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Editor’s note: to visit our in-depth review, visit our Best Backpacking Tents page here.
Kuiu Mountain Star 2P ($479)
We’re not saying we love camping in the rain, but the Mountain Star makes it a heck of a lot more enjoyable. This double-walled tent is reinforced against wind via two nine-millimeter-thick aluminum poles (you can get carbon for $20 more) that run the length of the tent. Both of them slot through pole sleeves, granting additional stability. The Mountain Star’s 15-denier nylon fly and mesh canopy come pre-attached, offering the possibility of a dry setup. “It drizzled during our first night out, and my tent partner and I were happy not to start the trip with a wet tent floor, thanks to the all-in-one pitch,” our gear editor said after a rainy start to the Panama Editors’ Choice trip. Bathtub floors ensure the 29.5-square-foot interior stays dry and dust-free, and the two nine-square-foot vestibules keep packs out of the elements. Caveat: though the 38-inch peak height mitigates wind, it’s noticeably low for its testing class. 3.7 lbs
Marmot Limelight 3 ($359)
Social butterflies, rejoice. The largest three-person tent in our test is full of features that make sleeping as a trio a breeze. An update for 2022 adds two unique interior storage cubbies that jut out, winglike, on each side and serve as internal vestibules. “Each can fit a small daypack or dry sack and get everything out of the sleeping area,” said one tester. The update to this two-door tent also adds 2.5 square feet of interior space (for 45 square feet total) and 1.6 square feet of vestibule storage space (now 12.9 total). Designers changed the fly fabric to 50-denier ripstop polyester, which, along with the included groundsheet, improves its durability and weather protection. An optional interior clothesline, gear loft, and four low pockets keep the floor clear, while the three-pole setup is color coded and quick. Be warned: although the update shaves off 1.6 ounces, the Limelight is still bulky and heavy. This shelter is best used as a car-camping tent or for short overnights. 7.2 lbs
Kelty Far Out 2P ($200)
Turns out not every backcountry palace needs to cost as much as an actual castle. The double-walled Far Out offers a combination of livability, overnight-worthy weight, and performance at a reasonable price. At 5.5 pounds it’s not ideal for a weeklong trip, but it’s perfectly good for weekend missions. Tip: save six ounces and leave the included groundsheet at home; the Far Out’s 68-denier floor is plenty durable. This shelter sets up with three sturdy aluminum poles (two longitudinal, one brow) and offers an acceptable 28 square feet of interior space to go with a best-in-class 43-inch peak height, double doors, and a generous 20 square feet of vestibule space. “This is a meat-and-potatoes tent,” one tester said. “It’s easy to set up, roomy enough, and should last a long time thanks to the durable materials.” An all-mesh tent body keeps air moving, reducing condensation, and the 68-denier fly rolls back so you can stargaze without completely taking it off. 5.5 lbs
MSR FreeLite 3 ($480)
Best Space-to-Weight Ratio
Want to max out your sleeping space for a trio without overdoing pack weight? Consider the FreeLite 3. Designers shaved nine ounces off the previous version of this double-walled tent, meaning the update weighs less than 2.5 pounds. Despite cutting weight it maintains 38.5 square feet of floor space, enough to fit three campers comfortably. (Note: the two vestibules dropped to 15 total square feet, but that’s still enough for packs.) Thanks to a packed size no bigger than a paper towel roll, “Nobody argued over who had to carry the tent,” one tester said after a multi-day outing in Waimea Canyon, Hawaii. (Just treat the 15-denier ripstop nylon canopy and fly carefully.) A three-quarter mesh body scored high marks in ventilation: “Even during all-night rain, the tent remained airy and there was no condensation buildup despite having to close the fly door,” our tester said. Setup is easy with the one hubbed aluminum alloy pole and included guy-out lines, which held taut in 20-mile-per-hour winds. 2.4 lbs
Klymit Maxfield 1 ($300)
Not a fan of tent sharing? Camping in tight spaces? The brand-new one-person Maxfield weighs just over 2.5 pounds and mimics the footprint of a bivy, with a long, narrow, rectangular floor plan that enabled us to pitch on small outcroppings and in dense brush. Its livability is drastically better than a bivy’s, however, thanks to its 16-square-foot interior, 6.5 square feet of vestibule space, and an elite-for-its-class peak height of 42 inches. The 15-denier nylon ripstop fly kept us dry in overnight rains, and the 15-denier polyester floor held up to rocks and rough terrain. “The small-but-clutch vestibule fit all my essential gear,” our tester reported after a two-day trip in the canyons of Colorado National Monument. In a win for minimalism, the Maxfield packs down to the size of two Nalgenes. Caveat: there’s only one interior pocket—plus loops for hanging clothes and sundries—and sleepers taller than six foot two will find that their feet hit the back wall. 2.6 lbs
NEMO Dagger Osmo 2 ($480)
We’ve praised the Dagger’s space-to-weight ratio and innovative materials before, and this version continues the trend. This double-walled, two-door shelter weighs just 3.4 pounds, yet boasts 31 square feet of interior space and a best-in-class 22.8 square feet of storage space across two vestibules. “The 42-inch peak height allowed us to sit up and dress comfortably,” said a tester after a trip in Archangel Valley, Alaska. Thoughtful features also deliver top-notch livability, including six pockets and a removable waterproof vestibule tub liner that holds small items beneath the fly doors. What’s more, the Dagger is now made of 100 percent recycled nylon and polyester yarn, with PFC-free waterproofing that kept us dry all night, even in heavy rain (the mesh canopy reduced condensation). Dialing in a taut pitch is easy, thanks to the single, hubbed aluminum pole with short cross-pole, and a snap-in, slip-free corner anchor system. Ding: the pole swayed when pushed around by 30-mph wind gusts. 3.4 lbs