backpacking tent reviews

Ask Me: Got a Family Backpacking Tent Recommendation?

Hi Michael,

We discovered your website about a year ago, and have loved getting inspired by your stories!

We have planned a family backpacking trip on the Teton Crest Trail this August, based on your past trip, and need to replace our old tent. Our kids are ages 8 and 10, and we need something that will fit the four of us, as well as being light enough to be reasonable to backpack with. We do trips regularly in the mountains around home (Aspen, CO) and in the Utah desert, in spring through late fall. Occasionally we’re out in snow, and sometimes amidst  serious bugs. Can you recommend anything in particular that you’ve tried and liked?

Read onAsk Me: Got a Family Backpacking Tent Recommendation?

Gear Review: Sierra Designs Flash 2 Tent

Sierra Designs Flash 2
Sierra Designs Flash 2

Three-Season Tent
Sierra Designs Flash 2
$340, 3 lbs. 15 oz.
sierradesigns.com

As a violent thunderstorm ripped the skies open in Oregon’s Eagle Cap Wilderness, on the second day of a five-day August family backpacking trip, I had to pitch this tent in a hurry. It was one of those moments when I really appreciate good gear design. With the Flash 2’s “external pitch” integral rainfly attached to the interior canopy, I was able to keep the interior dry while pitching the tent in a downpour. And thanks to having clips instead of pole sleeves, it goes up very quickly.

Read onGear Review: Sierra Designs Flash 2 Tent

Gear Review: Brooks-Range Foray Tent

Brooks-Range Foray

Tent
Brooks-Range Foray
$425, 2 lbs. 10 oz. (tent, fly, poles)
brooks-range.com

This sub-three-pound, two-person tent defies preconceived notions of an ultralight tent: it has comfortable space, is strong and dry inside in rough weather, and versatile. I found the Foray especially perfect for backpacking with a kid who’s too young to carry much, if any, gear, because living space assumes a lower priority when your companion is a child, while having a lightweight, low-bulk tent makes a huge difference when you’re carrying most of the gear.

Read onGear Review: Brooks-Range Foray Tent

Gear Review: Big Agnes Copper Spur UL 4 Tent

Big Agnes Copper Spur UL 4

Tent
Big Agnes Copper Spur UL 4
$600, 5 lbs. 10 oz. (tent, fly, poles)
bigagnes.com

My wife and I are delighted that our kids are big enough to backpack and are eager hikers. But they’re both still grade-schoolers—they can’t carry much yet. She and I still haul virtually all of our family’s gear and food. How far our kids can hike is no longer the limiting factor in our family backpacking trips; it’s how much she and I can carry. Now this incredibly light, low-bulk, four-person tent has changed the calculus of backpacking for us.

Read onGear Review: Big Agnes Copper Spur UL 4 Tent