How Much Should a Backpacking Tent Weigh?

How Much Should a Backpacking Tent Weigh?

Key Takeaways
● A backpacking tent should weigh 3 pounds or less
● Consider the weight of your gear when planning a backpacking trip
● Research and find the best backpacking tent for you

When you’re backpacking, weight is really important. You want to ensure that what you’re carrying on your back isn’t going to cause strain while you’re hiking or lead to you becoming exhausted faster. So, how much should your backpacking tent weigh?

Backpackers should only be carrying 2-3lbs in weight, and this includes their tent as well as any other gear that’s needed for the trail. Since backpacking isn’t as long-lasting as other forms of camping, you tend to need less equipment.

In this guide, we take you through everything you need to consider about the weight of your backpacking tent so that you can choose the perfect shelter for your trip.

Packed Weight vs Trail Weight vs Fast Fly Weight

Packed Weight vs Trail Weight vs Fast Fly Weight

When backpacking, you want to look at the weight of your tent in THREE different ways. These are:

  • Packed Weight: This is the total weight of your backpacking tent once it’s been packed up in its stuff sack or back.
  • Trail Weight: This is the backpacking tent’s weight without the poles, stakes and other components that are needed to pitch the tent.
  • Fast Fly Weight: This is the backpacking tent’s weight without the inner and outer layers.

But which of these ways is better? Well, it all DEPENDS on your situation. If you’re backpacking alone and with minimal gear, then the Trail Weight is probably more applicable for you.

However, the Packed Weight might be most applicable if you’re backpacking with a GROUP and have more equipment.

Pro Tip: When backpacking, it’s important to do your research and make sure that you understand the difference between the three weights so that you can choose the backpacking tent that best suits your needs.

How Much Should a Backpacking Tent Weigh?

Now, back to the question of how much a backpacking tent should weigh.

You want your backpacking tent to weigh around 3 pounds or LESS when backpacking. This way, you can ensure that it won’t take up too much space in your bag and you won’t carry more weight than you need.[1]

However, if you’re backpacking with a group and have MORE gear, then you might want to consider a backpacking tent that is slightly heavier.

How Backpacking Tent Size Impacts Weight

How Backpacking Tent Size Impacts Weight

Backpacking tents come in a VARIETY of sizes and shapes, which can impact the weight of your backpacking tent.

Generally speaking, backpacking tents come in sizes of 1-person, 2-person, 3-person and LARGER. Along with this, backpacking tents can be freestanding, non-freestanding or double-wall.

Pro Tip: You’ll want a lightweight tent, and if there are tent poles, those and the tent body should be made from lightweight material.

Let’s take a closer look at how these aspects AFFECT the weight of your tent.

The Number of People the Tent Fits

It’s important to note that backpacking tents are generally created with a SPECIFIC number of people in mind.

For example, a one-person backpacking tent is NOT the same size as a two-person backpacking tent.

The larger the backpacking tent, the more material is needed and the MORE weight it will add. So if you’re backpacking alone, it’s best to go with a backpacking tent designed for one person to save on weight.

Peak Height and Floor Space

The peak height of backpacking tents impacts the WEIGHT too. The higher the peak height, the heavier the backpacking tent will be.

If you need a backpacking tent with MORE headroom and floor space, you should expect an increase in weight.

The Construction of the Tent

The MATERIALS used to construct backpacking tents can also impact weight. For example, backpacking tents made from thicker, more durable materials tend to be heavier than those made from lightweight, thin materials.

Pro Tip: It’s important to consider the backpacking tent’s construction and materials when looking for one with a low weight.

Tent Seasonality

The seasonality of backpacking tents can also have an impact on their weight. 3-season backpacking tents are usually LIGHTER than those made for 4-season backpacking.

This is because 3-season backpacking tents are designed to be used in MILD temperatures, while 4-season backpacking tents are designed for colder temperatures and thus have more protective layers.

Double or Single Walls

Backpacking tents can come in single-wall and double-wall designs.

Single-wall backpacking tents are LIGHTER but not as breathable and won’t hold up as well in wet weather.

Double-wall backpacking tents are HEAVIER but provide more breathability and protection in wet weather.

The right backpacking tent will depend on your needs. Ideally, you want a lightweight backpacking tent to bring OTHER equipment like trekking poles with you.

Your Backpacking Tent Setup

Your Backpacking Tent Setup

Finally, it’s important to consider your backpacking tent SETUP.

The poles and stakes that come with backpacking tents can ADD weight, so make sure to do your research and find the backpacking tent with poles and stakes that best suit your needs.

Freestanding Tents vs. Non-Freestanding Tents

When choosing a backpacking tent, you’ll also have to DECIDE between freestanding and non-freestanding tents.

Freestanding backpacking tents are HEAVIER but can be set up without stakes or guy lines, while NON-freestanding backpacking tents are LIGHTER but require stakes and guy lines for setup.

Things to Consider for Your Backpacking Tent

Things to Consider for Your Backpacking Tent

There are some other considerations you MIGHT want to make regarding a backpacking tent. While these are not major, they can have some impact on the overall weight of your load.

The Number of Doors

Backpacking tents can come with one or two doors.

The presence of two doors adds a bit more WEIGHT, but it can be a great benefit if you’re backpacking with someone else.

Interior Storage

Some backpacking tents have pockets and other features INSIDE the tent that make it easier to store small items.

These types of backpacking tents tend to be slightly HEAVIER than those without interior storage.

Tent Footprints

A backpacking tent FOOTPRINT is an optional piece of ground fabric that adds PROTECTION to the floor of your backpacking tent.

Pro Tip: Footprints are usually made from lightweight materials and can help reduce the WEIGHT of your backpacking tent by providing extra protection against water, sand, and other debris.

The Best Backpacking Tent Options for Saving Weight

The Best Backpacking Tent Options for Saving Weight

If you’re still scrolling through tents and wondering what the BEST option is going to be, this section might help clear things up for you. Let’s take a look at the best backpacking tents.

Ultralight Tents

The best backpacking tents for saving WEIGHT are the ultralight backpacking tents. These backpacking tents are designed with lightweight materials and provide a good balance between strength and ventilation.

Bivy Shelters

Bivy shelters are another great backpacking tent option, as they can weigh AS LITTLE as one pound.

Bivy shelters provide COMFORT and protection from the elements, but unlike backpacking tents, they do not offer much storage or spaciousness.

Tarp Shelters

A tarp shelter could be your best bet if you’re looking for LIGHTWEIGHT backpacking tents as an option.

A tarp shelter is a waterproof tarp set up with guy lines and stakes. This backpacking tent option can weigh as LITTLE as one pound and offers great protection from the elements.


Hammocks are a great option for those who don’t mind SLEEPING off the ground. Hammocks are lightweight and can be set up quickly and easily, making them a great backpacking tent option for those looking to SAVE WEIGHT.

This can be considered an ultralight tent because they weigh practically NOTHING.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Is 6lbs too Heavy for a Backpacking Tent?

Yes, backpacking tents should be as LIGHT as possible. A good backpacking tent should weigh 3 lbs or less.

Is 4lbs too Heavy for a Backpacking Tent?

No, backpacking tents can be 4 lbs and still be considered lightweight. However, it’s important to consider your backpacking tent setup, as things like poles, stakes and footprints can add extra weight.

What’s a Good Weight for a Backpacking Sleeping Bag?

Backpacking sleeping bags should generally be around 2 lbs or less.

To Conclude

To Conclude

It’s important to consider the weight of your backpacking tent when planning a backpacking trip, as it can make all the difference. A backpacking tent SHOULD generally weigh 3 lbs or less, and many options are available to help you save weight.

For those looking for the lightest backpacking tent options, ultralight backpacking tents, bivy shelters, tarp shelters, and hammocks are all GREAT choices. No matter what backpacking tent you choose, be sure to research and pick the best option.

We hope this guide has been able to make it easier for you to choose the best backpacking tent for your next big adventure.

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Lisa Hayden-Matthews

An avid Skier, bike rider, triathlon enthusiast, amateurish beach volleyball player and nature lover who has never lost a dare! I manage the overall Editorial section for the magazine here and occasionally chip in with my own nature photographs, when required.
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