Picking a good tent relies heavily on knowing your situation and the elements you will be exposed to. Obviously there will be a vast difference between the best tent for a family in their backyard and one for extensive backwoods backpacking. Just because something may be a “fantastic tent” does not mean it’s a fantastic tent for you.
Here is a list of the Best Tents for Outdoor Survival
This article will outline a couple of the best camping tents and explain the circumstances in which they are the suited. Hopefully this list will serve as a starting point in your search for the perfect tent, because such an important piece of equipment should be thoroughly researched before taking it out into the elements.
If possible, it is always a good idea to try setting up and taking down a new piece of equipment before bringing it out into the wilderness.
One last thing to remember is that often times, the recommended number of people in a tent is about one too many, with the exception of 1-person tents.
Instead of tacking it on as a knock against most of these tents, it is nice to sleep 2 people in a 3-person tent and so forth to give that extra space and comfort, either to spread out or to keep your gear off of the ground. But, if need be, a 3-person tent can still fit three people, just prepare to be close.
With all that in mind, here’s our list.
First off we have our best 1-2 person tent:
Snugpak Ionosphere 1-Person Tent
Trail Weight: 2.64 Pounds
2 foot 3 inches tall at highest point
Free Standing, 2 Poles
About 7 feet long
The Snugpak Ionosphere is a really nice 1-person tent that can hold up in harsh weather. While it seems to be more towards the 3-season range, many say that it is durable enough and warm enough (with other proper equipment) to utilize in the snow and heavy rain.
Like many tents, it has a thick bottom floor, but most people still recommend spending a bit more to purchase a footprint or a tarp to go underneath the tent. Not only can this provide a bit more comfort, adding another layer between you and the ground, but it will also preserve the bottom of the tent, helping it last longer. The one knock seems to come from the tent poles, in that they may not be the most sturdy. There have been reports of slight bends when setting this tent up on hard surfaces, but other than that, most people don’t have a problem with them. It may be wise to invest in a set of higher quality poles if you plan on really testing this tent.
The rainfly serves its purpose and prevents the interior mesh from getting wet, while also preventing the ground underneath the tent floor from turning to mud, with enough room under the fly to store gear. There is a slight chance the zipper can get stuck, but only temporarily.
Size-wise this tent provides a good deal of space once set up, and breaks down into a compact package to fit into a pack. It is a sleeping shelter, so not something that you can spend a lot of time in, but there is comfortably enough space to lie down to sleep, with room for gear. Once broken down, this is a very lightweight tent that adds less than three pounds of weight to your pack.
In terms of customer reviews, this tent receives positive marks from almost everyone. It’s a good tent that is consistently agreed upon as a quality shelter for an individual.
Here's a video review of Snugpak Ionosphere 1-Person Tent.
Price-wise, this tent runs about middle of the road for 1-person tents, being a bit more than some of the bargain tents, while not breaking the bank. While retail may be valued at a bit over $200, most places carry this for closer to $150, which is a very good price for the quality of the product. This tent seems built to last, and a worthy purchase if you are looking for a tent to last you multiple camping experiences.
- Light and Compact
- Weather Resistant
- Easy Set Up
- May want sturdier tent poles
- Very small, just for sleeping
- May want to purchase a Footprint/Tarp
If you’re looking for something bigger, there’s always a 2-3-person tent:
ALPS Mountaineering Extreme 3 Outfitter Tent
Weight: 8.12 Pounds
4 foot 2 inch Tall
Free Standing 3-pole
6 foot 8 inch by 8-foot Base
For a nicely roomy 2-person or a compact 3-person tent, the ALPS Mountaineering Extreme 3 Outfitter is a good choice for you. Much like the Snugpak, this is a 3-season tent that with proper equipment can still be used in the winter or heavy rain.
Part of the design of this tent is that it is an upgrade from the regular Alps Extreme 3 Tent because of how much more durable it is. It does add a bit of weight by a pound or two, but makes up for it in quality. The doors and zippers are larger and hold up better to use and the floor is reinforced for comfort and durability. It is still a good idea to get a footprint, but this should easily hold up without one.
The ventilation on this tent is one of the highlights, as even with the rainfly on it, it is airy and comfortable inside. This is good, as the rainfly needs to be fully closed to protect the tent from rain, but it will not suffocate you if inside. Without the rainfly, the mesh windows and doors make the tent very comfortable in warm weather.
One of the main complaints is that the tent is a bit heavy, at over 8 pounds, but the quality of the tent really makes up for the little extra weight. Given how this is at least a two-person tent, it is easy to split up the components to make it lighter for everyone.
It is also worth noting that this tent is the highest rated tent on Amazon.com, and with over 20 reviews still sits at a perfect 5 stars. Other sites have similar ratings, not always perfect, but there seems to be unanimous consensus that this is a high quality tent.
Here's a video review of ALPS Mountaineering Extreme 3 Outfitter Tent.
Price-wise, it retails for a bit over $300, but can be found for much closer to $200. It’s a bit on the pricey side, but nowhere near extraneous like some. The price is easily justifiable considering how long this tent should last you with proper care.
- Good Ventilation
- Very Durable
- High Quality Zippers
- Weather Resistant
- Heavier for its size
If your group is even bigger, you may be best off looking at a 3-4-person tent:
Kelty Grand Mesa 4 Tent
Weight: between 8 and 9 pounds
4 foot 8 inches Tall
Free Standing 2-Pole
Floor Area 54.5 Ft2
For larger groups, the Kelty Grand Mesa 4 Tent can easily fit three people and plenty of gear or be a cozy fit for four. Again, this tent is a good 3-season, light winter type of set up with many individuals being able to use it comfortably in the snow. It holds up in strong weather, including rain and wind, while still being a quick and easy set up, which is nice for a larger tent.
While it does need a footprint for better protection from the ground, everything else is included, and very durable. Easy to open zippers, high quality materials, and strong tent poles all add to the appeal.
The tent may be a bit too well ventilated without the rainfly, as the majority of the top is a mesh material, but with the rainfly on, the tent is a nice comfortable climate. The rainfly is very effective at keeping the tent dry, as well as expanding past to provide a bit of overhang to store gear under.
The tent is again a bit on the heavy side, but with three or four people it can be split up for lighter packs. The quality again makes up for an extra pound or two, as much of the weight goes towards making sure the tent will hold up.
While some of Kelty’s tents do not have the best customer reviews, the Grand Mesa 4 seems to hit high 4 and 5 star reviews across most major sites. The general consensus is that this is a high quality product that will serve your needs well and does correctly what their other tents do not.
Here's a video review of Kelty Grand Mesa 4 Tent.
Price-wise the tent is a very good value for this much space. Even at retail around $200 it is competitive with other 3-4 person tents, but it can be found for about $140 putting it considerably lower than many of its competitors.
- Low Price
- Good Ventilation
- Very Roomy
- Weather Resistant
- Fairly Heavy
- Too Open without the rainfly
- Needs a Footprint/Tarp underneath
Those are really the main categories you should consider when purchasing a tent. While you can purchase tents large enough for more people, a better recommendation is to pick out a few smaller tents rather than one large one, especially if it is in a situation where the tent will have to be put up and taken down multiple times. Smaller tents are much easier to assemble and take down if you’re on the move, lighter, and easier to split up among packs if need be. In many cases this can also save considerable money, as larger tents command higher prices especially with the bells and whistles that smaller tents can have.
Overall, it’s down to you to make a choice on the tent you want. It is important to take into account personal preference and necessity. This list hopefully provides you with a good sense of what to look for in a tent with a few high quality options to consider first..
Feel free to comment or discuss your thoughts in the comment section below, but most of all, happy camping!