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Best Backpacking Tent of 2022

We tested the top backpacking tents from Big Agnes, REI, Nemo, Hilleberg, and others to find the best models
Best Backpacking Tent of 2022
Best backpacking tents testing
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch
By Ben Applebaum-Bauch ⋅ Review Editor
Friday September 16, 2022
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more

Looking for the right tent for your next adventure? Over the past 12 years, our experts have purchased and tested more than 240 tents. In this update, we rate and review the top 13 backpacking tents available today. From Nepal to the Sierra, we've covered extensive mileage, putting each one to the test. We rate performance based on a handful of essential metrics, including comfort and weather resistance. Whether you want the best money can buy, a model that will last for the long haul, or something to satisfy a tighter budget, this review has what you need.

You might also be interested in our other backpacking gear reviews. We have recommendations for a wide range of categories, from sleeping bags and packable sleeping pads to large backpacking packs and hiking footwear. We've tested hundreds of products to help you find the best. And, if your goal is to pack with as light a load as possible, be sure to check out our reviews of ultralight backpacking gear.

Editor's Note: This review was updated on September 16, 2022, to include product updates to the NEMO Dagger Osmo and NEMO Hornet Elite Osmo.

Top 13 Product Ratings

Displaying 1 - 5 of 13
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Awards Best Buy Award Editors' Choice Award   Editors' Choice Award 
Price $329 List
$329.00 at REI
$549.00 at Amazon
Compare at 2 sellers
$559 List
$559.00 at REI
$479.95 at REI
Compare at 2 sellers
$450 List
Check Price at REI
Overall Score
71
76
72
71
76
Star Rating
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Pros Spacious, affordable, included footprintTwo large double doors, good headroom, excellent balance of interior space and weightHighly adaptable, double doors, unique featuresLarge vestibules, good headroom, good balance between weight and durabilityExcellent balance between weight and features, many storage pockets, large vestibules
Cons Heavy, bulky polesExpensive, delicate materialsExpensive, average dimensionsSmall doors, expensiveTapered foot, pockets are high up
Bottom Line This inexpensive tent is spacious enough for laid-back car camping and light enough for short to moderate backpacking tripsThis tent balances the key aspects of a backpacking tent and performs admirably in all of our metricsA tent with a ton of flexibility for hikers who want one shelter to do it allA reliable backpacking tent with a solid balance between interior space and weightA superior tent that balances light weight with excellent features
Rating Categories REI Co-op Half Dome... Big Agnes Copper Sp... Sea to Summit Telos... NEMO Dagger Osmo NEMO Dragonfly 2
Comfort (25%) Sort Icon
10.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
Weather Resistance (25%)
7.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
8.0
Weight (20%)
4.0
8.0
6.0
6.0
7.0
Durability (10%)
8.0
7.0
7.0
8.0
8.0
Ease of Set-up (10%)
8.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
8.0
Packed Size (10%)
4.0
7.0
7.0
6.0
8.0
Specs REI Co-op Half Dome... Big Agnes Copper Sp... Sea to Summit Telos... NEMO Dagger Osmo NEMO Dragonfly 2
Packaged Weight 4.82 lbs 3.09 lbs 3.67 lbs 4.09 lbs 3.16 lbs
Floor Area 35.8 sq ft 29 sq ft 28 sq ft 31.3 sq ft 29 sq ft
Packed Size 20.5 x 7 in 19.5 x 6 in 18.9 x 5.1 in 19.5 x 6.5 in 19.5 x 4.5 in
Dimensions 92 x 56 in 88 x 52 x 40 in 84.5 x 53/43 x 43.5 in 90 x 50 x 42 in 88 x 50 x 41 in
Vestibule Area (Total) 22.5 sq ft 18 sq. ft 19.5 sq ft 11.4 + 11.4 sq ft 20 sq ft
Peak Height 42 in 40 in 43.5 in 42 in 41 in
Number of Doors 2 2 2 2 2
Number of Poles 1 1 1 1 3
Pole Diameter 2 mm 8.7 mm 8.5/9 mm Not provided 8.7 mm
Number of Pockets 6 3 2 6 3
Gear Loft No No Sold separately Sold separately No
Pole Material DAC featherlite NFL aluminum DAC featherlite NFL Aluminium DAC TH72M DAC Featherlite NSL aluminum DAC featherlite NFL
Guy Points 4 4 6 6 5
Rain Fly Material 40-denier ripstop nylon/20-denier nylon mesh 15D 1200mm silicone nylon ripStop 15D Ripstop Nylon 0D OSMO Ripstop 20D nylon ripstop
Inner Tent Material 40-denier taffeta nylon [Body] 10D polyester mesh, [Floor] 20D nylon ripStop 15D polyester mesh Ripstop nylon, no-see-um mesh 15D nylon ripstop
Type Two door freestanding Two door freestanding Two door freestanding Two door freestanding Two door freestanding


Best Overall Backpacking Tent


Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2


76
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort 8.0
  • Weather Resistance 7.0
  • Weight 8.0
  • Durability 7.0
  • Ease of Set-up 8.0
  • Packed Size 7.0
Weight: 3 lbs, 1 oz | Dimensions (L x W x H): 88" x 52" x 42"
REASONS TO BUY
Above-average space-to-weight ratio
Comfortable for two people
Massive storage pockets
REASONS TO AVOID
Fly and tent doors don't align well
Tapered foot

The Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 strikes a superb balance between competing factors. It is spacious enough for two people to sleep comfortably but remains lightweight and packs down small. As a top overall option in our review, it embodies what many backpackers are looking for in a backpacking tent. It is also resilient in windy conditions, providing crucial protection when the weather turns grey. It has two large side doors and roomy vestibules that convert into useful awnings with a set of trekking poles. This is a versatile option, great for backpacking or car camping.

This model's drawbacks are comparatively minor. If we had to choose something, we would point out that the taper at the foot makes it feel a little on the small side. We also discovered that the fly and tent doors are somewhat oddly aligned, so entry and exit take a little longer. However, on the whole, long-distance hikers and frequent backpackers will get significant utility out of this tent. It takes top honors for the awesome all-around experience it offers.

Read review: Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2

best overall backpacking tent
The large doors and spacious interior make this one of our top tents for lightweight, comfortable backpacking.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Excellent Balance of Features and Weight


NEMO Dragonfly 2


76
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort 7.0
  • Weather Resistance 8.0
  • Weight 7.0
  • Durability 8.0
  • Ease of Set-up 8.0
  • Packed Size 8.0
Weight: 3 lbs, 2 oz | Dimensions (L x W x H): 88" x 50" x 41"
REASONS TO BUY
Exceptional vestibule area
Sturdy in wind
Many storage pockets
REASONS TO AVOID
Tapered width is narrow at feet
Expensive

The NEMO Dragonfly 2 strikes an excellent balance between comfort and weight. Two substantial side doors, two-tone mesh for increased privacy at a busy campsite, and wind-resistant lower sidewalls add to this tent's allure. The fabric is durable, and the trapezoidal rainfly stays taut (and quiet) in the wind, which turns out to be a surprisingly rare feature in a tent. The massive vestibules provide plenty of space for gear storage. Its exceptional design means that six-foot-tall sleepers have enough head-to-toe length when lying down and enough vertical headroom for sitting up.

This tent is great, but the interior width of 50" tapering to 45" leaves some foot-end pinching. Though it has an impressive array of storage pockets, they aren't super conveniently located and require a long reach from a lying-down position. All things considered, this tent is exceptional for its balance of performance and weight — a combination that we would take with us on almost any adventure.

Read review: NEMO Dragonfly 2

backpacking tent - excellent balance of features and weight
We wouldn't hesitate to take this tent out with us on our next adventure.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Best for Luxury Car Camping on a Budget


REI Co-op Half Dome SL 2+


71
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort 10.0
  • Weather Resistance 7.0
  • Weight 4.0
  • Durability 8.0
  • Ease of Set-up 8.0
  • Packed Size 4.0
Weight: 4 lbs, 13 oz | Dimensions (L x W x H): 92" x 56" x 42"
REASONS TO BUY
Very spacious
Durable
Tons of interior pockets
REASONS TO AVOID
Heavy for backpacking
Fly can sag in heavy rain

The REI Half Dome SL 2+ is one of the most livable and comfortable backpacking tents in this review. It provides the most bang for the buck of any model in the category. With a spacious interior and thoughtful construction, it is a good choice for taller folks or anyone who opts to bring their pet on the adventure. We love its exceptional comfort, luxurious dimensions, and good ventilation, as well as its wide array of interior storage pockets.

All that interior space comes with additional weight. As one of the heaviest tents in our fleet, it is more than double the weight of the lightest models in the category. It may be inconsequential over short distances, especially split between two people, but for longer trips, we would look elsewhere. It is best suited for weekend backpacking, canoe trips, and car camping. Overall, this tent is a real rock star that comes at a comparatively affordable price.

Read review: REI Half Dome SL 2+

backpacking tent - best for luxury car camping on a budget
The SL2+ is a fairly priced, comfortable option.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Best Lightweight Option


Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2 Solution Dye


74
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort 7.0
  • Weather Resistance 7.0
  • Weight 9.0
  • Durability 6.0
  • Ease of Set-up 7.0
  • Packed Size 8.0
Weight: 2 lbs, 9 oz | Dimensions (L x W x H): 86" x 52" x 39"
REASONS TO BUY
Two large side doors
Excellent headroom for a tent this size
Lightweight
REASONS TO AVOID
Strange door and fly zipper configuration
Splashback can hit mesh walls in heavy rain
No tension adjusters at the foot of fly

The Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2 Solution Dye is a great option to consider if you like the idea of going ultralight but can't quite bring yourself to ditch the comfort and ease of setup that comes with dedicated poles. Its light weight makes it a true competitor in the semi-freestanding subcategory; we found it to be the most comfortable of the sub-three-pound models because of its exceptional headroom and two large side doors. The fabric's solution dye also makes for a more environmentally-friendly production process.

The biggest head-scratcher is the orientation of the zippers on the doors and fly; our testers found that it is just more challenging than it should be to open and enter, especially in the rain. It's a little pricey but comparable to its close competitors. If you treat it nicely, it should offer you many years of lightweight, comfortable camping.

Read review: Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2 Solution Dye

backpacking tent - best lightweight option
This tent is a lightweight wonder that can pitch even on small sites.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Best Three Person Version


Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL3


72
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort 7.0
  • Weather Resistance 7.0
  • Weight 7.0
  • Durability 7.0
  • Ease of Set-up 8.0
  • Packed Size 8.0
Weight: 3 lbs, 13 oz | Dimensions (L x W x H): 90" x 70" x 43"
REASONS TO BUY
Most versatile three person tent tested
Very light
Good headroom
REASONS TO AVOID
Tapered footprint makes for a tight fit

Like its smaller sibling, the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL3 is an excellent backcountry companion. It maintains the same features but with room for one more. It is designed to accommodate three, but it is also light enough for two people to carry a very reasonable load, with room left over for extra gear storage. Its double side doors and high-volume design provides plenty of headroom. The massive gear storage pockets are a nice perk as well.

We don't think the tapered footprint serves it as well in this larger configuration; it feels like a squeeze for three people. However, we like its flexibility, which allows a group of three to travel light.

Read review: Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL3

backpacking tent - best three person version
The fly converts into an awning, which can be really nice for ventilation on warm days and for precipitation protection.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Notable for its Adapability


Sea to Summit Telos TR2


72
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort 8.0
  • Weather Resistance 7.0
  • Weight 6.0
  • Durability 7.0
  • Ease of Set-up 8.0
  • Packed Size 7.0
Weight: 3 lbs, 11 oz | Dimensions (L x W x H): 84.5" x 53" x 43.5"
REASONS TO BUY
Three setup modes
Variety of features
Good headroom
REASONS TO AVOID
Expensive
Average weight (for full double-wall setup)

The Sea to Summit Telos TR 2 is in its own category when it comes to adaptability. With three distinct ways to set up this tent, including a traditional double-wall pitch, a single-wall tarp (without the tent body), and a shade shelter (using trekking poles and guyline to prop it up), this shelter offers exceptional versatility. It has a distinctive pole architecture that creates headroom right where we want it most. It also boasts additional features like stuff sacks that turn into storage pockets, and a pole bag that becomes a bar light that snaps into the ceiling. It's a compelling option for hikers who find themselves in different environments doing different activities in different seasons.

Just a couple of qualities keep this model from a top spot. The weight of the full setup is well over three pounds, so fast packers who still want the protection of a double-wall tent will have to look elsewhere. It is also comparatively expensive for a two-person model. Even with those things in mind, this model's flexibility is second to none.

Read review: Sea to Summit Telos TR 2

backpacking tent - the sea to summit telos tr 2 is our favorite for its adaptability to...
The Sea to Summit Telos TR 2 is our favorite for its adaptability to a variety of enviroments.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Notable for Comfort Camping on a Shoestring Budget


REI Co-op Passage 2


Weight: 5 lbs, 5 oz | Dimensions (L x W x H): 88" x 52" x 40"
REASONS TO BUY
Double doors open all the way around
Trapezoidal vestibules
Easy to set up
REASONS TO AVOID
Lower quality materials

The REI Passage 2 combines space, comfort, and affordability in a way few others do. This tent takes a top spot in the Budget Backpacking Tent category, and for those looking to get outside on the cheap, it is worth a strong look. We love its double doors, and its two-pole setup is just about as straightforward as it comes.

Its primary drawback is that its price point limits the quality of the materials that can go into it. It's a great value, but it is worth noting that much of the body of the tent, as well as the fly, is coated polyester (as opposed to nylon), which makes for a heavy carry. However, if you are new to camping or just want a simple and solid tent that will offer you a good night's sleep, this model is a true contender.

Read review: REI Passage 2

Notable for Weather Resistance


Hilleberg Anjan 2 GT


68
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort 6.0
  • Weather Resistance 10.0
  • Weight 4.0
  • Durability 10.0
  • Ease of Set-up 4.0
  • Packed Size 6.0
Weight: 4 lbs, 11 oz | Dimensions (L x W x H): 86" x 51" x 39"
REASONS TO BUY
Durable
Withstands extreme weather conditions
REASONS TO AVOID
Difficult to set up
Expensive

The Hilleberg Anjan 2 GT is what we reach for when harsh weather is in the forecast. It performs at its best in the shoulder seasons: the early thaw of spring and the first autumn or winter snowstorm. It has a massive vestibule to protect gear and thoughtful design elements that improve its performance in tough weather, as well as several guy points for stability. The floor is super durable and waterproof.

For everything it offers, expect to pay top dollar for this model. In addition, it takes significantly longer to pitch than a traditional 3-season tent. Its heft makes it better suited for biking trips or backpacking adventures where gear weight is not a primary consideration. Though it is very expensive, its durable construction makes it a long-term value if you use it frequently.

Read review: Hilleberg Anjan 2 GT

backpacking tent - this caterpillar-looking tent performs well in cold weather.
This caterpillar-looking tent performs well in cold weather.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Compare Products

select up to 5 products to compare
Score Product Price Our Take
76
$450
Editors' Choice Award
An exceptional choice for both front and backcountry adventures, thanks to its features, weight, comfort, and weather resistance
76
$550
Editors' Choice Award
One of our favorite tents for all your backpacking needs, it boasts a delightful balance of comfort, water resistance, and weight
74
$450
Top Pick Award
A super light tent that thrives over long distances in the backcountry
72
$559
This tent has many different configurations to suit the needs of a wide variety of environments and seasons
72
$600
Top Pick Award
This tent offers enough room for three, without weighing you down
71
$329
Best Buy Award
A tent with lots of room and a great value for those who go weekend car camping
71
$480
A spacious tent with lots of great features and plenty of room for two
68
$319
An versatile tent for traveling fast and light
68
$600
A two-pound tent for one or two people going on an ultralight adventure
68
$875
This rugged tent is tough enough to support your backpacking trips deep into the shoulder seasons
66
$400
A lightweight tent flexible enough for one or two people to bring in the backcountry
65
$480
Great weather resistance, headroom, and comfort but with less than excellent poles
58
$349
An ultralight shelter that can be pitched with included poles or trekking poles

backpacking tent - the hilleberg anjan 2 gt is heavy but it can handle the snow and ice.
The Hilleberg Anjan 2 GT is heavy but it can handle the snow and ice.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Why You Should Trust Us


We have been testing backpacking tents since 2011. In that time, we have researched several hundred models and gotten our hands on over 240 different tents. We tested the models in this review with a focus on comfort, weight, and weather resistance, with some additional attention on ease of setup, durability, and packed size. For comfort, we look at floor dimensions, but we also assess each model on its livability, asking the question, what can we actually do in this tent? Certain features like double side doors and ample pockets make for a cushy shelter. Weight is also a crucial consideration — generally, the lighter, the better. Most backpacking tents are pretty easy to set up, but we look at different connection points between poles, tent body, and fly. Weather resistance tests each fly and floor's abilities to protect sleepers from whipping wind and pouring rain. In terms of durability, we don't intentionally try to break our tents, but sometimes things happen, and we take note of delicate fabrics and brittle clips.

Our backpacking tent testing is divided across six rating metrics:
  • Comfort tests (25% of overall score weighting)
  • Weather Resistance tests (25% weighting)
  • Weight tests (20% weighting)
  • Durability tests (10% weighting)
  • Ease of Set-up tests (10% weighting)
  • Packed Size tests (10% weighting)

Our backpacking tent testers have spent hundreds of nights under the stars. Lead reviewer Ben Applebaum-Bauch has been testing tents for GearLab for five years. He got his start in the outdoor industry maintaining gear (plenty of tents included) for guided group backpacking, cycling, and paddling trips. A couple of years later, he became a guide himself, leading multi-week adventures on the Appalachian Trail, cycling through Nova Scotia, Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, and paddling down the Androscoggin and Magalloway rivers, pitching plenty of tents along the way. With a decade of professional experience and several thru-hikes of some of America's great long trails behind him, he sleeps easy knowing that the world is filled with exceptional tents.

Zippers and clips are small but important components of every tent.
Zippers and clips are small but important components of every tent.

Analysis and Test Results


We evaluate dozens of the best options on the market and rigorously test our top picks in the field. The following analysis summarizes our findings, and we point out models that excel in each metric to help you find the right model. Metrics are weighted according to their relative importance.


Value


We don't count value as part of a product's overall score, but we recognize that it is at the heart of many people's purchasing decisions, so we do our best to quantify it here. To assess value, we compare the price of each product and its overall score, essentially answering the question, "how many points per dollar do you get with any given model?" If the value is a primary consideration when making your purchase, the Big Agnes Copper Spur (two- and three-person) and NEMO Dragonfly 2 are pricey, but they score highly. The REI Half Dome SL 2+ doesn't perform quite as well, but it is comparatively inexpensive.

Comfort


Comfort is the hominess of a backpacking tent. Dimensions are key; is there enough space to get a good night's sleep, or do sleepers end up pressed against a wet wall all night? Is it easy to enter and exit, or is climbing over a camping partner in the dark part of the experience? We also talk about a tent as livable, which refers to the ability to do things other than sleep (e.g., sit up to eat dinner or spread out and read a book).


The most comfortable two-person backpacking tent we tested is the REI Half Dome SL 2+, which has a palatial interior and two large vestibules. The top of the fly also has four kickstand vents to keep air flowing while keeping the rain out. We love it on stormy days when we plan to spend more time hunkered down at basecamp rather than out on the trail. It goes all-in on maximizing space and other vital features like double doors, large dual vestibules, and storage pockets (and consequently, it weighs quite a bit more than the overall top tents).

backpacking tent - the roomy interior of the copper spur hv ul2.
The roomy interior of the Copper Spur HV UL2.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Award winners like the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 and NEMO Dragonfly 2 do a nice job of balancing comfort against other considerations. The former offers a pre-bent pole structure that maximizes interior volume. The Sea to Summit Telos TR2 has generous lateral space. With steep sidewalls, it's easy for two people to sit up and the same time. The NEMO Dagger Osmo also scores well here, feeling much roomier than its spec dimensions would suggest. It comes with a unique Landing Zone — a triangle of ripstop that hooks onto the vestibule floor. It's a great place to keep items that you want outside of the tent but not on the ground. Though its living dimensions don't stand out, the other features of the Sea to Summit Telos TR2 do. It is highly adaptable as a double-wall tent, single-wall tarp, or open-air shade cover.

backpacking tent - large vestibules that can fit a pack and shoes can make or break a...
Large vestibules that can fit a pack and shoes can make or break a camping experience when bad weather rolls in.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

The Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2 Solution Dye takes the cake as far as sub-three-pound tents go. It includes a pole segment that extends from door to door, which increases the lateral peak height of this model. Despite being otherwise well-designed tents, the NEMO Hornet Elite Osmo and Tarptent Double Rainbow score lower in this metric, with both models heavily prioritizing weight-savings over interior floor space.

backpacking tent - tents like the nemo dagger osmo have multiple vestibule...
Tents like the Nemo Dagger Osmo have multiple vestibule configurations that provide options for balancing airflow and protection.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Weather Resistance


For this metric, we assess the protection that each tent provides against precipitation and wind. We are interested in any design features that impact a tent's ability to resist sagging and keep water from dripping through zippers and vents. We are also interested in structural rigidity and features like ventilation points and fly door configuration, which reduces condensation on the inside.


The Hilleberg Anjan 2 GT takes first place for overall weather resistance, partly for its reinforced vestibule zippers, a bathtub floor that protects against seepage from soggy soil, and a massive vestibule that allows you to organize and protect gear without storing it in the tent itself. It also effectively sheds condensation that drips from the roof. In this case, it offers an advantage over tents that have mesh walls.

backpacking tent - even small vestibules like the one in the nemo hornet elite osmo...
Even small vestibules like the one in the Nemo Hornet Elite Osmo provide critical protection for footwear and other gear.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Other weather-resistant top scorers are the NEMO Dragonfly 2 and NEMO Dagger Osmo for their trapezoidal fly geometry and easy tensioning. They not only do an admirable job of shedding water but are relatively quiet in stiff wind. The Osmo also sags noticeably less than other ripstop nylon tents, representing a valuable step forward in material technology. The Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 also scores well in this metric, offering above-average protection and an adaptable fly setup that can be pitched traditionally but can also convert into an overhead awning when propped up with a couple of trekking poles. The Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2 Solution Dye is a top contender for semi-freestanding backpacking tents.

backpacking tent - many tents, like the rei flash air 2, have double zippers on their...
Many tents, like the REI Flash Air 2, have double zippers on their vestibules that allow for additional venting without having to roll back the fly.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

The REI Co-Op Flash Air 2 is one of the weaker models in our fleet for weather resistance. In reality, it is the wind that undoes it faster than precipitation. We found that an unusual fly geometry makes it challenging to set up and increases its susceptibility to blowing rain.

backpacking tent - on the other hand, it does come with the ability to make an...
On the other hand, it does come with the ability to make an excellent extended vestibule cover (Tarptent Rainbow pictured).
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Weight


Our weight metric ranks each tent on its measured packed weight, which includes poles, tent body, fly, stakes, and guylines — basically, everything that comes with a tent when you pull it off the shelf. Many manufacturers will also include a trail weight in their product specifications; this typically refers to the weight of the minimum pieces required for setup — usually tent, fly, and poles. Models that include the feature also refer to a fastpitch weight, that is, the footprint (usually sold separately), the fly, and the poles.


A handful of tents in this review are at or around two pounds, including the NEMO Hornet Elite Osmo, and Mountain Hardwear Nimbus UL 2 at the top of the list. One person could easily carry these two on a solo adventure or split between two hikers. The Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2 Solution Dye, and REI Co-op Flash Air 2 follow closely behind, adding a couple more ounces for a little more interior space. In general, though, these models go all-in on reducing weight, usually at the expense of comfort, and to an extent, durability. We would be pleased to split a three to four-pound tent with our hiking buddy for most typical overnights and backpacking trips. On the other end of the spectrum, the REI Half Dome SL 2+ and the Hilleberg Anjan 2 GT are some of the heaviest tents we tested. The former is an excellent option for car camping, and the latter is a specialty, harsh-weather tent.

backpacking tent - one of our favorites for light weight, the nemo hornet elite osmo is...
One of our favorites for light weight, the Nemo Hornet Elite Osmo is just over two pounds.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

If you want to maximize space and reduce weight, we strongly suggest looking at a three-person version of a lightweight model. The Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL3 is under four pounds and offers tons of space for two people. The Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL3 is under three pounds. Of course, its dimensions are slightly smaller than the Copper Spur, but it still provides ample space for two people.

Durability


This variable is based on our experiences field testing these products and involves our best estimate of the long-term durability of each tent. Though we use our tents long and hard, our goal isn't to get them to the point of catastrophic failure. We consider the quality and type of materials, overall design, and results during field testing.


The Hilleberg Anjan 2 GT has many features common to four-season tents, and we found it highly durable. It includes sturdy zippers, tensioners with hefty webbing, and thick floor fabric. We are also impressed with the durability of the REI Half Dome SL 2+ and the NEMO Dagger Osmo. The former has heavy, thick fabric, and the latter is a good compromise between strength and weight. Other top overall performers like the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 still have thin materials but keep an eye on increasing their strength.

backpacking tent - straps and hardware are an important component of durability. this...
Straps and hardware are an important component of durability. This model comes with metal tensioners that are extra sturdy.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Many of the lighter tents tested here are not designed to endure much abuse. The NEMO Hornet Elite Osmo and Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2 Solution Dye have thin materials that need to be treated with care. To increase durability, make sure you store your tent properly by cleaning and drying it thoroughly before packing it away in the offseason.

Large zipper pulls increase durability by making it easier to open...
Large zipper pulls increase durability by making it easier to open and close the tent door and decreasing the possibility of zipper failure.

Ease of Setup


Ease of setup refers to how quick and intuitive it is to pitch a tent. The models in this review generally come in two slightly different flavors. The majority are self-supported, also known as free-standing. These shelters have a set of dedicated poles that provide a "skeleton" that the tent clips to. An increasingly common variation is the semi-freestanding tent, which has poles but also requires stakes to maximize its volume. Both types are relatively simple to set up.


A classic X-pole design (two identical poles that cross at the top and attach to the tent body across diagonal corners) is rarely used in higher-end backpacking tents — it just doesn't offer as much stability on its own. But many models like the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 and REI Half Dome SL 2+ are variations on this basic structure, including an additional cross pole. This modification increases interior volume and structural rigidity. These types of models are all easy to set up. Some tents, like the Copper Spur HV UL2, include special hardware at the tent corners to quickly and securely attach poles while pitching the tent alone.

backpacking tent - it&#039;s not the be-all-end-all for us, but tents like the nemo hornet...
It's not the be-all-end-all for us, but tents like the Nemo Hornet Elite Osmo that are super simple to pitch earn kudos for saving us unnecessary frustration at the end of a day and also make it easier to beat out a storm.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

There are also semi-freestanding tents, such as the Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2 Solution Dye, NEMO Hornet Elite Osmo, and Mountain Hardwear Nimbus UL 2. They are also very straightforward. These tents have pole segments connected with elastic shock cord, so the pole structure often snaps itself into place with a few shakes once you take it out of the bag. Almost universally, the ends of the poles click into grommets (or grommet-like holes) at the four corners of the tent. The variability primarily comes with how the fly is attached and how many stakes it requires to pitch. The REI Half Dome SL 2+ is an example of a tent with a fly that attaches with clips, whereas the Hornet Elite Osmo relies on guyline to secure the fly. The REI Co-Op Flash Air 2 is an exception in the fleet. It is a non-freestanding tent; that is, it comes with a couple of poles but relies almost entirely on stakes and guylines to pitch, which we found makes it trickier to set up.

backpacking tent - color-coded poles and webbing is a nice design feature that makes...
Color-coded poles and webbing is a nice design feature that makes pitching a tent even easier.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

A distinct subcategory of tent pole configuration is the tunnel tent. This style uses poles that bend into semi-circles (resulting in a tent that looks like a caterpillar). These models usually require much more time to pitch because they rely on tension from guylines to take a livable form. An example of a tunnel tent is the Hilleberg Anjan 2 GT.

Since all the backpacking tents we tested are relatively easy to pitch, this metric assumes a comparatively small percentage of the total score. However, there are times when it's critical to be able to set up camp and dive into your tent in a hurry. Higher scorers include the REI Half Dome SL 2+, NEMO Dragonfly 2, Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2, and NEMO Dagger Osmo.

backpacking tent - color-coded poles on the mountain hardwear nimbus 2 make it really...
Color-coded poles on the Mountain Hardwear Nimbus 2 make it really easy to know how to orient everything properly the first time.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Packed Size


Packed size strongly correlates with weight. Most of that number will be determined by the type and denier of the tent and fly fabric, but extra features like storage pockets, gear lofts, roomy vestibules, or chunky parts like pole hubs quickly increase the measurement.


We love the materials and compact pole sections of the Mountain Hardwear Nimbus 2, Tarptent Double Rainbow, NEMO Hornet Elite Osmo, and Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2 Solution Dye. We stuffed and compressed these high-scoring tents into our bags with ease. The REI Co-Op Flash Air 2 also performed well above average in this metric and could easily be carried by one person, especially if you use trekking poles instead of the included poles. We also usually leave the stuff sack behind to take full advantage of stuffing the tents around other gear in a pack.

backpacking tent - semi-freestanding tents like the nemo hornet elite osmo reduce...
Semi-freestanding tents like the Nemo Hornet Elite Osmo reduce packed size by reducing the number of pole segments and replacing them with stakes to provide structure to the tent.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

One of the big surprises of this review is the NEMO Firefly, which is slightly heavier but still packs down as small as the UL models listed above. Conversely, the REI Half Dome SL 2+ is generally higher-performing but scores lower in this metric because of its thick fabric and beefy hardware.

backpacking tent - there is a tent out there for your next backpacking or camping...
There is a tent out there for your next backpacking or camping adventure.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Conclusion


Though the number of options can be overwhelming when shopping for a new backpacking tent, we hope our expert reviews provide the confidence you need to make your proper purchase. If you love spending nights in nature, there is a tent out there for you. Happy trails!

backpacking tent - it&#039;s a compact tent for sure, but there is still enough headroom to...
It's a compact tent for sure, but there is still enough headroom to sit up, and the double doors and mesh ensure easy entry and good airflow.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Ben Applebaum-Bauch


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