When you go backpacking, what should be chief on your mind is the weight of your gear. The three heaviest things that backpackers tend to carry are called the big three, and consist of the sleeping bag, the backpack itself, and of course the tent. A good backpacking tent, then, should be lightweight. You don’t want to be lugging around a big, heavy tent, because your knees and back will certainly not thank you at the end of the day, and you will also run out of room in your backpack, necessitating a bigger backpack.
Backpacking TentWhat to look for when you’re looking for a backpacking tent.
- Lightweight – As stated above, you really want a lightweight tent if you’re going to be carrying it in a backpack. Related to this, a lightweight tent will also tend to be smaller and more compact, which takes up less room in your backpack, and means you don’t need a big, oversized backpack either.
- Trekking Pole Supports – One thing that you should always be on the lookout for when it comes to backpacking equipment is dual use items. Many people use trekking poles, for instance, but once you get to camp there’s not much use for them. There are many tents, however, that will allow you to use trekking poles in places of tent poles, allowing you to leave tent poles at home. Not for everyone, but a feature definitely worth considering.
Best Backpacking TentA select few of the very best backpacking tents that you could hope to get your hands on.
- Tarptent Contrail - First up, a lightweight option that gives you the option of using trekking poles as supports, as described above. Tarptent isn't a brand that you will find over at REI or the like, but they make excellent, lightweight tents that have a loyal following in the lightweight backpacking community. The Contrail is a single wall design with plenty of ventilation, intended for 1 sleeper. It weighs very little, at 24.5 ounces, which is 696 grams. If you're willing to try something a little different that will save you a lot of weight, the Contrail is an ideal choice.
- Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2 - In the more traditional dome tent category is the Fly Creek line from Big Agnes. The UL2 has room for two sleepers, and at 33.8 ounces, or 960 grams, it's one of the most lightweight dome tents you'll find. It's fairly minimal, with just one door and plenty of ventilation, but won the 2010 Backpacker Magazine Editor's Choice award. It also comes in a 1 person, 3 person and 4 person size, all of which are very popular with backpackers.
- Marmot Thor 3 - Spring, summer and fall aren't the only seasons that people go backpacking in, and if you're looking for a true 4 season backpacking tent, you wont find many better than the Thor. It sleeps 3, and with a total of 6 poles, you can be sure it wont be beaten up by a winter storm. It also has 2 doors, which can be handy for ventilation and for storing gear under the vestibule. It's not lightweight, at 10 pounds 12 ounces, or 4.87 kilograms, but then winter backpacking tents rarely are.