By Michael Lanza
A good backpacking tent not only makes your trips more comfortable by keeping you warm and dry in foul weather—it’s critical safety gear and one of the heaviest and most expensive items you’ll carry. But how do you choose from the many models out there, which come in a huge range of designs, weights, and prices? Whether you’re shopping for your first backpacking shelter or looking to replace an old one, I’m going to make that choice easy for you.
I’ve tested scores of backpacking tents over more than a quarter-century of testing and reviewing gear—including many years as Backpacker magazine’s lead gear reviewer. This article covers my picks for the seven top-performing backpacking tents available today—six two-person models and one ultralight solo tent—with links to my complete review of each one. I think you’ll find at least one tent here that’s perfect for you.
Each of these tents is different enough from the others to give you clear choices, and they range in weight categories from midweight to ultralight—because I believe every ounce should be justified in the gear I carry. The tents are listed from lightest to heaviest. The comparison chart below offers a quick look at specs and features that distinguish these tents from one another and offers an overall rating based on specific criteria that are detailed at the bottom of each tent’s complete review.
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