6 Best Tents For Canoe Camping

Paddling Buyer’s Guide

To stake a claim in the hyper-competitive tent market, modern shelters must be comfortable, lightweight, durable, weatherproof and easy to set up. So, which new models make the cut? Here are six of the best tents to serve as home away from home on your next canoe camping trip.

Sierra Designs Meteor 3 camping tent

Sierra Designs

Meteor 3

$299.95 | 5 lbs 6 oz | 40.8 sq ft | sierradesigns.com

Affordable, spacious and reasonably lightweight—the Meteor 3 from Sierra Designs offers the tent trifecta. It boasts a great space-to-weight ratio and reliable durability, all at a budget-friendly price that doesn’t compromise quality.

Pre-bent pole architecture increases the steepness of the exterior walls, resulting in 41 square feet of usable living space. The Meteor 3 is roomy enough so it doesn’t feel cramped for car camping but is still light enough at five pounds and six ounces, so it doesn’t feel burdensome on the trail.

When it’s time to break down camp, forget fighting with the stuff sack. One of our favorite features is Sierra Designs’ burrito-style stuff sacks. The bag opens wide to make fitting in the tent body, fly and poles easy. Then, just cinch the cords and stow.

Buy from:

AMAZON


MSR Carbon Reflex 3 camping tent

MSR

Carbon ReFlex 3

$649.95 | 2 lbs 10 oz | 38.5 sq ft | msrgear.com

The roomy Carbon Reflex 3 from MSR packs into such a small and tidy silhouette, we’d forgive you for mistaking it for an inflatable sleeping pad. Weighing just two pounds and 10 ounces, the Carbon Reflex 3 is one of the lightest three-person tents available. During its decade on the market, the Carbon Reflex 3 has found a strong following amongst thru-hikers, bikepackers and packrafters.

Easton carbon fiber poles form a minimalist, semi-freestanding structure needing to be staked out tautly. The second secret to its weight savings is the ridiculously light tent and body material: an eyebrow-raising seven-denier ripstop nylon fly, 10-denier micromesh canopy and 15-denier nylon floor. Buy a footprint with this one.

The Carbon Reflex also features a zipper-free vestibule design. How? Each vestibule is secured with Velcro strips and a metal hook closure. Skeptical? It took a little leap of faith to test the design during a multiday shoulder season storm, but the vestibule and inner body stayed admirably dry with some guy line management. However, those miniature metal clasps are a bit fussy for midnight exits. Bottom line? It’s perfect for weight-conscious gearheads willing to baby the marvelously ultralight space-age fabric.

Buy from:

AMAZON


Mountain Hardwear Mineral King 3 tent

Mountain Hardwear

Mineral King 3

$350 | 7 lbs 1.2 oz | 42.5 sq ft | mountainhardwear.com

Positioned solidly in the Goldilocks zone, the Mountain Hardwear Mineral King 3 inhabits what many paddle campers consider the sweet spot intersect for price, durability and performance. Its seven-pound heft for a three-person design is adequate for paddlers and car campers but might be a stretch for backpacking, which is the only factor preventing the Mineral King 3 from being a true all-rounder.

Our testers loved the Mineral King 3’s easy two-minute setup. Its oversized doors create an opulent double-wide view, and its luxurious 90-inch length and 48 inches of headroom make sharing with three campers feel spacious. This is the only tent in the lineup coming standard with the recommended footprint, though with its hardy 68-denier polyester bathtub floor, this is arguably the model least needing it. The Mineral King was more than a match for a surprise early season thunderstorm and its interior stayed bone dry throughout the night.

Buy from:

AMAZON BACKCOUNTRY MEC REI SPORT CHEK


Sea to Summit Telos TR 2 tent for canoe camping

Sea to Summit

Telos TR 2

$559 | 3 lbs 4.2 oz | 47.5 sq ft | seatosummit.com

Since Sea To Summit entered the tent market in 2021, the Australian brand has created some of the industry’s most talked about designs. Available in one- and two-person models, the new Telos 2 is getting buzz for its light weight and innovative features.

You’ll be struck by the tent’s compact package first, which separates the fly, inner body and poles into three individual sacks, which have the option to nest together. The unique design allows weight to be distributed amongst partners—or so you can pack each sack into whichever crevices of empty space remain in your canoe pack.

Though the Telos 2 was designed with weight-conscious backpackers in mind, it doesn’t hold back on a few bells and whistles. Noteworthy features include the pole bag doubling as a Lightbar—snap it to the tent’s ceiling and insert a headlamp in either end to create a diffused nightlight. And use the teeny snaps in the interior corners of the tent to clip in the fly and tent body stuff sacks and stash small essentials in them overnight.

The interior size of the Telos 2 is standard for a two-person tent—which is to say, tight but doable for two campers.

Buy from:

REI


Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL5 tent

Big Agnes

Copper Spur HV UL5

$799.95 | 7 lbs 5 oz | 65 sq ft | bigagnes.com

It’s hard to imagine getting a good night’s sleep with five campers tucked in one tent, but if it were to happen, we can almost guarantee it’ll be in the spacious Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL5. Newcomer to the award-winning ultralight Copper Spur series, this high-volume shelter manages to defy the laws of physics by feeling even bigger on the inside than the outside.

After a dead-easy setup, large double-zipper, awning-style vestibules help this family compound maximize living space. Most impressively, even with its 65-square-foot interior and 60-inch headroom, this palatial abode weighs only seven pounds and six ounces. Packed, its two-foot by nine-inch stuff sack is more in line with the size and weight of many three-person tents. The Copper Spur series manages this feat thanks to exceptionally lightweight materials, which you’ll pay extra for, so you’ll want to use a life-extending footprint with this one.


Nemo Osmo 2P tent for canoe camping

Nemo

Dagger Osmo 2P

$479.95 | 4 lbs 2 oz | 31.3 sq ft | nemoequipment.com

Nemo pegs its Dagger OSMO as a quintessential one-tent wonder: compact and lightweight enough for backpacking, yet roomy enough for comfort. With 31 square feet of elbow room inside, it is a roomy fit for two smaller campers.

First released in 2019, this newly updated Dagger features fabrics free of fire-retardant chemicals. The new fabric boasts four times more water repellency and three times less stretch, which means less sag in the rain and a faster dry time afterward.

The Dagger’s redesign also includes D-style doors (two zippers that come together) instead of the previous incarnation’s continuous C zipper, which can be more prone to snagging and requires two hands to close. Two large vestibules provide plenty of dry gear storage. The Dagger OSMO also comes with a Landing Zone attachment, which is like a mini ground tarp for your vestibule to keep gear off the wet ground.

Buy from:

AMAZON BACKCOUNTRY MEC REI

woman and dog sit in a Sierra Designs tent in a sun dappled forest
Home is where you stake it. | Feature photo: Wyatt Michalek

Cover of Paddling Magazine Issue 67This article was first published in the Summer 2022 issue of Paddling Magazine. Subscribe to Paddling Magazine’s print and digital editions, or browse the archives.


Home is where you stake it. | Feature photo: Wyatt Michalek

 

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