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When you choose to thru-hike there are many tents available to you that could work well, if you are not intending to spend loads of time in shelters then a 2 person tent is the perfect residence away from home.
This is why choosing the best 2 person shelter can be key to a thru-hikers journey, having that home to get out of the rain and storms while relaxing and warming up.
My Best 2 Person Tents for Thru-Hiking
- Zpacks Duplex (Best Overall Performance)
- 3F UL Lanshan 2P (Best for Budget Backpackers)
- BigAgnes Copper Spur UL2 (Lightest Freestanding Tent)
- NEMO Hornet Elite 2 (Best Semi-Freestanding Option)
- Gossamer Gear “The Two” (Best Inner Space by Weight)
- Tarptent StratoSpire Li (Best for Double Wall Dyneema)
- REI Flash Air 2 (Best Value-Option Hybrid Single Wall)
- Dan Durston X-Mid 2P (Best SilPoly Double Wall)
- HMG UltaMid 2 (Best Adaptability)
10 Best 2 Person Tents for Thru-Hiking
Now that you have seen my list of the top 10 thru-hiking tents let’s dig into each and explain why I chose to rate them there and why they may be a perfect match for you and your long-distance hike.
Best Overall Performance
- The Zpacks Duplex Tent is an excellent tent for thru-hiking due to its weight and waterproof fabrics. It only weighs 19.4 ounces and is made of Dyneema Composite Fabrics.
- The Duplex has two doors, two vestibules, and needs the use of two trekking poles. Despite its amazing layout and design, the Duplex is a very simple tent to put up and use, which is probably why it’s arguably the most popular tent on trail.
The Duplex is a lightweight, high-strength, highly waterproof fabric that makes it ideal for making tents and shelters since it does not absorb water or stretch during the night. The fabric is called Dyneema Composite Fabrics (DCF), a lightweight, high-strength, highly waterproof fabric that makes it perfect for this use.
While the Duplex is a two-person tent for thru-hikers on the trail this is a one-person with space to spread out on the trail. Having space to layout gear and move around is highly valued when you are truly living on the trail and just like a house, a little more space is never a bad thing.
This is a single-wall tent which does mean you will face condensation internally and possible water drips overnight if the ceiling should shake more move lot, some people find this a big downside to a single wall tent and a reason why they don’t purchase a DCF tent as this are very commonly single-wall constructs.
Best for Budget Backpackers
3F UL Lanshan 2P
- The 3F UL GEAR Lanshan 2 is a popular two-person tent that is among the most cost-effective ultralight tents available on the market. The new 2021 version offers increased room to be more comfortable for individuals who are taller.
- The Lanshan 2 is built to last and is suited for all conditions and activities. It’s especially made for UL hikers.
Solo hikers will appreciate the perfect balance between internal space for rest and pack breakdown at night and its overall lightness.
With enough room for both and a separate entrance and vestibule for each, the Lanshan 2 can easily accommodate two people or one thru-hiker with all their gear inside.
The flys’ bottoms curved, allowing for continuous air circulation and the reduction of moisture buildup which can be the bane of drying a tent out in the morning.
The tent body is a 5000mm waterproof PU coating over silicone-treated nylon ripstop. All seams are sealed with waterproof, solvent-free polyurethane tape.
Lightest Freestanding Tent
BA Copper Spur UL2
- The tent has been fully redesigned from the inside and outside. It is made with new materials that are lighter, stronger, and easier to set up.
- Awning-style vestibules may be expanded to provide more living area, making them ideal for rain and sun protection. Your ideal UL getaway spot.
The Copper Spur HV UL2 Tent is a great option for backpacking, designed with the wilderness enthusiast in mind. The high-volume design makes it livable when we’re waiting out storms or just relaxing after an active day exploring nature’s trails!
Weighing in at less than three pounds; this lightweight shelter won’t slow you down on your next long-distance journey through the trail from end to end in full-on comfort.
Best (Semi)Freestanding Option
NEMO Hornet Elite 2
- One of the LIGHTEST tents which use poles available for a thru-hiker or backpacker to purchase.
- Amazing twin side doors allow much room to maneuver with a second person, or to adapt the tent to the tent spot for a single person on a long trail.
The NEMO Hornet Elite is a two-person tent that offers all of the benefits of a sem-freestanding shelter. Its simple set-up and lightweight design earned it our praises for its ease of use. While you’ll have to cut corners on interior space, the twin vestibule design makes it easy to cook food while on the trail.
Nemo has done a wonderful job utilizing the area by adding extra guy-out lines around each entrance to increase the lateral space at shoulder level. Its maximum interior height of 37″ is a few inches lower than many comparable 2P tents and 3 inches lower than the classic Hornet.
The tent body is a neutral grey with yellow accents, but the fly is Nemo’s premium yellow or what they call “Elite Yellow”, making it far less stealthy than most other backpacking tents.
The Hornet Elite is one of the lightest UL tents on the market, with a minimum weight of 1 pound 11 ounces. It’s also incredibly light for a double wall, dedicated pole tent, weighing so little trekking pole tent owners may be envious.
Best Inner Space by Weight
Gossamer Gear “The Two”
- The Two has the capacity to hold two people and is light enough for you to carry without weighing you down. The following are some of the features: pre-sewn seams, bright pull-outs, robust zippers, and fully rigged lines.
- The Two is also lightweight and simple to deploy, strong, roomy, and weighs less than 2 pounds. Both sides include doors for easy access and maximum ventilation.
The Two is lightweight, with full protection from rain and bugs, factory-taped seams and the main body and floor have 1800mm waterproof UTS coating.
It also features great headroom (and shoulder room) and is built to fit tall people while providing a big vestibule with great protection and easy side entry.
Best for Double Wall Dyneema
Tarptent StratoSpire Li
- The Tarptent StratoSpire Li is, at its core a highly adaptable tent. The clip-in points make it simple to remove the floor and bug net. They offer a huge variety of purchasing choices to adapt to your needs.
- Amazingly resilient in inclement weather, able to weather the worst conditions you can throw at it!
The tent is light, handles moisture well, and is waterproof. Finding places to set up the tent is pretty simple, and in many cases you will not need a footprint.
This tent features two vast vestibule areas. They are exceptionally useful in bad weather because they have room for your gear and you can cook inside while staying dry.
The Stratosphere is a very good tent. It’s easy to live in and it’s also good for people who like to travel and go places that might have bad weather.
Value-Option Hybrid Single Wall
REI Flash Air 2
- The poles of the almost 90° hubbed roof provide more headroom and space.
- The fly/vestibule protects your stuff in bad weather and then rolls up over the roof when nice outside it allows for stargazing or a large awning.
A hybrid single-wall design exposes the tent interior more directly to condensation, as with any other single-wall tent which means there is always some level of condensation.
If you leave out the two vertical poles and utilize your trekking poles instead, it weighs 1 lb. 15 oz. Making it a very strong pick as a thru-hiking value choice.
This tent offers plenty of room for a tent that is only 2 pounds and has two doors and vestibules to stretch out in. It’s windproof and waterproof in adverse conditions.
Best Sil-Poly 2 Person Trekking Pole Tent
Dan Durston X-Mid 2P
- The FASTEST tent to pitch available on the market, my favorite tent for my outdoor trips!
- Incredibly spacious interior due to the unique outer and inner construction being a parallelogram instead of just squared off allowing much taller people to fit!
The X-Mid 2P pitches with as little as 2 trekking poles and 4 stakes, this makes it incredibly simple to pitch and get you ready to relax in comfort.
The X-Mid is a robust, roomy, and stormworthy boat, while anything lighter is smaller, less functional, and/or uses less durable materials.
The X-Mid 1 is roomy, simple to set up, and stormworthy for only 2.5 lbs (40oz / 1135 g). It performs well in the rain thanks to a fly-first pitch, full double-wall construction, no-sag poly fabric, large adjustable vents, factory seam taping, a full-coverage fly.
Unlike most trekking pole tents, the X-Mid features a straightforward 4 stake pitch that doesn’t require any guylines, struts, or measuring pole heights. With huge doorways that aren’t obstructed by poles and simple one-handed zipper operation, the user-friendliness continues after setup.
HMG UltaMid 2
- The UltaMid 2’s remarkable 1.17 pounds weight will be a relief to any kit’s overall weight, it should put any concerns to rest that it translates to a durability loss.
- This elegant, long-lasting structure is constructed of 100% waterproof Dyneema® Composite Fabrics that will outlast garden-variety silnylon materials many times over.
When it comes to portable shelter, few designs have been as extensively tested and proven as those that are constructed in the pyramid style.
These are simple to put up, highly spacious, and, owing to such things as physics, extremely adaptable in every but the most severe weather.
For years to come, settle into the notion of unpacking the comfort and security of your home on the trail, wherever that may be, while you travel.
The UltaMid 2 may be raised high off the ground or brought right up against the earth. Use adjustable trekking poles or a central peak to suspend from.
*Important Note: The Ultamid 2 needs an insert to be purchased for the full “tent” effect but this is due to their modular setup making this work in any weather you need it to.
How to Choose a Tent for Your Thru-Hike
When you are deciding on what tent will work best for your thru-hike you have many things to consider before making your important purchase, each item can be a make or break for you and your enjoyment while out on the trail.
For some this is going to be based on how it can fit in a backpack, others will worry about the weight as the highest importance. Some will gravitate towards freestanding tents over trekking pole-style tents, others may care more about the space or materials.
This is all why you want to understand all the factors and which ones will be the most important to you and your choice. Let’s jump into each and give you some information on what they are and why they would matter.
There are three main types of tents that someone will have, freestanding, semi-freestanding, and trekking pole tents. Each of these has some pros and cons them but people are typically more comfortable with one of the three.
Types of Tents:
Freestanding – These tents require no tent stakes with the tent body and the rainfly ending along the tent body or the tent poles, there are not many options available in this type for backpacking use. Can be adjusted easily as you can pick up and move the entire tent without removing tent stakes for optimum camp placing.
Semi-Freestanding – Very similar to the above tents but that you have tent stakes which are used to tighten up the rainfly and give full protection to the tent and vestibule area. This can be easier to move around the camp area for best placement unlike the next option below.
Trekking Pole – This tent uses your trekking poles to stand upright, it has no ability to remain upright without the framework the trekking poles provide. This also makes re-adjusting and moving the tent a full breakdown and re-setup as the entirety of the tent is staked out to maintain shape.
As to seasonality, this will depend on when your majority of trips occur, there are a few options which are three-season, three-plus season, and four-season. Choosing which will fit your needs and the weather you will expect will change the way it holds heat and breathes.
This style of tent will often feature a rainfly made of solid material and an inner tent material which will be made from a no-see-um mesh, this allows you the most airflow possible which is very important when camping in warmer temperatures.
Similar to the above tent but the walls will typically be a mix of solid material to block out some airflow but the rest are made from no-see-um mesh to allow some airflow to continue through.
This tent style will have solid walls both inside and outside, this will block out nearly all breezes and will help conserve warmth non-stop in all weather. This can be critical in winter but also if you hike up high into mountains where severe cold is typical, not always just snow or inclement weather.
Livable AKA Internal Living Space and Capacity
While you live out on the trail you will want to have a space you can retreat to for some peace and quiet at times, for some people this space can be near cocoon-like and small and cramped, for others they need the biggest space they are willing to carry.
Key Specs To Think About:
- Floor Dimensions – The length and width measurements give a general indication of the floor surface size. Many tents do not have completely rectangular floors, so you may see measurements like 85″ x 51″ / 43″ (L x W head/foot). A tapered floor provides shoulder and arm room while also saving weight by having a smaller foot.
- Floor Area – This figure measures the total floor space in square feet. While this number is useful for comparing tents, it isn’t a reliable metric when measuring how well the area is utilized.
- Peak Height – When you sit up, no one wants to bang their head. However, peak height is measured at a single point, so don’t rely on this metric alone to assess overall clearance. Your personal test pitch and validation is a far superior method of determining overall space.
- Wall Angles and Shape – This is a far more significant aspect of tent livability than peak height. The higher the walls are, the more open the interior of the tent will feel. If you can’t go to a store to test pitch tents, look at the pitch of a tent’s walls in online photos.
The weight of your tent is important as part of the big three it is one of your core areas to drop weight from your overall base weight. So you will want to look into the specific keys below as to tent specs that you should see how you align with and are willing to carry.
Understanding Tent Specs:
- Minimum trail weight – The total weight of the tent body, rainfly, and poles (the bare necessities). You will probably add more tent-related items like stakes, and a footprint, but this is the best spec level for an overall comparison.
- Packaged weight – This is the total weight of all the components included in a purchase: body, rainfly, poles, stakes, stuff sack pole sack, instructions, and other items. The combined weight you’ll carry on the trek will be between this and the minimum trail weight listed above.
- Packed size – The amount of room a tent takes up in your backpack also has to do with how easy it is to manage in a pack. For couples, you can look to decrease the amount of space needed by separating components and having your spouse take only the poles and rainfly, for example.
There are many materials used to make tents, some provide more water resistance, others provide better costs. Let’s take a few minutes and discuss the three most common materials used in making tents:
- Dyneema or DCF – First discvered on sailboats this fabric has amazing abilities like the ability to withstand water, incredibly lightweight, and pretty durable which makes it good for tents but it comes at a solid premium in the costs.
- Sil-Nylon – The most common fabric used for backpacking tents, solid and dependable, the only large downside is that it abosorbs water over time and due to this it can sag and need to be tightened up after initial setup.
- Sil-Poly – Very similar to Sil-Nylon above but doesn’t absorb water so once setup you won’t have to worry about sagging from water absorbtion, though from my understanding this fabric is a little more expensive it is near in-line with Sil-Nylon.
How the Tent Fits in Your Backpack
This may be fairly small to some but how you want to load your backpack is important and some tents can be very tall when in their sack. This can be an issue if you prefer to put your tent horizontally, as is my preference, as this allows for a simple stacking of gear.