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How to Choose the Best Backpacking Tent?

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So you are all set for your next backpacking adventure and super excited for it.

You’ve got everything but your tent, you pushed it to the last moment because you are clearly overwhelmed by the list of choices and brands and options you have to wade through to buy your perfect tent.

You also know finding the perfect tent is like finding your soulmate and you know finding a perfect backpacking tent or not can make or break your trip.

Don’t worry, we got you covered. You have come to the right place. And hopefully you would have a few good choices by the end of this compact guide.

What to consider for your perfect backpacking tent?


  • Price

Obviously, you have a budget for buying your tent. It depends on how much you backpack.

If you regularly backpack consider investing in a quality product and it makes sense to buy something good that can last for years.

If you just backpack when the weather is good, just buy anything cheap that will last for a while but cheap tents tent to be heavy and also made of much lower quality material.

We have researched a variety of options in different price points and you should be able to pick one that you are comfortable with.

  • Weight

It might not look like you have to put much effort into considering the weight of the tent as they all tend to vary only by few ounces but it makes all the difference.

Tents are one of the four heaviest items that you carry with you along with sleeping bags, Sleeping pads and backpacks and those few ounces matter.

You want to buy something as light as possible without sacrificing comfort and convenience. Pick some from LightWeight tents and there is whole another option of Ultralight tents that you might consider if you are ready to shell out some extra cash.

But you’ll be happy with the decision you made.

  • Protection

Don’t buy the cheapest tents you can find as they tend to provide little to no protection.

You want to buy something that offers decent protection from Storms and harsh weather conditions.

It might even be dangerous to go with a tent that offers no protection and gives away at the slightest whim.

We have picked you some great options that offer a good combination of safety, dryness and warmth.

  • Interior Space

Backpacking tents are meant to be lightweight by limiting the interior space.

Most two person tents are comfy only for two person and some backpacks and some other gear stored in the vestibules.

If you want a little extra space you want to try to go a size higher. Choosing a size higher will give you much more leg room to spread your legs and also gives you more room to keep your backpacking gear. But conversely they tend to be little heavier.

That’s the trade off you have to make. If you care about hiking a lot, just choose something just right and not too heavy.

  • Capacity

1 person tents are perfect for solo travellers and moving light. You should absolutely avoid buying a bigger tent if you travel solo.

2 person tents are the happy middle if you have a partner or more. If you can live with it, just buy a two person tent even if you are 3 but don’t expect magnificent space. You will feel a bit cramped.

If you are ready to sacrifice a bit in weight and are more than 3 try getting a 3 person or 4 person tent.

  • Season Rating

Definitely look for a season rating before you buy.

3 season tents are quite popular with backpackers. It offers good protection for Spring, Summer and Fall backpacking.

But if you are looking to backpack just for one season just go with a one season rating as they tend to give much deeper protection and just made for that season. For Eg: A 3-Season tent isn’t geared up for heavy snowing.

  • Design

It is a pet peeve of mine. I like tents which are simple, well made and serves both form and function.

Look for a comfortable balance between the features and simplicity in design without over complicating much.

  • Durability

Keep in mind Ultralight tents and Lightweight tents tend to be made from lighter materials and tend to go through wear and tear faster than the heavier tents. It should last a good 1000 miles where the heavier tents can last more than 300 miles.

But any sharp stick or rock will puncture any kind of tent fabric. If you want a durable one go with a heavier variants and if it just for personal use buy a lightweight tent.

Conclusion:

There you have it. Hopefully, these tips will help you choose a right tent for your next backpacking trip. As always it comes to personal preference. If you like something, just read the reviews and go for it.

Side Note: If you are still wondering where to head out next, check our backpacking guides on Big Sur and Sequoia.

We also have published a nice little handy dandy checklist for your next backpacking trip. Check it out while you are here and it might save you ton of time planning for your next trip.