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Absolute Best Tent For Appalachian Trail Thru-Hikes in 2020

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. We are compensated for referring traffic and business to Amazon and other companies linked to on this site but it doesnt change my […]
Written By: Josh Koop
February 17, 2020
We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. We are compensated for referring traffic and business to Amazon and other companies linked to on this site but it doesnt change my reviews as I want the best performance for you! .

Choosing the best tent for a thru-hike is a core decision where you are making a choice in warmth and space for you to have comfort from the outside. The options are vast between 1 person, 2 person, ultralight, ultra-expensive, and overall budget.

What is the best tent for Appalachian Trail thru-hikes? Our choice is the Dirigo 2 from Hyperlight Mountain Gear as it is ultralight but spacious and features plenty of extras to ensure an amazing thru-hike experience. In total this tent weighs in at about 28oz in a 2 person size with 2 entrances and 2 vestibule areas!

What data and information did we use to make this decision? Well, we went through the criteria below to help build out a set of information based on needs and requirements for thru-hiking which then was applied against the tent options to give a winner.

Please note this is something which is highly variable depending on the hiker and you may disagree, add the comment below and I would love to talk about it! Each person's sleeping system use will depend on the skill of the hiker along with the pack and weight chosen to bring along.

What is the Best Shelter for Backpacking: DIRIGO 2

Dirigo 2 Tent by HMG - Our choice for Best Tent For Appalachian Trail Thru-Hikes in 2020

The Dirigo 2 tent is built to support a single thru-hiker providing you a large amount of indoor space while using your trekking poles to set up. The Dirigo 2 is a three-season tent built with a blend of 5 Dyneema fabrics which helps with the weight, waterproofness, breathability, and long-term durability of the tent.

The Dirigo 2 comes in at an ultralightweight of 28 oz. It offers protection against unwanted moisture and doesn't have a crazy amount of setup steps and separate pieces.

Features Of The Dirigo 2

  • Dual Entry - Easy entry/exit for two or one with a pack
  • Breathable Panels - Located at the head and foot to combat condensation
  • Multi-Vestibule - Two vestibules for exterior gear storage with #5 YKK Aquaguard® Zippers
  • Ventilation Is Not An Afterthought - Two large mesh walls for maximum ventilation
  • Limited Equipment Needed - Pitches with two trekking poles and eight stakes
  • Guy-Outs - Reflective guy-out points
  • Movie Pocket - Internal mesh hanging stow pocket
  • Seam Sealed From Shipment - Fully seam-sealed

Benefits To The Dirigo 2

100% Waterproof Fabric - This tent and Dyneema fabric eliminates the need for a separate rainfly and using the strongest man-made fibers in the world means you can pitch the Dirigo 2 without a groundsheet or footprint.

Trekking Pole Tent - Since the tent uses your hiking poles for structural support, you don’t need to carry separate small diameter aluminum poles lowering your overall weight.

Hand Built In America - HMG tents are built in Biddeford, Maine by highly-skilled craftspeople, not in another country by the cheapest labor available.

Drawbacks To The Dirigo 2

Missing Dual Zippers On Vestibules - Since they are only opening from bottom to top you can't use the zipper to open for more ventilation at the top.

Condensation Concerns - As with most tents of this style condensation can be an issue if you are in contact with the outer layer.


Runner Up: ZPacks Duplex

ZPacks Duplex Tent - Runner up for Best Tent For Appalachian Trail Thru-Hikes in 2020

While I am sure most looking to hike the Appalachian Trail have heard of and seen the Duplex I wanted to give more details to those looking and haven't heard much about it prior. The ZPacks Duplex is a 2P tent built out of Dyneema fabrics which allows for ultralight weight and size.

This tent is built to be very roomy and well-ventilated to allow for better enjoyment on long trail nights. The Duplex packs down very small while offering a simple set up that can be done almost anywhere!

Features Of The ZPacks Duplex

  • Trekking Pole Tent - Sets up with two trekking poles set to around 48". You can be slightly taller or shorter fixed length poles may also work. 
    • Straight Pole Option Available - If you do not use trekking poles, they do provide straight tent poles for purchase
    • Free Standing Option Available - You could consider their other option for a Freestanding Duplex Flex Tent Upgrade.
  • Four Doors For Easy Access - The Duplex features four storm doors that can be opened or closed independently as needed. This allows for you to leave all four opened for nice weather during the night allowing you to get a breeze and take in great views.
    • Ability to Close Independent Doors - For example, to block out the cold wind you could close the upwind doors or close all four for complete rainy day protection.
  • Large And Tall Bathtub - The duplex features a solid, sewn in 8 inch tall bathtub floor. This bathtub space measures in at 45 inches wide by 7.5 feet long. This space provides plenty of space for two normal size campers to stretch out along with space for gear at the ends of the floor.
  • Easy Access Mesh Pockets - Mesh pockets are conveniently located near each screen door so that they can be accessed from inside or outside the tent. They are a good place to store your cell phone, glasses, headlamp, the tent stuff sack, and spare seam tape (included). The pockets are about 8" x 8".
  • Made in the USA

Benefits To The ZPacks Duplex

Spacious Feeling Interior - Space internally allows for less of an "enclosed" feeling versus most tents.

Quick Setup - This tent is incredibly quick to learn how to setup and the setup itself is a fast process. (Setup Instructions PDF)

Supremely Ultralight Weight - Coming in at a super low 19.4 oz proves that making your tent small and efficient is possible.

Drawbacks To The ZPacks Duplex

Condensation Concerns - As with almost any single wall tent there is possibilities where condensation could get into the tub.

Bug Netting Crooked - Some reported that while functional the netting wasn't very pleasing to the eye as it wasn't aligned correctly.

Mesh Doors Hit Ground - When unzipped the doors can lay on the ground and aren't supported without being tied up.


Best Budget: Andake 2P Ultralight Tent

Andake 2P Ultralight Budget Tent wins budget Best Tent For Appalachian Trail Thru-Hikes in 2020

The Andake 2P ultralight tent is not only light and sturdy but also focuses on high-quality ventilation and breathable design which includes a highly waterproof outer SilNylon material.

This tent is the best of both worlds being small and compact to carry and giving the space to enjoy time on the trail without feeling too claustrophobic.

Features Of The Andake 2P Tent

  • Ultralight Tent - Weighs in at only 2.43 lbs and can store with ease
  • Quick Setup - Insert the longest telescopic aluminum supporting pole into the black sleeve in the middle of the fly. Let through both ends of the pole into the metal fastener and fix them on the ground. Then, fix the stakes to the four directions and the two short supporting poles to both ends of the tent(the two supporting poles can be replaced by your trekking poles). It ends with adjusting the guide rope for a better frame.
  • DOUBLE WALL DESIGN & EXTRA STORAGE SPACE - The flysheet provides enough shelter for your pet dog, backpack, shoes, and other equipment. YKK zipper entranced, the No-see-um Mesh ensures the ventilation while keeping the mosquitoes outside. Stitched floor to prevent moisture.
  • WATERPROOF & VENTILATED - Helpful for a dry and cozy outdoor night, the Flysheet is made of silicone-coated 15D nylon ripstop with WATERPROOF rating of 3000mm; the Inner tent is made of B3 high-precision BREATHABLE nylon gauze with 150D oxford fabric tent bottom of 3000mm waterproof rating; the mesh door to the front and side ensure good ventilation, avoid fogging when you are sleeping.

Benefits To The Andake 2P Tent

Ultralight Budget Saver - People love the under 2.5 lbs weight and quality sil-nylon tent which sets up fast and provides nice vestibule area for storage.

Drawbacks To The Andake 2P Tent

Noisy In Heavier Winds - People said the setup allows the sides to move and bellow a lot creating noises which could irritate light sleepers as wind can get under.

Andake 2P Ultralight Tent
2.43lb Ultralight & Portable Tent, can be carried and stored away with ease, fits all sizes of backpacks

Last update on 2020-04-03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


What Criteria Was Used To Reach This Tent?

In developing this set of tents we chose based on criteria around thru-hikers and their needs over the length of the trail and the viability of the tent surviving the entire way. We looked at the feedback from users about the points they cared about most which were centered around the weight and size, the internal size and capacity and overall durability.

Weight

A large and primary concern for people hiking 2000+ miles is the weight of the tent, this weight may seem inconsequential to start but it wears on you mile by mile. Needless to say, the top 3 options above are all exceptionally light and durable which will help you finish your thru-hike in style.

Size

When you are packing everything into your backpack the size of your tent when packed makes for a very important detail to help ensure the proper backpack size is chosen. The three tents above all have a very small overall form when put into their sacks allowing for easy carry and storage.

Capacity

Nothing is worse than having a tent which is too small to be comfortable inside for a long period of time. This is why the list consists of 2 person tents, these allow for one person to have a nice space of their own without adding too significant of weight to your pack.

Durability

Can the tent make it the 2000+ miles without issues or problems that are hike breakers. The budget end with the Andake has had people complete the AT and PCT without issues but out of the three, it has the least big public knowledge.

Bottom Line

When you choose to take on the Appalachian Trail you are committing yourself to 4-6 months of consistent travel, you really want to spend some of your money making sure you have a tent that will take you end to end. Nothing is as frustrating as being in the middle of nowhere trying to rig your tent to not leak or fall apart, don't chance it!

I would love to hear from you if you have used any of these tents, I am a huge fan of my Andake tents and will continue to use them until they are falling apart, as a father my budget limit isn't like some others which is why I wanted to share them out with the general public as they are a tremendous value!

As you would expect the Zpacks and HMG side are always quality hardware which are made in the USA and this makes them good for the country!

Additional High-Quality Tents

Prices and images pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

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This site is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. We are compensated for referring traffic and business to Amazon and other companies linked to on this site.

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