Gear Institute Expert Test Menu

Tents

Sierra Designs Nightwatch 2

82

2016

Sierra Designs Nightwatch 2

The integrated fly and body design of the Nightwatch makes it a snap to erect into a roomy feeling tent even when sitting up. It’s compact when packed and it’s airy design is best kept to summer use.

MSR FreeLite 2

82

2016

MSR FreeLite 2

The MSR FreeLite 2 is made to pack small and is very light. The square footage is minimal, but efficient poles help make it feel roomier.

LL Bean Microlight UL 2

81

2016

LL Bean Microlight UL 2

Like the name says, the LL Bean Microlight UL 2 is a super lightweight tent, ideal for backpacking or bike packing expeditions. A great price makes up for the tight interior.

Hilleberg Niak 1.5

83

2016

Hilleberg Niak 1.5

The Hilleberg Niak is a rare marriage of lightweight and bomber construction. It’s not a roomy two person tent, but for high mountain trekking right into the shoulder season we’d pick this over just about any other tent for its dependability in uncertain weather.

Marmot Limelight 2

88

2016

Marmot Limelight 2

Marmot gave one of its best selling backpacking tents a makeover and made the Limelight 2 one of the most livable tents we’ve tried. Testers loved the interior room, easy set up and plenty of user-friendly touches. It’s a great one-quiver tent and ideal for anyone more interested in comfort than shaving down weight.

Nemo Wagontop 4P

84

2016

Nemo Wagontop 4P

The Nemo Wagontop is sturdy and spacious. The 78-inch highpoint actually spans the length of the tent and the only place you need to duck is when entering. But, to be this sturdy and spacious the pole system is obnoxious to set up with two awkward and spidery pole sets.

Kelty AirLift 4

79

2016

Kelty AirLift 4

The Kelty Airlift series uses pressurized air tubes to form the structure of the tent where poles are usually used. This is great for families with rambunctious kids who won’t be able to break any poles but extra care must be taken to help the tubes stand up during inflation.

Coleman Longs Peak 6

74

2016

Coleman Longs Peak 6

Coleman provides fine tents for fair weather campers. The low price point starts to show when the wind starts to pick up as the walls of the tent bend in more so than with other tents in the test. Where the Longs Peak 6 excels is with a more durable floor fabric to prevent ground moisture from wetting through from the bottom.

Big Agnes Chimney Creek 4 mtnGLO

83

2016

Big Agnes Chimney Creek 4 mtnGLO

The Big Agnes Chimney Creek 4 is a standard extended dome style tent with a built in lighting system. 

Mountainsmith Conifer 5+

85

2016

Mountainsmith Conifer 5+

The Mountainsmith Conifer 5+ is an extended dome style tent with lots of headroom, a generous vestibule and lots of tie down points to ward off fierce winds. The tent does take a little extra time to set up and despite the color coding there is still some ambiguity on orienting the tent and getting the fly attached.

TentLab Moonlight 2

92

2015

TentLab Moonlight 2

The TentLab Moonlight 2 is a veteran tent designer's independent effort to fix all that's missing, overlooked, and eliminated from most backpacking tents on the market. It doesn't look revolutionary, but is full of thoughtful, handy features and ready for nasty storms from mountain tops to canyon bottoms.

REI Half Dome Tent

86

2015

REI Half Dome Tent

The Half Dome is REI’s newly made-over best selling backpacking tent—now lighter, more vented, easier to set up, and more customizable. 

Big Agnes Rattlesnake SL2 mtnGLO

87

2015

Big Agnes Rattlesnake SL2 mtnGLO

Big Agnes’ Rattlesnake SL2 mtnGLO is a lightweight backpacking tent with integrated lights.

Marmot Tungsten

75

2015

Marmot Tungsten

The Marmot Tungsten is a budget priced tent for all around camping use. 

NEMO Losi LS 2P

85

2015

NEMO Losi LS 2P

The Nemo Losi LS 2P is a backcountry tent with updates that cut 10 ounces from the previous model, without sacrificing roominess. 

Slingfin 2Lite

84

2015

Slingfin 2Lite

The Slingfin 2Lite is a non-freestanding tent that's all about weight, but doesn't sacrifice too much livable space in the process.

Ticla Mojave 4

90

2014

Ticla Mojave 4

The Ticla Mojave sports an open, social and well-ventilated design with large windows providing a view even when it’s raining, thanks to the overhanging rain fly. 

Marmot Limestone 6

86

2014

Marmot Limestone 6

The Marmot Limestone 6 provides good headroom for a dome tent and is ready to repel a torrent of wind and rain but won’t offer much in the ways of views and ventilation. 

REI Kingdom 6

85

2014

REI Kingdom 6

The tunnel shaped REI Kingdom 6 comes with a rain fly that can be adjusted to various weather conditions but is best suited for cooler and wetter environments with occasional glimpses of sunshine. 

Eureka Copper Canyon 8

78

2014

Eureka Copper Canyon 8

The Eureka Copper Canyon 8 is huge and cheap—cheap in every sense of the word. 

Mountain Hardwear Trango 3

88

2014

Mountain Hardwear Trango 3

The Trango 3 provides great storage, is easy to set up and has plenty of room for up to three people comfortably. Although quite heavy and not as well vented as other tents in the test, the Trango 3 proved durable and spacious for occupants and their gear.

Fjallraven Akka Endurance 2

90

2014

Fjallraven Akka Endurance 2

The Fjallraven Akka Endurance 2 tent proved highly durable during testing and it offers one of the best vestibules on the market. The tunnel design with side door entry into the vestibule created outstanding weather protection in this tough tent. 

Big Agnes Royal Flush

86

2014

Big Agnes Royal Flush

The Big Agnes Royal Flush tent proved stable, secure and easy to set up. The Royal Flush provides good storage, good ventilation and plenty of room for up to 3 persons. 

Kelty TN2 Tent

85

2014

Kelty TN2 Tent

This tent is a steal. For $250 you get a relatively lightweight and highly packable tent with lots of room and excellent weather protection.

Sierra Designs Flash 2 UL

83

2014

Sierra Designs Flash 2 UL

Sierra Designs' Flash 2 UL is one of the nicest tents to set up, take down and hang out in.

Nemo Galaxi 2P

79

2014

Nemo Galaxi 2P

The Nemo Galaxi is a great choice as your go-to tent for a variety of activities from canoe camping to weekend backpacking trips.

Mountain Hardwear Optic 2.5

77

2014

Mountain Hardwear Optic 2.5

Mountain Hardwear's new Optic 2.5 is a cool tent with a truly new layout idea that works, with lots of room for two people and tons of gear and great weatherproofing.

The North Face Tadpole

74

2014

The North Face Tadpole

The North Face Tadpole is probably your best bet for shoulder season use, particularly in the mountains.

Vaude Campo 3P

76

2013

Vaude Campo 3P

This budget-priced shelter is just light enough to use as a backpacking tent on shorter trips.

NEMO Obi 3P

74

2013

NEMO Obi 3P

A really nice summer backpacking tent with excellent ventilation that may become an issue with weatherproofness.

Marmot Eclipse 3P Tent

71

2013

Marmot Eclipse 3P Tent

One of the easiest tents to set up. Carrying it is equally pain free, but we found it hard to make the fly bombproof in nasty weather.

Mountain Hardwear Skyledge 3 DP Tent

81

2014

Mountain Hardwear Skyledge 3 DP Tent

The lightest tent in the test it is also one of the burliest, a rare double feat.

Big Agnes Lone Spring 3

80

2013

Big Agnes Lone Spring 3

The Big Agnes Lone Spring 3 offers a great deal for a solid tent that we feel comfortable hauling into the mountains for three seasons of use.

Bergans Compact Light 3P

76

2013

Bergans Compact Light 3P

A three season backpacking tent based on the Arctic expedition worthy tunnel design.

The New King of Car Camping Tents

92

2011

The New King of Car Camping Tents

The new King Creek 6 from Big Agnes is in a realm all its own.