Shopping for a tent can be a little daunting. There are so many different types and brands to choose from that it’s hard to know which ones will be right for your needs and worth the money you’re spending on them.
Making the wrong decision can end up in owning a leaky cold tent with zero storage options, that’s doesn’t have enough space and blows over at the first sign of a gale. So, how do we avoid this? By picking the best tent brands for your needs.
The quality and functionality of tents vary a lot from brand to brand. Some brands are dedicated to making backpacking tents while others specialize in family tents or your normal camping tents. No matter what kind of tent you’re after we have the brands that make the best of them in this article.
We rounded up the best tent brands out there and outlined all their strengths and weaknesses below, so you can decide which brand to go with based on the kind of tent you need. Keep reading to find the best tent brand for you.
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Marmot was founded in 1979 and has a long history of making awesome outdoor gear. It all started when some college buddies started making outdoor clothing in their dorm and it grew from there to a world-renowned outdoor company.
Marmot tents are made to a very high standard while still being semi-affordable. They come in sizes ranging from 1-8 person and cover family tents, ultralight tents, and tents that’ll keep you warm in the coldest of environments.
The majority of their tents are 1-4 person and if you’re looking for an ultralight or warm tent, then Marmot is the way to go. Their larger tents are few and far between and are designed for expeditions more than family camping.
Another great thing about Marmot is its commitment to the environment. They use PFC-free waterproofing and do their best to include upcycled materials while making their tents. They also cover all their products with a lifetime manufacturer defect warranty.
MSR stands for Mountain Safety Research and based on the name, you can only imagine the attention to detail that goes into their tents.
MSR was founded in 1969, so they have been around the ‘outdoor gear block’ a few times. But they didn’t actually start making tents until 2000 when they merged with Edgeworks, a top-tent manufacturer.
Their motto is “that better, safer, more reliable equipment is the key to unlocking greater adventures”, and they aren’t wrong. MSR makes some of the most reliable outdoor gear you can find for that reason.
Their tents are about as durable as a tent can get. They specialize in making spacious and warm tents that you can carry anywhere and be comfortable in no matter the weather. You won’t be cold in winter, nor will you overheat in summer, in one of their 4 season tents. There is something to be said for that.
Any adventure is up for grabs when you add an MSR tent to the mix. While they are a little expensive, you do get what you pay for. A 3-year manufacturer defect warranty is included and they offer a repair service, so you’ll probably get a tent for life.
Everyone has heard of Coleman, and if you haven’t, well it’s high time you had. They are a family favorite amongst tent manufactures and make everything from coolers to camping chairs.
Founded in 1900, the Coleman family business has been making outdoor gear for over 100 years. They pride themselves on making quality, affordable tents that everyone can enjoy. In fact, most of the best-selling tents on Amazon are made by Coleman which is a statement of the brand’s reputation and customer loyalty.
They make a fun range of tents from your standard domes and modular designs that connect together, to family cabin tents with multiple rooms. No matter what kind of camping you’re planning, whether it’s for you and some friends at a festival or for the whole family in the Rockies, Coleman has a tent you can rely on.
Every tent they make comes with a Coleman Rainfly that has a reputation for handling both wind and rain exceptionally well. Each tent also comes with a limited warranty against manufacturer defects but the lengths do vary between them.
With a slogan like “life is too short to use bad camping gear,” you can be sure that Big Agnes has got your back while camping out in the wilderness. Their gear is designed to be the best and although it is pretty expensive, the quality you get is deserving of the price.
They specialize in making ultralight tents for backpacking that can also handle some of the harshest environments on the planet. They do all this without scrimping on space either. Each tent is made to maximize the space available and be a joy to camp in.
Features like double doors, double vestibules, and almost vertical walls in a lot of their ultralight tents are what set’s them apart from the competition. It’s little additions like this that make using their tents a far more comfortable experience too.
Their tents range in size from 1-8 people, so you should be able to find a tent that suits your needs. However, if you’re looking for a simple camping tent or family tent, it’s best to save some cash and stick with the likes of Coleman or Marmot above.
Kelty has been in the outdoor game since 1952 when they first started making backpacks and over the years moved in tents, sleeping bags, and other outdoor gear.
Their tents are not of the same performance as brands like Big Agnes or MSR but they are way more affordable. If you’re looking for a backpacking tent that isn’t going to cost you the world, Kelty is where it’s at.
Their tents might be a little heavier and not made for the top of Everest but they sure are well-made, durable, and great at handling wind and rain, which, to be honest, is all that most of us need.
Their range of tents is designed for camping and backpacking. You’ll find sizes that spread from 1-6 people and include awesome features to ensure you have some great functionality while you’re camping.
Every Kelty product comes with a lifetime warranty against manufacturer defects and they also offer a repair service so you can keep using your tent without having to buy a new one just because of some wear and tear.
The North Face is a well-known outdoor brand but it’s not so well known for its tents, even though it should be. Their motto is to ‘provide the best gear for our athletes and the modern-day explorer, support the preservation of the outdoors, and inspire a global movement of exploration’.
With the North Face, you’re getting high-quality gear that you can rely on and you know that your money is going to some good causes too. They use responsibly sourced materials, pay their staff well, and have a Clothes The Loop apparel and footwear recycling program.
While their range of tents is quite limited, they’re still pretty badass. The design is focused on affordable tents that are great for backpacking and handling adverse weather too. And they do this very well.
So if you’re looking to spend a bit less on a solid backpacking tent, The North Face is a great band to look at.
Each of their tents also comes with clever design features like two doors, vestibules, lots of internal storage options, and more. Every tent is covered by a lifetime manufacturer defect warranty too but they don’t offer a repair service.
Black Diamond has made its name by making some of the best climbing equipment you can find on the market today. They also make the gear to go with it too which includes some awesome tents.
Their tents are specially designed for backpacking and alpine mountaineering. They are made to be very light while being able to handle the toughest conditions. This makes them exceptionally high-performing but expensive at the same time.
Most of their tents are single-wall tents for wintery weather but they do make some double-wall tents that work for 3-season backpacking too. They don’t really make family tents and their maximum size is around a 4-person tent.
Each tent comes with a 1-year manufacturer defects warranty, which is a little disappointing compared to the other brands, but at least it’s there.
Nemo was late to the party only joining the already saturated outdoor marketplace in 2002. But, there wasn’t much stopping them and they quickly made a name for themselves by creating some of the best ultralight sleeping gear money can buy.
Their tents are all about being as light as possible while providing adequate protection from the environment you’re in. In fact, Nemo makes some of the lightest tents for backpacking in the entire world. Their Nemo Hornet 2 weighs just 1lb 15 oz and is one of the most popular backpacking tents around.
In order to make their tents so light, they do sacrifice some comfort, so be sure to bear that in mind if you need to ounce count your pack weight down.
Each tent comes with a great lifetime manufacturer defect warranty and if there is any wear and tear, you can send your tent back to Nemo for a durable repair job.
Alps Mountaineering was founded in 1993 and has made awesome outdoor gear since day one. Everything they make comes with a limited lifetime warranty and their products include clothing, camping furniture, backpacks, and tents.
They are one of the best brands out there if you’re looking for affordable and durable tents for pretty much any occasion.
Their designs include backpacking tents, family tents, car camping tents, normal tents, cabin tents, and more. Their sizes range from 1-7 people, so you should be able to find the right tent for your needs.
Every tent is a breeze to pitch and offers excellent weather protection and warmth based on the season rating. If you had to pick one brand for it all, it would be these guys.
REI Co-Op is a little different from all the other tent manufacturers as it is a cooperative with over 21.5 million members.
This means it is not run like a “normal company” but instead all its members get to vote for who is on the board of directors and get a dividend too.
It costs just $30 to join and you get way better warranties on their gear if you do.
REI Co-Op is all about providing great gear for like-mind outdoor enthusiasts and they do a great job of it.
Their tents are excellent value, durable, and long-lasting. You can find a tent for pretty much every occasion at REI Co-Op from alpine to car camping and backpacking.
They don’t have a repair service, which is a shame but they do offer a 90-day satisfaction guarantee for all customers and a 1-year version for its members.
Sea To Summit has an interesting story behind its creation, as a lot of outdoor companies do.
It is an Australian company started by Roland Tyson, a man who started making specialist adventure gear when he was 17 on a sewing machine in his home in the 1980s.
Eventually, a word about Ronald’s skills got out and he began designing specialist clothing for serious adventurers.
It was after one order in 1991 that Sea to Summit was born when he made the gear for a special Sea to Summit of Everest.
Today, Sea to Summit makes some of the best-quality mountain gear you can find on the market and it doesn’t come too steep a price either.
Their range of tents is excellent, with great design features, and they are made to survive. Plus, they come with a lifetime guarantee too, so you are always covered no matter what happens.
The tents are made more for expeditions, so they come in 1-3 person options. This is not a family camping tent brand.
Zpacks was founded in 2005 by the one and only Joe Valesko. If you haven’t heard of Joe Valesko, he has an awesome story.
Joe is an avid thru-hiker and could never find the right gear on the market for his adventures. They were always too heavy with too many features so he made what he needed.
Joe sewed the gear he needed for his long trails and this is how Zpacks was born.
Zpacks make everything you need for an ultralight adventure from shelters to backpacks and more.
All the shelters are made to give you what you need and some weigh as little as 13 ounces which is less than 1lb.
The tents are well made, last, work well and all come with a 2-year warranty. You can also send them back for repairs too which is very handy and their repair service is excellent.
Hilleberg has been around since 1971 but did not start making tents until 1973 when the founder Bo Hilleberg married his wife Renate.
Bo, being an outdoorsman always wanted a tent that pitched as one, not an inner than a fly. But, he didn’t have sewing skills to make them, his wife Renate, did, however.
They began making some of the best tents on the planet, Bo focusing on design and features and Renate focusing on manufacturing the designs he created.
Today, the company makes a tent for every occasion and uses a genius labeling system.
Black, Red, Yellow, or Blue, each representing a performance range based on materials, construction, or both so you can always pick the right tent for your purpose.
The tents are built to the highest standards, come with a lifetime warranty, and have a great repair service. If you need a serious tent for a serious adventure, this is the company to buy it from.
Eureka! has been making weatherproof covers since back in the day when they made canvas covers for horse-drawn carriages. This was back in the late 1890s when they also made specialty tents too.
Since then, they have obviously modernized their offerings and kitted out the first all-American crew who summit Everest with their specially designed tents.
Today, Eureka! is owned by Johnson Outdoors Inc. and they make tents for pretty much all occasions from car camping to backpacking and more. No matter what type of tent you are after they have it!
They are especially good at making family tents for large groups.
All their tents are well made, durable, and come with a lifetime warranty. If you need a repair outside of the warranty, they will cover you too!
As you can see from the review, each brand is better at somethings and worse at others. And, to work out which tend brand is for you comes down to the particular kind of tent you’re after. We are not saying you have to be loyal to one brand forever, that would be a little limiting. Your best bet is to jump between them depending on the tent you need at the time.
There are a few questions you need to ask yourself to work out which brand will suit your specific tent needs in each case.
If you’re looking for a 1-3 season tent then you have the pick of all the brands. All of them make tents designed for 3 seasons that are great at keeping you cool in summer and protect you from horrid weather in early spring or late fall.
If you’re looking to do some winter camping in ice, snow, strong winds, and rain, then you’ll need a 4-season tent. In this case, it’s best to stick with the specialist brands to ensure you stay warm and safe in those hectic conditions. You’ll have to spend a bit more but it’ll be worth every penny when you’re not shivering on a mountainside.
Are you driving? Are you driving then walking for 1 hour? Are you hiking? Are you hiking for multiple days and changing the campsite every night?
The further you have to hike to pitch your tent, the lighter your tent needs to be. If you’re driving to your campsite or just hiking a bit, then you can go for a more affordable brand like Coleman or Alps Mountaineering that makes good but heavy tents.
If you’re hiking for miles, you’ll want a specialist backpacking tent that is as light as possible. Believe me, hiking with a heavy tent for days on end is like torture and you’ll be so happy you spent a little more to bring the weight down.
You’ll have to choose between the heavier affordable options like Marmot or Kelty that make awesome tents that are quite light but probably still a little heavy. Or, it’s time to splash out on the high-end brands like Nemo or Big Agnes who make the best ultralight tents in the game.
If you go backpacking camping a lot, we highly recommend going for the top brands. They pay for themselves a thousand times and help make sure you enjoy your backpacking adventure.
Knowing how many people you want your tent to be able to hold comfortably in the final question you need to answer. Tents are rated by the number of people they hold but these ratings are not accurate. Putting 4 people in a 4 person tent is usually not such a comfortable experience and you should always go up 1 to ensure you can camp in comfort. So if you’re looking for a 2 person tent, go for a 3 person and so on.
All the brands have you covered if you’re looking for a 1-4 person tent, so your choice should then be based on whether you’re backpacking or not and in what seasons. If you’re looking for a big family tent, then you should stick with Coleman and Alps Mountaineering, they will have multiple options that will cover you and for a good price.
If you’re looking for one tent brand to cover it all, Alps Mountaineering is the brand for you. They make quality and affordable tents for every occasion from backpacking to car camping and family camping.
Where performance and warmth in extreme weather are your top priority we recommend looking at Black Diamond, Big Agnes, and MSR. Each of these tent brands specializes in ultralight tents that are made to get you through some serious alpine weather.
If you’re looking for performance on a budget then Marmot and Kelty are the brands for you. A little less expensive but still exceptionally functional and durable, their tents are ideal for backpacking in 3/4-seasons and for normal camping too.
If it’s normal fun family camping you’re after, Coleman is of course the brand to choose. They have been the family everyday camper’s favorite brand for years and they still continue to impress.
Generally speaking, when you are looking for a backpacking tent you are looking for something super-lightweight with a small packed size that is still comfortable to sleep in.
Now, there are numerous brands that hit this nail on the head including Nemo, Big Agnes, Zpacks, and REI Co-op. I would personally choose Big Agnes every time as I like to have extra comforts, like 2 doors, and don’t mind carrying the extra weight.
If comfort is not something you care about and you are just looking for ounces, then Zpacks will be up your street, as will Nemo.
For value and being ultralight on a budget, go for REI Co-op.
Generally speaking, a tent that is well looked after should last for around 10 years or more. But, this depends on where and how the tent is being used, to begin with. Also, since most manufacturers offer a repair service/warranty service, you should be able to get your tent fixed and revamped quite easily.
You should only ever replace a tent when it doesn’t function properly anymore. This includes when it is not waterproof anymore, falls over, is ripped, the zippers are gone, etc. But, considering all of these things are repairable, you could keep a tent for life.
But, as technology changes, new tents offer more and for less weight and size. If your current tent doesn’t meet the demands of your adventures, sell it and buy a new one.
Mountain tents are the tents you need at high altitudes and you have quite a few manufacturers to choose from. These include The North Face, MSR, Big Agnes, Sea To Summit, Alps, Hilleberg, and Marmot.
All of these brands make excellent mountain tents and you choose which ever one suits your needs best. The ultimate brand in my eyes is Hilleberg though as their quality is hard to match, but their prices are very high.