The 10 Best Backpacking Tents of 2024

By Michael Lanza

A good backpacking tent not only makes your trips more comfortable by keeping you warm and dry in foul weather—it’s critical safety gear and one of the heaviest and most expensive items you’ll carry. Those facts alone are motivation enough to find the right tent for your style of backpacking. But how do you choose from the many models out there, which come in a huge range of designs, weights, and prices? Whether you’re shopping for your first backpacking shelter or looking to replace an old one, this review will help make that choice easy for you.

I’ve tested scores of backpacking tents over more than a quarter-century of testing and reviewing gear—including the 10 years I spent as Backpacker magazine’s lead gear reviewer and even longer running this blog. This article covers my picks for the 10 top-performing, three-season backpacking tents available today—eight two-person models, one ultralight solo tent, and a modular shelter that variability serves one to two people—with links to my complete review of each one. I think you’ll find at least one tent here that’s perfect for you.

Each of these tents is different enough from the others to give you clear choices, and they range from midweight to ultralight—because I believe every ounce should be justified in the gear I carry. The tents are listed from lightest to heaviest. The comparison chart below offers a quick look at specs and features that distinguish these tents from one another and offers an overall rating based on specific criteria that are detailed in a ratings chart at the bottom of each tent’s complete review.

Hi, I’m Michael Lanza, creator of The Big Outside. Click here to sign up for my FREE email newsletter. Join The Big Outside to get full access to all of my blog’s stories. Click here for my e-guides to classic backpacking trips. Click here to learn how I can help you plan your next trip.

A backpacker at a campsite in the Maze District, Canyonlands National Park, Utah.
Jeff Wilhelm at our second camp in the Maze District, Canyonlands National Park. Click photo to see my 25 all-time favorite backcountry campsites.

Spend your money smartly when picking out the right tent for your adventures: Start with my “5 Expert Tips For Buying a Backpacking Tent” and “Ultralight Backpacking Tents: How to Choose One.” (Both of those stories require a subscription to read in full.) And see all reviews of backpacking tents at The Big Outside.

Grab one of these tents and your days on the trail—with a lighter pack—will improve as much as your nights in camp.

Please share your thoughts and questions about these tents or others you like in the comments section at the bottom of this story. I try to respond to all comments.

The 10 Best Backpacking Tents

ModelScore (1-5)PriceWeightFloor AreaPeak HeightDoorsFeatures
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Mid-14.4$59916.8 oz./
21 sq. ft./
2 sq. m
54 ins./
1* Hybrid single-wall with tough, waterproof Dyneema fabric and good ventilation.
* Pitches with one trekking pole.
* Excellent space-to-weight ratio.
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ultamid 24.3$6991 lb. 2 oz./
63 sq. ft./
5.9 sq. m
64 ins./
1* Superior space-to-weight ratio, headroom, durability, stability.
* Modular components
* Pitches with trekking poles.
* Good ventilation.
SlingFin SplitWing Shelter Bundle4.3$3551 lb. 5 oz./
27-37.8 sq. ft./
2.5-3.5 sq. m
39-51 ins./
1* Modular components
* Variable space-to-weight ratio and headroom.
* Pitches with trekking poles.
* Good stability, ventilation.
MSR Freelite 24.5$4502 lbs./
29 sq. ft./
2.7 sq. m
39 ins./
2* A two-door, double-wall tent weighing just 2 lbs.
* Excellent space-to-weight ratio, headroom, ventilation, stability.
* Easy to pitch.
Nemo Hornet Osmo 2p4.4$4302 lbs. 1 oz./
27.5 sq. ft./
2.6 sq. m
39 ins./
2* A two-door, double-wall tent barely over 2 lbs.
* Good space-to-weight ratio, headroom, ventilation, stability.
* Easy to pitch.
Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2 Solution Dye4.4$4502 lbs. 3 oz./
28 sq. ft./
2.6 sq. m
39 ins./
2* A two-door, double-wall tent barely over 2 lbs.
* Good space-to-weight ratio, headroom, ventilation, stability.
* Easy to pitch.
Sea to Summit Alto TR24.4$5492 lbs. 9 oz./
27 sq. ft./
2.5 sq. m
42.5 ins./
2* Good balance of low weight and livability.
* Good headroom.
* Functional design details.
* Good ventilation, stability.
Nemo Dragonfly Osmo 2p4.7$5002 lbs. 10 oz./
29 sq. ft./
2.7 sq. m
41 ins./
2* Very good space-to-weight ratio and headroom.
* Well-featured for sub-3 lbs.
* Easy to pitch.
* Spacious vestibules.
SlingFin 2Lite4.5$5052 lbs. 10 oz./
28.5 sq. ft./
2.6 sq. m
41 ins./
2* Good space-to-weight ratio.
* Very stable.
* Optional pitch with trekking poles.
* Spacious vestibules.
Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL24.7$5502 lbs. 11 oz./
29 sq. ft./
2.7 sq. m
40 ins./
2* Very good space-to-weight ratio and headroom.
* Very well-featured for sub-3 lbs.
* Easy to pitch.
* Awning rainfly doors.

The Hyperlite Mountain Gear Mid-1 ultralight solo backpacking tent.
The Hyperlite Mountain Gear Mid-1 ultralight solo pyramid tent in the Wind River Range.

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Mid-1
$599, 16.8 oz./476.3g

For three nights in the Wind River Range, this non-freestanding, ultralight, solo pyramid tent stood up to gusts exceeding 40 mph, plus hard, wind-driven rain for hours on our last night in the Winds and rain on a weeklong hike through Glacier National Park. Made with highly durable and waterproof Dyneema Composite fabrics and weighing under 17 ounces, it pitches using one trekking pole and six stakes. With 21 square feet of interior space and a 54-inch peak height, it offers palatial living space. And the hybrid single-wall design with one mesh wall, two peak vents, and perimeter mesh around the floor creates good high-low venting. The Mid-1 is arguably the best ultralight solo backpacking tent available today.

Read my complete review of the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Mid-1.

BUY IT NOW You can support my work on this blog, at no cost to you, by clicking either of these affiliate links to purchase the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Mid-1 solo backpacking tent at, or the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Mid 1 Tarp at

See also my review of another sturdy, roomy, solo ultralight tent at a great price, the Gossamer Gear The One.

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Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ultamid 2 ultralight pyramid tent with Ultamid 2 Insert.
The Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ultamid 2 ultralight pyramid tent with Ultamid 2 Insert in the Wind River Range.

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ultamid 2
$699, 1 lb. 2 oz./510g

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ultamid 2 Insert with DCF11 Floor
$399, 1 lb. 4.5 oz./581g

Through nights of steady, cold rain and wind backpacking in the Wind River Range, my 20-year-old son and I enjoyed the cavernous interior of HMG’s Ultamid 2 pyramid-style tarp-tent and Ultamid 2 Insert. Pitching with two trekking poles and weighing two ounces over a pound, this two-person, single-door, well-ventilated, waterproof and highly durable, single-wall shelter sports 63 square feet of floor space and a peak height over five feet—that’s approximately twice the space and half or less the weight of every heavier tent in this review. The separate Ultamid 2 Insert adds a tough bathtub floor and mesh walls while keeping total weight under 2.5 pounds. Although not without shortcomings, it has virtually no competitors for space-to-weight ratio, stability in almost any weather, and durability.

Read my complete review of the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ultamid 2 and Ultamid 2 Insert with DCF11 Floor.

You can support my work on this blog, at no cost to you, by clicking any of these affiliate links to purchase the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ultamid 2 at or, the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ultamid 2 Insert at or, any of the various insert or floor options for the Ultamid 2 at, the Ultamid 4 at, and the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ultamid Voile Straps at

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The Slingfin SplitWing Shelter Bundle.
Testing the Slingfin SplitWing Shelter Bundle in the Yosemite backcountry.

SlingFin SplitWing Shelter Bundle
$355, 1 lb. 5 oz./595g

From September in Yosemite to early March in the Canyonlands Maze District, in gusts up to 30 mph and rain showers, the SplitWing demonstrated its weather creds. But the story is the three-component SplitWing’s modularity and crazy-low weight that make it one of the lightest and most versatile backpacking shelters available today. Pitching with trekking poles, the SplitWing UL Tarp alone can shelter two backpackers while weighing an almost absurd four ounces per person—with its peak height adjustable from 100cm/39 inches to 130cm/51 inches. Add the removable, 6.8-square-foot vestibule and 24.8-square-foot Mesh Body and it becomes a bug-proof, spacious, 21-ounce solo shelter or tight but (maybe) doable for two. Despite some shortcomings, SlingFin’s SplitWing Shelter has virtually no rivals for minimalist weight, packability, versatility, and affordability.

See my complete review of the SlingFin SplitWing Shelter Bundle and components.

BUY IT NOW You can support my work on this blog, at no cost to you, by clicking any of these affiliate links to purchase the SlingFin SplitWing Shelter Bundle at or any individual components of it: the SlingFin SplitWing UL Tarp at, the SlingFin SplitWing Mesh Body at, the SlingFin SplitWing Vestibule at, or the SlingFin SplitWing Carbon Poles at

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The MSR FreeLite 2 backpacking tent.
The MSR FreeLite 2 ultralight tent in a camp on the Nigel, Cataract, and Cline Passes Route in the White Goat Wilderness of the Canadian Rockies.

MSR Freelite 2
$450, 2 lbs./907g

Key fact about MSR’s updated Freelite 2: This double-wall, two-door, three-season, semi-freestanding tent weighs roughly three to nine ounces less than very similar tents in this category that have basically the same design… and has more interior space. Backpacking Arizona’s Aravaipa Canyon in April and on two backpacking trips in the Canadian Rockies in August, the Freelite 2’s 29 square feet of floor space and 39-inch peak height proved adequately livable for two of us. It withstood winds of 20 to 30 mph with no trouble and the almost entirely micro-mesh interior walls and the natural cross-ventilation of opposing doors prevented any trace of condensation even on a calm night just above freezing. If you prioritize those qualities in a tent, it stands above the most comparable competitors.

Read my complete review of the MSR Freelite 2.

BUY IT NOW You can support my work on this blog, at no cost to you, by clicking any of these affiliate links to purchase an MSR Freelite 2 at or, or any Freelite tent model at or

Planning your next big adventure? See “America’s Top 10 Best Backpacking Trips
and “Tent Flap With a View: 25 Favorite Backcountry Campsites.”

The Nemo Hornet Osmo 2p ultralight backpacking tent.
The Nemo Hornet Osmo 2p ultralight backpacking tent in a camp on the Nigel, Cataract, and Cline Passes Route in the Canadian Rockies.

Nemo Hornet Osmo 2p
$430, 2 lbs. 1 oz./948g

From a section of the Arizona Trail in April to camping in Idaho’s City of Rocks in June and backpacking in the Canadian Rockies in August, the Hornet Osmo 2p illustrated how it carves a narrow niche within a limited weight class of semi-freestanding, two-person, two-door, double-wall tents weighing precisely or barely over two pounds. For starters, Nemo’s proprietary Osmo fabric uses 100 percent recycled nylon and polyester yarns that boost strength and resistance to water and stretching without using chemicals. Set-up is a snap and its space-to-weight ratio compares with the best ultralight, double-wall tents. Features like the Flybar bridge pole and guy-outs on the exterior walls that clip to the rainfly to pull the walls outward create more space inside. Lastly, with poles that dissemble to just 12 inches long, the Hornet Osmo is more packable than competitors.

Read my complete review of the Nemo Hornet Osmo 2p and my review of the Nemo Hornet Osmo 1p tent.

BUY IT NOW You can support my work on this blog, at no cost to you, by clicking any of these affiliate links to purchase a Nemo Hornet Osmo 2p at or, or any Hornet Osmo tent model at or, or any Hornet Elite Osmo tent model at or

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The Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2 Solution Dye ultralight backpacking tent in the Wind River Range.
The Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2 Solution Dye with one vestibule rolled back in the Wind River Range.

Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2 Solution Dye
$450, 2 lbs. 3 oz./992g

The redesigned, semi-freestanding Tiger Wall UL2 features solution-dyed fabric, made using 80 percent less energy and 50 percent less water. At barely over two pounds, it’s almost in a class all its own among two-door, ultralight tents. Sleeping in it with my wife for four nights backpacking in the Wind River Range, I found the semi-freestanding, hubbed, and color-coded DAC Featherlite pole assembles in seconds and the tent pitches quickly and intuitively. While its biggest tradeoff is space, the 28 square feet and 39-inch peak height compare with two-door tents that weigh several ounces more. Excellent ventilation, design features like dual zippers on the doors and spacious interior pockets make it a leader in this tiny category.

Read my complete review of the Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2 Solution Dye.

BUY IT NOW You can support my work on this blog, at no cost to you, by clicking any of these affiliate links to purchase a Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2 Solution Dye at, or another version of the Tiger Wall Solution Dye tent at or

You deserve a better backpack. See “The 10 Best Backpacking Packs
and the best ultralight backpacks.

Sea to Summit Alto TR2 ultralight backpacking tent.
The Sea to Summit Alto TR2 ultralight backpacking tent in the Pasayten Wilderness.

Sea to Summit Alto TR2
$599, 2 lbs. 9 oz./1162g

The semi-freestanding, two-door, double-wall Alto TR2 weighs barely more than two-and-a-half pounds, but on a five-day hike in Washington’s Pasayten Wilderness it proved far more livable than its 27 square feet of floor space suggests. The recipe is vertical walls, a generous 42.5-inch peak height—and most uniquely, a bridge pole with arms that swing upward, boosting headroom. It kept two of us dry in rain, ventilates very well, stood up to moderate wind, and has smart design details like high-low ventilation and two-way zippers on both the interior and vestibule doors. Pitching it requires a little practice and time, but that’s a minor tradeoff for this nice balance of low weight with stability and comfort.

Read my complete review of the Sea to Summit Alto TR2.

BUY IT NOW  You can support my work on this blog, at no cost to you, by clicking any of these affiliate links to purchase the Sea to Summit Alto TR2 at or, or another version of the Sea to Summit Alto tent at or

Looking for a three-person tent? Take a look at the Sea to Summit Telos TR3 ($699, 4 lbs. 4 oz., fly and footprint pitch 3 lbs. 6 oz., at or, which has a floor area of 39.5 square feet and a cavernous peak height of over 52 inches; or the Sea to Summit Telos TR3 Plus ($749, 4 lbs. 9 oz., fly and footprint pitch 3 lbs. 6 oz., at or, built for pushing your adventures into wintry conditions.

Lighten up with my expert tips in “Ultralight Backpacking Tents: How to Choose One.”

The Nemo Dragonfly 2P interior.
The Nemo Dragonfly 2P on the Teton Crest Trail.

Nemo Dragonfly Osmo 2P
$500, 2 lbs. 10 oz./1191g

There are exactly two fully freestanding, two-person tents on this list with two doors and vestibules that weigh under three pounds, so if that’s what you’re shopping for, you already have a short list. With 29 square feet of floor space, a 41-inch peak height and beaucoup headroom, and spacious vestibules, the Dragonfly’s space-to-weight ratio puts this shelter in an elite class with the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 (below). But more importantly, it’s very appealing to backpackers who want to reduce their pack weight without reducing their living and sleeping space. Besides some nice details, the Dragonfly Osmo 2P is also an ounce lighter and 50 bucks cheaper than its main competitor.

Nemo has updated the Dragonfly for 2023 with the Dragonfly Osmo in one-, two-, and three-person models. It’s virtually identical to the model reviewed here but now made with 100 percent recycled Osmo fabric.

Read my complete review of the nearly identical previous version, the Nemo Dragonfly 2P.

BUY IT NOW You can support my work on this blog , at no cost to you, by clicking any of these affiliate links to purchase a Nemo Dragonfly Osmo 2P at, or another version of the Dragonfly Osmo at or

Score a backcountry permit in popular parks like Yosemite, Grand Canyon, and Grand Teton
using my “10 Tips For Getting a Hard-to-Get National Park Backcountry Permit.”


Slingfin 2Lite ultralight backpacking tent.
Testing the Slingfin 2Lite ultralight backpacking tent in the High Sierra.

Slingfin 2Lite
$505, 2 lbs. 10 oz./1191g

Among the various small companies manufacturing ultralight tents with unique designs, few offer the appealing balance of livability, strength, and two doors found in the 2Lite from Slingfin. Pitching with standard DAC tent poles or trekking poles (trimming the weight to 2 lbs. 6 oz.)—with unique guylines that, when installed internally or externally, reinforce the tent’s strength—it stood up to winds of 30 to 40 mph on a hike of nearly 130 miles through the High Sierra, mostly on the John Muir Trail. With a 28.5-square-foot interior, a 41-inch peak height, 89-inch length, and dual 10.5-square-foot vestibules, the 2Lite Trek offers more space and features than found in other tents around 2.5 pounds.

Read my complete review of the Slingfin 2Lite.

BUY IT NOW You can support my work on this blog, at no cost to you, by clicking these affiliate links to buy a Slingfin 2Lite at and the 2Lite Trek Conversion Kit at

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Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 ultralight backpacking tent.
The Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 in Hells Canyon.

Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2
$550, 2 lbs. 11 oz./1219g

Sporting features—including two awning-style doors that can be rolled up for maximum ventilation and stargazing, better buckles, and abundant interior pockets—the Copper Spur HV UL2 remains one of the leading choices for backpackers seeking an ultralight tent that doesn’t compromise on sturdiness or livability. DAC Featherlite hubbed poles create steep walls that make the tent feel roomier than its 29 square feet, 40-inch peak height, and 88-inch length. It pitches easily, the vestibules are spacious, ventilation excellent, and the Copper Spur keeps the weather on the outside. If you’re looking for a freestanding, two-door, ultralight tent that doesn’t feel like a two-person coffin, you have very few options, and this tent remains one of the best.

Read my complete review of the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2.

BUY IT NOW You can support my work on this blog, at no cost to you, by clicking any of these affiliate links to purchase a Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 at or or another version of the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL series at or

See all reviews of backpacking tents, backpacking gear and ultralight backpacking gear at The Big Outside.

Don’t miss my picks for “The Best Backpacking Gear” of the year. And make sure you’re packing everything that’s important with “An Essentials-Only Backpacking Gear Checklist.”

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Whether you’re a beginner or seasoned backpacker, you’ll learn new tricks for making all of your trips go better in my “12 Expert Tips for Planning a Backpacking Trip,” “A Practical Guide to Lightweight and Ultralight Backpacking,” and “How to Know How Hard a Hike Will Be.” With a paid subscription to The Big Outside, you can read all of those three stories for free; if you don’t have a subscription, you can download the e-guide versions of “12 Expert Tips for Planning a Backpacking Trip,” the lightweight and ultralight backpacking guide, and “How to Know How Hard a Hike Will Be.”

NOTE: I tested gear for Backpacker Magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See my Gear Reviews page at The Big Outside for categorized menus of all of my reviews and my expert buying tips.


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Leave a Comment

55 thoughts on “The 10 Best Backpacking Tents of 2024”

  1. Great article Michael,

    I’m curious if you’ve tried the Tarptent Dipole 1 or 2. I’ve been hearing great things about them. I was very curious about slingfin products, thanks for reviewing them. I haven’t seen much about them online yet.

    • Thanks, Josh. I have not used the Tarptent Dipole 1 or 2 but have tested other Tarptent models in the past and I just looked at it online. At first glance, it uses great materials, is really light per person and has impressive floor and vestibule space and looks like a solid, low-profile design that would hold up very well in wind and weather. My initial impression is that while the peak height is impressive, the sloping walls cut into its headroom, but that’s not unusual in ultralight tents that pitch with trekking poles. I’m intrigued and might try to review one. Thanks for the question.

  2. Hi Michael 👋

    I was wondering if you’ve ever tried out the Durston X-Mid 2 (*not* the Pro). If so, would you recommend it? I’m planning on doing the JMT this summer as my first major thru-hike!


    • Hi Mendel,

      I have not tested out the Durston X-Mid 2 but I’ve been asked about it before and I may try it out sometime. I’ve looked at it and there’s much I like about the design. Without having any experience with it, I’d speculate that it looks like a good tent for the JMT. Pretty fair price, too. Good luck on your hike!

  3. I don’t know if I can take this list Seriously nowhere on This list is a teton sports mountain ultra 1,2,3 or 4 which depending on number is how many people will fit in the tent the tent is outstanding. For the one? Person. It’s a $110 2 person is 130 to $140 top notch Made products better than a lot of the tents that are on this list.

    • Hi Timothy,

      Well, to be quite honest, I think saying you can’t take this list seriously because one brand is not on it seems a bit overwrought and reflects limited experience with tents. Search for other professional or consumer reviews of the best backpacking tents and you’ll see many of these models on other lists. I just looked at the Teton Sports website and its description of the Mountain Ultra 2 makes it look like many other low-priced backpacking tents on the market. I don’t see anything that stands out about it, although the description is slim and doesn’t even include the tent’s weight.

      • Teton Sports must’ve added the weight spec to their website after you checked– and it clocks in at an anvil-like 7.2 lb for the 2-person version! It’s probably a very functional tent and it’s inexpensive, but triple the weight of some of the options on this list.

  4. Try the KUIU 2 person tents. They rock ass all over the brands you mention that I’ve tried. They’d probably be willing to give you a commission.

    The Hat

  5. Nice list but what’s with the snub on best UL brand on the market, Zpacks. I own more than one tent but when it comes to going light there is only one choice, my Duplex. I own the Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL but since I purchased the Duplex it now sits idle. I will give it to my kids. I often see Zpacks left off any of these list. Any serious backpacker knows who the king is, Zpacks. It was list like this that led me down the wrong rabbit hole. It took meeting multiple though hikers to tell me about Zpacks and how great their product are. My big three now weigh under 4 lbs and perform great.

    • Hi Scott,

      Thanks for the comment and I intend no snub against Zpacks. I’m aware of the brand, I’ve seen their popular tent used in the backcountry by others, and I hope to get an opportunity to test and review one. Stay tuned.

  6. The 4 season Nemo Kunai doesn’t make this list??? Ridiculous. At 3 and a half pounds. It’s the most complete backpack tent out there. Even if it’s $500.

    • Hi Ben,

      I would argue that expressing angry outrage over someone’s recommendations in backpacking tents seems much more ridiculous than any specific tent’s omission from any list. I’d encourage you to reserve your outrage for topics that deserve it, of which there are many more important than gear.

      But that aside, I’ll answer your comment. The Nemo Kunai has a lot going for it and Nemo makes good tents. (I’ve included a Nemo model in this article.) This article focuses on three-season tents and the Kunai’s steep price tag is validated in part by its four-season versatility. My advice to someone shopping for a three-season tent would be to pay extra for qualities you need rather than qualities you don’t need.

      One significant shortcoming of the Kunai is the 26 square feet of floor area in the two-person version—that’s very tight living quarters even for two average-size people. (In fact, 28 square feet can feel very cramped, and two extra square feet is more noticeable than it might sound.) A buyer who doesn’t need four-season versatility might be disappointed to pay extra for that and have a tent that feels too small.

      I’ll stand by my picks above for consumers looking for a three-season tent.

      • The Kunai 2 person tent by Nemo. A 4-season tent at 3 lbs is always left out of articles about the best backpacking tents. I don’t get it. It’s perfect and very spacious for one person, and it gives me peace of mind knowing I’ll still have good shelter if the weather suddenly turns very bad. It’s the best tent I’ve ever owned.

        You write about ‘best backpacking tents.” There aren’t many 4-season tents that are this light and reasonably priced. No comparison. I’m just curious as to why no one mentions it, that’s all.. I hope you didn’t get offended by my “angry outrage,’ again…if that what you call it.

        • Hi Benjamin,

          No offense taken, certainly, and I appreciate your question about the Nemo Kunai. I haven’t used it but I have looked at its specs and I’ve previously used similar, so-called “convertible” tents, which have a modular design with different configurations that enables using them in 3-season and winter conditions. I agree with you that it’s spacious and very sturdy, capable of handling heavy winds and a snow load, all at a moderate weight and reasonable price for its performance.

          I can’t speak to why it may not be included on other lists of best backpacking tents, but I’ll give you my reasons. It’s definitely a niche tent, truly best only for people who want one tent they can use year-round, including in temps well below freezing with the distinct possibility of getting a significant snowfall. The truth is that most backpackers are not interested in camping in winter conditions and would not need a tent built for that. I understand that it gives you peace of mind knowing it’s that sturdy, but practically speaking, you only need a tent like the Kunai if you’re going out in a time of year and place where snow can fall and there’s a forecast for snow. Most backpackers would avoid going out in that forecast. And the typical backpacker taking a typical trip of a week or less can count on a reliable short-term forecast for that period of time. Getting a completely unexpected, major snowstorm is not likely.

          The tradeoffs for having that stability and 4-season versatility is a tent that’s heavier, costlier, and does not ventilate as well as lightweight 3-season tents with all-mesh interior walls. I’m confident that Nemo and salespersons in gear stores would offer a consumer the same advice about the Kunai and recommend a lighter, less-expensive tent with better ventilation for strictly 3-season backpackers.

          But thanks nonetheless for your suggestion, I suspect there are some readers who will take notice of the Kunai. I’ve had it in my sights and will test and review it if I have an opportunity to test it in the kind of severe conditions it’s built for.

  7. Michael,
    Curious of your thoughts regarding “bikepacking” tents…
    I’ve been looking at picking up the Copper Spur 2P tent and noticed they make it in a bikepacking version. As far as I can tell it’s the same tent except that the tent poles collapse into smaller sections, which would seem to give me greater options as far as carrying it in my pack. Wasn’t sure if the smaller sections would make it less durable when pitched, but the thought of a more condensed carry is alluring. Your thoughts as always are much appreciated. Thanks and keep up the great work.

    • Hey Brett,

      Good to hear from you. I haven’t used the bikepacking version of the Copper Spur HV UL2 but just checked out Big Agnes’s video of it. I agree, it largely resembles the backpacking version, except with the shorter poles and some other bike-specific features. I think for someone using it for both bikepacking and backpacking, this would be more versatile than the version I reviewed.

      My only concern, though minor, would be the reality that making shorter pole sections demands having more points of connection in the lugged pole structure, thus potentially more points that could feasibly fail (break). But in reality, those points of connection are quite strong and the likelihood of failure seems pretty small, especially if you’re pitching the tent in relatively protected campsites.

      Again, I offer that opinion without having used that tent, but I’m very familiar with the Copper Spur series. If you get it, I’d love to hear what you think after using it.

      Thanks for the good question. Stay well.

  8. Hey Michael. Did you use the footprint most of the time with the big Agnes copper spur hv ul2? I have it but just wondering if it is necessary with this tent?
    Thanks buddy!

    • Hi Slade,

      I haven’t carried a ground cloth for a tent in 20+ years, but that’s partly because I’m often testing out new tents. Yes, it’ll help preserve the tent’s floor, but in reality, tent zippers are often the first part to fail, and tent mesh or lighter wall fabric will usually tear before the floor (which is usually made with heavier fabric).

      If you’re really concerned about preventing a tent floor from tearing, I think it makes more sense to just buy a tent with a thicker floor—which is heavier than a tent with thinner fabrics but you eliminate the weight, bulk, and labor of using a ground cloth. If you’re carrying a ground cloth, you’ve kind of lost the benefit of a lighter tent.

      Thanks for the question.

  9. Hi Michael. Another tent question…what is the best one man, lightweight, “budget” tent you have ever used backpacking?
    Slade Smith

    • Hi Slade,

      Well, I’m fortunate in that I generally use high-quality gear so I have not used a budget tent for many years. But to answer your question I went to my affiliate partner and a good gear website,, and searched on backpacking tents using filters for 1-person, 3-season, and prices under $200. It produced two good suggestions:

      The Marmot Tungsten 1-person, a version of the Tungsten reviewed in this article.

      The Eureka Solitaire AL 1-person, which I have not used, but I’ve used other Eureka tents in the past. My educated estimation is that it’s less expensive because it uses heavier materials. But other than that, it’s a hoop tent that should shed wind and weather well and perform just fine as long as you don’t pitch it in any sites exposed to extreme wind.

      Those links above are affiliate links, so a purchase made through them supports my blog.

      Good luck.

      • Thanks Michael for the swift response. Appreciate the advice. I’ve actually been looking at the Eureka Solitaire AL and really like the way it looks and figured it would be a good warm season solo tent and was about to buy it. Read several good reviews but then came across some reviews stating you wouldn’t be able to fit your pack inside it and that the vestibule it claims to have wasn’t really much of anything. It’s hard to tell from reviews and I generally don’t read reviews because there are alway Debbie downers out there that complain about everything.

        The reason I’m looking at a low budget solo right now is because as you know from our previous conversations, I’ve day-hiked my entire life and was raised in the woods but my family didn’t camp so I wasn’t brought up doing it. I’m ready to take my adventures to the next level but had to buy a lot of gear that I never had all at once. I’m a minimalist by nature and am fine cowboy camping and actually prefer it but need a shelter from rain mainly this time of year down here.

        I’ve looked into several tarp set ups but honestly everything I’ve found that I like tarp wise is either just as heavy if not more than a solo tent plus actually more expensive in some cases. Planning on a few 2-3 night trips in the next few months solo because my wife doesn’t share my passion for the outdoors and just wanted something decent to get me through the next few months before moving to Ontario and planning on then buying a better set up so just didn’t want to shell out a lot of money for shelter and sleeping system until I get back to Canada.

        Thanks buddy!


        • Hi Slade,

          Well, I’d agree based on looking at the Eureka Solitaire AL that there’s not much to the vestibule, plus you have to crawl through it going in and out, so I’d assume it doesn’t have space for a pack. Maybe the length is adequate for leaving your empty pack at your feet or under your feet (doubles as insulation against the ground, allowing you to use a shorter pad/air mat). Otherwise, I’d plan to throw a rain cover over the pack and leave it outside your tent.

          Look for gear sales. See my “10 Tips for Spending Less on Hiking and Backpacking Gear.”

        • Also, my wife says she wants to start joining me, but I know her ha. I hope she likes it but I’m not counting on it. Just in case she does, I’ve been looking into 2-person tents because I figure if she doesn’t, I can still enjoy the extra room they provide even if solo. But they all just seem so much heavier. I’m torn between 1 and 2 person but the weight discourages me. How many pounds is too heavy for a 2-person tent?

          • Slade, I’m chuckling. The question is how much do you think is too heavy for a two-person tent? The Big Agnes Tiger Wall 2 Platinum is 9 ounces heavier than the Gossamer Gear The One solo tent and will fit two people snugly or give one person lots of space. It really comes down to personal decisions of budget, weight, and needed versatility.

  10. Hi Michael,

    Any thought on bivy sacks or recommendations on specific ones if you’ve used them any? The weather where I mainly backpack right now averages low temps at night in the 20-30 degree F range. I’m an ultralight backpacker and also starting to bikepack and always looking for the lightest and most convenient items to use. I’m interested in how fast bivy sacks are to set up and how versatile they are.

    Plus, I love sleeping on the ground wild-style. Something special about it. I’m mainly hiking in the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas right now and this is perfect backpacking weather down here. I’m also nervous for other readers to see this because it’s not on many backpackers’ radar… just kidding of course. But it should because I’ve been all over the country, and the Ozarks Mountain Range in Arkansas and Missouri is without a doubt one of the most beautiful areas in the country.

    Anyway, just wondering what you could recommend about bivy sacks.

    Thanks as always!

    Slade Smith

    • Hi Slade,

      Always good to hear from you, thanks for a thoughtful question. I may not give the answer you were expecting in that I wouldn’t recommend a bivy sack for backpacking. I haven’t actually spent a night sleeping in one, although I have had a variety of similarly cramped sleeping experiences outdoors, ranging from very small solo tents to sharing a solo tent with another person (not recommended unless you really like that person a lot) to very tight snow caves. I’ve also slept under the stars countless nights and love doing that, too, but I often had a tent available as a backup for bad weather.

      I had this conversation with a couple of good friends recently who had bought a couple of bivy sacks for backpacking and then, after hearing my thoughts, decided against using them for backpacking. Short answer is that bivy sacks are intended as very minimalist shelters for one person in extreme conditions, generally climbers needing some kind of shelter on the side of a mountain, sometimes in terrible weather. These are not designed for comfort, by any stretch. I can’t see any argument for backpackers to use a bivy sack.

      Consider a few metrics. Some of the two-person tents in this review are the same weight as two bivy sacks, but these tents provide much more living space than any bivy sack. You can’t even sit up in a bivy sack. In hours of rain, at least a tent lets you move around and sit up. Not so in a bivy sack.

      While bivy sacks are typically waterproof-breathable, the close quarters and very limited ventilation options, plus the single-wall design, means that condensation can often build up inside, getting your bag and clothing wet. A bivy doesn’t have a vestibule for storing wet boots, shells, and a pack.

      There are very good, lightweight and ultralight solo and two-person tents out there that rival the low weight of a bivy sack and make much more sense for backpackers. I suggest you get one of those.

      Thanks for asking. Good luck.

  11. Have you had a chance to try out the 2020 version of the Copper Spur UL2? Looks promising but I’d love your opinion. Thanks!

  12. Thanks for this helpful info! There are a lot of review out there, but yours are more thorough and based on great experience, with great tips. I appreciate!

  13. Hi Mike. Your blog is helpful for getting ready for Philmont with our Scouts next year. Did you have a chance to try the SlingFin Portal for your review? Thanks!

  14. I’m still stewing about tents. In your reply to my post asking about warmer backpacking tents, you mentioned Big Agnes Battle Mountain. I notice that Big Agnes also makes Copper Spur HV Expedition. Do you have any experience with it or knowledge of it that you might be willing to share?

    • Evan, I haven’t used the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV Expedition 2-person or 3-person, but a cursory look at its design suggests to me that it’s a good choice if you’re looking for a tent that traps heat more efficiently and is stronger than typical three-season tents in wind and under the weight of fresh snow. Instead of mesh, the walls are solid, but there are “window” panels you can upzip to roll back the solid panel and have mesh to add some ventilation, and the pole design looks stronger than lighter three-season tents. But I strongly suspect the Battle Mountain tents are stronger because of the more elaborate pole architecture, and they have more living space than the Copper Spur HV Expedition.

  15. My question concerns MSR tents, in particular the Access 2 for which you provide a link in your answer to my earlier query. From looking at consumer reviews online, I grew a little concerned about the quality of MSR products (or quality control), since some of the reviewers raised what seemed to me to be serious concerns (poor sewing of seams, poles that broke at the ends after little use, inadequate waterproofing). I understand that online reviews are to be read with caution, but these matters did not seem trivial. Do you have direct experience with MSR tents, and, if so, are you willing to comment on your perceptions of their quality and durability?

    • Hi Evan,

      In fact, I’ve reviewed many MSR products, including tents, and you can see a menu of those reviews here.

      MSR has a long history and a strong reputation for making quality gear; that’s why they’re a brand I like to review, because honestly, I don’t bother reviewing gear that I wouldn’t want to own.

      I’m not surprised you saw some negative comments on MSR products. I occasionally read online comments about gear that get posted at the websites of outdoor brands and at other blogs. I see some as insightful and useful, and others as misleading because they’re based on little experience with the product or a general lack of experience with gear.

      I also see many high-quality brands that occasionally receive similar negative comments. That can reflect dissatisfaction with a specific product, sometimes legitimate and sometimes due to a misperception of the product’s intended use; sometimes the brand will eventually either improve or discontinue that product. Not all new products succeed. Some have production flaws that get worked out, and any reputable brand will stand behind gear that fails with a repair or replacement of it.

      But I don’t see isolated negative comments as a reflection of a brand’s overall quality. I take a longer view on brand quality, making judgments based on a variety of products. I’ve been doing this for 25+ years. I’ve seen some brands go through a bad spell, and I’ve seen some come out with new stuff that didn’t make the cut. However, I’ve seen many high-quality brands survive and maintain their reputation in a highly competitive industry, which the outdoor industry still is (with many small, innovative companies), because they consistently make very good to excellent gear that users like. MSR remains a brand I trust.

      All that said, reading online reviews is useful, but look for significant trends in those comments, not isolated criticisms.

      I hope that’s helpful. Thanks for the good question.

  16. Is there such a thing as a warm, 1-2 person backpacking tent? If so, are any of them (relatively) light in weight?

    • Hey Evan, thanks for asking a good question. You’re right that all of the tents above are three-season tents, designed for good ventilation to keep occupants cooler on warm nights, but also to minimize or prevent condensation buildup inside on nights that drop below around 40 degrees Fahrenheit. They would feel cold inside on nights that drop well below freezing. But they would still protect you from most wind, certainly from precipitation, and you can obviously use a warmer sleeping bag for cold temps.

      Tent designers largely focus on making three-season tents lighter, adequately sturdy, and well ventilated. If you want a tent that traps heat better, you’re looking potentially at a four-season tent, one that’s made for winter temps and conditions (including stronger winds and possibly a snow load on the tent) and mountaineering at any time of year. That generally means much less mesh, replaced by small vents of some kind (you still have to release moisture from the inside to prevent condensation).

      The tradeoff is that they’re much heavier and bulkier when packed and usually uncomfortably hot in mild temps, not to mention considerably more expensive. Single-wall tents are lighter but often plagued by condensation.

      Some of the better tents in this category are the Big Agnes Battle Mountain 2, Black Diamond First Light, Mountain Hardwear Trango 2, and Hilleberg Jannu 2.

      Some tent models seek a middle ground between full-on winter/mountaineering and the lightest three-season tents, meaning they are good for colder temps and lots of precip, but not really for mountaineering or huge winds or snowfall. One of the lightest models is the MSR Access 2.

      If you need a stronger tent for weather more severe than typical three-season conditions, look at one or more of these tents. If you just want to be able to camp on colder nights but don’t really need a stronger, heavier tent, I suggest you get a warmer bag, a good insulated air mattress, and use a three-season tent.

  17. I am an avid reader and value your advice. Since our almost 10 year old son is getting bigger, we are looking to purchase a new tent to give us more elbow room. Currently we have a GoLite Imogene UL3 that we love. We are not interested in moving to two two person tents, but instead moving to a 4 person tent for a few years. I see you like the Big Agnes Copper Spur. Any other suggestions/reviews to point us towards for a 4 person backpacking tent? Thank you!

    • Hi Dana, yes, I’m a fan of the Big Agnes Copper Spur series, and there is a UL4 version. I think other good options are the Marmot Limelight or Tungsten. I haven’t used a 4p in a while, but those tents series are good ones.

  18. Another vote for the Big Agnes Copper Spur. We picked ours up last winter and it has been awesome in tropical St Johns US Virgin Islands; in spring on the Long Trail in Vermont; in summer kayaking on the Connecticut River in VT/NH/MA; and fall camping with the Cub Scouts in VT.

  19. Michael,

    I have a couple friends contemplating new tents. This will be helpful.

    I have been using a Hilleberg Anjan 2 for the past three years. It is a tunnel design, single door with a mesh window at the foot. It is not free standing but sets up very quickly. The fabric is Hiieberg’s proprietary Krylon which is a silicon impregnated nylon. The tent is light, strong, very versatile. The tent and fly are integrated, but can be quickly separated to allow use of the tent alone or the fly can be used like a tarp using the two poles and guylines.

    I have been in 50-60 mph winds and it solid as can be.

    My only niggles are venting with the fly on could be better (disclosure: I am a condensation machine in a tent). This primarily because the fly at the foot sits close to the ground. I have recently started using my titanium poop shovel as an extra tent peg to elevate the fly. The fly fabric attracts fine desert sand, like in Utah, that has to be washed off.

    Hilleberg tents are expensive but the quality and design are exceptional.

    • Thanks for that detailed field-testing report, John. I know that you know tents and gear well, and I’ve heard good things about the Anjan 2 before. Keep the comments coming please, my friend.

  20. Hi Mike, It’s really great to see your work on the blog and you seem to be having a really great time. I wish I had more time to read it, but with our sons being 13 and 17, you can imagine how busy we are.
    I read your tent review because we’re looking for one, but not a lightweight backpacking tent, per se. We do more car camping these days and are looking for a roomier one, like a dome that will really comfortably fit two (more and more) or three of us (sometimes). You probably understand. If we backpack, we’d be sharing the weight, but (sadly) we’re not doing much of that these days! Do you have any general recommendations? I realize it’s not cutting edge but that’s alright.
    Keep up the great work!