When it comes to packing up in the morning, your tent is likely to be one of the heaviest and biggest things that you’re carrying. For that reasons, small tents are often ideal. They cut down on weight, for sure, but they also cut down on bulk, which means that you can be then cut down on the size of your backpack, or at least free up room inside your backpack for other important gear. Of course a tent that’s too small might feel a bit cramped, so it’s a balancing act.
Small TentsWhat to look for when you're reviewing small tents.
- Trekking Pole Supports – One easy way to cut down on the bulk of your tent is to get one that will use trekking poles as tent poles. That way, if you carry trekking poles anyway, there are no poles to back in the morning, because you will be carrying your tent poles in either hand.
- Single Wall – A good way to make your tent a smaller package when it comes to packing is to eliminate half of the fabric. A single wall tent will keep you dry, and wont suffer from condensation build up, as long as it is well ventilated. Besides cutting down on the size, a single wall tent will also cut down on weight quite a bit.
Best Small TentsSome of your best options when picking out a small tent.
- Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2 - When it comes to small tents, there's not many smaller free standing tents than the Fly Creek series from Big Agnes. The UL2 version, which has room inside for two, is not especially roomy, but at just 2 pounds 2 ounces, or 960 grams it's certainly lightweight, and will pack up in to a very small package. It's a two wall tent too, no single wall design here, and while it's not the cheapest tent around, it's certainly an excellent choice. It also won the 2010 Backpacker Magazine Editor's Choice award, which helps, and even comes in a smaller 1 man version.
- NEMO Equipment Gogo Elite - The Gogo Elite is, literally, a very small tent. It's actually more like a bivy sack, in that there's just enough room inside for you to lay down, and not much room in the way of vertical space. But unlike a bivy sack it will stay up off of your sleeping bag, which is crucial for staying dry. It's a single wall design, and the pole is actually inflatable, rather than aluminum, which definitely helps to save on weight and size. The whole thing also weighs just 1 pound 7 ounces, or 652 grams, which is impressively lightweight. So if you want something that is quite literally small, this is a great choice.
- TarpTent Contrail - The Contrail is actually a relatively roomy 1 person tent, but it saves a lot of bulk and weight in two ways. First, it uses trekking poles, rather than tent poles as the supports. So as long as you use trekking poles, you don't have to carry tent poles. You can, however, purchase a pole if you don't use trekking poles. It's also a single wall design, so that there is a lot less material to pack up in the morning when it's time to go, which again saves on bulk. And at 24.5 ounces, or 694 grams it's a very lightweight and small tent. The price is also very attractive if you are looking for a cheap small tent.