Best 3 Person Backpacking Tents: Reviews & Ratings

Discover the best 3 person backpacking tents as I review the Big Agnes Jack Rabbit Marmot Limelight & MSR Carbon Reflex three person backpacking tents.

With technology advancing as quickly as it is, and companies taking more and more stock in what their customers have to say, you have an amazing selection of 3 man, lightweight backpacking tents.

But with so much selection, that also means there are plenty being made that aren’t worth your time or money.

Backpacking in Colorado

That’s me, backpacking in Colorado

The best thing you can do to make sure you avoid wasting your time or money on these sad sack shelters is to educate yourself on what makes a good tent good.

When you’ve become familiar with the features that go into making the best 3 person backpacking tents, then you can easily pick out the good ones from the crowd.

And if you need a bit more of a helping hand than that, you can take a look at the bottom of this article, where I point out three of the best 3 person backpacking tent models being sold today.

And that’s why I wrote this article. After backpacking for over a decade, I know what to look for in a backpacking tent and what to avoid. And now I want to share my knowledge with you.

What to Look for in a 3 Person Backpacking Tent

Tents come in a variety of sizes and styles, differing in terms of weight, size, protection, and price, among many other factors. A backpacking tent is different from others because it’s meant to be highly portable.

Want to skip this part?

OK… Let’s hop straight to the top, 3 person backpacking tents

3 person backpacking tent

Allyson & I backpacking in Colorado with our ultralight tent

With a backpacking tent, you should be able to hike into any location easily and comfortably, without the weight that comes naturally in a larger shelter. The best backpacking tents are lightweight & collapse into nothing because in the end, you are the one who has to bear its burden.

In that regard, a lightweight construction is an incredibly important feature of any backpacking tent you look into buying. But it isn’t the only thing to look for. Here’s a list of features and design elements to bear in mind when you’re searching for the best 3 person backpacking tent.

Weight

As I’ve already mentioned, weight is of supreme importance when it comes to backpacking tents. Because they need to be super lightweight ultralight tents are tight on the square footage, meaning you shouldn’t have a problem getting cozy with your bunkmate.

Protection

Even though it’s light–and necessarily small–your backpacking tent should still afford you all of the same protections of a bigger tent.

You never know what the weather has in store, so make sure you get a model that’s waterproof–or at the very least water resistant–and able to stand up against the wind. If you’re camping in colder climates, you’ll also want to find something that can keep the heat in well.

Price

For any kind of tent, this is the factor that most people dwell on. Hey, I know that money doesn’t grow on trees. We have to be as thrifty as possible.

The trick then is finding a tent that gives you protection, is lightweight, has plenty of interior space, is easy to set up, and still won’t break the bank.

Keep in mind, though, that the tents with the best features will cost you the most money.

Size

By their very natures, backpacking tents are fairly small–they have to be in order for them to be so lightweight. But that doesn’t mean you have to be content with sleeping in a sardine can–but if you are, you can go super light!

Set up

This isn’t the most important factor on the list, but it’s still worth your time to research. If you can, try to find a tent that is easy to assemble. Not only will this save you from the frustrations inherent in erecting more complex shelters, but it can also save your bacon if you find yourself witnessing the beginnings of an unexpected rain storm.

There are a lot of great tents out there, but for every one you find, there are two lemons waiting to distract you.

But now it’s time to separate the losers & winners and share what I think are the top 3, best 3 person backpacking tents.

Big Agnes Jack Rabbit SL3 Tent Review

Big Agnes Jack Rabbit SL3 Review

Big Agnes is a company that’s most famous for their larger tents–you probably could have guessed that by the brand name, right? But they also make some real mean, lightweight tents.

I personally own the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2 (SUPER SWEET!), but this page is about the best 3 person backpacking tents, not 2 person.

And the Big Agnes Jack Rabbit 3 person backpacking tent is the best of them all in this size & weight category.

One of the best things about this tent–but by no means the only good thing–is that it weighs in at a mere 4 pounds, 12 ounces. This makes hiking it in to a campsite an absolute breeze. It’s also just 7″ x 21″ when packed, making it easy to stow away in a backpack.

Despite its light weight and small size when bundled up, the Jack Rabbit still offers a ton of living space: 43 square feet. And there’s also a 9-square-foot vestibule to house your gear.

Customer Raves:

  • Very easy to assemble
  • Excellent storage pocket design
  • Great at keeping condensation at bay

Where to Buy:

MSR Carbon Reflex 3 Tent Review

MSR Carbon Reflex 3 Review

MSR is the manufacturer of some really amazing gear. Their stoves, cookware, and water purifiers are some of the best out there. And their tents ain’t half bad, either.

The Carbon Reflex is one of the most popular tents in the MSR lineup because it’s so small and light, yet it has the ability to protect you well against the elements while you relax in a living area that’s surprisingly spacious.

This tent is four ounces lighter than the Big Agnes Jack Rabbit and when it’s packed up, it’s an inch shorter, but there’s still nearly 42 square feet of sleeping room. And the vestibule is 10 square feet.

With carbon poles, a DuraShield-coated rainfly, and plenty of pockets for personal storage, this is without a doubt one of the best 3 person backpacking tent models for sale today.

Customer Raves:

  • Quick and simple set up
  • Included rainfly for extra weather protection
  • Lots of interior acreage

Where to Buy:

Marmot Limelight 3 Tent Review

Marmot Limelight 3 Review

Marmot used to make a really fantastic tent back in the day called the Marmot Swallow.

People loved it because it was small, light, and super tough.

When they stopped making the Swallow, people were up in arms–me included.

Until they–and I–realized that the Limelight is the same thing…only much better.

This is a very lightweight, very small, super protective shelter. It doesn’t matter how bad the weather gets, this sturdy 3 person backpacking tent will keep you safe. And it will keep you dry, too.

With two doors, two vestibules, and three-season protection, the Marmot Limelight should be one of your first stops along the road to finding the best 3 person backpacking tent for you and your needs.

Customer Raves:

  • Includes a ground tarp and loft
  • Great against high winds
  • Bone dry interior in rough weather

Where to Buy:

Learn more about ultralight backpacking gear with my overview on everything related to them!

Or head back from 3 Person BackPacking Tents to Glacier National Park Travel Guide’s homepage.

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Comments

  1. I have enjoyed my Bibler Ahwahnee for 15+ years. Mine is the larger model suitable for 3+ adults that was made before Bibler was bought out by BD. Surprisingly light for a 4 person, 4 season tent. Under 10#s with one vestibule, poles, extra stakes and the optional ground cloth. Made in the USA! Not sure where the current two person one is made however. What makes this design nice is the airy feeling when opened up on a warm night. Great ventilation. Even in rain the awning allows you to open a door and back window about halfway for ventilation. So, I know this review is for 3 person tents but I’d suggest taking a hard look at the current Bibler Ahwahnee as with a vestibule (or two) it just might be the ticket. Cost with all the accessories, ground cloth, vestibule ($150 per), mesh pockets, totally loaded……pushing $1000! Oh well.
    Mine is totally bombproof and roomy especially for two people. Not the fastest to set up so I practice a bit prior to heading out but once you’ve used a really good, albeit expensive tent, it’s hard to compromise. That’s true with just about anything. Old Swiss saying………..”Pay dearly for quality and you cry only once!”
    I am anal about caring for this tent so it gets treated well and taken care of and I always use the ground cloth. Primary use is summer and fall for hunting expeditions of a week or more! I like staying dry I want to know my tent is going to stand up in a storm. My friends all have “tent envy” and I have standing offers if I ever want to sell it. Todd Bibler………..thanks wherever you are! Great design and “no-compromise” workmanship.

    • Perry Rosenbloom says:

      That tent looks pretty awesome! And I agree — You either pay for it in cash now, or pay for it in misery later.

      It looks as if that’s a Black Diamond Tent now (Available on Backcountry.com and for a little less than what you paid).

      At 5 pounds, 10 ounces for 2 people in a 4 season tent–wow. That’s pretty impressive. It’s a little too heavy for my tastes in 3 season camping. But for winter camping, this definitely seems like one of the best tents you can buy.

  2. I have the Marmot Limelight 3 and it’s a great tent, but it’s by no means whatsoever a 3-person tent, unless two of the three are small children, or the third person was folded in half and stuffed at the end of the tent. And that is my problem with tent makers in general – that you have to routinely subtract one from the claimed number of people a tent can hold. If someone sells a tent as a three-person tent, I should be able to lay out three full size Thermarest pads in there without having them overlap.

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