When you’re backpacking, it can be hard to find the perfect balance between tent weight and features.
A good middle ground is key.

How much should a backpacking tent weight? It’s not always easier to be lighter.

So you’ve been thinking about picking up backpacking? It can be tough to decide which tent is right for your needs, but luckily we have all sorts of data on heavy tents and how they compare with one another. So without further ado let’s take a look at some factors that affect weight.

How Much Should Your Backpack Tent Weigh?

The ideal weight for a backpacking tent is around 1 to 7 pounds, depending on the type and features. It can be affected by things like what kind of camping you’re doing as well how heavy your luggage will need room in addition too all those extra layers.

The weight of your tent is one thing that will affect how long you can stay out without getting tired. A good rule of thumb, per person should be about 2 lbs (1kg). So if you’re solo backpacking and carrying only a single bag for yourself then it’s best to go with something light like 1 or 2person tents which weigh under 5lbs in total load capability.

Tents come in many different weights, so be sure to find the right balance between weight and durability for your needs. For example if you camp often on rough terrain or high winds then it might make sense that a lighter tent would not last as long compared with an heavier one since they are more susceptible towards.

You’ll often come across terms such as ultralight tents, lightweight tents and the standard backpacking tent when searching for one. Although there isn’t an industry standard on how many different tents weigh, the following are typical:

  • ultralight backpacking tent weighs 1 and 2 pounds
  • An lightweight backpacking tent weighs  3 and 4 pounds
  • standard backpacking tent weighs 5 and 7 pounds

This guide can be used to help you choose the best backpacking tent.

We’d be remiss to not mention the various weights that you’ll encounter when searching for a backpacking tent. There are terms such as pack weight, minimum weight and trail weight. These terms are crucial to understand so let’s break them down quickly.

Comparing Packaged Weight to Trail Weight To Packaged Weight

Packaged Weight refers to the total weight of the tent package at purchase. It includes tent body, stakes and rainfly as well as any accessories. The tent body, rainfly and poles are the only weight that is considered trail weight.

The trail weight refers to the minimum gear required to pitch and use a tent while camping. This is closer to what you will actually be carrying on the trail. However, if you plan on taking the tent stakes and guy lines along with other accessories, then you need to add that weight to the tent’s trail weight.

You might also encounter base weight. This is the total weight of your gear, minus any consumables such as food or water. Fast fly weight is the total weight of the tent, footprint, and poles (the tent body is not included).

The Weight Relating Features That Effect Backpacking Tents

The weight of a backpacking tent can be affected by certain features.

These are essential considerations for any type of tent, including backpacking tents. These are important considerations when balancing tent features and overall weight.

Tent Size

There are many sizes of backpacking tents to choose from depending on how many people you need to sleep in them. If you’re a solo backpacker, a one-person tent or two person tent is the best option.

Keep in mind that a one person tent is lighter than a two person tent, but it won’t have enough space for all your camping gear. A two-person tent will provide you with the space you need, but it is heavier and more expensive.

A three person tent can comfortably accommodate two hikers and provide ample storage space. This will make the weight of the tent less of an issue. You can also divide the contents of the tent so that each person only carries a small portion of it.

Season or Weather Conditions

You should consider the season or weather conditions that you will be camping in when choosing a backpacking tent to buy. Seasonality is the weather conditions that a tent is intended to be used in.

There are two types of backpacking tents:

  • 3 Season tent: A 3 season Tent is one that can be used in spring, summer and fall. These tents are lightweight and long-lasting. They also have ventilation. The 3 season tent is often the best choice for backpackers due to its lighter weight and protection from wind and rain.
  • 4 Season tent: If you plan to trek mountains in harsh weather, 4 season or winter tents will be the best choice. These tents are lighter and more durable than other types of tents due to the quality and weight of the materials used. They can withstand strong winds and heavy snowfall and other adverse conditions. The downside is that they are heavier because of the double-wall design. However, it is a more durable construction.

A 4 season tent is essential if you plan to spend a lot of time in extreme cold and harsh weather conditions. A 3 season tent is sufficient for most people.

Layer of wall

There are two main types of camping tents available, one for backpacking and one for camping. Both have their advantages and disadvantages in terms of weight, weather resistance and overall comfort.

  • Two Layer tents: Two layers are available a waterproof layer and a breathable layer. Also known as a rainfly, they have two layers. These tents have a mesh wall which provides greater ventilation and less insulation from the cold. These tents are also heavier than single-wall counterparts.
  • One Layer tents: This tent features a single layer that is waterproof. Single-wall tents tend to be lighter and more portable that double wall tents. They are more susceptible to condensation and poor airflow because of their design.

Extra Tent Features to Take Into Account

When looking for the right backpacking tent, there are other features that you might want to take into consideration. There are many features that you should be aware of, but these are the most important.

  • Vestibule – A vestibule, which is a small area outside your main tent, provides protection. This gives the camper additional space to store muddy or wet gear.
  • Tent Protection – Footprints protect your tent from water and rocks. To save weight, backpackers may leave their footprints at home. However, it might be worth it depending upon the terrain and weather conditions in which you camp.
  • Manufactures Warranty – Look out for manufacturers that offer a minimum of a 2 to 3 year warranty on their equipment (lifetime warranties are preferred). Make sure you read all the fine print to ensure that you understand exactly what the warranty covers.
  • Weight of Tent – Even though your tent may be lightweight, it will still need to fold down into a small, manageable size that you can carry. It is also important to attach your tent to your backpack easily.

Ways to Reduce Your Backpacking Weight

You will definitely need a lightweight tent for backpacking. However, there are ways to reduce your tent weight and still have a light tent.

Share the Tent with Other Backpackers

You can reduce the weight of your backpack by sharing the tent, rainfly and poles with other backpackers, as mentioned previously.

Reducing the amount of weight of your backpacking gear

It’s important to consider more than your tent when reducing the weight of your backpacking trip.

So, are you obligated to take all of the items (backpack, sleeping bag and pad, extra clothing, trekking poles and food) with you? You can leave some of these items at home.

Are there lighter versions? A sleeping bag, for example, can weigh anywhere from less than a pound up to more than 2 lbs. A lighter sleeping bag may result in a tent that is heavier and more feature rich.

Additional Shelter Options To Think About

Are you going to need a tent for your hike? A simple tarp, rainfly or pole mounted umbrella will suffice to protect you from the elements. Sometimes, just a hammock might suffice to keep you warm through the night.

Remember that you have many options and that there’s no one size fits all solution to backpacking.

By Anthony Paton

Anthony Paton, the outdoorsman who loves to report all sorts of interesting stories about camping in Great Britain. He's based out London and doesn't get much time for himself these days because work commitments keep him away on occasion but does what he can with what little free time there is.