The Best Backpacking Tent Review

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The Morrison 2's light green and grey colors are appealing and it can be very stealthy depending on the terrain you're camping in.
Credit: Jessica Haist
What's the best backpacking tent? In a multi-year backpacking bonanza, we tested over 23 of the best two-person tents on the market. We used these tents everywhere from Maine to the High Sierra, to Alaska. With feedback from over fifty people, we compared all types of tents side-by-side, and ranked each on its weather resistance, livability, adaptability, weight, packed size, and ease of se-tup. Our awards highlight the best all-purpose tent, the best lightweight tent, the best two-door tent, the best value tent, and the best tent for dual car-camping and occasional backpacking use.

Read the full review below >

Review by: and Max Neale

Top Ranked Backpacking Tents Displaying 1 - 5 of 24 << Previous | View All | Next >>
Our Ranking #1 #2 #3 #4 #5
Product Name
Hilleberg Anjan 2
Hilleberg Anjan 2
Read the Review
Hilleberg Rogen
Hilleberg Rogen
Read the Review
Tarptent Double Rainbow
Tarptent Double Rainbow
Read the Review
Terra Nova Solar Photon 2
Terra Nova Solar Photon 2
Read the Review
MSR Hubba Hubba NX
MSR Hubba Hubba NX
Read the Review
Editors' Awards  Editors' Choice Award      Top Pick Award  Top Pick Award 
Street Price Varies $635 - $655
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$750
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$275$392
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Varies $307 - $390
Compare at 5 sellers
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100% recommend it (6/6)
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1 rating
Pros Exceptionally spacious, durable, and weather resistant for its weight; top-tier materials; pitches easily from the outside; spectra guylines with camming adjusters; removable inner tent; reflective points.Best three-season two door tent tested.Incredibly comfortable for its weight, strong in high winds, easiest tent to setup, can be pitched in freestanding mode.Smallest packed size, second lightest tent tested, largest vestibule in class, solid nylon inner walls shed spindrift and condensation droplets, excellent front and rear ventilation, strongest "ultralight" floor and fly fabric.Lightweight, good ventilation, two doors, two different fast and light pitch options, comfortable airy interior
Cons 58 ounces can be heavy for backpacking, moderate quality stakes.Very expensive, water can pool on flat roof, only two pockets, below average peak height, large walls catch more wind than single entrance tents, moderate quality stakes.Low condensation resistance, splashback can hit mesh walls in some situations, door and vestibule closures could be better.Elastic guy loops make it harder to tension fly, inner walls do not clip to outer tent (less interior volume), low quality included stakes, cozy for two people.Not very durable, a bit small for two people, not enough guy lines or stakes included, low quality stakes
Best Uses 3+ season backpacking and camping.Luxurious 3+ season backpacking, car camping, basecamps.Lightweight three-season trips.Lightweight three-season trips.Backpacking trips, alpine climbing trips
Date Reviewed Aug 23, 2014Jan 13, 2013Feb 08, 2014Dec 22, 2012Aug 26, 2014
Weighted Scores Hilleberg Anjan 2 Hilleberg Rogen Tarptent Double Rainbow Terra Nova Solar Photon 2 MSR Hubba Hubba NX
Livability - 20%
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Product Specs Hilleberg Anjan 2 Hilleberg Rogen Tarptent Double Rainbow Terra Nova Solar Photon 2 MSR Hubba Hubba NX
Style Front Entrance/tunnel Two Door Two Door Single Wall Front Entrance Two Door
Measured Weight oz 57 74.5 41.7 32.8 56
Measured Weight lb 3 lb 9 oz 4 lb 13 oz 2 lb 10 oz 2 lb 1 oz 3 lb 8 oz
Measured Weight g 1616 2112 1182 936 1588
Packed Size (in) 4x17 4x20 3.5x21 2.5x16 6x18
Dimensions (in) 87x43-52 91 x 51 88 x 50 88x 33-51 84 x 50
Floor Area (sq ft) 30.1 31.2 30.5 25.7 29
Vestibule Area (sq ft) 14 23.6 15 9.1 17.5
Peak Height (in) 40 38 43 39 39
Space-weight Ratio 0.77 0.74 1.09 1.05 0.83
Number of Doors 1 2 2 1 2
Number of Poles 3 3 1 1 1
Pole Diameter (mm) 9 9 8.6 16/17 9
Number of Pockets 2 2 2 2 2
Gear Loft Clothesline 5 Hang loops No No No
Pole Material DAC Featherlite NSL Green DAC Featherlite NSL Green Easton aluminum 7075-T9 DAC Featherlite NSL Green DAC Featherlite NSL
Guy Points 17 12 8 14 8
Rain Fly Material Kerlon 1000 Kerlon 1000 silicone impregnated ripstop nylon Si/Si Nylon R/S 3000mm 20D ripstop nylon 1200mm Durashield⢠polyurethane & silicone
Inner Tent Material Solid Solid Mesh/ optional insert Solid Mesh/nylon

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review


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Hilleberg Anjan 2
$570
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REI Half Dome 2 Plus
$219
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Mountainsmith Morrison 2
$180
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Terra Nova Solar Photon 2
$440
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54
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MSR Hubba Hubba NX
$390
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53
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Hilleberg Rogen
$790
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63
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Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2
$370
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Big Agnes Fly Creek 2 Platinum
$500
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Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2
$400
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48
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REI Quarter Dome T2
$270
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Black Diamond Mesa
$320
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REI Half Dome 2
$189
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MSR Nook
$399
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MSR Hoop
$399
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GoLite Wolf Creek L2
$199
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Nemo Obi 2
$390
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Nemo Losi 2
$370
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Sierra Designs Flash 2
$339
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Brooks Range Foray
$424
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REI Quarter Dome 2
$299
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Tarptent Double Rainbow
$275
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Mountain Hardwear SuperMegaUL 2
$430
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MSR Hubba Hubba
$300
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North Face Tadpole 23
$219
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North Face Minibus 23
$360
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Kelty Salida
$180
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Easton Kilo 2
$399
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MSR Carbon Reflex 2
$499
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Kelty Grand Mesa 2
$150
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Marmot Limelight 2
$199
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Alps Mountaineering Lynx-2
$200
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Whether you're new to backpacking or are a seasoned pro, our up-to-date comparative tent reviews aim help you choose the best tent for your needs. The review below includes models that work well for both backpacking and car camping. Our Ultralight Tent Review compares cutting edge shelters that push the performance envelope on ultralight trips. The Best Four Season Tent Review houses Antarctic-ready tents and our Camping Tent Review compares palatial estates that will fit the whole family. Check out our Bivy Sack Review for ultra-lightweight shelter options.

Selecting the Right Product
A quality tent is arguably the single most important component of building a multi-day gear kit. The 23 tents included in this review are all fully enclosed -person backpacking tents that pitch with traditional tent poles included with purchase. Our Ultralight Tent Review compares nine cutting edge trekking-pole supported shelters that offer the greatest performance for ultralight backpacking. We separate the tents in this way to make it easier to compare specific types of tents and because ultralight shelters require that you commit to a different style of backpacking.

One way to think about your backpacking gear choices is to decide if your trip is more hiking focused or camping focused. Is your objective to cover the miles with the relative ease of a light pack or to spend lots of comfortable time in camp with added luxury? Both styles are equally enjoyable, but different people gravitate to different types of trips.

Times when we like to have a fully enclosed traditional tent are when we are expecting a lot of weather. We like to be ensconced in a tent with high sidewalls and a nice sturdy fly above us, so if the heavens open up and we end up siting in a pool of water, the bathtub floor will protect our gear. Sometimes floorless shelters do not afford that luxury. We also like an enclosed tent when it's bug season. Backpacking or canoeing in Minnesota's Boundary Waters? There's no messing around with those black flys, and we want a fully enclosed Fort Knox of a tent. And we want an enclosed tent when there is a lot of wind and blowing dust or snow - some backpacking tents like the Hilleberg Anjan have breathable solid interior walls that protect you from small particles blowing in more than mesh walls.

We encourage you to consider both tents and shelters, and urge you to look at our Backpacking Tent Buying Advice article, which describes the pros and cons of tents and shelters in greater depth. Traditional tents, such as those included in this review, with dedicated poles that support the tent, are generally more comfortable than trekking pole supported ultralight tents. The models in this review are ideal for both multi-day human-powered trips — such as bike touring, backpacking, remote basecamps, kayaking, etc. — and for car camping. In that sense, they are an excellent value; one tent may serve all of your three-season needs.

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The Mountainsmith Morrison 2 surrounded by Keltys. To its left the Kelty Grand Mesa and to its right, some Trail Ridge 2's.
Credit: Jerri Curtsinger

Types of Backpacking Tents
Many of the -person tents in this review are also available in or -person versions with similar features. As far as -person backpacking tents, the number and location of doors is one of the common design variations:

Two Door Tents — we found that tents with two doors offer the most comfort, have the most vestibule space, and are the heaviest; they're best for car camping and luxurious backpacking. Some of our favorite two door tents are the REI Half Dome 2 Plus and the Hilleberg Rogen.

Single Side Door Tents — Like the Kelty Salida are typically the cheapest and least comfortable.

Single Front Door Tents — Like the Hilleberg Anjan 2 and the Brooks Range Foray offer the best balance of low weight and comfort.

Criteria For Evaluation

Livability
Here we assessed how close to home we felt in each tent. Two-door tents like the Mountainsmith Morrison are by far the most luxurious, and tents with a single side door are the least comfortable because one person has to climb over the other person in order to get in or out. Our ratings consider door and vestibule design, solid or mesh walls, the number and size of pockets, peak height, floor area, and vestibule area. We include other important factors in our assessment such as: does the tent get wet from falling rain when someone enters? Can a six-foot tall person sit up inside or lie down without their feet touching the walls? Does the fly protect the inner tent from splashback and spindrift?

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Julia enjoys the luxurious comfort of the Marmot Plasma sleeping bag, Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2, and Therm-a-Rest ProLite. Perfect for reading the New Yorker.
Credit: Max Neale

The most livable tent we tested was the Half Dome 2 Plus, a roomy palace with a large floor area and two gigantic vestibules. Big Agness' Fly Creek Platinum and Copper Spur UL2 were the least livable because they sacrificed comfort for lightweight. Most tents tested here are significantly more comfortable to spend extended amounts of time in than ultralight shelters.

Weather Resistance
Here we assess the amount of protection each tent provides against vertically falling and horizontally blown precipitation, and the strength of the pole design, which is important during high winds. We considered factors such as pole design, pole diameter, the number of pole intersections, the mechanism for attaching the body to the fly, the mechanism for attaching the fly to the poles, construction quality, as well as the number and quality of guy points. The Hilleberg Anjan takes first place for overall weather resistance. The weakest tent was the MSR Carbon Reflex followed by the Alps Mountaineering Lynx .

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A storm approaches in the Golden Trout Wilderness, High Sierra - But we know we'll be OK in the Kelty Grand Mesa 2.
Credit: Jessica Haist

Although several tents tested here are very capable of enduring serious three-season storms, we've found that ultralight tents are stronger and safer in high winds because trekking poles don't break, cuben fiber is stronger than even the strongest silnylon used in these tents, and shelters can be pitched lower to the ground than tents - but many of them are floor less, which makes campsite selection is very important.

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Hilleberg Rogen-- one of the strongest and most durable three-season tents tested-- pitched with sticks, trekking poles, and ice axes in Glacier National Park, Montana.
Credit: Max Neale

Ease of Set-up
The majority of tents tested here are self-supporting, meaning they stand up, to some degree, by themselves and have components, such as a vestibule, that must be guyed out for a proper pitch. Self-supporting tents are the most idiot-proof type of shelter; an eight-year-old child can easily pitch one in a few minutes. Tunnel tents — those with two hoop-shaped poles — require more skill and experience to pitch because they, like all ultralight shelters, are supported entirely by tension from guylines. The Tarptent Double Rainbow is the fastest tent to pitch; its poles insert into the rainfly from the outside and the inner tent suspends from that. The Kelty Grand Mesa and other two-pole designed tents were the next easiest to pitch. But no tent tested is incredibly hard to pitch, and we don't believe that ease of set-up is the most important attribute for a backpacking tent; this variable assumes percent of each tent's total score.

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The Half Dome 2 Plus has a somewhat complicated 3 pole configuration. Once you set it up once or twice it will be almost as fast to set up as a two pole design. Veronica and Austin Palmer have no trouble with it since they carried this thing on the entire Appalachian Trail!
Credit: McKenzie Long

Adaptability
What you require from a tent varies with location and weather conditions. One night you might need protection from vertically falling rain. Another night you might need protection from strong winds and horizontally blown rain. And another night the skies may be clear with no wind…all you need is bug protection. Tents that can adapt to varying conditions, or can be used in locations that don't permit a perfect pitch, can save time, money, and energy. In general, double wall tents that pitch with dedicated poles are the least adaptable; they must be pitched in the same way regardless of the campsite or the weather. Ultralight shelters, in contrast, are much more capable of adapting to environmental variation.

The MSR Hubba Hubba NX, Hilleberg Rogen, and Hillberg Anjan are the only tents tested that have noticeable adaptability. Their inner tents can be removed to create a pole-supported floorless shelter that is significantly stronger, more comfortable, and lighter than fast-pitching a tent with a footprint, poles, and fly.

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The Rogen and Anjan (left) and the Hubba Hubba NX (right) are the only tents that pitch in a floorless configuration, which increases versatility and reduces weight, and is much stronger, lighter, and more weather resistant than "fast pitching" with a footprint.
Credit: Jessica Haist

Weight and Packed Size
Our weight variable ranks each tent on its packed weight, which we measured with each tent's included poles, inner tent, outer tent, and guylines. See individual product reviews for the weight of each component. At 31 ounces, the Big Agnes Fly Creek Platinum is the lightest tent tested. At 96 ounces the Alps Mountaineering Lynx is the heaviest tent tested. In comparison, two-person ultralight shelters weigh an average of 16 ounces and as little as 7 ounces. We list space-to-weight ratio (sum of vestibule and floor area / ounces) in our specification table. The average score is 0.77 with a range from 0.40 to .13. Not surprisingly, the Big Agness Fly Creek Platinum has the best space-to-weight ratio.

Packed size is strongly correlated with weight. However, some tents have lots of features, like pockets and gear lofts, or complicated plastic pole hubs, that add more bulk than weight, or simply don't collapse well. Remember, tents don't necessarily have to be packed in their stuff sacks, we also considered how compressible versus bulky the materials were and if we could easily squeeze or stuff them into our backpacks around other gear. We liked the compressible materials and compact pole sections of the Anjan and the Hubba Hubba NX, but the Terra Nova Solar Photon is the most compact tent tested here. The Half Dome 2 Plus and Nemo Losi 2 are the least compressible.

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Four of the lighter double wall front entrance tents tested. Left to right: Big Agnes Fly Creek Platinum, Terra Nova Solar Photon 2, Mountain Hardwear SuperMega UL2, Brooks Range Foray. Also note that color matters; yellows and reds are not stealthy.
Credit: Max Neale

Durability
This variable represents our best guess estimate at the long-term durability of each tent. Our ratings in this category are based on our experience field testing and on manufacturer's fabric specifications. In general, nylon is more durable than polyester and silicone coated fabrics are stronger and more durable than polyurethane coated fabrics. (See our Buying Advice Article for more info on fabrics.) Many of the lighter tents tested here are not designed to endure lots of use and abuse. For example, roughly half the models tested skip basic strength enhancing features like clips that relieve stress from vestibule zippers. It's more important to have a stronger and more durable fly material than a stronger and more durable floor material, but some tents, like the Mountain Hardwear SuperMegaUL, have the opposite. We believe the least durable tent tested is the Big Agnes Fly Creek Platinum. The Hilleberg Rogen and Anjan have a host of features commonly found on four-season tents and are by far the most durable. We've found that the importance of durability increases with trip duration. Repairs take time and serious damage or failure has larger consequences and costs in more remote areas and on long distance hikes.

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Hilleberg Anjan features: metal friction adjustments and metal stake rings increase strength and durability (left) and the red toggle (right) relieves stress on the vestibule zipper. No other tents come close to matching Hilleberg durability.
Credit: Max Neale

Other Considerations for a Backpacking Tent

Forget the Footprint
Footprints, or waterproof fabrics cut to match a tent bottom, are overpriced accessories that are unnecessary for backpacking. Extensive camping on pointy, rocky ground or in the desert, where punctures are possible, might be a reason to consider one. But choosing a good campsite is easier and weighs less.

If you choose to experiment with a footprint, we don't recommend purchasing one from a tent manufacturer because they are often overpriced and of moderate-to-low quality. Instead, consider cutting your own out of Tyvek Home Wrap or polycro plastic. Tyvek is the most durable and puncture resistant footprint material we've used. A typical tent sized piece weighs around 7 oz, which is not particularly lightweight. But if you're looking for one footprint primarily for car camping that occasionally joins you on puncture prone backpacking trips, this is our top pick. You can buy Tyvek at hardwear stores or click here to purchase off Amazon Tyvek. Polycro is a lighter and less durable option that ultralight backpackers tend to favor; it may be all you need. Buy it from Gossamer Gear or Mountain Laurel Designs. The weight of a sleeping pad and bag keeps a custom footprint in place- there's no need for grommets.

Color Matters
A brightly colored tent is ideal for expedition mountaineering and alpine climbing because it allows you to find your tent easier than a less visible color would. An attention grabbing color can also help others find you if you need to get picked up or rescued. For three-season applications like backpacking, a brightly colored tent is a handicap when you want to camp stealthily or act in accordance with Leave No Trace principles. Dark green or moderate grey colors blend in well in most non-snow covered environments and draw less attention from wildlife and people. Color can become a safety issue when camping near urban areas where you don't want to be noticed by people that might be interested in you and/or all of the expensive gear you're carrying. Moderate green and grey are our preferred colors for three-season tents, such as the colors found on the Mountainsmith Morrison or the MSR Hubba Hubba NX.

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We think the Hubba Hubba NX's grey color can be as stealthy as the Anjan's green color in the granite filled High Sierra.
Credit: Jessica Haist

Consider Upgrading Stakes and Guylines
Of all the tents tested, here only Hilleberg models come with enough guyline to achieve a proper pitch. Hilleberg is also the only company that includes enough stakes for each guypoint. Pretty lame, right? Easton Nano Tent Stakes and Kelty TripTease LightLine are very good.

Consider an Ultralight Shelter
If ultralight backpacking is your objective, or may be in your future, we highly recommend using trekking poles (see Ten Reasons for Trekking Poles) to support one of the tents found in our Ultralight Tent Review. Floorless shelters are ideal for pushing the ultralight performance envelope.

Other Key Accessories

Tent pole repair-Tent poles can break, and when they do it is a good idea to have a repair kit handy. The MSR Tent Pole Repair Kit is a good option.

Footprints- Not everyone likes footprints, but they can be useful if you want to set up the fly without the inner tent or just like having the footprint that fits perfectly under your tent.

-MSR Hubba Hubba NX HP Footprint

-Terra Nova Solar Photon Footprint

-Mountainsmith Morrison Footprint


Editors' Choice Award: Hilleberg Anjan 2
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Hilleberg Anjan 2 exhibiting its tunnel design on a 6 week bike tour down Mexico's Baja Peninsula.
Credit: OutdoorGearLab

Whether you're backpacking the Pacific Crest Trail, bike touring around the world, or car camping at the local park, the Hilleberg Anjan 2 provides the ultimate balance of low weight, complete weather resistance, generous comfort, and exceptional strength and durability. If we were to have one single tent for all types of three-season, multi-day trips, the Anjan would be it. This is also the highest performance light duty winter tent. Our testers used the Anjan on multi-day trips from Maine to Washington State, and they carried it along on a bicycle tour down the Baja peninsula and through India and Nepal. At 57 ounces, the Anjan is not the lightest tent available, but what it lacks in low weight it makes up for in comfort and durability. Although it is on the expensive side, the Anjan ties as the most durable tent we tested, which makes it an exceptionally good long-term value.

Top Pick Award for Lightweight, Two-Door Tent: MSR Hubba Hubba NX
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The MSR Hubba Hubba NX earns our Top Pick award because of of its new and improved lightweight features, making this tent a much more viable option for backpacking than its older cousin the Hubba Hubba.
Credit: Jessica Haist

MSR has completely revamped its classic Hubba line of tents and really impressed us with their Hubba Hubba NX. It takes our Top Pick Award because it is the most livable lightweight tent we've tested. It is not an ultralight tent, weighing in at 56 ounces, but it has extra comforts that many ultrialight tents do not, like two doors, excellent ventilation, and enough space to fit two comfortably. MSR has gone to great lengths to lighten up this classic tent through attention to detail. They have trimmed a whole pound off the Hubba Hubba's weight by using lightweight fabrics, mini zippers, and a thoughtful design to optimize space while keeping down the weight. Our testers found themselves reaching for the Hubba Hubba NX for all sorts of adventures from climbing in the high alpine to long distance backpacking trips. It is not as durable as the Hilleberg Anjan, and we believe it would not stand up to storms as well either, but it is slightly lighter and less expensive. We like how compact it packs down and love that it has a fast and light floor-less pitching option that does not require buying or carrying a separate footprint.

Top Pick Award for an Ultralight Option: Terra Nova Solar Photon 2
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Terra Nova Solar Photon 2.
Credit: Max Neale

The 34-ounce Terra Nova Solar Photon 2 emerges as our highest rated tent for trips where weight and packed size are the top concerns. The Solar Photon 2 has several advantages over similar models from Big Agnes, Mountain Hardwear, Easton, and Brooks Range. We found the fly fabric to be stronger; it packs the smallest of all tents tested; it has two vents that reduce condensation; several unique features like a clip at the vestibule zipper and rear guy points increase its strength; its vestibule is 30 percent larger than its closest competitor's; and a solid nylon inner wall helps to block spindrift. All "ultralight" dedicated pole tents sacrifice strength, durability, and comfort for weight savings, but of all the light tents tested we believe the Solar Photon makes the fewest sacrifices. This is the next best thing to an ultralight shelter.

Best Buy Award for Livability: REI Half Dome 2 Plus
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The REI Half Dome 2 Plus below Mt Langley, Mt. Corcoran, and Mt. LeConte in the Sierra.
Credit: Jessica Haist

The most livable tent in our review, the REI Half Dome 2 Plus has an extra spacious interior and thoughtful construction for tall individuals or people with extra stuff. It provides the most bang for your buck, even over its little brother the REI Half Dome 2, and so we have passed the torch on to the Plus to win our Best Buy Award. We think it is very comfortable, with an excellent space-to-weight ratio, great ventilation and interior storage. At 93 ounces, however, we believe this is best suited to occasional, short duration backpacking trips and primarily used for car camping. If you're looking for one tent to use for both car camping and occasional backpacking, and want to bring that extra item like your dog or a very tall partner, the Half Dome Plus takes the cake. This is a real rock star tent and it's inexpensive to boot.

Best Buy Award for Car Camping and Occasional Backpacking: Mountainsmith Morrison 2
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The Mountainsmith Morrison 2 just blending in with the scenery.
Credit: Jerri Curtsinger
We've added a new contender to our roster, the Mountainsmith Morrison 2. We think this is a great looking, extremely livable, workhorse of a tent and have deemed it worthy of our Best Buy Award. It is easy to set-up and we enjoy spending time inside its spacious 92"x56" interior when the weather is poor. This tent has a lot of features like a gear loft and double-zip doors with mesh and nylon panels that zip almost all the way off. Even with all of its great features, it retails for only $189. We like its stealthy light green and grey color combination. It weighs in at a hefty 87 ounces, but all of the Morrison's features make this the perfect tent for those just beginning to get into backpacking or those who want a tent that can work well ca camping, on paddling trips, and on occasional short trips into the backcountry.

Tangential Note: Dream Backpacking Gear List
Check out our Dream Backpacking Gear List to see OGL's "dream" backpacking gear items.

Jessica Haist and Max Neale
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 How to Choose the Best Backpacking Tent

by Jessica Haist and Max Neale
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