Do the winter blues have you chomping at the bit to get out on the trails and sleeping under the stars? If you’re like a lot of outdoor enthusiasts, you’re probably spending these chilly months laying out all of your camping and hiking gear and making a list of the upgrades you need to make. If a new backpacking tent is on your list, here’s a look at some of the top models for 2018, organized into the categories we think are important to hikers.
Top Pick Overall–NEMO Dagger 2
This tent is a perfect balance of quality, functionality and low weight—everything a hiker looks for. One downside of lower-weight tents is that the fabric doesn’t hold up as long as heavier tents, but the material used in the NEMO Dagger 2 doesn’t have that issue. It’s plenty long, so taller hikers should be able to stretch out with no issues, but it is a bit on the narrow side at only fifty inches wide. It’s very sturdy in high winds, and the rain fly creates a roomy vestibule, giving you plenty of space for cooking and storing your gear.
Top Pick For Ultralight Hiking—NEMO Hornet Elite
At only 2 pounds, the NEMO Hornet Elite is one of the lightest tents you’ll ever carry. Even with the lightweight construction, this tent is very sturdy in severe weather, thanks to the balanced design and tons of tie-down points. You don’t get a ton of room inside, so putting two people in this one will definitely be cramped, and some may cringe at the (usually) $500 price tag, but if you want the ultimate tent for ultralight camping, you can’t do any better than the Hornet Elite.
Top Pick For Hikers On A Budget—Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight 2
This is a great tent for both car camping and backpacking. If you find yourself frequently camping in rainy weather, the high sides on this tent’s bathtub floor will do a great job keeping you dry. The tent’s height is a taller than most competitors, so you can sit up and move around pretty easily once inside. The tent gets great ventilation on those warm summer nights, and at 3.8 pounds it isn’t a total backbreaker either. The best feature, though, is the price tag. You can usually find this one for under $200 at most outdoor retailers and Amazon.