The Best 2 Person Backpacking Tents for 2021

We review the top 2-person Backpacking tents including the Copper Spur HV UL2, the MSR Hubba Hubba, the Nemo Hornet, and the REI Quarter Dome SL 2.

All 4 tents are excellent choices and many new backpackers find themselves torn over which to choose.

Each tent on this list is less than 4 pounds, which is perfect for recreational backpackers. They are all durable and have handy features to make your nights in the backcountry comfortable.

They’re also all made by brands that stand behind their products.  

Your final decision depends on how you will use the tent so we’ve broken down the details to help you find the right one.

To learn more about what to look for when choosing a backpacking tent, you can click here. You can also see a table comparing the 4 tents here.

Why a 2-Person Tent?

Many weekend backpackers prefer a 2-person tent for the additional room and versatility. You can store your gear in the tent and, should you get stuck with a lot of rain, it’s a little easier having hours of “me time” with more room to move around. 

Let’s get to our reviews!

Our Top 2-Person Tents for Backpackers

Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 2

A photo of the Copper Spur HV UL 2 one of our top 2 person backpacking tents

Retail Price: $449.95

Packed Weight: 3 lbs, 2 oz

Dimensions (inches): 88 X 52/42 (tapers at foot)

Peak Height (inches): 40

Fabrics: Fly and floor are a proprietary UL double rip-stop mixed denier nylon with polyurethane/silicone coating.

What I Like

The Copper Spur is a good balance of weight and livable space.

Its 88 inches in length and 40 inches peak height make it the longest and tallest tent on this list. Perfect for people over 6 feet tall. I’m 5’3” and I can kneel on my sleeping pad with a straight back and not touch the roof.

Color-coded poles and grommets make it easy to set up, even for beginners.

The tent allows for fast pitch if you have a footprint (sold separately).  I’ve had to use this once in a downpour and we got 4 backpackers under the fly. 

It has a large vent at the top of the tent.

The tent also packs down incredibly small and can be easily stuffed in almost any location in your pack.

What I Don’t Like

The tent is made from a thin, proprietary, ultralight, double ripstop nylon with a silky texture. The silky nature of the fabric tends to make things a bit frustrating.

In my experience, the Copper Spur is more prone to condensation compared to other tents on this list, especially in cold weather.

Another issue is that the rainfly is almost always saturated with water in the morning. While it is waterproof and water will bead, it also absorbs into the fabric. Most mornings, while everyone else is shaking the dew off their rainfly, the Copper Spur is soaked through with no hope of drying. 

While it will keep you dry even in a prolonged downpour, it can be annoying to always have your wet rainfly on the back of your pack as you hike.

Overall

The Copper Spur HV UL 2 is a solid, durable tent. Despite the rainfly saturation, it will keep you dry even in the worst downpour.

You do need to be careful with the delicate fabric, and purchasing the footprint is a good idea.

The weight is perfect for a recreational backpacker on a weekend or week-long trip.

Two people can share the tent somewhat comfortably. One person and a child or dog would easily fit. With its 2 doors, multiple storage pockets, and large vestibules, it’s a great choice for anyone that may want to share occasionally.

The newer design features awning styled vestibules that can extend out with your trekking poles.

Where to Buy

MSR Hubba Hubba

A photo of the MSR Hubba Hubba, one of our favorite 2 person backpacking tents

Retail Price: $449.95

Packed Weight: 3 lbs, 14 oz

Dimensions (inches): 84 X 50

Peak Height (inches): 39

Fabrics: Floor 30D ripstop nylon, Rainfly 20 D ripstop nylon with polyurethane/silicone coating

What I Like

The tent feels large with plenty of living space. I’ve seen 2 people easily share the Hubba Hubba and they were able to pull one backpack in with them.

The Hubba Hubba is a workhorse with the best weather protection of any of the tents on this list. It’s made of durable fabrics that will last.

Thanks to the 30D nylon ripstop that makes up the tent floor, you can save a little weight by leaving the footprint (sold separately) home.

Like the copper spur, it can be fast pitched with a footprint. I’ve had to fast pitch this tent in rain and found it went up quickly and provided ample room for 5 backpackers.

What I Don’t Like

It is one of the heaviest tents on this list, but that’s the tradeoff for durability.

The tent can be a little confusing for beginners to pitch at first.

It has kickstop vents near the bottom at each end. Given that the tent has a lot of additional nylon where other tents have mesh, it’s not as breathable and additional venting would be beneficial.

Overall

The Hubba Hubba is one of the most solid and durable tents on the market and at a reasonable weight. It’s a true workhorse that will last years if cared for properly.

This is the only tent on the list that I can say with confidence is able to handle high winds and push the envelope as an almost 4 season tent. It easily handles southeast winters and would do fine in lighter snow conditions due to additional nylon panels and a thicker rainfly.

I would recommend the Hubba Hubba to backpackers wanting a tent for year-round camping in the southeast mountains, that may occasionally have 2 people sharing the tent, or where durability and longevity matter more than weight.

Where to Buy

Nemo Hornet 2p

A photo of the Nemo Hornet, one of our top picks for best 2 person backpacking tent

Retail Price: $369.95

Packed Weight: 2 lbs, 6 oz

Dimensions (inches): 85 X 51/43

Peak Height (inches): 39

Fabrics: Floor 15D ripstop nylon, Rainfly 10 D ripstop nylon with polyurethane/silicone coating

What I Like

The Nemo Hornet is one of the lightest entry-level tents on the market. It also has the lowest price point of all the tents on this list.

The tent has what’s called a Divvy, or 2 sacks allowing the weight to be split by 2 people. 

The Hornet has excellent ventilation. The back of the tent is designed with nylon almost all the way, there are just a couple of inches of mesh near the very top. The rainfly then only comes down to just cover the top few inches of the nylon on that side of the tent. This leaves the majority of the single tent wall exposed, allowing for greater breathability.

The Hornet comes with a light pocket built-in. It’s designed to gently diffuse the light of a headlamp, providing ambient light. 

There is a learning curve when pitching it the first couple of times, but after that, it’s quick and easy. You just have to get used to the connectors. 

What I Don’t Like

Despite what the dimensions say, the Hornet is small. I mean small. Every time I see the 2 person version, I think it’s a 1 person. 

While the dimensions aren’t that different than the Copper Spur, the more severe taper from the head to the foot diminishes the usable living space. 

The tent floor is made from 15D ripstop nylon so you will likely want a footprint which will increase the overall weight. Also, like the Copper Spur, the thinner rainfly tends to saturate with dew and light rain. 

There is a learning curve to pitching it correctly. If you get it wrong and it rains, there’s the possibility of rain getting into the tent. It takes some trial and error to get it right, and you need a good area to pitch.

Overall

Technically a semi-free standing tent, the Hornet has become so mainstream that it deserves a mention. Everyone I know that has this tent loves it.

I’ve been in one a few times and I do feel like it’s a nice option. The 2p Hornet is best for a single person. You could possibly get a small dog in there with you, but an adult plus a child would be a bit cramped.

If you’re looking for a lightweight, affordable tent but aren’t ready for a trekking pole option then this is a good way to go. 

Nemo makes solid equipment and they stand by their products so you can purchase with confidence.

Where to Buy

REI Quarter Dome SL 2

A photo of the REI quarter dome SL 2, one of our top picks for the best 2 person backpacking tent.

Retail Price: $349.00

Packed Weight: 2 lbs, 14 oz

Dimensions (inches): 88 X 52/42

Peak Height (inches): 38

Fabrics: Floor ripstop nylon, Rainfly ripstop nylon

What I Like

This tent pretty much has it all. It’s has the largest living space of any tent on this list and, in my opinion, the best weight to size ratio.

With 88 inches, it’s the same length as the copper spur, but adds more space to the floor while sacrificing a pit on peak height. This will appeal to hikers that want to share their tent, but don’t need that extra 2 inches of height in the copper spur.

It’s a semi-free standing tent with one pole coming down the front. This is partly how REI saved weight.

The Quarter Dome has all of the bells and whistles you would expect in a tent from REI.

What I Don’t Like

The tent is almost always of stock. It disappeared in October 2020 and many people thought it was being discontinued. REI noted it would be back in 2021.

It actually just came back in stock the day I went to publish this post and it’s already flashing “low inventory”.

Given the size of the Quarter Dome, the top vent could be larger. I’d actually like to see a second vent added to help prevent condensation.

As a semi-free standing tent, you do have to be careful where you pitch, and given it’s size, you won’t have as many options as the Nemo Hornet.

REI hasn’t stated what denier the ripstop nylon is. I have a request in to them for the information and will update when they reply. As a large retailer, this should be something they readily provide.

Overall

This is a cost effective, large, lower weight backpacking tent. It hits a lot of the right notes for beginners.

While the Hornet is slightly less weight, the extra space of the Quarter Dome easily offsets that for people who may want the flexibility of sometimes sharing their tent.

It hasn’t been on the market as long as the Hubba Hubba and Copper Spur so we don’t have years of data to see how it will hold up, but it’s made by REI and they’re known for their quality.

Where to Buy

REI.com

Which Tent is the Winner?

Best Weight for the Price

The Nemo Hornet is the clear winner if you’re looking for the lowest weight at the best price.

You’ll get a little extra room with the 2 person tent but still remain under 2.5 pounds which is a nice tradeoff. It’s fairly sturdy and I have seen it do well in rain (when pitched correctly) and wind. 

The Hornet is not ideal for more than 1 person with the severe tapering toward the footbed.

Best Durability and Protection

The MSR Hubba Hubba is perfect for anyone that wants a durable tent to last for years and/or is considering camping year-round. While not a true 4-season tent, the Hubba Hubba can definitely push the weather envelope.

It’s also the most comfortable tent for 2 people or adding your furry friend to the adventure.

The tradeoff here is the weight. I would recommend this tent for couples or friends that are sharing and can split the weight between them.

Best Balance of Weight and Size

The Copper Spur is perfect for anyone wanting the space of a 2 person tent, but where weight is a consideration.

It’s also great for taller backpackers who need the extra length and headroom. 

The Copper Spur is easy to pitch which is good for beginners. 

Overall Best Balance of Weight, Size, and Price

The REI Quarter Dome wins, hands down for balancing size, weight, and price. If you want the option of sharing your tent on some trips, want to stay under 3 lbs, and have a budget of under $350, then this is your tent.

It may be a little more tent than one person needs, but as an entry level backpacking tent, it’s a solid choice.

Tent Highlights

TentPriceWeightDimensionsPeak HeightFree-Standing
Copper spur HV UL 2$449.953lb, 2oz88 X 52/4240Yes
MSR Hubba Hubba$449.953lb, 14oz84 X 5039Yes
Nemo Hornet 2P$369.952lb, 6oz85 X 51/4339Semi
REI Quarter Dome SL 2$349.002lb, 14 oz88 X 52/4238Semi

Things to Consider When Choosing a Tent

These days there is an incredible range of tents that can be overwhelming. Terms like free-standing, semi free-standing, trekking pole and double-wall versus single-wall are thrown about left and right.

Think about how you plan to use the tent and your budget. A recerational, week-end backpacker doesn’t have the same needs as a thru-hiker.

You can purchase a less expensive tent to start. Keep in mind that there’s often a tradeoff and it’s generally with the tent weight. Usually, the less a tent weighs, the more it costs. The lighter materials and innovation come with a price.

Weight

While I always say not to go too crazy when looking at your overall weight, it is important. These days, with all of the new technology and lighter weight tents coming down in price, there’s really no excuse for a backpacking tent to be over 4 pounds (and I’m being generous). 

You should be able to secure a solid backpacking tent for a decent price under 4 lbs. 

Now a lot of people will say that’s heavy and try to get you under 2 lbs, but honestly, if you’re just out for a weekend, you should be fine. 

Trail Weight Versus Packed Weight Versus Minimum Weight

This drives me nuts. Okay, in short, manufacturers don’t weigh their tents the same so comparing the weights can be a nightmare.

Here’s the thing, there is an ASTM International standard around the terms packed weight and minimum weight, but there’s still a lot of room for variation.

Packed weight is the total weight of the packaged contents off the shelf. This means bags, tags, stakes, guy lines, repair kit, etc. If it’s in the box, it counts.

Minimum weight is the combined weight of the tent body, rainfly, and tent poles. It does not include stakes, guy lines, stuff sack, etc. Unless something like the guy lines are permanently attached to the tent, then they could be included. Or maybe not. See – it’s vague.

MSR does a good job of defining the weights on their website. You can read about the ASTM standards here.

Some manufacturers have added “Trail weight” which most people think is the weight of everything minus the tags and bags, but since every manufacturer does it differently, you really can’t compare.

One tent could come with 4 stakes, another with 6, and a third with 4 but you need 6. 

So, in my book, the easiest thing to do is to consider the packed weight. This is really the most accurate way to compare 2 tents.

I’ve done a little experimenting with my own tent and with other backpackers by weighing all pieces of the tent (minus footprints) at the trailhead and then comparing them to the stated weights.

Surprisingly, the packed weight was very close in almost all instances. Repeating this “experiment” three times, I’ve never had anyone come close to the minimum weight.

Size

Before buying a tent, make sure you’ll fit in it. This sounds silly, but you’d be surprised. Luckily for those of us well under the 6 foot mark, this is easy. But if you’re tall, make sure you can lie down without touching the ends of the tent, and that you have enough headroom.

If you’ll be traveling with a pet, small child, or another person, are you comfortable with the room available to share?

Do you want to keep your pack inside the tent with you? Is there room? Think about your preferences when camping and make sure the tent will meet your needs.

Value

Not everyone needs a $500, 1 pound ultralight tent made of Dyneema.

If you’re just getting started and have a tight budget, you can get a well-made, reliable tent for under $200. The tradeoff is generally that these tents are heavier.

Lightweight materials cost more so, like most everything with backpacking, lower weight equals higher cost. But there are many people who don’t mind carrying that extra pound of tent to save on cost.

Kelty is a brand known for excellent entry-level tents. If you’re on a budget, take a look at the Kelty Late Start 2 person.

The Extras

Do you need 2 doors or will 1 do for your needs? Are storage pockets necessary for keeping items like eyeglasses nearby?

Do you use your headlamp as your tent light and you need a way to hang it?

Are you someone that likes to stargaze on clear nights? If so, make sure the top of the tent is mesh and not nylon.

The Final Decision

Every tent has tradeoffs. You’ll love some things about the tent, and be annoyed at others.

As long as you are purchasing within your budget and have realistic expectations, you can’t go wrong with most major brands.

While these 4 tents are excellent choices, there are also less expensive options like Kelty. They may be heavier, but they are well made.

At the end of the day, your tent needs to be a reliable shelter. It should keep you warm and dry. If you’ve got that, you made a great choice.

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