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Best Kayak Tents For Kayak Camping Trips

Nicola Burridge
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Exploring the world of kayak camping opens up a realm of adventure, but the right equipment is essential for a successful trip in the great outdoors.

Find out how to choose the right kayak tent for your next camping trip and check out some of the best tents on the market. 

Don’t have time to see them all? My top pick is the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL3 thanks to its spacious interior and convenient features.

Top 19 Best Kayak Tents For Camping

1: Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL3 Bikepack Tent (best overall)

Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL3 Bikepack TentPin
  • Floor area: 41 square feet
  • Dimensions packed: 7 x 13.5 inches
  • People: 3
  • Weight: 4 pounds 4 ounces

The Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL3 is the best tent for kayak camping, in my opinion. 

It’s ultra-compact when packed and should easily fit inside most kayak hatches.

A great feature of this kayak camping tent is the two-door entry system. This is ideal for getting in and out without having to crawl over your partner. 

You’ll also find an awning-style vestibule on either side, offering an additional 18 square feet of space. These vestibules are ideal for storing your gear without sacrificing your sleeping space.

There are pouches, pockets, and loops for storing gear and attaching accessories. You’ll also find webbing loops on the fly exterior to dry wet clothes and an internal shelf to store gear off the ground.

A downside of this tent is that it doesn’t come with a footprint.


  • Very compact
  • Good interior storage
  • Spacious


  • Footprint not included

2: Sea to Summit Alto TR 1 Tent (best for one person)

Sea to Summit Alto TR 1 TentPin
  • Floor area: 19.5 square feet
  • Dimensions packed: 4.3 x 17.7 inches
  • People: 1
  • Weight: 2 pounds 7.2 ounces

The Sea to Summit Alto TR 1 is a very lightweight one-person tent and is compact enough to fit inside a storage hatch or gear bag. 

One of the benefits of this tent is that it has a decent amount of space to store your gear, with a 7.5-square-foot vestibule. It lacks mesh pockets inside but it’s pretty spacious for a one-person tent. 

Another great feature, which I think makes it feel even more spacious, is the increased headroom. This makes it one of the best tents for comfort for one person to sit in and the higher door makes it easier to get in and out.

However, this is not the easiest or quickest to set up. 


  • Spacious for one camper
  • Increased headroom
  • Very lightweight


  • Tricky to set up 
  • Limited indoor storage pouches

3: Nemo Hornet Osmo Ultralight 3P Tent (best ultralight)

Nemo Hornet Osmo Ultralight 3P Tent Pin
  • Floor area: 39.7 square feet
  • Dimensions packed: 8 x 17.5 inches
  • People: 3
  • Weight: 3 pounds 5 ounces

This Nemo Hornet Osmo Ultralight 3P is a spacious and lightweight tent for three people. It has a trail weight under 3 pounds so it can be a great option if you’re looking to minimize your overall cargo weight.

I recommend this tent for two kayak campers rather than three but if you’re kayak camping with two kids, this could be sufficient. It has a door and vestibule on either side for convenience.

If you like stargazing, this is a great option as it has black mesh on the top that turns almost invisible. This means you can pull back the weather fly for clear views of the night sky.

The included stuff sack means you can split the load with your paddling partner. 

The rain fly doesn’t reach the ground at the head of the tent, which could be a concern for some rainy-weather campers.


  • Load can be divided
  • Very lightweight three-person tent
  • Great storage


  • Exterior fly doesn’t cover the entire tent

4: Mountain Hardwear Trango 4 Tent (best for four people)

Mountain Hardwear Trango 4 TentPin
  • Floor area: 57 square feet
  • Dimensions packed: 9 x 28 inches
  • People: 4
  • Weight: 12 pounds 12.4 ounces

The Mountain Hardwear Trango 4 is a large four-person tent that is great for family kayak camping trips. However, it’s pretty pricey.

The Trango 4 is a very durable tent that’s designed for four-season use, so it can handle everything winter might throw at it. It also has internal guy lines to maintain the structure during windy weather.

It’s spacious, with plenty of room for a family of four. 

As well as the large floor space for sleeping, there’s also a large 16-square-foot vestibule to keep your gear safe overnight. Inside the tent, there are storage pouches and loops to stow additional items.

It’s heavier than most of the tents on the list but it’s a larger tent than most and it still packs up to a manageable size for a kayaking trip.


  • Four-season rated
  • Spacious for four people
  • Excellent storage


  • Expensive

5: MSR FreeLite 2 Tent (best for two people)

MSR FreeLite 2 TentPin
  • Floor area: 29 square feet
  • Dimensions packed: 4.5 x 18 inches
  • People: 2
  • Weight: 2 pounds 5 ounces

The MSR FreeLite 2 is compact, lightweight, and easy to store on most kayaks, making it an excellent option for two people on a multi-day kayak camping trip.

This will take up minimal room on your kayak, leaving you space to bring additional gear for several nights under the stars. 

It’s compact once it’s set up, making it a good choice for camping on sandbars and other narrow spots. 

It has a door on either side so you can come and go without disturbing your partner. There are also two small vestibules and storage pouches for small items. 

A downside of this tent is that you can’t set up the rain fly first. The interior tent body needs to be set up before installing the fly, which could be a problem if you’re setting up your camp in heavy rain.


  • Great for multi-day kayak camping trips
  • Can be pitched in narrow campsites


  • Not great for setting up in the rain

6: MSR Remote 2 Tent (best for all seasons)

MSR Remote 2 TentPin
  • Floor area: 33 square feet
  • Dimensions packed: 7 x 20 inches
  • People: 2
  • Weight: 7 pounds 2 ounces

The MSR Remote 2 is a spacious two-person kayaking tent that is ideal for winter touring. This is a sturdy tent that can handle strong winds, heavy snow, and rain. It has a double-wall construction with a strong central support frame.

It has vents to minimize condensation and snow flaps to prevent spindrifts from coming into the tent. However, this is not the best at keeping out condensation.

This tent has a spacious floor area for two people, meaning there’s plenty of room for gear. There’s also a large vestibule that substantially increases the storage space.

This is also easy to set up, with color-coded poles to help. When it’s time to pack up and leave, the wide-mouth stuff sack makes it less of a struggle.


  • Roomy for two
  • Easy to set up


  • Condensation could be an issue

7: The North Face VE 25 (best for headroom)

The North Face VE 25Pin
  • Floor area: 48 square feet
  • Dimensions packed: 9 x 24 inches
  • People: 3
  • Weight: 10 pounds 5 ounces

The North Face VE 25 is a four-season tent with excellent headroom.

This is a spacious tent with a four-foot headroom ceiling the sense of even more space. There’s plenty of room for three people plus gear. 

This is one of the best tents in terms of strength. It has a very sturdy structure that can handle just about any weather condition. It also has a polyurethane window that’s rated to minus-60 degrees Fahrenheit. 

A downside of this sturdy construction is that it’s not the lightest tent. But if you’re sharing the load with two other paddlers, this may not be much of an issue.

This has great storage, with two vestibules, internal storage pockets, and plenty of attachment loops. It also comes with a footprint included.


  • Extremely durable
  • Spacious


  • Heavier than most

8: Alps Mountaineering Zephyr 2-Person Tent (best budget tent)

Alps Mountaineering Zephyr 2-Person TentPin
  • Floor area: 31 square feet
  • Dimensions packed: 6 x 18 inches
  • People: 2
  • Weight: 5 pounds 11 ounces

The Alps Mountaineering Zephyr is an affordable tent that can be ideal for a kayak trip on a budget. This is a compact option for storing in a hatch or cargo deck. 

Being a budget tent, it’s a little heavier than tents of a comparable size but it’s still lightweight for kayak camping. But you could easily share the load with your camping partner and carry the aluminum poles and rain fly separately to the inner tent and stakes. 

There are two small vestibules for storing backpacks and dry bags plus there’s a gear loft and mesh pouches inside the sleeping space. There are also two doors for convenience. 

This Alps Mountaineering tent features a water-resistant fly with a UV coating to minimize UV damage to the fabric. 

It’s relatively easy to set up, with just two aluminum poles and clips that attach the tent body to the tent poles. 


  • Compact when packed
  • Dual vestibules for gear storage


  • Not as light as others

9: Marmot Tungsten UL Tent

Marmot Tungsten UL TentPin
  • Floor area: 19.2 square feet
  • Dimensions packed: 6.5 x 20 inches
  • People: 1
  • Weight: 2 pounds 9.5 ounces

The Marmot Tungsten UL is a great tent if you’re heading out on a solo kayaking trip as it’s easy to pitch thanks to the color-coded poles, clips, and fly. This one-person tent is lightweight and ideal for camping in warmer weather. 

This is pretty spacious for one person, with room to store gear in the vestibule. Its narrow width (36 inches at its widest end and 29 inches at its narrowest) makes it a good choice for river touring, as it can be pitched on sandbars and narrow riverbanks.

The fly is made from ripstop polyester for rain protection. However, the materials that make this so lightweight may affect its durability. I don’t recommend this tent if you have a dog.


  • Great for river camping trips
  • One-person tent


  • Might not be as durable as others

10: Sea to Summit Telos TR2

Sea to Summit Telos TR2Pin
  • Floor area: 28 square feet
  • Dimensions packed: 5 x 19 inches
  • People: 2
  • Weight: 3 pounds 10.7 ounces

The Sea to Summit Telos TR2 is ideal for your next kayaking trip as it can be packed into three separate stuff sacks. This means you can easily share the load with your paddling partner or you can distribute the load on your kayak for better balance. 

This is a compact tent. There’s room for two people and there’s a decent amount of headroom, with higher doors that could suit taller paddlers

The vertical walls in the interior space help to increase the space. However, you may find it’s a tight fit if you have a lot of gear. 

That being said, there’s almost 20 square feet of vestibule space for storing outdoor gear. 

This is a durable tent with good ventilation that can be best used from spring through fall.


  • Good ventilation 
  • Packs into three stuff sacks


  • Not the best if you have a lot of gear

11: Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL2 Solution-Dyed Bikepack Tent

Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL2 Solution-Dyed Bikepack TentPin
  • Floor area: 28 square feet
  • Dimensions packed: 6.5 x 14 inches
  • People: 2
  • Weight: 2 pounds 10 ounces

The Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL2 is a super-compact two-person tent that can easily fit in a storage hatch on your kayak and can also be carried in a backpack or dry bag. 

There’s space for two people to sleep comfortably but there’s limited room for gear inside the tent.


  • Lightweight
  • Compact 


  • Not spacious

12: Mountain Hardwear Nimbus UL 1 Tent

Mountain Hardwear Nimbus UL 1 TentPin
  • Floor area: 19.7 square feet
  • Dimensions packed: 5 x 12 inches and 2.5 x 15 inches
  • People: 1
  • Weight: 1 pound 14.6 ounces

The Mountain Hardwear Nimbus UL is very lightweight, even compared to other single-person tents. This is compact for storage (it comes with two stuff sacks for load-sharing) and easy to set up.

It has a small vestibule to stow gear and shoes. It’s ideal for camping in narrow spots but there’s not much room for anything besides a sleeping pad.


  • Very lightweight
  • Separates for storage


  • Not much storage space

13: The North Face Stormbreak 2 Tent

The North Face Stormbreak 2 TentPin
  • Floor area: 30.56 square feet
  • Dimensions packed: 7 x 22 inches
  • People: 2
  • Weight: 5 pounds 14.2 ounces

The North Face Stormbreak 2 is a compact two-person tent that is easy to set up. This backpacking tent features two doors for easy entry. The doors are also large for added convenience but the fly material sometimes gets caught in the zippers. 

This is a roomy tent, with enough space for two sleeping bags, allowing for a good night’s sleep. You’ll find space to store paddling gear in the vestibules.


  • Spacious
  • Easy to pitch


  • Door zippers can be sticky

14: REI Co-op Trailmade 1 Tent

REI Co-op Trailmade 1 TentPin
  • Floor area: 20 square feet
  • Dimensions packed: 7.5 x 22.44 inches
  • People: 1
  • Weight: 4 pounds 9 ounces

The REI Co-op Trailmade 1 is ideal for kayaking trips or a backing trip as the tent packs up small and can be easy to store in a hatch. However, it’s not the lightest camping tent.

This is a one-person tent that comes with a footprint, giving you that extra protection on wet ground.

The vestibule increases the tent’s area by 50 percent.


  • Good for wet weather
  • Large vestibule


  • Not the lightest on the list

15: Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL Tent

Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL TentPin
  • Floor area: 28 square feet
  • Dimensions packed: 5.5 x 18 inches
  • People: 2
  • Weight: 2 pounds 8 ounces

The Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL is very light and very compact compared to most tents of this size. This is a two-person tent that’s equally good for both a kayak trip and a backpacking trip, with reflective guy ropes that can help in the dark. 

This doesn’t have the best headroom compared to other kayak camping tents.


  • Very light


  • Headroom not great

16: Mountainsmith Bear Creek 2 Tent

Mountainsmith Bear Creek 2 TentPin
  • Floor area: 30.5 square feet
  • Dimensions packed: 7 x 17 inches
  • People: 2
  • Weight: 5 pounds 3 ounces

The Mountainsmith Bear Creek 2 is a backpacking tent with generous headroom to give you a good night’s sleep on your next camping trip. It packs into a compact carry bag for long kayaking trips. 

This has storage pockets for your essentials, such as your first aid kit and insect protection. It can also be pitched fly first so you can keep your tent and sleep bag dry when setting up in wet weather. However, it’s not the best for cold weather.


  • Fly can be pitched on its own


  • Not for winter use

17: Kelty Late Start Tent

Kelty Late Start TentPin
  • Floor area: 29.5 square feet
  • Dimensions packed: 7 x 16 inches
  • People: 2
  • Weight: 4 pounds 8 ounces

The Kelty Late Start could be the right tent for your next outdoor adventure if you’re looking for something easy to pitch. 

This is ideal for multi-day trips where you need to pack a lot of gear on your kayak, as this takes up minimal room. A downside is that it only has one door, which could make it awkward to get in and out if there are two of you.


  • Very compact
  • Easy to pitch


  • Only one door

18: Nemo Dagger Osmo 2 Tent

Nemo Dagger Osmo 2 TentPin
  • Floor area: 31.3 square feet
  • Dimensions packed: 6.5 x 19.5 inches
  • People: 2
  • Weight: 4 pounds 2 ounces

The Nemo Dagger Osmo 2 is one of the best tents if you’re looking to share the load with your partner or divide gear into separate compartments on your kayak. 

This is great for two people, with each person having their own entry door and vestibule for gear storage. There is additional storage inside the tent, plus a pocket for a flashlight. 

It’s not rated for winter conditions.


  • Tent divides for storage


  • Not rated for cold weather

19: Alps Mountaineering Tasmanian Tent

Alps Mountaineering Tasmanian TentPin
  • Floor area: 43.5 square feet
  • Dimensions packed: 7 x 23 inches
  • People: 3
  • Weight: 9 pounds 10 ounces

The Alps Mountaineering Tasmanian 3 is a budget-friendly four-season tent so it can be ideal for your next kayak trip in winter. 

A great feature of this Alps Mountaineering tent is that it has two doors for easy access and two vestibules. 

It’s not one of the best tents if you’re looking for a lightweight option, as this is quite a heavy tent.


  • Winter-rated
  • Two doors


  • Heavy 

The Features That Make A Good Kayak Camping Tent

Compact Size For Storage

If the tent is too large, you might struggle to accommodate it on your kayak. 

The packed size of the tent can be even more important if you plan to store the tent inside a hatch on your kayak. 

Two kayaks parked by a serene lakeside campsite, tents pitchedPin

I recommend measuring your hatches and cargo areas before you choose a tent. Remember, you will also need to have room for your other camping equipment. A sleeping bag, in particular, is a bulky item and could be roughly the same size as your tent when packed.

Tents designed for backpacking and bikepacking tend to be the most compact ones. These can be ideal for kayak camping since they’re designed to be carried on your back or attached to your bike, so they don’t take up much room.

Find out how to pack a kayak for camping.

People Capacity

Tent size is important. The capacity of a tent is measured by the number of people it can comfortably sleep. However, use this number as a guide rather than a rule. 

There will usually be a large variation between the sizes of tents, even between tents designed for the same number of people. 

Not all three-person tents will have room for three adults plus gear. However, they should technically offer sleeping space for three people, even if it is a tight fit.

If you’re traveling with a group, you may want to think about using multiple kayak camping tents. If you use a large tent as your only tent, it may limit the places you can camp, as you’ll need a larger area to pitch a tent

It also means you may not be able to split the load as effectively.

> Mistakes to avoid when kayak camping

Lightweight Construction

A lightweight tent can be useful for kayaking, as you don’t want to carry heavy camping gear back and forth from your kayak to your campsite on every trip. Save your muscle power for paddling. 

Heavier tents can also weigh down your kayak. As you’ll already know, kayaks have a maximum weight capacity. Smaller tents won’t always be the lightest.

Ideally, you should aim to be within 70 percent of the maximum stated capacity of your kayak. 

Find out more about kayak weight limits.

Space For Gear

Most of the best tents will often have a small vestibule where you can leave backpacks, coolers, shoes, and other items. This can be useful if you don’t want to crowd your sleeping space inside your tent.

Some of the best ones will also have hangers and mesh pockets inside for additional storage.

Video: Kayak Camping On Sandbars

Season Rating

You may notice that tents are rated for seasons: either three seasons or four seasons.

The difference between a three-season and a four-season tent is that a four-season tent can handle harsh winter conditions, such as heavy snow and strong winds. A three-season tent isn’t designed to cope with extreme winter conditions.

If you don’t plan to camp in extreme weather, a three-season tent should be sufficient, as this is designed to be used from spring through fall. 

Depending on where you plan to kayak camp, you may want to invest in a warm sleeping bag, especially if you’re in the northern half of the US in spring or fall.

Kayak and tent on sandy beachPin

Frequently Asked Questions On Kayak Tents For Camping

How Can A Kayak Tent Improve My Camping Experience?

A lightweight, compact kayak tent can be easier to haul between your kayak and your campsite. Smaller tents can also take up less room on your kayak, leaving you plenty of space to bring other essentials. 

Compact tents are often quicker to assemble and dismantle than large tents, leading to a more enjoyable camping experience.

Can I Use Any Tent For Kayak Camping, Or Do I Need A Specific One?

Technically, you can use any tent for kayak camping. However, tents designed for car camping trips will generally be much larger and heavier than what you have room for on your kayak.

How Compact And Lightweight Should My Kayak Tent Be?

Your tent should be compact and light enough to fit in your kayak without overloading it.

Your kayaking tent should be light enough that you can easily carry it from your kayak to your campsite. 

Conclusion: Time To Shut The Tent Flap!

The best tent for kayak camping is the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL3 because it’s ultra-compact and spacious for three paddlers.

My runner-up pick (and the best for two people) is the MSR FreeLite 2. This is an excellent option for river touring, as it’s easy to set up on sandbars thanks to its compact shape. 

However, if you’re looking for something more affordable, the Alps Mountaineering Zephyr can be the ideal option for two campers on a budget.  

The right gear can make or break your adventure in the great outdoors. Make sure you measure your kayak’s storage space and plan your kayak route so you can choose the tent for your trip.

> Best kayaks for camping trips

Best Kayak Tents For Kayak Camping - Pinterest ImagePin

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