Tents are one of the most exciting parts of your backpacking gear because they serve as your home away from home in the backcountry. However, picking the proper tent takes some time and effort. There is a wide range of price points and weight capacities in this category, catering to everyone from novices on a tight budget to ultralight backpackers. Below, we discuss selecting the best tent for your needs, including what to consider in terms of season, budget, capacity, usable space, protection from the elements, and longevity. Here are some considerations to take when choosing hiking tents. 

Seasonal changes

Knowing when and where you'll be using your hiking tents is the first step in selecting the best one. The majority of commercially available tents are three-season types, as the vast majority of backpackers only go off the main route during the summer. In most cases, camping spots will be fine, and prolonged periods of terrible weather won't be a huge concern. Here, even the lightest and least expensive three-season tents should perform admirably. If you plan on camping in the mountains or other areas prone to heavy winds and harsh weather, or during the transition between seasons, you should invest in a more sturdy 3-season tent that can keep you safe and dry. Finding a tent that can withstand all four seasons is a top priority for winter campers and explorers due to their particular needs. Most campers, however, opt for three-season tents, which can withstand wind and rain even in the coldest months

Backpacking, both casually and seriously

The next thing to do is map out your itinerary for all of your trips. To ease into backpacking, novices should begin with short journeys over familiar terrain, such as overnighters or weekend jaunts. Keep in mind the low costs, quick and simple assembly/disassembly, solid build, and cosy interiors. As travel distance and duration increase, so do the importance of lightweight and compact packing materials. Users at the extreme end of the spectrum include those who have hiked hundreds of miles and are willing to sacrifice comfort in favour of portability, such as thru-hikers and long-distance backpackers. No matter what kind of trip you're doing, your tent's design should reflect how you like to hike. Cheaper tents are more than enough for casual excursions, whereas ultralight tents may be overkill for some people and situations. 


Some hikers place a premium on portability when shopping for a tent. For example, a 2-person tent designed with economy in mind will likely weigh around 4 or 5 pounds because it is made from heavier, less expensive materials. The base model REI Co-op Trail Hut 2 weighs in at a total of 5 pounds, 15 ounces when packed (not including the 7-ounce weight of the footprint). 

However, a few trade-offs come with using a lightweight tent. When weight is reduced, other factors such as price, durability, interior space, features, and ease of assembly are sacrificed. Consider your budget and how you plan to utilize the tent before making a final decision.  A thru-hiker, long-distance backpacker, or anyone who regularly hikes with a pack will know that every ounce counts.


Consider what you'll get for your money since backpacking tents can cost anywhere from $150 for a cheap model from a respected manufacturer to $700.00 or more. The Trail Hut 2 from REI Co-op is one of our favourite inexpensive designs, and it only costs $199. The REI is about 6 pounds, is composed of solid but substantial materials that don't pack down as little as other tents, has a pretty roomy interior, and is easy to set up and take down. For a higher price, you can get lighter-than-average premium materials. For example, the Nemo Dagger 2P may be had for $430, weighs just 3 pounds, 14 ounces, and has interior space comparable to that of the Trail Hut. The difference in price between the two tents is very large, at $231, but it will be well worth it to campers who do this often. Ultralight designs manufactured with high-end materials or tents that function very well in adverse weather typically cost more than $500.

Livable Area & Tent Capacity 

Backpacking tents often sleep anywhere from one to four people. The most common size is a two-person tent, accommodating two standard-width sleeping pads (each 20 inches wide). A lightweight option is a one-person tent, although many lone hikers choose a two-person shelter for the greater interior room and the option to travel with a friend. Tents with three-person space are convenient for groups ranging from small families to a couple trekking with a dog. Finally, four-person tents are the least frequent size since they require more materials and are more difficult to set up, but they might be a good choice for families.

You can get a good notion of the tent's interior size by knowing its capacity, but there are a few more factors to consider to get a feel for how well it will work as a living space. The first thing you need to know is whether or not your large sleeping pad or extra-long sleeping bag will fit into the floor space. Most manufacturers provide these measurements. The next thing to look at is the peak height, which is the highest point within the tent (often the very center) and can tell you if you can sit up straight inside. Examine the form as a whole as the final step. Do the tent's walls gradually slope upwards, or are they mostly vertical? Does the floor taper towards the toes or the head? Both are tried-and-true methods for reducing a tent's weight, but they tend to make the inside less comfortable. These details can give you a decent sense of a design's actual interior volume when taken together.

In conclusion, choosing the right backpacking tent requires considering factors such as the season you'll be camping in, the type of backpacking you'll be doing, the weight of the tent, the cost, and the livable area and capacity. By assessing these factors, you can find a tent that meets your needs and provides a comfortable and reliable shelter during your backpacking adventures.