Gimme Shelter

The 6 Best Backpacking Tents of 2019


July 27, 2019 Buying Guides By Photo by MSR

If you plan to sleep in the wild after a long day of hiking, you need a tent. A good backpacking tent should be lightweight and small when packed down, since you’ll probably carry it with you all day. It should be comfortable with a bountiful sleeping area, complete with room to spread out, plus eat or read, and possibly a vestibule for storing gear. Bonus points for a tent that’s easy to set up — when you arrive to the campsite after dark, you’ll reap big rewards. And depending on your adventure plans, you may also need a tent that can stand up to high winds, heavy rain or even snow.

To identify the best ones, I spent hours upon hours researching tents rated as highly durable, as well as those made with high-quality poles and fabrics. After all, you don’t want to buy a new tent every year; a good backpacking tent should last you for at least the next decade. I also brought in experts like Laura Evenson, an experienced thru-hiker and REI employee, as well as three other Seattle-based backpackers, to comment on their favorite tents. These outdoors folks shared their opinions on backpacking tent deal breakers and winning features. And personally, I am an experienced gear reviewer who has written and edited dozens of guides to outdoor gear for publications like Gear Patrol, Wirecutter and the REI Co-op Journal, with a special focus on tents, materials and camping equipment. And I like to go outside, too; I grew up in the Pacific Northwest and have been sleeping in the backcountry since I was a kid. All of which is to say, here are the best backpacking tents of 2019.

Best Overall Tent: Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2

The Big Agnes Copper Spur UV is a popular option for new and experienced backpackers alike because of its ideal space-to-weight ratio. Weight starts at three pounds and one ounce, then grows if you expand from a one-person tent up to a four-person tent. It also offers high volume, which means you’ll have increased living space for gear storage, eating, hanging out or sleeping, but without added weight. Bonus points: The Copper Spur has two dual zipper doors, making getting in and out — and getting enough ventilation — quite literally a breeze, and it’s made with durable nylon so it’ll last for years.

Best Durable Ultralite Tent: MSR Hubba Hubba

If you’re looking for a durable, lightweight backpacking tent, the MSR Hubba Hubba is the way to go. The tent starts at three pounds, eight ounces, and comes in one-, two-, three- or four-person configurations. The Hubba Hubba has long been praised in the outdoors community as the absolute best option for long-term durability. Evenson says she loves MSR’s new waterproof coating, which is resistant to the damage that often occurs over time due to heat and humidity. The Hubba Hubba also has Syclone poles, which are made with cutting-edge aerospace composite materials for standing up to inclement weather.

Best Budget Tent: REI Co-op Passage 2 Tent

At less than $200, the REI Co-op Passage 2 tent is a good beginner tent for someone who isn’t ready to commit to backpacking quite yet. The Passage 2 is fairly lightweight for its price, weighing in at four pounds, 13 ounces, and it comes with vestibules for gear storage, plus aluminum poles. Like most REI tents, it’s incredibly easy to set up, which makes it more accessible to newbies.

Best Tent for Intolerable Weather: Hilleberg Anjan 2 GT

If you think you’ll be facing crazy weather during your outdoor adventures, the Hilleberg Anjan 2 GT is a solid choice. It’s a bit heavier than its competitors, weighing in at 4 pounds and 10 ounces, but it offers extra durability and weatherproofing in exchange for that extra pound. The tunnel-like build of the tent allows for venting while still offering rain protection, with an inner and outer tent wall wrapped all around you. If temperatures are scorching, you can roll up the rear wall and vestibule to boost ventilation; if the weather turns, the shelter’s sides zip back down easily. The Anjan is best used as a solo tent for three-season backpacking, not during the winter.

Best Crossover Tent: REI Co-op Half Dome 2 Plus Tent

If you’re looking for a tent that works just as well for car camping as it does in the backcountry, consider the Half Dome 2 Plus. This much-loved, five-pound, five-ounce tent offers enough space to relax while also still somehow remaining relatively lightweight. The durable Half Dome is color coded, which makes setup a breeze, and it has two doors.

Best Single Wall Tent: Hyperlite Mountain Gear Dirigo 2

Backpackers looking for an alternative to a traditional tent can opt for Hyperlite Mountain Gear’s single-wall shelter, the Dirigo 2. It weighs just under two pounds and sets up quickly, warding against unwanted moisture with waterproof fabric. You pitch the tent using trekking poles and stakes, meaning you’re not carrying the extra weight from interior poles, and the mesh walls help keep things light and breezy inside.

The Best Camping Blankets

Made using the same functional materials as sleeping bags — materials like water-repellent down insulation and ripstop nylon shells — camp blankets are perfect for warm weather camping and fit right in inside the home too. Read the Story

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