectrum. The Hubba Hubba NX delivers a modest 3.5-pound weight in a simple, durable tent that should work for a wide range of backpackers.

The 30D ripstop nylon floor fabric doesn’t shave grams by offering a flimsy base that will demand you carry a footprint to protect it with (and negate the weight savings). Likewise, the Xtreme Shield waterproof coating on the fabrics is meant to last longer so you don’t buy a pricey tent that starts out beading water but sogs after a few years of use.

Packed Weight: 3 pounds, 8 ounces | Floor Dimensions: 84 x 50 inches | Capacity: Two-person

Best Budget: Ozark Trail 3-Person Dome Tent

Ozark Trail 3-Person Camping Dome Tent

Courtesy Walmart

What We Like
  • Spacious

  • Affordable

  • Durable floor & waterproofing

What We Don't Like
  • Heavy

  • Lowered longevity

Walmart’s original house brand tent line Ozark Trail has delivered decent tents for years, and I have personally used Ozark Trail tents for long stays in the backcountry without incident. A lot of what you pay for in higher-end backpacking tents is weight savings and this tent is definitely a tad heavier at over 5 pounds. That said, for the price, you get most of the essential features of a good backpacking tent including rainfly, waterproofed fabrics, and sealed seams with only a modest weight penalty for the huge cost savings.

The other downsides include a shorter effective lifespan due to details such as cheaper waterproofing and fiberglass instead of aluminum poles, but at a tenth of the cost of most lightweight backpacking tents, it’s a great option for hikers trying to sleep comfortably on a budget.

Packed Weight: 5.64 pounds | Floor Dimensions: 84 x 84 inches | Capacity: Three-person

Best One-Person Tent: Sea to Summit Alto TR1 Tent

Sea to Summit Alto TR1 Plus Tent

Courtesy of Rei

What We Like
  • Ultralight

  • Spacious interior height

  • Versatile

What We Don't Like
  • Tight floor dimensions

The Alto TR1 is a creative design that makes the most of its 2 pounds and 11 ounces. It maximizes living space inside the tent despite being tapered to shave weight and volume. The tent isn’t just light, either. It uses smart design to offer the camper multiple setup options including rain fly-only, tent-only, combined, or combined with the rain fly rolled up but accessible from inside the tent.

Multiple ventilation options help prevent condensation inside the tent and can help keep you cool in hot weather. It is a semi-freestanding tent, so you’ll want to make use of the guylines to ensure rigidity in weather events.

Packed Weight: 2 pounds, 11 ounces | Floor Dimensions: 84 x 42/21 inches | Capacity: One-person

Best Two-Person Tent: Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2 Solution Dye

What We Like
  • Ultralight

  • Smart gear loft

  • Simple setup

What We Don't
  • Durability still an issue

Earlier this year, Big Agnes took its most popular and classic backpacking tent lines and started making them with solution dye fabric. Solution-dyed fabrics are much more eco-friendly, are more resistant to UV rays, and are more durable, according to Big Agnes. Sustainability aside, the Tiger Wall UL2 is an awesome tent. It's one of the lightest on the market and has some common sense features like a massive gear loft on an entire wall, two doors, and loads of vestibule space.

Packed Weight: 2 pounds, 8 ounces | Floor Dimensions: 86 x 52/42 inches | Capacity: Two-person

Tested by TripSavvy

It doesn't get much better than the Tiger Wall Solution Dye tent line. It checks all the boxes I look for in an ideal backpacking tent. At 2.5 pounds, it's incredibly light. It can easily be pitched or taken down in ten minutes or less. (And I'm talking fully staked with a rain fly. If you're not concerned about solid stakes or putting on the rainfly, this is like a three-minute setup.) It has smart features like the gear loft and tons of vestibule space. And it's better for the planet than most other tents on the market.

My one qualm? It's still not as durable as I'd like. I've had Big Agnes tents rip on me before and was hoping for increased durability. While this one hasn't ripped despite being pitched on sharp pinecones and rocks, one of the plastic clips that connects the tent to the fly did bust on me when it hit a rock as I was shaking ice and frost off the fly on a particularly frigid morning in the High Sierra. On the other hand, Big Agnes has a generous and speedy repair outfit. So damage is often quickly fixed. — Nathan Allen, Outdoor Gear Editor

Best Three-Person Tent: Mountain Hardwear Aspect 3 Tent

Mountain Hardwear Aspect 3 Tent

Courtesy of Mountain Hardwear

What We Like
  • Roomy

  • Compact

What We Don't Like
  • Heavier

  • Pricey

A three-person tent usually can fit three people, but it’s often best used for two people that value some extra space. True two-person tents often have space only for two sleeping pads with gear in vestibules or uncovered outside the tent. I personally prefer a three-person tent for camping as a duo as it gives you some extra breathing room and it usually isn’t a linear gain in terms of weight on your back.

The Mountain Hardwear Aspect lands right around four pounds, which is not much to bear when split between two people. The tent stays light but doesn’t veer into the delicate ultralight category and features a robust 40D nylon floor that means you can skip the footprint if you know you’re camping on softer ground.

Packed Weight: 4 pounds, 3 ounces | Floor Dimensions: 66 x 90 inches | Capacity: Three-person

Best Four-Person Tent: Marmot Tungsten 4P Tent

Marmot Tungsten 3-Person Tent. Amazon image
Marmot Tungsten 3-Person Tent. Amazon image.
What We Like
  • Share the weight

  • Affordable, especially for a group

What We Don't Like
  • Heavy if used solo

  • Little interior gear storage space

Four-person tents are outside the norm in backpacking where it’s more common for everyone to carry their own gear including sleeping systems. But if you’re willing and able to camp and sleep as a group whether you’re close friends or family, you can significantly cut down the amount of gear the group needs in total. 

Packing four people into this oversized footprint will still be fairly tight shoulder-to-shoulder, but dividing the nearly 9 pounds of the Tungsten among four people means a modest 2 pounds per person. This can also be an option for two or three people that want lots of extra interior space as long as your trips can handle the increased load per person.

Packed Weight: 8 pounds, 11 ounces | Floor Dimensions: 83 x 92 inches | Capacity: Four-person

Best Splurge: Big Agnes Tiger Wall 2 Carbon Tent

Big Agnes Tiger Wall 2 Carbon Tent

Courtesy of REI

What We Like
  • Ultralight

  • Compact

What We Don't Like
  • Delicate

  • Very expensive

At the opposite end of the spectrum from our Budget Pick is the Tiger Wall Carbon tent from Steamboat Springs-based Big Agnes. As their website warns, this tent is “not for everyone” as it requires not only a large budget but special handling in the field for its ultralight but not ultra-durable fabrics.

This is the tent for the person who wants to have the latest, greatest, and lightest, but you need to know what you’re getting into. The tent stays under two pounds mostly by using Dyneema—one of the fabrics of the future perhaps—but one that isn’t cheap since it hasn’t been widely adopted by the outdoor industry just yet. It also shaves weight by keeping poles to a minimum as a semi-freestanding tent that uses much lighter guylines to provide tension and structure.

Packed Weight: 1 pound, 11 ounces | Floor Dimensions: 86 x 52/42  inches | Capacity: Two-person

Best for Bikepacking: Nemo Dragonfly Bikepacking Tent

Nemo Dragonfly Bikepacking Tent

Courtesy of Nemo Equipment

What We Like
  • Compact

  • Ultralight

  • Bike-specific

What We Don't Like
  • Limited interior space

Bikepacking, essentially thru-hiking on a bike, demands minimalism and weight savings wherever possible since it’s not much fun riding your bike with an enormous pack that’s heavier than it needs to be. The Nemo Dragonfly is a bikepacking-specific tent with features like shorter pole segments and a tapered design that allow it to be compact when packed and ultralight.

The extra-durable stuff sack is built for mounting to a bike frame or handlebars and reinforced to ensure it’ll hold up over the long haul. And despite the ultralight pedigree, it maintains a freestanding design that works in any location.

Packed Weight: 2 pounds, 10 ounces | Floor Dimensions: 88 x 35/32 inches | Capacity: One-person

Best for Hot Weather: OneTigris Howlingtop Teepee tent

OneTigris Howlingtop Teepee Mesh Tent

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Maximum ventilation

  • Lightweight

  • Spacious

What We Don't Like
  • Rain fly sold separately

In the wrong weather conditions, tents can be steamy and hot and nearly impossible to sleep in. The all-mesh canopy of the Howlingtop Teepee tent from OneTigris maximizes breeze for hot weather conditions. While the mesh doesn’t provide any weather protection, it keeps insects at bay while still permitting maximum airflow.

There’s also an available rain fly layer for when the weather gets nasty or in colder seasons to increase its versatility. Alternatively, you can employ a tarp as a precipitation blocker.

Packed Weight: 2.2 pounds | Floor Dimensions: 9.8-foot diameter | Capacity: Two-person

Best for Beginners: REI Co-Op Quarter-Dome SL 2 Tent

REI Co-op Quarter Dome SL 2 Tent

Courtesy of Rei

What We Like
  • Share the weight

  • Affordable, especially for a group

What We Don't Like
  • Heavy if used solo

  • Little interior gear storage space

REI’s Half-Dome Tent has a loyal following for its simple design, low cost, and lightweight. The two-person Quarter Dome takes the weight-shaving to another level and is a full pound lighter. As a consequence, the dimensions in the Quarter Dome are tighter, being tapered at the “legs end” to shave material and weight.

Why this makes a great beginner tent is its simplicity. The tent features a color-coded pole system that makes setup difficult to screw up, even in challenging conditions. The light weight is also forgiving for newbies. If you want to save money instead of pounds, consider the classic Half-Dome.

Packed Weight: 2 pounds, 14 ounces | Floor Dimensions: 88 x 52/42 inches | Capacity: Two-person

Best Ultralight: Gossamer Gear The Two

NEMO Kunai 2 Tent

Courtesy of REI

What We Like
  • Versatile

  • Lightweight

  • Surprisingly durable

What We Don't Like
  • Set up learning curve

Gossamer Gear's The Two is for thru-hikers and gram-counting nerds. And we love it. Weighing in at less than two pounds, The Two doesn't come with any poles, requiring trekking poles to set it up. While it is smaller than most other tents on this list—just 48 inches of width on the head side—it is surprisingly durable and packs a large gear storage punch.

Packed Weight: 1.96 pounds | Floor Dimensions: 84 x 48/42 inches | Capacity: 2p

Tested by TripSavvy

I've used an older version of this tent for a few seasons now. At first, I was skeptical. Do I really need this light of a tent? The material seems ultra-thin and prone to rips, so do I want to spend this much on a tent that could need significantly repaired often? After a few years, my answers to those questions are: Nobody needs a tent this light, but it sure is fun. And, besides a rip from my 120-pound Bernese Mountain Dog, the tent has held up to most abuse.

This tent seriously checks a lot of boxes. It's super lightweight. It has a surprisingly large amount of gear storage capability. And it holds up in most three-season conditions. Make sure you set it up a few times in your yard or living room to get the feel for it before taking it out. — Nathan Allen, Outdoor Gear Editor

Final Verdict

If you’re looking for a versatile, lightweight tent, it’s hard to beat the MSR Hubba Hubba NX (view at Amazon) for most backcountry camping conditions. If you’re on a budget, the Ozark Trail line offers great value. For any of the specific situations such as bikepacking or camping with a group, take a look at our recommendations in each category.

What to Look For in a Backpacking Tent

Freestanding vs. Semi-Freestanding vs. Non-Freestanding

If you don’t recognize these terms, that’s because the vast majority of tents sold are freestanding. This simply means that the poles of the tent give it its shape and structure without additional supports, guylines, or staking.

Many ultralight tents save weight by eliminating some of the pole-based structure and rely on guylines to create tension and the structure of the tent. These semi-freestanding tents may be the lightest available, but they’ll also require additional skill and time to set up. Many rely on the use of a trekking pole or two which is only convenient if you hike with trekking poles. If you value ease of setup, look for a freestanding tent.

Non-freestanding tents are rarer and often produced by cottage tent companies aimed at the ultralight extreme consumer who is willing to use elaborate staking and tensioning guylines to have structure. Only consider this type of tent if weight is your top priority and you are confident in your tent setup skills.

 Capacity and Dimensions

Most tents have a capacity listed in the number of people such as two-person or three-person tents. These are not standardized sizes and don’t indicate any particular threshold in terms of the internal volume of the tent, so it’s important to look at the dimensions of any tent you’re considering.

Many tent manufacturers offer schematics of their tents with measurements that can help you visualize the shape and size of the tent. If you already have a sleeping pad, figure out the width and length of it and use that to determine if the tent you’re considering has enough room for you (and any additional campers’ pads). 

While many tents have vestibules that fall outside of the tent but under the rainfly, if you prefer keeping your gear inside the tent, you may want to consider buying a size up. Meaning if you are camping solo, get a two-person tent and if you’re sharing a tent with a partner, consider at least a three-person tent to ensure you have plenty of space inside.

 Packed Weight vs Trail Weight

When choosing a backpacking tent, one of the main specs you’ll be considering is weight. High-end tent consumers might pay hundreds of dollars just to save a pound or less versus other comparable tents.

But you’ll often see two different types of weights listed: packed weight and trail weight. Generally, packed weight refers to the weight of the tent and all accessories packed in the provided stuff sacks as it comes from the factory. Another way to think of it is the maximum weight of your tent as it includes everything that comes with the tent.

Trail weight, by contrast, can be considered the minimum weight possible for a given tent. There’s no standard definition of “trail weight” but it often reflects the weight for just the tent, poles, and rainfly and may exclude items such as stuff sacks, stakes, and other optional accessories.

 FAQs

I got my tent dirty while camping. What’s the right way to clean it for storage?


Tents are made for the outdoors, but that doesn’t mean you can get them filthy and leave them that way. Putting your tent away clean and dry is the best way to ensure the longevity of the materials. Because it’s not always possible to put your tent away clean in the field, it’s important to take time to clean, dry, and properly repack your tent for storage when you get home.

Polar explorer Eric Larsen says, “Take care of your gear and it will take care of you. I set my tent up in my yard and rinse it inside and outside and inspect the zippers. For tougher grime, I’ll take some soapy water with a brush and scrub those spots and rinse.” He adds that you should make sure the tent is completely dry before putting it away. You can leave the tent set up to dry or hang just the fabric on a clothesline.

Because your tent likely has a durable water repellent (DWR) coating, you can’t just put the fabric through a washing machine. If your tent is really dirty or exposed to heavy smoke and you want to give it a full cleaning, consider hand washing it. You can use a technical wash product such as Nikwax Tent & Gear Solarwash.

Do I need to use a footprint with my tent?


Footprints are sold by tent manufacturers and third parties and plenty of people make their own out of inexpensive lightweight materials such as Tyvek. The idea is to protect the bottom of your tent from abrasions and punctures which can quickly shorten the lifespan of your tent. A footprint, in contrast to your tent’s bottom, can be replaced easily and cheaply.

But when backpacking and spending hundreds of dollars on an ultralight tent, it can seem counterintuitive to then buy a separate piece of fabric to put underneath that tent while adding weight in the process.

While using a footprint is always the safest bet for protecting your tent long-term, there are times you may choose to skip the footprint for space and weight savings. Larsen says that while tent fabrics have gotten more durable over the years, “all it takes is one poke from a stick or rock and that perfectly waterproof floor has a big leak. In most cases, I would recommend using a footprint; however, if your goal is light and fast or you know you are camping in a nice soft grassy spot, you can easily skip and still be okay.”

Why Trust TripSavvy?


Author Justin Park is a lifelong backpacker based in Breckenridge, Colorado. He camps in all four seasons in Colorado and throughout the Mountain West. These tents were selected through extensive research, conversations with other experts, and in-field testing.

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