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TOP 5 BEST BACKPACKING TENT 2020

Are you looking for the best backpacking tent? In this topic, we will top backpacking tents on the market.

1. Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2
For a backpacking tent that deftly balances low weight, interior space, and features, look no further than Big Agnes’s Copper Spur. This tent helped define the ultralight category and still is going strong many renditions later. All told, you get 29 square feet of floor space for the two-person version, solid headroom with a hubbed pole design, and two doors, at just 3 pounds 1 ounce. It’s much lighter than competing models like the MSR Hubba Hubba and Nemo Dagger, and without the design compromises of Big Agnes’ Tiger Wall and Fly Creek.

And for two backpackers who want a little extra room, the three-person version of the Copper Spur offers a healthy 41 square feet of space at 3 pounds 14 ounces. For 2020, Big Agnes has released a new version of the Copper Spur HV UL2. Changes include new vestibule awnings that stays open using your trekking poles, redesigned storage, and a slightly higher weight at 3 pounds 2 ounces. We are taking the new model to Patagonia for testing this January and look forward to getting it out in adverse conditions, but the older version currently is on sale while supplies last, which is a big reason we give it the nod here. With either model, keep in mind that the 20-denier floor fabric is relatively thin, so take care when setting it up and entering/exiting the tent.



2. REI Co-op Half Dome 2 Plus
If you’re looking for the right combination of price and performance, REI has been making some of the top budget-oriented tents on the market for years. The Half Dome is downright iconic at this point, offering just about everything that most casual and beginning backpackers need at a reasonable price. The tent is super easy to set up and take down, very durable with a 70-denier floor, has vertical walls for extra headroom, and sports ample mesh for stargazing. Yes, you can save with the cheaper REI Trail Hut , but there are real compromises in terms of weight, interior space, and materials. All told, we think the Half Dome is a great value for what it is and should keep most people happy for years of backpacking—it’s the tent we recommend most to family and friends.

It’s worth noting that a couple of years ago, REI moved the entire Half Dome line to the more spacious "Plus" versions (they used to offer both regular and “Plus” for each capacity). The truth is that we appreciated having the option of going non-Plus: the regular Half Dome was around $200 at that time and weighed less. It’s true that the 35.8 square feet of floor space is quite comfortable for two adults, gear, and even a furry friend, but we hope REI brings back the regular sizes in the future. If anything, it’s more choice. This gripe aside, you won’t find a higher-quality or more versatile tent in this price range.

3. Zpacks Duplex
A number of leading ultralight tents utilize Dyneema—the high-tech fabric commonly used in boat sails and praised for its strength-to-weight ratio—and our top pick is the Zpacks Duplex. With an all-in weight of just 1 pounds 5 ounces (counting stakes and using two trekking poles for support), it’s an impressive 10 ounces lighter and about $200 cheaper than the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Dirigo 2, yet still includes a bathtub floor for protection from the elements. In practice, we found the Zpacks to feel decently roomy for this category with a 48-inch peak height, and you can adjust the dimensions fairly easily depending on the campsite and conditions.

All in all, no ultralight tent is perfect, but the Duplex is an impressive option that has been relied upon by serious thru-hikers for years. What are the shortcomings of the Zpacks Duplex? We’ve had no issues with water entering the tent—even while camping in snow—but the open sides and thin materials definitely can make it feel drafty in certain conditions. Second, the Duplex technically is smaller than the Dirigo 2 in terms of floor area, and like many ultralight tents and shelters, it is a feasible but cramped option for two backpackers. Third, setting up the tent can be a bit more complicated than some single-pole designs, so we recommend practicing before heading out into the wilderness

4. MSR Hubba Hubba NX
MSR’s Hubba Hubba NX has never been the absolute lightest on the market nor the most  spacious, but it checks just about all of the boxes we look for in a backpacking tent. It’s lightweight at 3 pounds 14 ounces, yet unlike many true ultralight models, offers good livability with two doors and vestibules and near-vertical walls. In addition, compared to the Big Agnes Copper Spur above, you get a relatively strong 30-denier floor that can take more use and abuse. Last but not least, weather resistance is excellent, and MSR honed in the design even further last year with an Easton Syclone hubbed pole that improves performance in windy conditions and a longer-lasting waterproof coating on the fly.

It was a really close call between the Hubba Hubba NX and Nemo Dagger. To get down to the nitty gritty, the  Nemo weighs the same but is slightly roomier with 31.3 square feet of floor space and costs $50 less. On the other hand, the Hubba Hubba has superior ventilation for summer backpacking (the Dagger only vents out the doors) and more complete rainfly coverage (the Nemo leaves small portions of the ends slightly exposed, which can result in some wetness along the interior in heavy moisture). The cherry on top for us: the MSR is extremely well-built and readily available, something Nemo struggles with year after year.



5. REI Co-op Trail Hut 2
The Half Dome above is REI’s best-selling backpacking tent, but you can go cheaper with the new-for-2020 Trail Hut. Here’s the good news: for under $200, you get a quality build with two doors, full-coverage rainfly, and ample storage. Notably, the Trail Hut 2 is replacing the old Passage, which was $159 without a footprint included (it’s debatable whether you need a footprint or not). Compared to the Passage, you get a modernized pole design for more headroom along with the option to roll up the sides on warm and clear nights, both of which are nice features. Who should buy the REI Trail Hut 2? It’s a great option for those new to backpacking or who can only get out for a trip or two each summer. At $30 less than the Half Dome 2 Plus above with a footprint, the value is there but you do sacrifice in terms of weight, interior space, materials, and the amount of mesh.

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