TOP GEAR PICKS

Best Backpacking Tent: For Lightweight Traveling

Alps Mountaineering lightweight backpacking tent and two adults next to him
John C. Porter
Written by John C. Porter

If you are planning a backpacking trip, carrying an extra-heavy load is not an option.  That’s why it is so important to make sure all of your gear is essential, as well as lightweight.  A tent is definitely a must have, for those rainy nights outside, but you have to choose the best backpacking tent for your trip carefully, so you don’t overburden yourself.

Thankfully, there are numerous lightweight tents available, all capable of keeping you dry, comfortable, and well rested so you can continue your journey refreshed.

Product NameWeightSizeMaterialPrice
Eureka Spitfire2.75 lb9 x 3.6 x 3.4 inchesNylon taffeta, polyester storm shield and aluminum frameCheck price on Amazon
Mountainsmith Morrison4.68 lb7.8 x 4.8 x 3.7 inchesPolyester with polyurethane coatingCheck price on Amazon
Coleman Sundome 22 lb7 x 5 x 4 inchesCoated polyester, polyethylene and fiberglass polesCheck price on Amazon
Coleman Sundome 36 lb7 x 7 x 4.4 inchesCoated polyester, polyethylene and fiberglass polesCheck price on Amazon
Welzen Alpine8 lb5 x 8 x 4 inchesPolyester/polyurethane coating, welded polyethylene floorCheck price on Amazon
Mountain Trails South7 lb9 x 7 x 4.3 inchesPolyester walls and fly, welded Polyethylene floor, mesh roof ventsCheck price on Amazon
Weanas Professional5 lb7 x 4.3 x 3.6 inches210T polyester tent, B3 Nylon mesh, 210T polyester, 150D anti-tear Oxford cloth floorCheck price on Amazon
Nemo Losi LS4 lb7.2 x 4.7 x 3.9 inchesPU Nylon Ripstop fly with coating, Nylon Ripstop walls, no see meshCheck price on Amazon
Coleman Hooligan2 lb9 x 7 x 5.2 inchesPolyester fly with coating, polyethylene floor, mesh sides and roofCheck price on Amazon

Features to Look for in a Backpacking Tent

Weight, material, and capacity are all important in a backpacking tent, but there are a few other things to consider when purchasing one. If you keep the following features in mind when choosing your new tent, you will never make the mistake of buying the wrong tent for your trip.

Weight

When you carry everything on your back, you want to make sure you don’t overburden yourself, so you can make it as far as you need to without injury. Because your tent is one of the heaviest items you’ll be packing, be sure it is as lightweight as possible, while still giving you the room you need to sleep as well as store your other gear.

Capacity

If traveling alone, there are 1-person tents available, but they can be a bit cramped if you have to use it for storage as well as sleeping. A 2 person tent is still lightweight, while giving you the space you need, even if you actually have 2 people sleeping in there.

Image presenting tent view

3- or 4-person tents can be a bit heavier, but essential if you’re in a larger group.  Of course, how much gear you have is something to consider when choosing your tent.  Some models come with vestibules for packs and shoes, giving you more space inside the tent for sleeping.

Construction

There are two types of tents for backpackers, a single-wall and a double-wall construction. Single-wall tents are just one piece, and are lightweight, though it may be harder to stay dry in them, because any condensation on the walls could leak through if you touch them.

Image of a tent in the mountains

Double-wall tents consist of the tent body, covered with a fly, which keeps the water away from the tent, reducing leaks and giving you the option of sleeping without it on clear nights.  Though the fly adds a bit of weight to your pack, it is the better option, because of the added protection, not just from condensation, but from the wind and stormy weather.

Durability

Lightweight tents are made of thinner materials, then the heavier models, but this doesn’t mean they are no good. If set up, taken down, and stored carefully, they are more than capable of lasting through numerous long-term backpacking, hiking, and camping trips, without a tear.

Setup

It is important to make sure your tent is easy to set up, especially if you are by yourself. Freestanding tents are the most convenient, because they only need a couple of poles and can be set up pretty much anywhere.

Terra Nova Solar Photon 2. tent near the sea

Non-freestanding tents require the use of stakes and guylines, as well as poles, may require a bit more skill to master, and need softer ground to pound those stakes in. They are lighter than the freestanding models, though, so choose which is better for your particular trip, to make things easier when you’re actually out in the wild.

Design

There are a few features to look for in a tent’s design to ensure the most comfortable night. For two or more people, it may be a good idea to find one with 2 doors, so there is little chance of disturbing your sleeping friends if you have to exit during the night. A vestibule or two are also necessary, to store your gear in, giving you more room in the tent for a comfortable sleep.

Ultralight-Backpacking-Tent on top of the mountains

Windows that can be closed on cooler nights are a good option, or at least some mesh on the roof for ventilation.  Hanging pockets or lofts for smaller items in the tent, zippered access ports for electrical cords, and a decent amount of headroom are all features to look for when searching for your new tent.

Top Product Reviews

Now that you’re made aware of the features you should be keeping an eye out for, here are some of the top-rated tents on the market for you to consider during your shopping experience.

Eureka Spitfire Eureka Spitfire

Price: Approx. $140

Weight: 2.75 lbs

Dimensions: 9 x 3.6 x 3.4 inches

Specific features: Walls are nylon taffeta w/ 1200mm coating, floor is 70d nylon taffeta w/1200mm coating, 75d stormshield polyester fly, 40d polyester no-see-um mesh, 9mm dac featherlite 7000 series aluminum frame

Best use: Backpacking, camping, fishing, hiking

Description: Eureka Spitfire is perfect for lightweight overnight trips in rain or shine.  It is a 3-season tent, with a body made entirely of No-see-um mesh that keeps the air inside moving, while the lightweight fly keeps you dry even in the heaviest downpour.

The bathtub floor won’t let the water soak through even on damp ground, and has taped seams to protect against leaking.  With only 2 poles and a few clips to attach to the tent body, this tent is easy and quick to put together on your own.

There are 4 storm guylines on the fly, to hold the tent in place during storms, though the steel pegs are not of the highest quality, and some users have purchased stronger pegs to be sure everything stays where it is supposed to during high winds.  There is a vestibule to store your bags, and a handy pocket for smaller items.

PROS:

  • Lightweight and easy to carry
  • Easy to set up

CONS:

  • Stakes aren’t very good

Related: If you want to make sure that those damp mornings in the woods won’t make the inside of your tent’s floor wet, we can recommend the Eureka Spitfire footprint. It will also keep the floor of your tent good as new and prevent it from getting torn or scratched.

Check the price on Amazon

Mountainsmith Morrison Mountainsmith Morrison

Price: Approx. $150

Weight: 4.68 lb

Dimensions: 7.8 x 4.8 x 3.7 inches

Specific features: Breathable 185T polyester tent, 185T polyester rainfly with 2000mm polyurethane coating, 190T polyester floor with 5000mm polyurethane coating

Best use: Backpacking, camping, hiking

Description: Mountainsmith Morrison is lightweight, and stands up to any wind and rain you may encounter in all three of the seasons it is designed for.  The fly keeps you dry all night, while giving you two separate vestibules to store a bag or shoes.

The breathable mesh keeps you cool on warm nights and allows you to look up at the stars when the fly is left off, or the ventilation windows on the fly will still give you a bit of air movement when it is put on.  The bathtub floor has taped seams, to keep the water out.

Aluminum V-stakes keep everything where it should be, and the poles and fly attachments are all color-coded, with easy to follow instructions right on the carry bag, so there are no extra papers to lose.

Inside the tent is a removable gear loft, as well as a few mesh storage pockets, to keep your necessities close at hand.  There are also two doors, so there will be no need to climb over your sleeping buddy should the need to leave the tent arise.

PROS:

  • Easy to set up
  • A lot of space for taller people

CONS:

  • Heavier than other models
  • Footprint not included

Related: This tent also has a Mountainsmith Morrison footprint that is sold separately.

 Check the price on Amazon

Coleman Sundome 2Coleman Sundome 2

Price: $40 – $50

Weight: 2 lb

Dimensions: 7 x 5 x 4 inches

Specific features: Coated polyester fly and walls, mesh roof, 1000D polyethylene floor, shock-corded fiberglass poles

Best use: Backpacking, camping, hiking

Description: Coleman Sundome 2 sets up easily with only two poles, a few Insta-clip attachments, and a few metal stakes, in only 10 minutes.  The floor is bathtub style, to keep you dry while you sleep, and the fly keeps the rain from soaking you from above, while the front awning keeps the sun off your face.

There is a large hooded window at the back of the tent as well as mesh vents on the roof to give you ample ventilation.  This tent uses Coleman’s WeatherTec System, which includes welded floors and inverted seams to prevent leaking.

A zippered access port means you can run a cord in for a small A/C unit, fan, or even a heater on cooler nights.  2 handy mesh bags store your smaller items, and a hook at the top can be used to hang a flashlight after it gets dark.  The carry bag has the instructions printed right on it.

PROS:

  • Good price
  • Easy to set up and take down
  • Good ventilation

CONS:

  • Travel bag not made for backpacking
  • Interior isn’t as spacey as other tents

Related: For a dry night without a wet tent floor, you should consider buying the OUTAD Sunshade that also serves well as a tent footprint.

Check the price on Amazon

Coleman Sundome 3 Coleman Sundome 3

Price: $60 – $65

Weight: 6 lb

Dimensions: 7 x 7 x 4.4 inches

Specific features: Coated polyester walls, 185T fly with 450mm coating, mesh vent, 1000D polyethylene floor, shock-corded fiberglass poles

Best use: Backpacking, camping

Description: Coleman Sundome 3 is perfect for summer camping, with its mesh vent and zippered privacy windows for air circulation on warmer nights, and its sturdy fly to keep you dry in wetter weather.  It sets up quickly and easily with only two poles, both secured with its Insta-Clip system.

Access is through the one main door, where a handy welcome mat waits for those muddy shoes and boots.  Though meant for 3 people, it may be a little tight, especially for those with bags and other necessities in the tent with them.

The WeatherTec System of welded floors and inverted seams is meant to keep the tent floor dry, but be sure to follow the instructions and seal the tent before using it, so leaking is kept to a minimum.  Inside the tent is a handy access port for electricity, and 2 mesh pockets for phones, keys, and other smaller items.

PROS:

  • Spacious
  • Provides ventilation even when raining
  • Very easy to set up
  • Lightweight

CONS:

  • Fixed vents cannot be covered
  • After some use, the seams might give up

Related: The Coleman B01M4 tent kit is a good match for any Coleman tent, as it helps not only setting them up, but cleaning them as well.

Check the price on Amazon

Wenzel Alpine Wenzel Alpine

Price: $56 – $60

Weight: 8 lb

Dimensions: 5 x 8 x 4 inches

Specific features: Weather Armor polyester with polyurethane coating for tent and fly, welded polyethylene floor, shock-corded fiberglass poles

Best use: Backpacking, camping

Description: Wenzel Alpine has enough room to sleep 3 people, with an outdoor vestibule for shoes and other larger items. There are 2 zippered mesh windows, as well as a third on the D-style door, to keep your tent ventilated, though the fly is rather small, and on rainy nights, it is best to keep those windows closed to stay dry.

The integrated mud mat includes a handy drainage strip to keep your tent clean and dirt-free. The pole pockets leave no question about setup, with only a few steel stakes to keep your tent in place. To help prevent leakage, all the seams are double-stitched and lap-felled to mimic shingles and repel water, and along with the zippers and webbing are treated with sealant, so there will be little chance of waking up wet.

For your smaller essentials, there is a hanging gear loft as well as a smaller hanging pocket.  Everything folds up nicely into the handy duffel bag for easy traveling.

PROS:

  • Good price
  • Very spacious in the inside

CONS:

  • Ventilation isn’t great
  • Not as easy to set up
  • Not very lightweight

Related: For a bright light inside a tent, we suggest checking out the Etekcity Outdoor camping lantern.

Check the price on Amazon

Mountain Trails South Mountain Trails South

Price: $50 – $60

Weight: 7 lb

Dimensions: 9 x 7 x 4.3 inches

Specific features: Polyester walls and fly, welded polyethylene floor, mesh roof vents, shock-corded fiberglass poles

Best use: Backpacking, camping, hiking, biking

Description: Setting up Mountain Trails South lightweight tent is simple, thanks to the pin and ring system for its fiberglass frame.  There are large roof vents, plus a couple of zippered windows, so your tent will be well ventilated.

Outside the D-style door is an attached mud mat, to keep your shoes from dirtying up your sleeping area.  A gear loft above and a utility pocket below provide ample storage for flashlights and other smaller items.  And when you’re ready to pack up, simply drop down the tent and follow the fold labels to roll it up, with the poles and stakes inside, and secure it all together with the attached elastic bands.

Though this tent is said to be good for 4 people, those with larger bags or queen-sized air mattresses may prefer it for just 2 or 3 people, for a more comfortable and less cramped sleep.

PROS:

  • Good price
  • Easy to set up
  • Good ventilation

CONS:

  • Materials aren’t the best
  • Not very spacious

Related: For a comfortable night’s sleep. We suggest checking out the Intex Inflatable inflatable mattress.

Check the price on Amazon

Weanas Professional Weanas Professional

Price: $80 – $110

Weight: 5 lb (2 person tent), 5 lb (3P), 6.2 lb (4P)

Dimensions: 7 x 4.3 x 3.6 inches

Specific features: 210T polyester tent, B3 nylon mesh, 210t polyester fly with 4000mm polyurethane coating, 150d anti-tear oxford cloth floor with 5000mm coating, 7001 aluminum poles

Best use: Backpacking, camping, hiking, biking

Description: Weanas Professional comes in 3 different sizes, so no matter how many are in your party, there will be room for everyone.

Convenience is key with this tent, shown with features such as its two doors, mesh top and zippered windows on the fly to ensure air flow and comfort, as well as the covered vestibule with the handy door that can be closed tight to keep your belongings secure, or buckled wide open to let in the cross breeze through the doorways.

These tents are waterproof on both the bottom and the fly, so moisture will never be a problem.  When your adventure comes to an end, you can easily roll up the tent, poles and pegs, and store them in their included carry bag.  Best of all, these tents come in 4 different colors, including green, blue, orange and azure.

PROS:

  • Comes in many different sizes to fit different needs
  • Good weight
  • Easy to set up
  • Resistant

CONS:

  • Not particularly spacious, getting a size bigger than the intended people sleeping might be a good idea

Related: In case your tent poles get damaged and you need to replace them, you can check out the WEANAS Aluminum tent pole and maybe buy them in advance just to be on the safe side if needed.

Check the price on Amazon

Nemo Losi Ls Nemo Losi LS

Price: $380 – $400

Weight: 4 lb

Dimensions: 7.2 x 4.7 x 3.9 inches

Specific features: 15D Sil/PU Nylon ripstop fly with 1200mm coating, 15d nylon ripstop walls, no see um mesh, 40d pu nylon ripstop floor with 1500mm coating

Best use: Backpacking, camping, hiking

Description: Nemo has redesigned its original model to make this tent even lighter, without sacrificing on size, quality, and durability. The unique pole structure keeps Nemo Losi LS upright even in the strongest winds.  The anchor points have attached guylines to keep them in place, and can even be tightened if you notice a bit of slack throughout your campout.

The extra-large side door makes it easy to climb in and out with your gear, or your belongings can be stored in one of the 2 vestibules beneath the fly for a roomier sleeping area. Though there are no windows in the fly, the entire top half of the tent is mesh, so on clear nights you can leave off the cover and sleep beneath the stars. When your trip is over, simply roll up the tent and all its accessories, and head out to your next destination.

PROS:

  • Very easy to set up
  • Lightweight
  • Spacious
  • Very good materials and very reliable

CONS:

  • Expensive

Related: If you want to protect your tent’s floor from boots and paws, Nemo offers a Nemo Losi B003MA pawprint for this tent model.

Check the price on Amazon

Coleman Hooligan Coleman Hooligan

Price: $95 – $100

Weight: 2 lb

Dimensions: 9 x 7 x 5.2 inches

Specific features: Polyester fly with 450mm coating, 1000D polyethylene floor, mesh sides and roof, shock-corded fiberglass poles

Best use: Backpacking, camping, hiking, fishing trips

Description: Coleman Hooligan tent uses unique welded floors and inverted seams to keep the water from leaking in and soaking you while you sleep.  The extra-large fly covers not only the tent, but creates a huge vestibule for you to not only store your gear, but has a door to give you some privacy to remove wet or dirty items before continuing on into the tent’s sleeping area.

The mesh walls give you ample ventilation, and the option of sleeping under the stars with the fly removed, without having to fight off a swarm of bugs.  Two poles for the dome tent, and one for the vestibule, a few stakes in the ground, and you’re all set up and ready to relax.

Inside, there is enough room for 4 to sleep, with a handy storage pocket for all the smaller items you may not want to leave outside the tent.  When it’s time to go home, everything fits nicely in the included carry bag.

PROS:

  • Very lightweight
  • Comfortable carry bag
  • Comfortable vestibule created by the rain fly

CONS:

  • Not very easy to set up
  • Not very good ventilation with the rain fly

Related: In case you need to find something in the tent in the middle of the night, you will need light and in such cases, we recommend the Coast HL8R headlamp.

Check the price on Amazon

The Wrap Up

When choosing your new tent for your next backpacking trip, be sure to choose carefully, so you get a quality tent that will last as long as you do, without weighing you down and cutting your trip short.

Of course, there are dozens of backpacking tents available, so if there is one you feel measures up to what we have listed here, please let us know in our comments section.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
John C. Porter
John C. Porter

John is passionate about hiking long distances. His record is over 65 miles in one day with backpacking gear. John hiked over 10 thousand miles, tried over 100 hiking shoes and visited 56 countries so far. His favourite hiking route is West Coast Trail on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada.

  • Dawson

    Thanks for the jumping off point for researching a new backpacking tent. Has anyone actually weighed their tent after purchase and compared it to manufacturers’ claims?
    For example, I purchased a lightweight, 2-person tent a few years ago and it actually weighed about 12 oz. more than the sellers’ claims. It might be important to double-check those claims since in my case it was more than just a few ounces off (in my case nearly a pound).
    Ease of setup is crucial too, especially on long, grueling days on the trail. When I’m tired, I’m easily confused.

  • John C. Porter

    Yes, we’ve weighed those tents and compared these with the manufacturer’s specs. I think finding a trusted brand is really important so you don’t get ripped off. I always emphasized to go for quality products from reputable sellers to get your money’s worth. Did you complain to the tent manufacturer about the weight issue you’ve mentioned here?
    For your peace of mind, all products here were tested and found to be excellent.

  • Deb Summers

    I found the Big Agnes Rattlesnake Mtn Glo to be amazing. It isn’t the lightest tent, but that built in light source really makes my life easier. Instead of looking for my light source, I always know right where it is. It sounds like a gimmick, but wow what a life-changer for me in the backpacking and camping department.
    The storage compartments are also rugged and well-designed, maintaining the tent’s integrity even with heavy things stored in them.

  • John C. Porter

    The Big Agnes is awesome, isn’t it? What people love about it is the light source! My buddies and I get to read inside the tent without difficulties and that’s a big plus. It’s also great that the tent is so lightweight and the material is very durable. A big value for the money!

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