1. Is the tent freestanding?
Many of the lightest, specialty manufactured tents are not freestanding. This makes them a lot harder to pitch, especially on slopping or hard ground where it’s difficult to get the pegs all the way in the ground. Finding a rock to hammer in pegs is a pain in the butt.
2. What’s the weight?
This is an obvious one. You should be able to get a two person tent for under 2kg max. Anything over is a pain to lug around.
3. What’s the height? Can you sit up in it comfortably?
Go to a store, sit in some tents and find the minimum height that’s comfortable for sitting up. Then, only look for tents that have at least this as the peak height.
4. Unless you plan on always traveling solo, get a two person tent.
If you don’t have someone to share your tent with right now, hopefully you will soon. Romance is the best part of tent camping.
5. Does it have a mesh layer and detachable rainfly?
This is ideal for hot climates and star gazing. You can leave the rainfly off when you just want the insect protection of a mesh tent.
6. Is it easy to get into and out of, especially when it’s raining?
Can you get out of the tent without your stuff inside getting wet? A tent that is for two people needs two entrances (one on each side).
7. Does it have a vestibule large enough for keeping your gear under cover outside the tent?
It’s nice to leave your dirty pack and shoes under cover but not have them inside the tent. Check the vestibule size and whether it has two – one on each side of the tent.
What’s our top pick? We like the MSR Hubba Hubba line (Pictured at the top of the post from the REI website.)