Unless you’re backpacking in an inclement weather-free environment, you’ll eventually need some type of shelter while on the trail. There are many types of backpacking shelters, and this month we’re specifically evaluating three double-walled tents with similar dimensions. All are marketed as two-person backpacking tents. All three tent bodies (the tent without the rainfly) are 88 inches long on their longer side and 45-55 inches long on their shorter side. We’ve reviewed only tents with a tent body, poles, and separate rainfly; in other words, this review does not cover backpacking tarps, tarp tents, or other types of single-walled backpacking shelters.
We’ve provided two or, when possible, three weights for each tent. We suspect the most useful weight listed is the weight according to our scale. We used a handheld hook-type scale to weigh each tent in its stuff sack with the tent body, rainfly, stakes, poles, and accompanying stuff sacks inside. For most manufacturers, “minimum weight” refers to the weight of the tent, fly, and poles without stuff sacks or stakes, and “packed weight” refers to the combined weight of all tent parts. Interestingly, the manufacturer’s “packed weight” significantly differed from our measurements for two of the tents.
Eureka Midori 2 Person Tent
Eureka calls the Midori 2 Person Tent “a compact and lightweight backpacking tent that doesn’t skimp on features.” It has two doors and two vestibules plus four interior mesh storage pockets and a small gear hammock.
- Price: $179.95
- Weight: minimum weight per manufacturer 4 lbs. 11 oz., weight according to our scale 5 lbs. 3.2 oz.
Setup: The Midori 2 Person Tent is very easy to set up according to simple instructions attached to the tent bag. There is nothing unexpected or especially involved about setting it up. Color-coded webbing makes orienting the rainfly easy.
What We Loved: Almost the entire tent body is mesh, so the Midori makes an excellent bug shelter, even in hot weather. We like the helpful gear hammock that fits at the top of the tent. The floor is truly waterproof一even when we forgot a ground tarp on our testing outing (this tent does not include one), we stayed dry during multiple rainstorms. We also like the Midori’s price, the lowest in this review by a significant margin.
What We Would Change: The one annoyance we encountered while using this tent is the opposite orientation of the rainfly door and tent door. When the rainfly is staked out, the side of the fly door that unzips and opens is on the left, but the D-shaped tent door is on the right side of the tent, so the user has to reach across to open the tent. It’s a small detail, but it was annoying enough to notice.
Bottom Line: The Eureka Midori 2 Person Tent is a capable two-person backpacking tent at a very budget-friendly price.
Marmot Limelight 2P
Marmot’s Limelight 2P features pre-bent poles that form short vertical walls before the poles arch upward into the traditional dome shape, providing more interior space. This tent comes with a footprint that is specifically made for this tent. It has two doors, and one door is significantly larger than the other and can be zipped almost all the way off and tucked into an attached pocket. The Limelight also has two vestibules and six small interior pockets for storage. Four of these pockets are of the sewn-on flap variety.
- Price: $269
- Weight: packed weight per manufacturer 5 lbs. 10 oz., minimum weight per manufacturer 5 lbs. 2 oz., weight according to our scale 6 lbs. 6.4 oz.
Setup: Setting up this tent is very straightforward using the instructions attached to the tent bag. One important detail about setting up this tent: due to the pre-bent shape of the poles, we found this tent the most difficult of the three to set up alone. A second person was helpful to keep one end of the pole in its grommet while we attached the other end of the pole.
What We Liked: We like the vertical walls! This unique shape makes the tent notably more spacious. We’re also fans of the included footprint一it’s a nice piece of gear to have to prolong the life of the tent floor, even if it adds some weight. We like the two rainfly vents at the top of each vestibule. And a small detail makes set up easier一the small ridgeline pole is easy to get into its grommets thanks to big webbing loops to pull on while inserting it.
What We Would Change: Despite how helpful it is to have a footprint, the footprint is too big to stay taut when trying to keep the poles in the grommets of both the tent body and ground tarp. This problem is noticeable when trying to move the tent slightly before staking it out. We’re also not sure why there are buckles that clip onto the rainfly on both the footprint and the tent body. The buckles on the footprint would be useful if the tent could be set up using only the footprint, poles, and rainfly as lightweight shelter. But the tent’s structure relies on the small ridgeline pole that only attaches to the tent body, so we don’t think the Limelight can be set up without the tent body and therefore aren’t sure what the purpose of the footprint buckles are.
Bottom Line: We’d choose the Marmot Limelight 2P over the other two tents in this review for long-term living, thanks to the spacious interior. But at over five pounds, we’ll save the Limelight for car camping adventures and choose something lighter when backpacking.
MSR Zoic 2
MSR markets its Zoic 2 as an “extra spacious and roomy” 2-person backpacking tent that’s ideal for entry-level backpackers, thanks to its ease of setup and spaciousness. Of note, the actual dimensions of the Zoic 2 may be larger than other MSR backpacking tents, but the dimensions are very similar to those of the Eureka Midori and Marmot Limelight, both reviewed here. The Zoic has six interior mesh storage pockets.
- Price: $349.95
- Weight: packed weight per manufacturer 4 lbs. 13 oz., minimum weight per manufacturer 4 lbs. 6 oz., weight according to our scale 4 lbs. 13.8 oz.
Setup: The Zoic is very simple to set up, and easy-to-understand instructions are attached to the tent bag.
What We Liked: Like the Eureka Midori, we like the nearly all mesh tent body that makes a great ventilated bug shelter. The zippered doors on the Zoic’s vestibules are along the side of the vestibule rather than in the center, so more of your stuff can stay dry when opening and closing the zippers in the rain. We like the weight of this tent; it is the lightest tent in this review, and MSR achieves this weight in part by using thin metal plates with holes that the tent poles fit inside of rather than buckles to attach the rainfly to the tent body.
What We Would Change: The stuff sack is small, and it’s tough to fit the tent inside it.Bottom Line: As the lightest and smallest-when-packed tent in the group, we’ll choose the Zoic 2 next time we go backpacking!