GearCamping

The Best Tents of 2020

Superior lodgings for weekend jaunts and extended outings

(Photo: Inga Hendrickson)
buyer’s guide

Mountain Hardwear Mineral King 3P ($300)

Outside
(Photo: Courtesy Mountain Hardwear)

Most of us would prefer to avoid owning a quiver of tents. But for many multi­season campers, one won’t cut it. No longer: the Mineral King is roomy enough for car camping, sturdy enough for bad weather, and lightweight enough for backpacking. Because of the simple two-pole structure, assembly is effortless. And at 42.5 square feet, the tent comfortably fits three, with architecture that feels closer to a car-camping setup. Bends in the main poles create nearly vertical walls at the ends, adding clearance and elbow room. A cross pole pushes the door walls past vertical, creating space and funneling rainwater away to keep you and your gear dry even with the doors open. The material is burly: both the fly and bathtub-style floor are made of 68-denier polyester (and both are fire-­retardant-free). The hitch is in the heft. The Mineral King’s trail weight (just tent, fly, and poles) is 6.2 pounds, more than most lightweight three-­person backpacking tents. But I didn’t notice it when carrying the whole thing myself. 7.4 lbs

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MSR Habitude 4 ($500)

tents
(Photo: Courtesy MSR)

Best for Families

Camping with kids is easy in good weather.  But when the clouds roll in, a tent like the Habitude makes all the difference. It’s 62.5 square feet, with a six-foot apex, nearly vertical walls, and a 23.5-square-foot vestibule you can get changed in—all told, enough space for two adults, two kids, and a dog to hang out and sleep comfortably in. Plus, every­one gets two storage pouches, which means fewer turf wars. With 68-denier fabric, a full-coverage fly, and zippers made to run smoothly through sand and dirt, it’s also ready for abuse. During a storm that dumped an inch of rain and blew 40-mile-per-hour winds, it held up fine, with just a bit of flapping. Assembling the three-pole frame solo requires some perseverance, but that’s a small price to pay for the reassurance that your family will be cozy no matter what the conditions. 12.6 lbs 

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Marmot Superalloy 2P ($399)

tents
(Photo: Courtesy Marmot)

Best for Through-Hikers

A packed weight of just over a pound per person is notable for any tent, but for one with this much livable space, it’s extraordinary. One tester called it a magic trick: “I pulled a tiny tent out of a bag to find a much bigger one when I set it up.” He and his co-tester—both six feet tall—were touching shoulders while lying down in the 28-square-foot interior, but they had plenty of headroom and no problem getting through the doors. The floor area feels roomy, thanks to miniature poles sewn into the corners at the head of the tent that push the wall closer to vertical. Six-and-a-half-square-foot vestibules add outdoor storage. But the Superalloy involves some sacrifice. The 20-denier floor and 15-denier fly are fragile, and the Y-shaped main pole requires staking out. Still, this is the roomiest superlight tent we’ve ever seen. 2.3 lbs

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Lead Photo: Inga Hendrickson

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