Remember, choosing the right tent isn’t about choosing the priciest one or the one with the most features—it’s about choosing the one that meets your needs. Going for a weekend glamp with the fam? Looking for a seriously insulated winter shelter? Planning a thru-hike on a shoestring budget?
We offer up 11 of the best camping tents for 11 unique campers! Our choice for the overall best camping tent in 2021 goes to the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 Tent for its ultralight design, durable construction, and myriad features.
THE BEST CAMPING TENTS REVIEWED
BEST OVERALL CAMPING TENT
Big Agnes has been kicking grass over 20 years and their Copper Spur HV UL2 Tent is no exception. It marks a crossroads between weight, comfort, durability, and features. For its unmatched performance in all these categories, it ranks as our top pick for best overall tent.
Weighing in at just 2 lbs 11 oz, The Copper Spur HV UL2 is surprisingly spacious despite its ultralight weight. This tent also shines in bad weather: factory seam-sealing and a high bathtub floor ensure that you and your gear stay dry. For added protection, pick up the Big Agnes footprint.
Perhaps the most interesting feature of the redesigned Copper Spur HV UL2 is the vestibule awnings. A unique feature, this tent allows you to use your trekking poles to set up a vestibule awning above either of the two doors. This provides a makeshift veranda on those extra hot or rainy days—a veritable home away from home.
- Packed with features
- Optional vestibule awnings
- Tight for two
BEST VALUE TENT
If you’re looking for value, look no further than the Coleman Dark Room Skydome 4-Person Camping Tent. While it doesn’t boast many of the finer features of our other top picks, the Skydome makes for a no-frills shelter that’s both reliable and durable.
The Dark Room Skydome excels in wet and windy conditions. Their exclusive WeatherTec System will keep you and your gear dry, while taped seams resist leaks. Set-up and take-down are fast and simple.
While the Skydome is by no means lightweight, it offers 20% more head room thanks to its near-vertical walls. This is a good choice for smaller families on car camping trips, especially in damp conditions. It’s also great for new or casual campers to explore the joys of an outdoor lifestyle.
- Excellent for wet & windy conditions
- Easy set-up
- Spacious interior
- Great value
- Packs large
- Heavy for backpacking
- No frills
BEST COMFORT TENT
If you love the Great Outdoors while hiking, but prefer the Great Indoors while sleeping, the North Face Eco Trail 2P is a good choice. The yurt-style build is both unique and aesthetically pleasing, while the mesh walls and ceiling offer near-panoramic views of sky and country.
Comfort is king with the Eco Trail 2P. Two doors allow for excellent airflow and easy access, while the rainfly offers ample vestibule space without impeding access. The interior height also allows you to stand and maneuver with ease. Lastly, High-Low ventilation offers increased breathability.
At 6lbs, however, the Eco Trail 2P is not the tent you’d want on a serious hiking trip. It’s best suited for car camping, or as a basecamp from which to explore the surrounding area and return to at night. One downside of the high ceiling is the tent’s diminished heat retention in colder temperatures.
- Spacious interior/vestibule
- Standing room
- Resembles a yurt
- Spectacular views without the bugs
- Cumbersome for backpacking
- Set-up time
- Pack weight
BEST BACKPACKING TENT
From weekend treks to six-month thru-hikes, the Marmot Limelight 2 Person Tent is perfect for serious trail junkies. It comes in at roughly 5lbs and packs small, making its portability unmatched. It’s also spacious for its dimensions, thanks to Marmot’s Zone Pre-Bend construction.
As always, Marmot’s Easy Pitch clips, fly, and poles are colour-coded so you don’t waste any time pitching it. A D-shaped door on either side makes for comfortable access, while separate vestibules offer a less cluttered storage solution.
As expected with ultralight designs, elements of comfort are sacrificed in the name of weight savings. While the Limelight does a good job of withstanding downpours and strong gusts, internal condensation can occur, so expect a few ceiling drips on extra rainy nights.
If ultralight isn’t your thing, then the price tag can leave something to be desired. On the other hand, for hikers who subscribe to the axiom “every ounce counts”, the Limelight 2 fits the bill as the perfect 3-season backpacking tent in 2021.
- Packs small
- Easy set-up
- Two doors/vestibules
- No frills
BEST 2-PERSON TENT
The Big Agnes Tiger Wall 2 Carbon is an excellent choice for serious hikers and mountaineers who value a comfortable night’s sleep. The most striking feature of the Tiger Wall 2 is its lightweight carrying load and easy set-up.
The rainfly can be staked to create two vestibules—one for each door. Poly ripstop and taped seams let nothing wet and unwanted sneak in. Its construction also stands up to fierce winds at summits and ventilates nicely lower down the slopes when temperatures rise. Interior storage is ample for both campers.
With a packed weight of just over 2lbs, the Tiger Wall 2 Carbon is tough to beat. Unfortunately, the footprint is sold separately, but this nevertheless remains one of the best two-person camping tents on the market. That said, it's not for those on a budget. In fact, consider splitting the bill for this one with your camping partner.
- 2 doors, 2 vestibules
- 2 fly vents
- Great ventilation
- Beautiful views
- Four-season use
- Packs large
- Doesn’t include footprint
BEST TENT FOR FAMILIES
The Eureka Copper Canyon LX 6 Person Tent is the condominium of family tents. For its size, the Copper Canyon is stylish, innovative, and modern without being clunky. It features a massive door and is fast and simple for one person to pitch. And, between the many stash pockets and gear loft, you’ll have no trouble finding room to store your essentials.
Not only is it wide enough to comfortably sleep six, but its seven-foot height allows even the group’s tallest member to perform sun salutations. The floor area measures a generous 100 sq ft (9.3 sq m). A zippered E! Powerport allows you to run an extension cord inside the tent.
Due to its size, the Copper Canyon is strictly for front-country or car camping—not serious hiking. Simply put, this is something best stored in the trunk of your car and not on your back.
- Ample storage
- Thoughtfully designed
- Quick set-up and take-down
- Packs large
BEST GLAMPING TENT
Ah, glamping—the Great Outdoors with an urban twist. If you’d like to get back to nature without sacrificing too many creature comforts, then the Coleman Sunlodge 10-Person Camping Tent is for you. With a maximum height of 6.6 feet and enough floor space to fit three queen-size airbeds, the Sunlodge is a hybrid between tent and cottage.
Of course, this behemoth is not suited for long treks into the woods. It is, however, a great choice for frontcountry and car camping, or even as a festival shelter.
- Perfect for urbanists
- More spacious than a Tokyo apartment
- Intuitive set-up
- E-port for extension cord
- Packs large
BEST WATER-RESISTANT TENT
What’s worse than hiking in a storm? Being stuck in a flooded, soaked, and dripping tent. In humid places like the Pacific Northwest and East Coast, damp and humid conditions are the norm, not the exception. For these conditions, we’ve found that the MSR FreeLite 2 is the best solution.
When held captive by a downpour a dry, well-ventilated, and spacious tent are the three most important criteria. On every front, the FreeLite 2 delivers. It also features an easy, freestanding set-up, micromesh ventilation, and a highly waterproof rainfly. Besides all that, it also happens to be MSR’s lightest freestanding 2-person tent.
- Excellent in wet and windy conditions
- Very spacious
- Easy set-up
- Lacks storage options
- Requires more stakes
BEST BEACH TENT
Forget the woods—time to hit the beach. The North Face Wawona Tent 4P is an excellent choice for coastal camping and so simple it deservedly slips into our best camping tents roundup.
The new hybrid double-wall construction combined with the large mesh door make for exceptional ventilation on hot afternoons. At night, you can socialize comfortably without opening your tent to unwanted guests (looking at you mosquitoes).
The spacious interior boasts an ample standing room and a floor area of 58 ft² (5.4 m²). Meanwhile, the massive vestibule and internal storage pockets are large enough to hold all your essentials. This tent is best suited to beach camping easily accessible by car.
- Great ventilation
- Great views
- Easy set-up
- Packs large
BEST WINTER CAMPING TENT
For those of us who can’t get enough of nature—even in subzero temperatures—Eureka’s K-2 XT 2/3 Person Tent offers a shelter solution that’s both lightweight and warm. Coming in at around 11lbs, the Alpenlite is considerably ultralight for its insulated and stable design.
A strong aluminium frame keeps the Alpenlite’s shape under heavy snowfalls and strong winds. The tapered A-frame design may at times feel cramped but ensures concentrated heat retention. The free-standing design ensures the fastest pitch possible under extreme conditions.
The thoughtful interior is equipped with ample storage and organizational solutions, featuring 20 mesh pockets for all your needs. In reduced visibility, the reflective guy outs and logos make the tent easy to spot. While the K-2 XT can be used year-round, it’s not recommended for 3-season camping due to its above-average warmth and comparatively heavyweight.
- Lots of organizational space
- Tight fit for two
- Not great in warmer weather
BEST EXCURSION TENT
Short excursions into nature are best enjoyed with minimal gear and minimal distractions. If you’re searching for a wilderness shelter that matches this description, look no further than The North Face Stormbreak 1 Tent. It has quickly become a camping classic for its dependable, lightweight, and no-nonsense design.
This easy-to-pitch, single-person tent features sealed seams to keep out wetness and high-low ventilation to improve circulation. The large door is convenient, while the vestibule is large enough to safely store your shoes and backpack. Also, the price definitely doesn’t hurt.
- Great value
- One person only
HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST CAMPING TENT
When shopping for the best camping tents, there are certain specs that separate the good from the bad and from the ugly. Once you know what kind of camping you’ll be doing, you should pay attention to the following factors.
As a rule of thumb, the advertised number of people that can fit in a tent tends to be optimistic. If you’re looking for a spacious two-person tent, it’s a good idea to go with a three-person model. Likewise, a one-person tent is great for devoted ultralighters, but the average solo camper will have more room to move and store gear with a two-person model.
If you’ve spent any time around hikers, you’ve heard the term ultralight repeated ad nauseum. It was a movement that began as far back as 1884 with George W. Sears and popularized in 1992 by rock climber, Ray Jardine. The precise definition is disputed, but it typically refers to a base weight of less than 15lbs (for your pack and everything in it).
Today, big brands have been able to market ultralight gear thanks to cutting-edge fabrics that remain strong and durable, despite their impressively light weight. This means modern ultralighters needn’t sacrifice comfort in the pursuit of a lighter pack.
Keep in mind, however, that weight savings aren’t always key—especially for the price. For car campers and glampers, it’s wise to put that money towards a more spacious and decked-out shelter. Likewise, winter campers should consider warmth before weight savings.
Pro tip: To lighten your tent, consider purchasing after-market tent stakes made of lightweight metals like carbon or titanium, instead of traditional aluminum or steel.
Gone are the days of heavy canvas and leather. Today, most tents are made from some sort of ripstop nylon or polyester. Ripstop refers to a thick grid pattern sewn into the fabric that prevents small abrasions from becoming full-on tears. Polyester itself is a category referring to various blends of synthetic material. It’s known to be fast-drying, weather-resistant, and more durable when compared to nylon.
Nylon, on the other hand, is a softer and lighter option. For tents, it’s often blended with silicone to create silnylon, a fabric that maintains its softness and weight, while improving its resistance to tears and weather. In general, most tent fabrics are treated with some kind of water-repellent coating—Durable Water Repellent (DWR), silicone, and polyurethane are among the most popular. Waterproof coatings may also be added.
When reading a list of tent materials, you’ll commonly see the word denier, sometimes denoted as ‘D’. Denier is a unit of measurement for textiles. It refers to a particular fabric’s thickness—the greater the number, the thicker, heavier, and more durable the fabric tends to be. A higher denier is recommended for car camping, glamping, and festivals, while a lower denier will appeal to ultralighters.
Car camping means you won’t be physically hauling your gear for long or grueling distances, so focus on choosing a spacious and comfortable tent as opposed to one that’s compact and ultralight. Vestibules, drying lines, and mesh pockets are all great features to keep your space organized.
Weight is key here. If you plan on spending more time hiking than sitting around a campfire, choose one of the best camping tents that’s compact and portable at the expense of frills and features. Something easy to set-up and takedown is definitely a plus.
A good mountaineering tent needs to keep you safe while withstanding the elements. High-quality materials are a must—they should be especially durable and waterproof. In order to increase stability, the frame of a mountaineering tent is heavier than that of a traditional backpacking tent.
A vestibule lets you store gear under an awning created by the rainfly and the external wall of your tent. Vestibules are useful if you have a lot of gear, are sharing a tent, or are hiking in damp and humid conditions. In the latter case, vestibules allow your gear to dry away from your body. This also reduces the potential for condensation during the night.
A footprint is always a good idea. It’s a flat piece of fabric that’s placed between the ground and your tent. It protects your tent against abrasion, moisture, and cold. Some tent models include a footprint, while others are sold separately. If you’re on a budget, the price of a footprint can sometimes be discouraging. A good alternative is to purchase some Tyvek from your local hardware store and cut it to size.
This is all about personal preference. A Lamp Shade Pocket—as seen in many of Marmot’s models—is a nice feature for lighting your tent. Colour-coded attachments are a great feature for making assembly quick and easy. If you’ve got a lot of essentials, ample mesh pockets may be a good feature for keeping your tent organized.
FAQS FOR CAMPING TENTS
Are expensive tents worth it?
Like most things, the unfortunate answer is: it depends. The better question to ask yourself is, what will I use the tent for? A few weekends of frontcountry camping? A family or festival getaway? A six month thru-hike? The truth about tents is that you often get what you pay for.
While expensive tents are usually better quality and offer more features, you shouldn’t be paying for quality and features you don’t need.
Can you set up a tent on the beach?
Yes, but this is much easier to do with free-standing tents. Of course, the drawback of pitching a free-standing tent is that it can easily be blown away. To avoid this, use heavy materials like rocks to hold down the guy lines. No rocks in sight? Fill some ziplock bags with sand and use those to weigh down the lines. You can even mix water into the sand to make it heavier and then bury the bags in the ground for added stability.
What colour tent is coolest in summer?
When it comes to tents, the most important thing for keeping it cool isn’t colour—it’s airflow. In fact, a dark tent with good ventilation always beats a light tent with none. On hot days, it also helps to pitch your tent in the shade. Ultimately, what you want is a solid color, as a transparent material would effectively become a mini-greenhouse.
We hope this round-up of 2021’s best camping tents has helped you hone in on your perfect wilderness home. If you’re just starting out, our advice is to go with something in your price range and see how you like it. As you gain experience, you’ll become familiar with which features you like and which you can live without. For seasoned campers, a closet filled with tents isn’t uncommon. As our list demonstrates, every adventure has its own unique set of requirements.
For an all-around good tent suited for general use, we suggest the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 Tent. Whether you’re a wilderness veteran or new to the Great Outdoors, its balance of price, weight, durability, ease-of-use, and weather resistance make it the perfect choice for a wide range of activities.