Modern advances in materials technology and innovations in design transformed the way people shop for the best tents. Shoppers used to be faced with choosing between a few heavy tents with lots of features or minimalistic A-frame tents that barely qualified as shelters. Thankfully, those days are quickly fading away as the number of full-featured tents and ultralight backpacking shelters grow at a rapid clip.
Today, the latest crop of tents are now lighter than ever and more versatile than any previous generation. To help navigate the crop, we’ve compared the features, benefits, weights, and designs of the market’s top styles, selecting a handful as our ultimate favorites. Whether you’re simply pitching a tent in your backyard or heading out for a weekend festival, these are the very best tents currently available. If you are looking for tents you can sling on your back and take into the backcountry, then check out our roundup of backpacking tents.
Why should you buy this: The Sweet Suite is aptly named — providing a roomy interior that feels luxurious when you’re sleeping outdoors.
Who’s it for: Backpackers, bikepackers or campers who want a versatile shelter that is light enough for backcountry adventures and roomy enough for car camping trips.
How much will it cost: $370
Why we picked the Sierra Designs Sweet Suite 2:
The Sweet Suite 2 strikes the right balance between comfort and weight thanks to a pole geometry that maximizes interior space. Unlike most tents that make you feel claustrophobic, the Sweet Suite is quite the opposite experience. You immediately notice the cavernous interior as soon as the climb into the tent. tHere is ample space for two sleeping pads and room to stretch your legs. you even can sit up in it the Sweet Suite 2 and not feel cramped.
Design wise, Sierra Designs was smart. The company included two doors for easy entry and two large vestibules. In a rainstorm, the vestibules are big enough that you can huddle under them without getting you or your gear wet. This Sweet Suite is semi-freestanding and has a double wall design that minimizes condensation and protects occupants from the wind. The fly also can pull back for star gazing when the weather is fair.
One of the most appreciated features of the Sweet Suite 2 is the high-walled bathtub floor which helps keep water outside the tent during a rainstorm. We tested it through a few days of heavy rain, and we stayed nice and dry. With 30 square feet of interior space, two large vestibules, and a pack weight well under 4 pounds, the Sweet Suite 2 is a versatile tent that is comfortable for camping and lightweight enough for backpacking.
Why should you buy this: Big, boxy and beautiful is how we could describe the Eureka Copper Canyon 6, a combination of features that make it perfect for camping out of your car.
Who’s it for: Car campers looking for a quality tent with ample room for people, gear and more.
How much will it cost: $200
Why we picked the Eureka Copper Canyon 6:
You don’t need ultralight fabrics or minimalist designs when you only have to walk a few hundred feet to your campsite. What you do need is a spacious tent that’s comfortable for sleeping and has extra space to store clothing, sleeping bags, and anything else you want in your tent. With a 10 by 10-foot floor and a 7-foot ceiling, the Eureka Copper delivers the roominess. The square floor and straight walls maximize the space available for sleeping and relaxing.
Its simple design also makes the tent extremely easy to set up — there are two top poles and four side poles that take approximately 15 minutes to slide through their sleeves and clip to the tent. Though many hands make the work easier, one person can quickly set it up and break it down.
Not only roomy, the Copper Canyon 6 brings several creature comfort features including a gear loft to keep essentials nearby and a zippered. There’s also a powered port that lets you run an electrical power cord safely into the tent to keep devices fully charged. Parents will appreciate the high stash pockets that keep goods out of reach of smaller children. In hot weather, the tent keeps things cool with its three large side windows and large door outfit with a window and mesh top that provides a top-notch view of the stars.
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: $280
Why we picked the REI Quarter Dome 1:
Want a 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 room thanks to its innovative new pole system. The poles are longer than previous models and are slightly curved, a configuration that pushes the walls out and provides extra room. For storage, the Quarter Dome 1 also has a 9.8-square-foot vestibule for 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 take the guesswork out of installation. The tent is freestanding, so you can pitch it on a platform, a rocky outcropping or even 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 by 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. If you want to travel lightweight, you can save a pound by taking advantage of the minimalist pitch option that allows you to ditch the tent body and use only the fly, poles, and a footprint as a lightweight shelter.
Why should you buy this: The Nemo Losi 2P has all the little features you want in a tent and is roomy enough that you can move comfortably when nestled inside the tent.
Who’s it for: Bikepackers, canoe campers or car campers who want a tent that is compact for storage but roomy enough for a multi-day trip.
How much will it cost: $330
Why we picked the Nemo Losi 2P:
The Nemo Losi 2P is as close to perfection as you can get in a tent. It The tents is a perfect combination of materials with ripstop nylon where you need it most and ample mesh for ventilation. It has a waterproof bathtub floor that extends up the side for rain protection as well as privacy and durability. There is a mesh ceiling for ventilation and stargazing when the weather is pleasant.
Setup and tear down are easy thanks to an organizer storage sack that has compartments for all the parts and pieces of the tent. The tent body and fly have a mesh pocket so they can dry if they get wet, while the stakes and poles are stored in fabric pockets to prevent them from damaging the fabric of the tent.
The first thing you notice about the Losi 2 from Nemo is its roomy interior.
With almost 50 sq ft in floor space and 48 inches of headspace, you can sit up and change clothes without playing a game of Twister. The poles help expand the interior space by pushing out the sides of the tent to give you additional elbow room.
There is 24 sq ft of storage in the two vestibules, one on each side of the tent. You can comfortably fit a backpack, shoes, helmet and more in these storage spaces. Both vestibules can open fully to create a cross-draft in warm weather and have a vent to prevent condensation when closed. The Losi also is available in a three-person and four-person model.
Why should you buy this: The Copper Spur HV UL3 is lightweight and roomy, making it an excellent value for backpackers who bring a friend or two with them on outings.
Who’s it for: Backpackers or campers who travel in a small group and don’t mind sharing accommodations.
How much will it cost: $500
Why we picked the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL3:
With a packed weight of 3 pounds 14 ounces, the Copper Spur HV UL3 is one of the lightest freestanding three-person tents on the market. In the oh-so-important weight department, it rivals almost any two-person tent. It’s easy to consider the Copper Spur 3 (or the 4-person version) when you travel as a family or in a group.
Not only is it lightweight, but the tent is also built to last. It withstands rain, wind, and light snow without missing a beat thanks to its proprietary ripstop nylon that increases fabric tear strength by 25 percent. Both the fly and floor are silicone treated and have a 1200-millimeter waterproof polyurethane coating.
The 4-way hub design also contributes to the strength of the tent and makes it 20 percent roomier when compared to previous generations of the Copper Spur series. You’ll have room to store your gear in the two vestibules, as well as plenty of room to change clothes inside its large interior. Best of all, you can comfortably fit yourself and your friends inside the tent for a bit of relaxation when the weather isn’t favorable for hiking. We even picked its 2-person kin as our favorite piece of sleeping gear in 2017’s Digital Trends Outdoor Awards. It also is available in a four-person version.
Why should you buy this: The Kelty Outback 4 is an affordable tent that doesn’t compromise on durability providing many years of three-season, all-weather use.
Who’s it for: Car campers who want a tent that is affordable and won’t fail when the weather gets rough.
How much will it cost: $150
Why we picked the Kelty Outback 4 :
The Kelty Outback 4 is a classic cross pole tent that is easy to assemble either alone or with an extra set of hands. The two poles form the framework of the tent with clips that attach the body of the tent to the poles. The rainfly clips to the tent using color-coordinated buckles, so there is no guesswork on how it fits. You don’t appreciate this buckle system until you are trying to throw on the rainfly quickly to beat an incoming rainstorm. The fly also covers the entire body of the tent to provide ample protection from the elements.
The Outback 4 has all the standard features you want in a tent. A sizeable D-shaped door makes it easy to enter and exit the tent, while ample interior pockets provide places to stuff small gear you don’t want to lose. The 15-square-foot vestibule has room for shoes and equipment and includes two stake points. You can keep both sides shut in inclement weather or open one side for airflow and easier access to the tent.
Why should you buy this: The Coleman Red Canyon 8 is spacious, has rooms for privacy and is affordable.
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 and their accouterments. 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. 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 some room to lay this one down at a 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 fit air mattresses, chairs, and even a portable crib. 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 are a problem when the temperatures plummet.
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.
Why should you buy this: The Ohnana Rayve is built to block out the sun, a must-have for those who want to hibernate during the day.
Who’s it for: Festival goers who want to party all night and sleep all day.
How much will it cost: $187
Why we picked the Ohnana Rayve:
The Ohnana Rayve is the perfect tent for a music festival, fair or any outdoors social event. The shelter has an easy-to-assemble two pole construction, a single door and a mesh roof for ventilation. A rainfly attaches to the base of the tent and provides full coverage when stormy weather.
The Rayve looks like any other dome tent on the market, but it is what’s inside that makes the shelter so unique. The tent is constructed with a material that’ll reflect up to 90 percent of the sunlight even when the sun is at its zenith. When the door is closed, the interior will be completely dark, allowing you to sleep like a baby well past noon. The tent can be equipped with an optional fan that’ll keep you cool while you snooze the day away. The fan also doubles as a light that’ll illuminate the shelter if you decide to call it an early night.
Why should you buy this: The Cinch! Pop-Up Tent sets up in a second and has everything you want in a tent and more.
Who’s it for: Campers who want the comforts of home without the fuss of a tent.
How much will it cost: $310
Why we picked the Cinch! Pop-Up Tent:
The Cinch tent is one of the most innovative tents on the market. It creates a spacious living area that literally is a “cinch” to set up. The tent has an integrated double-layer groundsheet, two screen doors and a walk-in interior with multiple windows. The tent can be used standalone or connected together to form a multi-room living area.
On the inside, the Cinch! has integrated LED lights that can be controlled by a smartphone and a solar power electrical system that both power your lights and can charge your phones. Other niceties include a waterproof outer layer, sturdy fiberglass poles and a color-coded construction that makes for easy setup and takedown. There’s even doormats that bring a slice of home to the outdoors.
Why should you buy this: The MSR Hubba Tour 2 is designed for when the weather turns south and you’re stuck inside your tent for a few days.
Who’s it for: Campers and bikepackers who want something spacious for bad weather days with enough room to store plenty of gear.
How much will it cost: $650
Why we picked the MSR Hubba Tour 2:
When severe weather strikes and you’re confined to your tent for a few days, there’s nothing more valuable than a spacious vestibule. Whether for stashing gear or cooking meals, the Hubba Tour 2 (HT2) from MSR offers all the space you need with its sizeable exterior storage area that also serves as a convenient transition zone from the outside to the main tent. Plop down and take off your muddy boots without having to dirty your sleeping space, hang up wet clothes, or comfortably cook a meal while shielded from the elements.
The HT2 provides for 32 square feet of inner tent space and 25 additional square feet beneath the vestibule. The interior is spacious and incredibly comfy for two while serving as a luxury palace for solo travelers. MSR’s new Xtreme-Shield waterproof coating provides for complete protection from rain or snow. The exoskeleton frame and unified rainfly are designed, so the interior portion of the tent is protected from getting wet during set up in the throes of a rainstorm.
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 through 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 — it even packs down into a small carrying size. All told, the Hubba Tour 2 tent is an ideal option for setting out on a long adventure tour during unpredictable weather conditions.
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.
What about four-season tents?
Tents are typically categorized based on seasons with most tents carrying either a three-season or four-season designation. As the name implies, the three-season tent is suitable for spring, summer, and fall, while four-season tents cover you in all seasons, including winter.
So, what makes a tent a four-season variety and why do we exclusively recommend three-season tents in our roundup?
Four-season tents are designed to withstand the high winds and cold temperatures of winter. They’re often constructed with heavy-duty fabrics, reinforced stitching, and steep, angular walls designed to shed snow. You can use a four-season tent in the summer, but it’s not ideal as they tend to be heavy and much too hot to sleep in. They also lack the mesh body which provides airflow and a view of the sky that make three-seasons tents so wonderful during warmer seasons. If you’re looking for a four season tent, here’s our latest round-up.
Three-season tents are all-purpose tents that can be covered with a fly in cold or wet weather, or even opened to the air when temperatures climb. They are light in weight making them perfect for long distance hikes and aren’t recommended for use during winter because their design and materials aren’t meant to handle high winds or heavy snow. When temperatures plunge, you don’t want to be stranded without adequate shelter.