How to choose the Best Hiking Tent?

When hiking, it is essential to recover well at night. We will guide you to help you choose the best hiking tent that will suit your hike!

Your tent can make your hike a success or ruin it. But with all the choices available these days, which tents are the best hiking tents that meet your needs? Do you want something light? Or if not, why not opt ​​for something heavier, but one that will serve you in the long term? Does it need to withstand snow and extreme weather conditions?

I will show you all the different characteristics of each tent and then give examples of different types of tent, weighing the pros and cons of each. After reading this article, you will be able to choose a tent that will perfectly match your next hike.

How to choose the best hiking tent

In this article, the first step that we will see is to determine your needs by answering specific questions that I will ask you.

  • In the second step, we will see the types of tents with the advantages and disadvantages of each.
  • In the third step, we will see the features of the choice to help you differentiate the existing tent models.
  • Finally, I will explain how to try the tents to be sure to find exactly the product that suits your needs, defined above.
  • Now that you know how this article will go, let’s start by determining your needs.

Determine your needs

In order to determine the model that will suit you best between the different tents, you must first determine your needs, and that is what we are going to do now with these questions:

Weight – Is the lightness of your tent a very important criterion for you?

Seasonality– In what climate are you used to hiking? Will there be a lot of condensation in the region of your hike?

Capacity – How many people do you plan to shelter in your tent?

Habitability – Do you plan to spend a lot of time inside your tent, or will it only be used for sleeping?  Is the ease of access to your tent important to you?

Others – Will you have the opportunity to pitch your tent pegs in usually loose and easy soil? Is the speed of assembly important for you? If your tent has a fault, does this represent for you a crippling criterion for the purchase of such a product?

Types of hiking  tent

For the types of trekking tents, it’s relatively simple: there is the single-walled tent and the double-walled tent, each with its own advantages and disadvantages, and that is what we will see now.

Ranking: The 5 best hiking tent on the market

The choice of your 3 person tent depends on the use you will make of it and the way you travel. Several criteria must be taken into account to choose a tent that meets your needs.

We aim to answer that question by offering an in-depth review of the Best hiking tent currently on the market and a detailed analysis of what goes into the making of the ideal tent for every type of relevance. Let’s start off with our top picks of the best hiking tent per category for 2020.

1. Single wall hiking tent

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The wall and floor of this type of tent uses a single fabric, which is coated to make it more waterproof and non-breathable. Generally, this is the type of tent preferred by mountaineers.

Benefits :

  • Generally low weight.
  • Compact.
  • Quick assembly.
  • More temperature retention by snowy conditions.
  • More wind resistant.

Disadvantages :

  • It only protects against small animals and insects if the tent is completely closed.
  • Very hot in the sun.
  • Less versatile.
  • Condensation: the waterproof fabric promotes condensation.
  • The tendency to have limited storage space.

2. Double-wall tent

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This type of tent has two walls, a waterproof and non-breathable wall on the outside, and a breathable and non-waterproof interior wall on the “ground” part.

If most of your hikes will be in a summer climate, opt for a double-walled tent so as not to get too hot after sunrise. I saw hikers who finished their night outside their single-walled tent because the latter did not insulate enough against the sunlight.

On the other hand, if you camp in rather cold and dry climates, I recommend a single-walled tent they retain heat and are generally lighter.

Benefits :

  • More versatile.
  • Limited and controllable condensation because it flows on the outer wall.
  • It usually has several doors and vestibules.
  • The inner mesh wall protects against insects and small animals and provides a little ventilation at the same time.

Disadvantages :

  • Generally, they are slightly heavier.
  • Do not retain heat in cold weather.
  • Relatively bulky.

3. Hiking dome tent

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Today, the majority of hiking tents available on the market are of this form. Dome tents use two long poles that intersect at a single point at the top and join the four corners of the tent. Its base is often rectangular. Most of the time, they are freestanding

Benefits :

  • Good stability
  • Good wind resistance
  • Comfortable.
  • Easy to assemble once you understand the system
  • It can be easily moved after assembly.
  • Very good habitability, due to its rectangular shape and its height.

Disadvantages :

  • The length of the hoops generally makes it heavier.

4. Hiking geodesic tent

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Geodesic tents are an evolution of dome-shaped tents. This type of tent has more poles (3 to 6) which intersect at several points, to properly hold the canvas. This form is ideal for alpine trekking or mountaineering, which are often done in difficult conditions, where space is required.

Benefits :

  • Improved stability with the addition of poles
  • High resistance to wind and snow
  • Very good habitability.
  • Often freestanding.

Disadvantages :

  • The addition of the hoops makes it heavier.
  • The longer assembly and can be complicated.

5. Best hiking tunnel tent

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Tunnel tents use several semi-circular poles, parallel in width, to give it the shape of a tunnel. This form of tent is unfortunately not self-supporting.

Benefits :

  • Spacious, with large passes.
  • Lighter than geodesic tents.
  • Thanks to its low height, it has very good wind resistance, provided it is well oriented.

Disadvantages :

  • Delicate assembly, especially in emergency situations.
  • Low height. At best, you can sit in it.
  • Not freestanding. Therefore requires the use of sardines, elements that require having enough floor space to plant them.

Buying Guide: How to choose the best hiking tent

1. Weight

Since you are going to carry the tent in your backpack, it is always best to reduce its weight as much as possible, but not at the expense of your safety.

Generally, the more the weight decreases, the more the durability and interior space decrease, and the more the price increases.

When comparing the weights of different models, do not forget to compare the same thing, because there are two weights.

Total weight: this is the weight of everything you buy … The tent, the instructions, the stakes, the storage bag, etc.
Minimum weight or trail weight: this is the weight of the tent, poles, stakes, and strings.
Now that you know the different weights, use the minimum weight to compare only what you will be carrying on your back while walking.

2. The Seasonality – Protection

The tents are characterized by their level of protection.

The 4 season tents: are designed to be used all year round and are able to withstand the heaviest snowstorms.
The 3 season tents protect you from difficult conditions in summer, spring, and autumn. However, they will not be able to protect you in difficult winter conditions.
2 season tents perfect for use from the end of spring until the start of autumn, but they are not designed for harsher conditions.

3. Capacity of best hiking tent

Regardless of the cost, one of the first things to think about when buying a tent is the number of people it can accommodate. Hiking tents are usually for 1 to 3 people, although this range may be wider. It makes more sense to have multiple small tents when hiking with lots of people. Sometimes the capacity of the tents is low and can only accommodate 1 or 2 people.

If you sleep alone, you will only need a tent with a single place, but if someone is likely to join you, then you will need to take a 2-person tent. If you are not disturbed by a heavier tent with more space, take a tent with additional space. For example, if you are alone but you take a 2-person tent to have more space. This will give you more space to spread out and/or your equipment and your bag. Obviously, this is a heavier tent option than taking a single place tent.

4. Wind stability

In the mountains, it is not uncommon to have difficult conditions (strong wind, flurry). Your tent must be able to withstand these conditions.

5. Ventilation / Breathability

Condensation is a common problem. Tents with a waterproof flysheet and a breathable chamber provide better protection against condensation.

Better understand the condensation of your tent in the mountains, and how to fight against this condensation:

6. Self-lift

The tent you are going to buy will be either “freestanding” or “fixed”. A so-called “freestanding” tent has the particularity of standing upright without sardines and shrouds.

Freestanding tents offer several advantages:

  • You can move them to another location without having to dismantle and reassemble the tent.
  • You can easily drain or dry them by positioning them upside down.
  • you can put yourself in a place where fixing sardines proves difficult (rocks, very fine sand)

Note that all tents, including the freestanding type, are generally anchored to the ground by sardines and shrouds (in particular to provide better wind stability).

7. Overall dimensions

If you can fold the canvas of your tent as you want, this is not possible with the poles, because they always have a fixed length when folded.

To do this, to compare the different models, pack your tent and put it in your backpack to check how much space you have available in it.

Self-supporting is an important criterion when choosing your tent because a freestanding tent can stand upright on the limited space it occupies. On the other hand, a non-self-supporting tent requires more space to fix the sardines.

The second thing with regard to the self- supporting tents is that the self-supporting tents can be moved, even when they are completely erected, which is impossible for non-self-supporting tents.

The third thing is that freestanding tents can be used, even on hard surfaces, and do not require a tree to secure them.

The advantage of non-self-supporting tents is that they are more resistant to the wind because they use sardines that are planted in the ground.

To have the advantages of both options, choose a hybrid type, which is both self-supporting and which offers the possibility of adding the fixation with sardines if you wish.

8. The doors

Hiking tents usually have one or two doors. A side door will save you weight but will make you crawl over the person closest to the door when you need to get out. A single door at the end of the tent is more practical. Having your own door when sleeping with someone is more efficient and gives you more room for storage. Each door generally has a sort of vestibule covered by the flysheet to store equipment. A door, therefore, means a single vestibule. 3 and 4 person tents will usually have only 1 or 2 doors.

9. Vestibules

The vestibules are the areas covered by the flysheet just outside the tent doors used to store equipment, shoes and cooking in bad weather. The large vestibules offer more covered space but will add to the weight of the flysheet. Most tents have a vestibule outside each door, so two doors will give you two vestibules. The vestibules are classified according to their area. They generally vary from 0.5 m² to around 1 m² for each hallway.

10. Waterproofing of the tent

The flysheet and tent floor will be waterproof at first. Over time and use, the coatings will wear out and you may notice leaks. You can seal these leaks with spray or apply sealants. Some tents are waterproofed with polyurethane and others with silicone, so make sure the sealant or patches work and do not react badly with the fabric of your tent.

11. Fabric materials:

Polyester and nylon are the main materials used to make tent fabrics.

The nylon, which is a polyamide, is a lightweight synthetic fabric, flexible and abrasion-resistant. But it degrades more easily under ultra-violet rays.

The polyester, when wet, retains the same form, which is not the case with nylon.

Since it is less elastic, it is more fragile in the face of sudden tensions and also noisier. But it is still used for the outer roof of the flysheet and the ground because nylon absorbs water.

12. Poles

When looking for a tent to buy, look for a tent that has poles that fold without breaking.

Among the materials used for tent poles are:

Carbon: Carbon is a material used in high-end tents because it is extremely light and durable at the same time, but it is also fragile, especially in cold weather.

Glass fibers: Nowadays, fiberglass is a heavy and less solid material than other materials. It is likely to burst over time. It is for this reason that it is only found in low-end tents.

Aluminum: The aluminum material has good resistance to weight. This is why it is mostly used in high-end tents.

13. Sewing

The seams are the weak areas of the tents because that’s where the rain seeps in.

A good solution, used by manufacturers to combat rain and prevent it from infiltrating through this area, is the application of a heat-sealed or heat-adhesive tape.

This technique is perfectly waterproof when done right.


Keep in mind that the choice of the best hiking tent is based on its hiking experience. Once your needs are defined, it will be easier to make the right choice while taking into account your budget. I hope this file has helped you to see more clearly in the choice of your tent.

Thank you for reading and have a nice trip!

Do you have questions about how to choose the best hiking tent?  What is your favorite the best hiking tent? Share it too by leaving a comment below.

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