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The best tents of 2020

(Image credit: Coleman)

Tents are like cars. Some are built for speed, others for capaciousness and still others for their utility. For this roundup of the best tents, we've chosen something for everyone, from fleet-footed high-altitude backpackers to family glampers.

For those hauling their own gear over hill and dale, an ultra-light, compact tent makes the most sense, while those planning to set their stakes in a campground for an extended stay will want more head room and will be less concerned about the weight. So, we have tents that range from less than 2 pounds to all-inclusive models that have features like screened in porches but weigh more than 45 pounds.

While we did not consider so-called 4-season tents designed to withstand blizzards, we did think about ease of set up, which is a concern when you're tired and wet (or trying to pitch a tent in the dark). Better models shouldn't seem like they're part of an IQ test. And of course, we considered price and construction in selecting the best tents.

These are the best tents you can buy

(Image credit: MSR)

MSR Hubba Hubba NX

The best tent overall

Weight: 3 lb. 13 oz | Dimensions: 84 x 50 x 39 inches | Doors: 2 doors; 2 people

Serious mountainside cred
Solid construction
Top storm protection

Well established in the hiking community, MSR Hubba Hubba tents are well regarded for their durability and adaptability. The NX combines excellent waterproofing with light weight. Okay, so it isn't the lightest model here, but it will withstand more abuse than lighter models. Notable features include two vestibules, so you've got some cover before heading inside (or for leaving stuff outside), built-in rain gutters to keep the water away from the doors, and a rainfly with an adjustable vent to prevent condensation inside.

(Image credit: Coleman)

Coleman Sundome 4

A great tent for fairweather campers

Weight: 2 lb. 5 oz. | Dimensions: 86 x 52/42 x 40 inches | Doors: 1 door; 4 people

Unbeatable price
Good ventilation
Only one door
Not for major downpours

When most people think of a modern tent, they're thinking of the something like this Coleman design. It sets up easily on arched poles and will keep the bugs and water out in most wet weather. There are two windows to keep things cool and prevent condensation, a special opening for an AC cord, and while it's not big enough to stand up in, when the sun goes down it will handle sleeping arrangements for 4. If you're new to camping, and not sure you're going to like being that close to the great outdoors, the Sundome also presents a minimal initial investment risk.

(Image credit: Black Diamond)

Black Diamond Distance with Z-Poles

The tent to get for high-altitude hiking

Weight: 1 lb. 13 oz. | Dimensions: 95 x 58 x 41 inches | Doors: 1 door; 2 people

Slick design
Ultra light
Very stable in heavy weather
Snug for two people
Footprint recommended

The Black Diamond Distance is one of the best tents intended for serious hikers, this A-frame style design employs a unique feature: It doesn't come with standard tent supports but instead uses your trekking poles to establish its perch and support the roof with a supplied cross pole. That keeps the weight down and if you already have a favorite pair of sticks, you'll find it works with most trekking poles. However, Black Diamond's supplied Z-Poles are top notch, in our experience. And the Black Diamond Distance looks so cool, you may turn into a high-altitude trekker just so you can use this tent.

(Image credit: Sierra Designs)

Sierra Designs Clearwing 3

The best tent for backpackers on a budget

Weight: 5.8 lbs | Dimensions: 46 x 46 x 46 inches | Doors: 2 doors; 3 people

Super simple setup
Good elbow room
Ample rain coverage
Reasonable weight
Cramped sleeping for 3

The Sierra Designs Clearwing 3 is the Goldilocks of backpacking tents: Not too heavy, not too small and not too expensive. Unpacking and setting it up is straightforward, too, since it eschews the old hub-and-spoke designs, which can be finicky. And while some threesomes may find it too close for sleeping, the near vertical walls of the Clearwing mean more elbow room during days when you have to hang out inside to avoid the elements. Its two doors also provide easy entry and egress.

(Image credit: SlingFin)

SlingFin Portal

This tent is tough enough to ride out storms

Weight: 2 lbs. 13 oz | Dimensions: 85 x 51 x 44 inches | Doors: 2 doors; 2 people

Packs down to 5 x 14 inches
Superior waterproofing
Strong construction

Borrowing all the best features from the competition — and then improving upon that--the SlingFin Portal is a great lightweight tent for hikers and backpackers who don't want to haul a lot of weight — but want guaranteed protection when the weather has goes bad. The Portal's rainstopping material uses a tougher, more resilient silicone protective coating, and the rainfly rolls right back when fairweather lets you gaze up above. The only downside: You'll pay nearly $500 for the light weight and weather resistance features.

(Image credit: Big Agnes)

Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL 2

Backpacking couples will like this tent

Weight: 2 lbs. 5 oz | Dimensions: 86 x 52 x 40 inches | Doors: 1 door; 2 people

Ultra light weight
Competitively priced
Needs care staking it out

Going backpacking or bikepacking with a partner, but you're the one carrying the tent? Then you'll appreciate the super light Fly Creek HV UL 2 from Big Agnes. It's based on an established design for resisting inclement weather. Big Agnes also includes a few niceties, such as 3 mesh pockets inside to keep gadgets handy. There's a revamped hood over the vestibule to help keep that water out when you're getting in. It's also cozy for two, but spacious for one.

(Image credit: REI)

REI Kingdom 6

The tent for glamping and extended stays

Weight: 21 lbs. 6 oz | Dimensions: 120 x 100 x 75 inches | Doors: 2 doors; 6 people

Standing allowed
Separate rooms
Big front awning
A little snug for 6 people
2-person set up

Looking for the best tent with comfort in mind? The REI Kingdom will more than suffice. It's relatively simple to pitch--although it takes two people--and has family-friendly features like a divider to slice it into two (relatively) private rooms. There are plenty of pockets and hooks, and the rainfly can be rolled back for a moonlit view. The wide door openings and interior space make it ideal for families with young kids, and REI even offers a mud room attachment, although that will set you back an additional $100.

(Image credit: Ozark Trail)

8Ozark Trail 8-Person Family Cabin Tent with Screen Porch

Great for families looking for backyard and campground outings

Weight: 45 lbs. 14 oz | Dimensions: 132 x 144 x 84 inches | Doors: 2 doors; 8 people

Competitively priced
Room for standing
Well ventilated
Takes more than one person to pitch
Heavy weight

Making the glamping experience a relatively affordable option, the Ozark Trail is the best tent for families looking for an outdoor experience. There's plenty of standing room, a screened-in porch, and even a gear shelf. It's spacious but because the Cabin Tent is more arduous to set up (2 assistants are recommended) it means it's more suitable for long-term campground stays (you won't want to have to pitch it or break it down in the dark). This tent only has one door and it isn't designed for very nasty weather, but summer glampers aren't likely to mind.