Best tents for 2024 | Tested and reviewed

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

Summit camping site, pitched tent

by Chris Williams |
Updated on

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 hiking and camping. These, plus a couple of other popular options like roof tents.

Getting the right tent is all about picking one that conforms to your needs. There's such a vast array of tent designs that there will always be something for you. Of course, price is one factor, but you also need to consider shape, size, materials, sustainability, and weather resistance to name just a few.

What are the best tents of 2024?

MSR Tindheim 2 – Best tent

Wild Country Helm Compact 1 – Best 1 person tent

Sea To Summit Alto TR1 Plus – Best summer backpacking tent

Robens Eagle Rock 5XP – Best family tent

Rab Ridge Raider Bivi – Best bivvy bag

What we've done here is go through a collection of popular categories of tents, from family tents to 3-person tents to bivvy bags, recommending the best of each. We've also included some buying advice too.

The best tents reviewed:

best tent

MSR Tindheim 2 pitched in the mountains with Gear Of The Year award logoLFTO

The Tindheim 2 is MSR's first tunnel tent, and it hits bullseye on so many levels.

It's very spacious for a two-person hiking tent, both in the sleeping space and porch area, which makes it ideal for extending hiking and backpacking trips.

We liked its stable, weatherproof design that can cope with pretty stroppy weather. Another very useful feature in this regard is the Tindheim 2's ability to be pitched outer first, or all-in-one. Yet, it's suitable for most of the year, thanks to the inner, which has zipped panels that can either boost ventilation or prevent draights.

The Tindheim 2 was such a crowd pleaser among our team, and as a result, earned a Gear of the Year award for 2024.

Read our full MSR Tindheim 2 review

Pros

  • Very spacious two-person tent
  • Easy to pitch
  • Very well made
  • Stable weatherproof design
  • Inner-first pitching

Cons

  • Not the lightest or most compact

Best one person tent

Wild Country Helm Compact 1 best 1-person tent for hikingLFTO
Price: £199.95 (RRP £250)

www.outdoorgear.co.uk

Introducing the Wild Country Helm Compact 1 tent, venerated former winner of the our Gear of the Year awards. This is an affordable yet impressive choice for any would-be wild campers who don't want to break the bank this year. It performs exceptionally well and packs up nice and small. 

This freestanding dome tent is not only well-proportioned but also remarkably durable. We've witnessed the Helm Compact 1 endure severely harsh winter conditions. Remarkably, it matched the performance of much pricier alternatives pretty much blow-for-blow. 

The only kicker is, due to its popularity, finding one can be challenging. But don't lose hope! Persistence pays off. Keep your eyes peeled for this nicely portable piece which weighs in at sub-2kg. Not exactly ultralight, but perfectly serviceable in our book. 

Read our full Wild Country Helm Compact 1 review

Pros

  • Incredible price
  • Small pack-size
  • Reliably durable

Cons

  • Very patchy availablility

Best summer backpacking tent

Hiker camping in a Sea to Summit Alto TR1 PlusSea to Summit

Like microtechnology, the science of lightweight backpacking tents continues to evolve at an astounding rate. The Alto TR1 Plus is all about maximising internal space without increasing weight or compromising stability. And it achieves this with flying colours.

Sea To Summit uses its Tension Ridge Architecture to provide a higher ceiling in the Alto TR1 Plus and other spatial benefits, like a large porch. Tensions Ridge Architecture uses a cross pole to widen the tent's peak to make the walls near-perpendicular.

Sea To Summit says this is a tent for cooler climates, and so suits a British summer perfectly. The fly provides quite good coverage, and the fabrics are highly breathable to help reduce condensation on humid British nights.

The waterproof ratings on Alto TR1 Plus are what a geography teacher would describe as satisfactory. It's quite a pricey tent too and isn't PFC-free. But for all the clever design that goes into it, you soon realise its worth.

Pros

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

Cons

  • Waterproof ratings could be better

Best 3-person tent

Jack Wolfskin Eclipse III pitched with flysheet fully zippedLFTO

Jack Wolfskin's Eclipse III impressed us in terms of its versatility and sustainability. For camping and hiking, there are few tents as good at both as the Eclipse III.

What makes the Eclipse III so good for camping is its plentiful interior space and excellent waterproofing. Meanwhile, while it's not the lightest tent of this type, it does still pack down reasonably well and can therefore be carried in a large comfortable pack if required. Though, you'll certainly want a lighter option for long distance treks.

Regarding sustainability, the Eclipse III is made mostly from recycled material and is PFC-free. You also have a clearer conscience at the manufacturing end too, because Jack Wolfskin is also a Fair Wear Foundation member with ‘Leader’ status.

Pros

  • Versatile for hiking and camping
  • Sustainable
  • Very good weather protection

Cons

  • Not the lightest tent of this type

Best family tent

Robens Eagle Rock TC 6+2XP

Big, spacious family tents are a very far cry from their compact colleagues and the market is also just as competitive. Robens' Eagle Rock 5XP takes the prize for us in this category due to its fantastic build quality, liveability, and style.

The price is premium by we don't consider this tent to suffer from the law of diminishing returns. We feel it's completely justified, in fact, if you're after a fantastic family tent.

From the aluminium poles to the door toggles, it's all just so well made. We also rate the green and beige colours scheme. It makes the Eagle Rock 5XP blend nicely into the landscape on any campsite.

The porch area is large, the features are plentiful and there are two large entrances. Its living space is generous in both floor space and headroom.

Pros

  • Very spacious
  • Handy separate bedroom
  • Great quality materials
  • Feels very durable

Cons

  • Takes up a lot of boot space

Best backpacking tent

Wild Country Zephyros Compact 2 in a valley at sunsetLFTO
Price: £170.95 (RRP £260)

www.outdoorgear.co.uk

To give this tent a proper test, we took it to the Isle of Skye for some wild camping in June. Unusually for Scotland, the weather was subdued and sunny. But luckily, it also involved a rainy night in the Lake District on the way up.

Apart from being quite snug for two people, the Zephyros Compact (compact, indeed) 2 is an excellent and versatile tent for 3-season use in the UK. It has very good waterproof ratings and is pitched in just a few minutes. It's a simple three-pole setup with a single arching pole in the middle and a small one at each end.

It might not look it, but the Zephyros Compact 2 is very stable and weather resistant. It's every bit the 3-season tent Terra Nova says it is. The primary complaint from us is the small porch area. It's okay for one person's gear but is inadequate for two.

Read our full Wild Country Zephyros Compact 2 tent review

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Good waterproof ratings
  • Easy to pitch

Cons

  • Very snug for 2 people
  • Small porch

Best winter hiking tent

Alpkit Kangri, red
Price: £399.99

alpkit.com

For winter camping, a geodesic tent is a no-brainer. But which one? This one. Tents of this sort are often frighteningly expensive, but the Kangri offers relatively good value without ditching its ability to protect you from Old Man Winter.

The Kangri is free-standing, which makes it suitable for a wider range of pitching spots. And its 5000mm HH fly and 10,000mm HH groundsheet plus taped seams and bathtub construction ensure occupants stay dry.

Although light for a winter tent, the Kangri still weighs over 4kg. But there are separate stuff sacks for the inner, fly, and groundsheet, so you share the load if you want to. However, a noticeable downside here is that the Kangri pitches inner first. That's not ideal in wet weather.

Pros

  • Good value
  • Sturdy geodesic shape

Cons

  • Inner first pitching isn't good for wet weather

Best bivvy bag

Rab Ridge Raider bivy bagLFTO

For those who think a one-person tent is just too spacious, there are bivvies. Our current favourite of these is Rab's Ridge Raider because of its weatherproofing and versatility.

It's expensive for a bivvy bag, but the hooped pole at the head end and short pole at the foot gives you just enough space to be comfortable. The main fabric is Pertex Shield Air and is remarkably breathable – it also has a 15,000mm HH waterproof rating.

The bathtub base is a great touch for weatherproofing, as are the six peg points and trio of guy lines. Despite this, the Ridge Raider Bivi weighs under 900g.

Pros

  • Spacious
  • Freestanding
  • Great weather protection

Cons

  • Not as lightweight as pole-less bivvies
  • Expensive for a bivvy

Best rooftop tent

TentBox Classic on a Land RoverTentBox

The TentBox Classic stands out here like a hiker wearing blazing red hiking jacket on a snowy mountainside. But the Classic can be a good tent option for hikers. Perhaps you're the type that prefers fast-paced day hikes. With a roof tent on your car, you can bounce around the country, conquering summits, covering ground quickly.

The roof tent provides the sleeping comfort of a campervan but the tenting experience. The TentBox Classic is the best among a growing choice of roof tents. One of the key factors is its hardshell design. Not only does it look better, it's more protective and aerodynamic than those that use a heavy-duty soft cover.

Adding to the convenience is the fact you can collapse the Classic with your sleeping gear still in it. So it really is setup at your overnight stop in seconds. Among the neat accessories for the Classic, an insulated inner makes the Classic suitable for winter trips too.

No doubt the TentBox Classic is expensive, but if it suits your travel and hiking style, its returns are healthy.

Pros

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

Cons

  • No skylights

How to choose the best tent for you

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

Shape

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.

Tripod or backpacking-style tents (like in the photo above) are often the lightest and most compact type of tent you can get for going to a bivvy or tarp. They are most commonly for one person or pairs.

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.

Materials

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.

Best tent cleaning kit

Contains Grangers Tent and Gear Cleaner and Repel. The former cleans the fabric, the latter applies durable water repellency. Can be used for tents and other gear such as packs.

Pros

  • PFC-free
  • Water-based
  • Very effective

Cons

  • Nikwax Camping Care Kit is better value

Best gear cleaning kit

This kit comes with Nikwax's tent and gear wash and reproofing sprays, plus microfibre cloths and a 10-litre dry bag. Can be used on tents and packs.

Pros

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

Cons

  • We prefer tent wash as a concentrate (like Grangers)

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