Because tents have different features and varying prices, selecting the best tent for backpacking would be confusing and challenging.
Moreover, the most prominent names produce a wide array of high-quality tents to suit every outdoor adventure. However, to simplify the process and avoid the dilemma of choosing which tent to use, it is best to determine your needs and preferences before deciding.
When backpacking, tents or shelters are among the essential outdoor equipment, you need to have. When buying a shelter, what are the requirements that need to be considered?
Since you plan to carry the shelter in your backpack, you need to consider its weight. You also need to plan and consider how many people will be using the tent or whether you are just looking for a solo shelter.
Additionally, familiarize yourself with the weather conditions and environment of your destination to help you choose an appropriate shelter. Finally, choosing the right tent for backpacking requires careful planning.
What Are The Best Tent Brands In The Market?
Below are some of the most popular tent brands in the market today. Throughout this article, I have discussed how this brand became popular and why outdoor enthusiasts recommend these brands.
Dennis Brune is an outdoor gear designer and founder of Alps Brands. He established the company in 1993. He started his career in 1979, and he used to work with Kelty, another technical mountaineering manufacturer. His passion for the outdoors had led him to deliver excellent high-quality outdoor gear for outdoor enthusiasts.
Big Agnes was started by Bill Gamber back in 2001 and they’re known for making high-quality sleeping bags, sleeping pads, and outdoor gear and apparel.
The brand was named after the Big Agnes Mountain located in the heart of Mount Zirkel Wilderness, North of Steamboat Springs, North Central Colorado.
MSR is known for its cutting-edge technology. Larry Penberthy is an American Engineer and mountaineer. He started MSR to improve the safety of climbing equipment.
In 1969, MSR started sending out newsletters about mountaineering safety. MSR is widely-known for portable camp stoves, helmets, and ice axes.
The North Face
The North Face is one of the biggest names in the outdoor gear industry. The company was born in 1968 in San Francisco by founders Douglas Tompkins and Susie Tompkins.
The North Face logo represents the north face of the Half Dome located in Yosemite, California.
The logo was based on the fact that the north face of a mountain in the northern hemisphere is the coldest, iciest, and most formidable to climb.
Kelty was founded in 1952 by Asher Kelty. Their headquarters is located in Boulder, Colorado. This company introduced the aluminum-frame backpack.
In fact, they specialize in external frame backpacks. External frames are versatile and you can attach other outdoor gear to the external frame.
These are widely used by outdoor enthusiasts due to its excellent ventilation. Kelty is also known for creating high-quality tents and is considered one of the best tent brands in the market.
William Coffin Coleman started the Coleman Company back in 1900. The company created the first portable, gas-powered lantern and in 1905, Coleman provided a demonstration of the gas lamps in the 1905 Cooper vs. Fairmount foot ball game.
Coleman camping stoves provided light for WWII soldiers. In the 1950s, Coleman started manufacturing coolers for outdoor adventures. Over the years, they started innovating and added sleeping bags, tents, and other outdoor gear products.
Marmot was founded in 1974 in Grand Junction, Colorado and was also known as Marmot Mountain Works. The company’s founders are Tom Boyce, David Huntley, and Eric Reynolds.
In fact, they designed the “Golden Mantle” which was a puffy jacket used in Clint Eastwood’s movie, The Eiger Sanction. Marmot manufactures high-quality tents, sleeping bags, and other outdoor gear.
Black Diamond was founded by Yvon Chouinard who is an American rock climber and environmentalist. Also, the company is based in Holladay, Utah.
They manufacture a wide array of climbing, skiing, hiking, trekking, and other mountain sports outdoor gear. In addition, Chouinard innovated rock and ice climbing equipment and also owns the famous clothing line, Patagonia.
Eureka is known for its durable and high-quality camping tents. The company was founded in 1895. In fact, they started manufacturing rugged canvas wagon covers as well as horse blankets to custom camp tents. Everything was manufactured in their shop in Binghamton, NY.
Thomas J. Watson Sr. was the founder of Eureka and in 1940, the company has been a leading manufacturer of hand-crafted special occasion tents for parties, weddings, and more until today. In addition, Eureka is well-known for housing thousands of IBM salesmen during one of the company’s annual stockholder’s meetings in the past.
A historical moment happened in 1963 when Eureka made participated in the first All-American Mt. Everest Expedition. They sheltered 60 participants with Draw-Tite® tents from 60+ mph winds and freezing temperatures below -20°F.
Hermann Wenzel founded the H. Wenzel Tent & Duck Company in 1887. They manufactured tents and tarpaulins during the early years. In fact, there was a large demand for wagon covers and tents. Wenzel was a sailmaker by trade and is an expert when it comes to heavy fabric.
In addition, he experimented in sewing heavy fabrics to greatly improve performance and durability without compromising the quality of the product. Up to this day, Wenzel continues to provide affordable, durable and high-quality tents and other outdoor equipment. This is probably one of the best tent brands in the market.
Aaron Hill founded Kodiak Canvas in 2005. The company is based in Layton, Utah and specializes in tent manufacturing. They create reliable, comfortable, high-quality tents for outdoor adventure.
Kodiak tents are made with superior, marine-grade 100% cotton duck, Hydra-Shield™ canvas. Kodiak Canvas earned a reputation for making some of the finest tents available in the market and one of the best tent brands.
In 1996, Jim Holland and John Bresee are the guys behind backcountry.com. They used to sell a collection of avalanche gear right from their garage in Park City, Utah. In addition, Utah is known as one of the world’s best skiing and outdoor recreation locations.
Backcountry.com provides the best selection of outdoor gear for skiing, backpacking, mountaineering, and more.
Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI) was founded in 1938 by Seattle-based outdoor enthusiasts, Lloyd Anderson and Mary Anderson. Everything started with an ice axe.
They formed a co-op with 21 other outdoor adventurists. As a matter of fact, the members joined the co-op with a $1-lifetime membership fee. The co-op started to sell outdoor gear at their first retail location which was a shelf at a local co-op grocery store.
In addition, Anderson’s attic became the storage for outdoor gear products. REI is one of the largest outdoor gear consumer cooperatives.
Things To Consider When Choosing A Tent
The sleeping capacity of a tent is one of the essential features to consider. Backpacking tents are usually small and can accommodate one to two people. Therefore, a floor length of 80-90 inches would be ideal.
The type of material used to manufacture a tent is also necessary to know. Typically, tents use nylon fabric as their primary material. Tent brands may use polyester, canvas, nylon, Cuben or Dyneema composite fabric, or polycotton.
Dyneema or Cuben fiber is a waterproof material widely used in tents and sails. Polyester, which has a high denier rating, is used for ultralight backpacking tents. The fabric can also be made waterproof by applying silicone to polyester or nylon.
When it comes to selecting the best tent for backpacking, poles should be taken into consideration. Usually, poles have different sections and are often linked with an elastic cord.
The poles from lightweight tents are made from glass fiber. Some backpackers usually prefer them due to their flexibility and lightness. However, a downside of this material is that it easily breaks into pieces if too much force or weight is applied.
On the other hand, steel tent poles are much more robust and rigid. The disadvantage of steel poles is that they are prone to corrosion. Some manufacturers apply chromium to the steel construction as an added protection against corrosion.
However, aluminum or alloy tent poles are the best choices for backpackers because it is light and at the same time durable. However, aluminum materials are more expensive.
Tent rainfly is also an essential factor. It provides added protection against fierce wind and rain. There are two types of rainfly covers; one is a roof-only rainfly and a full-coverage rainfly cover.
Selecting the right ventilation depends on the environment where you intend to use your tent. Specifically, tents are prone to condensation. If the climate is humid, it would be a good choice to select a tent with a large mesh panel.
If you are planning on using your backpacking stove inside your tent, make sure you have selected a tent that has enough mesh ventilation.
A durable tent or shelter should at least be able to withstand extreme weather conditions and at the same time adapt to different environments.
Guylines strengthen the tent and usually has a Dyneema core. Amazingly, It has a breaking point of 200 pounds. You might need a guyline tensioner if the cord is too small.
Generally, the stake shapes that are commonly used are Y-shaped stakes, V-shaped stakes, and others use J-stakes. Y-shaped stakes are recommended because it has more holding power and it provides a deeper notch for tent cords.
You can easily remove the stakes using pull loops. However, some backpackers remove the pull loops from the stake due to the guyline tangling with the pull loops.
Consider adding a footprint that you can place underneath the floor of the tent. As a matter of fact, footprints prevent wear and tear on the floor of the tent and will definitely provide add extra waterproofing and add extra warmth.
Types Of Tents And Shelters
3-Season And 4-Season Shelters
It is also challenging to choose between a 3-season and 4-season tent. Some backpackers own both types. Technically, 3-season tents can withstand light wind and snow, and 4-season tents can withstand fierce winds and snow.
The downside to 4-season tents is that it has limited ventilation due to fewer mesh panels. Therefore, it would be best to choose a single-wall tent to avoid condensation inside the tent. Overall, the materials used in making a tent for backpacking are durable and lightweight compared to the tents in the past.
These tents are for traditional camping. You can use them in rainy weather or the winter season. They can stand without the use of stakes. Most tents manufactured have a freestanding design.
Double Wall freestanding tent
Double-wall freestanding tents are the heaviest tent for backpacking since they offer complete protection from the natural elements. Manufacturers use waterproof materials and pole sets. These tents are very easy to pitch. In addition, double-wall tents are very comfortable.
These are semi-freestanding tents that are very comfortable and durable. They also have a unique pole structure and rely on guylines to stand upright.
Single-walled shelters protect you from all the natural elements; however, they do not have any mesh panel for ventilation.
Super lightweight with innovative design. You can hang and suspend it in between trees, and you do not have to worry about water or any debris from getting on the tent floor.
Straightforward, it keeps bugs and other insects out of your shelter. Lightweight and durable. Easy to pack, which is one of the best options for minimalist backpackers.
A-Frame Tarp shelter
This is a lightweight, versatile shelter that is easy to pack. There are many things that you can do with tarps. Aside from building a shelter, you can also use it as rain gear due to its waterproof feature. You can also use it to collect rainwater.
BEST TENT BRANDS
ALPS Mountaineering Targhee Tent: 2-Person 3-Season
The ALPS Mountaineering 2-Person, 3-Season Targhee Tent has a durable construction. The floor has an 85D, 185T poly taffeta with a 1500mm coating to withstand abuse and protects the tent from abrasion. The 75D, 185T polyester fly protects your tent from sun damage.
The two-door design opens up the spacing and makes it easy for you to get in and get out. The zippered windows increase breathability. The gear loft and side mesh storage will help you organize your valuables.
Marmot Tungsten Tent UL: 3-Person 3-Season
The Marmot Tungsten features a sturdy and spacious shelter for backpacking trips. The sleeping area provides enough room with excellent zone construction. You’ll never have to worry about rainy weather as the tent has a waterproof fly and floor that keeps water away.
It also has color-coded clips, poles, and fly for quick set-up. No-see-um mesh keeps the bugs out and provides excellent ventilation. You can secure your small valuables in the interior pockets. The Marmot Tungsten also has a footprint included.
MSR Zoic Tent: 1-Person 3 Season
The MSR Zoic is a lightweight breathable tent with a full micromesh canopy. The design provides excellent ventilation and an outdoor view. In addition, the Zoic is also waterproof and the fly has an Xtreme Shield coating.
You can open and roll back the rainfly to have a good view of the night sky. In fact, you can also fit a 25-inch mattress for a more comfortable sleep. There is also a built-in gear loft to help organize small gear.
Eureka Solitaire AL Tent: 1-Person 3-Season
Eureka Solitaire is very easy to set up and use. This tent has a two-way entry that will help you get in and get out of the tent easily. The tunnel design of the Solitaire can withstand strong winds. Two poles are also included for a fast tent set up. It also has two internal pockets to store small outdoor gear. This tent is affordable and perfect for solo backpacking.
Kelty All Inn Tent: 2-Person 3-Season
The Kelty All Inn Tent is lightweight which is perfect for backpacking. It is also spacious with large walls perpendicular to each other. It also has a removable rain fly and mesh panels that you can zip up during rainy weather. In fact, the second door creates a vestibule to keep your backpacking gear dry. The All Inn is very easy to set up with the DAC Pressfit Technology.
Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL3 Tent: 3-Person 3-Season
The Big Agnes Copper Spur is a full-featured backpacking tent with minimal weight. It also has a mesh body which makes the tent ultralight and provides excellent ventilation. The rain fly and floor are PU-coated to protect you from rain and damp ground. It also features a DAC Featherlite NFL pole system that is sturdy and light. The Copper Spur also has reflective guylines for visibility. The mesh interior pockets provide headphone cord routing.
The North Face Alpine Guide 2 Tent: 2-Person 4-Season
The North Face Alpine Guide 2 Tent has a durable polyester construction that can handle wear and tear. It can withstand extreme weather conditions and long hikes. Also, the PU-coated floor keeps away moisture and water. The DAC poles are very sturdy and lightweight. This is an excellent choice for backpackers who travels all 4-seasons.
Backcountry x NEMO Nachi Tent: 2-Person 3-Season
The Backcountry NEMO Nachi Tent is a backpacking tent that can accommodate two people. In fact, you can also fit two Verata insulated wide pads inside. It has a removable rain fly with a mesh canopy. The DAC poles include color-coded clips and webbing for easy and quick setup.
An excellent feature of the Nemo Nachi is the dual doors with vestibules that provide extra room for your gear. The internal pockets help you organize your phone, wallet, and other small outdoor gear accessories. The Nachi includes a duffel bag for storage, stakes, a guy-out cord, and a repair kit.
Black Diamond Distance Tent: 2-Person 3-Season + Adapter
The Black Diamond Distance Tent is an ultralight, single-wall shelter perfect for backpacking. It also has integrated trekking poles for quick and easy set-up. In fact, due to the light construction, you can pack a tent as small as the size of a water bottle.
An excellent feature of the Distance Tent is that it has a high-tenacity fabric. In addition, this makes the tent durable and it doesn’t stretch even when wet.
The vents, peak, and foot area allow cross ventilation for comfort. The tent can withstand harsh wind conditions with the adjustable stake-out points. It also has a headlamp pocket for your lighting gear.
In summary, there are many tent brands in the market and choosing the best tent depends on what type of backpacking you intend to do. All you need to do is to plan ahead and research the places where you will be traveling. For instance, you have to take note of the weather conditions, so that you can determine the type of shelter that you need to bring. You will be able to enjoy year-round backpacking with the best tent brands that will provide you comfort and versatility.