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7 best backpacking tents

Whether you're off on a gap year, career break or expedition, these lightweight, easy-pitch options are backpack-ready 

Lisa Spear
Thursday 16 May 2019 21:18

After a long day hiking through the backcountry, the last thing you want to deal with is a poorly constructed tent. But, while it’s hard to find a tent that is both lightweight and durable enough to stand up to the wildest of outdoor adventures, from the Appalachian Trail to nights spent camping on the beach, there is an ideal tent out there for every occasion.

That’s why we’ve come up with a list of the best and easiest to set up backpacking tents on the market. The tents we tested stood up to thunderstorms in the woods and windy nights on beach. The next time you take an extended outdoor trip, you won’t have to think twice about which tent to take along.

We love the simplicity and thoughtful design of this tent. The Copper Spur Platinum is so incredibly lightweight. The fabric feels as thin as tissue paper, but is surprisingly resilient. Still, we suggest using a tarp or footprint under the base to extend the tent’s life.

All seams are sealed with a waterproof tape that makes this tent stand up well to rainstorms and there are two vestibules with plenty of dry storage space. At only two pounds, this will easily strap onto any backpack with little extra strain on your back.

Overall, it’s a breeze to assemble. It took us only a few minutes to snap the poles into place and hook the mesh tent body onto the frame. The color-coded poles and plastic clips make setting this tent up idiot-proof, yet the instructions are sewed into the storage sack.

The Copper Spur Platinum is a little snug for two people, but romantic partners might not mind snuggling up inside this cozy space. It is freestanding and comes with lightweight aluminum stakes to secure the tent to the ground and keep it from blowing away.

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We like the Solitaire for its practicality and reasonable price. This is a solid tent, ideal for solo-travelers who are looking for minimalism. There is enough space for one person, but be aware that this might not be the best option if you are at all claustrophobic. It has just enough room for you and maybe your dog, if it’s a smaller breed.

The Solitaire is simple to set up with just two poles, one in the front and one in the back, which form a tubular shape. A rainfly is integrated into the design and can be easily rolled back for stargazing on cool spring or summer nights.

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This tent is roomy, lightweight and it packs up pretty easily. There’s plenty of space to share this shelter with a friend or two. It also can withstand the elements without a problem.

The only downside is that this shelter doesn’t come with stakes, so be prepared to buy those separately because this tent requires them.

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This piece of gear can stand up to whatever surprises mother nature might have in store. We found that this tent kept us nice and dry in the pouring rain. Not a drop of water came inside.

Since it is a one-person tent, there isn’t too much room. There is enough space for a backpack in the vestibule.

One neat feature that we particularly enjoyed was the small plastic windows on the fly that let you see out without having to unzip anything. There are also two vents on either side of the tent that can be propped open to let the breeze in.

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We like the Meteor for it’s lightweight, durable design. We were impressed by how this tent packs down into the size of a few rolled up towels, but still manages to provide loads of space, just under 30 square feet. Most people will find that there is ample headroom and it is no problem for people of most heights to sit up inside.

If you are in the market for a backpacking tent, the Meteor tent is an affordable option. You’d be hard-pressed to find something this lightweight at this low a price.

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You can expect reliable and sturdy gear from Mountain Smith. This is one strong tent, holding up against the harshest of outdoor conditions. We like this one for its strong fabric. Rocks and twigs are no match for the floor, which is super strong compared to other tents we tested thanks to the footprint that’s included.

The tent is designed to house two backpackers and there is plenty of room to sit up and move about. This tent takes just under eight minutes to set up and is a cinch to take down and stuff back into your pack.

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This is a behemoth of a tent, built to handle the challenges of back-country living. They aren’t kidding when they say it is built to fit three backpackers. The inside is about the size of a queen-sized bed.

There aren’t a lot of the extra pockets and compartments you might find in other high-quality tents, but it makes up for it with an exceptionally intuitive design. The bathtub-style floor means that not a drop of water is getting into this shelter. You can count on staying bone-dry even in the heaviest downpours.

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Verdict: Best tents

Big Agnes knows how to do tents right and the Copper Spur is a prime example of this. This tent is one of the lightest, most exceptionally designed of those we tested. It easily beats out the competition and should make backpacking an easier experience for just about anyone.

For those who are looking for something a little bit more affordable and who might not mind an extra bit of weight, look no further than the Sierra Designs Meteor 2.

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