The best tents for hiking and backpacking (2023)

We go through the popular hiking tent categories, recommending the best model of each and providing tent buying advice so you can find the right hiking tent for you.

Summit camping site, pitched tent

by Chris Williams |

The form of tents may differ today to those of 30,000 B.C. made from foliage or animal hides. But the function doesn't: protection from the elements.

Using the hides of mammoths to make tents isn't possible today. Even if it was, it would be an unpopular move. So we use synthetic materials for our lightweight tents instead. In this guide, we're looking at the best tents for hikers and backpackers. These, plus a couple of other popular options like roof tents.

Our shortlist:

Wild Country Helm Compact 1 – Best hiking tent 2023

Sea To Summit Alto TR1 Plus – Best summer backpacking tent

Wild Country Zephyros Compact 2 – Best 3-season wild camping tent

Alpkit Kangri – Best winter hiking tent

Jack Wolfskin Skyrocket III Dome– Best 3-person hiking tent

Rab Ridge Raider Bivi – Best bivvy bag

TentBox Classic – Best rooftop tent

Tent size, shape, and seasonality differ wildly. So too, does price. What we're going to do here is go through a collection of popular categories of hiking tents, from 3-person tents to bivvy bags, recommending the best of each. We've also included some buying advice too.

The best tents for 2023

1. Wild Country Helm Compact 1

Best hiking tent 2023


Introducing the Wild Country Helm Compact 1 tent, venerated winner of the [Trail Gear of the


  • Incredible price
  • Small pack-size
  • Reliably durable


  • Rarely available to buy
Best backpacking tent Wild Country Helm Compact 1

2. Sea To Summit Alto TR1 Plus

Best summer backpacking tent


Like microtechnology, the science of lightweight backpacking tents continues to evolve at an


  • Very lightweight and compact
  • Ample headroom
  • Breathable fabric
  • 2-person version available


  • Waterproof ratings could be better
Sea To Summit Alto TR1 Plus tent

3. Wild Country Zephyros Compact 2

Best 3-season wild camping tent


To give this tent a proper test, we took it to the Isle of Skye for some wild camping in June.


  • Lightweight
  • Good waterproof ratings
  • Easy to pitch


  • Very snug for 2 people
  • Small porch
Wild Country Zephyros Compact 2

4. Alpkit Kangri

Best winter hiking tent


For winter camping, a geodesic tent is a no brainer. But which one? This one. Tents of this sort


  • Good value
  • Sturdy geodesic shape


  • Inner first pitching isn't good for wet weather
Alpkit Kangri, green

5. Jack Wolfskin Skyrocket III Dome

Best 3-person hiking tent


Three-person tents are usually used by two people who want extra room. Jack Wolfskin's


  • Simple and stable dome shape
  • PFC-free
  • Good waterproof ratings


  • A tad weighty
Jack Wolfskin Skyrocket III Dome tent

6. Rab Ridge Raider Bivi

Best bivvy bag


For those who think a one-person tent is just too spacious, there are bivvies. Our current


  • Spacious
  • Freestanding
  • Great weather protection


  • Not as lightweight as pole-less bivvies
Rab Ridge Raider Bivi, orange

7. TentBox Classic

Best rooftop tent


The TentBox Classic stands out here like a hiker wearing blazing red hiking jacket on a snowy


  • Super fast to set up
  • Hardy and aerodynamic hardshell
  • Lots of clever design touches


  • No skylights
TentBox Classic product shot

What to look for in a tent

Hiker's campsite by a lake, Scotland
©Live For The Outdoors


Dome and geodesic tents have good stability and strength – geodesic tents are the best for winter, but these types tend to be heavier and less spacious than other shapes.

Tunnel tents provide the best ratio of space and weight. They can be quite stable too, if using stronger poles, more guy lines, and aren't tall. There are tunnel tents for every season and use, from family camping to backpacking and mountain treks.


This is an area that contains a lot of acronyms and unfamiliar terms. As a rule, silicone-coated outer fabrics are stronger than polyurethane (PU)-coated ones. Check the denier rating of the fabrics too. A denier rating (e.g., 15D) indicates the thickness of the fibres of the tent fabric. It's a good indicator of fabric strength, but predictably adds weight.

Waterproof ratings

Waterproof ratings (hydrostatic head, or HH) are another important aspect. The figure refers to how much water pressure the fabric can withstand (e.g., 3000mm HH = 3-metre column of water pressure). The higher the figure, the more waterproof a fabric is, but weight often climbs with it because more coating is needed.

Seam sealing is important to waterproofing too. A common tactic is taped seams, but the taping can wear away over the years. Some brands are coming up with alternatives, so have a look into these.

Space and liveability

In the same way, you need to ensure there is enough sleeping space, you also need to check how much storage space a tent has for your gear. This includes vestibules and storage pockets.

If there will be at least two of you in the tent, having a door on each side is always handy. And two-door tents often have two vestibules, which increases storage space.

Weight and packed size

We want our hiking tents to be as light as possible, but there needs to be a balance. If we're 3-season or winter campers, durability and weather resistance are equally important. For all, the right internal space is crucial too.

Some tents have a separate stuff sack for the inner, fly, and groundsheet to help distribute the weight among hikers. But 1-1.5kg backpacking tents and bivvy bags are approaching the size of a Subway sandwich when packed down and therefore aren't such a burden.

How to clean a tent

This is a really simple but also very important step. Tents need to be cleaned properly after each decent use to maintain fabric breathability, waterproofing, and overall condition. UV rays and abrasive dirt wears away at tent fabrics and can cause them to be less effective.

Products such as Grangers Tent and Gear Care Kit and Nikwax Camping Care Kit (below) are ideal for tent fabric care.

8. Grangers Tent And Gear Care Kit



  • PFC-free
  • Water-based
  • Very effective


  • Nikwax Camping Care Kit is better value
Grangers Tent And Gear Care Kit

Nikwax Camping Care Kit

Rrp: £17.49

Price: £14.85
AmazonAmazon Prime


  • PFC-free
  • Water-based
  • Dry bag included


  • We prefer tent wash as a concentrate (like Grangers)
Nikwax Camping Care Kit

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