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A. The Best Tents: Backpacking Edition

Choosing your next backpacking tent doesn't have to be hard
Choosing your next backpacking tent doesn’t have to be hard

If you’ve thought about buying a tent, you know that this is easier said that done. The amount of different models and brands out there make it mission impossible to choose one and buy it. We know that as we’ve also felt that analysis paralysis back in the days.

But fortunately those days are over: in this post we’ll show you some of the best backpacking tents that are on the market today and our personal opinions of those, completely objective and totally unbiased.

Because impartiality and objectivity are crucial for us, we’ll also include a link to our review criteria in the end of the article, where you can see what we take into account when analyzing tents.

Best Backpacking Tents

Best All Around: Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2

Under Dog: Big Agnes Scout Platinum

Most Comfortable: MSR Access 3

Best Ultralight: Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL3 Solution Dye

Best of the Rest: MSR Hubba Hubba 2P

How To Find & Choose The Best Backpacking Tent

If you’re new to camping and are looking to buy a backpacking tent, you’ve most likely noticed that there are dozens of different tents, each with “unique” characteristics. We’re willing to bet that you’ve tried to pull the trigger but ended up not buying any because you were still on the fence between 2 or 3 models. We’ve been there.

The analysis paralysis is definitely a thing and you’re not the only one in that position. We’ve felt that in the first years of camping and always struggled to find the best backpacking tents, no matter how hard we “studied” them. And that’s precisely why we decided to create the blog and do these reviews – to help you.

Whether you are just getting a sense of what’s out there or are ready to buy your first backpacking tent, we’ve got you covered. In this article we’ll give you our unbiased opinions based on years of experience and give you exclusive discounts you cannot find anywhere else!

We'll help you pick a winner
We’ll help you pick a winner

Can Backpacking Tents Really Differ Much?

Yes. While some decades ago backpacking tents in the market were not THAT different from each other, with brands investing serious $$ in new technology, fabric and materials, you can clearly tell the difference between models nowadays.

Whether it’s on size, weight or features, backpacking tents are different and you’ll need to think about what you’re looking for BEFORE you start shopping. It doesn’t make much sense to get all excited about a super fancy tent when you don’t have the $$ to buy it yet, right? Think first on what you want, then go shopping.

What Are Backpacking Tents?

“Backpacking tents are probably the tents we all grew up with: lightweight, compact, and easy to carry” – we wrote this back in September and think it sums it up perfectly. (You can read that article here).

These tents are designed with weight and portability in mind and come in different styles (for example single-walled and double-walled designs). They offer a good balance between weight and durability.

We’ve also written on how to pack a tent in a backpack, so feel free to also check that out if you’re new to the topic.

With the informationals out of the way, onto the reviews.

Best Backpacking Tents

Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2

Best All Around

New to camping or not, we’re pretty sure you’ve heard of Big Agnes. If you haven’t, you should definitely check their website.

Founded more than 20 years ago, the brand sells a wide range of different camping products (from ultralight tents to sleeping bags and pads) and is a pioneer in sustainability (changed the game with solution-dyed tent fabrics).

Our first contact with Big Agnes was actually not via a purchase, but borrowing the Agnes Copper Spur HV from a friend. We were still in the early days of camping and weren’t sure we could afford the tent, and a more experienced friend kindly lent us the tent. Needless to say, we only had to use it once to realize how great it was (and we eventually bought our own further down the road).

We’re not going to bother you with all the details but instead will show you a quick summary of what we thought about the tent, as unbiased and objective as possible.

Key Features

Table with Pros and Cons (bullet points on both)

Pros:

  • Lightweight

  • Easy to set up

  • Good ventilation

  • Spacious

Cons:

  • Expensive

  • Somewhat fragile

  • Light/delicate materials (may require extra care)

Big Agnes Scout Platinum

Best Under Dog

Hopefully at this point Big Agnes doesn’t need any introduction. If it does, we really recommend you check their website.

The Scout Platinum is an excellent backpacking tent that we’ve used several times in different terrains and weather conditions. While some things aren’t perfect, the combination of its good price with its comfort does not disappoint.

Key Features

Pros:

  • Good price

  • Large interior space

  • Easy to set up

  • Comfortable

Cons:

  • Very heavy

  • Large packed size

  • Vulnerable to strong winds

MSR Access 3

Most Comfortable

MSR is another brand you should be aware of. Like REI, MSR offers more products beyond camping, but their tents are of a very high quality & a very solid option.

With the Access 2, comfort is king. Although this backpacking tent is a bit pricier, the level of comfort it provided us was impressive (and we had high expectations!). It’s also quite large so you have plenty of room inside to sleep and more. Again: if you’re looking to make your camping trip comfortable above all, this is one the best backpacking tents out there.

Many others have left great reviews on the product, so we know we’re not the only big fans of the Access 2.

Key Features

Pros:

  • Comfortable

  • Extreme weather resistance

  • Durable

  • Very spacious

Cons:

  • Expensive

  • Not as breathable in mild conditions

Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL3 Solution Dye

Best Ultralight

The "Best Ultralight" - Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL3 Solution Dye

You shouldn’t be surprised to see another Big Agnes tent in this list.

Similarly to the Copper Spur HV UL2, the Tiger Wall UL3 is very spacious and a lightweight tent made of thin materials. Butt hey are not the same: the Tiger Wall is a semi-freestanding tent (so a bit harder to pitch than the Copper Spur HV UL2) that compensates with slightly more ventilation.

The comparison between both models of Big Agnes deserves a separate article (we will likely write one) so we won’t go in detail here. The bottom line is that both are great tents!

Key Features

Pros:

  • Lightweight

  • Spacious

  • Solid weather protection

  • Competitive price

Cons:

  • Hard to pitch on hard surfaces

  • Delicate materials

MSR Hubba Hubba 2P

Best of the Rest

Another great job done by MSR.

Our personal experience with the Hubba Hubba 2P has been great. It’s a lightweight tent that is easy to carry and it deals pretty well with wind and rain – we felt safe the 2 times we camped in one against strong winds.

A close friend of ours owns an Hubba Hubba and I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve borrowed it (more than 10 times!). Let’s see why it’s so great

Key Features

Pros:

  • Lightweight

  • Durable

  • Excellent weather resistance

  • Practical

Cons:

  • Not a lot of headroom

  • Expensive

  • Ventilation could be better

RECAP of the Best Backpacking Tents

Best All Around: Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2

Under Dog: Big Agnes Scout Platinum

Most Comfortable: MSR Access 3

Best Ultralight: Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL3 Solution Dye

Best of the Rest: MSR Hubba Hubba 2P

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is The Best Backpacking Tent?

Unfortunately there isn’t a one-answer-fits-all. Choosing the right backpacking tent will depend massively on what you’re looking for, where you’re planning on going camping and also on your budget.

What Is The Best Ultralight Backpacking Tent?

It’s hard to choose a single best one, but the Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL3 Solution Dye is a great ultralight tent.

What Is A Semi-Freestanding Tent?

Different from a freestanding tent, while semi-freestanding tents have poles that hold up the tent body, parts of it have to be staked out using tent stakes to fully stretch the floor.

What Is A Good Tent Weight For Backpacking?

You should check the article we wrote on it. Very briefly: anything between ultralight (less than 3 Pounds) and lightweight (3 – 4.5 Pounds) is a good tent weight to aim for.

Is a 5lb Tent Too Heavy For Backpacking?

Unless specific circumstances (car camping, for example) 5lb is too heavy for most backpacking tents. You should be aiming for backpacking tents below 4lb.

Who Makes the Best Backpacking Tents?

Brands such as Big Agnes, REI, MSR, Hyperlite and Zpacks, among others, are great.

Review Criteria

At Rtivities we take things seriously and do not slack off when we test and review products.

Our goal is to give you the most helpful feedback possible, based on our personal experience, so that you can be informed when thinking about buying a product. That’s why we have designed a set of criteria that we use to rank tents we review and that keeps us as objective and unbiased as possible. In the interest of transparency, we’ll include a link here to the page where our criteria are laid out.