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What Is A Backpacking Tent?

Backpacking tents are your home away from home—your shelter while on the trail and away from it all. Backpacking tents, specifically, are meant to be carried in a backpack and lightweight enough so they don’t become a burden. They are also made to keep you dry when it gets wet and to ventilate when it gets hot. In the backpacking tent market, there are several areas that allow companies to save weight while maintaining protection from the elements, from the pole construction to the tent material. Every tent and manufacturer is striving to be different while keeping their tents user-friendly, so anyone can get out into the great outdoors.

The Best Backpacking Tents - Gear Hacker

How Do You Choose?

Well, what do you want to accomplish in the backcountry? Are you looking to connect a long hike or have a reliable and low-cost shelter for car camping but also occasionally go for weekend adventures on your own two feet? Where do you camp most often? Are you somewhere with fairly consistent precipitation or in a nice dry location? What about wind? Will the nights get gusty, or are you more likely to camp in protected forest areas? These are all good questions to ask yourself before spending what can (often) be a pretty penny on your outdoor “home.”

As with all outdoor gear, tents are made for the purpose of keeping you safe and dry while sleeping outside. However, each manufacturer and tent is slightly tweaked and tailored for certain aspects of camping outdoors. Some tents are constructed to allow the rainfly to be erected before the main tent in order to keep everything dry in bad weather. Other tents have easy-to-adjust rain flies, so you can stargaze on a clear night while still having the added coverage and warmth of the fly. There is more variety in the tent market than ever, so don’t settle on anything you’re not certain about.

Does Price = Performance?

Not exactly. Price is an indicator of the material that is used. The more lightweight the material, the more expensive the tent as this helps to keep the weight way down for long-distance trekking. The weight can also be reduced with carbon fiber tent poles, which are more expensive but again, lowering the overall weight of the entire tent package. The weight of the tents in our review ranged from 2lb 6oz (NEMO Hornet 2) to 5lb 15oz (REI Co-op Trail Hut), and while 3lbs 9oz of difference may not seem substantial, it adds up to a $169.95 difference in price. At the end of the day, when you’re on day 15 of a 20-day trek, your legs may be wishing you had purchased the lighter tent.

The drawback of all of the weight-saving measures such as carbon fiber poles and lighter or thinner material is overall durability. Thinner mesh and tent floors are less tear-resistant and when torn will impact the overall performance. A majority of the tents in the review do not include a footprint with the tent package. If you are planning to drop dough on a more expensive tent, then we highly recommend that you spend that little extra to get the footprint, as it will increase the lifespan of your tent.

The Best Backpacking Tents - Gear Hacker
The Best Backpacking Tents - Gear Hacker
  • Tent Poles

    The skeleton of the tent. Tent poles are essential to creating the structure of the tent. There is a new trend in lightweight tents for using hubbed poles that reduce the total number of poles while streamlining the setup process. Be careful when pitching your tent; more tent poles are broken during setup than from weather. 

  • Tent Pegs

    The stakes hold down the corners of the tent so it doesn’t blow away when it’s not occupied. The tent pegs are used on the corners of the tent to hold out the vestibule doors and to tension the guy lines, which keep the rain fly off the tent body.

  • Tent Body

    The tent of the tent. Modern tents are a combination of lightweight materials and mesh. The tent floor is usually a treated, waterproof material and will insulate you from wet ground. More mesh will mean more ventilation but less heat retention; 3-season tents are traditionally more mesh for better airflow and a lighter overall tent. 

  • Rainfly Sheet

    The rainjacket of the tent; a thin layer of waterproof material that keeps you dry and warm. A great rainfly comes with ventilation near the top to allow airflow and reduce condensation from building inside the tent. 

  • Vestibules

    The “garage” or mudroom of the tent, a covered area that lets you keep your gear outside of the interior of the tent but still protected from the elements. 

  • Footprint

    An added layer of protection for the floor of the tent. The footprint goes onto the ground where you’re planning on pitching your tent first. It creates a barrier of protection for the floor of your tent body and will help to increase the lifespan of your tent. Not all tents come with a footprint included, so be sure to check the product if you are interested in a tent with a footprint. Most companies will sell a custom footprint for their tent separately. A cheap alternative is simply using a small tarp to keep your tent from directly contacting the ground. 

Types of Tents in Our Review

  • Freestanding

    All but 3 of the tents in our review are freestanding. This means that the tent can be fully pitched using only the poles and the tent body.

  • Semi-freestanding

    Semi-freestanding tents require some assistance from stakes to be fully pitched. Examples include the Big Agnes Tiger Wall, which has 3 pole points on the tent. Without the use of the stakes, the tent would not be properly tensioned and be vulnerable to wind.

How We Judged

  • Comfort

    Tents are complex and, like Shrek or onions, come with many layers to consider. So first off, ask yourself if the tent is going to be comfortable. Does it come with enough liveable space, and are the vestibules large enough so that you don’t need to keep smelly hiking boots in the tent? Does the inside of the tent have features like pockets or storage to help keep you organized throughout the night? Do you plan to spend a great deal of time in the tent, or is it solely for the purpose of sleeping and then moving on? Sure, we are all happy to cram into a tent for a quick sleep when the weather is nice and we can hang out outside. But what if the weather is terrible, and we are tent bound? Are we going to emerge from the tent friends or foe with our camping partner?
  • Ease of Setup

    The next factor is the ease of set-up. Gone are the days that you need five other campers to come help tension areas of the tent, while a sixth is swinging a hammer like Gallagher to drive in tent stakes. In the world of hubbed and pre-bent tent poles, most manufacturers are offering a 1-pole solution to erecting the tent that should only take one person around five minutes to complete.
  • Weatherproofing

    When looking at tents, you can’t forget protection from the elements. A tent in combination with its fly creates a cocoon of weather protection that keeps you dry throughout the night. How those two elements work together plays a major role in how comfortable you’ll be during a surprise midnight storm.
  • Durability

    Durability also played a role in our decision-making process. While all tents are fairly delicate and need to be treated with care to get the most out of them, some are made to be more durable than others. Tents that come with a footprint at the initial purchase price ranked higher on our list because you don’t need to spend the extra money on a footprint, which is a win for the consumer. Then it comes down to the fabric type and overall tear resistance over the course of its life.
  • Weight*

    Finally, weight and packed size played a role. However, for most campers, neither the weight nor the packed size is the end-all decision for choosing a tent. Most campers will have the tent in a few pieces spread out in the backpack to reduce the amount of space it takes up. Or if there are two trekkers, having one hiker take the fly and the other take the tent body helps to spread the load. *For this review, when talking about weight, it is a reference to the “packed weight.” The packed weight is the heaviest of the options online, so to be fair to every company, that is what we used to remain consistent. From there, the tent can only get lighter, so keep that in mind.
  • Packed Size

    Packed size does not play a role in this Gear Hacker Review, as every trekker and camper has a different style of packing tents into their backpacks. While it is a figure that most companies list, we don’t feel that it will impact the decision-making for many consumers. Some companies like NEMO have created Divvy Sacks that separate the tent into two bundles for easier packing and carrying by two hikers.
The Best Backpacking Tents - Gear Hacker

Our Top Picks

NEMO Dragonfly 2: Best Backpacking Tent of 2021

Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2: Runner-Up Best Backpacking Tent of 2021

REI Co-op Trail Hut 2: Best Budget Tent of 2021

Hilleberg Anjan 2 GT: Best Tent for Extreme Weather of 2021

Big Agnes Tiger Wall: ​Best Semi-Freestanding Ultralight Tent of 2021

REI Half Dome SL 2+: Best Frontcountry Tent of 2021

Best Backpacking Tents: NEMO Dragonfly 2 - Gear Hacker

Buy Now at Rei.com

  • Comfort 90% 90%
  • Ease of Setup 80% 80%
  • Weatherproofing 80% 80%
  • Durability 70% 70%

Pros

Extremely Roomy for Weight

Cons

Durability of Poles

Weight: 3lbs 2oz (1.41kg)

Number of Doors: 2

Tent Floor Space: 29sqft

Vestibules: 2 (10 + 10sqft)

Number of Poles: 1 Hubbed Aluminum DAC Featherlite NFL

Best Backpacking Tents: Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 - Gear Hacker

Buy Now at Rei.com

  • Comfort 90% 90%
  • Ease of Setup 90% 90%
  • Weatherproofing 80% 80%
  • Durability 70% 70%

Pros

Interior Pockets and Features, Overall Space

Cons

Price and Double Zipper Doors

Weight: 3lbs 2oz (1.41kg)

Number of Doors: 2

Tent Floor Space: 29sqft

Vestibules: 2 (9 + 9sqft)

Number of Poles: 2 DAC NFL Aluminum

Best Backpacking Tents: REI Co-op Trail Hut 2+ - Gear Hacker

Buy Now at Rei.com

  • Comfort 90% 90%
  • Ease of Setup 80% 80%
  • Weatherproofing 80% 80%
  • Durability 80% 80%

Pros

Living Space, Price

Cons

Weight

Weight: 5lbs 15oz (2.69kg)

Number of Doors: 2

Tent Floor Space: 31.7sqft

Vestibules: 2 (8.5 + 8.5 sqft)

Number of Poles: 3

Best Backpacking Tents: Hilleberg Anjan 2 GT - Gear Hacker

Buy Now at Moosejaw.com

  • Comfort 80% 80%
  • Ease of Setup 70% 70%
  • Weatherproofing 100% 100%
  • Durability 90% 90%

Pros

Weatherproofing and Easy Setup

Cons

Not a Freestanding Tent and Pricey

Weight: 4lbs 10oz (2.1kg)

Number of Doors: 1

Tent Floor Space: 28sqft

Vestibules: 1 (27sqft)

Number of Poles: 3

Best Backpacking Tents: Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2- Gear Hacker

Buy Now at Amazon.com

  • Comfort 90% 90%
  • Ease of Setup 90% 90%
  • Weatherproofing 80% 80%
  • Durability 70% 70%

Pros

Lightweight, Great For Trail Running

Cons

Zipper Design of the Doors and Fly

Weight: 2lbs 8oz (1.13kg)

Number of Doors: 2

Tent Floor Space: 28sqft

Vestibules: 2 (8 + 8sqft)

Number of Poles: 1 - Hubbed DAC Featherlite

Best Backpacking Tents: REI Co-op Half Dome SL 2+ - Gear Hacker

Buy Now at Amazon.com

  • Comfort 100% 100%
  • Ease of Setup 80% 80%
  • Weatherproofing 70% 70%
  • Durability 80% 80%

Pros

So Much Room for Activities!

Cons

Weight

Weight: 5lb 5oz (2.41kg)

Number of Doors: 2

Tent Floor Space: 35sqft

Vestibules: 2 (11.25 + 11.25sqft)

Number of Poles: 1 DAC Featherlite NFL Aluminum - Hubbed

Best Backpacking Tents: Marmot Tungsten 2P - Gear Hacker

Buy Now at Backcountry.com

  • Comfort 80% 80%
  • Ease of Setup 70% 70%
  • Weatherproofing 70% 70%
  • Durability 80% 80%

Pros

Interior Space

Cons

Awkward-fitting Fly

Weight: 5lbs 4oz (2.38kg)

Number of Doors: 2

Tent Floor Space: 32sqft

Vestibules: 2 (9.5 + 6.5sqft)

Number of Poles: 3 - HD Velocity 7000 Series Aluminum

Best Backpacking Tents: MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2 - Gear Hacker

Buy Now at MSRGear.com

  • Comfort 80% 80%
  • Ease of Setup 70% 70%
  • Weatherproofing 90% 90%
  • Durability 80% 80%

Pros

Weatherproofing Material and Design

Cons

Price and Vestibule Sizing

Weight: 3lbs 14oz (1.75kg)

Number of Doors: 2

Tent Floor Space: 29sqft

Vestibules: 2 (8.75 + 8.75sqft)

Number of Poles: 1 Hubbed Easton Syclone

Best Backpacking Tents: NEMO Hornet 2P - Gear Hacker

Buy Now at Rei.com

  • Comfort 80% 80%
  • Ease of Setup 90% 90%
  • Weatherproofing 80% 80%
  • Durability 70% 70%

Pros

Superlight Weight While Remaining Comfortable

Cons

Durability is a Concern, Lightweight Poles

Weight: 2lbs 6oz (1.08kg)

Number of Doors: 2

Tent Floor Space: 27.5sqft

Vestibules: 2 (7.1 + 7.1sqft)

Number of Poles: 1 Hubbed Aluminum DAC Featherlite NFL

Best Backpacking Tents: MSR Access 2 - Gear Hacker

Buy Now at Msrgear.com

  • Comfort 70% 70%
  • Ease of Setup 80% 80%
  • Weatherproofing 80% 80%
  • Durability 90% 90%

Pros

4-Season Construction with All Season Versatility

Cons

Venting for Warmer Nights

Weight: 4lbs 1oz (1.84kg)

Number of Doors: 2

Tent Floor Space: 29sqft

Vestibules: 2 (8.75 + 8.75sqft)

Number of Poles: 2

Best Backpacking Tents: Kelty Dirt Motel 2 - Gear Hacker

Buy Now at Backcountry.com

  • Comfort 70% 70%
  • Ease of Setup 80% 80%
  • Weatherproofing 70% 70%
  • Durability 70% 70%

Pros

Easy Setup

Cons

The Fly Needs Some Work

Weight: 4lbs 13oz (2.18kg)

Number of Doors: 2

Tent Floor Space: 28sqft

Vestibules: 2 (8.9 + 8.9sqft)

Number of Poles: 3

Best Backpacking Tents: NEMO Dagger 2 - Gear Hacker

Buy Now at Nemoequipment.com

  • Comfort 90% 90%
  • Ease of Setup 80% 80%
  • Weatherproofing 90% 90%
  • Durability 70% 70%

Pros

Interior Space, Divvy Stuff Sack

Cons

Price, Rainfly Coverage

Weight: 3lbs 14oz (1.75kg)

Number of Doors: 2

Tent Floor Space: 31.3sqft

Vestibules: 2 (11.4 + 11.4sqft)

Number of Poles: 1 DAC Featherlite Aluminum - Hubbed

NEMO Dragonfly 2

 

Best Backpacking Tents: NEMO Dragonfly 2 - Gear Hacker

Best Backpacking Tent of 2021

  • Comfort 90% 90%
  • Ease of Setup 80% 80%
  • Weatherproofing 80% 80%
  • Durability 70% 70%

Price: $399.95

Weight: 3lbs 2oz (1.41kg)

Number of Doors: 2

Tent Floor Space: 29sqft

Vestibules: 2 (10 + 10sqft)

Number of Poles: 1 Hubbed Aluminum DAC Featherlite NFL

What We Like: Extremely Roomy for Weight

What We Don’t: Durability of Poles

In a world where companies are trying to create their own quiver-killer tents, NEMO seems to be leading the charge. The NEMO Dragonfly 2 is the perfect balance between lightweight efficiency and overall comfort. The setup is foolproof, and the fly helps to make the tent feel pretty bombproof. Really, we think all the proofs are covered. The 2-person tent is $300, and the 3-person version is $400. The value is there. This is a feature-packed, weight-conscious, and—dare we say—luxurious tent for anyone looking to get into the backcountry. The material throughout the tent is durable, and the tent is made to handle anything nature can throw at it. For these reasons and how excited this tent got us to go camping again, the Dragonfly is our Best Backpacking Tent of 2021.

Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2

Best Backpacking Tents: Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 - Gear Hacker

Runner-Up Best Backpacking Tent of 2021

  • Comfort 90% 90%
  • Ease of Setup 90% 90%
  • Weatherproofing 80% 80%
  • Durability 70% 70%

Price: $449.95

Weight: 3lbs 2oz (1.41kg)

Number of Doors: 2

Tent Floor Space: 29sqft

Vestibules: 2 (9 + 9sqft)

Number of Poles: 2 DAC NFL Aluminum

What We Like: Interior Pockets and Features, Overall Space

What We Don’t: Price and Double Zipper Doors

Big Agnes hit a home run with the Copper Spur HV UL2. It’s ready to go on any trip from a weekend of car camping to 15-day sea kayak expeditions. The pre-bent poles create maximum interior space without sacrificing weather and wind protection. The vestibule doors can be converted into awnings, and the interior pockets are many and massive. The price is a little eye-watering, but if you plan on spending several nights in this tent, the value is certainly there. It didn’t impress us as much as the NEMO Dragonfly 2, which is why it is our Runner-Up for Best Backpacking Tent of 2021.

REI Co-op Trail Hut 2

Best Backpacking Tents: REI Co-op Trail Hut 2+ - Gear Hacker

Best Budget Tent of 2021

  • Comfort 90% 90%
  • Ease of Setup 80% 80%
  • Weatherproofing 80% 80%
  • Durability 80% 80%

Price: $199

Weight: 5lbs 15oz (2.69kg)

Number of Doors: 2

Tent Floor Space: 31.7sqft

Vestibules: 2 (8.5 + 8.5 sqft)

Number of Poles: 3

What We Like: Living Space, Price

What We Don’t: Weight

For anyone looking to get out for a short backpacking trip that doesn’t want to break the bank or feel claustrophobic, look no further. At only $199, the REI Trail Hut 2 is an excellent starting point for either getting outside and trying to camp or for seasoned car campers who are looking for a little more room. The pole setup creates lots of living and sitting space, and the included footprint will help in case you accidentally pitch the tent on a root or rock. It’s certainly not a light tent, but it’s an excellent place to start if you’re just entering the camping world. Frankly, the price makes it our Best Budget Tent of 2021.

Hilleberg Anjan 2 GT

Best Backpacking Tents: Hilleberg Anjan 2 GT - Gear Hacker

Best Tent for Extreme Weather of 2021

  • Comfort 80% 80%
  • Ease of Setup 70% 70%
  • Weatherproofing 100% 100%
  • Durability 90% 90%

Price: $449.95

Weight: 4lbs 10oz (2.1kg)

Number of Doors: 1

Tent Floor Space: 28sqft

Vestibules: 1 (27sqft)

Number of Poles: 3
What We Like: Weatherproofing and Easy Setup

What We Don’t: Not a Freestanding Tent and Pricey

The Hilleberg Anjan 2 GT is one of the most durable and weatherproof tents of our review. It is over-constructed but will be able to conquer just about anything thrown its way, making it our Best Tent for Extreme Weather of 2021. The durable material has added to the overall weight, and it isn’t the most spacious tent in the review. However, the GT comes with 27 square feet of vestibule space—the most of any tents we looked at. While this impressive package sounds incredible, it also comes with a hefty price tag of $875. So if you have to sell your house to afford it, at least the tent will be as weatherproof as your old home.

Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2

Best Backpacking Tents: Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2- Gear Hacker

Best Semi-Freestanding Ultralight Tent of 2021

  • Comfort 90% 90%
  • Ease of Setup 90% 90%
  • Weatherproofing 80% 80%
  • Durability 70% 70%

Price: $399.95

Weight: 2lbs 8oz (1.13kg)

Number of Doors: 2

Tent Floor Space: 28sqft

Vestibules: 2 (8 + 8sqft)

Number of Poles: 1 – Hubbed DAC Featherlite

What We Like: Lightweight Livability

What We Don’t: Zipper Design of the Doors and Fly

A perfect balance between weight and comfort, the Tiger Wall is proving ultralight backpacking doesn’t have to be a barebones, uncomfortable outing. The interior space is excellent, both in floor space and headroom, with nice design touches like the vertical toe box. The semi-freestanding design does create a dependence on the stakes, and Big Agnes could have included a couple extra with the tent. A footprint is highly recommended as well to add to the life of the tent and reduce wear on the silicone-coated nylon flooring. With a price tag of $399.95, the Tiger Wall isn’t cheap, but it delivers value in its lightweight design and considerable living space, making it our Best Semi-Freestanding Tent of 2021.

REI Co-op Half Dome SL 2+

Best Backpacking Tents: REI Co-op Half Dome SL 2+ - Gear Hacker

Best Frontcountry Tent of 2021

  • Comfort 100% 100%
  • Ease of Setup 80% 80%
  • Weatherproofing 70% 70%
  • Durability 80% 80%

Price: $279

Weight: 5lb 5oz (2.41kg)

Number of Doors: 2

Tent Floor Space: 35sqft

Vestibules: 2 (11.25 + 11.25sqft)

Number of Poles: 1 DAC Featherlite NFL Aluminum – Hubbed

What We Like: So Much Room for Activities!

What We Don’t: Weight

Built for the comfort forward hiker, the REI Half Dome SL 2+ boasts 35sqft of interior space with two large vestibules. The SL edition has shaved a pound off the previous Half Dome models while still maintaining comfort and livability. The interior storage compartments coupled with 42in of headroom help to create quite a home away from home. It’s not perfect for ultralight hikers, but it’s great for rainy areas where living in a tent is more important than shaving a few extra pounds. The Half Dome SL 2+ will get people out camping. At the end of the day, that is something we strive to get people doing, so this tent is our Best Frontcountry Tent of 2021. You can definitely carry it into the backcountry, but it is built for comfort before weight, which we don’t mind one bit.

Other Tents

Marmot Tungsten 2P

Best Backpacking Tents: Marmot Tungsten 2P - Gear Hacker
  • Comfort 80% 80%
  • Ease of Setup 70% 70%
  • Weatherproofing 70% 70%
  • Durability 80% 80%

Price: $214

Weight: 5lbs 4oz (2.38kg)

Number of Doors: 2

Tent Floor Space: 32sqft

Vestibules: 2 (9.5 + 6.5sqft)

Number of Poles: 3 – HD Velocity 7000 Series Aluminum

What We Like: Interior Space

What We Don’t: Awkward-fitting Fly

The Marmot Tungsten 2 is in a word—a tent. There isn’t anything that exciting about it, but that isn’t a bad thing. With a traditional three-pole setup and a large fly, it is easy for any camper to erect. The interior is spacious, and the two doors make it easy for campers to enter and exit without bugging their partner. The vestibules aren’t huge and have different sizes, so you’ll have to rock-paper-scissors for who gets the larger one. At $214, it is a very budget-friendly tent for anyone looking to experience the great outdoors.

MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2

Best Backpacking Tents: MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2 - Gear Hacker
  • Comfort 80% 80%
  • Ease of Setup 70% 70%
  • Weatherproofing 90% 90%
  • Durability 80% 80%

Price: $449.95

Weight: 3lbs 14oz (1.75kg)

Number of Doors: 2

Tent Floor Space: 29sqft

Vestibules: 2 (8.75 + 8.75sqft)

Number of Poles: 1 Hubbed Easton Syclone

What We Like: Weatherproofing Material and Design

What We Don’t: Price and Vestibule Sizing

As a part of a diverse line-up of backcountry tents, the MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2 is a best seller. With a near-perfect combination of weight, space, and durability, the Hubba Hubba is built ready for the extremes of the outdoors. Excellent venting, long-lasting DWR (durable water repellent) coatings, and a symmetrical design help to keep the tent comfortable when the weather really takes a nosedive. With a price of $450, you would hope to get a long life out of the tent, and with the MSR Hubba Hubba NX—if treated well—you should.

NEMO Hornet 2P

Best Backpacking Tents: NEMO Hornet 2P - Gear Hacker
  • Comfort 80% 80%
  • Ease of Setup 90% 90%
  • Weatherproofing 80% 80%
  • Durability 70% 70%

Price: $370

Weight: 2lbs 6oz (1.08kg)

Number of Doors: 2

Tent Floor Space: 27.5sqft

Vestibules: 2 (7.1 + 7.1sqft)

Number of Poles: 1 Hubbed Aluminum DAC Featherlite NFL

What We Like: Superlight Weight While Remaining Comfortable

What We Don’t: Durability is a Concern, Lightweight Poles

With an excellent combination of ease of setup, weight, and overall comfort, the NEMO Hornet 2 surprised us. We thought it was going to be a claustrophobic lightweight 2-person tent, but it comes with features that optimize the livability and enjoyment of the tent. At $370, it is a great value for a lightweight double-walled tent and with both campers having their own door, life gets a little simpler. There is some concern for the pole’s durability in large wind storms. Plus, with only three lock-in points, it is not as stable as a traditional freestanding tent but will hold up in lots of weather.

MSR Access 2

Best Backpacking Tents: MSR Access 2 - Gear Hacker
  • Comfort 70% 70%
  • Ease of Setup 80% 80%
  • Weatherproofing 80% 80%
  • Durability 90% 90%

Price: $599.95

Weight: 4lbs 1oz (1.84kg)

Number of Doors: 2

Tent Floor Space: 29sqft

Vestibules: 2 (8.75 + 8.75sqft)

Number of Poles: 2

What We Like: 4-Season Construction with All-Season Versatility

What We Don’t: Venting for Warmer Nights

Sleeping outside in the winter is something many of us try to avoid. For those that choose this chilly pursuit, the only option is a 4-season tent, but what if you want to camp throughout the year? The MSR Access 2 tent is designed for winter warmth while still remaining light enough to be carried into the backcountry on a summer hike. It may not be strong enough as a tent on some extreme winter missions, but it will work perfectly as a ski touring home base. The interior space is roomy with dual doors and dual vestibules to open up the living space if needed. The price is steep, but if it can be your one tent quiver killer, it’s definitely worth it.

Kelty Dirt Motel 2

Best Backpacking Tents: Kelty Dirt Motel 2 - Gear Hacker
  • Comfort 70% 70%
  • Ease of Setup 80% 80%
  • Weatherproofing 70% 70%
  • Durability 70% 70%

Price: $259.95

Weight: 4lbs 13oz (2.18kg)

Number of Doors: 2

Tent Floor Space: 28sqft

Vestibules: 2 (8.9 + 8.9sqft)

Number of Poles: 3

What We Like: Easy Setup

What We Don’t: The Fly Needs Some Work

The Kelty Dirt Motel is a simple yet very effective tent without all of the bells and whistles that are starting to pop up on the market. The interior is spacious thanks to pre-bent poles, and the setup is a breeze thanks to color-coded poles and webbing. Unfortunately, the tent’s rainfly impacts the overall airflow throughout the tent with its size and limited ventilation. The Dirt Motel is an excellent starter tent that is easy to set up, spacious, and user-friendly. However, it is heavy, and the rainfly creates an enormous amount of interior condensation. For the price of $259.95, we like it as a car camping tent or a tent to take exploring in the backcountry.

NEMO Dagger 2

Best Backpacking Tents: NEMO Dagger 2 - Gear Hacker
  • Comfort 90% 90%
  • Ease of Setup 80% 80%
  • Weatherproofing 90% 90%
  • Durability 70% 70%

Price: $430

Weight: 3lbs 14oz (1.75kg)

Number of Doors: 2

Tent Floor Space: 31.3sqft

Vestibules: 2 (11.4 + 11.4sqft)

Number of Poles: 1 DAC Featherlite Aluminum – Hubbed

What We Like: Interior Space, Divvy Stuff Sack

What We Don’t: Price, Rainfly Coverage

A quiver killer, the NEMO Dagger 2 is the “quintessential backpacking tent.” It’s light enough to carry for multiple days and large enough to comfortably wait out storms. The fabric has been designed to be lightweight but durable in the right areas with 30D nylon as the base. There is not an included footprint, however, you can buy one for around $50 to add more durability to the tent. The fly comes with ventilation ports, but it does not quite cover the ends of the tent. We think that’s something that could be improved. The features throughout the interior of the tent are excellent, and the space between the interior and the vestibules is downright luxurious.

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