Tents & Hammocks


The Problems

Must Haves

less than 3lbs

bug netting

seam sealed/ taped

bathtub (tents only)

double wall (tents only)

three-season

 

Not Important

free standing

 

What’s Out

tarps

bivvies

four-season tents

mountaineering tents




Two-Person or One-Person Tent?

There is nothing wrong with a one-person tent per se. If you have used one before and are comfortable with it, then go for it. In general we recommend getting the lightest two-person, three-season tent you can afford. After all, you are going to be living in this tent, day in and day out for months. You may end up spending a zero day waiting out the rain in it. In that kind of scenario most people are more comfortable in a roomier space.


Tent Recommendations

Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2

weight:  1lb 15oz

cost:  $350

best all-round for the solo hiker

 

The Fly Creek is one of the most popular tents with thru-hikers and it's our top pick for a three-season tent. Looking at the numbers in our chart below, it's easy to see why. At just under two pounds, not only is it one of the lightest two-person tents on the market, it's lighter than most one-person tents. Anything lighter is either much more expensive, single-walled, or one-person. Now, while $350 is not cheap, it is the best bang for your buck. Looking at other tents we find the equally-priced REI Dash is a half-pound heavier, and most other tents are both heavier and  more expensive. Significantly cheaper tents around $250 tend to weigh four pounds or more, but since the Fly Creek UL2 is available at places like REI, you can get it on sale/discounted for $300 or less. 

 

 

The Fly Creek UL2  achieves its weight first by using DAC Featherlite aluminum poles, which are just as strong as regular aluminum poles but lighter, and are pretty much standard on all current lightweight tents. It also has a single door, but more significant is the choice of thin, light nylon for the floor which is more easily punctured than thicker, heavier nylons. As a result, you need to choose tent sites with care and remove all pine cones and sticks from under the tent.

Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2

weight:  2 lbs 12oz

cost:  $400

best choice for couples

 

 

While we like the Fly Creek, its single door is inconvenient for couples. Two doors on either side is optimal, that way no one has to crawl over the other person if they want to get out in the middle of the night. More importantly, the Fly Creek's headroom is limited and interior space cramped for two people getting dressed at the same time. On the other hand, the shape of the Copper Spur UL2 provides a lot of interior space, and if divided between both people its weight is negligible. 

REI Quarter Dome 1

weight:  2 lbs 2oz

cost:  $220

best budget option for solo hikers

 

 

If you are concerned foremost about price and are comfortable with a little less space, then REI's Quarter Dome 1 is a great choice. It's only 3 ounces more than the Fly Creek UL2 but $130 cheaper. While it is not the absolute cheapest tent on the charts below, the cheaper options are either very small inside, bordering on bivvies, or aren't truly double-walled, thus making them too damp. The Quarter Dome 1 has a lot of headroom and interior space considering it's a one-person tent. 


Two-Person Tents:  A Comparison Chart


One-Person Tents:  A Comparison Chart


Hammock Options

Camping hammocks are unique and relatively new to backpacking. Hennessey Hammock pioneered them for backpackers and for a long time you could only buy one from HH's website or at thru-hiker events like Trail Days. Today they are available at REI.

 

 

If you are thinking about a hammock, we strongly recommend visiting a store, trying them out in person, and experiencing the differences between models first-hand.