What are the best backpacking tents recommended by backpackers? We surveyed 600 backpackers to find out what tents they use and their top picks include the Big Agnes Copper Spur, the Big Agnes Fly Creek, the MSR Hubba Hubba, the REI Quarter Dome, and the REI Half Dome, among others. We found also that the majority of backpackers purchase two person tents so they can bring company or enjoy more interior space, even if their tents weigh more.
1. Big Agnes Copper Spur UL 2
The Big Agnes Copper Spur UL 2 Person Tent ($429) is the #1 most popular backpacking tent. Lightweight, but fully featured, it boasts an impressive interior space to weight ratio. A hubbed pole architecture and steep walls provide lots of interior space, while two doors and vestibules add convenience when used with a partner. Ample mesh provides circulation to fight condensation build-up, with plenty of interior pockets for personal items. Gear weight minus stakes is a miserly 2 pounds 12 ounces. Click for specs and customer reviews.
Big Agnes also has several new and updated Copper Spur UL 2 models to choose from including: the Copper Spur UL 2 mtnGLO, Copper Spur HV UL 2, Copper Spur HV UL 2 mtnGLO, Copper Spur 2 Platinum Tent, and the Copper Spur Hotel HV UL2.
2. Big Agnes Fly Creek UL 2
The Big Agnes Fly Creek UL 2 ($349) is a two person tent with a single front door that weighs just 1 pound 15 ounces. It’s often purchased by solo backpackers who want more room than the Fly Creek UL 1, since it only weighs 4 more ounces. The Fly Creek UL 2 comes with a single, three-armed hubbed tent pole making it very fast to pitch. The inner tent connects to the pole using plastic hooks, while the pole ends slot into corner grommets. The inner tent has a mix of mesh and solid panels that provide ventilation and wind protection. Click for specs and customer reviews.
See the SectionHiker review of the Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL 2.
3. MSR Hubba Hubba
The MSR Hubba Hubba ($349) is a great tent for two people. It’s incredibly easy to set up, lightweight, and has two doors so you can come and go at night without disturbing your partner. Nearly freestanding, the pole configuration creates an interior space that has near vertical walls, providing excellent interior space and livability.
With a trail weight of 3 pounds and 8 ounces, the updated Hubba Hubba NX is lightweight enough for backpacking use when share by two people, but on the heavy if used by one. Still, MSR has done a fine job designing this tent which is a spacious and comfortable. Click for specs and customer reviews.
See the SectionHiker review of the MSR Hubba Hubba NX.
4. REI Quarter Dome 2
The REI Quarter Dome 2 Person Tent ($349) has two doors and two vestibules, providing better access and gear storage when shared with a partner. A multi-hub pole architecture creates near vertical walls so occupants can both sit up inside the tent at the same time, but the tent pole and spokes can be unwieldy to set up. The inner tent has good airflow with ample mesh, with solid fabric panels that provide privacy and keep wind and dust from blowing into the tent. Convenience features including light hang loops and interior pockets are also provided.
The fly is made with a 15 denier ripstop nylon to minimize weight while the floor and walls are made with a slightly more robust 20 denier ripstop. Gear weight without stakes in 3 pounds, 5 ounces, slightly lower weight than the MSR Hubba Hubba, but the Quarter Dome’s setup is not as straightforward. Click for specs and customer reviews.
5. REI Half Dome 2
The REI Half Dome 2 Person Tent ($199) is a great crossover tent for car campers who want to start backpacking. At 4 pounds 9 ounces, it is heavier than the REI Quarter Dome 2, but it’s also close to half the price and has many features only found on more expensive tents.
The Half Dome 2 is very easy to pitch with a hubbed pole assembly that simplifies set up. Two side doors make this a very comfortable tent when shared with a partner, with separate side vestibules for external gear storage. The tent comes with mesh pockets and a gear loft for storing personal effects and features roof vents for enhanced ventilation.More durable fabrics and excellent waterproofing seal the deal. Click for specs and customer reviews.
6. Zpacks.com Duplex
The Zpacks Duplex ($599) is an ultralight trekking pole tent that only weighs 21 ounces. It has ample space for one person plus gear to spread out, but can also fit two people comfortably. It has two doors, so you get good ventilation and vestibule space on both sides of the tent, plus you don’t have to climb over your partner at night to go for a nighttime walk. The Duplex has a full bathtub floor, seam taped seams, and mesh sidewalls for insect protection. Pitching the tent requires two trekking poles, but the dual apex structure is quite wind resistant, provided it’s staked out securely.
The Duplex is made with an ultralight fabric called cuben fiber (see cuben fiber FAQ), which is waterproof and won’t sag at night or when it rains. It is translucent however, which can compromise your privacy when camping in a group. The Duplex is also available in more opaque colors for an extra customization fee. Click for specs and customer reviews.
7. Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo
The Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo is an ultralight style, single walled tent that’s pitched with a single trekking pole. It’s also the only truly one person tent, listed in the top 10 tents purchased and recommended by backpackers in this 600 person survey.
Weighing just 24 ounces, the Lunar Solo is quite lightweight and easy to set up. It has a bathtub style floor to prevent flooding in rain and a side door, making entry easy. The interior is quite roomy, with a pentagon shaped floor, providing room to store your gear in the tent, and plenty of head room to sit up inside. A large vestibule also provides gear storage and room to cook in bad weather. Click for specs and customer reviews.
See the SectionHiker Review of the Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo.
8. Tarptent Double Rainbow
The Tarptent Double Rainbow ($259) is a single walled, two person tent that weighs 41 ounces. It has two side doors and two large vestibules for gear storage. Constructed as a single unit, the tent requires a single tent pole, which is inserted into a long sleeve sewn onto the top of the tent. Trekking poles can also be used in lieu of tent stakes, to stretch out the tent corners, such as on wooden platforms or rock ledge.
The tent has a bathtub floor to prevent rain from entering the tent as well as large mesh sidewalls. Roof vents also help vent moisture and prevent internal condensation. This tent is very popular with ultralight backpackers and provides excellent value for the price. Click for specs.
9. NEMO Hornet 2P
The Nemo Hornet 2P ($369) ultralight double-walled tent weighs just 1 pound 14.3 ounces rivaling many single-walled ultralight tents in terms of weight and cost. Featuring two side doors and a deep bathtub floor, the Hornet 2P is a comfortable tent for two, but lightweight enough for one person who wants more space to use. The inner tent hangs from an exoskeleton style hub and spoke pole using plastic clips. This creates a large air gap between the inner tent and the rain fly, that improves internal airflow and eliminates internal condensation. Mesh side walls improve air circulation while solid side panels provide privacy and wind protection. Click for specs and customer reviews.
See the SectionHiker Review of the NEMO Hornet 2P Tent.
10. Kelty Salida 2
The Kelty Salida 2 ($149) is a 2 person, side entry backpacking tent with one door and one vestibule, and two shock-corded poles. Weighing 3 pounds 14 ounces, it’s roomy for one and spacious for two, but still lightweight enough for backpacking.
The inner tent is freestanding, making setup easy. Ample vestibule space and high sidewall protection provide privacy. Made with durable materials and aluminum poles, the Salida 2 is a bombproof tent good for beginner backpackers, scouts, and families who want a reliable waterproof tent that’s easy to use.
About This Survey
This survey was conducted on the SectionHiker.com website which has over 300,000 unique readers per month, so a large pool of potential respondents. Readers were incented to participate in the survey in exchange for a chance to win a raffle for a piece of backpacking gear.
While we’re confident that the results are fairly representative of the general backpacking population based on the size of the survey results where n=600 people, we can’t claim that the results are statistically significant.
There are also a number of ways in which the results could be biased including: backpackers who read SectionHiker.com might not be representative of all backpackers, backpacker who read Internet content might not be representative of all backpackers, backpackers who respond to raffle incentives might not be representative of all backpackers, our methods for recording responses might have been unconsciously biased, and so on.
The author is an expert in statistical analysis, survey, and experimental design and is sensitive to these issues. However, given the size of the respondent pool and the very strong consensus among user responses, we believe that the survey results published here will be useful to backpackers who are interested in learning about the popularity of different backpacking tents.
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