Reviews You Can Rely On

The 5 Best Backpacking Tents of 2023

We tested the top backpacking tents from Big Agnes, REI, Nemo, Hilleberg, and others to find the best models for your next adventure
gearlab tested logo
Best Backpacking Tents of 2023
Best backpacking tents testing
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch
By Ben Applebaum-Bauch ⋅ Review Editor
Wednesday April 26, 2023

Looking for the right tent for your next adventure? Over the past 12 years, our experts have purchased and tested more than 85 different backpacking-specific tents, with the top 13 in our current lineup. We rate performance based on a handful of essential metrics, including comfort, weather resistance, and weight. Whether you want the best money can buy, a durable model that will last for the long haul, or a high-value tent with a modest price tag, this review has what you need.

If you're interested in other backpacking gear, we have recommendations about a wide range of categories, from the best sleeping bags and sleeping pads to the top backpacks and a great pair of hiking boots. If you're not sure you need a backpacking-specific tent, we have also tested the best tents across other categories to match your adventure. Stock up on camping gear to take along and prepare to make some memories.

Editor's Note: This review was updated on April 26, 2023, to include two product additions: the Nemo Dragonfly Osmo 2 and the Slingfin Portal 2.

Top 13 Product Ratings

Displaying 1 - 5 of 13
< Previous | Compare | Next >
 
Awards Editors' Choice Award  Top Pick Award   
Price $495.00 at Amazon
Compare at 2 sellers
$511.94 at Amazon
Compare at 3 sellers
$599.95 at REI
Compare at 4 sellers
$558.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$649.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
Overall Score
76
75
72
72
66
Star Rating
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Pros Massive storage pockets, sturdy vestibule shape, dual-tone privacy meshTwo large double doors, good headroom, excellent balance of interior space and weightLightweight, good lateral headroom, large side doors, large overhead pocketHighly adaptable, double doors, unique featuresSuper lightweight, easy to pitch, packs down very small
Cons Comparatively narrow, expensive, difficult to get into stuff sackExpensive, delicate materialsSmall vestibules, tapered footprint reduces interior spaceExpensive, average dimensionsSmall, expensive, delicate
Bottom Line This tent is an exceptional balance between weight and comfort features with one of the best shapes aroundThis tent balances the key aspects of a backpacking tent and performs admirably in all of our metricsA comfortable, lightweight tent for up to three people, great for a weekend or a weekA tent with a ton of flexibility for hikers who want one shelter to do it allAn ultralight tent with two side doors and great for covering long distances
Rating Categories NEMO Dragonfly Osmo 2 Big Agnes Copper Sp... Big Agnes Copper Sp... Sea to Summit Telos... NEMO Hornet Elite Osmo
Comfort (25%)
7.0
8.0
7.0
9.0
4.0
Weather Resistance (25%)
8.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
5.0
Weight (20%)
7.0
7.0
7.0
6.0
10.0
Durability (10%)
8.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
5.0
Ease of Set-up (10%) Sort Icon
9.0
9.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
Packed Size (10%)
7.0
7.0
7.0
5.0
10.0
Specs NEMO Dragonfly Osmo 2 Big Agnes Copper Sp... Big Agnes Copper Sp... Sea to Summit Telos... NEMO Hornet Elite Osmo
Packaged Weight 3.29 lbs 3.09 lbs 3.88 lbs 3.67 lbs 2.13 lbs
Floor Area 29 sq ft 29 sq ft 41 sq ft 28 sq ft 21.8 sq ft
Packed Size (length x diameter) 19.5 x (5.5 x 3.5) in 19.5 x 6 in 21 x 6 in 18.9 x 5.1 in 19 x 4 in
Dimensions (length x width x peak height) 88 x 50/45 x 41 in 88 x 52 x 40 in 90 x 70 x 43 in 84.5 x 53/43 x 43.5 in 87 X 40 x 39 in
Vestibule Area (Total) 10 sq ft 18 sq ft 18 sq ft 19.5 sq ft 6.9 sq ft
Peak Height 41 in 40 in 43 in 43.5 in 39 in
Number of Doors 2 2 2 2 1
Number of Poles 1 1 1 1 1
Pole Diameter 8.7 mm 8.7 mm 8.7 mm 8.5/9 mm Not provided
Number of Pockets 4 3 5 2 3
Gear Loft Yes No No Sold separately No
Pole Material DAC Featherlite DAC featherlite NFL Aluminum Aluminium DAC TH72M DAC Featherlite NSL aluminum
Guy Points 6 4 4 6 4
Rain Fly Material 0D OSMO Ripstop 15D 1200mm silicone nylon ripStop proprietary patterned random rip-stop nylon with 1200mm waterproof polyurethane coating 15D Ripstop Nylon 0D OSMO Ripstop
Inner Tent Material 10D Nylon Ripstop [Body] 10D polyester mesh, [Floor] 20D nylon ripStop proprietary patterned random rip-stop nylon with 1200mm waterproof polyurethane coating 15D polyester mesh No-See-Um Mesh
Type Two door freestanding Two door freestanding Two door freestanding Two door freestanding Semifreestanding


Best Overall Backpacking Tent


NEMO Dragonfly Osmo 2


76
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort 7.0
  • Weather Resistance 8.0
  • Weight 7.0
  • Durability 8.0
  • Ease of Set-up 9.0
  • Packed Size 7.0
Weight: 3 lbs, 4 oz | Dimensions (L x W x H): 88" x (50/45)" x 41"
REASONS TO BUY
Exceptional vestibule area
Large pockets
Two-tone mesh for visibility and privacy
REASONS TO AVOID
Tapered width is narrow at feet
Comparatively pricey

The Nemo Dragonfly Osmo 2 is a backpacker's dream for lightweight yet comfortable camping. Two substantial side doors ensure that each sleeper can make a quick exit without disturbing their partner. Dual-tone black and white mesh makes for minimally obstructed stargazing while also increasing privacy if at a busy campsite. 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, and the interior storage pockets and overhead gear loft are game changers. The exceptional design of the Dragonfly means that six-foot-tall sleepers have enough head-to-toe length and enough vertical headroom for sitting up.

We love the Dragonfly, but it's not the widest model. The interior width of 50 inches tapering to 45 inches makes it feel tight at the foot end. This tent is also a significant investment, so we think it's best for folks who already have a trip planned or know they will get a lot of use out of it. 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 more: Nemo Dragonfly Osmo 2 review

Tents with two large side doors, like the Dragonfly Osmo 2, add a really nice dimension of comfort to the camping experience.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Best Bang for Your Buck


REI Co-op Half Dome SL 2+


70
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort 10.0
  • Weather Resistance 7.0
  • Weight 4.0
  • Durability 8.0
  • Ease of Set-up 7.0
  • 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+ has a huge interior, is one of the most comfortable backpacking tents we tested, and is an excellent value option for anyone on a budget. With generous dimensions and thoughtful construction, this is a good choice for taller folks or anyone who wants to bring their pet adventuring. We love the luxurious dimensions, good ventilation, wide array of interior storage pockets, and durability.

All that interior space comes with additional weight. As one of the heaviest tents in our fleet, the Half Dome SL 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 adventures, your best bet will be elsewhere. Still, this tent excels on weekend backpacking, canoe trips, and car camping weekends, all for a comparatively affordable price.

Read more: REI Half Dome SL 2+ review

backpacking tent - the sl2+ is a fairly priced, comfortable option.
The SL2+ is a fairly priced, comfortable option.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Best Combination of Lightweight and Durability


SlingFin Portal 2


73
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort 7.0
  • Weather Resistance 7.0
  • Weight 7.0
  • Durability 8.0
  • Ease of Set-up 7.0
  • Packed Size 9.0
Weight: 3 lbs, 2 oz | Dimensions (L x W x H): 85" x (51/42)" x 44"
REASONS TO BUY
Lightweight
Durable and weather resistant
Many storage pockets
REASONS TO AVOID
Shorter length
Pricey

The SlingFin Portal 2 manages to maintain a light weight without compromising on other features. It has a built-in second set of zipper pulls on each of its two side doors. It also comes with an interior guy line at the foot that increases stability in the wind and has an out rigging sleeve over each door, meaning that it is compatible with standard trekking poles if you end up needing additional structural reinforcement beyond the traditional setup. In terms of comfort, the super-high 44-inch peak height is one of the best in the category, and the plethora of pockets means you'll never have to go searching under your sleeping pad for a lost hat or socks.

With everything the Portal has going for it, expect to pay top dollar. The only substantive knock against its comfort for us is that it has a below-average total length. It is still long enough for tall sleepers, but the few extra inches are noticeable when you slide down in the night only to end up with the bottom of your bag pressed up against the wall. Having said that, this tent has so many other redeeming features that it is easy to love for a wide range of adventures, hopefully for years and years to come.

Read more: SlingFin Portal 2 review

The Portal 2 has many large pockets at both the head and foot of the tent.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Best Three Person Backpacking Tent


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 9.0
  • Packed Size 7.0
Weight: 3 lbs, 13 oz | Dimensions (L x W x H): 90" x 70" x 43"
REASONS TO BUY
Highly versatile
Very light
Good headroom
REASONS TO AVOID
Tapered footprint makes for a tight fit
Expensive

Like its smaller sibling, the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL3 is an excellent backcountry companion. It has the same features as the two-person version but with room for one more. Though this tent is designed to accommodate three, it is also light enough for two people to carry a very reasonable load, with room left for extra gear storage. It has two side doors for relatively easy entry and exit (though the person in the middle would still have to climb over someone), and the high-volume design provides plenty of headroom for sitting up. The massive gear storage pockets are a nice perk as well.

Much like the two-person version, the Spur HV UL3 has a tapered footprint, making it feel tighter than it would otherwise. However, we like its flexibility as a spacious tent for two or one that is truly viable for three sleepers to travel light. If you want the versatility to change the number of folks in your backpacking party, this is a fantastic option.

Read more: Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL3 review

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

Best Lightweight Option


Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2 Solution Dye


67
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort 6.0
  • Weather Resistance 6.0
  • Weight 9.0
  • Durability 5.0
  • Ease of Set-up 7.0
  • Packed Size 7.0
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
Incredibly light for a full tent
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 a traditional tent (as opposed to a tarp). Its light weight makes the Tiger Wall a serious top competitor among semi-freestanding models; we found it to be the most comfortable of the sub-three-pound tents that we've tested because of its exceptional headroom and two large side doors. The fabric's solution dye also makes for a more environmentally-friendly manufacturing process.

The biggest head-scratcher with this tent 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 get into and out of the Tiger Wall, especially in the rain. It's also a little pricey, though comparable to its close competitors. If you treat this tent nicely, it should offer you many years of lightweight, comfortable camping.

Read more: Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2 Solution Dye review

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

Notable Adaptability


Sea to Summit Telos TR2


72
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort 9.0
  • Weather Resistance 7.0
  • Weight 6.0
  • Durability 7.0
  • Ease of Set-up 8.0
  • Packed Size 5.0
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 model offers exceptional versatility. It has a distinctive pole architecture that creates headroom right where you 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 and snaps into the ceiling. This is a compelling option for hikers doing different activities across seasons in various environments.

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 tent's versatility is second to none.

Read more: Sea to Summit Telos TR 2 review

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

Notable Weather Resistance


Hilleberg Anjan 2 GT


65
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort 6.0
  • Weather Resistance 10.0
  • Weight 4.0
  • Durability 9.0
  • Ease of Set-up 3.0
  • Packed Size 5.0
Weight: 4 lbs, 11 oz | Dimensions (L x W x H): 86" x 51" x 39"
REASONS TO BUY
Durable
Can withstand extreme weather conditions
REASONS TO AVOID
Difficult to set up
Very 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 year's first snowstorm. It has a massive vestibule to keep gear protected from the elements, and its thoughtful design improves its performance in tough weather. The floor is super durable and waterproof.

For everything the Anjan offers, expect to pay top dollar for this model; this thing is expensive. 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, the durable construction makes this tent an excellent long-term value if you use it frequently.

Read more: Hilleberg Anjan 2 GT review

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

Comfortable 1-Person Tent on a Shoestring Budget


REI Co-op Passage 1


Weight: 3 pounds, 14 ounces | Dimensions (L x W x H): 88 x 36.5 x 40 inches
REASONS TO BUY
Excellent headroom
Large vestibule
Easy to pitch
REASONS TO AVOID
Doesn't handle strong wind well
Heavy and bulky

If you're looking for a one person tent on a budget, take a look at the REI Co-Op Passage 1. We adore the peak height, which is higher than those of comparable one-person competitors. There is space for both sitting up and moving around. Given its ease of setup, it's not going to let you down on a typical weekend trip. It takes just two identical poles to set up for one person, and its vestibule is big enough for a full-size bag and hiking boots.

The model's heft is what we find to be its major flaw. If you are on the fence about the capacity of your tent, think about going with a larger size because some affordable 2-person choices weigh almost as much as it does overall.

Read more: REI Co-Op Passage 1 review

backpacking tent - for a one-person tent, we thought the rei co-op passage 1 comes at a...
For a one-person tent, we thought the REI Co-Op Passage 1 comes at a great price, along with high marks in ease of use.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Compare Products

select up to 5 products to compare
Score Product Price
76
NEMO Dragonfly Osmo 2
Best Overall Backpacking Tent
$500
Editors' Choice Award
75
Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2
$550
73
SlingFin Portal 2
Best Combination of Lightweight and Durability
$560
Top Pick Award
72
Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL3
Best Three Person Backpacking Tent
$600
Top Pick Award
72
Sea to Summit Telos TR2
Notable Adaptability
$599
70
REI Co-op Half Dome SL 2+
Best Bang for Your Buck
$329
Best Buy Award
67
Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2 Solution Dye
Best Lightweight Option
$450
Top Pick Award
67
NEMO Dagger Osmo
$530
66
NEMO Hornet Elite Osmo
$650
65
Hilleberg Anjan 2 GT
Notable Weather Resistance
$925
64
MSR Hubba Hubba
$550
63
Mountain Hardwear Nimbus UL 2
$420
61
Tarptent Double Rainbow
$319

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

Why You Should Trust Us


We have been testing backpacking tents since 2011. In that time, we've researched several hundred models and have tested close to a hundred in hands-on, real-world scenarios. We tested the shelters in this review across many key metrics and sub-metrics. For comfort, we don't just look at dimensions. We also assess each model on its livability — does it have two doors? Steep sidewalls? Headroom? Ample storage pockets? All of these features matter. Weight is also a crucial consideration — generally, the lighter, the better. Though most backpacking tents are pretty easy to set up, we time how long it takes to pitch each one and look at different connection points between poles, tent body, and fly. For weather resistance, we tested the ability of each fly and floor to protect sleepers from whipping wind and pouring rain. And in terms of durability, we don't intentionally try to break our tents, but sometimes things happen, and we take note of delicate fabrics, brittle clips, and less-robust seaming.

The six rating metrics our tests are divided across are:
  • Comfort (25% of overall score weighting)
  • Weather Resistance (25% weighting)
  • Weight (20% weighting)
  • Durability (10% weighting)
  • Ease of Set-Up (10% weighting)
  • Packed Size (10% weighting)

Our testers have spent hundreds of nights under the stars in all sorts of shelters. Lead reviewer Ben Applebaum-Bauch has been testing tents for GearLab for six years. He got his start in the outdoor industry maintaining gear (plenty of tents included) for guided trips. A couple of years later, he became a guide himself, leading multiday and multi-week backpacking, cycling, and paddling adventures through Nova Scotia, Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, pitching plenty of tents along the way. With a decade of professional experience in the outdoor industry and several thru-hikes of some of America's great long trails under his hipbelt, he brings an extensive knowledge of shelters to this review.

We assess every feature - big and small - on all the tents we test...
We assess every feature - big and small - on all the tents we test in order to provide you with the helpful details you need to make a good purchasing decision.
Gearing up for a day on the trails after a good night&#039;s sleep.
Gearing up for a day on the trails after a good night's sleep.
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 one for you. Metrics are weighted according to their relative importance.


Value


We don't count price 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, "For each tent, how many performance points do you get per dollar spent?" If value is a primary consideration when purchasing, the Big Agnes Copper Spur (both 2- and 3-person models) and the Nemo Dragonfly Osmo 2 are a bit pricey, but they score highly, and we feel the cost is fair for what you get. The REI Half Dome SL 2+ doesn't perform quite as well, but it will save you a noticeable wad of cash.

Watching how water runs off of the trapezoidal fly of the Dragonfly Osmo 2. This is a great tent.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Comfort


Comfort is about 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 do you have to climb over a camping partner in the dark? 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 has four kickstand vents to keep air flowing while keeping out the rain. We love it on stormy days when we plan to spend more time hunkered down at basecamp 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 — consequently, it also weighs quite a bit more than the overall top tents.

backpacking tent - the massive side doors are great to peel back when the weather is...
The massive side doors are great to peel back when the weather is nice and make it super easy to enter and exit.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Award winners like the Nemo Dragonfly Osmo 2 and Slingfin Portal 2 do a nice job of balancing comfort against other considerations like weight. The Dragonfly offers a pre-bent pole structure that maximizes interior volume, and the Portal boasts a tall peak height. Both have myriad pockets for all kinds of storage space.

backpacking tent - the slingfin portal 2 is one of our favorites for adventures that...
The SlingFin Portal 2 is one of our favorites for adventures that require durability without adding extra weight.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

The Sea to Summit Telos TR2 has generous lateral space, and it's easy for two people to sit up at the same time without bumping shoulders. It is highly adaptable and can be used as a double-wall tent, single-wall tarp, or open-air shade cover. 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 triangular basket of ripstop nylon that hooks onto the vestibule floor. It's a great place to keep items you want outside the tent but not on the ground.

backpacking tent - the included &quot;landing zone&quot; triangle in the dagger is good for...
The included "landing zone" triangle in the Dagger is good for keeping items out of the dirt or sand. It's just a bummer there is only one of them.
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 horizontally from door to door, which significantly increases the lateral peak height relative to other ultralight models. The Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 is another

backpacking tent - the tiger wall is a compact tent for sure, but there is still enough...
The Tiger Wall is 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

Weather Resistance


For this metric, we assess each tent's protection 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 interior condensation.


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, offering an advantage over tents that have mesh walls.

backpacking tent - if you need to hunker down in the cold, the anjan is a good option.
If you need to hunker down in the cold, the Anjan is a good option.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Other weather-resistant top scorers are the Nemo Dragonfly Osmo 2 and Nemo Dagger Osmo 2 for their trapezoidal fly geometry and easy tensioning. They not only do an admirable job of shedding water but the shape and stability of the vestibules keep the fabric comparatively quiet even in a stiff wind. These Osmo tents also sag noticeably less than other ripstop nylon models, representing a valuable step forward in material technology. The Slingfin Portal 2 has a handful of sneaky weather-resistant features, including adapters that enable you to add trekking poles to the pitch for extra stability, as well as interior guy lines that can be tensioned to reduce wind flap.

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

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 and 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, similarly providing more stability than "fly away" models like the Nemo Hornet Elite Osmo.

backpacking tent - the low fly of the spur hv ul2 prevents precipitation from splashing...
The low fly of the Spur HV UL2 prevents precipitation from splashing underneath.
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 follows 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. Its dimensions are slightly smaller than the Copper Spur, but it still provides ample space for two people.

backpacking tent - two side doors and lightweight construction make the 3-person copper...
Two side doors and lightweight construction make the 3-person Copper Spur a tempting draw for those looking to spend some nights under the stars.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

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 put our tents through the wringer, 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 features of the SlingFin Portal 2, which comes with a second set of zipper pulls on each door in case the main ones break. You can also purchase extra thick poles separately if you know you'll need the added stability.

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

We also like the REI Half Dome SL 2+, Nemo Dagger Osmo, and Nemo Dragonfly Osmo. The Half Dome has heavy, thick fabric, and the Osmo tents are 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 in other strategic ways.

backpacking tent - large zipper pulls on the half dome sl 2+ increase durability by...
Large zipper pulls on the Half Dome SL 2+ increase durability by making it easier to open and close the tent door and decreasing the possibility of zipper failure.
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 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.

backpacking tent - we like the durability of the tri-tip stakes that come with the...
We like the durability of the tri-tip stakes that come with the Hornet Elite, which are 100% necessary for a sturdy pitch.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Ease of Set-Up


This metric refers to how quick and intuitive it is to pitch each 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, also include special hardware at the tent corners to quickly and securely attach poles while pitching the tent alone.

backpacking tent - the pole and fly mechanism on the copper spur is quite clever.
The pole and fly mechanism on the Copper Spur is quite clever.
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. These are all very straightforward as well, with pole segments connected by elastic shock cord, often allowing them to snap into place with a few shakes once you take them 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.

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, seen here on the REI Half Dome.
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 types of tents 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.

backpacking tent - the anjan gt was relatively easy to set up, though it did require...
The Anjan GT was relatively easy to set up, though it did require some previous know how, or for the backpacker to read the directions.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Since all the backpacking tents we tested are relatively easy to pitch, this metric comprises a comparatively small percentage of the total score. That being said, there are times when it's crucial to quickly set up camp and dive into your tent. Higher scorers include the REI Half Dome SL 2+, Nemo Dragonfly Osmo 2, Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2, and Nemo Dagger Osmo.

The Nemo Dragonfly Osmo 2 has ball and socket connectors at the corners for an easy and secure setup.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Packed Size


Packed size strongly correlates with weight. Most of the packable dimensions are determined by the material type and denier of the tent and fly, but extra features like storage pockets, gear lofts, roomy vestibules, or chunky parts such as pole hubs quickly increase the measurements.


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. We stuffed and compressed these high-scoring tents into our bags with ease. We also usually left 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

Conclusion


Though numerous options can feel daunting when shopping, we hope our expert review gives you the confidence to choose the right backpacking tent for your needs. If you love spending nights under starry skies and basking in nature's embrace, the right tent awaits you. Happy trails!

backpacking tent - there&#039;s a tent out there for you no matter your next adventure.
There's a tent out there for you no matter your next adventure.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Ben Applebaum-Bauch