When you’re sleeping on the ground, you want a shelter that provides the highest possible level of comfort and convenience. Good camping tents offer both, but the specific kind of tent you need depends on how you’re getting to your campsite, how many people you’re camping with, and, of course, your budget.
Backpacking and bikepacking tents are designed for low weight and maximum durability, whereas tents for family camping and drive-in campsites usually come with cushy extras like multiple rooms and space for inflatable mattresses. No matter where you fall on that spectrum, this guide will help kick-start your shopping: Here are some of our favorite tents for all kinds of backcountry adventures.
Best Ultralight Tent: Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ultamid 2
Every ounce matters when you’re hauling gear on your back. This pyramid-style shelter is ideal for hyper-minimalists: It comes without a floor (you can buy one separately) and weighs just over a pound. It also features Dyneema fabric—a material made from carbon and polymer filaments—that’s not only super durable, it’s also fully waterproof to stave off moisture in even the soggiest conditions. Two can fit comfortably, and you can adjust the tent’s height depending on your needs. One ding: It’s pricey.
[$800; hyperlitemountaingear.com]Get it
Best for Backpacking: Mountain Hardwear Nimbus UL 2 Tent
The Nimbus UL 2 is a great backpacking option for everyone from camping novices to experienced hikers. It’s easy to set up, durable, and very lightweight (just two pounds, two ounces). A full mesh ceiling improves ventilation, and a large D-shaped door makes for graceful in-and-out access—even in the dark.
[$350; mountainhardwear.com]Get it
Best for Bikepacking: Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2 Bikepack Solution Dye Tent
When you’re stuffing everything you need into a few panniers on your bike, packable gear is essential. The Tiger Wall comes with several helpful features for bikepacking: The shorter 12-inch poles are perfect for storing on your handlebars, for example, and daisy chain loops and exterior webbing on the tent come in handy for storing items and air drying clothes.
The solution-dyed nylon ripstop fabric doesn’t fade over time, and taped seams keep out moisture when the rain starts to fall. Plus, it weighs just two pounds, five ounces, so doesn’t create a big weight penalty, either.
[$450; bigagnes.com]Get it
Best for Family or Group Camping: Decathlon Quechua Arpenaz 4.1
The Quechua Arpenaz can sleep up to four people and offers ample room for lounging and storage, especially for smaller groups. The 54-square-foot “living room” is great for keeping shoes and other gear out of the way, and it’s also ideal for getting relief from the sun. The fabric is waterproof, the flysheet offers UPF 30 sun protection, and the sturdy fiberglass poles ensure your tent won’t topple over in the breeze. You won’t want to carry this one too far from your car, though: It weighs a hefty 21 pounds.
[$179; decathlon.com]Get it
Best Four-Season Tent: NEMO Kunai 3-4 Season Backpacking Tent
Winter is pretty underrated as a camping season. But with the right tent, you can ward off the chill on ski mountaineering trips or when venturing above the treeline. The Kunai’s double-wall construction traps heat—even into negative temps—while also venting humidity created by your body and breath. Although the floor plan is a bit compact, the tent’s dome shape offers extra headroom, and compared to other four-season tents, this one is a great value. Added bonus: At four pounds, five ounces, it’s light enough to use year-round.
Need more space? Upgrade to the three-person version for $200 more.
[$500; nemoequipment.com]Get it
Best Budget-Friendly Tent: Kelty Late Start 2
You don’t need to splurge in order to get a quality camping tent, especially if you mainly stick to simple overnight or weekend trips. For the casual camper, the Late Start 2 makes a great pick. It features two pre-bent aluminum poles, corner pole pockets, quick clips, and color-coded guides that help you set it up in a flash. The 29-square-foot floor plan and 7.8-square-foot vestibule offer plenty of space for two. It weighs in at four pounds, eight ounces, so it’s best for car camping or shorter hikes into the backcountry. On warm, dry nights, try ditching the rain fly so you can stargaze.
[$160; kelty.com]Get it
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