The Best Tents and Shelters for Camping and Backpacking
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.
The best tents and shelters, reviewed and curated by the Trailspace community. The latest review was added on May 24, 2023. Stores' prices and availability are updated daily.
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.
Recent Tent/Shelter Reviews
Kelty Noah's Tarp 16
Years ago my wife and another couple ran the Green River with a commercial rafting company. I brought this tarp with two poles and during a Colorado could burst I pitched it over both our tents and had room for the whole party to hunker under down and stay dry including the guides. It’s sheltered many a campground picnic table and never failed. Never trust tent rain flys. Pitch the tarp first and then your tent and rain-fly. I use the 9 ft Kelty tarp for camping- both tarp only shelters but also… Full review
Coleman Sundome 4
This is a great option for first-time campers and budget-wise campers as myself. This is good tent for good to fair weather use. It handles rain very well in my opinion and winds of up to 20mph. This tent is super affordable and a budget conscience camper's dream. I purchased mine from the Coleman Outdoors website for an insanely good price. So I am a solo car camper, so for me size and weight is not an issue, that's why I decided on the Coleman Sundome 4. I thought about getting the 6-person tent… Full review
Strong, well vented, two-door, two-vestibule, Black label Hilleberg tent. Excellent sewing and fabric quality. I have used this tent three times now. The last time was in winds the Australian Met Bureau, BOM, said peaked at exactly 100km/hr. During these gusts the wind sounded a bit like a train. The Staika didn’t do much at all except let you hear the wind outside.There was, unsurprisingly, NO condensation inside the tent. All this was on a mountain top (1550m) in the western Brindabellas at… Full review
Eureka! Timberline SQ Outfitter 6
My third Timberline in progression, 2 to 4 to 6 person. Only one tent in the world I like better and it costs 3x more. This is the tent I have always wanted. Camping with the Timberline SQ Interior shot, solo camping Bought my first Timberline, a two-person, in 1983 at LL Bean when a Maine Nor'easter smashed our dome tent. Used it for 19 years, including 4 years of volunteer tail patrol in the Adirondacks and an epic bikepacking trip across NW Russia (my granddaughters still borrow it on… Full review
Robens Arch 2
Excellent. Genuinely can't fault it so far, and a superb buy given the offers and reductions available. I recently purchased this tent to replace my faithful, but now worn out Mountain Hardwear PCT1 (see my old review on this site). I wanted a bit more room, a porch area, and rapid pitching, so decided to go for a 2-man tunnel design. Robens got the nod due to good reviews and a crazy price (£99! — the newer model is £250 and identical save for the colour. I make that a bargain). I've used… Full review
DIY: Cuben Fiber DIY tarp
DIY, Install small grommets. Get some cord, line, rope bigger than the grommets. Tie a large knot in both ends, cut to the length of a side. . Place this on the inside of the tarp, loop ground tie cording from the outside, in, through the grommets, around this rope. This rope will spread the stress across the fabric, helping to stop tear outs at the grommets, the 2 knots keeps the rope/line from pulling out sideways under the end tie loops. This is how the old navy ship canvas hammocks… Full review
DIY: Cuben Fiber DIY tarp
Cuben fiber is so light I carry one (same size as Wallace reviewed) to function as a dining fly to hang out under during sustained rain. Beats being pent up in a tiny tent for hours. Mine is the lightweight fabric option. Had no problems when used as a tarp. I also own a cuben pyramid tarp. Full review
DIY: Cuben Fiber DIY tarp
Incredibly light; packs crazy small. Great coverage Folds smaller than a 1L bottle (22-oz insulated mug shown) Specs: Primary Material: 0.51 oz sq yd (17.4 g sq m) Cuben fiber Secondary Materials: nylon taffeta, double-sided tape, thread, grommets Cut length: 10 ft (3.05 m) Cut width: 9 ft (2.74 m) Finished weight: 7.6 oz (215 g) Shown folded to: 9 x 4 1/2 x 2 in (23 x 11 x 5 cm) Tools: Sewing machine Grommet kit Scissors Cost: about $250 US Description: This multi-purpose tarp was made to… Full review
DIY: Snow Cave for Survival
I have not tried this method. It just doesn't appeal to me at all. Seems very iffy, and the use of plastic etc., without a vent pipe or hole could contribute to soaking condensation. I've overnighted in -25°c in both quinzhees and proper winter backpacking tents, both accommodating a small stove to warm things up before turning in. This just looks really painful. :) Full review