We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs. Learn more ›
Published Mar 15, 2023 2:56 PM
A question I often get asked by friends, family, or even folks online is, “which tent should I get?” Other types of gear come into question occasionally, but tents and backpacks tend to be the top gear question I receive. Tents are a tricky one for many individuals because of the price tag. The list of the best tent brands is a long one, so I narrowed it down to a few specific categories; that way, we had a fair analysis of several top-performing tent brands in the market right now.
When choosing the best tent brands for your needs, I always recommend that you first identify how the tent will be used and how frequently. If you need a tent for winter expedition camping, it will look much different than a tent someone may choose for Overlanding. Knowing the technical requirements of the tent then allows you to narrow down your list according to tent features, portability, materials, warranty/repair policies, and price. This list of the best tent brands may help you zero in on a few specific options. That way, you can spend less time shopping and more time outdoors.
How We Picked The Best Tent Brands
When choosing an outdoor product, the first thing I always look at is the brand or company. What are their values? Was the company started to solve a problem or simply to make money? If their values and mission align with mine, then it is likely that I will be interested in their products.
The bigger picture of the brand itself is what can give you a deeper understanding of how they design their gear, how the products are produced, how they source their materials, and the overall environmental impact they have. Of course, product functionality and durability are a big part of it too. However, I’ve found the most sustainable companies often make the most durable products because they take into account the lifespan and repairability of their products.
In choosing the best tent camping brands, I prioritized their warranty, repair policy, and overall transparency surrounding a sustainability report. I then looked at the variety of tents and their application, durability, and functionality in the field, as well as affordability. All of this information was gathered over years of experience working with and using outdoor products, interviews with brands, industry-specific knowledge of product production, and other verified customer testimonials and experiences with tent brands.
Best Tent Brands: Reviews and Recommendations
Best for Camping: Nemo Equipment
- Best Seller: Nemo Dragonfly OSMO
- Our Favorite: Nemo Dagger OSMO
- Price Range: $$$$
- Best For: Backpacking, ultralight, bikepacking, car camping, mountaineering
- Warranty: Lifetime
- High-quality products
- Intentional and updated designs
- Lifetime warranty and repair policy
- Several tent types and styles
Nemo Equipment is our top pick for the best overall tent brand and is included in our list of the top-rated backpacking tents. Their dedication to using high-quality and sustainably sourced materials and the lifetime warranty put them above many other competitors on our list. They make tents for all occasions, including ultralight backpacking tents (Dagger OSMO) and large family tents (Aurora Highrise). Although they are on the higher end of the price range for gear, their reliability, functionality, and durable construction make it worth the cost.
While Nemo has various tents, sleeping bags, and sleeping pads, they only offer a few other camping equipments. Being more of a niche sleep system brand allows them to spend more time enhancing and improving their products. As a brand, they have won awards for their innovative designs, which they update every year. Pro tip: When new designs come out, it’s an excellent time to get discounts on last season’s colors and styles and snag the same high-quality gear at a lower price.
Best for Backpacking: Big Agnes
- Offers a range of lightweight designs
- Lifetime warranty
- Time-tested products
- Features targeted to backpackers
Another top contending option for the best tent brands is Big Agnes, which has been around for over 20 years. Among the most comparable in quality and design to Nemo Equipment, Big Agnes makes a range of tent styles. All of their tents are time-tested and quality guaranteed, but they won out our category for the best backpacking tents for their lightweight, durable trail tent designs. While a casual camper may not need a tent constructed at this caliber—and may prefer a more budget-friendly option—more serious backpackers and campers will appreciate the craftsmanship.
Big Agnes offers backpacking tents with ultralight designs (Copper Spur HV UL), roomy vestibules (Blacktail Hotel), and minimalist concepts to include your trekking poles into the setup (Salt Creek SL3). Since most backpackers are concerned about the weight of their gear, Big Agnes is an easy sell. Their tent poles are made from aluminum, which is durable and lightweight. The tent body, fly, and floor material are all a blend of proprietary nylon with a ripstop weave. The denier of each fabric component varies, but higher wear areas tend to have a higher denier count for longer-lasting performance.
Best Ultralight: Six Moon Designs
- Ultra lightweight
- Some multi-purpose designs
- Excellent repair policy
- Affordable price for the quality
- More prone to rips and tears due to its ultralight design
While many other brands merely offer ultralight backpacking tents, Six Moon Designs specializes in it. Whenever a brand has a focused niche, I’ve found their product design has a higher quality and a more targeted market for their products. When comparing them to other tent brands, there are two standout features: affordable prices and dedication to product repair. The entire Six Moon Designs team comprises passionate backpackers with thousands of miles on the trail, so all of its shelters and other products are born from firsthand experience.
Beyond ultralight shelters, Six Moon Designs also makes ultralight backpacks, umbrellas, camp cooking equipment, and trekking poles. If you visit their website, you’ll find resources about ultralight shelters and gear repair. While some tents function as a traditional shelter, they have other more unique options, like the Gatewood Cape, which is a shelter and rain covering to use while hiking. If you’ve never used an ultralight shelter, this is a great place to start. Six Moon Designs has high customer satisfaction and is dedicated to sharing their passion and knowledge about backpacking, specifically gear repair.
Best for Car Camping: Marmot
- Durable construction
- Wide product range
- Options that can withstand extreme weather
- High level of product transparency
Of all the great for camping tents out there, Marmot is one of the best—especially for car camping. With several optimal car camping tents, they excel in designing and producing superior shelters. The quality across all of their designs is high level and can withstand extreme weather conditions.
The brand is relatively transparent about its materials and production practices. It needs to be clarified on their website where their products are produced, but it is clearly labeled on their products (required by law). Most of their products are made in Asian countries like China and Vietnam, and it’s unclear why they are not more transparent about that fact, even on their sustainability page about fair labor.
Regardless, they are a leader in the outdoor gear space because of their reliable products and durability. They use recycled materials that are bluesign certified (which is a seal of sustainability) and they use PFC-free technology for waterproofing. In the realm of product impact, they do a great job of being transparent, and the materials are easy to find when shopping online.
Best for Family Camping: Eureka!
- Wide range of tent options
- More affordable price
- Decent durability
- Offer a paid repair service
- Tent poles and stakes can be improved
- The quality of all tents is not consistent
Eureka! tents are a unique brand in that they offer both more affordable casual camping tents that are perfect for families or groups and expedition-type tents. The large tents designed for family camping or groups are decent quality, but the quality of their backpacking and expedition tents seem to be even better. Specific components, like the tent poles, should be improved for an even better tent design, but as a whole, these are excellent tents, especially for folks who only get out a few times a year.
The larger tents are not the most affordable family camping tents on the market, but the quality of these tents in comparison to something like an Ozark Trail or Coleman tent is much higher. If well taken care of, these tents can last several years of casual use. Even with the 6 to 8 person tents, the setup is relatively easy, and the tent height is ideal for adults to stand inside. Across the board, all of their tents have decent weather protection, but the expedition-style tents are more waterproof than their car camping options.
Best for Glamping: White Duck Outdoors
- High quality 4-season tent options
- Several tent design options
- Durable construction
- Tents, poles, and other accessories are sold together
- Larger and heavier than average car camping tents
From glamping to setting up a hunting basecamp, White Duck makes tents that are durable, long-lasting, and suitable for all seasons. They’re made from what is arguably the hardiest canvas, DYNADUCK, which is a 100% double-fill army duck cotton canvas treated with a PFC-free water repellent. This finish also makes White Duck tents fire-, mold-, and UV-resistant.
With the canvas coating, the tents are field-ready, meaning once you get the tent, you can pack it up and get outside. Each tent includes everything you need, from the tent poles to the ground cloth—there are no hidden costs or additional purchases necessary for a package deal. No matter the tent design you choose from White Duck, it’s evident they care about product design, environmental impact, and a comfortable outdoor experience for all of their customers.
Best for Basecamp: Mountain Hardwear
- Best Seller: Trango 4 Tent
- Our Favorite: Stronghold Dome Tent
- Price Range: $$$$
- Best For: Expeditions, mountaineering, backcountry, high altitude basecamp
- Warranty: Limited Lifetime Warranty
- Durable materials
- Innovative construction
- 3-season and 4 -season options
If you’re looking for the best in expedition or high-altitude gear, look no further than Mountain Hardwear. All their tents are made from Dyneema and Pertrex Y Fuse materials, potentially the most robust and most durable materials for tent construction. Dyneema has incredible tear and puncture resistance, while the Pertrex Y Fuse provides increased waterproofing properties.
Currently, only two tent options are specially designed for use in a high-altitude basecamp. However, Mountain Hardwear has a lot of other tent styles and models that can be used for mountaineering. The largest expedition tent they have is a 3-person while the largest basecamp tent is the Space Station Dome Tent, which can house up to 20 people. This tent is ideal for large groups or used as a meeting place, gear storage, or dining hall in a basecamp.
Best 4-Season: MSR Gear
- Best Seller: Acces 2
- Our Favorite: Remot 2
- Price Range: $$$$
- Best For: Backcountry, mountaineering, backpacking
- Warranty: 3-Year Limited Lifetime Warranty
MSR Gear is another top-performing brand not only for tents but also for camping equipment like camp stoves, trekking poles, water filters, and avalanche kits. As a long-standing brand in the outdoor industry, it is no surprise that they are very transparent with their consumers about products, including manufacturing and company social responsibility.
The MSR tents span a range of outdoor pursuits, from mountaineering and ski touring to car camping and ultralight backpacking. All of their tents are made from aerospace-grade materials that vary in weight and strength to reflect the tent’s intended purpose. Other features that make MSR tents some of the best include waterproof coatings intended to last the tent’s life, ergonomic designs, snag-free zippers, reflective guylines, and reinforced stress points for an extended lifespan.
Best Rooftop: Thule
- Several options for cars and trucks
- Secure and compatible with offroad vehicles
- Hardshell tents are also available
- Free shipping on rooftop tents (limited time)
- Some designs are more difficult to set up than others
Formerly made and designed by Tepui, our top pick for the best rooftop tents is now owned by Thule. Thule acquired Tepui, a family-owned tent company, a few years ago. Although it is under new management, the tent designs seem to remain similar and of the same quality. Thule was already recognized for its car accessories like roof racks and bike racks, so it seems fitting for them to extend their reach in the outdoor industry by acquiring a rooftop tent company.
Thule rooftop tents offer a comfortable and functional setup for a wide range of vehicle models. From hardshell tents to classic soft tent setups, it is easy to find a tent design that fits not only your vehicle but also your personal preference and budget. Most tent designs fit two adults comfortably, and the largest size currently available fits four people. The tent setup and weight capacity will vary according to your vehicle and the specific tent you choose.
Best Value: Kelty
- Best Seller: Wireless 6
- Our Favorite: Late Start 2
- Price Range: $$
- Best For: Car camping, group camping
- Warranty: Product Lifetime Warranty
- Affordable price to quality
- Variety of tent sizes and designs
- Durable construction
- Optimal weather resistance
- Most tents are heavy for backpacking
- No 4-season options
Casual campers, weekend warriors, beginners, and beyond have trusted the Kelty brand for their camping gear for years. They are well-known and highly regarded as an affordable yet durable camping option. Compared to a brand like Nemo Equipment or MSR Gear, Kelty brand tents are much cheaper. In terms of quality, they make long-lasting tents with their choice of materials and construction. If you compare an ultralight two-person tent to a Kelty two-person tent, it is obvious which one is better equipped for a backpacking trek. Kelty tents tend to be heavier due to the material construction, but that is the same property that extends the product lifespan.
If you are looking for a tent that isn’t too expensive but holds up better than a budget pick, this is the brand we recommend. They offer a wide range of tent options that can fit most individuals’ needs when camping, and their products do well in the field. The only type of tent they do not have at this time is a 4-season tent.
Best Budget: Coleman
- Affordable price
- Range of product options
- Decent durability for the price
- Easy to setup
If you are a beginner camper or someone who is on a tight budget, Coleman is a decent brand to get you started. While our number one money-saving recommendation is to borrow or buy a used tent, sometimes the best option is to start with a budget find. While Coleman tents are affordable, they are not the cheapest brand available. Brands like Ozark Trail may be slightly lower priced, but they also have lower quality and durability than even Coleman can offer.
Coleman has over 60 tent options available at any given time, making it easy to find a tent that fits your outdoor adventure needs. They could have better backpacking tent options, but if you are car camping or camping with a group, Coleman is an excellent option. The design of most of their tents is simple and effective, making them easy to set up and (when set up correctly) capable of withstanding high winds and rain.
Consider Buying a Used Tent
Knowing the best tent brands is the perfect place to start when narrowing down the tent you want to invest in for your outdoor adventures. But should you buy it new or used?
Regarding items like tents and backpacks, I almost always encourage people (especially beginners) to buy used gear. Buying used equipment is an excellent way to not only save money but to divert materials from the landfill and minimize the impact the production of that product has on the environment. While buying a used tent may be daunting, so long as the tent is in good condition, it is worth a shot. Some brands, like Nemo, have a lifetime warranty.
Many brand-specific retailers like The North Face or REI sell gear that is gently used, and if it is damaged, it is repaired before reselling. Some tent brands also have sales on last season’s styles and refurbished or returned items. If you want a specific brand and tent design, check their website clearance periodically or hold out for sales.
You may be worried that a used tent won’t work as well as a new tent, and there may be damage. This is true, but you can also use this as a time to learn how to repair outdoor gear. Examine the used tent for any significant signs of damage, like large holes or rips, loose stitching in seams, or broken zippers. Most of these things are repairable, but it is up to you and the amount of time you want to spend reviving the tent.
Most used tents need to have a waterproofing solution reapplied. Re-waterproofing gear is an easy task with the right solution. We recommend checking out Nikwax or Gear Aid for easy wash-in waterproof solutions and sprays for tents and other products.
If a used tent is something you are interested in buying, here are some places to start looking:
Other excellent things to do is to be on the lookout for bargain bins at local gear shops, pay attention to outfitters and gear rental shops and when they sell their used equipment, and consider asking friends and family like enjoy camping. You may be surprised how many people have old outdoor gear they no longer use and are willing to give it to someone they know will enjoy it.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Tent
The first question you always ask should be, “How do I plan to use this item?” If you are replacing a well-loved tent, you likely have an idea. Or maybe you’re getting into a new type of camping, so instead of the standard car camping tent, you’re looking for something lighter for backpacking. Identifying your need and the type of tent will help you choose not only the best tent brand but the best tent design for you.
Your frequency of use is also a consideration. For instance, if you only take one or two camping trips a year, buying the most expensive tent may not make sense. However, if you have kids and pets, investing in a more durable and better quality tent may be the best choice.
Type of Tent
Each tent brand often sells several types of tents, each best suited to a specific application or use. No one tent type is necessarily better than the other, and there will be some design variation within each tent type.
Common camping tent types:
- Dome: One of the most common tent types because of the spacious interior and easy setup. A dome shape is created by two poles crossing in the middle and creating semi-circles on the sides, forming a curved structure. These use a rainfly for weather protection and to create vestibule space for additional gear storage.
- A-Frame: A classic survival shelter design, an A-frame tent (or a ridge tent) has one pole or ridge that goes down the middle with the tent fabric draping down either side. Not many tents use this shape anymore because it doesn’t provide as much interior space. However, these are common when building shelters using tarps because they require minimal materials and are effective in survival situations.
- Backpacking: Among the most practical tent designs, backpacking tents are compact and portable tent design. These tents range in size, shape, design, and weight. Some backpacking tents are ultralight, which allows them to be carried for long distances without issue. A backpacking or ultralight tent intends to provide a shelter to sleep in at night. They are small, so they don’t offer much space but they provide the necessary protection and shelter during various weather conditions.
- Multi-Room: Best for large groups or families, these can be made from various materials. Some may appear to be more traditional car camping tents, while others may be made from canvas materials. Sometimes called pod tents, these multi-room tents usually are tall enough for the average adult to stand comfortably inside. They use additional fabric inside the tent to create rooms for privacy when sharing the tent with multiple people. Multi-room tents can adopt various tent designs but most often use dome or tunnel features.
- Inflatable: Less commonly used for camping, but some designs have been popping up for car camping. An inflatable tent inflates with an air pump. It does not use poles and stays erect while inflated like an air mattress or a kid’s bounce house. Inflatable tents for camping tend to have a high price tag, and they have an increased risk of needing repairs due to punctures.
- Tunnel: Another good option for folks wanting a larger or roomier tent. Larger tunnel tents often have a lot of space to hang out in during rain or a mesh area to keep out bugs. Small tunnel tents may also offer more room in the vestibules for gear storage.
- Geodesic: An optimized version of a dome tent, geodesic or semi-geodesic tents are great for high winds and extreme weather. The poles crisscross over the top to create triangles or hexagon shapes and create a complete dome. From the outside, the poles often make the tent look like the dome jungle gyms at playgrounds. Geodesic or semi-geodesic tents are often used for mountaineering and extreme weather expeditions.
- Wall: While there are more portable versions of canvas tents, traditionally, these large tents require heavy components. Canvas tents work well for car camping or when setting up a base camp or spike camp while hunting. They offer a roomy interior space and the materials are solid and well-insulated, which allows them to be used year-round and in almost all weather conditions.
- Rooftop: Used for long-distance travel, quick car camping trips, and overlanding, rooftop or car top tents are tents stored on top of a vehicle or truck bed. They pop up to form a tent and come with a platform to support the weight of people sleeping. The style of rooftop tent varies and may include a simple rectangular design that cranks up to expose the mattress to more complicated designs that have multiple beds and a lower level shelter to provide a space to change your clothes or cook out of the rain.
- Suspended: A less common tent design, but very cool nonetheless. Suspended tents utilize trees to elevate the tent floor off of the ground, similar to a hammock. Finding a place to properly pitch a suspended tent can be difficult, but once it is set up, it is a unique camping experience.
Design and Materials
The construction, design, and materials of a tent determine the durability and functionality in the field. Many tent brands use the same materials and designs across several tent options, so knowing the best tent brands is a great place to start when looking for not only a functional and effective tent but one that is long-lasting and durable.
The tent materials of the body, floor, and rainfly generally are synthetic unless you are looking at a canvas tent; in that case, it may use a cotton polyester blend. Materials like polyester, nylon, and Dyneema are common in constructing tents for camping. While each tent component may use the same base materials or a blend of materials, the denier is the main difference between each part of the tent.
When a tent body is labeled as made from nylon ripstop fabric 70 denier, the denier speaks specifically about the thickness of the fibers that comprise each thread. The higher the number, the thicker and stronger the fabric weave should be. Higher denier fabric is also generally a higher price due to the higher level of durability with a stronger woven fabric.
Tent poles, stakes, and guylines may also come into question. The stakes and guylines are easy to replace and should not be a huge concern when making the initial purchase. The tent poles are important, especially if you want to use the tent for backpacking. Tent poles are generally made from either fiberglass, carbon fiber, or aluminum alloy. Steel tent poles may be used for wall or canvas tents but are uncommon due to the weight of other camping tents. If you want a lightweight and durable tent pole, look for poles made from either aluminum alloy or carbon fiber. These will come at a higher price but are more functional in the field and are less likely to break as quickly as fiberglass.
Q: Which camping brand is the best?
We ranked Nemo Equipment as the best brand of tent. Since they also sell other camping equipment, they could be considered the best camping brand with one of the best warranties available for their gear. Although they use synthetic materials, they do so in a more environmentally conscious way than many other product producers in the industry.
Q: What is the highest quality tent?
The highest quality tent may come from various tent brands such as Nemo Equipment, Big Agnes, Six Moon Designs, Marmot, or even some that are not listed here, such as Black Diamond. All these brands have a specific focus within the outdoor industry where their tents fit a need. Some brands like Big Agnes or Nemo may be better equipped for backpacking, Six Moon Designs is well known for being ultralight, and brands like Marmot and Black Diamond are better for high altitude and extreme weather conditions.
Q: What are some good tent brands for cold mountain weather?
The best tent brands for cold mountain weather are designed for high-altitude expeditions. Some brands that make excellent mountaineering tents include MSR Gear, The North Face, Marmot, NEMO Equipment, Mountain Hardwear, and Black Diamond. Regardless of the brand you choose, you’ll need a four-season tent to ensure the shelter provides proper protection against extreme elements.
Q: What is the most popular type of tent?
Dome tents are the most popular type of tent. They’re very common and easy to identify as they all have two poles that cross at a high point in the center to form semi-circles across the tent body. This construction gives the tent a dome shape, hence the name.
What is the best tent brand that is affordable?
In our opinion, Kelty is the best tent brand for most average outdoor goers that want a good value for the price. They make good quality equipment for a far more affordable price. Their products tend to be very durable, but they are not designed to be as lightweight as other brands. These tents are best for car camping but can be used backpacking in the right circumstances.
Final Thoughts on Tent Brands
The best tent brands are the ones we have trusted for years. While some of our picks may be unfamiliar brand names to you, we chose brands based on their dedication to customer satisfaction, producing the best possible outdoor products, and their transparency surrounding product production. Some brands performed better than others in each point of evaluation, but across the board, all the brands listed have time-tested performance that outdoor enthusiasts everywhere trust.
Why Trust Us
For more than 125 years, Field & Stream has been providing readers with honest and authentic coverage of outdoor gear. Our writers and editors eat, sleep, and breathe the outdoors, and that passion comes through in our product reviews. You can count on F&S to keep you up to date on the best new gear. And when we write about a product—whether it’s a bass lure or a backpack—we cover the good and the bad, so you know exactly what to expect before you decide to make a purchase.