These are the 5 best backpacking tents for backpackers in 2018!
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How do you pick the best backpacking tent for hiking and camping adventures?
Camping out in the woods, on the beach, or at the foot of some mighty mountain is a truly amazing way to reconnect with nature. I love to camp and have been lucky enough to camp out in over fifty different countries across five continents.
In this in-depth post, we’ll review the best tents for backpacking for all budgets and styles of travel and hiking.
I’ll also point out my top picks for the best overall backpacking tents and the best budget tent to choose if you need to equip yourself on the cheap… Read on, let’s learn about tents!
Table of Contents
- The 5 Best Backpacking Tents of 2018
- #1 Overall Best Tent for BackpackingMSR Hubba Hubba
- #2 Overall Best Tent for BackpackingVango Banshee 300
- #3 Best Ultralight Backpacking TentNemo Hornet
- #4 Best One Man TentBig Agnes Fly Creek UL1
- #5 Best Camping Hammock TentLawson Hammock Blue Ridge
- Thoughts on Camping Hammocks
- So, what is the best tent for backpacking?
Quick Answer: Best Backpacking Tents for 2018
- Overall Best Tent for Backpacking –> MSR Hubba Hubba NX2
- Best Cheap Backpacking Tent –> Vango Banshee 300
- Best One Man Tent –> Big Agnes Fly Creek UL1
- Best 3 Person Tent –> MSR Hubba Hubba NX
- Best Ultralight Backpacking Tent –> Nemo Hornet
- Best Hammock Tent –> Lawson Blue Ridge Hammock Tent
- Jump to –> Backpacking Tent Reviews
How to pick the best backpacking tent for you?
Ten years ago, I hit the road with almost no money in my pocket, a battered tent and an old camping stove. I hitchhiked my way across Europe, thriving on a shoestring budget and having an incredible adventure. Since then, I’ve personally tried and tested dozens backpacking tents on my travels.
If you’re a long-distance hiker, your needs will be pretty different to a backpacker traveling around the world. Weight is arguably the most important factor to look at when choosing a tent and personally I would never carry a tent that weighs more than 5 pounds – it’s just too heavy.
Personally, I opt to go for something light and compact, which I can pitch quickly. All of the tents that I’m reviewing weigh under 5 pounds and are quick to set up but some of them are lighter, or faster to set up, than others.
Price is obviously an important factor and if you’re on a budget, your choices are fairly limited.
There are lots of cheap backpacking tents out there but most of them are pretty shit and fall apart or break after a while. Cheap pop-up tents are great for festivals but they are bulky and won’t last the wear and tear of regular use – plus they are hard to repack.
I’ve owned several backpacking tents and I can tell you right now, before you even read the rest of this article, that the best value backpacking tent is the Vango Banshee.
The Vango is not the only good option out there though and if you can afford to spend a little more there are some next-level backpacking tents out there such as the MSR Hubba Hubba NX2 which is the tent I am currently traveling with and is, in my opinion, the best backpacking tent that money can buy.
If you are hiking then it’s definitely worth splashing out and picking up a lightweight, compact, backpacking tent such as the Nemo Hornet.
Think carefully about what you need this tent for and how many people you envision sleeping in your tent. Most of the time, three-man tents only weigh a little bit more than two man tents so if you will be camping with a buddy, it’s well worth picking a three-man tent rather than a two-man tent.
Two man tents can be pretty cramped, especially if you want to roll around a lot 😉
When choosing the best backpacking tent for yourself, here’s what you should consider…
- Size when packed
- Size when open
- Pitching time
- Durability and strength
Having a backpacking tent with you opens up a whole new world of possibilities – you can save a ton of money by camping and if you’re hitchhiking you really MUST have a tent as there is no way of knowing where you’ll end up sleeping!
If you are on a long-term budget adventure, having a tent really is a necessity as it will save you so much cash and gives you so many more options. A backpacking tent not only saves you money in the long run but frees you up to stay in a place you otherwise could never have stayed in. Some of my most memorable travel experiences were only possible because I was camping.
Check out the comparison table and detailed tent reviews below so that you can choose the best backpacking tent for your needs.
The 5 Best Backpacking Tents of 2018
#1 Overall Best Tent for Backpacking
MSR Hubba Hubba
Wow! $400…. shit. Never fear amigo, there are some cheaper options on here but I had to start with the MSR Hubba Hubba as this is hands down the best backpacking tent that money can buy. It’s one of the best lightweight tents for backpacking, designed for stormy conditions and is one of the most waterproof backpacking tents around… I’ve waited out many a storm inside this tent.
The MSR Hubba Hubba is great for two people and is really quite spacious for a two person tent; it is shaped to allow you to sit up throughout most of the tent. I’ve traveled with both the two person and the three person MSR Hubba Hubba and loved them both dearly. The two person is one of the best couples backpacking tents – there’s room to roll around.
MSR is one of the most respected brands in the backpacking tent and gear industry and they have seriously decent customer support – when you buy an MSR tent it comes with a lifetime warranty so you can see it as an investment, it’ll be the last tent you ever have to buy!
MSR Hubba Hubba comes in three sizes…
- MSR Hubba NX 1 – One man tent
- MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2 – Two-person tent
- MSR Hubba Hubba NX – Three person tent
I have not personally tested the MSR Hubba NX one person tent but I do have extensive experience with the NX 2 and NX 3 and they have both performed absolutely fantastically.
The only real drawback is that MSR gear is pricey, so if you don’t think you’ll be using your tent very often it probably isn’t worth the money. However, if you are planning on camping out a lot then I would recommend making the investment as this will be the last tent you ever need to buy.
I tore a whole in my NX 3 (was totally my fault) and sent it back to MSR, they quickly repaired and returned it – free of charge. I am a big fan of MSR and now tend to always recommend them for tents and camping stoves, the two things that they make really, really well.
MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2 Key Specs:
Best for: Best ultralight backpacking tent, great storm protection and use of space – voted the world’s most liveable tent.
Key Features: 2 doors, small outdoor space, 3 season, colour coded clips to make pitching easy.
Weight: 3 lb. 7 oz
Dimensions: 84 x 50 x 39 inches
Size when packed: 6 x 18 inches
Pitching time: 6 minutes
#2 Overall Best Tent for Backpacking
Vango Banshee 300
Without a doubt, the best budget backpacking tent is the Vango Banshee 300 – it’s cheap, tough and reliable.
I used a Vango Banshee for years before eventually upgrading to the MSR Hubba Hubba and I’ll tell you this – I loved my Vango.
Vango makes some quality gear for an affordable price and the Vango Banshee is the best cheap backpacking tent I’ve ever come across. The good news is; this isn’t like most cheap tents. The Banshee is a little heavy and a bit on the small size for a two-man tent but it’s the best compact backpacking tent as it’s tough and seriously durable.
Technically, the Vango Banshee 300 is a three man tent but if you had three people in this tent it would be very cramped – I recommend using this as a spacious two-person tent instead.
For the money you save, the compromises on the Vango Banshee are minimal, this really is the best budget backpacking tent you’re going to get! If you are new to backpacking and don’t want to spend loads on a tent straight away, I strongly recommend picking up a Vango Banshee until you can upgrade to something by MSR.
The main disadvantage of the Vango Banshee is that it weighs more than other two-man tents and is therefore not the best tent for hikers as you’ll end up resenting the extra weight.
Vango Banshee 300 Key Specs:
Best for: Best cheap tent for backpackers on a budget
Key Features: 2 doors, small outdoor space, good waterproofing and fire retardant.
Weight: 6.06 pounds
Dimensions: 110 x 87 x 42 inches
Size when packed: 6.3 x 19 in
Pitching time: 6 minutes
#3 Best Ultralight Backpacking Tent
Check out our epic full review of the Nemo Hornet here!
The award-winning Nemo Hornet is the best lightweight backpacking tent on the market; not only is it ultralight, leading in material technology and design for quick set up, but it is also acclaimed as one of the best waterproof backpacking tents available.
However, there have been reports of the external section not being optimized for protection of your stuff against the elements and some have even said that the materials are so thin that they are easily pierced by twigs.
These two problems make it very hard to justify such a high price tag, but do note that these could be quite isolated issues. I have tried the Nemo Hornet out whilst hiking in Turkey and if you are on a long multi-day hike, the exceptionally low weight makes the Nemo Hornet stand out as the best ultralight tent.
Nemo Hornet Key Specs:
Best for: Lightest backpacking tent by far, great for hikers.
Key Features: 2 entrances, 3 season
Weight: 3 pounds, 7 ounces
Dimensions: 86 x 52 x 40 inches
Size when packed: 7 x 18 inches
Pitch time: 4 to 5 minutes
#4 Best One Man Tent
Big Agnes Fly Creek UL1
The Big Agnes Fly Creek UL1 is one of the lightest free-standing tents on the market and if you’re on a solo adventure, this is a solid choice as the best one man tent that money can buy. The exceptional design, coupled with awesome fabrics makes it hard to beat in terms of efficiency.
If you’re looking for a tent with an easy set up, and an overall versatile tent, this one might be for you. The free-standing build makes it easy to pitch almost anywhere. And the guy line locations will ensure that this tent can get you through the gnarliest of storms.
Check out my buddy Mouse’s in-depth review of the Big Agnes Fly Creek here.
Big Agnes Fly Creek Key Specs:
Best for: Ultralight backpacking from March through September.
Key Features: 1 person, 3 seasons
Weight: 1 pound 11 ounces
Dimensions: 86 x 28 x 38 inches
Size when packed: 4 x 19 inches
Pitch Time: 5 minutes
#5 Best Camping Hammock Tent
Lawson Hammock Blue Ridge
Hammock camping tents are awesome… These bad boys are designed to be suspended taught so that they provide you with a flat surface to sleep on, rather than you sinking deep into a caccoon as you tend to do with traditional hammock designs.
Hammock tents are super versatile, well made and can be set up like a normal tent on the ground if needs be – this offers the best of both worlds.
If you are looking for a quality one man tent for backpacking but also want to hang out on the beach in a hammock during the day, the Lawson Hammock Tent offers incredible versatility and best of all these bad boys are tough and you can put them through hell.
This particular hammock tent comes with an integrated mosquito net to keep bugs out and a waterproof rip stop nylon rain fly to keep you dry.
Lawson Blue Ridge Hammock Tent Key Specs:
Best for: Ultralight solo backpacking in hot countries
Key Features: 1 person, can be used on pretty much any terrain – on the ground or hung from trees
Weight: 4.25 pounds
Dimensions: 90 x 42 inches
Size when packed: 6 x 22 inches
Pitch Time: 5 minutes
Thoughts on Camping Hammocks
If you just don’t want to take a tent, at least take a hammock! Camping hammocks are compact, light and give you a ton of freedom.
If you’re travelling solo then I would suggest getting a hammock rather than a tent (depending on where you are travelling) or even getting both as a hammock opens up a whole new world of outdoor sleeping… Check out The 10 Best Camping Hammocks to find the best backpacking hammock tent for you or, if you’re feeling lazy – buy this one; it’s the best value camping hammock around (but it can’t be pitched on the ground like the Lawson Blue Ridge).
So, what is the best tent for backpacking?
I decided to break down all the information you really need to pick the best tent for backpacking so hopefully you have found this post useful and can now pick out the best tent for your needs.
If I had to pick one overall epic tent for backpacking I would say go for the MSR Hubba Hubba.
But, this is The Broke Backpacker, and I get that this tent is expensive – the best budget tent on the market is hand’s down the Vango banshee and this is what I travelled with for years.
So pick up the best budget solo backpacking tent and head out there! Happy camping amigos!
Need More Inspiration?
- The Best Hiking Backpacks Reviewed
- Should You Travel With a Camping Stove?
- Choosing a Backpacking Sleeping Pad
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