The 13 Best Two-Person Tents, Tested by Experts

We tested more than a dozen two-person tents. Our favorite is REI's Half Dome

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Two-person tents
Conor Ralph / TripSavvy.

Two-person tents are an excellent option for couples that want to keep their gear to a minimum and don’t mind close quarters. They also work well for solo campers wanting more space inside their tent.

Since tent sizes aren’t standardized, you can find quite a range of tents described as “two-person tents,” so we recommend checking out the actual dimensions before deciding. In our picks below, we select several that range from extra-roomy car camping options to minimalist ultralight options that feel more like one-person tents.

Whether you’re a solo ultralight gram-counter or a couple that car camps a few times a year, we’ve got a two-person tent option that should work for you and your camping style. Here are the best two-person tents currently available.

Best Overall: REI Co-op Half Dome SL 2+

REI Half Dome SL2
REI Half Dome SL2.
What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Simple design and setup

  • Large and spacious interior (for a two-person tent)

  • Durable

What We Don't Like
  • Bulky packaged size

The REI Half Dome is a staple tent in REI's in-house lineup. Go to any campground or backcountry dispersed camping area, and you're almost guaranteed to see the Half Dome more than any other single tent model. The classic Half Dome recently got an update that shaved off a pound and made this an even more compelling all-around backpacking tent option. It's listed at "2+" for sizing, and unlike some two-person tents, you can comfortably fit two adults sleeping side-by-side. It's also a simple, fully freestanding structure that we weighed at 4.7 pounds, but it doesn't suffer from the flimsiness of some ultralight, semi-freestanding tents in this category.

We tested the Half Dome SL2+ both in our Brooklyn testing lab and in the Colorado Rockies backcountry, where nighttime temperatures were in the 20s, and high winds buffeted us nightly. The update to this tent doesn't go crazy with a complete redesign, but the fully hubbed pole system (it's essentially one pole, all interconnected via two hubs and shock cords) is a nice touch that makes the setup nearly dummy-proof. The tent is symmetrical, so you can't really place the poles in the wrong spots, and they're color-coded, to boot. We gave it my standard "don't read the instructions" test and had zero issues getting it fully set up with stakes; however, the rainfly was a bit tight. It's a sturdy structure even without stakes, but we found that proper taut staking is essential (as with any tent) to keep the tent flapping noise from keeping you up in high winds. We were lazy with one stake and had to fix it at night to get the rain fly taut and quiet.

While the weight is very respectable, the one major downside is that the volume of the tent broken down and packaged up is relatively large at 7 x 20.5 inches. Part of this is a result of the hub design, which keeps you from breaking the pole system down entirely for storage, but also the inclusion of the footprint and slightly heavier-duty materials than more streamlined ultralight tents. This trade-off won't matter to some but could be a deal-breaker for others more concerned with space in their pack or weight.

Packed Size: 7 x 20.5 inches | Dimensions: 90 x 54 x 45 inches | Packed Weight: 4.7 pounds | Seasons: 3

REI Co-op Half Dome SL2
Conor Ralph / TripSavvy.

Best Overall, Runner-Up: Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2

Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2
Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2.
What We Like
  • Super easy setup

  • Great storage

  • Ultralight

What We Don't Like
  • Durability could still be an issue

We put the Half Dome as the best overall two-person tent because of its performance and price. If you’re looking for a slightly lighter tent with the same performance chops and are willing to get a smidge more spendy, the Copper Spur HV UL2 is for you. Big Agnes has been innovating in the backcountry space for years now. The best-selling Copper Spur series is a fruit of those years of labor and learning.

Big Agnes’ newest version of the Copper Spur line is the HV UL2 and improves on where previous models have sometimes failed—durability. We won’t get into the nitty-gritty, but Big Agnes has employed a ton of proprietary denier nylon blended fabrics to boost the strength and durability of this updated version. All of this, and we still weighed the packed tent right at 3 pounds.

Our testers specifically loved the intelligent design features, which have become synonymous with Big Agnes. They raved about the inside storage and organization capability, particularly the gear loft, which easily fits the gear you need to keep in the tent, like extra clothing layers.

Packed Size: 6 x 19.5 inches | Dimensions: 91 x 53 x 44 inches | Packed weight: 3 pounds | Seasons: 3

Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2
Conor Ralph / TripSavvy.

Best Budget: ust Gear Highlander 2-Person Backpacking Tent

ust Gear Highlander 2-Person Backpacking Tent
ust Gear Highlander 2-Person Backpacking Tent.
What We Like
  • Strong materials

  • Could serve as both a backpacking and car camping tent

  • Not an intuitive setup

  • Felt smaller on the inside than others tested

First things first: Don't equate "budget" with "beginner." The Highlander 2-Person Backpacking Tent setup from ust Gear does not make it a beginner tent. It took us multiple tries and lots of adjustments to the guylines and stakes to feel confident with our ability to set it up so it wouldn't collapse. While we recommend this tent for its relatively accessible price, make sure you spend some time setting it up and getting to know it before taking it backpacking or car camping. It's also not truly a freestanding tent like others on this list. As mentioned, it requires some guyline work and finessing to get pitched.

With those caveats, this is a solid tent for someone looking to get a high-quality backpacking tent at a relatively lower cost. We like how durable this tent feels, the high ceiling, and gear storage capabilities. We also like that this is one of the few remaining tents that comes included with a footprint—another reason this is a budget pick. While it doesn't have double doors like others on this list, there is a massive door on one side of the tent for humans to enter and exit and a small door on the opposite side to stash and store gear within the second vestibule.

The dimensions of this tent are a bit smaller (sans the ceiling) than others, so this tent would be best suited for two people that don't mind cozying up or a solo human with a dog. While other tents on this list feel like they might rip with a dog nail, this one genuinely feels like it could hold up to Fido's paws.

If you'd like a genuinely freestanding budget tent, we suggest the Stoic Driftwood 2 (more on that below).

Packed Size: 7 x 18 x 6 inches | Floor Dimensions: 85 x 48 inches | Packed Weight: 4 pounds, 15 ounces  | Seasons: 3

ust Gear Highlander 2-Person Backpacking Tent
Nathan Allen / TripSavvy.

Best for Beginners: REI Co-op Passage 2

REI Co-op Passage 2
REI Co-op Passage 2.
What We Like
  • Basic design with straightforward setup and take-down

  • Spacious

  • Includes pole splint and footprint

What We Don't Like
  • Nitpick: A bit heavy

The Passage 2 from REI checks many of the beginning camper boxes. It’s a reasonably accessible price. It’s easy to pitch and take down and pack. And it’s durable. Our testers praised it as a “straightforward, solid tent.” 

At almost 6 pounds in a packed weight, the pack is heavier than some of the other ultralight and light backpacking-focused tents on this list. But like others that we tested going up into the 5- and 6-pound range, it’s still very much a backpacking tent that serves well as a car camping shelter. 

“Both REI models (Passage 2 and Half Dome SL2+) had an included footprint connected to the tent body, but is also removable,” one tester reported. “This is a great feature, even if it adds a little weight.”

Packed Size: 8 x 18 inches | Dimensions: 88 x 52 x 40 inches | Packed Weight: 5.2 pounds | Seasons: 3

REI Co-op Passage 2
Conor Ralph / TripSavvy.

Best Value: Poler Goldenrod 2-Person Tent

Poler Goldenrod 2-Person Tent
Poler Goldenrod 2-Person Tent.
What We Like
  • Lots of space inside

  • Big doors making it easy to get in and out of

  • Some slight design quirks

If you’re like us, you probably know Poler first for its Snuggy-like knapsacks and ponchos (which we love, by the way). But don’t sleep on the brand’s tent line. A somewhat complex pole configuration makes this tent one of the most spacious we tested. “Seems like a bargain at its price,” one of our testers said. “Most of its problems are minor design quirks, but the overall effect is a very spacious tent with plenty of room and big doors that make it easy to get in and out.”

Those design quirks were the number of poles needed to erect the tent, the poles coming “unplugged” from their holders, and the rainfly required to be affixed to the corner grommets, making it challenging to attach after setup. But our testers were still impressed with the “luxurious” inside of the tent. 

We weighed this tent at about 5.6 pounds, so while it’s certainly not the lightest of two-person tents, an ambitious and sturdy backpacker could use it. But for car camping with a couple and a small child or dog, this tent is solid. It’s also one of the more affordable options.

Packed Size: 7.5 x 18 inches | Dimensions: 84 x 65 x 44 inches | Packed Weight: 5.6 pounds | Seasons: 3

Poler Goldenrod 2-Person Tent
Conor Ralph / TripSavvy.

Best for Backpacking: Mountain Hardwear Strato UL2 Tent

Mountain Hardwear Strato UL2 Tent

Courtesy of REI

What We Like
  • Ultralight

  • Able to divide to share weight

  • Actually feels roomy enough with two average-sized adults

What We Don't Like
  • Could use a bit more interior storage

Mountain Hardwear's Strato UL2 is a proper ultralight tent that can be as light as 2 pounds, 5 ounces, when stripped down to the essentials. But unlike other ultralight tents that can feel somewhat brittle and experimental, the Strato UL2 feels more like a regular tent for the price of a few extra ounces. Setup is simple with a one-pole system using hubbed DAC Featherlight NFL poles which are both ultralight and robust.

The nylon fly is silicone-coated on both sides for maximum water-repelling. While it looks white, that's just what the material looks like when it is not dyed—a move to eliminate energy-sucking, chemical-heavy processes from the tent's manufacture.

While you can informally divide any tent up between partners, we like how the Strato was designed for that with separate stuff sacks. We also enjoyed the simplicity of having dual entrances and vestibules when sharing the tent. (It's truly the small things in life, am I right?) Having your own vestibule when sharing a two-person tent is clutch since you won't have much space left on the interior with two adult bodies inside. We also wish there were a few more storage options included inside the tent body. The tent's design is great and creates a lot of headroom for a small tent, and we wish they used some of that headroom to include some more stash pockets for gear.

We tested the Strato UL2 at campgrounds and backcountry, with nighttime temperatures ranging from below 20 degrees to 35 degrees. That temperature range seemed fine, but one night, while camping near 10,000 feet in the Ansel Adams Wilderness Area, we noticed that some condensation did form inside the tent when the temperatures dropped into the teens. Other tents tested on the same night had less condensation and more ice built up on the rainfly. This is a three-season tent, and the sub-20-degree temperatures were probably the culprit, but it did give us some concerns about the tent's venting, which could also be an issue in peak summer.

Packed Size: 6 x 12 inches (tent body and fly), 2.5 x 16 inches (poles) | Floor Dimensions: 86 x 54 inches | Packed Weight: 2 pounds, 5.3 ounces | Seasons: 3

Mountain Hardwear Stata UL2
Nathan Allen / TripSavvy.

Best for Backpacking, Runner-Up: Sea to Summit Telos TR2

Sea to Summit Telos TR2
Conor Ralph / TripSavvy.

The Telos TR2 from Sea to Summit isn't the lightest backpacking-focused tent we tested—we weighed it at almost 4 pounds—but the ease of setup, high and roomy ceiling, and modular stuff sacks made it one of our favorites for backpacking and car camping, alike. Our testers liked the tent's ease of setup and the color-coded poles, making it easier to orient front to back. 

"The third rainfly pole creates an upward wing look that's a little odd but seems to add to the interior space," one tester said. "It involves several different types of attachments beyond your standard pole clips (center hung from round grommet, rainfly poles attached to little elastic hooks, rainfly attaches at corners with weird little half-loop clips), but each was fairly intuitive."

Sea to Summit calls it a three-season tent, and we'd have to agree as the tent has a ton of ventilation but can also stay warm with the rainfly, especially on sunnier days, thanks to its dark color. The Telos series was launched in March of 2021 and was Sea to Summit's first tent line. The goal? Boosting space while minimizing weight. To do this, Sea to Summit created a proprietary pole system that angles up instead of the typical down-curved poles. Our testers appreciated the high and roomy ceiling and the amount of freestanding space that comes without staking.

Packed Size: 5.1 x 18.9 inches | Dimensions: 84 x 54 x 45 inches | Packed Weight: 3 pounds, 10.7 ounces | Seasons: 3

Sea to Summit Telos TR2
Conor Ralph / TripSavvy.

Most Eco-Friendly: Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2 Solution Dye

Big Agnes Tiger Wall 2 Carbon Tent

Courtesy of REI

What We Like
  • Extremely ultralight

  • Requires staking and guylines for rigidity

  • Eco-friendly

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Questionable durability

In addition to innovative design and materials, the Tiger Wall uses a solution dyeing process that Big Agnes has pioneered in tent production, which they state uses 50 percent less water and 80 percent fewer chemicals, making it a more eco-friendly choice (outdoor gear is notorious for requiring wasteful processes and heavy chemical use).

In late September and early October, we tested the Tiger Wall in the mountains outside of Mammoth Lakes at both campgrounds and in the backcountry. It stood up well to high winds, morning frosts, and temperatures in the 20s. We were nervous about the delicate nature of the tent—we could see the ground through the floor of the tent—and unfortunately, those fears turned out to be justified. While the Dyneema material seemed durable for how light it is and held up being pitched in areas with sharp rocks and pinecones, we accidentally broke one of the ultralight pole clips while shaking out the tent (it dinged a rock). We were able to jury-rig a fix, but we were annoyed such an expensive tent couldn’t figure out clips that were both ultralight and durable.

The double-entry on such a small and lightweight tent was a welcome feature, especially when using it with two people. The fly built up a good amount of ice in the night several times, making us feel like it was doing a good job venting moisture. The setup was also super-easy and took no more than ten minutes with two people to get it fully set up and staked with the rain fly.

Packed Size: 6 x 17.5 inches | Dimensions: 86 x 54 x 42 inches | Packed Weight: 2.6 pounds | Seasons: 3

Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2 Solution Dye
Conor Ralph / TripSavvy.

Best for Durability: Eureka! El Capitan 2+ Tent

Eureka! El Capitan 2+
Eureka! El Capitan 2+.
What We Like
  • Lots of space

  • Ample vestibule storage space

What We Don't Like
  • Heavy

  • Tough getting the rainfly pole in the rainfly

When your camping duo is a camping trio with a dog or small child, we recommend the Eureka! El Capitan 2+ tent for its spaciousness and durability. Our testers loved the inside space compared to other two-person tents and the outside-the-tent area with large vestibules for ample gear storage compared to other tents we tested.

Eureka! employs some super heavy-duty materials throughout this tent to keep it abrasion-resistant. A heavily waterproofing-coated rainfly boosts its waterproofness. While the setup and breakdown were very straightforward, our testers did have an issue getting the rainfly pole actually into the rainfly.

"This is a very traditional style tent that didn't require much guidance to build. Instructions came printed on a water-proof slip attached to the carrying case," one tester said. "This style of tent came with separate guide poles that were mostly unattached; however, it didn't require too much to figure out where they needed to go. The biggest problem was the rainfly pole, which we couldn't get to fit in their yellow attachment point sleeves no matter how hard we tried to force it."

Packed Size: 7 x 20 inches | Dimensions: 90 x 56 x 43 inches | Packed Weight: 8.5 pounds | Seasons: 3

Eureka! El Capitan 2+ Tent
Conor Ralph / TripSavvy.

Best for Car Camping: Mountainsmith Morrison Evo 2

Mountainsmith Morrison Evo 2 Tent
Nathan Allen / TripSavvy.
What We Like
  • One of the most spacious tents we tested

  • Very simple and straightforward setup

  • Feels and seems durable

What We Don't Like
  • Could have better gear storage

Mountainsmith's Morrison Evo line of tents, which includes a two-person and four-person, is an update to its award-winning Morrison line. The upgrade? A brow pole that rests across the top of the tent creates an even roomier feel. In the world of Dyneema, singular pole systems, and other newfangled tech going into tent-making, an additional pole might not seem like much. But it truly creates the roomiest two-person tent we tested.

We love that the Morrison Evo comes with a footprint. (Bonus: Said footprint has clips to connect with the rainfly if you prefer to bypass the actual tent structure and secure the rainfly directly to the footprint for a minimalist approach.) We also love that the Morrison Evo has some serious waterproofing, durable materials, and double doors and vestibules.

The tent's straightforward and uncomplicated setup (it's a classic two-pole crossing system) makes it great for newbie campers. And while it'd be a bit heavy to backpack with, you could bring it down to a somewhat reasonable weight by leaving the footprint behind or going super minimalist and ditching the tent body.

Packed Size: 17 x 8 inches | Floor Dimensions: 93 x 56 x 45 inches | Packed Weight: 6 pounds, 9 ounces  | Seasons: 3

Mountainsmith Morrison Evo 2 tent
Nathan Allen / TripSavvy.

Best Ultralight: Zpacks Duplex Tent

Zpacks Duplex Tent
Zpacks Duplex Tent.
What We Like
  • Super lightweight

  • Minimalist design

  • Not for the novice

Introducing the super-techy, minimalist tent for the advanced backpacker and thru-hiker. At just 19 ounces, this was by far the lightest and most portable tent we tested. Zpacks uses a Dyneema Composite Fabric for an impressive weight to strength ratio. It also had our fastest breakdown and repacking time.

Of course, with a minimalist design came a few headaches. For one, our testers reported that the 48-inches suggested for the trekking poles seemed too high to pitch the tent. "While the footprint was surprisingly spacious, the pup-tent ceiling peaks across the middle lengthwise, against the orientation of a sleeping body, which creates a lot of wasted interior space and forces sleepers to put their heads into a low downslope regardless of orientation," one tester added. "In other words, there is no way to sleep in this in a way that provides any headroom."

Pitching the tent can also be a bit involved when using this tent for the first time. Our testers recommend setting it up a few times for practice before taking it out on your next backpacking trip. "You'd definitely want to be experienced in setting this up before taking it out on a trip," a tester advised. "And while the guylines can either be staked out or tied to features in the environment, it's easy to imagine campsite conditions that would make this practically unusable, especially if the soil is either too hard or too loose to hold stakes well."

Packed Size: 6 x 12 inches | Dimensions: 90 x 54 x 45 inches | Packed Weight: 1 pound, 3 ounces | Seasons: 3

Zpacks Duplex Tent
Conor Ralph / TripSavvy.

Best Rooftop Tent: Front Runner Rooftop Tent

Front Runner Rooftop Tent

Courtesy of Front Runner

What We Like
  • Low-profile and lightweight

  • Easy set-up

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

While rooftop tents have surged in popularity lately, Front Runner has made overlanding equipment since the early '90s. Their rooftop tent is the lightest and lowest-profile option currently on the market. Bulky rooftop tents can be giant wind-catchers that kill your fuel efficiency. But the Front Runner Rooftop Tent is only 13 inches tall and can be installed with an optional quick-release, so you don't have to drive around with your tent all the time (nor dread putting it back on).

Despite being a minimalist profile, it has all the comforts of a rooftop tent that make them so attractive in the first place. Because weight isn't the primary concern with backpacking tents, Front Runner uses heavy-duty fabrics for the tent body, rainfly, and cover. The fold-out and pop-up happen in one smooth motion, giving you a ready-to-sleep bedroom atop your vehicle that's accessed by a built-in ladder. There's also a high-density foam mattress with an antimicrobial cover that doesn't require inflation like many camping sleeping pads.

You'll need a Front Runner Roof Rack to install the tent on top of your vehicle. Front Runner makes its rugged racks specific to many standard vehicles and universal options that make it accessible for almost all vehicles. The biggest drawback of this—and most rooftop tents—is cost. You're looking at over $1,000 for the tent alone, while even top-of-the-line backpacking tents are usually $500 or less.

We tested Front Runner's Rooftop Tent in the Santa Monica Mountains outside Los Angeles. We were a bit hesitant about the ease of the setup but were surprised at how easy it was. We unzipped the tent's cover and flopped the top over. Voila, a shelter. (It was a bit more involved to attach the rainfly properly.)

The included mattress is a nice bonus as it's more comfortable than other camping pads that don't require inflation. However, we didn't find it as comfortable as some super-lofted inflating backpacking pads. At first, the side of the tent that's not directly above the vehicle can come off as a bit sketch—it shifts when you put your full weight on the side hovering above the ground. But once the ladder is securely on the ground and you get used to it, that sketchiness goes away.

The materials used for the actual tent structure are thick and durable. While the rain fly is easy to remove—we took it off in the middle of the night without leaving the tent when some Santa Ana's kicked up—it takes a bit more effort to put it back on (though not much). Speaking of the Santa Ana's, with the rainfly off, a nice breeze moved through the mesh walls and windows of the tent. Our one nitpick? It took some finagling to get the attached case back on and zipped around the tent when we had it packed back up and were ready to leave.

 Closed Size: 52.4 x 49 x 13 inches | Floor Dimensions: 96 x 51 inches | Weight: 93 pounds | Seasons: 3

Front Runner's Roof Top Tent
Nathan Allen / TripSavvy.

Best Stargazing Tent: Kelty Night Owl 2 Person Tent

Kelty Night Owl 2 Person Tent

Courtesy of Moosejaw

What We Like
  • Ultra-durable

  • Built for winter camping conditions

  • Heavy

One of the great things about a tent is you can enjoy sleeping under the stars while still keeping a barrier of mesh between you and dust, dirt, and bugs. The Kelty Night Owl prioritizes this by going for an all-mesh canopy paired with their Stargazer rain fly, which can be rolled back partway, so it’s ready to deploy fully if weather rolls in.

The Night Owl’s weight is middle-of-the-road and is probably not light or compact enough for the truly hardcore gram-counters, but at just over 5 pounds, it’s not outrageous to hike with for several miles. As a reward for going a little heavier, you get super durable materials and a robust design.

We enjoyed the Night Owl from the first setup, thanks to a classic "X" structure design and a super-simple setup process. A hubbed pole system and "Quick Corner" pole sleeves make it easy to set the Night Owl up quickly, even in the dark. The poles and slots are color-coded, but you hardly need it as the design is pretty intuitive.

The materials all feel durable, and the Quick Corner sleeves make the tent structure strong, and it held up well to wind and light rain in our testing in the Rockies in the fall. The 68D rainfly buckles into the bases of the poles for a connection you feel like you can trust. There are guylines available to get the tent taut and structure complete, and they’re thankfully attached out of the box, which encourages you to bother using them.

Packed Size: 7 x 16 inches | Floor Dimensions: 90 x 54 inches | Minimum Trail Weight: 5 pounds, 6 ounces  | Seasons: 3

Final Verdict

For most people, you’d be hard-pressed to do better than the balance of the lighter-than-ever weight, simple design, setup, and time-tested build of the REI Half Dome Two Person Tent (view at REI). The cost isn’t bargain-basement, but it’s half of what most truly ultralight tents cost and easier to use to boot.

There are multiple ultralight options within our picks for those backpackers who can’t stomach the packed size and are counting every ounce. Still, the Mountain Hardwear Strato UL2 (view at Backcountry) stood out in our testing for its light weight but, more importantly, how it performed like a more robust, freestanding tent.

Two-person tent testing
Nathan Allen / TripSavvy.

Other Tents We Tested

Nemo Aurora 2: We tested the Aurora car camping in Colorado's Rocky Mountains in the fall with warm, sunny days and cold, windy nights. We found the build and setup of the tent straightforward. Unlike many tents, the footprint is helpfully included. The 68D polyester floor fabric seemed like it could hold up just fine on relatively smooth ground, though if you're car camping with the Aurora, there's no reason not to bring the footprint and extend your tent's lifespan. We also liked how the footprint, tent body, and rainfly all used the same grommets to connect with the ends of the poles.

Despite being a car camping tent, we liked the inclusion of the hubbed pole architecture used in fancier backpacking tents which makes the setup pretty idiot-proof. There is a spreader pole, so it's not an actual one-pole setup, but it's close. One gripe is that although the stakes were nice and lightweight, we'd like to see heavier duty ones included on a tent like this where weight isn't the top concern.

Sea to Summit Alto TR2: We tested the Alto TR2 for several nights at high elevations in Colorado's Rocky Mountain backcountry, where the tent's lightweight and small packed size was a relief on our large frame packs. We found the setup very simple because, like most single-pole tents, there are a few wrong ways to set it up. The asymmetrical design made it reasonably obvious without instructions (though they're helpfully printed on the packaging if you need them). We managed the tent-only setup in the dark with one person in less than 5 minutes, and the rain fly was added on under duress in surprise overnight light rain. Even groggy at 3 a.m., the rain fly was intuitive, and it has a rollback option to leave open for air and stargazing and be ready for quick deployment.

The 15D nylon is very light, and because of that and its somewhat irregular shape, I wouldn't set it up without Sea to Summit's custom footprint, which isn't included. Side gripe: I wish ultralight tent makers would include the footprint matched to their tents since they all make them and recommend using one to protect the silky ultralight fabrics from the ground. It, of course, adds to the cost and the listed weight of the tent, but if it's essentially essential equipment, just include it.

Moving on, we had a great experience in the tent—it held up under rain and wind—and the extensive Apex Vent system kept condensation down to almost nothing despite low nighttime temps in the 20s. Like most semi-freestanding tents, the tub floor lacks structure compared to more robustly framed tents, and that, combined with floor dimensions on the smaller side, makes me consider this a 1+ person tent. Fitting two people in this tent is theoretically possible with smaller sleeping pads, but there isn't enough square footage for two of my Nemo Cosmo pads due to the taper at the foot end.

Tarptent Double Rainbow tent
Conor Ralph / TripSavvy.

Tarptent Double Rainbow: Tarptent's Double Rainbow was one of the lightest and dimensionally largest two-person tents we tested. But it was also was one of the most frustrating to set up. Not surprisingly, it also took the longest to pitch. While we could pitch many two-person tents tested in less than five minutes, the Double Rainbow took about 10 minutes to pitch. This could be sped up with practice and time, but it will never be as intuitive and easy as other ultralight tents on this list.

Setup requires takes at all four corners, attachment points at the end of the single pole that our testers described as "baffling to figure out." Two extra poles at the ceiling did give the tent a bit more structure. "The instructions, which we needed, are a yellow printer paper sheet with a link to a Vimeo video, which is a terrible idea," our testers said. "Somehow, the rainfly was even more confusing to attach."

Our testers did like the spaciousness of the tent and airflow.

"While very lightweight, it didn't feel as roomy or fully featured as the Big Agnes tents, which were comparably heavy. It did, however, feel slightly more comfortable and usable overall than the ultralight ZPacks Duplex," our testers observed. "The full pole sleeve design provides fewer failure points than clips. Once you've mastered the very frustrating setup, it seems like a tent that could last you years."

From the testers: "In places where it should have clips or toggles (like with those little toggles you use to hold open a rolled-up door), this has elastic ties. Where it should have grommets, it has tight webbing sleeves. The concessions made to weight seemed less thoughtful than other ultralightweight tents in this roundup and were frequently aggravating. The interior had several slash pockets, plus low mesh pockets."

Stoic Driftwood 2 tent
Nathan Allen / TripSavvy.

Stoic Driftwood 2: While we didn't find a specific superlative spot for Stoic's Driftwood 2 tent, we highly recommend it. The tent is very straightforward to set up; it's light enough to serve as a backpacking tent but would also be a solid tent for car camping. It had good enough space for two people to sleep in it comfortably. And perhaps our two favorite features: It comes with a footprint and has two doors and vestibules.

Two-Person Tents
Conor Ralph / TripSavvy.

Product Selection

We selected tents to feature a wide range of shelters for camping duos and solo campers looking for a bit extra space. We used our previous knowledge of tent brands, styles, and materials to narrow down a list. Finding tents with different price points and purposes was paramount. Most of the tents we picked were tents we'd already camped in or decedents of a tent line we'd used in the past. For those we had yet to camp in or see, we looked at what other sites had featured and tents receiving excellent online reviews.

How We Tested

Tents were tested in our Brooklyn lab, in the backcountry, at campgrounds, and backyards. We spent multiple nights in each tent and even more time setting up and taking down the tents. Tents were tested in various environments and conditions, including high alpine nights in Colorado's Rocky Mountains and California's Sierra Nevada and along the coast in southern California. Since publication, tents have been dispersed to various testers across the country. Testing insights will be updated accordingly as more people spend more time camping and backpacking in the tents.

Two-person tent testing
Nathan Allen / TripSavvy.

What to Look for in a Two-Person Tent

Materials

Most tents employ either nylon or polyester. Because it sags less when wet, polyester is generally more desirable for its taut look, though nylon is generally more durable and can be less expensive. Both need coatings (see below) to repel water.

Dyneema (sometimes “cuben fiber”) is a newer lightweight material used for its lightweight strength, but it is still much more expensive than nylon or polyester. Because it has issues with abrasion and requires careful handling, it’s only of interest to the most ultralight weight-shavers at this point.

Denier

Fabrics are sometimes rated by denier, which is noted by a number followed by the letter D, as in 10D ripstop nylon. The lower the number, the smoother and more sheer the material. Imagine silk at the low end and canvas at the other. Since denier is also a measure of weight, you can use it to estimate how heavy a material might be.

Footprint

As stated above, the “two-person” designation is self-assigned and non-standardized, so evaluate the dimensions of the footprint. If you have two people and know the widths of your sleeping pads, ensure that there’s enough room for both side by side (ideally with a little extra). Obviously, you also want the length of the tent to exceed the height of the tallest member of your duo by a few inches at least. 

Peak Height

Peak height is another less obvious dimension to consider. Most tents give you enough room to sit up tall, but not all. Especially if you’re taller, double-check that the peak height offers enough space to sit up and change clothes under shelter.

Packed Size

If you intend to use the tent in its intended packaging, it's good to check the tent's dimensions when it's broken down and packed up. Some packed tents are short and squat, while others are long and cylindrical. Depending on the type of pack you use and where you prefer to store your tent in transit, some shapes and sizes may work better than others. For example, if you choose to store your tent at the bottom of your frame pack as I do, a long-packed tent may not fit between the sides of the pack.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • What’s the difference between freestanding and non-freestanding?

    The classic tent design of fabric stretched out against a frame of poles is what’s called a freestanding tent because it has its own support system. Non-freestanding tents generally rely on trekking poles, sticks, rocks, tree limbs, or some other item for their structure and, as a result, are usually lighter and appeal to a minimalist camper. Unless you’re an experienced backcountry camper, a freestanding tent is usually recommended since the weight savings are relatively small as freestanding tents continue to get lighter.

  • What’s the difference between packed weight and minimal weight or trail weight?

    Minimal weight or trail weight is broadly the lightest you can get your tent set up while preserving the core functionality. This means ditching repair kits, stuff sacks, stakes, and any non-essential add-ons. Many backpackers carry individual tent items loose in their packs eliminating the need for ties and stuff sacks. Packed weight is simply the full weight of the tent and all components packed in their original storage bags.

  • How big is a two-person tent?

    Because tent sizing isn’t standardized, this is a subjective assessment and should be viewed merely as a guideline. Always check the actual dimensions listed by the manufacturer to understand the true size of a tent. Many smaller “two-person” tents are realistic for use only by solo campers and some extra-large “two-person” tents could pack in a third. Also, keep in mind that even if two people can sleep side-by-side inside, that doesn’t mean you’ll have enough room for gear storage. If a tent doesn’t have sheltered vestibule areas outside of the main sleeping footprint, you may need to look at the next size up if you intend to store gear inside.

  • How light is an ultralight tent?

    The constant push for lighter gear means the definition of “ultralight” changes nearly annually. That said, by today’s standards, any two-person tent weighing less than 4 pounds could reasonably be called “ultralight.” The tents that take this to extremes are in the 1- to 2-pound range.

Why Trust TripSavvy

Justin Park is a lifelong camper based in Breckenridge, Colorado. He spends several weeks in a tent each year and has camped in snow pits above 14,000 feet and on the beach in the tropics. He prefers to carry a few extra pounds for a more durable tent that he can treat roughly and count on but appreciates what the ultralight revolution has done for his pack weight over the years.

TripSavvy's Outdoor Gear Editor, Nathan Allen, is also a lifelong camper and backpacker based in Ventura County, California. Allen also spends dozens of nights each year in a tent and camps and backpacks along California's coast, in the High Sierra, Rocky Mountains, and Midwest. He spent a lot of time in his teens and 20s carrying hefty tents. Allen's first ultralight tent was a two-person Big Agnes tent he won in a footrace, and now he prefers ultralight and minimalist tents. His current go-to's are the Mountain Hardwear Strato UL2 and Big Agnes Tiger Wall Solution-Dye.

Andrew Whalen also contributed to testing these tents, leading testing in our Brooklyn lab. An experienced backpacker, Whalen has hiked more than 1,000 miles of the Appalachian Trail.

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