You’ve got your new favorite sleeping bag, your trusty fly fishing rod, and the perfectly broken-in pair of hiking boots. Now you’re ready to head out on the trail for a few nights under the stars so you’ll need a humble abode. Whether it’s a weekend getaway at the lake or a two-week trek in the Rockies, these are the tents you’ll need for your adventures this year.
Portable, light and spacious.
Mountain Hardwear Ghost UL 2
With enough space for two and weighing in at only 2 pounds 9 ounces, the Ghost UL 2 is the ultimate lightweight backpacking tent. Setup is incredibly easy, and even those who swear by instruction manuals will forego it thanks to the one-piece pole design.
Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL 3
If you need a little bit more vertical room than the Ghost offers, the Fly Creek HV UL 3 works perfectly as an alternative. It offers 41 inches of height at its peak, compared to the 37 of the Ghost. While that might not sound like a lot a first, every inch counts when you’re out in the wilderness.
MSR Freelite 2
The brand-new Freelite 2 is MSR’s lightest freestanding backpacking tent. If you’re counting ounces, look no further than the Freelite. It weighs in at a measly 2 pounds 7 ounces, thanks in part to its 15D ripstop nylon 1,200mm Durashield rain fly and floor fabric.
Nemo Dagger 2
The Nemo dagger combines the best of both worlds. The stigma in backpacking is that you have to take a weight penalty in order to get any sort of room and comfort. The Dagger 2 dispels that stigma, still qualifying as a lightweight tent at 3 pounds 12 ounces, but offering 50 inches of width and 42 inches of height.
Hilleberg Anjan 2 GT
Swedish-based Hilleberg has been making tents since founder Bo Hilleberg took an inspiring ski vacation in 1971. Since then, their proven designs have become a favorite of mountaineers and serious backpackers. The Anjan 2 GT carries the same bombproof pedigree as Hilleberg’s four-season basecamp tents but with less than half the weight (it’s just under 4 pounds). The unique two-pole arch design can withstand 80 mph winds, and the Kerlon outer fabric can take any storm you hike into.
Car Camping Tents
Tents for people who like walk-in closets.
The TN2 provides a large sleeping and living area at 28.8 square feet of space and at 3.5 feet tall; space is definitely worth the trouble when car camping (i.e. not much trouble at all). With its rectangular shape, mesh walls, and stargazing fly (which extends into an entry awning), the tent delivers the homey qualities you want in a casual car-side shelter.
MSR Papa Hubba NX
The Papa Hubba builds on previous Hubba backpacking tents with extra space and some added comfort features. Stay-dry doors are especially nice if you’ll be camping with forgetful friends: even when left open they’ll channel water away from the interior and your precious gear. Both the tent clips and poles are color coded, so set-up is a breeze. Our favorite feature, though, is the layout of doors and vestibules, ensuring good ventilation, even in summer heat or at a crowded summer festival campground.
MSR Backcountry Barn
Steep walls and 74 inches of headroom means the MSR Back Country Barn can fit you, a friend and as much gear as you dare to carry. The 346-square-foot interior volume lends itself to being stuffed with your fishing gear, climbing rack, and a cooler or two of
provisions beer. A detachable floor makes it easy to convert from sleeping quarters to shared gear storehouse, to picnic table shelter to remote race aid station and back again.
REI Kingdom 6
With a peak height over six feet, REI’s Kingdom tent feels more like a mobile cabin than a tent. An internal divider can separate the tent into two private rooms — a helpful feature if you need to put kids down for a nap or to bed early. At seventeen pounds, it requires its own backpack to carry, but the huge footprint lends itself perfectly to large groups, or those just seeking a little extra space and privacy. You can add on extra vestibules with the Connect-Tech zipper, expanding your Kingdom as far as you need.
Tents for people who like summits.
None of Heimplanet’s tents come with poles. That may seem strange, but the inflatable, geometric support system actually proves more stable than many pole layouts. Rather than multiple layers of mesh, rainfly and poles, the entire three-layer system of inner tent, weather guard and supports is integrated, so you can just unpack and pump it up. Both layers feature best-in-class waterproofing and breathability, so you’ll stay comfortable wherever you decide to bed down.
Sierra Designs Convert 3
The Sierra Designs Convert 3 has gone through a number of iterations over the years, but the latest is by far the best. The Convert 3 is spacious, providing plenty of room for all of your expedition gear as well as accommodating larger sleeping bags and other equipment associated with winter camping. It also stands up to storms and strong winds thanks to its aerodynamic design and DAC poles.
The North Face Bastion 4
You’re mostly likely to find the new Bastion 4 in its natural habitat: 17,000 feet up Denali. With fabric, poles and stake lines tested to -60 degrees Fahrenheit (we don’t recommend trying to recreate that), it’s built to withstand Mother Nature’s very worst. Oversized pole guides and guy lines are glove friendly so you don’t have worry about frostbite when getting camp up and running in a blizzard. This isn’t your average weekend-warrior tent, and is probably overkill for most campers.
Hilleberg Keron 3 GT
The Hilleberg tunnel tent has been a standard in high alpine trekking and winter mountaineering for good reason. The double-wall design minimizes condensation and the tunnel shape helps it withstand strong winds and storms. In a pinch the outer section of the tent can also be set up on its own to act as a rain shelter when things get ugly.