There once was a time when buying a camping tent was a relatively easy affair. Backpackers, hikers, and car campers simply purchased the tent that best fit their needs that also happened to fit into the budgets too. Performance between the different manufacturers and models didn’t vary all that much, although durability, size, and intended use were all variables that played into the decision making process.
Today, things are a bit different. As with all outdoor gear, tents have gotten highly specialized, becoming lighter, stronger, and much better at keeping us protected from the elements. This has made it both easier to find a good camping shelter to fit your needs and more difficult, as there are an overwhelming number of options to chose from. Fortunately, we’ve combed through the outdoor industry to find the absolute best tents for camping. So whether you’re driving to the campsite, spending the weekend in the backcountry, or hiking the Appalachian Trail, we have the perfect tent for you.
The best overall
Why should you buy this: The Hubba Hubba NX is simply put the best all-around camping tent on the market today.
Who’s it for: Anyone and everyone who is looking to go camping. Whether you’re staying in your own backyard or heading out to the backcountry, this is an excellent tent for nearly every kind of outdoor adventure.
How much will it cost: $400
Why we picked the MSR Hubba Hubba NX:
The MSR Hubba Hubba NX continues the tradition of high quality, versatile camping tents that MSR started with the original Hubba Hubba tent more than a decade ago. That camp shelter became legendary for its durability, easy of set-up, and comfort, and the NX lives up to that heritage by improving on the original in nearly every way.
Tipping the scales at just 3 pounds, 7 ounces (with options for going as low as 2.4 pounds), the NX is light enough to almost dip into the ultralight category, while still maintaining the performance of a more traditional tent. It features two doors for easy access, 29 square-feet of living space, a large and well-protected vestibule, and the ability to be used in a freestanding capacity if need be. Best of all, it can be set up in a matter of minutes, which can come in handy when you’re racing against the arrival of a storm.
In terms of livability, durability, and versatility the MSR Hubba Hubba 2 simply can’t be beat. It is an exceptionally high-quality tent that will keep campers comfortable and safe from the elements in a wide variety of environments. It packs down small, offers plenty of interior space, and can serve as the ultimate home away from home for as long as you need it.
The best tent for car camping
Why should you buy this: It’s big, comfortable, and surprisingly easy to set up, making it a great choice for car campers looking for a mobile palace.
Who’s it for: Car campers looking for a high quality tent with ample room for up to six people, all of their gear, and more.
How much will it cost: $328
Why we picked the REI Kingdom 6:
With 83 square-feet of space inside, room to comfortably sleep six, and a ceiling height that allows even tall campers to stand-up inside, the REI Kingdom 6 is the perfect choice for car campers. The tent comes equipped with two very large doors, ample interior storage options, and a center divider that can be zipped shut to create two independent living spaces. The Kingdom 6’s 19 pound weight keeps it squarely in the car-camping category, although it isn’t difficult to lug it into frontcountry campsites that aren’t too far down the trail.
Standing more than 75 inches in height, the Kingdom 6 cuts a significant profile, which is most notable in windy conditions. But its top-notch build quality and exceptional materials allow the tent to shrug off all but the most difficult weather with ease. REI has given the Kingdom 6 a very high level of durability, which makes this a tent that car campers can rely on for many years – and adventures – to come.
The best tent for solo camping
Why should you buy this: The affordably-priced REI Quarter Dome 1 provides ample room for a single person and their gear.
Who’s it for: Backpackers looking for a tent that is comfortable on the trail but won’t break the bank.
How much will it cost: $279
Why we picked the REI Quarter Dome 1:
Want a one-person tent that’s roomy, durable, and won’t cost an arm and a leg? Look no further than the REI Quarter Dome 1. Refreshed for 2017, the latest version of this REI tent has 27 percent more room in the foot box and 49 percent more head and shoulder space thanks to a revamped pole system. The poles are longer than previous models and are slightly curved, a configuration that pushes the walls out and provides extra room inside. For storage, the Quarter Dome 1 also has a 9.8-square-foot vestibule for stashing gear.
Thankfully, REI kept all the features backpackers loved from previous generations of the Quarter Dome. Setup is a breeze thanks to its color-coded poles that help take all of the guesswork out of installation. The tent is freestanding, so you can pitch it on a platform, a rocky outcropping or even in a parking lot. It features a double wall construction with a removable 15-denier nylon fly. Users can install the fly for protection from the elements or stash it in a backpack and sleep under the stars protected only by the mesh.
Perhaps one downside is the fact that it’s not the lightest option on the market, packing down to 2 pounds and 14 ounces. That’s not especially heavy, but there are lighter options out there. If you want to shed a few more ounces, you can save a pound by taking advantage of the minimalist pitch option that allows you to ditch the tent body and use just the fly, poles, and a footprint as an ultra-lightweight shelter.
The best for ultralight camping
Why should you buy this: If you’re looking to go as light as possible on the trail without compromising performance, the Nemo Hornet is the tent for you.
Who’s it for: Ultralight backpackers and campers who are looking to shed weight while still maintaining durability and performance.
How much will it cost: $370
Why we picked the Nemo Hornet:
If you’re the kind of camper who counts every ounce, than the Nemo Hornet is the tent built specifically for you. With a pack weight of 2 pounds, 5 ounces it is already an incredible light two-person, three-season shelter. If you’re willing to shed some of the tent’s extras however, you can take that weight as low as 1 pound, 15 ounces, which is simply incredible.
Just because it’s extremely lightweight doesn’t mean that Nemo compromised on the features. The Hornet comes with two large doors and vestibules, 10D nylon rainfly, and lightweight, yet durable, poles. Other nice features include a “light pocket” that turns a headlamp into an interior lantern, a specially-designed stuff sack that allows two people to divvy up the load, and mesh walls that provide more privacy too.
As with any ultralight gear, long-term durability may be a concern and interior space is a bit less in order to keep weight to a minimum. But for those looking to cut ounces anywhere they can, these concerns are probably nominal. As far as ultralight tents go, you’ll be hard pressed to find one that is as full featured and svelte as this one.
The best tent for small groups
Why should you buy this: The Copper Spur HV UL4 is lightweight and roomy, making it an excellent value for backpackers who bring a few friends along with them on their adventures.
Who’s it for: Backpackers or campers who travel in a small group and don’t mind sharing accommodations.
How much will it cost: $650
Why we picked the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL4:
Most camping tents feel crowded and cramped, particularly when you put as many as four people into a single shelter. But with its 57 square-feet of floor space, large doors, and spacious vestibules, the UL4 feels down right roomy, even when it is serving as home for a small group. Despite its size, this tent weighs in at just 5 pounds, 3 ounces, which is pretty impressive when you consider everything that it delivers. It even features an interior height of 50 inches, allowing even tall campers to feel right at home inside.
Often times the larger a tent is the more complex and difficult it can be to set up. That isn’t the case here as Big Agnes has done a great job of simplifying the process, make this a four-man tent that can be assembled in just a few minutes. Inside the UL4, campers will find plenty of storage and organizational options, with as many as eight pockets for stashing gear. There are even four media pockets that include routing options for headphones, which is certainly something you don’t find in most tents.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the Copper Spur HV UL4 is just how well it protects campers from the elements. The tent does a fantastic job of preventing rain and wind from reaching the interior, and is excellent at combatting the cold, particularly for a three-season model. If you’re going to get caught out in poor weather, this is probably the tent you want to have along with when you do.
The best budget camping tent
Why should you buy this: The Kelty Acadia 2 is a high-quality, incredibly-affordable option for beginning campers or those on a budget.
Who’s it for: Campers on a tight budget who want a tent that is affordable and won’t fail when the weather gets rough.
How much will it cost: $130
Why we picked the Kelty Acadia 2 :
Make no mistake, there are tents on the market hat cost less than the Kelty Acadia 2, but there are few of them that even come close to the level of quality and durability that you’ll find in this camping shelter. This two-person, three-season model offers some nice features for the price, including two doors and vestibules, a freestanding design, internal storage pockets, and an easy set-up process. It even comes with a “stargazing fly” that allows campers to lie back and watch the stars while inside the tent at night.
The tradeoff for the Acadia 2’s stealer price point is that this tent is on the heavy side for a two person shelter, weighing in at minimum trail weight of 6 pounds, 9 ounces. That extra weight is due in part because Kelty didn’t cut corners when creating this model, so even though it is inexpensive, it remains very durable and dependable too. If you’re on a tight budget and don’t mind a few extra pounds in your pack, you’ll find a lot to love in this wallet-friendly option.
The best tent for families
Why should you buy this: The Coleman Red Canyon 8 is big, spacious, has rooms for privacy and is an affordable option for families.
Who’s it for: Families who want a comfortable tent for their next trip to the campground.
How much will it cost: $140
Why we picked the Coleman Red Canyon 8:
The Coleman Red Canyon 8 is an affordable family tent that comfortably fits at least 8 people, along with all of their gear. Unlike most value tents that skimp on materials by supplying a partial rain fly, the Canyon 8 has an almost full rainfly that covers the top and the sides of the tent, providing a nice level of protection from the elements. The only exposed area is the door, which zippers shut with a layer of ripstop to prevent rain from splashing inside the tent. The shelter measures 17 x 10 feet with 6-foot center height, so you’ll need plenty of space to lay this one down at your campsite.
The Canyon 8 has a sizeable D-style door and plenty of interior room to get inside the tent and walk around. You can comfortably fit air mattresses, chairs, and even a portable crib inside. Two dividing walls allow you to create rooms within the tent for privacy while sleeping or changing clothes. These walls are easy to put up and taken down as needed. The shelter has four mesh windows, two of which zipper shut with a layer of ripstop. The other two are always open for ventilation but are covered when the rain fly is installed. These always-open windows are ideal for the summer when airflow is essential, but they can be a problem if the temperature plummets unexpectedly.
Other niceties include a drying line for damp clothes and a gear loft at the top of the tent that accommodates a light. This ceiling lighting will illuminate the tent at night allowing you to play cards or board games on a rainy evening.
The best tent for bikepacking
Why should you buy this: The MSR Hubba Tour 2 is designed for independent, long-distance touring by bike through remote places.
Who’s it for: Campers and bikepackers who are looking for a shelter that is spacious and accommodating, yet won’t add much bulk or weight to their bikes.
How much will it cost: $650
Why we picked the MSR Hubba Tour 2:
Bikepackers have special needs when it comes to choosing a shelter. They want something that is lightweight and easy to transport, but still provides plenty of space for their gear and possibly a garage for the bike. The Hubba Tour 2 has all of that and more, proving itself to be a versatile tent that can be used for camping in a wide variety of environments and weather conditions.
The HT2 provides 32 square feet of inner tent space and 25 additional square feet beneath its vestibule. The interior is spacious and incredibly comfy, with plenty of room for two while serving as a luxury palace for solo travelers. MSR’s Xtreme-Shield waterproof coating offers complete protection from rain or snow, while remaining breathable enough for use in warmer conditions too. The exoskeleton frame and unified rainfly are designed to protect the interior of the tent, preventing it from getting when even when setting it up in a torrential downpour.
The tent features two easy access entrances, multiple gear storage solutions, and an internal glow-in-the-dark zipper, so you’re never left fumbling for it in the darkness. Its 7000-series aluminum poles are a beefy 9.5 millimeters in diameter, ensuring durability and the tent’s packed weight comes to just 5 pounds, 4 ounces, while condensing down to a very small carrying size. All told, the Hubba Tour 2 tent is an ideal option for setting out on a long adventure tour when weather conditions can be incredibly unpredictable.
The best four-season tent
Why should you buy this: The Hilleberg Kaitum 2 is built for use in cold weather and extreme winter conditions.
Who’s it for: Backpackers and mountaineers who need a four-season shelter to keep them warm, dry, and protected in the coldest, most extreme conditions possible.
How much will it cost: $940
Why we picked the Hillebeg Kaitum 2:
When it comes to building tents for use in extreme conditions Hilleberg is unmatched in terms of quality and performance. The Kaitum 2 is definitely overkill for the vast majority of campers, but for those venturing out in the dead of winter, it is absolutely the best shelter you can have along with for those situations.
Despite its rugged, bombproof construction, the Kaitum 2 still manages to weigh in at a relatively lightweight of 6 pounds, 13 ounces. Hilleberg has also given it two door and two vestibules, which is not always easy on a four-season model where keeping everything sealed up tight can be a major challenge. This tent also packs down to a surprisingly small size for an extreme weather shelter, which makes it a hit with bikepackers and paddlers too. Roomy, comfortable, and easy to set up, this is the shelter that adventurous, all-season campers will want to have at their disposal.
The downside of the Kaitum 2’s impressive level of performance is price. At $940 this is no small investment, but considering when and where it is intended to be used, it is worth every penny.
The best roof-top tents
Why should you buy this: If you love to camp but hate sleeping on the ground, a Tepui Baja Series rooftop tent will change your life.
Who’s it for: Car campers who are looking to get off the ground and into the air in their search for the ultimate comfort-camping experience.
How much will it cost: $1,325
Why we picked the Tepui Baja Series Ultralight Kukenam 3:
Over the past few years roof-top tents have grown dramatically in popularity, and for good reason. These tents sit atop your vehicle, allowing you to get off the cold, hard, damp ground in favor of a spacious shelter that includes a plush, comfortable mattress instead. The difference is remarkable, with most car campers feeling much more energized and refreshed after spending the night in their elevated perch.
Tepui has been at the forefront of the roof-top revolution for years, creating some of the best options available. The Ultralight Kukenam 3 offers room for three occupants, is easy to install, and takes just seconds to pop-up once you reach the campsite. Inside it is airy and comfortable, while still providing great protection from the rain. An included ladder makes it easy to get in and out of, while a cushy mattress ensures an unprecedented level of support while camping outside.
Mainly designed for warm-weather outings, some campers may find the Ultralight Kukenam 3 may be a bit too cool when the mercury starts to drop. Installing the tent on the roof of your vehicle will also modify its profile substantially, changing performance and gas milage as well. Still, if you’re looking for an alternative to tent camping, this is a great option for sure.
How we test
When possible, our best tent recommendations have been field tested across a variety of terrains and weather conditions. We try to test each tent under the conditions which it will be most frequently used.
When testing a tent is not possible, we look at the features of the tent and compare it to existing models in our arsenal of gear. We examine how the shelter has changed and what improvements, if any, were made for the current year.
We also comb through product specifications and both manufacturer and retailer videos for insight into any new technology advances that were developed that make these some of the best tents currently available.