Best wild camping tent 2023: Lightweight tents for off-the-grid adventures | Expert Reviews (2024)

The general idea of wild camping is that you pitch your tent at sunset and rarely stay in the same spot for more than one night. So space inside your tent is not as important as the weight or size it packs down to. The bigger the tent, the heavier it will be, so snuggling up with your hiking partner in a two-person tent will minimise backpack weight – you just need to be sure there’s enough storage for two bags and boots. If you’re travelling solo, a one-person design, or even a bivvy bag, is ideal as it will have space for you, your kit and nothing else.

Low-profile tents are also ideal for wild camping as you’re often more exposed to the elements compared to on a campsite. Geodesic pole designs are best in strong winds, but well-positioned guide ropes are essential, too.

As with any tent, rain proofing is vital, and we suggest a minimum of 1,500mm HH (hydrostatic head) rating. The greater the HH rating, the more expensive, but also the longer a flysheet fabric will last before it becomes saturated.

How light should my wild camping tent be?

This depends greatly on how far you’re travelling and how many people are sleeping in it, but ultralight tents are generally seen to weigh between 1kg and 2.5kg for a one- or two-person model. You can find much lighter designs, but lightweight often means basic, with features stripped back to shave every possible gram, and ultralight flysheet materials aren’t as resistant to tears as a traditional tent. You should also be able to pack the tent down and easily strap it to or put it in your backpack.

What features are worth looking out for?

  • Easy pitching: Forget about pop-up designs, which are a pain to carry, but being able to pitch a tent quickly and on your own is essential. Obviously it’s worth practising in the garden before you go away, but most tiny tents have one or two pre-bent poles and a handful of pegs and that’s it. No wild camping tent should take more than five minutes to pitch.
  • Trekking pole tents: These are becoming increasingly popular as more hikers and trail runners use poles to navigate uneven surfaces in the mountains. By swapping tent poles for trekking poles the tent can pack smaller and be lighter, while also often providing more headroom and internal space. Just don’t forget your poles!
  • Bivvy tents: The classic bivvy bag is simply a waterproof sleeve that covers your sleeping bag, allowing you to sleep out under the stars. Many die-hard wild campers use a bivvy and, if needs be, hang a tarpaulin above for protection from the elements. If you’re not quite that brave, or hate feeling trapped in a cocoon, a poled bivvy – with a tent-like construction around the head – offers a much more enjoyable sleep with only a few grams added to the pack.

Is wild camping legal in the UK?

Technically, wild camping is illegal in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, but there are exemptions and loopholes. Wild camping is legal in Scotland, so book yourself on a sleeper and camp guilt-free in the National Parks, although some areas require permits in peak season, so check before you travel.

Some English National Parks such as Dartmoor do have designated areas in which wild camping is permitted, as long as you’re arriving on foot or by bike. Check out this interactive map for the best wild camping spots.

If, however, you don’t overstay your welcome, and leave no trace of your stay behind, most National Parks are tolerant of wild camping, especially in more remote areas. Not getting caught is another great way of wild camping – so choose a discreetly coloured tent. One simple way to make a wild camping pitch legal is simply to ask the landowner – if you don’t know who this is, the local pub or shop is a good place to ask for help. Some farmers are only too happy to charge you a few pounds in return for a pitch on their land, so don’t be shy and ask.

What’s the difference between a wild camping and backpacking tent?

There isn’t a huge difference between the two options – both need to be as small and light as possible – but wild camping tents tend to be smaller and lower profile, to help blend into the surrounding countryside. With some backpacking tents you can share the load between two bags, allowing you to carry a bigger tent for two or three people, and they tend to have taller head heights for added comfort. But essentially, if you can carry it, you can sleep in it.

Best wild camping tent 2023: Lightweight tents for off-the-grid adventures | Expert Reviews (2024)

FAQs

How light are ultralight tents? ›

Ultralight (2 pounds or less)

For the sake of this guide, we've narrowed it down to tents that weigh 2 pounds or less, although our ultralight tent round-up encompasses a broader range (all but one are under 3 lb.) to include budget-friendly and four-season models.

What is the strongest tent design? ›

Pro's : The strongest tent design yet made; Geodesic tents offer offer as large an area of excellent headroom as tunnel tents. Semi geodesic designs have a lower area of good headroom; Quiet in the wind; Handle snow very well; Free-standing; Most geodesics have two entrances; Full five season capability.

What's the difference between trail weight and packed weight? ›

Packed weight refers to how much the entire tent package weighs when you purchase it, including tent body, fly, poles, stakes, guy lines, stuff sacks, and other accessories such as pole repair sleeves or patch kits. Trail weight usually refers to the weight of only the tent body, rain fly, and poles.

Is Wild Country a good tent brand? ›

Wild Country Win Best Value in Tent Tests from Trail Magazine. Wild Country tents are the perfect balance of incredible quality and fantastic value for money. Built from the expertise and knowledge of Terra Nova tents but at a more affordable price, Wild Country tents really do hit the mark, but yes, we may be biased.

What is a good weight for an ultralight tent? ›

A true ultralight tent weighing less than 2 pounds is often ideal as ultralight backpackers typically shoot for a base weight around 10 lbs. Many of these shelters that hit that weight are considered trekking pole tents.

What is the lightest tent material? ›

Therefore a shelter made of Nylon can be lighter than one made of Polyester. Nylon is also more supple and packs smaller. Polyester is usually a lot cheaper and more common in lower end products.

How can you tell if a tent is good quality? ›

How to Recognize a Quality Tent
  1. Easy Setup and Take Down. If you're a frequent camper, you've probably been in a situation at some point when you wish you had it easier when it comes to tent transitions. ...
  2. Ventilation. ...
  3. Durable Zippers. ...
  4. Good Flooring. ...
  5. Materials.

What is better than a tent? ›

The comfort and sleeping benefits of hammock camping are the top reason why people choose hammocks versus tents. A hammock's increased suspension is especially beneficial to campers who want to feel the breeze and experience a cooler night's sleep.

What color of tent is better? ›

3. Blend with the Environment. The tent color should harmonize with its surroundings, creating a seamless integration with the landscape. Opt for earthy tones like green tents, light gray, or tan to complement natural or architectural elements, making your tent an inviting extension of the space.

What are some good camping brands? ›

What are some of the best camping gear brands? Brands like REI Co-op, Coleman, and Kelty are renowned for their high-quality camping gear, offering a wide range of products designed for durability, performance, and comfort in the outdoors.

How light is ultralight backpacking? ›

Some backpackers define themselves based on their pack base weight. For instance, you're generally considered an ultralight backpacker if your base weight is under 10 pounds and a lightweight backpacker if your base weight is under 20 pounds. Most traditional backpackers will have a base weight under 30 pounds.

Are tents UV proof? ›

You can find tents that are made of U.V. protected materials and there are U.V. blocking chemicals that can be added to your tent to make it more resistant to U.V. rays. That being said, there is no tent that will stay 100% U.V. protected and you will need to keep your tent treated to retain U.V.

Are tents lightning proof? ›

Remember, a tent offers NO protection from lighting.

Are inflatable tents lighter? ›

Weight – Air tents tend to be heavier than fibreglass poled tents. Airtubes can take a greater amount of weight than poled tents so you may find that the canvas on these tents is thicker and therefore heavier.

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