How to choose a backpacking tent

When it comes to choosing the ideal backpacking tent for your travels, there are a number of factors you’ll need to consider before making a final decision. Some of the elements you need to think about include size, shape, capacity, weight and ease of packing. 

So, you’ve made the decision to take a tent on your backpacking trip, but it’s important that you consider a number of different options before making a purchase. In this guide, we’ll look at some of the factors that you should think about when choosing a backpacking tent. 


What size tent do I need?

One of the first things you need to think about is the size of the tent you will require and this will depend on how many people you are travelling with. Most tents are measured by the maximum number of people that can sleep inside. 

Many tent models come in 2, 3 and 4 person sizes but it’s also worth looking at the measurements, especially if you are going to be camping for a longer period of time. For two travellers, 2 person tents are the most popular for backpacking but it’s a good idea to look at 3 person tents, too. Check out the selection of tents on The North Face website. The major difference in size is often the width and if you have lots of gear to take with you, you’ll definitely want the extra living space. 

It’s important to remember that you’ll be carrying your tent with you, potentially for a couple of days at a time, and so choosing something that’s big and heavy just to get a little extra space isn’t the most practical idea. 


What shape tent is best for me?

Just as tents come in several different sizes, they also come in a variety of different shapes. Two of the most popular shapes for backpacking are dome and tunnel tents.


Dome tents

This type of tent is a good all-rounder, offering plenty of space with the ability to sit up comfortably inside. Dome tents are typically put together by crossing the poles to create a stable rounded structure.

Dome tents are also incredibly easy to pitch and pack away which makes them ideal for backpacking when you’ll potentially be pitching and putting it away frequently.

The Triarch 2 person tent is comfortable, spacious and surprisingly light, making it perfect for travel.


Tunnel tents

Tunnel tents are another great alternative for backpacking, they’re spacious but can often be slightly harder to pitch than the dome tents, due to the need to peg as you pitch. This type of tent has a sturdy construction which makes it a good choice for pitching in strong winds or on uneven terrain.

Like the dome tent, tunnel tents also benefit from being lightweight and easy to pack away. The North Face Heyerdahl 3 person tent was designed with exploring in mind and so it’s the perfect companion for your backpacking trip. 


What features should my tent have?

Once you’ve decided on the size and shape of your tent, it’s time to look into the other features of your tent and the importance of them.



An essential for any camping trip, groundsheets provide you with a waterproof base for your living space designed to protect the bottom outer layer of your tent.

Most standard tents come with a fitted groundsheet, but it’s possible to find designs with either zipped groundsheets or those which are separated altogether which allows the ground to breathe whilst you’re away from the tent. 



The flysheet is the floorless, outer layer of a double-walled tent that helps to protect your tent from the elements. A good flysheet will incorporate a vent with a small hood to help control precipitation and condensation inside your living space. 

In warmer countries where rain is less of an issue than heat, you can use your tent without the flysheet to keep it slightly cooler inside.   See our choice of The North Face tents on our website.


How much should my tent weigh for backpacking?

Obviously, you want your tent for backpacking to weigh as little as possible, but it’s important to remember durability and packability. You’ll likely be carrying a heavy backpack containing your possessions and so adding a heavy tent is not going to make for comfortable travelling.

 As a general rule, a tent should weigh just over 1kg per person to ensure it’s light and comfortable to carry. If travelling with others, you can distribute the weight by splitting the tent, flysheet and poles, as well as other accessories like sleeping bags.

A great option incorporating a lightweight but durable construction is the North Face Assault 2 person futurelight tent which weighs just 2.24kg.


Whether you’re embarking on a summer camping trip around Europe or a snowy adventure in the mountains, The North Face collection of tents has got you covered.