Tents and Shelters
The best tents and shelters, reviewed and curated by the Trailspace community. The latest review was added on December 15, 2018. Stores' prices and availability are updated daily.
Ready for a night out? Whether you’re an ultralight alpinist, family of backpackers, devoted hanger, or comfort camper, you'll find the best tents, tarps, and hammocks for your outdoor overnights right here.
Check out our top picks below—including price comparisons—to shelter you in any terrain, trip, or season: winter mountaineering, three-season thru-hiking, warm weather car camping, hammock hanging, alpine bivys, tarps, and emergency shelter.
Or you can browse our thousands of independent tent and shelter ratings and reviews by product type, brand, or price. Written by real-world hikers, backpackers, alpinists, climbers, and paddlers, Trailspace community reviews will help you select a dependable, field-tested, outdoor abode just right for your next adventure.
Recent Tent/Shelter Reviews
This tent is fun. I have multiple tents but this one is too user-friendly to skip on. The color coding and special features make this my go-to tent for backpacking with friends and car camping with the wife. I've used the TN2 multiple times and the durability mixed with the user-friendly setup and features leaves no room for disappointment. It serves every need from backpacking as a couple to car camping. Setup The setup is color coded and clean. You couldn't possibly have a need for the instructions… Full review
Sierra Designs Sweet Suite 3
Spacious three-person shelter with lots of vestibule space. Light enough to carry for two or even solo, yet sturdy enough to take on the elements. Easy setup and takedown including Sierra Design’s “Burrito Bag” stuff sack. Long Pond Pines—Baxter State Park Specs: Vestibule Area: 8.9 sq ft + 8.9 sq ft / 0.83 sq m + 0.83 sq m Floor Area: 40.4 ft2 / 3.75 m2 Peak Height: 43" / 109.2 cm Dimensions (L x W): 85 x 70(head) x… Full review
Outdoor Research Alpine Bivy
This is my first bivy sac. I wanted to try one for its compact size and as a backcountry shelter. After much research I settled on the OR Alpine Bivy. I used it recently for a two-night outing and so far I’m very pleased. I would recommend taking the time to stake it down. Earlier this fall I slept in the Alpine Bivy for two consecutive nights on the Atlantic Coast in Newfoundland. The first evening was beautiful, about 5deg Celsius. I slept with the cover open and watched the stars through the… Full review
Outdoor Research Helium Bivy
Needing to minimize backpack weight is no reason to miss out on overnight winter adventures. A quality bivy will do the job nicely, without adding significantly to a backpack burden. Shelter can be important, especially in winter. The breathable, water-resistant OR Helium Bivy includes a bug net for summer, generous headroom (secured by a nested carbon-fiber hoop), and five points of suspension to secure it against high winds if you need to exit during the night. Accumulating outside snow can be… Full review
Less than a gram, but these tiny titanium hooks make a huge impact. Super fast setup, adjustment, and take down are the norm with these on your shelter tie outs. Dutchware at its simplest. These tiny hooks are threaded onto a line that is permanently attached to your stake. A knot at the end of the line prevents them from falling off. Just a tiny titanium hook with a hole in the center and a bit of a nib on the other end. A twisted loop of line tossed over the end of the nib gets drawn tight and… Full review
Dutchware Continuous Ridgeline
As usual, Dutchware took something simple and made it even simpler. 35' of ridgeline with a Dutch Hook on one end plus a Dutch Tarp Wasp that goes wherever you put it on the line and stays there. Fast, knotless setup and take down for the tarp user on the go. Components: 35' of 1.75mm dyneema provides the line in this ridgeline. You can order it with or without reflective threads woven in. This is a strong, yet light line that doesn't stretch much at all under stress.On one end a Dutch Hook has… Full review
The Taku is a Goretex, single-walled tube style tent made to keep the cold out and the warmth in. The lack of vestibule, inability to free-stand, and leaky floor leave too much to be desired for the large price tag. Setup: The Taku utilizes three “hoop” semi circular poles to provide integrity to the tent. Each pole becomes consecutively smaller moving towards the foot. The first two poles are inserted into reinforced pockets in the interior of the tent. The third pole is put in place on the… Full review
Slumberjack Contour Bivy
First shelter I carry for survival. I purchased my first Slumberjack Contour bivy in 2010 on the advice of my son. I carried it on a motorcycle trip that started in Death Valley where I survived a 50-mile-an-hour sandstorm. Later on that same trip while in Zion during flash floods it saved me from torrential rains. While in Bryce during a snowfall of two feet it kept me warm, maybe up to 10° difference, while my three-season tent protected me from the snow. I'm sorry it only lasted eight years. Full review
MSR FreeLite 1
This is a very light tent that packs small. It's not for people who like to have a roomy tent, but there is room to keep your pack and other things either inside or in the vestibule. I bought this tent at an REI garage sale. I have been working to decrease my pack weight for a while and liked the look and setup of this tent. It is under 3 pounds and packs very small. I recently purchased a smaller backpack (45 l) since I don't usually go backpacking in the winter months anymore. So, although I love… Full review
What’s the “best” tent or shelter for you? Consider your personal outdoor needs, preferences, and budget:
First, and most important, in what seasons, conditions, and terrain will you use your tent, tarp, or hammock? Choose a shelter that can handle the conditions you expect to encounter (rain, snow, wind, heat, humidity, biting insects, an energetic scout troop), but don’t buy more tent than you truly need, and don’t expect one tent to do it all.
Tents are typically classified by sleeping capacity (i.e. one-person, two-person, etc). However, a tent's stated sleeping capacity usually does not include much (or any) space for your gear and there’s no sizing standard between tent manufacturers. Some users size up.
Will you use the tent as a basecamp or is it an emergency shelter only? To determine if you and your gear will fit, look at the shelter’s dimensions, including floor and vestibule square areas, height and headroom (including at the sides), plus the number and placement of doors, gear lofts, and pockets, to assess personal livability, comfort, and footprint.
- Weight and Packed Size:
If you’ll be backpacking, climbing, cycling, or otherwise carrying that shelter, consider its weight, packed size (and your pack it needs to fit in), and its space-to-weight ratio before automatically opting for the bigger tent. Paddlers and car campers have more room to work with, but everyone should consider how the tent and its parts pack up for stowage.
Tents come in various designs. Freestanding tents can stand alone without stakes or guy lines and can be easily moved or have dirt and other debris shaken out without being disassembled, though they still need to be staked out. Rounded, geodesic domes are stable and able to withstand heavy snow loads and wind. Tunnel tents are narrow and rectangular, and large family cabin tents are best for warm-weather campground outings.
- Other features and specs to consider include single versus double-wall, ease of setup, stability, weather resistance, ventilation, , and any noteworthy features.
- Read more in our guide to tents.