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A good tent is the most serious investment most hikers make. Unlike footwear, you won’t be replacing them every year or two, and unlike a sleeping bag or a backpack, you’ll be sharing them with friends. Luckily, you don’t need to spend a lot to get a lot with these budget palaces.
Best Pitch: Slumberjack Nightfall 2
The highlight of this tent is the external pitch, which means the poles are on the outside of the fly: “The inside stayed dry even when I set it up during a downpour in the Gore Range,” reports our Colorado tester. Bonus: The tent body easily disconnects for a fly-only pitch. Read the full review.
Lightest: Big Agnes C-Bar 2
“In a 48-hour period, we saw high winds, sleet, rain, graupel, and even a bit of frost, but the tent never faltered thanks to its low profile and sturdy pole placement,” says one New York tester. Adequate ventilation requires a taut pitch: “There’s only one vent, so we had to stake the fly out well to prevent stuffiness,” our tester says. Read the full review.
Best Value: Eureka! Suma 2
Condensation was nil, even during a 25°F evening in New Mexico’s San Antonio National Forest. Credit the single roof vent and partial mesh walls (full mesh on the door side) for the ample airflow. Read the full review.
Most Liveable: Mountainsmith Morrison EVO 2
This tent is for hikers who can stand to sweat in the name of luxury: The Morrison is exceptionally heavy and exceptionally roomy, meaning our testers were willing to carry it, though mostly on short trips. The 36-square-foot floor is the largest in the test, as is the colossal, 45-inch peak height. Read the full review.
Best All-Around: Sierra Designs Meteor 2
Spend a little more to get a lot more with the Meteor 2. It’s the priciest tent in the test, but it’s also spacious, livable, and protective—all for a reasonably low weight. To boot, it boasts double doors and two 9-square-foot vestibules. Read the full review now.
Best Space-to-Price: Cabela’s Orion 2
Our testers easily rode out a storm on Colorado’s 10,276-foot Cameron Pass. “The sloping walls and crossed pole structure made for a sturdy pitch in high winds, and the tent never sagged even though we got pelted with 2 inches of hail,” one says. Read the full review.