The Best Backpacking Tents for 2019
We researched the best backpacking tents and aggregated that data. Here's our findings.
Gotta get a good night’s sleep if you expect to have fun in the morning. We researched the most popular comparative backpacking tent reviews and aggregated their findings to identify the fourteen best two-person tents. We narrowed that list to the seven best tents that hold up to both the elements and the rigors of backpacking life based on reports from actual users. Our findings are based on aggregated data about the tents with the highest marks from customers and REI and Amazon, and professional reviewers at Outdoor Gear Lab, Outside Magazine, Backpacker Magazine, Wirecutter, Switchback Travel, Section Hiker, Adventure Junkies, Gadget Review, and The Big Outside.
The overall best tent is the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 2, which was among the most highly rated by reviewers for its two doors, large vestibules, and extensive storage. Those on a budget liked the Eureka! Midori 2 for the space and storage available for the price. For versatility, reviewers prefered the REI Half Dome 2 Plus for its ability to transition from car camping to backpacking. Other highly rated tents included the lightweight Nemo Hornet 2, the livable MSR Hubba Hubba NX, the lighter and cheaper Tarptent Double Rainbow, and the single-door Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL 2.
THE BEST TWO PERSON TENT: Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 2
For all-around considerations of space, weight, and ease of use, the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 2 is our best two-person backpacking tent. Among the most spacious of the backpacking tents we reviewed, it fits two people comfortably. And if you’re tall, get stoked: tall folks in particular praised this tent. Two doors provide easy access for two sleepers and two vestibules provide ample storage space for their gear. Users can pitch the Copper Spur freestanding or stake it out to get the most room out of their pitch. And with a fully-packed weight of just over three pounds - nearly half a pound lighter than the Copper Spur UL2 Classic - the HV UL 2 is the model to go with. So many positives come with a price, however: this tent is the most expensive backpacking tents we reviewed.
Reviewers loved this tent. Section Hiker calls the Copper Spur HV UL 2 “a tent that should be on your short list”. Outdoor Gear Lab gave it one of their Best Overall awards, calling it lightweight and spacious, which REI reviewers noted as well. The Big Outside joined REI reviewers in praising the ease of setup, as Big Agnes color-codes its poles and rainfly to simplify the setup process. And at Big Agnes, reviewers spoke of the tent as "Great for two and not too heavy a carry for one."
Reviewers had to get really picky to find issue with this tent, generally concerning durability and the zippers. Outdoor Gear Lab notes that the lightweight fabric of the Copper Spur HV UL 2 is not particularly durable or abrasion-resistant. Section Hiker suggests that the tent’s taper to 42 inches wide at the foot likely won’t fit two rectangular sleeping pads side by side without overlap. Both REI and Big Agnes reviewers suggested that the zippers on both the tent body and the fly can be touchy, getting stuck and requiring effort to dislodge (we suggest using McNett Zipper Lube to help with sticky zippers; see the Care and Maintenance section for more details.). Since the durability issue is shared among all lightweight tents, and the zipper issue is more of an annoyance than a true flaw, we feel confident in recommending the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 2 to backpacking duos who want a roomy backpacking tent that will serve them well in spring, summer, or fall.
The BEST BUDGET BACKPACKING TENT: Eureka! Midori 2
Nearly $300 cheaper than the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 2, the 2018 version of the Eureka! Midori 2 packs a lot of features in for a low price. Squared off at 88 inches in length and 55 inches in width, and sporting two doors, the Midori has plenty of room for two. In addition to two vestibules’ worth of storage space, the Midori comes with a gear loft for additional storage. Like the Big Agnes tents on the list, the Midori is color-coded for ease of setup. Convenient clips instead of sleeves - a rarity on similarly-priced tents - further simplify the setup process. The tradeoff for the reduced price is increased weight. At 4.8 pounds, the Midori 2 is one of the heaviest of the tents we reviewed.
Reviewers found plenty to like about the Eureka! Midori 2. Outside discusses the tent’s "efficient use of space" where "the interior feel[s] roomier than its average 30 square feet would suggest." Backpacker loves the storage options, particularly the placement of the gear loft near the feet for additional head room. At Eureka!, reviewers noted that “For this price you cannot beat the size, weight, and features!” Backcountry Edge reviewers noted the “solid construction and materials”, the “Quick and easy pitch”, and the way it “Feels roomy for two people”.
The main complaint about the Eureka! Midori 2 was the quality of the tent’s stakes. Both Backpacker and Eureka! reviewers recommended replacing the stakes that come with the tent. Given its affordable price, the cost to upgrade to better stakes is tolerable. The Eureka! Midori 2 remains a good option for backpackers on a budget.
CAR CAMPING AND BACKPACKING TENT IN ONE: REI HALF DOME 2 Plus
If you’re looking for a backpacking tent that can double as a comfortable car-camping tent, check out the REI Half Dome 2 Plus. The largest and tallest of the backpacking tents we considered, the REI Half Dome has ample head room to sit up. Two doors mean two porch-like vestibules for storage, with additional storage in side and overhead pockets. Each vestibule has two stakeout points, making them more stable in the wind. Four vents in the rain fly help decrease condensation. And, unlike the drab color of tents like the Tarptent Double Rainbow, the REI Half Dome comes in several color options to better suit your tent to your tastes. As the largest two-person tent, the Half Dome also has the largest footprint, and is the heaviest at 5.3 pounds - over double the weight of the Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL 2.
The REI Half Dome 2 Plus rides the line between car camping tent and backpacking tent for most reviewers. Switchback Travel calls this tent "an honest-to-goodness livable option for 2 people, something almost no other 2-person backpacking model can claim". REI reviewers say that it’s spacious, with enough room for a 6’6” person, and performs well in high wind and rough weather. Adventure Junkies says the positives are "good ventilation, durable and moderately strong" but notes that it’s "heavy for backpacking". Outdoor Gear Lab agrees that it’s heavy, but calls it an "excellent choice as a car camping tent" despite ranking it seventh in their backpacking tent reviews.
Other issues with this tent mostly deal with securing the tent to the ground. REI reviewers note that the tent doesn’t come with enough stakes or guy lines to fully stake the tent down. Outdoor Gear Lab goes one step further, recommending more cord and better stakes on the whole. Other, more minor concerns include frequent snags in the tent’s mesh, and the potential inability to find a tent site in the backcountry for so large a tent. Still, If you’re a more leisurely backpacking duo who spends a lot of time in your tent, the REI Half Dome 2 Plus is a comfy option for the price. And if it turns out you don’t like it, REI’s generous return policy will allow you to get a refund or swap it out within the first year for something that suits you better.
BEST LIGHTWEIGHT TENT: NEMO HORNET 2
A backpacking tent for two hikers who don’t mind getting cozy, the Nemo Hornet 2 is a backpacking tent that is a half pound lighter than the Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL 2. At 2.4 pounds packed weight - 1.2 pounds per person - it is the second lightest two person tent we considered after the Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL 2. However, we think it is better for two sleepers than the Fly Creek. Why? The Nemo has a two-door, two-vestibule design which is better suited for two people than the one-door, one-vestibule on the Fly Creek. As the two are of nearly equal price, we recommend the Hornet for ultralight duos and the Fly Creek for folks hiking solo.
As with any lightweight shelter, extra care for its fragility and some sacrifices to comfort must be made to shed that weight. At 88 inches in length, the Nemo Hornet 2 might be less comfortable for taller backpackers, though a 6’1” Amazon reviewer suggested they were comfortable inside. Both Switchback Travel and Outside Magazine suggest it might be better as a large one-person shelter. Though Switchback says the Hornet has excellent ventilation, Gadget Review reported extensive condensation, and many REI and Amazon reviewers agreed. Still, Outside Magazine tested the Hornet "During a windy storm at an exposed camp, [and] not a bead made it inside." To make sure you get a similarly tight pitch, an REI reviewer recommended staking out the tent before you set up the poles.
THE BEST LUXURY TENT: MSR HUBBA HUBBA NX
With over 700 user reviews, there’s much to love about the MSR Hubba Hubba NX. Even though the actual tent’s dimensions are smaller than most other tents we considered, Section Hiker raves that "the pole configuration creates an interior space that has near vertical walls, providing excellent interior space and livability."
There’s plenty more to like about the MSR Hubba Hubba NX. Switchback Travel likes the integrated rain gutters on the doors and the cinching stuff bag, which allows for variability in packing size. REI reviewers note that the tent is easy to set up and good in rough weather. More negative reviews on both Amazon and MSR note broken poles, particularly in the cold. While Outdoor Gear Lab doesn’t like the “unwieldy” hubbed pole design or the tent’s larger footprint (when accounting for the vestibule doors), their review touts this tent “for any kind of backpacking trip where you are trying to go light, but also will be spending some time in your tent.” In essence, the MSR Hubba Hubba NX is a well-loved tent that will serve backpackers well for years.
THE BEST ultralight budget tent: Tarptent Double Rainbow
While ultralight backpacking tents are never cheap, the Tarptent Double Rainbow is one of the lightest two-door, two-vestibule, two-person shelters you can find at nearly $100 cheaper than other tents around its 2.6-pound weight. At 88 inches in length, it works great for tall folks, and with a squared-off construction and a 52-inch width, it’s wide enough for two. It’s also the only tent made in the USA that we reviewed.
Semi-freestanding, you can rig trekking poles to support the Double Rainbow instead of stakes if you so choose. This is the only Top of the Line backpacking tent to have a tent pole sleeve instead of clips, and the only single-wall tent as well. The Double Rainbow is also known not to come with its seams pre-sealed - though you can ask Tarptent to seal them for a fee. Even with the seam-sealing service, the Double Rainbow still comes in at more than $100 less than the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 2, which seals its spot as our Ultralight on a budget pick.
Single wall tents are prone to condensation, and both Outdoor Gear Lab and Switchback Travel note that the Tarptent Double Rainbow is no exception. Tarptent sells a liner meant to cut down on condensation - but that’ll will cost you in weight and overhead space. Outdoor Gear Lab bemoans the lack of storage space, but Wirecutter chose the Double Rainbow as its Thru-Hiker pick, as thru-hikers have less of a need for storage. We think that two thru-hikers would feel a little too cramped in the Double Rainbow, as after months together, you develop a need for personal space. We think the Double Rainbow will better serve for two backpackers sharing space for days or weeks rather than months.
THE BEST two person tent for one person: Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL 2
The lightest of the backpacking tents we reviewed, the Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL 2 is a 2.3-pound tent that saves weight by offering a single door on a two-person tent. The thin fabrics, taper at the tent’s foot, and slightly shorter length - 86 inches, as opposed to the Copper Spur’s 88 - also help with weight savings. While many REI reviewers were able to make good on the two-person suggestion for this tent, many more, including reviewers at Switchback Travel and Outdoor Gear Lab, commented on the impracticality of fitting more than one person through the single door. As such, the Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL 2 is our Solo trekker pick, best as a roomy one-person tent for a backpacker and their gear.
Though the Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL 2 has its quirks, reviewers are generally happy with this tent once they learn its ins and outs. Gadget Review says it is a good compromise between weight and durability, though Outdoor Gear Lab says it’s the least durable tent recently tested. Many REI reviewers agree, suggesting the use of a footprint to protect the floor. For maximum space and waterproofness, both REI and Amazon reviewers agree that a proper pitch and the use of guy lines is essential. Some of these reviewers have found YouTube videos on proper setup to be helpful. Once set up, several REI reviewers noted that the zippers are touchy and prone to snagging. One REI reviewer, having used both the Fly Creek UL 2 and the Fly Creek HV UL 2, stated that the extra space in the HV model was worth the extra money. If you’re looking to use this tent on a longer trek, don’t fret: a few REI reviewers used this tent on their Appalachian Trail or Pacific Crest Trail thru-hikes, and it lasted them thousands of miles with careful handling.