Having the right tent when you’re camping makes a big difference. If your tent isn’t up to the task, you’ll be cold, wet, and miserable.
Choosing the right tent isn’t easy, but we’ve gathered ten of the best tents for car camping and backpacking. Whether you’re looking for an ultralight single-person tent for backpacking or you need a huge one for your entire family’s car camping trip, we have you covered.
Best Backpacking Tents 2018
1. MSR Hubba NX Solo
With a minimum trail weight of just 2 lbs. 7 oz., the Hubba NX Solo is an ultralightweight option for solo backpackers. 18 square feet of floor space provides enough room for a sleeping pad and bag, and the 9-square-foot vestibule gives you a little extra room to keep your gear out of the elements.
A single hubbed poleset and freestanding design make setup easy. A StayDry door keeps water out of the tent. The compression sack is only 6″ x 18″. In short, this is the perfect tent for minimal backpacking trips when you only need sleeping room for one. One of the Top Backpacking Tents for under $350 MSR Hubba NX Solo – $350
2. Slingfin Crossbow 2 Mesh
If you’ve never heard of Slingfin, you might not know that they’re very serious about making the best lightweight backpacking tents available. Their gear has helped people through some of the most intense environments on earth, from the Utah desert to Mount Everest. The Crossbow 2 is Slingfin’s three-season tent.
At just under 4 lbs., it’s very easy to pack, and the simple construction makes it a breeze to set up. 32 square feet of space provides all the room you need for two people, and two doors add convenience for entry and exit. You can also use trekking poles instead of the included top bow pole to lighten your load a bit.
3. LL Bean Microlight UL 2-Person Tent
An ultralight tent with room for two, the Microlight UL is perfect for a two-person backpacking trip. It packs down to 16.5″ x 7″ and weighs just 3 lb. 2 oz. with the stuff sack and stakes. Just over 30 square feet of floor space provides plenty of room, and two vestibules make it easy to keep your gear dry without taking up sleeping space.
7000-series aluminum poles are strong without adding weight, and the coated ripstop rain fly will handle abuse on the trail. Two side doors add convenience, and the mesh tent body protects you from bugs while maintaining airflow. LL Bean Microlight UL – $349
4. Kelty Horizon 2
Though it’s a bit heavier than the Horizon at 3 lbs., 10 oz., the Horizon has some features that make it stand out. Its one-piece design makes setup a breeze, and the permanently attached fly can roll up out of the way for easy access or ventilation.
The 28-square-foot floor might be best suited for solo trips, but it can fit two full-size pads for backpacking. And the 15″ x 12″ x 3″ carry cube makes transport easy. We actually put the Kelty Horizon 2 through a test run; read our full review to find out what we thought. Kelty Horizon 2 – $240
5. Cabela’s Orion 3
It’s going to be really tough to find a backpacking tent this light for this price. It’s frankly difficult to believe that Cabela’s was able to pack almost 47 square feet of floor space into a 6-lb.-8-oz. tent. But that’s what this three-person backpacking staple provides. This tent also made the list of the best family camping tent of the year.
Beyond the light weight and great price, you won’t get a whole lot of features; one door, standard fabrics, and a single vestibule keep things simple. Even so, you absolutely cannot beat this price. Cabela’s Orion 3 ($150)
6. MSR Elixir 3
At just under 6 lbs. trail weight, the Elixir is an ultralight backpacking tent for three people. The freestanding design and color-coded pieces make it easy to set up, and the 8″ x 20″ stuff sack is easy to transport.
You can also use the Elixir’s footprint and rainfly to create a minimal shelter to cut even more weight. If you’re looking for the lightest three-person backpacking tent, the Elixir should definitely be on your radar. We wrote a full review of the Elixir—check it out to get more details and see our thoughts after we tested it out! MSR Elixir 3 – $300
7. Big Agnes Frying Pan 2-Person Tent
The Frying Pan is a great do-it-all tent. It’s big enough to sleep two comfortably, but small enough to not take up all of the room in your backpacking rig. Minimum trail weight is 4 lbs. 5 oz., but you still get 28 square feet of floor space and 40″ of headroom. Two doors make midnight bathroom runs less annoying, and two vestibules let you keep more gear dry.
There are plenty of pockets on the inside of the tent, a fly vent keeps the interior from getting too clammy, and reflective details make it easier to find your tent in the dark. All of these features add a bit of weight—but they also make the tent more versatile than most. Big Anges Frying Pan 2-Person Tent – $250
Backpacking Tents Price Comparison
- MSR Hubba NX Solo ($350)
- Slingfin Crossbow 2 ($480)
- LL Bean Microlight UL ($349)
- Kelty Horizon 2 ($240)
- Cabela’s Orion 3 ($150)
- MSR Elixir 3 ($300)
- Big Anges Frying Pan 2-Person ($250)