10 best backpacking tents

When you're backpacking, you need a tent that is lightweight, easy to put up and packs-down small. We got pitching to find it

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The Independent Online

If you’re going backpacking, your three bulkiest items will be your pack itself, your sleeping bag and your shelter. So it makes sense to invest in a decent lightweight and compact tent. We looked at options on the market, taking into account the weight, the size it packed down to, the sort of conditions it withstood and how idiot-proof it was to pitch (bearing in mind you might be putting it up and taking it down with limited help when you’re tired). Our round-up reveals the best that this year has to offer.

1. Olpro The Abberley: £94.95, camping-online.co.uk



This 6kg, two-person tent is a great one for cyclists – firstly because it includes a separate porch area, and secondly because it packs down into a 38x30x23cm pack, which means it will fit into a pannier. It can hold five metres of water, with an outstanding hydrostatic head (HH) rating for waterproofing, and in our test, it took one person 10 minutes to pitch. 

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2. Skyrocket II Dome Tent: £220, jack-wolfskin.co.uk


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This superbly light four-season trekking tent for two is ideal if you’re heading off an intrepid trip. It is quick and easy to pitch and easy to ventilate without opening the tent up when it’s raining, as well as incorporating features that push cool air upwards and prevent condensation build-up. It also has particularly flexible, yet strong, poles – great for strong winds.

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3. Robens Raptor: £339, campingworld.co.uk


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The Raptor, which recently scooped a prestigious award from leading European adventure magazine, Outdoor, will stand upright without the need for pegs, which means you can move the tent to the best spot before pegging and guying out. It can be pitched by one person in less than five minutes – essential for wilderness conditions – and the extra lateral pole travels the length of the tent along its ridge for stability. It weighs just 3kg, with an impressive pack size of 44x18cm. Made for three seasons, it’s very easy to pitch and has two doors and two roomy porches – a useful feature for when the weather turns.

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4. Shadow 200: £59.99 easycamp.com



Available in two person, right up to five person, this one is a great budget option. We think it’s a great buy for the price, with a simple lightweight tunnel design and easy, fast pitching. The groundsheet is detachable, meaning you can leave it out if a wet area is required for muddy gear, as well as making tent drying and maintenance easier. Its bathtub shape means it has raised sides to keep out draughts and water.

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5. Coleman Monviso 200: £119.99, charliesdirect.co.uk


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If you’re after headroom, this extended dome structure – which comes as a two or three person tent - is bound to appeal. There’s a roomy porch, which is great for storing anything from cooking gear to muddy boots, and the poles are strong enough to stand up to harsh winds, whilst the hydrostatic head (HH) rating is well above the required level – great for unpredictable British weather. Weighing just over 3kg, it has a packsize of 39x17x16cm.

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6. Scorpion 2: £249.95, snugpak.com


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This is a robust and sturdy, three-season tent that should last you a lifetime. Sleeping two comfortably, it is light to carry and even lighter if you split the load between both backpackers. You can pitch it within a few minutes and it’s got lots of useful storage pockets. It’s best for anyone under six foot, as it’s not as roomy in the sleeping compartment as some.

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7. Force Ten Helium Carbon 200: £460, cotswoldoutdoor.com


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This highly-technical tent is a firm favourite among serious hikers. Some pretty special materials combine together to produce a two-berth tent that weighs less than a kilo. It makes good use of every inch of space and some impressive engineering has ensured it is extremely stable.

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8. Robens Buzzard: £225, campingworld.co.uk


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This award-winning tent weighs less than 2 kilos and, with a bit of practice, can be pitched in three to four minutes without breaking a sweat – ideal anywhere intrepid where you can’t afford to take longer. Several features make this possible, including very few pegging points and only the main pole needs inserting.

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9. Vango Helix 100: £76, amazon.co.uk



Available for one, two or three people, this classic two pole tunnel tent is fantastically compact, and you will be able to get it up in five minutes. The seals are watertight, the fabric is durable and it’s easy to pack up in the morning. We like the reflective features too, making it easy to locate even in pitch black.

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10. Lansan Ultralight: £279.99, kathmandu.co.uk


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Designed for hiking or cycle touring, this tent is simple and streamlined, with incredibly lightweight and weatherproof materials and plenty of space for two people and their gear, thanks to the covered extra space just off the door. This space also means you can cook inside the tent without consequences, because the gasses can escape without entering the sleeping space. For warm nights, pitch the breathable inner on its own.

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The Snugpak Scorpion 2 is a three-season tent that should last you a lifetime, just check the size will work for you. For a budget buy, our vote goes to Easy Camp Shadow 200. It may not have the bells and whistle of some on the list but it will do  its job effectively without adding too much bulk to your pack.


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