Best Two-Person Tents

Updated October 2020
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Buying guide for best two-person tents

A quality tent gives you the freedom to make the outdoors your hotel. If you're camping alone, prefer to travel light, or need to set up at a campground with little space, a two-person tent is the ideal choice. Despite the name, two-person tents are better suited to a single camper and their gear. While you certainly can fit two campers inside, it will be an extremely tight fit with all your gear in there, too.

When selecting the right two-person tent for you, think about what kind of tent you require. Do you want a rugged, lightweight backpacking tent? An easy-to-pitch pop-up tent? Or a simple dome tent for general use? Consider the kinds of conditions you'll be camping in as well. For instance, do you want to camp year-round, and is there likely to be wet weather during your camping trip?

To learn more about which two-person tent is right for you, keep reading our complete guide. If you’re ready to buy, consider one of our top picks.

Think about the head clearance of your two-person tent. You certainly won't be able to stand up inside, but it's nice if you can sit up without your head touching the top of your tent.

Key considerations

Types of two-person tents

You'll find a wide range of two-person tents on the market. Here are the most common:

  • Dome tents have a simple crossover frame that makes them easy to set up and able to maintain their shape without excessive amounts of guylines. They have a decent amount of headroom, but their higher profile means they're not as well suited to extreme conditions.

  • Backpacking tents are designed for adventurous campers who like to hike to far-off camping spots. Not only are they lightweight so that they're not too heavy to carry long distances, they're also often rugged with a low profile to keep them stable in high winds, as buyers may want to use them in more remote spots with harsher weather.

  • Pop-up tents (or instant tents) are designed to pitch in mere seconds. Some literally pop up when you release them from their case, only needing to be pegged down, whereas others need a little bit of encouragement but still only take 30 seconds to a minute to pitch.

Three-season vs. four-season two-person tents

Three-season tents are designed to withstand light rain and wind but are generally geared more toward summer camping or use in the milder parts of spring and fall. As such, they may not truly be usable in three seasons, depending on where you'll be doing your camping. Four-season tents are made for all-weather use, so you can even camp in heavy rain or snowy conditions. That said, they're designed for insulation rather than ventilation, so you might find them a bit too toasty for the hottest parts of the year.

Waterproof rating

The waterproof rating, sometimes known as the hydrostatic head, is given in millimeters and is a measurement of how much rain can fall on a tent before it starts to leak. A tent must have a waterproof rating of at least 1,000 millimeters in order to be classed as waterproof, but we'd recommend a waterproof rating of 3,000 to 5,000 millimeters to withstand heavier rains.

Storage

You'll need space for your gear, as well as yourself, so consider what kind of storage your tent has, if any. It may feature pockets for storing smaller items or hooks to hang bags from. A porch area is a great place to stow gear, too.

Features

Footprint

A footprint is an extra groundsheet fitted to the shape of a tent for additional insulation. This is especially useful when the ground is cold, so they usually come with four-season tents.

Rainfly

The rainfly, or flysheet, is the outer part of a double-skin tent. It sits over the top of — but not touching — the inner tent to give it a waterproof outer. Single-skin tents don't have a rainfly; the main body of the tent is waterproof as is.

Taped seams

The taped seams of a two-person tent will help keep water out should it rain during your camping trip. If you'll be sticking to summer camping in a climate with reliably dry summers, you might not need to worry about this too much.

Sewn-in groundsheet

A large percentage of modern tents have a sewn-in groundsheet, attached either to the inner tent or to the body of a single-skin tent. A sewn-in groundsheet keeps drafts, moisture, and bugs out of your tent.

Two-person tent prices

Inexpensive: Basic two-person tents can cost as little as $15 to $30, but tents in this price range are usually quite flimsy and don't offer much in the way of protection from the rain.

Mid-range: Spending a little more will get you a mid-range two-person tent — usually priced between $40 and $60. These tents are great for use in the summer and in milder spring and fall conditions.

Expensive: If you want a rugged tent for use in all weathers, opt for a high-end model. For a top-notch two-person tent, expect to pay $60 to $120.

Tips

  • Check what material your tent poles are made from. Microfiber poles are lightweight, but steel poles are stronger. Rugged backpacking tents often have aluminum poles for increased strength while keeping the weight down.

  • Find out how hard or easy your chosen two-person tent is to pitch. Pop-up tents are by far the easiest to pitch, but cheap pop-up tents aren't especially durable — or waterproof. Due to their small size, even more complicated two-person tents often take no more than 10 or 15 minutes to set up.

  • Think about how often you'll use your new two-person tent. If it's for the occasional summer festival or weekend away, you won't need to spend too much. On the other hand, avid campers who get away every couple of months should splurge on a tent that will last.

  • Consider how well-ventilated your tent is. Mesh windows and pop-out vents are essential for breathability. You'll thank yourself for choosing a well-ventilated tent in the heat of summer.
Some two-person tents feature clear windows to let some light in, though they do have roll-down opaque

FAQ

Q. What is a geodesic tent?

A. A geodesic tent is a tent with poles that cross over in several places to improve the structural integrity. Geodesic tents have great rigidity and are ideal for use in windy conditions.

Q. Is there room for two adults and a child in a two-person tent?

A. You may just about be able to fit two adults and a young child in a two-person tent, but it won't be comfortable. In fact, even two adults and their gear inside a two-person tent will be a tight squeeze. One adult and a child should fit fairly comfortably in a two-person tent, however.

Q. Can you fit an air mattress in a two-person tent?

A. The majority of two-person tents will have room for a single air mattress but not a full-size or queen model. This is fine if you'll be camping alone in your two-person tent, but if there will be two of you, you'll need to use camping mats rather than an air mattress.

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