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Camping | November 1, 2023
September 30, 2022
A backpacking tent is not a “classic” tent. Discreet when worn on your back, it should turn into a perfect cocoon when the time comes to sleep. The quality of your sleep and your next day depend on it! Knowing how to choose a camping tent is quite an art. Outdoor enthusiast looking for the perfect shelter for your next nature getaway? Be ready for adventure with lightweight, sturdy and waterproof from the best backpacking tents. Discover the recommendations of our camping specialist Cédric Charbin and make sure your next shelter perfectly suits your needs.
In this article, you will find out more about the following backpacking tents:
When hiking, there is nothing worse than an overly heavy backpack or a lousy night’s sleep in a damp tent. The backpacking tents Cédric recommends are among the lightest on the market, without compromise for impermeability and comfortable dimensions. More compact than conventional tents, the best backpacking tents are made of breathable technical materials and can easily be carried on your back, by bike or by canoe.
Before choosing your backpacking tent, take stock of your needs. Determine the desired space, the level of waterproofing needed, the number of doors and vestibules you would like… Are you looking for a freestanding tent? What ceiling height do you expect? In short, outline everything a backpacking tent should be for your use, and follow our guide!
MSR is a benchmark brand for backpacking tents. Our specialist Cédric hesitates between two models full of qualities: the Hubba Hubba tent and the Elixir tent. Both perfect for backpacking, these three-season tents still stand out on several levels. Both will give you the perfect shelter for your outdoor adventures.
MSR Hubba Hubba Tent: Featherweight
Seasoned hikers looking for a two-person or three-person tent that is as light as it is spacious should look at the Hubba Hubba by MSR. This ultra-light freestanding tent brings together all the best for adventure. This top-of-the-range model mostly stands out because of its unbeatable weight: 1.3 kg (2 lbs 14 oz) for the two-person tent. Its strong points do not stop there: almost unrivalled ceiling height, optimal waterproofing, quick set-up… A safe bet for all adventurers who want a three-season tent ready for expeditions.
MSR Elixir Tent: the Little One With Big Qualities
The MSR Elixir tent is a great alternative to the Hubba Hubba model from the same brand. Designed for adventurers who are mindful of weight without sacrificing comfort, this lightweight backpacking tent also shines with its value for money. Very easy to assemble, it will offer you a comfortable interior volume and ultra-practical vestibules to house your equipment. The Elixir tent is an “actual” two-person tent, modular and spacious. Perfect for restful sleep after a long day of walking.
Going on a long hike without emptying your piggy bank for a high-performance tent is possible. The SAIL Toundra tent, available in two-, three- or four-person models, has been designed for this: offering the best value for money. Even if it is not the lightest tent in its category, it still has some nice advantages to highlight: ease of assembly, resistance of materials, very good waterproofing… Slipped into its included carrying bag, the Toundra tent will accompany you on all your outings. A little extra: its great versatility also makes it an excellent family tent.
Several Big Agnes products could easily rank among the best backpacking tents. If you’re wondering which ultra-light tent you should rely on for future nights under the stars, the American brand has to be on your shortlist. Two models particularly convinced our camping specialist Cédric: the Blacktail and the Copper Spur HV UL.
Big Agnes Blacktail Tent: Light and Robust
The Blacktail tent from Big Agnes is, in terms of technical specifications, fairly equivalent to the Elixir model from MSR. This is a good “introduction” to the world of lightweight backpacking tents. A very popular model, particularly due to its affordable price, the Blacktail tent does not weigh much, but is solid enough for camping. Once assembled, it offers a comfortable and optimized volume, with two doors and vestibules.
Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL Tent: for Intense Adventures
The Copper Spur HV UL tent from Big Agnes falls into the category of ultra-light tents, designed for long hikes and backpacking expeditions. This three-season tent is reserved for purists for whom the smallest gram counts. Made from top-of-the-range materials that are both light and resistant, the tent incorporates the very best: two doors and two vestibules, pockets and storage, ripstop nylon, seams covered with a waterproof strip…
The North Face designs both “recreational” camping tents and real expedition tents cut for the most extreme conditions. Cédric, our camping specialist, recommends the Stormbreak model for your long hikes. The quality of the materials as well as the smart and clean design make it an excellent lightweight three-season tent. With its two doors, its modular vestibules and its beautiful height under the ceiling, it will offer you the necessary comfort to recover from kilometres travelled. Its affordable price puts the Stormbreak model in the ranking for the best three-person tents for backpacking.
The Nemo Hornet Osmo model does not compromise: this three-season tent is both ultra-light and spacious. Its atypical shape ensures maximum living space, via a triangular structure of guy wires and an integrated “FlyBar” which further widens the space at the ceiling. Made of high-performance 100% recycled materials (poly-nylon ripstop), this lightweight two-person or three-person tent impresses with its unfailing solidity. Hikers will also appreciate the excellent compressibility of the tent once folded, which will easily slip into a backpack.
After your outing, make sure you dry the tent fully before putting it away. If it is still humid outside, hang your tent once you get back home to stop mould from developing on the fabric, and the coating on the seams from breaking down.
Don’t try to fold your backpacking tent to store it. Simply stuff it in the storage bag. This way, you won’t damage the fabric by folding it over the same spot time and time again.
Keep in mind that a light hiking tent isn’t built to be used daily or left in the sun for the whole summer. On average, its optimal lifespan is about 40 to 50 outings, or about 3 to 5 years. In fact, a tent’s worst enemy is the sun, so try to set up camp in the shade whenever possible.
Depending on what you use your tent for, it’s important to waterproof the rainfly as well as the seams, even if it is not used often. Our experts can help you do this.
From the Algonquin Provincial Park to the middle of the Chic-Chocs, all hikers will tell you: when you go on a long hike, you have to carefully prepare your shelter. A good refuge is essential to recover well from a day of walking. Lightness, compressibility, solidity… A backpacking tent should not only be ultra-light: it should tick many boxes. Thanks to Cédric, our camping specialist, you now know which are the best backpacking tents for 2023. Adopt yours and get ready to discover your next destination!
Before leaving, also remember to take stock of your sleeping bag and sleeping pad.