Avoid a 1-person tent: Why a 2-person tent is a better choice

Whether you’re car camping or planning a multi-day thru hike, your tent choice is one of the most important gear choices you make. The tent is what keeps you safe, dry, and warm during whatever situations arise while camping, and choosing the right one can make a world of difference in how much you enjoy your trip. 

Many backpackers and thru-hikers debate on whether they should get a 1-person tent or a 2-person tent for their trip. Although I personally use a 1-person tent, I actually recommend a 2-person tent for most people. This is because 2-person tents provide more space for your gear, room other people (or animals), and are more comfortable if you’re stuck inside during bad weather. 

If you’re debating on which tent you should get for your trip, check out my recommendations below to determine which tent size may be better for you!

yellow and gray 2-person tent with rain fly in forest with dirt and pine needle covered ground

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Why 2-Person Tents are Better Than 1-Person Tents

Choosing a tent is an extremely personal decision as everyone values different characteristics in their shelter. Some prefer their tent to be ultralight, while others may want more space inside the tent for their gear. 

I personally use (and love) a 1-person tent. But, I’m also a 5’4″ female who doesn’t require a roomy tent for space. In my experience, by observing others I camp with, a 2-person tent is well worth the extra weight and investment for most people.  Why? Well, let’s look at each of the reasons below. 

2-Person Tents Are Better for Storing Gear

When you’ve made it to camp after a long day, you want to get all your gear settled as quickly as possible. Most people do this by storing their backpack and other gear inside their tent in order to protect it from the elements and any critters that may wander through the campsite during the night. 

But, backpacks stuffed with gear for a thru-hike can be quite large and 2-person tents have the space to comfortably store all that gear inside the tent without compromising where you’ll put your legs while sleeping. Without that tent space, you’ll be forced to find another way to protect your pack – either by hanging it from a tree, or just leaving it to the elements/animals and hope for the best. 

If you want to ensure your gear is secured at night, and have room to sleep comfortably in your tent then a 2-person tent is a better choice than a 1-person tent. 

green 2-person tent open with red sleeping bag inside sitting on dirt ground with mountains in background

2-Person Tents are Better for Sharing with Others and Pets

Even people who plan to hike solo most of the time, don’t hike solo 100% of the time. You may have friends who want to try out camping for the first time and don’t have their own gear. Or family who travels from somewhere else to take a trip with you. Should you ever find yourself in that situation, it can be really nice to not have to worry about where you’ll get a tent for them – you already have the extra space! 

But, even if you think you’ll never have another person to go camping with you, you may,  at some point, camp with a dog. Dogs are excellent camping partners, but when it’s time for sleep they should be in the tent with you. One-person tents definitely don’t have room for any type of sleeping buddy, including a dog, making a 2-person tent a better choice. 

Now, it is important to keep in mind that most 2-person tents are really 1.5 person tents (especially for taller or larger people). When choosing your tent, if you need room for a Great Dane or someone who is a larger-than-average human, a 2-person tent may not fully cut it. But, for most people (and most dogs) a 2-person tent is plenty of room to have space when camping. 

2-Person Tents are More Comfortable in Poor Weather

No one really wants to get stuck in a multi-hour (or day) rainstorm when camping. But, we all know that sometimes you can’t prevent bad weather and it’s something you have to endure. 

When poor weather occurs you’re going to want some extra room in your tent in order to be comfortable while you hold out for the storm to end. If you’re unable to sit up comfortably and stretch out your legs in your tent, then you’re not going to be happy to spend hours inside of it in the day.

Before choosing a tent size, be sure you’ve thought about how long you could comfortably hang out in there without sleeping. If it’s only an hour or two, you’ll like want to consider sizing up. 

orange 1 person tent with green backpack, black footprint, and gallon of water sitting in front. Tall green grass towers over the tent in the back

When is a 1-person tent better than a 2-person tent?

Now 2-person tents aren’t always the best choice for everyone. I personally use a 1-person tent, love it, and have never regretted my choice. But, I fall into a small group of people for whom a 1-peron tent is truly better than a 2-person tent. If you’re like me then you may value some of the characteristics below more than the ones discussed above. 

You care about pack weight: I am a shorter, smaller female so every ounce in my pack matters. 2-person tents generally don’t weigh that much more than 1-person tents, but I want to limit weight as much as possible, so I opt for a 1-person tent. 

You don’t need extra space: Again, because I’m a smaller, shorter female I actually have some wiggle room in a 1-person tent. In fact, I can keep my backpack inside my 1-person tent and still sleep comfortably. I’m definitely the minority in this, but because of my size a 1-person tent works for me. 

You prioritize tent warmth: Smaller tents stay warmer because there’s not as much air flowing through an open space. I always have to keep in mind how to stay warm while camping and choose my sleeping bag, pad, and clothes to maximize warmth. So, I prioritize smaller tents to help with that while camping. 

Again, these are the three main reason I chose my 1-person tent over a 2-person tent, but I do lose out on some space and comfort by having a smaller tent. In order to choose the best tent for you, you’ll need to identify what you care about most while camping, and choose the size that works best for you.  

2-Person and 1-Person Tent Recommendations

By now you should have a good idea of which size of tent you want to get and now it’s time to choose the brand you want to purchase. There are many options to choose from, so I’ve rounded up a few that I’ve either personally used, or have received recommendations from other hikers/campers that would make excellent options for anyone looking to buy a tent. 

Best Budget 2-Person and 1-Person Tent Recommendations

Sticking to a budget can be difficult for outdoorsy people as there is seemingly always a new piece of gear to purchase. But, there are some great options for 1-person and 2-person tents for those who are budget-conscious. 

The Clostnature 1-person tent was my very first backpacking tent and I loved it. It held up in rainy weather and was lightweight enough for my first multi-day thru hikes. They also have a 2-person tent, which I haven’t tried but would predict that it’s just as excellent as the 1-person option. The downside is that this tent isn’t super warm so only use it in warmer temperatures. 

orange 1-person tent sits on grass overlooking the Long Island Sound with a tree in the foreground

Best Intermediate 2-Person and 1-Person Tent Recommendations

For more experienced backpackers, or those with a little more wiggle room in their budget, the next level up in cost for a tent is entirely worth the extra expense. These tents are generally more durable and can withstand harsher temperatures and weather conditions than the budget tents. 

My recommendation for an intermediate level tent is to go for the Eureka! Midori tent. The main feature of this tent that I find excellent is the extra long rain fly that goes all the way down to the ground. You’re essentially guaranteed to stay dry when camping in an Eureka. Plus, they’re designed a bit taller than most other smaller tents, making them more comfortable and roomy to hang out in for a while.

This tent also comes in 1-person and 2-peron variety, so no matter what size you want they’ll have a tent to meet your needs. 

Best Splurgy 2-Person and 1-Person Tent Recommendations

For those looking to go all out on the best gear available my recommendation is to go with the Nemo Dragonfly tent. The careful design in these tents really make them standout above the rest. They withstand brutal weather, including high winds and  low temperatures, are designed to be extra roomy on the inside, and are ultralight. You’ll be very happy to have a Nemo Dragonfly anytime you’re camping. 

They make this tent in 1-person and a 2-person versions and both come with a lifetime warranty when purchased from an authorized dealer. 

Hopefully you’ve found all the information you need about choosing a 1-person tent or a 2-person tent for your next trip. This big decision is a personal one, and it will always depend on what you personally want from your tent. But, no matter what you want there are some great options out there for you and hopefully this guide has helped you to chose one that will work for you!

Keep in mind that when you’re camping or thru-hiking, a tent isn’t all you need! For other gear check out our camping gear checklist so you are prepared for your next camping adventure! 

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