There are lots of backpacking tents out there so understanding the differences will go a long way to choosing the best backpacking tent for you.
The Essentials About Backpacking Tents
Types – backpacking tents are usually either dome or wedge shaped. There are some bivy tents as well.
You already know the season you plan to backpack in but most hikers will choose a 3 season tent anyway as that covers summer plus the moderate weather in the spring and fall. If you are planning on backpacking in the winter you would require a 4 season tent of course. When picking a tent it needs to be able to handle the worst conditions you might expect during your journey.
Fabrics – these tents are normally made from nylon or polyester. You will find the nylon a bit lighter and able to withstand rougher conditions. Polyester tents are great in wet weather conditions and it is suggested by some it withstands degradation from ultraviolet rays better.
Ventilation – on a hot summer night you will need those mesh panels on your tent. Also when there is overnight condensation your backpacking tent needs good ventilation to dry out quickly
Tent size – Tents are always categorized by their per person capacity, for example a one person tent. Then look at any storage space you might want and the height of the tent. Frequently tent manufacturers will state a tent is for two people, yet it might be a tight fit so look at the size of the floor size. Although you may want to go to a larger size that will increase the weight so you need to balance things out. And if you are tall hiker you will want a tent with a minimum floor length about 90 inches. .
Storage is something to be considered. Have a tent large enough to bring things inside or perhaps a tarp to cover them. Do keep in mind that many tents come with vestibules which will provide some storage space.
Weight – Solo tents will range between 2 and 3 pounds. A two person backpacking tent is typically from 3 to 5 pounds. Experts suggest you aim for an average weight of three pounds per person.
Ease of setup – most of these tents offer a freestanding design which means that the tent can stand without the use of stakes, this will increase setup and take down time. Check on the number and size of the poles required.
Price and quality – backpacking tents with a higher price tag usually offer extra features at a lower weight. So it depends where and how often you go backpacking.
These are some of the the things to consider when deciding on a backpacking tent. For more on backpacking tents see Bivy Tents.