So you’re looking to take hiking to the next level.
You’ve assembled your gear, and you’re all good to go—but you still haven’t found the right hiking tent. Finding the right hiking tent is crucial to upping your hiking game. Unfortunately, it can be hard finding the right tent. With so many options to choose from, it can often be a little overwhelming.
In this guide, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about hiking tents so that you can make the most informed decision when it comes buying time.
Let’s get started!
How Heavy Should My Tent Be?
When selecting your tent, you should be wary of tent weight. Though you may, understandably, believe lightweight tents will make for an easier hiking experience, the opposite proves true in most scenarios. In hiking and camping in general, light equates to less durability.
It’s as simple as this: heavier options hold up better. Whenever you’re out in the wild, durability is the name of the game. That’s why we recommend striking the right balance between lightweight and durability. Remember that you can always split tent parts if you’re hiking with a group.
When you go to buy your tent in the store, you will likely see three advertised weights on your tent’s packaging. If you’re new to hiking, you may not know which weight to reference. In general, the three weights are as follows:
- Trail Weight: Trail weight tells you the weight of the tent, the fly, and the poles you will need to set up base while hiking. As such, it will be the lightest weight on your packaging.
- Packaged Weight: Conversely, packaged weight includes all your tent accessories, including guy lines and stuff sacks. It follows, then, that packaged weight is the heaviest of all advertised weight options.
- Fast Pitch: Fast pitch tells you the weight of your poles, fly, and footprint.
Knowing this, which of the weight options should you go by? In general, we recommend going by packaged weight, as you will get an idea of the total amount of weight you may need to carry. Keep in mind, however, that you will rarely need to carry your packaged weight; in most cases, trail weight better approximates the true weight of your load.
What’s the Best Size for a Hiking Tent?
Okay, so you’ve got weight settled, and you’re one step closer to finding the right hiking tent. Now it’s time to answer another question: what size tent should you buy?
This question can be quite tricky, and it often depends on the amount of people hiking with you. The most popular hiking options are one-person and two-person tents, though these labels don’t always give you the best indication of tent size. For example, one-person tents from a certain brand could be the same size as two-person tents from another.
For this reason, it’s important to look at the exact specifications of the tents you consider purchasing. Remember to go by all specifications when choosing your hiking tent. Many first-time hikers make the mistake of going by floor area alone, when this hardly tells the full story. To get an accurate picture of your tent’s size, consider each of the following factors: floor area, peak height, and floor dimensions.
If you’re unsure about what tent size is right for you, consider the following:
- Trip Size: Are you going alone? If so, it’s likely you won’t need a larger tent. Bringing more than what you need can simply weigh you down. Remember that the goal of the hiker is to be as minimalist as possible.
- Gear: If you’re bringing a lot of gear to your trip, you may want a bigger size tent to keep it safe. You don’t want to leave anything valuable out in the open. Consider going one size up if you’re bringing extra gear—especially if you’re not hiking alone.
- Comfort: While you will likely only be in your tent at bedtime, you still want to sleep comfortably. Choose a tent that doesn’t trap you in or have too much extra space for the best comfort.
Keeping these factors in mind can help you have the ultimate hiking experience!
Are Hiking Tents Seasonal?
In order to get the most out of your hiking trip, you need a tent that will keep you protected from your destination’s particular climate. In general, there are two types of seasonal tents that you should look out for when making your purchase.
- Three-Season Tents: Three season tents use a double-wall construction and mesh paneling to keep the tent cool and properly ventilated. Though three-season tents hold up well in most climates, they are more susceptible to cold weather and offer less protection against icy winds. Still, they are a popular go-to option for anyone hiking in the warmer months.
- Four–Season Tents: Four-season tents offer extra protection against cold weather, icy wind, and even snow. With a fly designed to protect against snow and wind, these tents provide hikers in colder climates with a necessary refuge. In order to accomplish this, these tents use stronger poles that offer easier setups in colder climates and less mesh in their overall design.
Which Hiking Tents are Easiest to Set Up?
How you set your tent up largely depends on the type of tent you buy. For this reason, it’s important to know your tent’s setup type before making your purchase.
Generally speaking, there are two types of tent in terms of setup: freestanding tents and stake tents. While freestanding tents are much easier to set up, they offer less durability and protection against wind, rain, and other harsh weather conditions.
If you forgo freestanding tents, you will need to make sure that you have enough stakes to properly setup your tent. While your package will inevitably come with stakes, you may need to purchase more to give your tent maximum durability in case of inclement weather.
Not sure which hiking tent to buy? Ask yourself this question: is it worth sacrificing durability for ease of setup? If you expect fair weather, freestanding tents may be the way to go. If you have any doubts, however, we recommend going with a more durable option.
How Expensive are Hiking Tents?
The price of your backpacking tent depends largely on your budget. Tents range in price, with some cheaper options working well for people on any size budget.
When selecting your tent, make sure that you don’t sacrifice quality for your budget. While small tradeoffs may prove inevitable, quality budget hiking tents can be found.
The overall cost of your tent will likely depend on several factors. For example, larger tents typically cost more money. Those looking for family-sized tents should expect to shell out a bit more money in the long run.
Other factors may also influence the cost of your hiking tent. The quality of the material, for instance, often plays a role in determining overall costs. You can determine this from the tent’s seasonal rating. Those with a higher seasonal rating usually cost more money, as these tents better withstand more weather conditions.
So, how much will this cost you? Quality tents can be found for as little as $100, with higher grade options worth $300-$400 available.
For those on a budget, considering the quality of the tent becomes increasingly important. Though lower prices do prove attractive, too much of a budget option likely does away with much-needed quality.
To help you get the best tent for your budget, we’ve included some of the most important factors you should consider when choosing a quality hiking tent.
What Makes a Quality Hiking Tent?
To select the hiking tent right for you, you must first consider a number of factors. Generally speaking, these factors can be summed up by the phrase “livability.”
A tent’s livability refers to how comfortable it is for you. The more uncomfortable spending time in your tent is, the lower its livability.
Generally, high-quality hiking tents boast greater livability. This proves true for a variety of reasons, including:
- Living Space
First and foremost, when most discuss livability, they’re referring to the living space of a tent. Today, many hikers tend to favor larger living spaces with more head room. This proves especially true for those traveling in groups.
While greater living space does usually mean an increase in overall weight, modern innovation has significantly reduced this correlation. With better-grade materials, manufacturers have been able to design spacious hiking tents that add more comfort without overburdening hikers.
Several factors affect the living space of a tent. One of the most important considerations to note is the tent’s wall shape. By examining the shape of the walls, you can better imagine the overall height and interior space of the tent.
Tents with more vertical walls, for instance, may add volume, but also add more weight. Those with steeply-angled walls, however, do the opposite. Though they work great for reducing the tent’s weight, they result in reduced volume.
Be careful when judging a tent based off its peak height alone. Chances are that most of the tent falls below its listed peak height. This means that you may have less room than you bargained for if you fail to consider other factors.
Additionally, you’ll want to understand the total surface area of the tent’s interior. Tents with higher livability ratings allow for more room to maneuver. Keep in mind that the room you’ll need depends on the number of people staying in the tent.
Tents that strike the right balance between livability and weight provide top-notch quality.
Quality tents provide superior ventilation. Without proper ventilation, you may find the air in your tent hard to breathe. This proves especially true for those with more than one person in the tent.
Having rainfly meshes and panels can drastically improve your tent’s overall ventilation. These panels allow for better airflow into and out of the tent, improving air quality and making it easier to breathe.
A quality hiking tent boasts great durability. These tents can withstand a variety of weather conditions and keep you protected throughout.
While durable tents do add more weight, you don’t want to sacrifice durability. For this reason, most cheaper tent options generally should not be considered, if possible. Be sure that the tent you buy has enough durability before making your purchase.
- Quality Materials
Finally, the quality of your hiking tent depends on the materials used. Better tents use higher-quality materials to get the job done.
These materials can affect both the durability and the ventilation of your tent. You should look for tents that utilize strong aluminum poles and quality fabrics. The stronger the poles and fabrics, the stronger your tent will be.
To find out your tent’s strength, be sure to check its seasonal rating.
How Functional Should My Hiking Tent Be?
For many, functionality proves the most important consideration when buying a hiking tent. These people value the durability of shelter provided by tents while on hiking trips.
The two most important factors to consider when judging a tent’s functionality are its weight and durability. Finding the right balance between the two proves the most difficult challenge many face when selecting the right hiking tent.
For those looking to splurge a little, ultralightweight and sturdy tents can be purchased. These feature the latest in modern sturdy lightweight technology.
For those concerned with a tent’s functionality, its livability takes a backseat to the abovementioned considerations. Those looking for functional hiking tents may look for only the bare minimum in terms of living space if it means getting a sturdier and more lightweight tent.
That being said, your decision may be unique to you. Depending on the intensity of your hike or your own personal preferences, you may want a tent with higher livability ratings—even if it means shouldering additional weight. Or, if you have more people in your group, you may be willing to collectively carry the extra burden.
At the end of the day, the tent you choose depends on your priorities and your budget.
Consider the above information as you look to select a quality hiking tent to meet your needs.
Here we have some reviews for you to consider regarding some great Hiking Tents: