Tents can be a tricky camping item to purchase. They have season ratings, sizes that often don’t truly represent the space inside, and many different add-ons. Another consideration, especially when backpacking, is the weight of the tent. All of the aforementioned items can affect how heavy a tent is.
So, how much does a three-person tent weigh?
A standard three-person tent can weigh anywhere from four pounds to over eight pounds with an average weight of six pounds. Ultra-light 3 person tents average about 4lbs.
Backpackers usually will want an ultralight tent. However, car campers may also want a lighter tent for easier transport and setup. When you are trying to determine which tent to buy, you should thoroughly explore each option and all of its features.
What Affects a Tents Weight?
- Indoor Space
As mentioned, the capacity number is only a guideline. Likewise, the height, length, and width won’t provide you with the full picture either. Vestibules are one way around this dilemma, as they can provide you with valuable space to store your gear.
To select the appropriate size tent, consider the dimensions of the floor, whether or not it has a vestibule and the overall tent shape.
Tents that have a low ceiling will be fine for sleeping but may be very cramped if you are changing or have to spend a long period inside. Tents with a high peak will feel more expansive when you are inside. However, the location of the peak, either centered or to one side, can change how roomy it feels when standing, sitting, or lying down.
Longer tents may accommodate taller individuals or be necessary for storing your belongings if you don’t have a screened-in porch or vestibule. If you are backpacking, bringing all of your stuff inside with you is almost required.
As you can see below, the two tents have varying shapes. The first includes two vestibules on either side while the second has a designated vestibule on the end.
- Season Rating
The season rating of the tent can also affect its weight.
Tents are given season ratings based on the level of comfort that the user can expect when camping in different seasons. A three-season tent is for moderate temperatures, while a four-season tent is used in more extreme conditions.
A three-season tent can be used during the late spring, summer, and early fall. A three-season tent can be expected to keep you warm and sheltered from rain, wind, and a moderate amount of cold. They are not conducive to heavy downpours, snowstorms, or extreme gusts.
Three season tents are usually used in temperate climates, due to this these tents almost always have thin walls and floors, and plenty of mesh. They are great at providing ventilation and keeping your tent cool.
Furthermore, they usually have double walls and convenience features. A rainfly and vestibule are typical. Three season tents are the most commonly used by your average camper.
Four-Season tents are built for use in cooler and harsher temperatures. Therefore, they will be bulkier and heavier. Four season tents are generally for winter use. Though you may be able to use them in other seasons, you could end up getting a bit warm.
Four season tents may have double walls, ventilation ports that can be sealed and unsealed, and other forms of insulation. Besides, they may have more durable (and heavier) poles to withstand winds. The rain fly and vestibule of a four-season tent will usually have to be staked to the ground and will provide full coverage.
Four season tents are more costly and heavier than three-season tents. As you can see below, the four-season double layer tent is heavier than the three-season tent.
- Double Wall or Single Wall?
A double wall is really only the rainfly of a tent. Rainflys have been mentioned as factoring into the weight in both the previous considerations (season rating and size rating). The “walls” in “double wall” refers to the tent wall panels as the first wall and the rainfly as the second wall.
Even if your tent has a rainfly, in most cases using it is optional. However, some have the rainfly attached to the tent base or footprint. The inclusion of a rainfly will increase the weight of your tent, but only minimally.
How Important is Weight?
If you are backpacking, weight can be pretty important. There are actually two types of weights concerning tents. They are known as packed weight and trail weight.
Packed weight takes into account all parts purchased with the tent. When you buy your tent, it will often have a total weight; this is the packed weight. It usually includes the tent, any poles, the rainfly, stakes, a carrying case, and any other add-ons. It is almost always heavier than trail weight.
Trail weight is the tents minimum weight or the weight of only what you would take along to conserve space. The trail weight is often considered by backpackers, as they want to take the bare minimum so that the tent is still functional but as light as possible. In some cases, trail weight may only consist of the tent body and poles.
When backpacking, you have a few options to cut weight. The first is leaving optional tent components at home.
However, you want your tent to be functional and comfortable, therefore don’t skimp on the necessary elements when trying to obtain trail weight. For example, if you are expecting heavy rain, be sure to pack the rainfly.
Another method of reducing weight is splitting up the tent components between trip members. One person can carry the tent body while another carries the poles and rainfly.
Even though weight is important, it isn’t wise to select a less durable tent or one with a lower season rating than the conditions call for. You want to be safe and comfortable on your trip, not miserable. Often choosing by the packed weight is beneficial as you know that that is the heaviest your tent will ever be.
Alternatively, if you feel that you cannot bear the weight of the tent alone (should something happen to your camping partners) select a lighter tent option. Choosing a backpacking tent is a precarious balance between tent durability, features, and weight.
Some ultralight three-person backpacking tents include:
Pack weight: 5.7lbs
Trail weight: 6.7lbs
Pack weight: 3.3lbs
Tips for Packing a Tent
Finally, there are a few tips you can enlist to pack your tent when backpacking to conserve space and minimize bulk.
- The interior method consists of packing your tent entirely inside your backpack. Begin by packing the poles separately in their bag or bound together. Then spread out your tent and roll it up around the poles. Once it is rolled tightly and secured, pack it in your bag. Packing it vertically will conserve space and allow it to be easily accessed.
- The exterior method is when the tent is secured to the outside of your backpack. Like the interior method, you will want to roll the tent body up around the poles. You will then need to secure it, and if necessary place it inside another bag for waterproofing and to guard against snags. Then, secure the bundle to the outside of your backpack.
- Consider a compression bag. Whether you are packing your tent inside or outside your pack a compression bag can help get it into the smallest size possible.
In conclusion, a three-person tent weighs on average about six pounds. The weight can increase depending on how many features and add-ons you choose to include. Select your tent wisely for a safe and comfortable camping trip.