Best Backpacking Tents 2020 | Top 12 - Outdoors Magic

Outdoors Gear, Equipment, News, Reviews, Forums, Walking Routes and More at OutdoorsMagic.com

Share

Tents

Best Backpacking Tents 2020 | Top 12

Lightweight, reliable, comfortable and quick to pitch backpacking tents to consider for your next overnight adventure – all chosen by our experts

The best backpacking tent for your trekking adventures will be one that can provide you with comfort both during the day and during the night. In other words, it will be spacious and sturdy enough to give you peace of mind to sleep well at night but then won’t be so cumbersome that you’ll suffer when carrying it during the day. The trekking tents in this list, which are all one person and two person options, all strike that essential balance. And you can trust us on that – our team of experts have trekked with and slept in all of them.

For more lightweight tent reviews, have a look at our round up of the best solo tents for backpacking. We’ve also compiled a round up of the best two person tents.

Best Backpacking Tents: Our Top 12

The Outdoors Magic staff plus our Gear Testers have tested out countless tents over the last few years. Here are the 10 options that have impressed us all the most.

  • MSR Hubba Hubba NX
  • Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2
  • Terra Nova Laser Compact 2
  • Force 10 Arete 2
  • Robens Goldcrest 2
  • Vaude Terra Hogan 2P
  • Nordisk Telemark 2 LW
  • Snugpak Lonosphere
  • Hilleberg Enan
  • Terra Nova Laser Competition 1
  • Vango F10 Helium UL1
  • Outdoor Research Interstellar Bivy

 

MSR Hubba Hubba NX

Price: £445
Weight: 1702g
msrgear.com

It’s been 15 years since the first  MSR Hubba Hubba tent was launched and this ‘next generation’ (NX) version is a good progression. It’s not radically different, but they’ve switched the materials, bringing in new fabrics and pole technologies that are lighter yet still durable. In fact, this model is 270g lighter than that 2004 original.

Related: Best Three Season Sleeping Bags
Related: Best Bivvy Bags

The MSR Hubba Hubba NX perfectly balances all the key things you want from a tent. It has a light weight and small packed size, but plenty of space and that liveability factor you need for long hikes. Then it also has the overall strength and reliability you need for peace of mind when venturing into the wilderness. There’s that long and high sleeping compartment for instance, which is comfortable for two people to sleep, sit up and move about in, plus it has a medium-sized porch on either side to give loads of space for storing kit or for cooking in. The flysheet and sturdy pole structure combine to make this really solid whichever way the wind is blowing.

It’s inner pitched first, which has its downsides in the wet climate of the UK, however it’s still quick and easy to get set up. First, the forked ends of the main pole plug into grommets at each corner of the inner and the short cross pole inserts across the top. The rest of the inner is then attached onto the main pole by easy-clip hooks. After that, the fly is thrown over the top with colour coded webbing to match the corners of the fly and the inner together, and finally it’s all then pegged down using the lightweight and very slender pegs. 

Pros: lightweight, made with quality materials.
Cons: inner pitched first, drafty.

Full Specifications

2 person / inner pitch first / freestanding / double porch and entry / fly can be rolled up for a view of the stars / high tenacity nylon fabrics / bathtub style floor / compression sack with pull handle / 213 x 127cm floor / 39 inch height / 1 DAC Featherlite NFL pole / 46 x 15 cm packed size.

Read our full MSR Hubba Hubba NX review.

BUY HERE

 

Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2

Price: £460
Weight: 1400g
bigagnes.com

This uses some excellent, ultralight but durable materials and has plenty of nifty little details to, overall, make for a tent we rank very highly here at Outdoors Magic.

It’s a very similar design to MSR’s popular Hubba Hubba tent, with a single pole that forks at each end and a short cross pole that gives some width at the top. Both are pitched with the inner first, can be used without a fly in warm and dry conditions, and are completely freestanding. This, we’d say has the edge though, because it’s not only slightly lighter but it also boasts some useful little details.

It’s been designed with bikepackers in mind, that’s why there’s a clever elastic strap on the outside of the inner mesh that will hold a helmet, and there are huge storage pockets on the ceiling for keeping all of your kit organised. More notably, the whole thing can be easily strapped to your handlebars thanks to its waterproof stuff sack with daisy chain webbing, Velcro straps and 12-inch-long packed size.

Granted, inner-first tent designs can be a little tricky to put up in the moist conditions of the UK – but looking past that, this really is a tent that seems to have ticked all the right boxes. Keep an eye out for the next lighter and more durable iteration of this which launched at the start of 2020. 

Pros: lightweight, spacious, innovative.
Cons: inner pitched first.

Full Specifications

Inner pitch first / freestanding / Ripstop flysheet with 1200mm waterproof polyurethane coating / seams taped with waterproof, solvent-free polyurethane tape / single porch / single door / lightweight pole system / lightweight plastic clips attach tent body to pole frame / 4-way high volume hub pole design / 50 x 15cm packed size / 102 cm height.

Read our full Big Agnes Copper Spur 2 ULW review.

BUY HERE

 

Terra Nova Laser Compact 2

Price: £500
Weight: 1230g
terra-nova.co.uk

This is a slightly tweaked version of one Terra Nova’s much-loved Laser Competition 2, the main change being that they’ve shortened the pole sections to make its length shorter when packed away. For bikepackers this could make a big difference as it makes it much more convenient for strapping onto the front of your handlebars.

The Laser Compact 2’s simple but effective single-pole, hoop design, complemented by two tiny poles at each end, provides just enough space for two, especially when sleeping top-to-tail as recommended, while two doors provide access to porches for kit storage. One of the porches is big enough to hold a pack and for cooking in, while the other porch will only really accommodate a pair of boots. 

It’s pitched flysheet first, or you can pitch the whole thing as one. It’s all simply done, you just slide the main hooped pole through an external sleeve and then the ends are propped up by short poles. The seams along the pole sleeve aren’t taped so it comes with a kind-of mini-tarp that can be tied over the top for extra protection and also a bit of added stability. 

All-in-all, due to the nature of the fabrics used here and the overall construction, we’ve found this serves as a reliable option for three-season use. Backpackers will love it, so will bikepackers and cycle tourers as well. With that low profile design and the subtle colour scheme, it should also be a good fit for anyone who likes to be stealthy when camping. 

Pros: Extremely light and packable, stealthy profile.
Cons: Quite tight for two people.

Full Specifications

Flysheet pitched first / not freestanding / watershed Si2 5,000mm flysheet / single porch / single door  / 30x15cm packed size / 8.7mm DAC poles 10 x 11g alloy pegs / 5 minute pitch time.

Read our full Terra Nova Laser Compact 2 review.

BUY HERE

 

Force 10 Arete 2

Price: £320
Weight: 1540g
force-ten.co.uk

This tent has a free-standing design with a long arcing pole that forks at the front. It’s an interesting design that, as we’ve found during testing, results in a structure that gives bucket loads of head space and reliable protection in rough three-season conditions.

It’s pitched inner first, which, as we always say, has its drawbacks in wet weather but the easy to clip (and locate) buckles at least make the pitching process very quick so you won’t have to worry about the inner being exposed to the elements for long. 

Useful design features include the reflectors on the guyline attachments, the inner storage pockets and hanger hook, plus the big vent at the back of the tent that has a wired peak to allow for volume adjustment or the potential to close it up completely.

A small detail but this comes with a very handily designed stuff sack. It has a funnel opening across its length (as opposed to at one of its end) making for very quick and easy stuffing. There are also compression straps for minimising the overall packed size.

“I was impressed by the materials – they’re of a much higher spec than you’d find on a Vango tent,” said OM editor Will who used this on a trip to Wales’s Aran mountains. “And that space-to-weight is excellent in my opinion. It’s a roomy two-person design but I’ve been more than happy to carry this on solo missions on a number of occasions and have enjoyed the luxurious space. The porch space is also fine for two people, huge for one. All-in-all, a great tent.”

Pros: good space-to-weight, large porch.
Cons: inner pitched first, drafty.

Full Specifications

Inner pitch first / freestanding design / 20D ripstop 5,000mm flysheet / factory taped seams / alloy poles / o-shaped inner doors / inner pockets / fast pack tent bag.

Read our full Force 10 Arete 2 review.

 

Robens Goldcrest 2

Price: £500
Weight: 1340g
robens.de

Apparently the Goldcrest 2, like all of Robens’ other tents, went through a rigorous testing process in its development to make sure it’s got the beans to cope with strong wind and heavy rainfall. The results of these tests have shown it can handle 140 km/h winds, and that its fabric can deal with an impressive 2000mm of rainfall per 1 cm (squared) before the water begins to penetrate through.

It’s been made with an aerodynamic profile, but one that doesn’t make the users feel cramped up and claustrophobic when they’re inside it. In other words, this is quite a spacious tent for two people. Its Yunan alloy hoop offers up decent head space, even for lanky campers, while the two Yunan carbon fibre poles down at the other end create good room for the feet. Throw in equal sized porches on either side and you’re living fairly luxuriously without the weight to bear.

Pros: stealthy profile, large sleeping space, quick to pitch. 
Cons:
porches are quite small.

Full Specifications

Fly pitches first / non freestanding design / Hydrotex 2,000mm flysheet / Alloy Yunan 8.6 mm and Carbon 9.5 mm poles / single door / single porch / 48 x 12 cm packed weight  / 140km/h max and 120km/h average wind tunnel test.

Read our full Robens Goldcrest 2 review.

 

Vaude Terra Hogan 2P

Price: £280
Weight: 1860g
vaude.com

You could say the porch is the main USP here. It’s two-sided, so when the wind’s blowing you can open up whichever side has leedward shelter, or you can roll up both sides and have a nice wide opening when there’s an epic sunset you want to admire from the comfort of your sleeping bag.

As you can see in the picture, this doesn’t feature the internal or external pole sleeves you normally see on tents, but instead has a system that involves a bungee cord and little hooks. It’s actually very, very simple to master and makes for some very speedy pitching and an overall very stable structure. 

Worth mentioning is its durable ripstop flysheet fabric (75D) which has a polyurethane coating for waterproof protection, and also the mini poles which are embedded at the back end of the tent resulting in inner walls that are almost vertical.

Pros: generous sleeping space, high walls, large porch.
Cons: quite heavy.

Full Specifications

Fly pitched first / freestanding design / 40D ripstop 3,000 mm flysheet / single porch / single door / ground ventilation at sides / increased headroom from revised pole construction.

Read our full Vaude Terra Hogan 2P review.

BUY HERE

 

Nordisk Telemark 2 LW

Price: £510
Weight: 950g
nordisk.eu

While this might be marked this down as a two-person tent, we’d been inclined to say it’s more of a roomy one person tent. It’s actually a brilliant solo backpacking tent, with loads of space to sleep and store your kit and a total weight of just 950g. All packed up it’s smaller than a loaf of bread.

Features we love about the Telemark 2 include: the four small corner poles which seem to provide greater structure and height at each end (as opposed to using one single centred pole at the end like Terra Nova and Hilleberg); the ease of pitching; the toughness of the flysheet and inner; its ability to stand up to adverse weather during our tests out in the Highlands and in Snowdonia; and the magnetic quick-snap door closure is a neat touch.

Pros: Compact, very light.
Cons: tight for two.

Full Specifications

Fly pitched first / non freestanding / Ripstop nylon flysheet with silicon coating (2000mm); ripstop nylon inner mesh (15d); ripstop nylon inner tent floor (8000mm)/ wind test: 18 m/s / 220 x 135 x 100 inner tent dimensions / pack size 12 x 41cm / 2mm Dyneema guy ropes / 8.7mm aluminium DAC Featherlite poles / 4 x aluminium pegs.

Read a full Nordisk Telemark 2 LW review.

BUY HERE

 

One Person Backpacking Tents

 

Snugpak Lonosphere

Price: 1520g
Weight: £174.95
snugpak.com

If you can’t stomach forking out £500 or so for a premium tent, but still want a sturdy, roomy and weatherproof shelter for your backpacking adventures, then look no further than the Ionosphere. It can’t compete with Terra Nova, Hilleberg and co in terms of weight – at 1520g it is heavier than many solo wild campers would prefer – and it isn’t as flush with high-end touches and premium materials. But don’t be fooled into thinking the low price tag means low features. This is a great tent at a great price.

Pros: excellent value; large floorspace.
Cons: poor head room; relatively heavy; no porch.

Full Specifications

Inner pitched first / freestanding / 210T ripstop nylon 5000mm outer / 48cm x 14cm pack size / anodised Aluminium poles, 100% aluminium / single-point side entry / taped seams / 14 lightweight alloy pegs / (LxWxH): 240cm x 90cm x 75cm.

BUY HERE

 

Hilleberg Enan

Price: £640
Weight: 1200g
gb.hilleberg.com

This is a high-end tent with a host of impressive features. At 1,200g, there are lighter one-person tents out there, like the Laser Competition 1 for instance, but then none of those will be quite as durable. The 9mm poles the Enan uses are super strong and the outer, which drops all the way to the ground, is made from a sturdy Kerlon 1000 fabric. 

The Enan is full of other nice design touches too. The full mesh inner tent door, coupled with outer meshes at both ends, allows constant air flow and excellent ventilation. Waterproof panels can be used to cover these in inclement conditions. The 75cm deep, full-length porch is great for cooking, or stashing a rucksack, while the outer-first pitching is quick and simple, benefitting from a continuous pole sleeve and tension system.

There’s no escaping the fact that the price tag of £640 is somewhat eye-watering. But, if you want a premium, high-quality tent with superb durability at a low weight, this might just be the one for you. Get saving.

Pros: very durable.
Cons: very expensive.

Full Specifications

Outer pitched first / non freestanding design / Kerlon 1000 outer tent fabric / 9 mm poles / 3 season design / single entrance / single porch / (LxWxH): 220cm x 95cm x 93cm.

BUY HERE

Terra Nova Laser Competition 1

Price: 970g
Weight: £440
terra-nova.co.uk

Terra Nova’s Laser Competition 1 is an iconic backpacking tent with plenty of awards to its name. Why? Well, first and foremost, it is incredibly lightweight. At just 970g, this is one of the lightest tents we’ve tested, meaning it won’t weigh you down (or take up much space in your backpack) during your adventures.

With its transverse hoop design, utilising one main alloy pole in the centre and two tiny poles at each end, the Competition 1 still feels relatively spacious for one person. Most people will be able to just about sit up without their head touching the inner’s roof, while the two mini poles ensure improved structure and room at the foot and head ends.

The inner and flysheet come attached, so the tent pitches quickly and easily ‘as one’; or during wet wild camps the inner can be detached and stored separately, thus preventing the outer wetting the inner.

Pros: ultra-lightweight.
Cons: limited space.

Full Specifications

Fly pitched first / non freestanding / suited to 3 season backpacking / 5 mins pitch time / single porch / single door / fly and inner pitched together / 42x12cm packed size / 10 x 11g Alloy pegs / (LxWxH): 220cm x 93cm x 95cm.

BUY HERE

 

Vango F10 Helium UL1

Price: 1520g
Weight: £250
vango.co.uk

Like the Snugpak Lonospere, the Vango Helium UL1 can’t match the high-end, premium features of some of the tents in this list; nor is it as competitive as the likes of Snugpak on price. But this means it fits neatly on its own, in the middle, providing a mid-range option with an excellent balance between weight and price. In fact, it’s pretty good value considering how light this is, measuring just 1200g. It features a
Protex 3000mm waterproof flysheet, 70 denier nylon fabric ground sheet and useful vents which allow air flow to combat condensation. Handily the hooped main pole has a high arch on it, meaning you can comfortably sit up inside.

If you’re looking for an affordable and reliable option for your backpacking adventures, this would be a safe bet. 

Full Specifications

Fly pitched first / non freestanding / Protex 3000mm flysheet / internal storage pockets optional footprint / oversized tent bag with compression straps for easy packing  / dyneema pegging points / multiple reflective points / (LxWxH): 210cm x 95cm x 95cm.

BUY HERE

 

Outdoor Research Interstellar Bivy

Price: £315
Weight: 596g
outdoorresearch.com

OK, this isn’t a tent but we still thought it was worth including in this list of the best backpacking tents.

It’s a 4-season shelter using AscentShell technology, a waterproof, stretchy and remarkably breathable fabric that OR also use in some of their high performance waterproof jackets.

The most notable feature of the bivvy, however, is that you can wear it. Yes, you heard right… you can have the bug net closed around you (or left open), but sit up and perform camp chores with just your hands on the outside. Cooking, reading and organising your gear are all easily performed, whilst your head and body are protected from bugs and inclement weather. It sounds a little bizarre, but in practice, it’s actually very, very useful. 

Pros: ultra light, very breathable, innovative.
Cons: no porch, a cramped fit for some.

Full Specifications

AscentShell 3L 20D ripstop upper / 100% nylon 40D Ripstop floor / 82″ x 26″ x 17″ – length x top width x top height / Packed Size: 30cm x 12cm approx.

Read our full Outdoor Research Interstellar Bivy review.

BUY HERE

 

Backpacking Tent Buyer’s Guide

 

Here are some of the key things to look for when choosing a tent. Head over to our tent buyer’s guide for more in-depth advice.

Seasonal Rating

Tents are usually rated by season. One season tents will only be suitable for summer use and are basically the kind of tents you see on beaches, at family campsites or at festivals. When it comes to backpacking, you’re going to want something more dependable. Three-season rated tents would normally fit the bill for most backpacking trips, at least any that are in the kind of conditions you could expect in the UK from spring through to autumn. When extremely windy, wet and cold conditions are likely, that’s when you need to think about a four season option. These will be capable of withstanding anything from strong gales to snow dumps.

Tent styles

Many backpackers tend to favour tents that have a low profile and simple but reliable construction. More often than not these will be in the form of a tunnel or hooped construction. Wedge and tarp designs also serve as very useful backpacking tents though with these you tend to be sacrificing a degree of comfort for the carrying convenience. Geodesic and semi-geodesic tents, while very reliable in bad weather, are generally a heavier option to opt for. 

Space-To-Weight And Materials

The best tents for backpacking will be lightweight but reliable and also spacious enough to be comfortable to ‘live’ in. To work out whether the space-to-weight will be suitable for you, check for the stated dimensions of the tent before you buy it; can you sit up inside it? Is it long enough for you? What about space for your kit? As for the weight, anything under 1.8kg is good in regards to two person tents. The Force 10 Arete is a good example. For one person, a good tent will be below 1.2kg – something like the Laser Competition 1 for instance. 

Good, reliable tents will be made from lightweight but strong and weatherproof materials. Look for something that has a strong waterproof rating, shown by hydrostatic head. Anything with a flysheet over 4,000mm will be reliable and the higher the number is the better. For the groundsheet, look for something rated at 5,000mm or more. Then there’s the fabric durability: you should look for a high denier strength – ideally 20D and over for the flysheet – and a ripstop weave.

For More Like This

Best Trekking Poles

Best Portable Water Filters

Share

Newsletter Terms & Conditions

Please enter your email so we can keep you updated with news, features and the latest offers. If you are not interested you can unsubscribe at any time. We will never sell your data and you'll only get messages from us and our partners whose products and services we think you'll enjoy.

Read our full Privacy Policy as well as Terms & Conditions.

production