Nemo Hornet Tent for Bikepacking

With thousands of choices in camping gear these days, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Having more choices in front of you makes your decision that much harder. When it comes to selecting the best tent for bikepacking or ultralight backpacking, it doesn’t get easier.

In this article, we’ll help you decide which tent to buy for your bikepacking endeavors.

We are going to lay out our choices for best bikepacking tents in several different categories. All of these can also be used for ultralight backpacking. We’ll discuss the important criteria to take into consideration when looking at these various ultralight shelters. These criteria range from obvious things like weight, to less obvious aspects, like color choice (which can make all the difference when stealth camping on a bikepacking trip).

People have different priorities when selecting gear. So, we’ve broken our choices into the following tent categories.


Editor’s Choice for Best Bikepacking Tent: MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2-person tent

The MSR Hubba Hubba NX – An affordable bikepacking tent that is durable and will last you for years.

If you want to cut to the chase and are looking for our top recommendation for an ultralight bikepacking tent, the MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2-Person Tent is the one we suggest you invest in. It provides the ultimate balance between packed size, weight, ease of set-up, living space, rain and wind performance, and doesn’t break the bank either. MSR has been around a long time in the tent industry, and the MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2 shows that they know what they are doing. Whether you’re debating this tent for bikpacking or ultralight backpacking, you will not be disappointed.

Summary of Best Bikepacking Tents


Criteria for Choosing the Best Tent for Bikepacking

In order to properly compare these tents and give a solid recommendation, we needed to lay down some ground rules. Every good comparison starts by laying out the categories that will be looked at (no matter what the product is).

You might think that tents for bikepacking must be the same as tents for backpacking, so why not just get the best tent for ultralight backpacking? Well you’re not completely wrong, bikepacking and ultralight backpacking have a lot in common in terms of gear. A tent for ultralight backpacking will certainly work for a bikepacking trip. However, there are some tent features that are more useful when bikepacking than with ultralight backpacking.

Here are the factors we considered when making our selections.

1-person, 2-person, or 3-person Tent

To give a fair comparison among tents, we are comparing the 2-person versions. For those of you looking at 1-person or 3-person tents, we’ve also nominated a Best 1-Person Bikepacking Tent and a Best 3-Person Bikepacking Tent.

Freestanding

For these comparisons, we are only considering free standing tents. For minimalist shelters and tarps, we’ll have an article on shelters and tarps in the future.

Packed Size

Arguably the most important aspect of any bikepacking tent. Bikepacking bags are small to begin with, and space is very limited, so a tent that packs small is going to win a lot of points.

Weight

Also very important, but perhaps not quite as important as in ultralight backpacking. With backpacking, all of that weight is on your back. Making the load lighter directly affects how tired your legs are going to be and how much stress your joints have to take.

With bikepacking on the other hand, there is basically no weight directly on your body (unless you are using a backpack, but that is a different story). Instead, that weight is being carried by the bike’s frame, fork, wheels, etc. That total weight must be hauled along by means of your pedaling of course. However, gearing helps enormously in reducing the effort you must put in to haul that weight. On top of that, your knees are not having to take a huge impact every time you pedal (unlike backpacking where each step puts a significant load on your knee joint because of that weight in the backpack).

Now let’s not pretend that weight is not important in bikepacking. It certainly is. But bikepackers are not like those ultralight backpackers who cut the tags out of their shirts to save weight. An extra pound or two is not going to felt in the same way it would be felt while ultralight backpacking.

With that said, we still considered overall weights in our selections.

Color Selection

Seems pretty ridiculous doesn’t it? Well consider the fact that bikepacking takes you out to very rural areas where you are more likely to be sleeping on public land, city parks, national forests, or even private land that is open to riders. These are areas that are not as far off trail as the areas you reach while ultralight backpacking, which means there’s a much higher chance of having people around.

Now, we believe that most people around the world are well intentioned and that you will have no problems whatsoever pitching your tent just about anywhere. But a bright yellow tent body with a neon orange rain fly is going to attract attention just about anywhere. After a long, hard day of riding, getting unsolicited visitors is not always appreciated. If you get visitors, you would rather have it be on your own terms.

So, this is why our best bikepacking tent choices took into consideration whether or not there was a more mellow color option available.

On an interesting sidenote, we take the opposite approach in our article about choosing the Best Waterproof Cycling Jackets. In that case, the more visible, the better!

Ease of Set-Up and Break Down

This is an important requirement amongst users in any ultralight sport. For whatever reason, bikepackers like to pedal into the evening hours. This might be because pedaling at night offers an alternative to riding during the hottest hours of the day. It could also be because many bikepackers stealth camp or wild camp and want to make as minimal of an impact as possible, so they arrive late and leave early.

Either way, having a tent that is easy to set up in the dark and quick to take down and pack up in the morning makes all the difference.

Floor Space

The area a person has to spread his smelly socks and riding shorts out in is decently important as well. This is a difficult one, as floor space also depends on the intended capacity of the tent (1-person or 2-person ultralight tents). For solo travelers, a 2-person ultralight tent is ideal, and most riders actually think of 2-person ultralight tents as 1+ person tents.

In all cases, trying to fit 2 people in a 2-person ultralight tent is a recipe for an uncomfortable night. However, people like to know that if the 1-person tent is too cramped, there is a 2-person version of the same tent. So, we gave extra consideration to those tents that had 1-person and 2-person versions. Bonus if there is also a 3-person version of the tent.

Durability

These tents will be used and abused, if they’re used for their intended purposes. With that in mind, we looked at the type of material the tent body is made of and if the tent comes with a footprint or not (we HIGHLY recommend getting a footprint).

Cost

Finally, we took cost into consideration, with more affordable tents obviously getting more points in our book.


Best Overall Bikepacking Tent: MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2-Person Tent

Our overall winner is undeniably the MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2. MSR has been in the backpacking and outdoor recreation scene for a long time, and the Hubba Hubba NX 2 should be considered the result of all those years of experience. The NX 2 is an updated version of the already successful Hubba Hubba.

We chose this tent because it does all the important stuff well. It is very lightweight, maximizes inside space, packs down nicely, is decently durable, and does an excellent job of keeping the rain out and withstanding storms.

The fabrics used are pretty standard across many lightweight and ultralight tent models. The 30D ripstop nylon used in the floor fabric does a nice job of maintaining durability while not weighing too much. We still highly recommend buying the Hubba Hubba NX 2 footprint for this tent (sold separately), as that ensures you get many uses out of the tent.

people-lying-in-bikepacking-tent
This is how you want to wake up and choosing the best bikepacking tent will get you there!

We wouldn’t consider this tent to be quite ‘ultralight’, as it is just over the 3 lb. mark. However, when we consider everything that this tent offers in terms of comfort, packability, simplicity, and durability, the few extra ounces are truly insignificant. And remember, we are talking ounces. On a bike, you will not notice that “extra” weight.

We should also mention how easy this tent is to set up and take down. The unified hub and pole system means there’s no time spent trying to figure out which pole is which. Everything is in place already, all you need to do is straighten them and lock them into place.

The tent can also be used without the tent body for those who want to pack just the rainlfly, poles, and footprint (again, the footprint is not included, but highly recommended).

For the price, it is hard to beat the MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2 if you’re looking for a bikepacking tent.

Specifications

  • Weight: 3 lb 7oz.
  • Packed Size: 6 x 18 inches
  • Floor Space: 29 square feet
  • Height: 39 inches
  • Freestanding: Yes
  • Set-Up: Easy
  • Color Selection: Grey/Red
  • Durability: Good

Pros for the MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2-person Tent:

  • Redesigned from previous 2014 version
  • Actually fits 2 people unlike most ultralight 2-person tents
  • Lightweight
  • Great inside living space
  • Easy set up
  • Excellent waterproofing, rain, and wind performance
  • Excellent ventilation

Cons for the MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2-person Tent

  • Footprint sold separately, but definitely worth it

Best Budget Bikepacking Tent: Naturehike Cloud-Up 2-Person Tent

It has been interesting to see these Naturehike tents burst upon the ultralight backpacking, bikepacking, and camping scene. Many of their products mimic tried and true designs, but their tents are a fraction of the price. The Cloud-Up 2-person tent is exactly one of those, making it a cheaper alternative to Big Agnes’ Fly Creek. It won’t win any awards for ingenious design, most comfortable, or lightest tent, but it can hardly be beat for someone looking for a budget bikepacking tent.

The tent comes in 1-, 2-, and 3-person variations, but we’re just looking at the 2-person design. At 4.7 lbs, it’s light enough that you appreciate the weight savings. The 210 T ripstop material does a decent job of withstanding abrasion. The rainfly also performs well in terms of keeping rain out. It’s important to guy out the rain fly to make it be effective, something that people often neglect to do properly.

One door is located at the head of the tent. It is big enough so that it doesn’t cause much of a problem when two people occupy the tent.

morning-view-from-a-bikepacking-tent
Having an ultralight tent for bikepacking will let you get out to spots like this.

Let’s get one thing straight. The Cloud-Up’s product description labels it as an ultralight tent. We would not consider this an ultralight tent. A lightweight backpacking or bikepacking tent? Sure. But if you’re a true ultralight hiker, you’ll probably pass on this tent, unless you don’t mind the extra weight. That’s not to say this tent is heavy by any means though.

One thing you should know with this tent is that it runs a little small. If you’re looking to fit two people in it, go for the 3-person variation. Similarly, if you’re a tall person (more than 5’ 10”), go one size up.

You also need to understand that you get what you pay for. These are not top of the line materials, though you’ll probably get a good 2 or 3 seasons before seeing some performance decrease. For someone just wanting to try out ultralight backpacking or bikepacking, the Naturehike Cloud-Up tent may a good option.

On top of all that, it seems Naturehike has understood that backing their products is important. Their customer service is pretty good.

Specifications

  • Weight: 4 lbs 11 oz.
  • Packed Size: 5.1 x 15.7 inches
  • Floor Space: 28 square feet
  • Height: 40 inches
  • Freestanding: Yes
  • Set-Up: Medium
  • Color Selection: Green, Orange
  • Durability: Average

Pros of the Naturehike Cloud-Up 2-Person Tent

  • Cheap
  • Packs down small
  • Relatively light
  • Tried and true design
  • Can be used without tent body
  • Good rain performance
  • Footprint not included

Cons of the Naturehike Cloud-Up 2-Person Tent

  • Zippers can snag
  • If you’re a taller person, go for the larger variation
  • Very obviously a copy of Big Agnes design, with heavier materials

Best Lightweight Bikepacking Tent: Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 2 2-Person Tent

If it weren’t for the price tag, the Copper Spur HV UL 2 might be our top choice. Big Agnes has been a heavy hitter in the ultralight backpacking gear world and the Copper Spur is one of their premier pieces of gear. Sure, it’s got some flaws, but all tents too. We also think that the features far outweigh the flaws.

The HV UL 2 improves on its earlier Copper Spur 2 in several areas. The design is stronger and more stable in wind and under heavy rain loads. It has also been redesigned to be lighter by about 10 oz. The ventilation, a common complaint on the previous version, is also much better in the UL 2. Finally, the door zippers have been designed to operate more smoothly.

One of the biggest things the HV UL 2 has going for it is living space. With 29 square feet, it really does fit 2 people. It does this by having a shorter crossbar pole that runs across the top, which props up the wall and gives that extra space.  When the rain fly is installed, you also get two very decently sized vestibules. These are located on each side, since another feature is having one door for each person.

Set up is easy, using the DAC featherlite poles which comes in a single unified piece. No trying to figure out which pole goes where.

camping-in-a-yurt-not-a-bikepacking-tent
This is probably not the best choice if you’re trying to choose the best bikepacking tent. But it certainly looks comfortable.

The floor of the tent uses double ripstop, making it decently durable. Most importantly though, is that a small hole in the floor won’t continue getting bigger (thanks ripstop nylon!). The doubling of this material helps with that. Of course, adding a footprint is a huge help as well. The footprint is not included, but we recommend one.

Let’s also restate that one of the biggest advantages this tent has is how light it is. We would definitely consider this an ultralight tent. You will forget that it is there. Fortunately, the quality doesn’t take a significant hit with all this weight reduction. And for the amount of room you get inside, it is hard to beat.

Finally, we appreciate that there are two color options: green and grey/orange. That gives a choice for those of us that like to blend into our surroundings, as well as an option for those who like to have something bright and easy to find.

Specifications

  • Weight: 3 lbs. 1 oz.
  • Packed Size: 4 x 19.5 inches
  • Floor Space: 29 square feet
  • Height: 40 inches
  • Freestanding: Yes/No
  • Set-Up: Easy
  • Color Selection: Olive Green, Grey/Orange
  • Durability: Excellent

Pros of the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 2 2-Person Tent

  • Excellent quality
  • Excellent durability
  • Very lightweight
  • Excellent customer service
  • Good color choices

Cons of the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 2 2-Person Tent

  • High quality has costs
  • Footprint sold separately

Best Ultralight Bikepacking Tent: Nemo Hornet 2P Tent

The Nemo Hornet – Click for Price

The Nemo Hornet 2P, and its updated Hornet Elite 2P variation, are as about as ultralight as you can get in the free standing sphere. At just over 2 lbs. (and even less for the Elite version) the Hornet will make you wonder if you even remembered to bring a tent at all because of how light it is, and how well it packs down.

Some people will inevitably say that it is not truly freestanding, so let’s address that. There are two short guy lines at each corner of the foot area that have to be staked out in order to get the proper room for your feet. You could certainly get away without guying these out, but that’s not quite as ideal. However, the tent will have no problem staying up on its own. We therefore still consider it mostly freestanding.

The alpine is a harsh environment for bikepacking. Bringing ultralight gear is key, so choosing the best bikepacking tent you can afford is important.

Materials are featherweight, yet durable. Once again, no footprint is included, so getting one of those should be high on your priority list as it goes a long way in extending the life of your tent. From our usage, the materials have held up very well on bikepacking as well as ultralight backpacking trips, even after spending days on the trail (or weeks on the long trips).

The space inside the 2-person version of this tent isn’t necessarily tight, but it’s slightly smaller than other ultralight tents. Two standard sleeping pads will likely be touching at the shoulders, though two people sharing the tent won’t have a problem with space. In our view, it is the minimum amount of space needed in order to get a good night’s rest, and that’s all we ask for. That being said, the Nemo Hornet would be ideal tent for backpacking or camping with a dog.

One thing that is worth mentioning is how much head and foot room there is. For tall people, say over 6’, you will still have a few inches to spare on one end or the other. For shorter folks, that means adequate space to store gear and clothes. Vestibule space is also more than ample.

The rainfly is also very well designed. It covers just enough space without letting water in. We also liked that there are many guy lines that can be used to make this set up solid in a windstorm. On the inside of the fly, Velcro straps make it easy to attach the rainfly to the poles, which avoids tent collapse and increases stability.

For bikepacking, we love this tent, as it can be packed in almost any bikepacking bag. The poles might be a little long to stuff into the frame bag, so the best place for these is up front along the handlebars. Otherwise, the entire tent will easily fit into a seat bag, frame bag, or handlebar bag.

Specifications

  • Weight: 2lbs. 5 oz.
  • Packed Size: 3 x 15 inches
  • Floor Space: 28 square feet
  • Height: 40 inches
  • Freestanding: Yes, mostly
  • Set-Up: Medium
  • Color Selection: Green/grey
  • Durability: Great

Pros of the Nemo Hornet 2P Tent

  • Extremely lightweight
  • Extremely packable
  • Zippers don’t snag
  • Good for tall people
  • Color selection is good
  • Head room is very good
  • Excellent ventilation
  • Two doors

Cons of the Nemo Hornet 2P Tent

  • Need to guy out two corners, but these are very easy
  • Footprint sold separately

Best 1-person Bikepacking and Ultralight Backpacking Tent: Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL Bikepack

The Fly Creek HV UL Bikepack – A fantastic option for bikepackers looking to minimize packing space.

If you’re going to be bikepacking solo, you want to invest in high quality gear. No one else is going to be able to bail you out if your gear fails. For this recommendation, we chose perhaps one of the most robust solo tents: the Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL Bikepack .

The huge advantage of the Fly Creek Bikepack is the pole length of 12″. That means the poles will easily fit between most (if not all) drop bar setups. Most ultralight tents have pole lengths in the 15″ range, which makes them hard to pack on a bike. But at 12″ pole length, the Fly Creek Bikepack solves that problem.

With a minimal weight of 2 lbs. 6 oz., you’ll undoubtedly have one of the most reliable and well-built 1-person ultralight tents on the market. The space inside is more than ample for one person at 19 square feet. Note that this is less than the Nemo Hornet 2P, which some people are also using as a 1-person tent for backpacking. This means that the Fly Creek is doable with a dog, but you won’t have the same amount of room as with the Hornet. However, the 2P version of the Fly Creek Bikepack comes in at only 4 oz heavier, but gives you 28 square feet, rivaling the Nemo Hornet 2P.

For solo bikepackers, the Fly Creek Bikepack is very durable, low-profile, and the color is discrete. Wild and stealth camping can be done fairly easily. Performance in the rain is excellent, with the rain fly moving water far away from the tent body.

The Fly Creek Bikepack has one door, which shouldn’t be an issue. The rainfly gives a very large vestibule in front of this door, and is a great place to store your helmet, shoes, backpack, and other gear. The profile of the tent is also ideal for windy situations, not letting rain come up and under the rainfly.

Set up is also very easy and is similar to the Nemo Hornet 2P in that it uses two short guy lines on either side of the feet to make the tent body taught. These are very easy to set up and could even be guyed out using big rocks if the soil is not easy to put a stake into.  

Specifications

  • Weight: 2 lbs. 6oz. (1p) or 2lbs. 10 oz. (2p)
  • Packed Size: 5 x 12 inches
  • Floor Space: 19 square feet
  • Height: 38 inches
  • Freestanding: Yes, mostly
  • Set-Up: Easy
  • Color Selection: Gray/green
  • Durability: Excellent

Pros of the Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL Bikepack Tent

  • Extremely light
  • Packs down into next to nothing
  • 12″ tent poles that you can pack easily onto handlebars
  • Easy set up
  • More than enough room insde
  • Good color for wild camping and stealth camping

Cons of the Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL Tent

  • Footprint not included – Find here.
  • Has to be guyed out at the feet, but this is easy

Best 3-Person and 4-person Bikepacking and Ultralight Backpacking Tent: Copper Spur UL 3 and 4 Person Tent

If you’re bikepacking or ultralight hiking with kids or a dog, you might want to consider a 3-person or 4-person tent. In these cases, we’ve got to hand it to Big Agnes again for their Copper Spur series of tents. We rave about this design because it has been so successful over the years and Big Agnes’ customer service is top notch.

The biggest drawback that many people find with backpacking as a family or with others is the sheer amount of gear that must be hauled. In the past, this has been an issue, since bigger 3-person and 4-person can be heavy, bulky, and be hard to set up.

The Copper Spur UL 3 and UL 4 solve those problems. With the 4-person version coming in at only 5 lbs. it’s quite a feat that so little material can hold so many people. The 4-person version is considerably taller than the 3- person version (50 inches compared to 44 inches), and that extra room is needed. The vestibules also provide a lot of room for gear. You could almost fit two extra people they are so big.

For being such big tents, the Copper Spur UL 3 and UL 4 are surprisingly easy and quick to set up. Both versions use unified hub and pole systems (two systems per tent). Even though they are tall both of these version do a good job of holding up in rain and wind. The large vents don’t let rain in even when windy. Such large vents are necessary with so many people creating heat in such a small space.

Lastly, we can’t recommend Big Agnes’ customer service enough. They understand that these larger tents are often used by families and kids can be rough with gear sometimes. Big Agnes does a great job getting you replacement gear quickly.

Specifications (3-person/4-person)

  • Weight: 4 lbs. /5 lbs.
  • Packed Size: 6.5 x 21 inches/5 x 21.5 inches
  • Floor Space: 43 square feet/57 square feet
  • Height: 44 inches/50 inches
  • Freestanding: Yes
  • Set-Up: Medium
  • Color Selection: Grey/Orange, Olive Green (3-person and 4-person)
  • Durability: Excellent

Pros of the Copper Spur UL 3 and 4 Person Tent

  • Great quality
  • Easy set up
  • 2 huge doors
  • Good amount of space
  • Amazingly lightweight for its size
  • Completely freestanding
  • Huge vestibules for gear
  • Weight is easily split between 3 or 4 people
  • Great Big Agnes customer Service

Cons of the Copper Spur UL 3 and 4 Person Tent

  • Spendy, but compare that to buying individual tents
  • Footprint sold separately, but highly recommended

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