One of the easiest comparisons to make when choosing between backpacking tents is capacity. Knowing how many people you intend to backpack with will go a long way toward determining what type of tent you purchase. If you plan on solo hiking, then pick a tent with room for one, such as the GoLite Utopia. If you plan on going with a group of three, then check out the Sierra Designs Alpha 3.
Most tents require poles to form a rigid structure. In general, the more poles a tent has, the more stable it will be. However, more poles also equal more weight, which you may not want. The lightest tents require you to use trekking poles on your hike, then erect your tent with your walking sticks. Some examples of this trend include the MSR Missing Link and Six Moon Design's Europa 2. Other tents use a number of poles to be as stable and freestanding as possible, such as the Black Diamond Guiding Light, which requires five poles to erect.
Often the deciding factor for backpackers is a tent's weight. While larger-capacity, more-stable tents will naturally be heavier, you can find lighter or heavier tents within each metric. For example, two-man tents can vary in weight from the 1-lb., 13-oz. GoLite Shangri-La 2 all the way up to the North Face Mountain 25, which weighs 8 lbs., 9 oz.
Article Written By Louie Doverspike
Based in Seattle, Louie Doverspike has been a professional writer since 2004. His work has appeared in various publications, including "AntiqueWeek" magazine, the "Prague Post" and "Seattle Represent!" Doverspike holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Hamilton College.