How to Choose the Best 2-Person Tent
So, with the abovementioned caveat in mind, let’s briefly discuss the key features you’ll want to look out for when shopping for your new (or first) 2-person tent. Of course, if you’re a seasoned camper, feel free to skip this section and skip right ahead to the reviews. So, without further ado, let’s get stuck in.
The first thing you’ll want to check out when buying any tent is its seasonality. For those of you not in the know, this refers to the type of weather conditions the tent will be able to protect you from.
Moreover, it’ll also heavily impinge upon the kind of fabric the tent will use, and, in turn, the price tag. Painting with a broad brush, there are three types – 3-season tents, 3+ season tents and 4-season tents.
Three-season tents are by far the most common type you’ll see on the market, especially for backpacking, seeing as they come with the most favorable weight-to-protection ratio.
More often than not, a 3-season tent will have large, breathable mesh windows to improve air circulation and improve breathability. These tents thrive in mild weather, from late spring up to early fall, depending on the climate.
As the name might imply, these tents are an evolution of the 3-season type. They have some added features that recommend them for a more extreme weather conditions than their more common brethren, but they’re still far off being a true all-weather tent.
You’ll usually use them from early spring to late fall, when it’s a bit colder and the winds blow stronger, or lug them to high-altitude campsites with such weather conditions.
4-season tents are also known as all-weather tents, which pretty much tells you all you need to know about them. They’ll be designed to keep you warm first and foremost, so they’ll feature stronger and sturdier poles, heavier fabric, as well as fewer mesh panels.
Some will also come with rain flies that extend all the way to the ground in order to better keep the wind and the snow out.
Footprint and Center Height
The footprint here doesn’t refer to the ground cloth you place underneath your tent to keep it from wear and tear, but rather to the floor area. So, with that in mind, let’s discuss why it’s important.
The thing about tent sizes and capacity ratings, as we mentioned above, is that they rarely, if ever, correspond to each other. A 2-person tent will indeed sleep two people, and a 4-person will sleep four, but it’ll be more like packing sardines than camping.
For this reason, you should always apply the rule of two when shopping – check out the capacity rating, and subtract two if you want to see how many people can fit comfortably, or divide by two if you want to see how many folks and all of their gear can fit and have some room to spare.
When it comes to 2-person tents, you’ll usually see about 30+ square feet, which is indeed enough for two adults who know each other Biblically and some gear.
As for the center height, aka head height, this is the height at the very center of the ten. A 2-person tent will usually be about 4 feet tall, which is more than enough room for the average person to sit upright.
What’s more important is the tent model (dome, ridgeline, you know the drill) and at what angle the walls descend towards the base. Ideally, you should go for a dome tent.
The weight of your tent is an important feature for reasons obvious even to laymen, especially if the intended use is backpacking. As backpackers carry all their weight on their back, every ounce counts, and you’ll ideally go as low as the quality of the fabric and poles allows you.
Typically, aluminum poles will be lighter and more expensive, while their fiberglass counterparts will be heavier but less expensive. On a similar note, aluminum poles will bend when under duress, and you can probably fix them provisionally with some bending and hammering, but fiberglass poles will break and shatter, and you’ll have to replace the broken piece (or duct tape it, that might also work).
Pitching the tent is certainly the most excruciating part of owning one (next to actually shopping for one, of course). You need to make sure whether you have all the stakes and guylines you need, if the poles are color coded (a big plus), how they connect to each other, the works.
However, at times you might come across a freestanding or standalone tent, which implies they require no stakes. Still, they’ll more likely than not include everything you need to stake them, just to cover the eventuality of high winds in the area.
A freestanding tent with all the pitching gear included is a good indication of quality and customer care.
If you’re deciding between two similar models at the same price range, what might help you pick one is whether it has wall pockets or a gear loft (it’s exactly what it sounds like).
Alternatively, an extra-big rain fly that makes a vestibule, two doors instead of one, heavy duty zippers instead of regular ones, these also can be something to edge you towards one or the other model.
We’ve finally come to the end of our short list of the five best 2 person tents, so hopefully, you will have found out everything you need to know to make an informed decision when shopping on your own.
As for the top rated 2 person tent, specifically, no clear winner comes to mind – there are too many factors to consider. However, if it’s bang for the buck you’re looking for, the Coleman Sundome is certainly it – granted, it’s a bit hefty for a backpacker and runs too small for two people, but it does have the best price-to-quality ratio. On the flipside, if you’re looking for a 2 person tent that actually sleeps two people (crazy notion, isn’t it?), you might be happier with the Mountainsmith Morrison.