7 Best Lightweight Tents for Backpacking (2022)

young tourist man holding coffee cup in the tent in morning enjoying the leisure and freedom.

Your tent may be the most important piece of camping gear you pack in your backpack. It will keep you warm and protected from the elements after a long day on the trails. For backpacking, you’ll want to choose a lightweight tent, so we’ve put together our list of the 7 best lightweight tents for backpacking.


Best Lightweight Tents for Backpacking – Winners

Check out our quick recommendations here, or keep scrolling for detailed reviews:


Best Overall Backpacking Tent

1. Nemo Dragonfly Ultralight Backpacking Tent

Quick View Information

  • 05 pounds
  • 80” L x 50” W
  • 1-person

The Nemo Dragonfly Ultralight is a waterproof, lightweight freestanding tent that is roomy, durable, and breathable. For a one-person tent, it has a spacious living area of 20.3 square feet. It has a nylon ripstop canopy that is waterproof and resistant to tears. The tent floor is also waterproof nylon, so you don’t have to worry about the moisture from the wet ground finding its way into your tent.

This solo tent also has plenty of storage on the inside for you to keep your belongings secure and off the ground or away from your living space. For privacy, there is a large white no-see-um mesh interior that will keep you protected from insects while also being breathable. It is also built with strut vents to release humidity from the tent during rain or storms.

It’s easy to set up with color-coded anodized poles that have matching webbing. You can easily set the tent up by yourself on your backpacking trip, and it’s freestanding, so you know it will stay in place once it’s erected.

Pros

  • Easy to set up
  • Roomy and comfortable
  • Lots of storage
  • Waterproof and tear-proof 3-season tent

Cons

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Best Ultralight Backpacking Tent

2. Big Agnes Tiger Wall Ultra Light Tent

Quick View Information

  • 15 pounds
  • 49” W x 86” L x 39” H
  • 1-person capacity

The Big Agnes Tiger Wall Ultra Light 1-person tent is the best ultralight backpacking tent because it weighs just over one pound yet provides UV protection, waterproofing, and durability against all of the elements. When packed down, this solo tent only takes up 17” x 5.5” in your backpack.

It is designed with the Big Agnes Tiplok Buckle design, so it’s easy to set up yourself on your next camping trip. It comes with aluminum Featherlight poles and reflective lines on the tent fabric that make it easy to construct at night.

Just because it’s a one-person tent doesn’t mean it lacks features. It has plenty of storage in the inner tent, just like the Copper Spur model. It has a 3-D elevated storage bin with additional ceiling and door pockets for you to keep electronics and gear close by.

Pros

  • Easy to set up
  • Provides UV protection and waterproofing
  • Lots of storage
  • Lifetime warranty

Cons

  • Not freestanding

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Best 2-Person Budget Backpacking Tent

3. Nemo Dragonfly Ultralight Backpacking Tent 2-Person


Quick View Information

  • 62 pounds
  • 88” L x 50” W
  • 2-person capacity

Like the 1-person model, the Nemo Dragonfly is a freestanding tent made from the same materials and has the same features, which makes it the best 2-person option on our list. It doesn’t lack any stability, storage, or functionality.

Because it’s a 2-person tent, it has more living area than the 1-person model. There is a total of 29 square feet of living space in the tent. It’s a 3-season tent, so it’s best for warm weather. It has two trapezoid-shaped vestibules that have multiple areas of dry storage.

Like the one-person option, setting up the tent is easy and can be done with one or two people.

Pros

  • Easy to set up
  • Provides UV protection and waterproofing
  • Lots of storage
  • Lifetime warranty

Cons

  • Not freestanding

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Best Winter Backpacking Tent

4. MSR Access Lightweight 4-Season Tent

Quick View Information

  • 06 pounds
  • 130” W x 84” L x 47” H
  • 3-person capacity

The MSR Access Lightweight 4-season tent is the best winter backpacking tent because of how warm the tent will keep you during cold weather conditions. The tent has limited mesh to ensure that heat stays inside the tent and doesn’t escape. Plus, it has Easton Syclone hubbed poles that are resistant to breaking during cold conditions.

The canopy of the tent is made of Xtreme Shield waterproof coating. This is great for all types of precipitation, including snow, sleet, and rain.

While it’s ideal for cold weather, the MSR 4-person hiking tent can also be used in warm weather. One of the best features of this MSR 4-person tent is the rainfly vents. These vents reduce condensation from forming within the tent during warm weather or thunderstorms.

Pros

  • Recommended for all seasons
  • Large living area of 41 square feet
  • 3-year warranty
  • Waterproof and lightweight

Cons

  • Not freestanding

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Best Budget Backpacking Tent

5. Marmot Crane Creek Backpacking

Quick View Information

  • 8 pounds
  • 88” L x 50” W x 43” H
  • 2-person capacity

The Marmot Crane Creek is the best 2-person backpacking tent if you’re a backpacker

 on a budget. If you’re looking for a 2-person tent that won’t break the bank and doesn’t lack any features, then you should consider this option from Marmot.

It has 30 square feet of tent floor space with two large D-shaped doors. Inside, there are two overhead vestibules for quick and functional storage. The canopy is fully waterproof yet breathable during those warm months. It’s a freestanding tent and has a rain fly and stakeouts that make it easy for one person to set up by themselves.

Pros

  • Freestanding
  • Affordable
  • Ample storage
  • Waterproof and lightweight

Cons

  • Slightly heavy at nearly 5 pounds

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Best Luxurious Backpacking Tent

6. MSR Mutha Hubba NX 3-Person Lightweight Backpacking Tent with Xtreme Waterproof Coating

Quick View Information

  • 3 pounds
  • 144” L x 68” W x 44” H
  • 3-person capacity

MSR makes top-rated tents, and the Mutha Hubba NX 3-person tent is at the top of the list. It is a 3-person, 3-season freestanding tent that uses Easton Syclone poles for reinforcement, especially during cold weather conditions. The canopy is made out of Xtreme Shield Waterproofing that will last three times as long as standard waterproof materials.

For features, the MSR Mutha Hubba NX has a rainfly system, two storage vestibules, and a compression stuff sack for easy packaging and storing.

Once set up, the freestanding tent provides 39 square feet of tent floor space plus 14 square feet of storage vestibule area. It is an extremely durable, waterproof backpacking tent that will only take up 21” x 7” in your backpack.

Pros

  • Freestanding
  • Waterproof
  • Durable
  • Strong poles and structure

Cons

  • Pricey

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Best 4-Person Backpacking Tent

7. Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 4-Person Tent

Quick View Information

  • 5 pounds
  • 146” W x 96” L x 50” H
  • 4-person capacity

The Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL is a 4-person freestanding tent with 41 square feet of living space. It is designed with various storage compartments that make it convenient and practical. There is a 3-D storage bin at the foot of the tent that provides storage off the ground. There are media pockets within the tent that are designed so you can route your cords accordingly as they charge.

The tent is designed to be set up quickly and easily by just one person using the Tiplok Buckle technology. The Tiplok Buckle combines three functions into one. It keeps the tent secure, holds the rainfly attachment piece, and keeps the tent grounded with the stakeout loop.

The tent is made of ultralight nylon that is rip-proof and has a polyurethane waterproof coating. When the tent is packed, it takes up 19.5” x 6” in your backpack.

Pros

  • Large living space
  • Waterproof and rip-proof
  • Easy to set up
  • Lots of storage

Cons

  • Heavy

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The Best Backpacking Tent Buying Guide

Each backpacking tent feature is important, and what’s important to you may not be as important to someone else. So, you’ll need to ask yourself what features you want most when selecting a backpacking tent for your next camping trip.

Backpacking Tent Weight

You’ll have a lot of gear in your backpack, and your tent will be the one piece of gear that will weigh the most, but that doesn’t mean you need to choose the lightest tent you find. Some lightweight tents are inexpensive but made of cheap material that can rip, unravel, and leak.

While our list includes 7 of the best lightweight tents for backpacking, there are options on the list that are more lightweight than others.

The lightest option on our list is the Big Agnes Tiger Wall Ultra Light Tent. It comes in at weighing just 1.15 pounds. It’s not a freestanding tent which means it is vulnerable to strong winds and weather.

The heaviest option on our list is the MSR Access Lightweight 4-Season Tent, but that’s because it’s a 3-person tent that’s rated for all 4 seasons because of the heavy-duty Xtreme Shield waterproofing exterior. It weighs over 5 pounds, but it will keep you warm in the coldest conditions.

When it comes to the weight of the backpacking tent, you’ll need to put heavy consideration into the time of year that you’ll be backpacking. If you are only backpacking during warmer months or 3 seasons, you can get by with a lighter backpacking tent. However, if you plan to backpack during winter or cold conditions, you’ll want to choose a heavier tent that will keep you warm during those times.

You’ll also need to consider how many occupants will be occupying the tent. A tent made for one person will use less material than a tent made for three or four occupants.

Price and Value

A good quality lightweight backpacking tent can be pricy, but there’s often a good reason behind the price tag. This applies to both affordable tents and expensive tents.

A backpacking tent with a hefty price tag usually means the tent is made of quality materials that make it waterproof, tear-proof, and warm. They also may be UV resistant and keep out moisture while also being breathable.

Affordable backpacking tents often lack this quality. They are often more lightweight, with less protection from the elements. They may have various features like storage bins and a rainfly, but their overall quality may be lacking compared to more expensive options.

Looking at the backpacking tents on our list, the most affordable option is the Marmot Crane Creek backpacking tent. It is less than $150 for a 2-person tent, but it is only best in 3 seasons or warm weather because it lacks insulation and shielding from cold weather.

The most expensive option on our list is the MSR 4-Season Access Lightweight tent because of its durability to stand up against cold weather. It provides warmth, stability, and waterproofing against all the elements. While it provides all the protection you’ll need while backpacking, it costs just under $700.

Interior Space

You’ll want to consider the interior space of the backpacking tent, especially if more than one person will be occupying the tent. 

Interior space includes the living space or tent floor space of the backpacking tent, but there may be storage vestibules inside the tent body that are also calculated to make up the total square footage of interior space.

Don’t get the floor space or sleeping space measurements confused with the total square footage of the tent. You may think you are purchasing a tent with a large sleeping area because of the square footage amount when that total may include storage vestibules in the tent’s design.

A tent with a large interior space will use more material and longer poles, subsequently causing the tent to weigh more. If the weight of the tent is a priority, then you will need to consider how much interior space the tent has. Otherwise, you may inadvertently choose a tent with ample interior space but weighs heavier than you prefer.

Durability

What type of conditions will you be backpacking in? Are you hard on your gear, no matter what it is? These are questions you’ll need to ask yourself when considering which lightweight tent to choose.

The tent can be as durable as you need. In other words, you don’t have to choose the most durable or heavyweight tent if you don’t plan to backpack in harsh conditions where you need as much protection as possible.

Tent durability will come from the materials that are used to make the tent. This includes the poles and stakeouts. If you know you’ll be backpacking in only clear, warm weather, then a lighter option tent should provide plenty of durability and protection. Choosing a lighter option tent will often save you room and weight in your backpack as well.

If you know you’ll be hiking in colder or harsher conditions, or if you know that you are hard on your gear, you’ll want to choose a more heavy-duty option. While this may cost more upfront, it will save you money in the long run as you won’t have to replace your gear as often. You should choose a tent that is not only waterproof, but that is also tear-proof. This will significantly reduce the chance that you ruin your gear.

How the tent is set up will also play a part in its durability. Tents that use stronger poles, stakeouts, and other reinforcements will help your tent withstand windy or rainy conditions, so keep this in mind if you plan to hike in all weather conditions.

Weather Protection

Along the same lines of durability and weight comes weather protection. Weather protection comes in various forms. This includes UV protection, waterproofing, breathability, and thermal resistance.

All the tents on our list offer some form of weather protection. They are all waterproof, but some of them are also tear-proof. This is a great feature to consider if you are hard on your gear or think you will backpack in cold or harsh weather.

You should also consider a backpacking tent that has a rainfly. A rainfly is a part of the tent that is waterproof and will protect the tent from being exposed to the elements. In addition to waterproofing, a rainfly will also provide warmth during cold conditions.

Ventilation

A tent with a good ventilation system will lower humidity and reduce condensation within the tent. You will need a tent with a good ventilation system if you will be backpacking in warm weather or rainy conditions. Both warm weather and rainy conditions will significantly increase the chance of humidity becoming trapped within the tent if there is no ventilation system.

If your tent has a rainfly, you will want to roll the rainfly back to increase ventilation within the tent. While a rainfly is ideal for rainy conditions, it can easily trap moisture inside the tent. When it’s not raining, you will want to roll the rainfly back so that your tent is ventilated, and moisture doesn’t become trapped inside.

Ultralight backpacking tents are usually the most ventilated because they are made of lightweight materials and designed with a mesh liner.

The best backpacking tent for ventilation is the Big Agnes Tiger Wall Ultralight Tent. You can choose between a one-person, two-person, or three-person capacity. It is designed with low vents on the vestibule doors that create airflow from the bottom of the tent.

Double sliders on the vestibule zippers can zip from the top or bottom, increasing the ventilation through the vestibules.

Storage

There are two primary types of storage that backpacking tents offer: elevated storage bins and vestibules. Both of these are important storage features to consider when choosing a lightweight backpacking tent.

Elevated Storage Bins

These are exactly what they sound like. They are storage bins that are elevated off the ground and keep items or gear dry that need to stay dry. You can use elevated storage bins to store various gear like cell phones, flashlights, compasses, and other hiking gear that need to stay safe from the elements.

Elevated storage bins are usually built onto the interior wall of the tent. They are often located in the vestibule of the tent if the tent has vestibules. If not, they will be located in the living area of the tent.

Vestibules

Vestibules are another type of storage area in the tent. This is where you will store your boots, bibs, jackets, or other clothing that you need to keep nearby but out of the way from your living space. Backpacking tents often have two vestibules: one on each side of the living area.

Having two vestibules is ideal if you have more than one occupant. This allows you to have one vestibule and the other person to have the other vestibule. It is easier to keep each occupant’s gear and equipment separate from one another when there are two vestibules. 

Doors

Like vestibules, you may want to consider a lightweight tent that has two doors. This will give each of you individual access to the tent without having to share one door.

Most of the backpacking tents on our list have two doors except for the one-person options. Just keep in mind that when you choose a backpacking tent with more than one door, you will add extra weight to your backpack.

Set-Up and Take Down

There’s a variety of terms you need to familiarize yourself with that relate to setting up and taking down your backpacking tent. Two of those terms are freestanding and non-freestanding, and we will discuss those two terms in detail a little bit later.

Your tent will include poles, pole hubs, and a canopy. It may also include a rainfly that you can place over the tent at either the top or at the entrance of the tent.

Poles and Pole Hubs

The poles of the tent are what will keep the tent upright and erected. They are often made of featherlight aluminum or fiberglass. The tent poles may be telescopic or folded down for easy storage.

The poles may have color-coding as well to help you know which tent corner goes with which pole or pole hub.

Pole hubs are one central location where multiple poles will connect. Pole hubs make setting up and taking down the tent extremely easy.

Canopy

The canopy is the actual tent fabric that will protect you from the elements. The canopy will attach to the poles of the tent and may be secured using pole clips if necessary.

Rainfly

You can also attach a rainfly to your tent to help reduce moisture from becoming trapped inside the tent. If you are attaching a rainfly to the top of your tent, make sure you leave a little space between the vent at the top of the tent and the rainfly itself. Also, keep the rainfly pulled tightly so that the rain easily rolls off the rainfly and stays out of your tent.

You can also attach a rainfly above the door of your tent to keep you dry when you go in and out of the tent. The rainfly is easy to attach, but it will add a little extra time when setting up and taking down your tent.

Freestanding and Non-Freestanding Tents

A freestanding tent does not require stakes with guylines to keep the tent secure. Most of the options on our list are freestanding tents because they are perfect for backpacking. While backpacking, you may be limited to the type of terrain you need to set up camp. Having a freestanding tent makes it easy to set up your tent virtually anywhere.

Because freestanding tents don’t require stakes and guylines to keep the tent in place, they come with heavy poles that will keep the tent grounded during wind, rain, or snow. While this makes it easy to set up the tent and move it to another location, it also adds weight to your backpack.

Tent Poles and Stakes

As mentioned above, tent poles are the part of the backpacking tent that will keep the tent secure when it’s erected.

Stakes are what the guylines of the tent or rainfly will attach to. If you’re using a non-freestanding tent, then the tent will include stakes and guylines to keep the tent securely in the ground.

Tents that use stakes to keep the tent in place will take a little longer to set up. You’ll also be limited on where you can set up your tent when using tent stakes for your non-freestanding tent. You will need to find an area while backpacking that the tent stakes can easily secure to, such as soft and level ground.

If you prefer a lightweight tent and don’t mind taking a little extra time to stake your tent into the ground, you should choose the Big Agnes Tiger Wall Ultra Light Tent. It’s non-freestanding and uses tent stakes to secure the tent into the ground.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a 3-season tent and a 4-season tent?

A 3-season tent is only recommended for use in three seasons (spring, summer, and fall). Three-season tents aren’t recommended for winter or cold weather because they aren’t made of thermal-resistant material that will hold in the warmth the way 4-season tents do.

A 4-season tent can be used in all seasons but especially in winter or cold conditions. Four-season tents can also withstand wintry precipitation while keeping you warm.

What tent material is the best?

The tents on our list are nylon or polyester. Nylon offers great UV protection but not as much waterproofing, warmth, or durability. At a side-by-side glance, nylon is the tougher of the two materials. Ripstop tents are also made of nylon which is what makes them resistant to rips and tears.

When choosing an affordable tent, it will likely be made of polyester, so keep this in mind if you consider price over quality or durability.

Do I need a waterproof tent?

A waterproof tent is always a good idea, even if you don’t plan to backpack in the rain. (Who really plans to backpack in the rain anyway?) A waterproof tent will keep you dry and warm during those times when rain may be unavoidable.

Most of the tents on our list are waterproof. It’s extremely common in tent materials that it has become almost a standard feature on backpacking tents. However, if you know that you want to be protected from precipitation while in your camping tent, you’ll want to make sure your tent is waterproof.

Tent vs bivy sack? Which is the best?

We have already covered various tent options for two people or a solo hiker, but some people may want to learn more about the bivy sack if they aren’t interested in putting a tent up on their camping trip.

A bivy sack is often compared to a light rain shell jacket. It is like a sleeping bag but offers more warmth and holds more heat than a camping tent. It is considered a minimalist shelter option often used by backpackers, hikers, and mountain climbers. The main difference is the bivy sack is used primarily for sleep while a tent, if big enough, can be used for other activities.


Final Thoughts

A lightweight tent for backpacking is important because it will limit the amount of weight you add to your pack, which will help you save your back while hiking the trails.

Just because a camping tent is lightweight doesn’t mean it is cheaply made. There are many backpacking tents on our list that are affordable but durable. That’s why it’s important to ask yourself during what seasons and what weather conditions you will be backpacking.

If you know you’ll be backpacking in the winter, you’ll need to choose a 4-seasons camping tent so that you stay as warm and as dry as possible. While this may cost a little more upfront and be slightly heavier than some other options, you won’t have to worry about freezing at night during cold conditions.

At the same time, if you will be backpacking in the summer or warm weather, you’ll want to choose a breathable, lightweight tent so that moisture from humidity doesn’t get trapped in the tent.

Finally, keep in mind that a tent with two, three, or four-person occupancy will take up more room in your backpack. If space in your backpack is limited, you may want to choose a tent with smaller interior space as opposed to a tent with large interior space.

More interior space means more materials, and more materials typically mean more weight. If the interior space and weight of the tent are at the top of your list, you should consider choosing a smaller tent with an ultralight design.

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    Riley Draper

    Riley Draper is a writer and entrepreneur from Chattanooga, Tennessee. As a world traveler, he has been to more than fifty countries and hiked some of the most elusive trails in the world. He is the co-founder of WeCounsel Solutions and has published work in both national and global outlets, including the Times Free Press, Patch, and Healthcare Global. When he's not writing, he's probably on a hiking trip or climbing in the mountains.