Editor’s Note: This post has been updated to reflect our selections for 2017.
You’ve got your new favorite sleeping bag, your trusty fly fishing rod, and a perfectly broken-in pair of hiking boots. No backcountry kit, however, is complete without a tent. Whether it’s a weekend getaway at the lake or a two-week trek in the Rockies, these are the tents you’ll need for your adventures this year.
Portable, light and spacious.
Mountain Hardwear Ghost UL 2
With enough space for two and weighing in at only two pounds, nine ounces, the Ghost UL 2 is the ultimate lightweight backpacking tent. Setup is incredibly easy, and even those who swear by instruction manuals will forego it thanks to the one-piece pole design.
Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL 3
If you need a little bit more vertical room than the Ghost offers, the Fly Creek HV UL 3 works perfectly as an alternative. It offers 41 inches of height at its peak, compared to the 37 of the Ghost. While that might not sound like a lot a first, every inch counts when you’re out in the wilderness.
MSR Freelite 2
The brand-new Freelite 2 is MSR’s lightest freestanding backpacking tent. If you’re counting ounces, look no further than the Freelite. It weighs in at a measly two pounds, seven ounces, thanks in part to its 15-denier ripstop nylon 1,200mm Durashield rain fly and floor fabric.
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Echo II Ultralight Shelter System
It doesn’t get any lighter than this. (Unless you use an 8 x 8 foot tarp, and who does that?) Clocking in at 1.87 pounds, the Echo II is made of Dyneema, one of the strongest materials in the world by strength-to-weight ratio. “Ultralight,” in this case, also means “minimalist” — the Echo II doesn’t have collapsible poles; instead, it’s propped up using trekking poles or fallen branches.
Hilleberg Anjan 2 GT
Sweden-based Hilleberg has been making tents since founder Bo Hilleberg took an inspiring ski vacation in 1971. Since then, the brand’s proven designs have become favorites of mountaineers and serious backpackers. The Anjan 2 GT carries the same bombproof pedigree as Hilleberg’s four-season basecamp tents but with less than half the weight (it’s just under four pounds). The unique two-pole arch design can withstand 80 mph winds, and the Kerlon outer fabric can take any storm you hike into.
Car Camping Tents
For people who like walk-in closets.
NEMO Wagontop 6P Tent
You know those quaint little Icelandic cabins littered all over Instagram? The Wagontop 6P is essentially one of those, but portable. It has a vestibule — call it a front porch — as well as seven-foot ceilings, two large doors and enough sleeping space for six people. (Or, two people and a trunk-full of backcountry toys.)
MSR Papa Hubba NX
The Papa Hubba builds on previous Hubba backpacking tents with extra space and some added comfort features. Stay-dry doors are especially nice if you’ll be camping with forgetful friends: even when left open they’ll channel water away from the interior and your precious gear. Both the tent clips and poles are color coded, so setup is a breeze. The best favorite feature, though, is the layout of the doors and vestibules, ensuring good ventilation even in summer heat or at a crowded summer festival campground.
Big Agnes Sugarloaf Camp
Think of the Sugarloaf Camp as a portable open-air gazebo, with a nine-foot ceiling and open floor. It’s designed to enclose a picnic table or a full-blown camp kitchen; the mesh ceiling can be kept open to the night sky, or covered with a rain tarp.
REI Kingdom 6
With a peak height over six feet, REI’s Kingdom tent feels more like a mobile cabin than a tent. An internal divider can separate the tent into two private rooms — a helpful feature if you need to put kids down for a nap or early bedtime. At 17 pounds, it requires its own backpack to carry, but the huge footprint lends itself perfectly to large groups, or those just seeking a little extra space and privacy. You can add on extra vestibules with the Connect-Tech zipper, expanding your kingdom as far as you need.
Tents for people who like summits.
None of Heimplanet’s tents come with poles. That may seem strange, but the inflatable, geometric support system actually proves more stable than many pole layouts. Rather than multiple layers of mesh, rainfly and poles, the entire three-layer system of inner tent, weather guard and supports are integrated, so you can just unpack and pump it up. Both layers feature best-in-class waterproofing and breathability, so you’ll stay comfortable wherever you decide to bed down.
The North Face Bastion 4
You’re mostly likely to find the new Bastion 4 in its natural habitat: 17,000 feet up Denali. With fabric, poles and stake lines tested to -60 degrees Fahrenheit (don’t try to recreate that), it’s built to withstand Mother Nature’s very worst. Its oversized pole guides and guy lines are glove-friendly, so you don’t have worry about frostbite when getting camp up and running in a blizzard. This isn’t your average weekend-warrior tent; it’s probably overkill for most campers.
Hilleberg Keron 3 GT
The Hilleberg tunnel tent is a standard in high-alpine trekking and winter mountaineering for good reason. The double-wall design minimizes condensation and the tunnel shape helps it withstand strong winds and storms. In a pinch, the outer section of the tent can also be set up on its own to act as a rain shelter when things get ugly.
For mountaineers, the H.U.B. is a grade-A basecamp shelter; for ordinary folk, it’s pure ridiculousness. Hikers, campers and picnickers have no use for its 49-pound form factor, reinforced blizzard-proof walls and removable floor — but if you’re in the market for a tent that a yeti would be jealous of, this is it.