Best 4-Person Backpacking Tents for Families

Best 4-Person Backpacking Tents for Families


Are you in search of the perfect 4-person backpacking tent for your family’s backpacking adventures? Look no further!

When it comes to backpacking with children or backpacking as a family, the weight of your gear becomes an important consideration. From carrying your own equipment to shouldering the additional load for your children’s gear. Finding lightweight gear options can greatly enhance the experience. While I encourage making the most of the gear you have, investing in a good, lightweight family backpacking tent can offer numerous benefits. In this article, I will cover the BEST 4-person backpacking tents.

4-Person Backpacking Tents

In general, I don’t think companies are super focused on their 4-person backpacking tents. It’s not as common of a need (especially 3-season, 4-person backpacking tents). However, I think the demand for a good 4-person backpacking tent is growing with more and more families backpacking.

Often companies are also envisioning four adults splitting the load of these tents vs. maybe one adult with 3 kids or 2 adults with 2 kids. For families using 4-person backpacking tents I would be cautious of the weight. You won’t have 4 adults to shoulder that weight.

This article is for you if you are looking for the lightest, best-priced 4-person backpacking tents on the market!

Freestanding Backpacking Tents

I am including both freestanding tents and non-freestanding tents. I think it is important to explore both options. However, I will say I generally steer away from trekking pole supported tents for family backpacking.

If you aren’t familiar, a freestanding tent functions on its own without having to be staked down. A non-freestanding tent needs to be staked down to use.

There is also a hybrid between the two called semi-freestanding.These tents are not as common. They typically include a pole structure that helps keep them upright more like a non-freestanding, but still needs to be staked out like a freestanding tent.

Weight of 4-Person Backpacking Tents

I am not including footprint weight in the total tent weight. Especially, as some of these tents manage fine without a separate footprint. (The separate footprint is also not factored into the cost). I am listing the packed weight of all tents, not minimum trail weight - which can mean you are leaving out extra guylines, stakes, tent pole brace, etc.

On any pyramid tents I am also including the weight and cost of adding the tent insert to make it more like a traditional tent as well as the cost of the center pole if not already included in the price. You can learn more about pyramid tents below.

Breakdown of 4-Person Backpacking Tents

Breakdown of 4-person backpacking tents by weight - lightest to heaviest. More info on tents is listed below.

Tent: Weight: Price: Freestanding/Non-Freestanding
Tarptent Hogback 3.9 lbs $529 Semi-freestanding,included pole structure that keeps it upright
Hyperlite ULTAMID 4(including tent insert & carbon pole) 4.16 lbs $1,720 Non-freestanding, pyramid style tent
Snow Peak Fal Pro. Air 4 4.6 lbs $800 Freestanding tent
Argali Absaroka 4P Tent (including tent insert & pole) This tent is also stove compatible 5 lbs $670 Non-freestanding, pyramid style tent
Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL4 5.6 lbs $800 Freestanding
Klymit Maxfield 4 Person 5.6 lbs $529 Freestanding
Black Diamond 4P Tent(includes tent insert) 6.4 lbs $850 Non-freestanding, pyramid style tent
Kelty Late Start 4-Person Tent 6.87 lbs $230 Freestanding
Mountainsmith Morrison Evo 4 7 lbs $270 Freestanding
MSR Elixir 4 9.3 lbs $490 Freestanding

In this second table I have the square footage of each tent floor broken down as well as the space to weight ratio. Showing how much space you get per pound on each tent. I have not listed vestibule space or included that in the square footage. Be aware you will find limited vestibule space on some of the lighterweight tents. You will also find pyramid tents to have the most square footage overall.

Tent: Weight/Price: Tent SQFT: Space to Weight Ratio (just tent space)
Tarptent Hogback 3.9 lbs / $529 51 sqft 13 sqft per lb
Hyperlite ULTAMID 4(including tent insert & carbon pole) 4.16 lbs / $1,700 70 sqft 16.8 sqft per lb
Snow Peak Fal Pro. Air 4 4.6 lbs / $800 49 sqft 10.6 sqft per lb
Argali Absaroka 4P Tent (including tent insert & pole) This tent is also stove compatible 5 lbs / $670 69 sqft 13.8 sqft per lb
Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL4 5.6 lbs / $800 56.8 sqft 10.1 sqft per lb
Klymit Maxfield 4 Person 5.6 lbs / $529 53 sqft 9.5 sqft per lb
Black Diamond 4P Tent(includes tent insert) 6.4 lbs / $850 65.3 sqft 10 sqft per lb
Kelty Late Start 4-Person Tent 6.87 lbs / $230 55.6 sqft 8 sqft per lb
Mountainsmith Morrison Evo 4 7 lbs / $270 55.4 sqft 7.8 sqft per lb
MSR Elixir 4 9.3 lbs / $499 $53.7 sqft 5.7 sqft per lb

OVERALL BEST 4-Person Backpacking Tent - Tarptent Hogback

Tarptent Hogback 4 Person Backpacking Tent Tarptent’s Hogback tent stands out as the top choice, offering an unbeatable combination of price, weight, and design. Priced at an incredible $529 and weighing in at a mere 4 pounds, this tent outshines the competition. Even the Hyperlite Ultamid 4 at a similar weight comes with a hefty price tag, making the Hogback the ultimate winner in terms of value.

What sets the Hogback apart from other tents (besides its weight & price) is its careful consideration for family backpacking adventures. Tarptent specifically designed this tent with their own family in mind, and it clearly shows. From the spacious interior to the simple setup process and remarkable weight, crafted to meet the needs of adventurous families. Realistically none of the other tents were specifically designed for family backpackers (adults + kids)!

Although not freestanding, the Hogback tent boasts a VERY UNIQUE design and is actually considered a SEMI-FREESTANDING. It features a single arch pole along with corner stakes, resulting in a brilliantly engineered setup that is incredibly user-friendly (takes two minutes to set-up). Semi-freestanding tents are a happy middle ground giving you more space and tent stability, while also maintaining a low weight and pack size.

Once properly staked out, you’ll be amazed by the generous interior space. It’s worth noting that staking down or anchoring the tent is necessary, so plan accordingly for your chosen camping location (same applies to any non freestanding tent). Additionally, if you desire extra support, an additional arch pole can be purchased separately.

The Hogback tent EASILY earns the top spot as the best 4-person backpacking tent on the market. Stay tuned for my upcoming in-depth review, where I’ll delve further into the features and performance of this tent. I will also talk about some of the different options available - the full mesh or partial solid interior. OR for an incredible price you can purchase both tent inserts!

But just know in my opinion nothing beats this TENT!

Hyperlite Ultamid 4

Hyperlite Ultamid 4 Person Backpacking Tent When it comes to weight, Hyperlite products truly excel. No doubt their Ultamid 4 pyramid style tent is an incredible design, very durable and lightweight, but it comes with a steep price tag.

One of the factors contributing to its higher cost is the need to purchase the tent insert separately. While the Ultamid 4 tent itself has a list price of $1,000, it essentially functions as a fast-pitch fly design, where you utilize the tent fly as the tent itself. This unique feature allows for a remarkably low weight of only 1.7 pounds and you can pitch it tightly to the ground.

However, to accommodate family backpackers with young kids, I highly recommend investing in the 4-person tent insert, which adds an additional $600 to the price. With the tent insert, the total weight increases to 3.5 pounds.

Furthermore, opting for the separately sold carbon pole instead of using two trekking poles for support is another worthwhile investment. (This is not a freestanding tent.) It adds an additional $120 and 0.66 pounds to the total weight. Thus, the grand total for the tent, tent insert, and carbon pole amounts to approximately $1,720, with a weight totaling around 4.16 pounds.

There’s no denying the quality, versatility, and design of this tent. It serves remarkably well all year long and can potentially replace the need for a separate 2 or 3-person tents, making it an all-in-one ultralight solution. It’s worth noting that Hyperlite also offers a 2-person tent inserts for this tent, which then allows for storage for larger gear items like bikes, skis, packrafts, etc.

Pyramid Style Tents

What is a pyramid style backpacking tent?

Pyramid or commonly referred to as “mid” tents are tents or shelters that have a single tent pole in the center giving it its pyramid shape. This style of tent is NOT freestanding and needs to be staked down to take their shape. (Often you can also hang these tents if terrain permits vs using a center pole.)

Pyramid tents can be excellent lightweight, weather resilient shelters - you will find these types of tents on ski touring, winter mountaineering trips or even backcountry hunting. Their sloping walls hold up well to both wind and snow loading, making these shelters optimal all year long. This style of tent or shelter can range from ultralight shelters to large tipis.

The pyramid shape can allow for a larger interior space which is why you will find lots of 4-person pyramid style tents. With most pyramid style tents or shelters you will need to purchase the additional tent insert to make it a more traditional style tent. Used without an insert has you sleeping on the ground or just a footprint (if purchased separately). Obviously, without the insert this is a great ultralight option, but isn’t as friendly for backpacking with kids, especially young kids.

I would also prefer a pyramid style tent with a center pole vs using trekking poles. It’s just more stable and easier especially if you are trekking with children.

One of the downsides to pyramid tents is they have very little storage space (no true vestibule). The storage space is espeically limited if you are filling a pyramid tent with the max person capcity and need to store everyones bags inside. However, I have found it is hard to find ANY ultralight 4-person backpacking tent (a tent around 4ish pounds) that has a large vestibule space.

Pyramid tents also by nature of their design lack overall space inside, especially headroom. Some would only opt to put 3 people in a 4-person pyramid tent.

Below I have listed some other brands that have a 4-person pyramid style tents:

Black Diamond has their Mega Light 4P tent(2.8 pounds). Both their tent and tent insert comes in at $850 and weighs about 6.4 pounds.

Big Agnes has their Gold Camp 5 Tarp (5.25 pounds), which says to sleep 5 people. Although, one person will be sleeping at the feet of everyone else. The Gold Camp 5 Tarp plus Gold Camp 5 insert comes in at $400 and a total of 8.3 pounds. This pyramid style tent is cheaper than other pyramid style shelters, but it is also heavier.

MSR has their Front Range 4 Person Ultralight Tarp Shelter(2 pounds). Both the tarp and tent insert comes in at $750 and weighs 4.5 pounds. However, their tarp shelter doesn’t come with a pole and is fully reliant on your trekking poles. With the pole your total is $825 and just around 5 pounds total.

Mountain Laurel Designs has their Supermid tent which is very popular for winter use and is extremely lightweight, lighter than the Hyperlite Ultamid and better priced. The Supermid tent ranges in price and weight based on what fabric you select. Anywhere from $1,300 and comes in around 2.8 pounds (including tent insert & separately purchased pole) to $1,100 and around 3.5 pounds (including tent insert & seperately purchased pole).

The last pyramid tent I want to mention is the Argali Absaroka 4-person tent. This pyramid shelter was designed specifically with backcountry hunting in mind. It features a removable stove jack when using in the winter or colder temps. This tent comes in at $670 and 5 pounds (including the separately sold tent insert and pole). This pyramid tent wins in terms of both weight & price. I also love the option for a stove in the winter. This is the next tent on my list to test.

All in all, I still prefer my Tarptent Hogback to these options for our 4-person family backpacking tent. There is only one option on this list that is lighter weight than the Hogback and still twice the price as the Hogback.

Underrated (Freestanding) 4-Person Backpacking Tents

Snow Peak Fal Pro. Air 4 - When it comes to freestanding tents, the Snow Peak Fal Pro Air 4 takes the spotlight. This tent offers the convenience of freestanding design unlike the other tents mentioned thus far. Despite this added feature, it still maintains a respectable weight compared to other tents on the list. Weighing in at 4.6 pounds, it secures its position as the third lightest tent in my lineup. Underrated 4-Person Backpacking Tents Klymit Maxfield 4P - A surprising underrated option. Like the Snow Peak Fal Pro Air 4, it also has a freestanding design, which adds a touch of convenience and ease. What truly sets it apart, however, is its price. It is neck and neck with the ever-so-popular Copper Spur 4-person tent in terms of weight (both around 5.6 pounds). But the Klymit Maxfield shines with its highly competitive price of $530, as opposed to the Copper Spur’s $800 price tag. Underrated 4-Person Backpacking Tents

What about Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL4?

Best 4 Person Backpacking Tents I love Big Agnes. I love their tents. I love our Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL3 (3-person tent). You absolutely get quality with Big Agnes. But when I compare their 4-person Copper Spur to other tents in its category, there are lighter-weight options at better prices, which is why it doesn’t have a higher recommendation for me in the 4-person category.

And while weight isn’t always everything, it can make a big difference in family backpacking when you are already taking on extra gear and extra weight with bringing children along.

Budget Buy 4-Person Backpacking Tent

This tent from Mountainsmith proves that you can buy a budget 4-person backpacking tent for your family. While it does weigh more than the other tents at 7 pounds, it’s a great price to get your family of 4 out backpacking. Best Budget 4-Person Backpacking Tent - Mountainsmith Morrison The Kelty Late Start 4-Person backpacking tent is another great budget buy! It’s even cheaper AND LIGHTER WEIGHT than the Mountainsmith above. The Kelty Late Start comes in at $230 and weighs about 6.78 pounds. Best Budget 4-Person Backpacking Tent - Kelty Late Start

I am using both of these tents as data points to display that as a family of 4 don’t buy a tent over 7 pounds. Yes, I am calling out the MSR Elixir 4. It’s a HEAVY tent at 9.3 pounds and costs $490. Just based on weight and price it comes in at the very bottom of my recommendations.