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Whether planning a car camping trip at a local state park or embarking on a wilderness adventure in the backcountry, finding a suitable shelter is essential. You’ll need a spacious tent that can comfortably accommodate your group, withstand various weather conditions, and endure regular use. 

In the world of tents, there are renowned brands like REI Co-op and Big Agnes, as well as budget-friendly options and smaller companies catering to thru-hikers. Our curated list features these top players in the industry, each with its unique history, background, and standout models. 

We provide a comprehensive breakdown of each brand, including insights into their most popular models and what sets them apart. For a more in-depth analysis and our top recommendations in camping gear and backpacking gear, refer to our camping gear and backpacking gear reviews.

Best Tent Brands – Tent Companies

Mountain Safety Research (MSR)

Nestled in the scenic Steamboat Springs, Colorado, Big Agnes is a prominent brand known for its exceptional lightweight backpacking designs. One of their highly acclaimed series is the Copper Spur, which has garnered a devoted following among weekend adventurers and seasoned explorers over the past decade. 

Our top pick, the Copper Spur HV UL2 model, impresses with its remarkable balance of weight (3 lbs. 2 oz.), ample interior space (29 sq. ft. floor area and 40-in. peak height), and noteworthy features. Furthermore, Big Agnes introduced the Copper Spur HV UL2 Long last year, offering an additional 6 inches in length and 3 inches in height—an attractive option for taller individuals seeking extra room. 

Their Tiger Wall and Fly Creek collections are also strong contenders, showcasing user-friendly three-season designs that excel in lightweight construction. Big Agnes strikes an excellent middle ground, providing convenience without compromising performance, particularly for those who venture into the backcountry regularly and prefer to rely on something other than trekking pole-supported shelters.

One notable consideration when choosing a Big Agnes tent is the cost. The two-person version of the aforementioned Copper Spur carries a steep price tag of $550, while the Tiger Wall and Fly Creek models are similarly priced at $450 and $400, respectively. 

For those seeking even lighter options, their superlight Platinum and Carbon variations can exceed $1,500. Another noteworthy aspect is that Big Agnes shines less brightly in the car camping market than alternatives like REI Co-op and Marmot, as their collection is smaller and less innovative. 

However, when backpacking, where build quality, weight, usable space, and all-around performance take center stage (including a few models tailored for bikepacking), Big Agnes emerges as a clear leader. 

We also commend their commitment to pushing boundaries by incorporating solution-dyed fabrics, significantly reducing water, energy, and chemical consumption during manufacturing.

Big Agnes

Based in Seattle, Washington, Mountain Safety Research (MSR) has established itself as a reputable brand offering a quality selection of highly durable and weather-worthy backpacking designs. Originally starting in 1969 as a safety-focused newsletter for climbing and mountaineering enthusiasts, MSR’s founder and engineer, Larry Penberthy, embarked on a mission to enhance equipment safety and reliability.

With the support of subscribers who contributed to field tests and product development, MSR evolved into its current gear company. The brand’s product range has expanded significantly, encompassing backpacking and mountaineering tents, trekking poles, portable stoves and cookware, snow tools and snowshoes, water filters, and more.

Compared to Big Agnes, MSR’s designs stand out for their exceptional weather resistance, thanks to robust fabrics and sturdy constructions. In mountaineering, their Access and Remote models offer formidable options.

Even in the backpacking segment, the Hubba series underwent substantial updates last year, featuring a hubbed pole structure and a full-coverage rainfly that effectively shields against the elements (check out our comprehensive review of the latest version).

While MSR has recently entered the camping market with their flagship Habitude series, currently offering only one true camping option, they have expanded their collection with the addition of the Habiscape model.

We remain optimistic that they will continue diversifying their camping offerings. It’s worth noting that MSR’s parent company, Cascade Designs, includes other renowned outdoor brands like Therm-a-Rest, Platypus, and SealLine, further solidifying their industry presence.


Founded by Cam Brensinger in 2002, NEMO Equipment calls Dover, New Hampshire, its home. The brand has gained recognition for its wide range of thoughtful and creative tent designs that span various categories. NEMO covers everything from dedicated ultralight models to options tailored for bike-packing, versatile four-season shelters (such as the trusted Kunai 2P), and standard camping offerings.

However, where they truly shine is in the lightweight backpacking realm. Their recently updated Dagger, now known as the Dagger OSMO, secures a top spot in our ratings due to its commendably low weight (4 lb. 2 oz. for the two-person version), user-friendly freestanding design, spacious interior, comprehensive features, and durable construction (check out our detailed review for more insights).

Similar to Big Agnes, NEMO’s reputation comes at a premium price. The Dagger OSMO mentioned earlier comes with a price tag of $530. Even their heavier camping-oriented models are relatively expensive, like the Aurora ($360 for the 3P) and the luxurious Aurora Highrise ($400 for the 4P).

However, price considerations aside, NEMO is known for its meticulous attention to detail, delivering tents that balance weight, livability, and durability. For those just beginning their outdoor ventures, NEMO’s lineup of sleeping bags and sleeping pads also deserves recognition for their high-quality construction and consistent comfort, consistently earning praise in our testing.

Sea to Summit

Based in Perth, Australia, Sea to Summit is a relatively new player in the backpacking tent market but has made a remarkable entrance. In 2021, they unveiled two models: the semi-freestanding Alto TR and the fully freestanding Telos TR. Building on their success, they introduced the more spacious and budget-friendly Ikos TR this year.

The standout feature among these tents is the innovative Tension Ridge (hence the “TR”) pole design, which deviates from the common downward-sloping poles. Instead, the Tension Ridge pole gently bends upward at each end. This seemingly minor adjustment significantly impacts taller doors, enhanced livable space, and improved airflow (with the vent naturally remaining open at the apex rather than drooping closed).

All three tents also feature a versatile fly that can be set up in multiple configurations. Additionally, the original two models come with a snap-on “Lightbar” that diffuses the beam of your headlamp, providing an even, pleasant glow.

While Sea to Summit has shown promise, they are still relatively new to the backpacking tent market and have yet to venture into the camping space (although the Ikos model can accommodate occasional car camping). During our testing of all three models, we encountered a notable issue with the Tension Ridge design: In heavy rain, water tends to pool in the concavities of the fly and gradually drip inside through the vent opening, even when it’s closed.

However, it’s important to note that most tents undergo several iterations before reaching perfection, and we appreciate the direction Sea to Summit is heading in. As they continue to refine their offerings, we look forward to seeing their growth and development in the industry.


Located in Kent, Washington, REI Co-op has earned a special place in the hearts of outdoor enthusiasts nationwide, and for a good reason. Renowned for its value-oriented approach, REI’s in-house selection of tents often offers competitive prices without compromising on quality or performance. 

Moreover, they consistently provide ample livable space, setting a benchmark for their competitors. Take, for instance, their camping-focused Skyward 4: The 4-person model, priced at $299, features a robust aluminum pole structure, near-vertical walls, and an impressive peak height of 78 inches. 

It also boasts convenient organization features like a spacious vestibule, interior pockets, and attachment loops for gear and lighting. In backpacking, their iconic Half Dome model remains a favorite, offering a roomy interior, user-friendly design, and an attractive price point.

While it’s true that REI’s tents are generally heavier than comparable designs from brands like Big Agnes and NEMO, the company has recently embraced a shift towards developing lighter and more premium options. This includes the trekking pole-supported Flash Air (weighing 2 lbs. 13.7 oz. for the 2-person version) and the latest Half Dome SL+ (weighing 4 lbs. 11.5 oz. for the 2-person version). 

However, it’s worth noting that REI’s lineup revolves around their camping and budget models, which remain the cornerstone of their offerings. These include the sturdy Base Camp, the spacious Wonderland, and the new Trailmade series, an excellent entry-level choice for aspiring backpackers. 

Another advantage of shopping at REI is their outstanding warranty and co-op membership program (available for a lifetime membership fee of $30). Membership brings benefits such as yearly dividends on purchases and exclusive coupons throughout the year, further enhancing the value of their offerings.


Based in Chicago, Illinois, Coleman is a prominent player in the budget camping market. It’s important to note that certain compromises must be expected when opting for their offerings, including a notable reduction in overall quality, durability, and weather protection. However, Coleman’s savings are hard to overlook if your camping plans are limited to fair weather conditions. 

For instance, the popular Sundome 6 model, frequently available on platforms like Amazon for approximately $150 or even less ($130 when writing), provides a reasonably spacious interior with 100 square feet of floor space and can be quickly and effortlessly pitched. While it lacks features like a full-coverage rainfly, vertical walls, or advanced components, it undeniably offers a lot of tents for the price.

Nevertheless, we generally recommend that dedicated campers look beyond Coleman’s designs. As mentioned, investing more in brands like REI or Kelty yields significantly better protection and longevity, thanks to upgraded materials (Coleman often uses fiberglass tent poles instead of aluminum), hardware, and seam sealing. 

However, Coleman tents appeal to weekend campers and families who are okay with compromising performance. Moreover, for those who prioritize convenience above all else, Coleman’s “instant” tents and sun shelters come with pre-attached poles, enabling setup in just a minute.

In summary, while Coleman offers some of the most affordable tents on the market, there is a notable drop in quality compared to the aforementioned brands. For dedicated campers seeking enhanced performance, we encourage considering higher-priced alternatives. 

However, Coleman’s range of tents remains appealing for casual weekend trips and families looking for budget-friendly options. Additionally, their “instant” tents provide unmatched convenience for those prioritizing quick and hassle-free setups.


Based in Boulder, Colorado, Kelty specializes in delivering quality and budget-friendly designs tailored to the needs of casual campers and backpackers. Their diverse range of offerings, priced between $100 and $300, balances affordability and performance. 

What sets Kelty apart is their ability to incorporate enjoyable and family-friendly features into their tents. One standout from their camping collection is the Wireless 6, a wallet-friendly option at $300 for the six-person version. It surpasses many budget competitors by including desirable upgrades like a full-coverage rainfly and a center ridgepole that extends the walls upward and outward. 

Additionally, Kelty was among the first to embrace stargazing features in their backpacking tents, utilizing rollback rainfly and mesh-heavy tent bodies that provide unobstructed night sky views.

While Kelty may not offer true ultralight models and may not be at the forefront of innovation, they excel in providing a reasonable balance between price and quality. This makes them an excellent choice for casual weekenders who seek a reliable setup without breaking the bank. 

Furthermore, it’s worth mentioning that Kelty’s commitment to value extends beyond tents, encompassing their entire product lineup, including backpacking packs, sleeping bags and pads, camp furniture, and more.

In summary, Kelty’s focus on delivering budget-friendly designs of admirable quality makes them a go-to brand for casual campers and backpackers. While they may not prioritize cutting-edge innovations, their offerings balance affordability and performance, catering to those seeking dependable gear without sacrificing their budget.


Located in Rohnert Park, California, Marmot has established a solid reputation in the tent market, earning praise for their build quality, spaciousness, and affordability. Founded by two U.C. Santa Cruz students who crossed paths on an Alaskan glacier in the early 1970s, Marmot has impressed us with their excellent crossover options catering to camping and backpacking needs. 

Notably, the Limelight (5 lbs. 15.9 oz. and $299 for the 2P) and Tungsten (5 lbs. 14.2 oz. and $249 for the 2P) models have caught our attention. Compared to the competition, these tents boast reliable and durable constructions, ample space for two adults, and attractive price points. Their versatility allows for an easy transition from car camping to short backcountry trips, making them a convenient choice.

While Marmot may not be as competitive as brands like Big Agnes, NEMO, or even REI in the lightweight backpacking tent market, they still offer notable features. Marmot utilizes quality materials, provides decent interior space, and recently shifted to PFC-free waterproofing—a commendable step in promoting environmental responsibility. 

It’s worth mentioning the Tungsten UL as a notable exception to their lightweight lineup, weighing in at just 3 pounds 6.5 ounces while offering two doors, vestibules, and a reasonably roomy interior. Although it falls slightly short compared to alternatives like Big Agnes’ Copper Spur, the Tungsten UL’s price of $379 for the two-person capacity is hard to beat.

In summary, Marmot’s tents have gained recognition for their blend of build quality, spaciousness, and affordability. Their crossover options excel in accommodating camping and backpacking needs, providing reliable constructions and generous interiors at reasonable prices. 

While they may not be at the forefront of the lightweight backpacking market, Marmot’s commitment to using quality materials and their shift towards environmentally friendly practices demonstrate their dedication to meeting outdoor enthusiasts’ needs.

Alps Mountaineering

Based in New Haven, Missouri, Alps Mountaineering offers a solid balance between price and performance with their popular models, the Tasmanian and Lynx tents. While they may not be the lightest or most high-end designs available, Alps delivers affordability, decent durability and an excellent option for beginner backpackers. 

Positioned between budget offerings from Coleman and premium models from brands like REI and Marmot, Alps Mountaineering strikes a middle ground that appeals to outdoor enthusiasts seeking a reliable and cost-effective solution. In addition to tents, Alps provides a comprehensive range of equipment, including sleeping pads, bags, camp chairs, and more, making it convenient for assembling your first camping kit.

One standout model in the Alps’ tent lineup is the Tasmanian. This sneaky-good four-season tent is well-suited for winter trips below the treeline with limited exposure. The two-person version, priced at a reasonable $250, features a full-coverage rainfly and sturdy aluminum poles and employs hardwearing (75D) materials for the floor and fly to withstand the elements and rough ground conditions. While the Lynx ($160 for the 2P) offers slightly less comprehensive protection, it remains a dependable option for casual backpacking adventures.

Alps Mountaineering balances affordability and performance, providing reliable tents catering to entry-level backpackers’ needs. While they may not offer the lightest or most cutting-edge designs, their commitment to durability and cost-effectiveness makes them a compelling choice for those seeking a practical and budget-friendly camping experience.


Located in West Melbourne, Florida, Zpacks has established itself as a leading player in the ultralight market, catering to thru-hikers and minimalist backpackers. Founded by Triplecrowner Joe Valesko in 2005, Zpacks originated from his experience of not finding lightweight and durable gear for his thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. 

Today, Zpacks is highly regarded and recognized for its exceptional selection of featherweight yet robust tents and shelters tailored for those embarking on long trails like the AT, PCT, and CDT. Their success lies in using Dyneema, a high-tech fabric renowned for its remarkable strength-to-weight ratio and hydrophobic properties.

Among Zpacks’ impressive lineup, our favorite ultralight model is the Duplex, designed for two people. Weighing a mere 1 pound 5 ounces (including stakes and utilizing two trekking poles for support), it features a bathtub floor for enhanced protection (unlike many other floorless ultralight options). It offers a reasonably spacious 48-inch peak height. It’s important to note that the Duplex comes with some trade-offs in terms of cost and convenience. 

With a price tag of $669, it falls on the higher end of the spectrum, and achieving a taut and even pitch with trekking poles requires practice (although an additional $149 freestanding Flex Kit is available for a streamlined setup). It’s worth mentioning that Zpacks recently introduced the Duplex Zip Tent, priced at $699, which incorporates zippered doors with peak vents, adding further versatility. 

We’re eagerly anticipating the opportunity to test it out this summer. Overall, Zpacks’ offerings are not geared towards the average camper, but their strong brand loyalty among ultralight enthusiasts speaks volumes. Zpacks’ Dyneema range extends beyond tents, encompassing ultralight packs and even a 2-ounce rain kilt.

Zpacks’ specialization in ultralight gear has made them a go-to brand for thru-hikers and minimalist backpackers seeking optimal weight savings without compromising durability. While their targeted designs may have little appeal, Zpacks’ unwavering commitment to pushing the boundaries of lightweight performance has earned them a dedicated following within the ultralight community. 

With a comprehensive range of Dyneema offerings extending beyond tents, Zpacks continues to provide innovative solutions, including ultralight packs and other gear, catering to the needs of weight-conscious adventurers.

The North Face

Based in Denver, Colorado, The North Face brings a rich history in mountain travel and remote expeditions. It’s no wonder that their dome-style tents are a common sight at high-altitude basecamps across the globe. 

Renowned for their durability and time-tested designs, The North Face’s Mountain 25 and 2-Meter Dome Tent have earned the trust of adventurers in some of the most unforgiving regions on the planet, thanks to their robust double-wall constructions. For lower altitudes, their single-wall Assault tent, featuring their proprietary FUTURELIGHT waterproof membrane, offers a reliable option.

However, regarding variety, The North Face must catch up to many of the abovementioned brands. While we appreciate their Wawona series, available in four-person and six-person versions for car camping, and their Stormbreak collection as a lighter-weight option suitable for camping and backpacking, their true strength lies in the technical mountaineering realm. 

It’s worth noting that The North Face’s distinctive logo is a common sight in places like Nepal and the Himalayas, indicating their popularity among climbers and mountaineers. However, other brands may offer a wider range of options for most campers and backpackers, especially those in the Lower 48 states.

Black Diamond

Based in Salt Lake City, Utah, Black Diamond is primarily known as a climbing company, but their expertise in the vertical world translates seamlessly into their line of mountain-ready tents. Their Eldorado model, in particular, has stood the test of time, earning its status as a classic over the decades. 

Designed as a single-wall, two-pole shelter, the Eldorado exhibits expedition-grade durability and build quality, making it well-equipped to withstand harsh alpine conditions and challenging summit pushes. Weighing in at a relatively low 5 lbs. 1 oz. offers a favorable weight-to-performance ratio, albeit at the expense of breathability compared to double-wall alternatives. However, weight savings are a worthwhile trade-off for many alpinists, given the importance of weather protection in such environments.

That being said, Black Diamond’s focus on technical mountain pursuits means their offerings have limited appeal to casual campers and backpackers. They have recently introduced the Mesa, a two-person tent, and the Vista, a three-person tent, which strike a better balance for three-season use and come at competitive prices ($350 and $440, respectively). 

However, most of their tent lineup remains decidedly technical and geared towards high-altitude base camping, resulting in higher price tags that may be excessive for below-treeline adventures. Nevertheless, Black Diamond continues to make strides year after year, and we remain hopeful that its product range will expand to cater to a broader audience.


Roofnest, though the least-known brand among the three on this list, distinguishes itself by specializing exclusively in rooftop tents. With just three models and a few variations in size and configuration, they have carved out a niche in the market. 

The Sparrow, the Falcon, and The Condor—aptly named after birds—are all hardtop tents, which means that when closed, they offer superior aerodynamics and weather resistance compared to soft-top alternatives. Each Roofnest model features hydraulic struts that allow quick deployment by simply undoing the latches. Once open, the combination of nylon and mesh walls ensures excellent ventilation and scenic views of the surrounding environment.

My personal favorite is The Falcon, Roofnest’s flagship rooftop tent model. Constructed with a lightweight aluminum shell, it balances durability and weight savings perfectly. 

Additionally, the tent has accessory channels that span the entire exterior, enabling you to mount a wide range of items onto it. Whether you want to attach crossbars to store bikes or even a roof box for additional storage, the Falcon offers the flexibility to accommodate your needs.

Thule Tepui

Thule, a renowned household gear and vehicle accessories brand, has established itself as a leader in bike racks, crossbars, and roof boxes. In a strategic move, Thule acquired Tepui 2018, one of the pioneering brands in the rooftop tent market. 

This acquisition seamlessly integrated Tepui into Thule’s rooftop system, offering customers unparalleled convenience when installing rooftop tents on their vehicles. Thule Tepui offers a range of models, most featuring soft shell designs that make them more affordable than their hardshell counterparts.

The standout feature of Thule Tepui’s rooftop tents is their remarkable ease of use. Thanks to their integration with Thule’s crossbars, setting up the tents becomes quick and efficient, allowing adventurers to focus on enjoying their outdoor experiences.

Among their impressive lineup, my favorite is the Thule Tepui Explorer Ayer 2. This tent is designed to withstand severe weather conditions, ensuring comfort and safety in various environments. The high-density foam mattress also provides exceptional comfort, offering a sleeping experience that rivals your bed.


Yakima, a company specializing in car accessories, has expanded its product range by venturing into the production of rooftop tents that seamlessly integrate with their roof rack system. Offering models in two different sizes, Yakima’s rooftop tents are specifically designed as 4-season tents, ensuring optimal performance throughout the year.

One of the standout features of Yakima’s rooftop tents is their remarkable versatility. These fully enclosed tents feature zip-open windows that provide excellent airflow and adaptability to various weather conditions. Whether camping in warm and muggy environments or facing cold and windy conditions, Yakima’s rooftop tents deliver a comfortable and protected experience.

Among their impressive lineup, my personal favorite is the Skyrise HD. Designed to complement Yakima’s roof rack system, this tent is ruggedly constructed using 600D Ripstop polyester fabric, ensuring durability and reliability. With a 300mm waterproof coating, it offers exceptional protection against the elements, making it an excellent choice for adventurous souls.


Based in Sidney, Nebraska, Cabela’s is primarily recognized for its hunting and fishing gear, making them a more specialized brand than the versatile options mentioned above. However, we’ve included them here because of their noteworthy collection: the Alaskan Guide, built for all-season use. 

This tent has long been favored by outdoor enthusiasts on rugged hunting trips and in challenging weather conditions. The Alaskan Guide prioritizes stability, durability, and protection with its robust six-pole geodesic shape and full-coverage rainfly. It’s designed to withstand gusts of up to 50 miles per hour while allowing decent airflow through mesh vents and windows during milder temperatures.

That being said, better alternatives are available unless you truly require the exceptional strength and weather readiness the Alaskan Guide provides. For example, the tunnel-shaped REI Wonderland 6 offers significantly more usable space, enhanced ventilation, and more excellent interior storage, all at a considerably lower weight (over 10 lbs. lighter). 

Cabela’s also offers the West Wind and Outback Lodge models, exhibiting solid construction and durability. However, for most campers, these tents’ specialized storm-ready features and designs may not be necessary or practical.


Based in Binghamton, New York, Eureka offers affordable options targeting the entry-level and mid-range market for casual outdoor-goers. While they may not boast the highest level of weather resistance, feature-rich designs, or premium build quality, Eureka’s tents are reasonably priced and capable of meeting the needs of most mild conditions. However, they can come across as a little gimmicky and cheap-feeling.

One popular choice from Eureka is the cabin-like Copper Canyon, a classic option for warm summer camping trips and festivals. The 6-person model provides ample space for adults to move around comfortably and features a full mesh roof for stargazing and airflow. Priced at a reasonable $330 (often available for less during sales), it offers good value for money.

It’s important to note that Eureka’s tents, while affordable, may lack protective features. For example, the Copper Canyon’s fly only covers the mesh roof, leaving it less suitable for inclement weather. These tents also require more careful handling compared to their higher-priced counterparts. However, for beginners or those who primarily venture out in fair conditions, Eureka’s offerings have their merits.

Eureka provides a convenient tent finder tool to assist in your selection process. You can find a tent that suits your specific needs by considering your preferred activity (such as car camping, bike touring, or festivals), seasonality, conditions, number of occupants, desired features, and more. Eureka also offers a mail-in repair service and boasts a generous 60-day trial period and return policy, further enhancing customer support.

Where to Buy Tents and Other Camping/Backpacking Gear?

It’s worth mentioning that there’s no substitute for visiting a local gear shop and physically experiencing a tent’s interior space, organizational layout, and other features. However, in 2023, online purchasing offers added convenience and a broader range of options in terms of manufacturers and capacities. 

One of our preferred retailers is REI Co-op, which carries many brands. If you’re fortunate enough to live near one of their locations, they often have displays for you to step inside certain models, providing a hands-on experience. Additionally, REI Co-op offers the convenience of a well-documented return policy and member benefits, including a 10% cashback on full-price items.

Backcountry is another excellent camping and backpacking gear option, boasting many products. If you spend over $50, you’ll enjoy free standard shipping (which is likely the case when purchasing a tent). They also provide a helpful chat tool for any inquiries or concerns.

Amazon is often the go-to platform when it comes to finding the best prices on more affordable tent models from brands like Coleman, Eureka, and Alps. It offers competitive pricing and a wide selection of options to choose from.

Lastly, many companies mentioned above have modern websites that provide access to their full collections. Brands such as Big Agnes, NEMO, MSR, Kelty, and more have user-friendly websites where you can explore their entire range of products.

While online shopping provides convenience and a vast array of choices, visiting a local store whenever possible is still advisable to get a firsthand feel for the tents you’re interested in.

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