The tent is arguably the most important part of a backpackers arsenal. It’s going to ensure you’re safe, comfortable and prepared for any eventuality while out on a backpacking trip. Everyone’s needs are slightly different some want more extreme durability, others perhaps more headroom or just one on a budget. We’ve taken the most commonly asked questions and compiled them into this article to give you a complete picture of the best tents most suited to your needs.
Here are FeralEscape we put in the time in researching, testing & asking what ourselves and others consider to be the critical factors of a backpacking tent.
What we look for in the best hiking tents
The weight of your tent can have serious implications on the length and type of hike you can embark on. If you’re wanting to do long technical hikes the last thing you need is an additional 3 kilo’s weighing you down. With many backpackers going as ultralight as possible, we certainly agree, weight is the last thing to compromise on.
The resistance to weather is important for those who often backpack in changeable climates. In this article we look at the hydrostatic head ratings of the flysheet and ground sheets.
The function of a tent is important, is there enough headroom to sit up, is there space for wet bags and gear all these things will ultimately leave you with a satisfied or tarnished memory of your trip.
The quality of the materials used will also reflect on the overall effiency of every other feature. I’m very much a believer of most of the time you get what you pay for, a £50 is well a £50 tent and can’t exactly be expected to last longer than a couple days in Glastonbury.
How ease a tent is to erect is also key, many times on hiking trips I’ll have a few minutes to pitch the tent before the heavens open, a tent that takes longer than 5minutes to pitch I feel is too long.
Best 1 Person Backpacking Tents
If solo is your style then you’re going to be paying extra close attention to weight as having to carry everything yourself! From our experience we often recommend an ultra light 2 man tent in case you have company or want to store your gear.
1: Vango Banshee 200
Dimensions: 2.27m x 1.20m x 0.95m (LxWxH)
Best for: Affordable year round backpacking
The Vango Banshee some would describe as an antique of a tent. A staple in Vango’s lineup for many years, it’s been worked on and perfected over that time. A tunnel tent which uses two lightweight aluminium alloy poles.
Dubbed a 2 man tent many people will always recommend it for 1 as it’s longest length struggles to fit someone 6ft tall. Weighing in at 2.35kg this tent isn’t the lightest but with a 5000mm hydrostatic flysheet and 6000mm hydrostatic groundsheet it will withstand the toughest of conditions.Find on Amazon Find on Cotswolds
2: MSR Hubba NX Tent
Dimensions: 2.13m x 2.79m x 1.00m (LxWxH)
Best for: Solo, lightpack long distance backpacking
MSR have launched the Hubba for those serious about lightweight backpacking. This tent is better suited for fair weather where rain is less likely. With a 1200mm hydrostatic head it won’t be as performant in the extreme conditions but only weighs “3 bags of sugar” so it’s a consideration if lightweight hiking is key on your agenda.
On the warmer and dry days you don’t need a flysheet at all and you can camp under the stars using the mesh.Find on Amazon Find on Cotswolds
Best 2 Person Hiking Tent
If you want that little bit of extra space or know you’ll need space for two then these tents will offer that flexibility. These are undoubtedly the most popular amongst most backpackers.
3: Terra Nova Voyager
Dimensions: 2.91m x 1.25m x 1.0m (LxWxH)
Best for: Year round backpacking, remote trips & longevity
The Voyager is a leading performance backpacking tent, with a 6000mm flysheet and 7000mm hydrostatic ground sheet it’ll be able to withstand galeforce winds and torrential rain. Having a porch large enough for two sacks this tent is capable of fitting two people and gear while weighing under 2 kilograms it’s lighter than some tents designed for just 1!
Being semi geodesic in design this is suited for pitching in challenging locations. Like the Banshee this tent has been around for a long time with some having kept theirs for over 15 years!Find on Amazon Find on Cotswolds
4: Vaude – Terra Hogan 2P Tent
Dimensions: 3.15m x 1.25m x 1.10m (LxWxH)
Best for: Day hikes for quick pitching
The terra hogan is a partial geodesic design which utilises an exoskeleton shell which is highly efficient in pitching. With a solid hydrostatic shell of 5000mm and 6000mm in the ground sheet there are not many places this tent can’t take you. A quick lightweight tent, perfect for the British weekend. The porch is smaller than comparable tents so if you’re regularly trekking with lots of gear this may not be for you. We particularly like the dome design and ultra durable ripstop fabric.Find on Cotswolds
Best 3 & 4 Person Backpacking/ Hiking Tents
If comfort and the camping experience is a priority you may opt for a slightly larger tent. Utilising porch space for seating or just more room to relax, these tents will suit groups of 2 or more and work very well for families with young children who are taking them along on the adventure.
5. Vango Mirage 300+
Dimensions: 3.60m x 2.00m x 1.20m
Best For: Car camping, short backpacking trips or those looking for more space.
The Vango Mirage 300+ is the tent we used on our latest trip to Colorado and Yellowstone. It features a 5000mm hydrostatic flysheet and 6000mm groundsheet which was plenty enough to wait out a Rocky Mountain thunderstorm. It’s large porch area has been a favourite of many for the ability to store plenty of gear. Provide a base to prepare food from (cooking equipment outside the tent) Being a semi geodesic design this tent is only needs two pegs in order to create the porch.Find on GoOutdoors
6. Terra Nova – Polar Lite 3 Tent
Dimensions: 3.35m x 1.70m x 1.05m
Best For: Year round camping expeditions in the toughest of conditions
Built to be like a cabin rather than a tent, this 4 seasons expedition base is aimed at keeping a party of 3 comfortably. Instead of the standard Aluminium alloy poles this tent uses DAC alloy poles which have been designed to withstand 100mph and retain their rigidity in all temperatures, pressures and wind. Having a big porch like the mirage this tent has ample room for packs, cooking and trekking gear, sometimes best kept outside the sleeping area.Find on Amazon Find on Cotswolds
7. Wild Country Hoolie 4 Tent
Dimensions: 3.40m x 2.20m x 1.25m (LxWxH)
Best for: Families & larger groups
One of the only 4 man tents that sits under 4 kg which is mighty impressive for the size of this tent. It has a large porch large enough for cycles and is very durable with a 4000mm shell and 6000mm hydrostatic ground sheet this tent holds up to practically all weather conditions.
The only dedicated 4 man tent we can recommend in this backpacking category it’s certainly worth considering if you frequently travel in a group or have a young family.Find on Amazon Find on Cotswolds
Best Budget Backpacking Tent
Budget constraints is a familiar occurrence for any typical individual. While. The two tents below are relatively cheap and yet they have competitive features that make them ideal for hikers with budget constraints.
8. Outwell Earth 2
Dimensions: 3.10m x 1.50m x 1.10m (LxWxH)
Best for: Backpacker with budgets
This two man camping tent is comes in at under £100 and meets all the criteria for backpacking. It’s pack size is a large 63cm long so ideally you’d split this between two people. It features an inbuilt groundsheet which has a 10,000mm hydrostatic head rating and a 3000mm hydrostatic flysheet.
While it doesn’t feature lightweight alloy poles but the inbuilt porch and ground sheet is a very nice feature. If you’re going to be using a tent for festivals and adventures this is a great one to start!Find on Amazon Find on Cotswolds
Best Lightweight Backpacking Tent
Lightweight hiking is key, if you’re going to be trekking elevation you’ll soon realise that having unecessary weight over a 500m of climbing is a lot of extra work done.
9. Terra Nova Solar Ultra 2
Dimensions: 3.00m x 1.30m x 1.00m (LxWxH)
Best for: Backpackers who want the very lightest gear!
I’m prepared to make a bet that you won’t find a lighter backpacking tent for two. Weighing in a just 722grams this terra nova is less than a bottle of water (800ml) you’ll have no trouble with this weighing you down on any of your ascents.Find on Amazon Find on Cotswolds