Camping is serious business, whether you go casually to a campground and RV park or you’re headed out hiking on the Pacific Crest Trail. Regardless of where you camp or how familiar you are with the activity, it’s important to have the right equipment, and that starts with the right tent.
If you’re in the market for a small, two-person tent, you may find yourself overwhelmed at all of the options. There are different materials, pole styles, dimensions, shapes, and weights, and if you’re not familiar with what you need, it can be easy to find yourself with the wrong tent. That’s where we come in.
[amazon box=”B012W1NT34,B07B6HQ6RR,B07NRWDYLQ,B07B8VY7LC,B004LAQYC8,B07C5SFNY3″ template=”table”]
REI Co-Op Half Dome 2 Plus
Why Choose An Inflatable Tent?
image via: pixabay
We’ve researched to find the best two-person tents on the market. We’ll tell you what to look for before you buy to ensure you’re getting the correct product for your needs, then we’ll talk about our favorite tents to show you everything from top of the line backpacking tents to beginner tents for a night in the state park.
How to Find the Right Tent: Buyer’s Guide
image via: pixabay
We’ve narrowed down one of the primary aspects of tent buying right away by focusing on two-person tents only, but there are plenty of other specifications to consider before you purchase a new piece of equipment. The following are some of the biggest considerations to look at before buying a new tent:
- Materials and Poles
- Car camping vs. Backpacking
- Ease of setup
- Height and Shape
All of these aspects of a tent are important to consider, especially if you’re new to camping. Those of you who are hardcore campers or backpackers may not worry as much about budget as you do weight, where newbie campers might put the budget at the forefront and some other categories behind. Regardless, we’ll go more in-depth so you can make an informed choice.
If you’ve even so much as Googled “tents” in the past, you know that they fall into a wide price range, and it may seem arbitrary at first. Tent prices often reflect their quality, the materials they’re manufactured with, and the brand name on the side. The materials and quality side of the price matters, but brand name doesn’t necessarily, so don’t overpay for a name alone.
Materials and Poles
These two go hand-in-hand. Tents today are generally made from synthetic materials like nylon and polyester versus the canvas and cotton tents that were more popular in years past. You can still find canvas or cotton tents, and they are nice options for people who want breathability and sturdiness at the expense of complete weather resistance and less weight.
When you’re looking at tents made of synthetic materials, you’ll notice that they are measured in denier. Don’t worry too much about how they get those numbers. What you’ll want to focus on is the number itself. Lower numbers mean a lighter, more fragile tent. Higher numbers mean a heavier tent, but one that will resist tearing and weather.
Poles are also made of different materials depending on the tent and brand you choose. Some are steel, which is strong, but very heavy to carry around. Other poles are made from fiberglass, which is lightweight, but not incredibly strong, and may not resist wind well. The final material commonly found in poles is aluminum. It’s a great balance between lightweight and durability.
Speaking of weight, let’s talk about why that’s important. First of all, if you’re planning to backpack or camp away from your car, you’ll want something that isn’t going to add to your fatigue after hours on your back. Even if you plan to camp within feet of your vehicle, though, a tent that takes three strong people to carry and set up, but only houses two is no fun at all.
Car Camping vs. Backpacking
This is probably the most important distinction to make before starting to look at tents. If you plan to backpack with your tent, you’re going to be looking for a compact, lightweight, and durable tent. You’ll probably be less concerned about privacy and more concerned about ventilation. You’ll also want to focus more on ease of setup than on storage.
If you’re looking for a tent to camp in for a few nights next to your vehicle, or not far from it, you may want to focus on the size and shape of the tent, it’s accessory and storage options, and budget over the tent’s weight and ease of setup.
Ease of Setup
Here’s a pro-tip for you: if you go into an outdoor gear store and they have a tent you’re interested in already set up, ask if you can take it down and set it up again. More often than not they’ll tell you it’s fine. Doing so will give you a good sense of whether or not it’s a tent you can manage on your own, and how intuitive the setup will be out in the elements.
If you can’t set up the tent before you buy it, look for features that will make your life easier, like tents with fewer pockets and poles, or those that have color-coded poles and pockets. You can even find some that don’t require you to remove poles so that setup can take a minute or less. These features will help make your experience more fun, and less stressful.
The smaller the tent, the less storage you’ll find in it. That’s just a fact of life. However, having at least some storage is really convenient, especially if you’re not close to your vehicle. You don’t want to be rolling over your car keys, glasses, or gear all night as it lies haphazardly on the floor of your tent. Storage pockets within the tent can help to alleviate this issue.
Height and Shape
Again, what you’re looking for here will depend on how you intend to use your tent. If you’re going to be hiking with it and setting it up in a different location at the end of every day to use only for sleep, you can probably live with a shorter tent that has enough room to sit up, but not stand.
If, however, you plan to use the tent in the same location for a few days, it will likely become a changing room and a hideaway as well as a place to sleep, so you may want something you can at least kind-of stand up in. A dome shape is probably best in this situation.
Best 2-Person Tents
Now that you’ve read up on specs and you know what you’re looking for in a tent let’s talk about the best of the best. We’ve scoured the outdoor stores and the Internet, looked at customer reviews, and even tried out a few, all to come up with our absolute favorite two-person tents. We know there’s something for everyone on our list, so let’s take a look.
[amazon link=”B012W1NT34″ title=”REI Camp” /]
We love this tent for backpacking. It’s a value considering what you get and weighs less than five pounds total. There are two doors on this tent, and it comes with a full-coverage rainfly. It also features a good amount of storage on the inside. The poles are aluminum, which means you’ll get strength without adding much weight.
The REI Co-Op Passage 2 is simple to set up and stands tough in the wind and rain. It leaves a bit to be desired when it comes to room on the inside, and it doesn’t have the modern touches some of the other tents on our list do, including its big brother the Half Dome 2 Plus. Overall we still like this as a beginner or budget tent for backpacking.
[amazon link=”B07B6HQ6RR” title=”Marmot” /]
The Marmot Tungsten is a perfect mix of weight, space, and cost. It’s a mid-range tent that comes with more room for you to stand and move around than many two-person tents. It has two doors and is made from durable nylon and mesh fabric for use in Spring, Summer, and Fall. It’s a great option for both backpacking and car camping, so it’s a versatile piece of equipment.
We will tell you, the size of the Tungsten when packed leaves a bit to be desired. Although it can be a tent you’d use backpacking, its size makes sticking it in a backpack difficult unless you divide it in half with a friend. It is also smaller than the REI Half Dome, which is its primary competition, so it might not offer the space you’re looking for at the end of the day.
[amazon link=”B07NRWDYLQ” title=”MSR Hubba ” /]
Another great option for backpacking, the MSR Hubba Hubba NX is ultra-lightweight at less than four pounds. It has great ventilation, two doors, and is strong in comparison to other tents in the same category. The newest feature of this tent is the Easton Syclone hubbed pole, which works to increase strength and performance in high winds. The rainfly is also more powerful in the newest model.
image via: rei.com
Like it’s little brother the Passage, the REI Co-Op Half Dome is a great tent for backpacking, but it can double as a nice car camping tent as well. It’s a good starter tent at a nice value, and it comes in multiple colors so you’re sure to find one you can enjoy. The extra room above your head and on the floor with the vertical walls adds to the overall luxury of the tent.
This tent is durable, but not as much as some of the other tents we’ve talked about. It does breathe well, and it offers excellent waterproofing. It won’t be perfect in all elements, but as a starter tent, we really like this model.
[amazon link=”B07B8VY7LC” title=”Big Agnes” /]
This is a great lightweight tent and one of our overall favorites as well. It’s a legend in the ultralight tent category, and for a good reason. The 2019 version has a slightly larger footprint and more headroom so that it won’t feel as cramped as previous models, or as some other tents on our list.
Big Agnes Copper Spur has maximum durability with minimum weight at less than three total pounds. Although the feel of the fabrics and materials can make them seem thin and delicate, this is not a tent that you’ll have to worry about in inclement weather.
[amazon link=”B004LAQYC8″ title=”Hilleberg” /]
If you camp in all weather conditions or are looking for top of the line quality, look no further than the Hilleberg Nallo GT. The Hilleberg brand is known for quality, workmanship, and durability. The Nallo is no exception; it’s watertight and windproof, made from Kerlon nylon and coated in three layers of silicone, which makes it ultra resistant to tears and the elements.
This is not a tent for a beginner. Its price tag puts it in the hardcore camper or backpacker’s arena. However, if you’re looking for a tent that you can travel with to all types of terrain and in all types of weather, you’ve found it in the Nallo GT. It’s spacious, tough, and long-lasting.
[amazon link=”B07C5SFNY3″ title=”Big Agnes” /]
Last on our list, but certainly not lacking quality, is the Big Agnes Tiger Wall. This tent is probably the best in class tent for those seeking something lightweight. It’s made for backpackers who need to store it quickly and easily in a backpack or on a bike, so it’s easy to set up and very lightweight. It also comes in a three-person model if you need some extra wiggle room.
This tent comes with two doors and two vestibules, but only weighs two pounds. It has high-quality materials, even though it feels thin, and even higher-quality zippers. The waterproofing on the Tiger Wall is tried and true, so you won’t have to worry about getting wet during a storm, but the ventilation and durability don’t fall short either. This is truly a great model.