The Best 4+ Person Tents for Backpacking

Testing the four models of three-season, four-person backpacking tents took over a year and involved four testers. Locales included a backyard wildlife refuge in Central Texas, the Chihuahuan Desert of West Texas, the Cibola National Forest of New Mexico and the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge of Oklahoma. The tents serviced campers during front country family camping, backcountry climbing and backpacking outings. Each tent spent a minimum of ten days in the field, some of them pitched for months at a time for extended exposure to sun, wind and rain. Conditions ranged from mild southern shoulder seasons, desert wind storms, mountain nights bordering on freezing, and torrential rainfall inland of a hurricane.

Review Year
Best in Class
Overall Rating
Price
Name Overall Rating Ratings The Good The Bad Price
MSR Papa Hubba NX 4-Person Backpacking Tent
87
Best in Class
2018
Shoulder Room 5
Packability 9
Set Up 7
Weatherproofing 9
Features 7

Most weather resistant of test

Stiffest pole structure

Color-coded poles

Good compressibility

Smallest interior of test

Expensive

Narrow vestibules

Large pole section can be hard to handle

MSRP
$600.00
BEST DEAL
Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL4
86
Shoulder Room 8
Packability 7
Set Up 7
Weatherproofing 7
Features 7

Largest interior space & vestibules

Lightest tent in the test

Intuitive setup

Fabric compresses well

Expensive

Tall profile, wind prone

Hubbed pole section is long & can be unwieldy

MSRP
$650.00
BEST DEAL
Kelty TN4
82
Shoulder Room 6
Packability 5
Set Up 5
Weatherproofing 8
Features 8

Breathable

Impressively waterproof

Innovative, versatile rainfly design

Aerodynamic

Bulky when packed

Tight interior dimensions

Little interior storage

Tricky angles create potential sagging

MSRP
$380.00
BEST DEAL
Mountainsmith Morrison EVO 4
82
Shoulder Room 7
Packability 5
Set Up 8
Weatherproofing 5
Features 7

Great price

Simple set up

Footprint & gear loft included

The least wind stable of the test

Construction quality lacking compared to others

The lowest compressibility of the test

MSRP
$250.00
BEST DEAL
MSR Papa Hubba NX 4-Person Backpacking Tent

The MSR Papa Hubba NX is the tent to pack when weather conditions are unknown. Although the low, aerodynamic profile sacrifices interior comfort, this tent is rock steady in high winds when the other tents faltered. It isn’t the lightest tent in the bunch, but it’s close, and the extra weight is well worth the added security. If a group of three to four campers are headed to the backcountry for high adventure, this is the tent.

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Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL4

The Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL4 was the top choice when spaciousness and weight were primary concerns. The most significant interior space and vestibules with a trail weight that equates to 1.3 pounds each for a group of four is an impressive pair of specifications. Waterproofing was excellent; the only dings being some pinhole punctures in the floor and one case of partial wall deformation during extreme winds that also affected other tents in the test.

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Kelty TN4

The Kelty TN4 is an excellent choice for trips in relatively benign weather conditions. The “Star-Gazing Fly” rainfly combines the feeling of open-air camping with the security of a weather resistant tent. Although impressively waterproof, its bulky packing profile and a tendency toward set-up quirks keep it from being a top contender.

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Mountainsmith Morrison EVO 4

The Moutainsmith Morrison EVO 4 is a capable tent in most three-season conditions, and with the lowest MSRP of the test by $130, makes a great entry level backpacking tent. It also makes for a logical choice if four-person outings are rare, and for family car camping. The included footprint and ceiling loft add to the value.

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See All 4+ Person Tents for Backpacking Reviews

4-Person, 3-Season Backpacking Tents Review Results

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Shoulder room is a primary factor in decision making regarding these 4-person tents. Long-term comfort is difficult when the interior square footage dips below 50 square feet, and even at that number, other design factors can severely affect livability. Only the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL4 honestly felt comfortable for four adults waiting out storms. The other tents provided shelter from the elements when necessary, but camping longer term in these models fosters more of a hardcore feeling. All these tents would be luxuriously spacious for two or three campers.

These tents are on the larger side of backpacking tents; the increased fabric area and longer or larger hubbed pole sections can be hard to handle by a single camper, especially in foul weather, during both setup and breakdown.

All of these tents could double as car camping tents for families or campers looking for more comfort during extended outings.

Shoulder Room

The Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL4 is the clear winner here, the largest tent floor area, widest vestibules, tall ceiling and high angle walls all creating the most liveable environment of the test for four full-sized adults and their gear. The taller profile, vertical walls, and basic pole structure didn’t provide as much wind tolerance as some of the other shelters in the test, but it withstood all of the three-season conditions without damage throughout the testing period.

Packability

The MSR Papa Hubba NX 4 Person is the most packable tent in the bunch; much of this is due to it being the smallest tent, but high quality, yet thinner fabrics also contribute to compressibility. This tent also comes with the most useful stuff sack, which quickly and effectively squashed the tent, fly and components into a tight unit for storage.

Set Up

The Mountainsmith Morrison EVO4 has the most basic pole structure and design, so it naturally produced the most straightforward pitch. Two main poles that criss-cross to the corners and pass under a brow pole in a sleeve and the fly anchoring is standard and simple. Testers never needed any direction or references whatsoever after unpacking the tent for the first time. This attribute combined with the lowest price of the test make the Morrison EVO4 attractive as an entry level shelter.

Weatherproofing

The MSR Papa Hubba NX 4 proved the front-runner for this critical category. The pole structure and tight patterning of both tent body and fly, create a rigid and wind worthy structure that never faltered, even during a desert windstorm that uprooted and folded most tents in the campsite. Monsoon-like conditions in the wake of a hurricane couldn’t breach the Papa Hubba NX either.

Part of the wind tolerance of this tent resides in the low angle walls and lowest overall height of the test. MSR chose to compromise some elbow and headroom in exchange for the fortress-like qualities without faltering.

Features

Although lacking in interior gear storage space compared to other tents in the test, the Kelty TN4 was the standout for features based on its main differentiator: the stargazing fly. The ability to sleep with more of an airy feeling and view the night sky, and quickly batten the fly down without exiting a sleeping bag made this tent a highly sought after item for both adult and child. Another often used feature is the welded fly windows; no other tent allowed viewing of current weather conditions without opening a fly door.

Test Methods

We test 3-season, 4-person backpacking tents across a wide array of weather conditions, terrain, and usage, employing two to four campers. These shelters were used in widely varying environments: deserts, forests, mountains, front-country campsites and climbing areas in conditions just shy of full winter. Trips range from overnight car camping in well-appointed sites to climbing basecamps in the desolate and remote wilderness.

We judge shoulder room from the viewpoint of housing four full-sized adults as well as use with fewer campers. Both long term and short term liveability are considered, for the full four campers and less. All tested tents can house four people, but many are a tight fit and point toward more hardcore usage versus long-term camping. All tents were extremely spacious for two to three campers during longer-term excursions.

Packability is profoundly affected by overall tent size, material quality, and fabric weight. The largest tent could pack down more efficiently than a smaller tent due to materials choices. Packability is less of an issue when the shelter is split up amongst multiple campers, but there is a wide range of compressibility that can make a considerable difference to parties packing light and fast.

None of the tents tested are difficult to set up after the first pitch. Some of the tents with longer pole sections or larger hubbed structures are difficult to handle by a single camper in windy conditions, which should be a rare occurrence with this class of shelter.

All tents in this test proved water resistant during all wet weather situations, even multiple days of monsoon-like conditions during the tail end of a hurricane. The tents varied in wind tolerance, however. Although all tents performed admirably in typical wind conditions, only one proved wind worthy in gusts approaching windstorm like conditions, the MSR Papa Hubba NX. All the tents also had minimal condensation due to the relatively large amounts of mesh in the tent bodies. It’s worth noting that more mesh means colder internal environments when the temperatures start to dip in the shoulder seasons.

What is a 3-Season, 4-Person Backpacking Tent?

The primary purpose of a 3-season, 4-person backpacking tent is to shelter four campers from environmental conditions typical of three-season use—pretty much anything but snow and sub zero temperatures. Some four-person tents barely fit four adults, head to toe, while others provide enough room for all four adventurers to sit up and play cards. The trade-off for more comfort is usually weight, packability and wind tolerance.

Brands are bucking the space versus weight relationship by utilizing super light fabrics and hardware. This current test’s most spacious tent is also the lightest tent. This trend may continue, but buyer beware, large and super light tents often compromise weather resistance and features, both of which can affect comfort just as much as internal dimensions in certain situations.

Many adventurers contemplating the purchase of a 4-person tent are looking for more space and comfort for two or three people (and pets), for car camping or front country use. All shelters in this category will feel like palaces compared to one or two-person backpacking tents and will be much more liveable for longer-term outings. This test shows that there are 3-season, 4-person tents that cover a broad spectrum of cost, weight, features, weather resistance and comfort. The largest shelter was the lightest, and the Best In Class was the smallest. Prices ranged from $250 to $650. Some tents were suited better for car camping or front country use, while one tent fared well in weather that could have been considered typical of four season use.