I collected the best backpacking tents so that you can easily choose from the many products on the market. The table below contains my favorite models. Keep in mind that these products are made for individuals or small groups. Check out the page about family tents for products that can accommodate up to ten people.
The Ultimate Waterproof Backpacking Tent Guide
Ledge Scorpion 2 Man Tent
Kelty Grand Mesa 4
Marmot Limelight 2
|Find More Reviews On Amazon||Ledge Sports Scorpion 2 Person Tent ||Kelty Grand Mesa 4 Person Tent||Marmot Limelight 2 Persons Tent
|Overall Rating||(5 / 5)||(4.5 / 5)||(4.5 / 5)|
|Pros||Two doors, two vestibules, plenty of space, awesome design all in all.||Lightweight, easy to set up, much internal height.||Easy to set up, part mesh, part plastic inner wall.|
|Cons||No cons, but could be a bit lighter.||Small vestibule.||Too small vestibule.|
|Recommended Use||Backpacking||Backpacking.||Backpacking/car/bike/motrocycle trips.|
|How many people can sleep in it?||2||4||2|
|Dimensions of the Floor (feet)||92" x 58"||79.9" x 95.7"||32 square feet|
|Double or Single Wall||Double||Double||Double|
|Number of Doors||2||1||1|
|Number of Pockets||2||2||1|
|Gear Loft||One gear loft.||No gear loft.||One gear loft.|
|Number and Type of Windows||Two windows, mesh on the inner wall, vinyl on the outer wall.||Whole inner tent is made of mesh||Part of the inner tent is made of mesh|
|Types of Poles||Aluminum||Aluminum||Aluminum|
|Types of Stakes||Aluminum||Steel||Steel|
|Size and Type of Vestibule||Two vestibules.||18.8 square foot.||9 square feet.|
|Review||Ledge Sports Scorpion 2 Person Tent Review||Kelty Grand Mesa 4 Person Tent: One Of The Best Backpacking Tents||Marmot Limelight: A great value backpacking tent|
With so many backpacking tents on the market it can be hard to choose exactly which one would be perfect for you. You could make so many different purchases, but the truth is that there are several features that all the best backpacking tents need to have.
These features are dictated by the fact that you are carrying all the weight of your gear during your backpacking trip. You have to take your gear everywhere with yourself, and your tent is not different, so a backpacking tent has to be as light as possible. Tent manufacturers are cought between two minds as a reasult: they have to make their products small, but big at the same time. It has to be small enough that some space remians in your backpack for camping accessories such as a raincoat or a flashlight. However the product has to be big enough that you can sleep in it comfortably.
The best backpacking tents are all easy to set up. Setting up a tent is something that most people don’t want to spend time with, this is understandable. After all it is not a very enjoyable process, and it is viewed as something you must do. With this in mind, I always try to purchase tents that are quick and easy to set up. I want to be able to set up my shelter in five to ten minutes max. This is especially important if I am late from my destination, and it is already turning dark. I have only a few minutes to set up my tent before darkness ascends. This is only one of the many situations in which a tent that you can erect in a few minutes can make your life so much easier.
So which are the key traits of the best backpacking tents? All of the best ones have a few features that can enhance your backpacking experience a lot, and make it a much more pleasant and comfortable experience. These features are:
- A waterproof rainfly.
- Good ventilation.
- A vestibule.
- A thick floor.
A waterproof rainfly
A waterproof rainfly is a must when it comes to backpacking tents. The reason for this is obvious. Whatever happens, you can never see into the future, and you can never tell exactly what the weather will be like, so you must be ready for all circumstances.
A tent with a waterproof rainfly is not a lot more expensive than a tent without one. Considering this, it would not make sense to buy a tent without a rainfly. Tents with a rainfly and an inner wall are called double wall tents.
There are a few things you should consider when choosing a double wall tent. First of all, the rainfly has to cover the whole tent. You would think that this is pretty basic stuff, but the truth is that there are manufacturers who sell tents with only a small rainfly that covers only the top of the dome of the tent, which is usually a mesh window. Needless to say that these models are basically single wall models, because the rain can fall on and soak the inner wall of the tent.
The rainfly can be made of either silynylon or coated polyester traffeta. Coated polyester traffeta is used during the manufacturing of umbrellas and raincoats.
Silynylon is nylon that is soaked in silicone on both sides, hence the name. The silicone makes the nylon waterproof, it also makes it more durable. Silynylon is a popular material for manufacturing all kinds of backpacking gear, as it is very light and waterproof at the same time. If you own a backpack, a bivy bag, or if you have ever been to an ultralight backpacking trip, the chances are that you have come across silynylon at one point or another. Don’t inhale the fumes in case the silynylon rainfly catches on fire, as it is extremely poisonous. Be careful when starting a fire in close proximity to a tent.
A waterproof rainfly is also crucial because it helps avoid condensation. Condensation occurs when the humidity inside the tent turns into water due to the cold wall coming into contact with the air inside the tent. Humidity builds up inside the tent because your breath contains plenty of it. The wall cools down during the night, and when the humidity comes into contact with it, the humidity turns into water. This water shows up on the inside of the wall. This can be mistaken for water from the outside of the tent, however it is very different, and you have to deal with condensation differently.
The best way to avoid condensation is to have a double wall tent. The outer wall prevents the cold air from cooling down the inner wall of the tent. The humidity only comes into contact with the inner wall, which remains warm throughout the night. Double wall tents are also warmer than single wall tents, two layers are better at keeping the warmth inside than only one layer.
If you have a single wall tent, or one with only a small rainfly that doesn’t cover your whole shelter, you can purchase and put on an additional tarp. Such a tarp can be bought from all online vendors. The tarp won’t look pretty on your tent, but it is better than soaking in water inside your wet tent. Some manufacturers even sell individual rainflys for their tents.
Good ventilation is the second feature of a great waterproof backpacking tent. There are multiple ways to achieve this. The most common way is to have windows on your tent. These windows can be opened so that the humidity inside the air can escape the tent, and fresh air can come in.
However the tent can have a patch of mesh on the inner wall. The most popular place for such a patch is the top of the dome of the tent. It is even better if the whole inner wall is made of mesh. Such models have excellent ventilation, the humidity can get out of the tent all the time, and you don’t have to bother with opening or closing the windows.
Tents that have an inner wall completely made of mesh have one downside. The mesh allows more heat to escape than a silynylon or polyester wall. This means that it can get cold inside these tent, so these tents are not the best in late autumn or early spring. The best tents for late autumn or early spring are double wall tents, with neither wall made entirely of mesh. However you can wear a jacket in the tent, which keeps you warm even during colder days. Choose a four season tent if you want to go camping during the winter.
A vestibule is one of the most important features of a great backpacking tent. A vestibule is an extension of the rainfly that arches over the door, creating a little extra space for you. The vestibule is a bridge between the outside world and the inside of the tent. This is the place where you can take off your dirty clothes, shoes and gear. This way you can keep the inside of the tent clear and dry more easily.
The vestibule is also perfect for storing your backpack or other gear items. Backpacking tents tend to be lightweight so that you have to carry only as much weight as necessary. This means that the tents tend to be little, and it is very hard to find one with enough space. Most tents don’t have enough space to store your gear inside and sleep in it at the same time, so a vestibule is a perfect place to store your gear.
The vestibule can be the place where you cook your meal or start a little campfire to keep you warm on a cold night. However pay close attention if you do this, and always keep at least two windows or a door open so that the fumes can leave the tent and you don’t get carbon monoxid poisoning.
A thick, waterproof floor is a must when it comes to backpacking tents. The floor is the only thing that stands between you and the water on the ground. Imagine if it rains for a whole night and a puddle forms around your tent. In this case the rainfly is not going to protect you, but the floor can do invaluable service to you if it can keep the interiors dry.
The floor will come into contact with the stones and the debris on the ground, and it has to be thick and durable so that it doesn’t get damaged by all those things on the ground. A floor is very hard to repair if it tears apart, it is better to have a floor that won’t have such problems. If you want to be on the safe side you can lay down a tarp underneath your tent in order to add more protection against water, and in order to protect it against the damage that sharp-edged stones might cause.
Other things to take into consideration
If you go on a backpacking trip or a hike you will have to carry your tent with yourself. Chances are that you will carry the tent folded up on your backpack, or attached to the bottom of your backpack. It is important to look at the packed dimensions of the product you are considering purchasing. It can be a bit longer than your backpack, but it should not be much wider. Otherwise it will bump into your head all the time.
I prefer to use tents that have multiple doors. If you are camping alone this is not important, but if you are sharing the tent with at least another person an extra door can be handy. You don’t have to wake each other up when you exit the shelter, you can each use your own door. The Ledge Sports Scorpion is a backpacking model with two doors, the ALPS Meramac is a good mountaineering product with the same feature.
A mosquito net is an extra that can make your life easier. If the tent has a mosquito net, it will be a second layer on the door that you can open or close with a zipper. Such a net allows you to leave the door open during hot nights without having to worry about insects interrupting your dream.
An internal gear loft is a small pocket on the inside of the dome of the tent. The gear loft is perfect for storing small objects inside, such as a flashlight, or a wallet. Some tents have a hook where others have a gear loft. The hook can be used for hanging a flashlight.
Many tents have pockets inside, which serve a similar purpose as the internal gear loft at the top of the dome. You can store small objects in them, that you might need frequently during the night, so you don’t want to leave them in the vestibule.
The stakes of backpacking tents are made of aluminium, stainless steel or plastic. Aluminium stakes are the best in my opinion, they are relatively light, and durable. Stainless steel stakes are also durable, but they are heavier than aluminium stakes. Plastic stakes break easily, so they are basically useless. You should avoid tents with plastic poles. You can buy aluminium poles from most retailers, so I advise you to replace your stakes if you have non-aluminium ones.
I hope that you have found my introduction to backpacking tents helpful. The above features were all very important, and the best backpacking tents all need to have these features. However the most important question you have to ask is what you want to use the tent for. You need to know how many people are going to use the tent, where you are going to use it, any many other factors. These are going to play a crucial part in your decision.
If none of these tents have caught your attention, you can find more tents on the main page of Waterproof Tent Guide.
- ALPS Mountaineering Meramac
- Coleman Hooligan 3
- Coleman Sundome 4
- Eureka Apex 2X
- Happy Camper 2 Person
- Kelty Grand Mesa 2 Review
- Kelty Grand Mesa 4
- Ledge Tarantula
- Marmot Limelight
- Prolonging the Life of Your Tent
- Slumberjack 2 Person Tent Review