The Ultimate Guide To The Best Backpacking Tent 2017

Camping is a great way to have a fun adventure outside – but you want to make sure you bring the right equipment. Probably the most important item you’ll pack is your tent. The best backpacking tents will keep you dry, warm and comfortable. But the wrong tent could leave you soaked.

Shelter shouldn’t be left to chance so we tested these tents in real-world conditions. Were they lightweight enough to take deep into the woods? How well do they handle wind, rain and other rough weather?

Our testing determined the best backpacking tent is theLynx One-Person Tent from ALPS Mountaineering.The tent is easy to transport in a backpack and tough enough for harsh outdoor conditions.

Sale
ALPS Mountaineering Lynx 1-Person Tent
  • Easy assembly with free-standing aluminum poles and pole clips that quickly snap over tent poles
  • Polyester tent fly resists water and UV damage while adding one vestibule for extra storage space
  • Fully equipped with #8 zippers, storage pockets, gear loft, stakes, guy ropes and one doorway

This tent is consistently popular and high selling – and it’s easy to see why. After testing tents for six months in a variety of different real-world weather scenarios, we’ve determined theALPS Mountaineering Tentis the best for backpacking. Mesh walls allow air flow for pleasant ventilation. The seams and floors are coated with a 75D 185T Poly Taffeta floor to keep you and your gear dry even in harsh and wet weather.   

  • This tough, feature-heavy tent is large enough to fit one person comfortably while staying small enough to fit in a backpack.
  • Tent and all accessories, including aluminum poles, weighs an extremely portable four pounds
  • Half-mesh walls and a vestibule allow for plenty of airflow to keep tent temps comfy
  • Leak-proof seams keep your gear and sleeping bag dry even in wild wet weather

Best Tent Runner-Up

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Timber Ridge Backpacking Tent for Camping,...
  • ★STRUCTURE: 2 large L shape door for easy entrance,breathable inner mesh tent for ventilation, polyester cover tent inner storage bag
  • ★EASY CARRIAGE: Only 5.6 lbs lightweight, easy to carry with carry bag, CAPACITY: suggest for 2 persons
  • ★EASY ASSEMBLED: Stable structure with two fiberglass poles

Spend the night outdoors in comfort and style with this backpacking tent from Timber Ridge. Two large L-shaped doors on each size let you step in and out of the tent with ease even in the dark. The fiberglass structure is lightweight (a mere 5.6 pounds) but provides plenty of structural support. While the tent doesn’t have as many features as the Lynx it does include mesh walls, a storage pocket and a lantern hook.   

  • Tent flaps on each side means you can enter and exit without disrupting your tentmate
  • Tall enough to comfortably change clothes
  • Bright yellow coloring helps your campsite stay visible
  • Mesh ceiling can be revealed for stargazing on rain-free nights

Third, Fourth and Beyond.

The two tents above have a lot to like but they’re not the only backpacking tents on the market. The tents below offer comfort and durability. Plus, they’re all small and light enough to easily fit into your backpack. Once set up you should have plenty of room inside the tent to store your gear, too.

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Camping Tent, Portable Folding Waterproof Outdoor Tent...
  • Double layer design, inner and outer layer provides ample ventilation during usage.
  • Polyester PU 190T 210T with 2000m/m coating fabric material provides water and moisture resistant.
  • Rain fly can be used separately as a tarp.

This is a solid tent which is useful all year long. The coated polyester material handles wet weather well. On warm summer nights, you can remove the rain fly to watch the stars through the mesh windows. During the winter cold No-See-Um mesh walls provide thermal insulation for comfy camping.

  • All-weather tent is made from polyester PU 190T with 2000m/m fabric coating.
  • Double layer design protects from wet weather while still providing plenty of ventilation
  • C-shaped interior makes excellent use of space
  • Fits a double-sized air mattress easily
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Ultralight Tent, Andake Waterproof Portable Camping...
  • 750g ULTRALIGHT & PORTABLE CARRY BAG, can be carry and store up with ease, fits all sizes of backpacks, ensures an "extreme light travel"
  • WATERPROOF & VENTILATED for a dry and cozy outdoor night, the Flysheet is made of silicone-coated 15D nylon ripstop with WATERPROOF rating of 3000mm; the Inner tent is made of B3 high-precision BREATHABLE nylon gauze with 150D oxford fabric tent bottom of 3000mm waterproof rating; the mesh door to the front and window to the side ensure good ventilation, avoid fogging when you are sleeping
  • DOUBLE WALL DESIGN, YKK zipper entranced inner tent, the mosquito net ensures the ventilation while keep the mosquito outside; outer tent can be rolled up for better ventilation

Portability is the name of the game for this ultralight tent which weighs in at just 750 grams. While only enough space for one, the tent folds into an attached pocket bag. Take it backpacking, camping, fishing or even just throw it in the back of your truck.

  • Ultralight tent weighs an easy-to-carry 750 grams
  • Silicone coated outer shell and breathable nylon inner shell
  • Aluminum alloy poles have high elasticity
  • Folds into itself with attached pocket bag made from nylon ripstop fabric
Sale
Ultralight Tent, Andake Waterproof Portable Camping...
  • 750g ULTRALIGHT & PORTABLE CARRY BAG, can be carry and store up with ease, fits all sizes of backpacks, ensures an "extreme light travel"
  • WATERPROOF & VENTILATED for a dry and cozy outdoor night, the Flysheet is made of silicone-coated 15D nylon ripstop with WATERPROOF rating of 3000mm; the Inner tent is made of B3 high-precision BREATHABLE nylon gauze with 150D oxford fabric tent bottom of 3000mm waterproof rating; the mesh door to the front and window to the side ensure good ventilation, avoid fogging when you are sleeping
  • DOUBLE WALL DESIGN, YKK zipper entranced inner tent, the mosquito net ensures the ventilation while keep the mosquito outside; outer tent can be rolled up for better ventilation

This ultralight tent is perfect for camping, hiking, climbing or any other activity where you need shelter which doesn’t take up a lot of space. The thick fiberglass poles are easy to carry but sturdy. The polyurethane laminate allows rain to roll right off while also protecting you from UV rays.

  • Dual-open mesh door allows for easy entrance and exit
  • Extra-thick black fiberglass poles combine flexibility and durability
  • Heat-welded PU seam seals keep tent dry from top to bottom.
  • Fits up to three people (or one camper with a lot of gear)

Best Backpacking Tent Buyer’s Guide

Sure, almost any tent will keep the rain off your face, but that’s just the minimum. There are a lot of different tents out there with a lot of different options. Here’s what you want to look for:

How Will You Use This Tent?

All backpacking tents will share some common characteristics. First, a backpacking tent will be lightweight and portable. This isn’t a tent you just throw in your car until you drive to the campsite.

Instead, you’ll need to carry the tent on your back, possibly for several days. Weight needs to be low. The tent needs to be tightly packed when not in use.

Not all backpacking tents are the same, however. Backpacking tents can be divided into two broad categories:

  • Three season tents
  • Four season tents

Three season tents can be used in spring, summer and fall but not winter. While a three-season tent will survive light snow, they don’t provide enough warmth or protection for heavy winter storms.

Four season tents can be used year-round. They’re usually a bit stronger and better insulated. You’ll want a four-season tent if you’ll be doing any winter camping.

Internal Space

Backpacking tents are typically some of the smallest tents on the market. Most of the best tent brands will offer a backpacking tent for the solo backpacker.

You can also find backpacking tents which fit two or even three people. Keep in mind you’ll likely be sleeping very close to your tentmates.  

You won’t find many tents tall enough to stand in. But you want a tent with enough room to where you can comfortably change clothes.

If you’re going to camp in colder weather, a smaller tent will usually be warmer and more insulated. Tall tents allow warm air to float to the top. Unfortunately, that’s not helpful to anyone in a sleeping bag on the tent floor.

Materials

The days of cloth tents are long gone. The best tents today are made from nylon and polyester. They’ll be coated with a water-resistant chemical such as polyurethane or silicone.

All the tents on our list are water resistant. If you want the absolute most water protection the best tent for you will have silicone-coated nylon.  

If you want the absolute highest insulation, you might want an insulated tent. Note that these tents are typically too bulky for backpacking. That’s okay. The right combo of a sleeping bag and backpacking tent should keep you warm even in winter.

Weight

Every ounce matters when you’re hiking the trail. Backpacking is all about minimizing gear weight, especially if you’re traveling deep into the woods.

The four heaviest pieces of backpacking gear are typically the sleeping bag, sleeping pad, tent and the backpack itself.

Backpacking tents are the lightest type of tent because they need to be carried by the user. While weights vary, you’ll find that most backpacking tents will weigh five pounds or less. Before buying a backpacking tent, you’ll want a thorough understanding of what other gear you’ll bring along – and how much that gear weighs.

Portability

The best tent brands will often include a small stuff sack or carry bag. This can be an easy, portable way to store your tent. Some stuff bags are actually built into the tent so it actually folds into itself.  

Clipping the tent carry bag to the outside of your backpack can give you extra storage space. You can also use the carry bag for storing the tent both in your backpack and home.     

Another option is it skip the carry bag entirely. You can crumple the tent up into a small ball or roll it up in a tube. The tent fabric won’t be permanently damaged, and you can often compress the tent smaller than you’d be able to with a carry bag.  

Tent poles are going to be the part of the tent with the unique storage needs. You’ll want tent poles which fold down into a small bundle. Plus, tent poles need to be durable enough to not accidentally snap when in the bottom of your backpack.

Features

If you haven’t bought a tent in a while, you might be surprised at all the features available. More than simply providing shelter, tent features help make camping convenient. Some popular features you’ll find in the best tents for backpacking include:

  • Built-in pockets for in-tent storage.
  • Hooks for hanging light sources.
  • Entryway mud guards with built-in drainage

Durability

Generally, lighter tents are less durable. Thinner materials are more likely to tear on the forest floor. If you plan to camp in areas with a lot of sharp wood and rocks, you’ll probably want a relatively thick tent.

But even ultralight tents are pretty durable. If treated properly, they’ll last for a long time. Plus, most small pokes and tears can easily be repaired with a patch and a sewing kit.  

Heavier materials are the best option if your gear will be treated rather roughly during your backpacking adventures.

Lighter materials are the best option if you want to pack the least amount of weight possible.

Doors & Vestibules

The door is the most used part of the tent. A tent with a door on each end is usually a good choice for a two-person tent. Two doors allow each person to enter and exit the tent without having to step over their tentmate and gear. This is especially useful in a two-person backpacking tent, which will usually be on the small side.

Many of the best tent brands have a vestibule. This is a separate area in the tent which allows for gear storage.

Remember, you’ll need space to store your entire backpack. Vestibules sometimes have special floors which help drain away dirt and debris, which helps keep the main area of the tent clean.

Tent Shape

Tents have three general shapes:

Triangular Tents

These are the classic tent style. The sloped roof allows water and snow to slide down the sides. Triangular tents aren’t very resistant to high winds.

Dome Tents

This is the most popular tent shape. Dome-style tents have excellent wind-shedding abilities. They’re also very structurally strong.

Dome tents are highest in the center. However, the walls of a domed tent have a slope which does reduce overall usable space.

Dome tents are usually the style most preferred by backpackers.

Cabin Tents

These tents have vertical walls. You get maximum height and livable space. Many cabin tents have room dividers which make them perfect for large families.

Water and snow can accumulate on the roof of a cabin tent. Plus, they don’t offer much wind-shedding ability.

Cabin tents are best for large families who are camping by car.

The Best Tent for Backpackers

Different backpackers will obviously have different preferences and needs. But the best tents for backpacking will share a few common features.

Solo backpackers will want as small of a tent as possible. After all, space is limited in a backpack. The heaviest part of a tent is usually the poles. You’ll want durable, lightweight poles. Fiberglass is usually the best material.

Also, you’ll want a four-season tent if you plan to camp in the winter. Otherwise, sticking with a three-season tent can save you some money.

Ventilation is important. Aside from mesh windows and doors, you might want a tent with a removable rainfly and mesh roof. This lets you view the night sky on rain-free nights.

Wrapping Up

In our opinion, theLynx One-Person Tent from ALPS Mountaineering.is the best backpacking tent. But the other tents on our list all have great features, too.

No matter when and where you’re camping, the right backpacking tent will help keep you safe, dry and comfortable. Happy trails!

Our Top Pick

Sale
ALPS Mountaineering Lynx 1-Person Tent
  • Easy assembly with free-standing aluminum poles and pole clips that quickly snap over tent poles
  • Polyester tent fly resists water and UV damage while adding one vestibule for extra storage space
  • Fully equipped with #8 zippers, storage pockets, gear loft, stakes, guy ropes and one doorway
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