There's nothing like a home away from home, and a great tent is a key part of a successful campout or hike into the backcountry. We've gathered a range of our favorite tents, from small and lightweight ones that are easy to carry while backpacking to larger shelters to throw in the back of the car before you head to the campground. (Also check out our guide to roof top tents.)
If you don't mind making a few trade-offs, Kelty's Grand Mesa 2 is a popular choice for an inexpensive backpacking tent. At four pounds, it's fairly lightweight considering the price and it's both easy to set up and move around once constructed. If you need a bit more room, the adds some extra square footage for not much more money, though it does add three pounds to the carrying weight.
It's not cheap, but backpackers looking to make as few compromises as possible likely won't be disappointed with MSR's Hubba Hubba NX tent. the "whole package of weight, livability, and toughness" and found few real faults with the tent, noting only that you may want to also purchase some extra stakes to really hold things down in a storm. However, it's not the lightest tent out there if that's a huge concern.
You can easily spend hundreds of dollars on a tent, but that may be more than is necessary if you're just taking a couple of trips to a campground each year. Coleman's tents have long been a standby, and its Sundome 4 model gets consistently good customer reviews on Amazon and other sites. The tent's dome design makes for a relatively easy setup, and you'll get plenty of ventilation from the tent's mesh vents and large rear window. Sundome tents comes in different sizes, accommodating 2, 3, or even 6 people.
Big Agnes' tents are a favorite of many, including , which rated the company's Blacktail 3 as its best overall tent for camping. They liked the tent's light weight and use of high-quality materials, as well as its well-thought-out storage options, including internal mesh pockets that let you run headphones to your smartphone or tablet. It's also a good choice if you're looking for something to bridge the gap between backpacking tents and car camping tents.
Another highly-rated tent from Big Agnes is the Copper Spur HV UL 4, which Backpacker magazine to call the "most livable group tent out there." At $650, it's not exactly inexpensive, but it's easy to set up and will house four adults comfortably. Backpacker also notes that the "weatherproofing is superb" as it holds its own against wind, rain, and snow. Like the Blacktail 3, it also has mesh pockets designed with portable devices in mind, and it's incredibly lightweight for its size, at just over five pounds.
REI's outdoor gear has a pretty solid reputation in general, and its tents are certainly no exception. The company's Kingdom 6 tent is particularly well-regarded, with it getting top marks from both and . It's big and tall with plenty of storage options, and can be divided into two rooms with a door on each end. Switchback Travel was especially impressed with the tent's customizable rainfly, which they note can be rolled up on the side for more ventilation in warmer conditions.
We tried out this tent while camping in upstate New York. Its color coding makes it a breeze to figure out assembly, while the two-door setup makes it easy to exit without crawling over somebody. Inside, the Vazquez Peak 3 has plenty of space for a trio, or for two people and their stuff. It's a great all-around three-season tent.
The Halo earns its name. This is a towering six-person tent that created a whopping 96 square feet of floor space and nearly vertical walls to create ample space inside. Poles encircle the top, creating the "halo" that's great for stargazing. This tent ain't cheap, but it's a good choice for the serious camper.
It's basically a house. The Eureka Copper Canyon 6 is so massive that six adults can comfortably walk around in it. The company also makes 8- and , the latter including a curtain to divide it into two room. If you're buying one of these, it's because size matters.