The best 3 person tents offer significantly more space than a 2 person tent without necessarily weighing a lot more or taking up a lot more space or costing you a lot more money.
In the past, the extra space offered by a 3 person tent came at the cost of more weight and more bulk. But these days modern materials mean that the difference can sometimes be measured in extra ounces instead of extra lbs.
This article explores some of the best 3 person tents on the market today. The main features we will be comparing are the interior space, weight, compactness and price. (It also awards extra points to interior pockets, large vestibules, ample headroom and so on).
Here’s a quick summary:
The Sea to Summit Telos TR3 is probably the best 3P tent overall. It’s expensive but has a great balance of weight (4lb 11oz) and space (almost 40sq feet on the deck and a vestibule area totalling 21.5sq feet). It’s really compact when packed and has a massive peak height of more than 52″. Buy one here >>
The best ultralight 3 person tent is the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL3. Weighing in at just 2lb 13oz, it’s one of the lightest 3 person tents on this list. Compact when packed and a decent living space and two vestibules totaling 18 square feet. Buy one here >>
The best budget 3 person backpacking tent is the Eureka Suma 3. At 4lb 13oz it’s 2oz heavier than the Telos TR3 but almost half the price! With 44 sq feet of floor space and 50″ of headroom it’s remarkably spacious. The main downside is the single, 11sq-foot vestibule. But it is tremendous value for money. Buy one here >>
Alps Mountaineering Zephyr 3 Review – Best 3 Person Tent
The Alps Mountain Zephyr 3 is a free-standing backpacking tent with a two-pole design. The total weight is 6lbs 2oz (trail weight is 5lbs 5oz). It has two doors, two vestibules and a host of storage pockets including a gear loft. The floor area is 45 square feet (7’5″x6’2″) and it has a peak height of 3’5″. ($$$)
The light weight of the Zephyr and its quick setup are two of its best features. The light weight makes it easy to pack and carry to a campsite, whether you are backpacking or car camping. This tent can be set up in about five minutes as well. Along with those two features, the sloping roof of this tent gives a little extra headroom for being able to sit up and move around as well.
The Zephyr is a little small for a true three person tent if one or more of the three persons sleeping in it is larger framed or over six feet tall. In addition, the fly might pool water and the vestibule is a little bit too small to truly keep your stored gear out of the weather.
You need a lighter weight backpacking tent for three averaged sized persons or need a little extra space for two. You might not be happy trying to sleep two or three larger framed individuals inside the this tent.
The Kelty Dirt Motel 3 is a 3-season, free-standing backpacking tent with floor space of 40 square feet (7’x5’10”) and a peak height of 3’6″. It has a total weight of 5lbs 8oz and a trail weight of 5lbs 6oz. It comes with stakes, a rain fly and a stuff sack. It packs down to 15″ long x 7″ x 7″. ($$)
This is a great 3-person tent for backpacking. It is a relatively lightweight tent for its size; it weighs just half a pound more than the Kelty Dirt Motel 2 but offers about 42% more floor space. Setup is made super easy with the color-coded clips. It’s perfect for two adults who want some extra space either for themselves or their gear. You can easily fit a queen sized mattress here if you’re base camping. Or if you go light on the gear you can fit two grown ups and a kid. At the end of the day, it’s the space:weight ratio that makes me think it’s one of the best backpacking tents with a 3-person rating.
This tent also has two entrances (one on either side) for a little added convenience if one person should need to get up in the night. It’s also got two sweet vestibules, both boasting 18 square feet of storage space.
But one of the coolest features, above and beyond the functionality as a backpacking tent, is that you can roll back some of the rain fly and fix it in place from the inside. This is perfect for a bit of star-gazing (or extra ventilation) but because you can just drop it back down again, it comes with none of the risks associated with fly-netting. So you get the best of both worlds!
If you love your backpacking but are a little bit fed up of sleeping in cramped quarters, this is a real winner! It gives you the extra space you’re after while only adding a few ounces to your pack. The ability to roll back the fly only adds to the spacious feeling. And the price point makes this a really solid mid-range tent.
But if you have a few extra bucks and want an even more lightweight tent, be sure to check out the MSR Elixir 3.
The Marmot Limelight 3P weighs 6lbs 11oz and boasts 42 square feet of floor space. It’s a free-standing design with vertical walls, two doors and two vestibules. The poles and clips are color-coded for easy setup. It comes with a rain fly which offers full coverage and a number of vents for good airflow. Inside, you’ll find a bunch of mesh storage pockets. ($$$)
Given that a point of a 3-person tent is to provide a bigger space for more comfortable camping, Marmot do a really good job with their design. Let’s start with the doors.
You’ve got your typical D-shaped door on one side that folds up neatly and provides access to one of the vestibules. The other door is massive and basically opens up an entire side of the tent. It tucks into a special pocket to keep it well out of the way. And there are a few of reasons I like this feature.
Firstly, if it’s hot and the bugs aren’t out, it gives awesome ventilation.
The double door approach also means you don’t have to climb over your partner every time you want or out of the tent.
But most importantly it really reduces the claustrophobia that you can get with some tents. Whether you want to catch more of the view, or watch the world go by, or just have easier access when organising your quarters, having a whole side that comes away is great idea that’s pretty unique!
The vertical walls are also pretty ace! Yes, you have a much higher profile than most backpacking tents. But again, a low profile probably isn’t important to you if you’re investigating three person tents. The walls mean that you get so much more room than any tent with sloping walls. That’s great for sitting up. And it’s also great for gear storage. Although the vestibules offer just 9sq feet of storage apiece, the fact you can stack your gear without touching a sloping side, means you can fit quite a lot of stuff under cover!
It’s a bit finikity to set up, but a couple of dry runs before you set up should see you well-practiced. I’d say it’s probably a bit heavy for lengthy thru-hiking and, although you could easily split the weight with your buddy, I’d probably reserve it for long weekends or car camping.
If you’re looking for a more comfortable camping or backpacking experience than you get with ultra-light gear but want to stay relatively mobile, this is a fantastic buy.
If weight is your primary concern, hit up the MSR Elixir 3 instead.
If you just want something for car camping, you could probably find something bigger and cheaper if you check out my list of 6 person tents (especially the Eureka Copper Canyon 6).
But if you want a spacious tent that will work for short backpacking trips, some car camping and maybe a bit of festival camping too, you won’t go wrong with the Marmot Limelight 3…
Weight: 5 lbs.
Packed size: OK
The easy setup and durability of the Naturehike, as well as its lighter weight are features that might attract your attention. This tent does well in cool weather as you might expect from a 4 season tent. It can be easily set up by one person and is durable for those who make multiple camping trips throughout the year. Being one of the lighter 3 person tents, it can be used as a backpacking tent in a pinch.
The space in this tent is a little bit tight for a three person tent. A person of six feet tall will have both head and feet against the fabric of the tent during the night. Ventilation can also be a problem with this tent and it does not do well under heavy rain conditions.
You want a tent for car camping and occasional backpacking and need a little bit more space than your typical 2 person tent. You might not be happy if one or more of the persons using this tent are over six feet tall.
Packed size: Bulky
The construction and design of this tent make it easy to set up and also make it durable for the more intense weather conditions encountered with 4 season camping. It sheds heavy snow well without collapsing and keeps you nice and warm in winter conditions. It is an easy and quick setup, which will get you out of the weather faster.
Though this is a pop up tent, it is a little bit too hot for warmer weather camping unless it is pitched in the shade during the day to keep the heat from building up. The entrance door and vestibule overhang make it a little bit difficult for a larger adult to get in and out of this tent. It is also a little bulky for backpacking.
You need to stay warm in conditions that include snow and wind and its extra bulkiness and weight are not a concern. You might not be as pleased with it if you are using it for warm weather camping.
Weight: 3 lb. 9 oz. to 4 lb. 10 oz.
Packed size: OK
Easy pack in and setup along with durability are some of the features that set the Elixir 3 apart from other lightweight tents. This tent keeps you dry in the worst of conditions. The poles of this tent are of high quality material and provide the necessary rigidity. It is spacious enough for two average sized adults and a child.
This tent has some ventilation problems when being used in warmer weather. The design of the entrance flaps of the tent does not allow for ventilation underneath and tends to trap warm air where you are sleeping. Additionally, this tent is a little bit tight if one or more of the occupants are larger framed and taller individuals.
You get off the beaten path at higher elevations with your children or your spouse and need something that doesn’t weigh you down. You might not be happy with this tent at lower elevations in warmer seasons.
Coleman Sundome 3 – Best 3 Person Tent for Car Camping
Weight: 8 lbs. 5 oz.
Packed size: OK
The Sundome is a spacious tent that doesn’t break your back to carry it and it is easy to set up. The spaciousness of this tent is able to comfortably sleep one or two larger framed and taller adults as well as a smaller person. It is still tolerable in weight when it comes to packing it a short distance and is pretty simple to set up. The quality and durability for the price can’t be ignored either.
A complaint of the Sundome is that the design of the entrances is such that when unzipped it falls to the floor where it is apt to be damaged with coming and going in the tent. Ventilation is also an issue with this tent when camping in warmer weather.
You need more room for car camping or are packing it a short distance to a remote camp site and need to sleep two adults and a child or just two large adults. You might not be completely happy with this tent when camping in warmer weather do to ventilation issues.
How to Choose the Best 3 Person Tent
The best 3 man tent is likely to be one that finds a balance between weight, space, durability and price. The relative importance of each of these features depends largely on your personal situation and what you intend to use it for.
The best 3 person backpacking tent is going to have very different features than the best 3 person car camping tent. (And if you’re looking for the best budget 3 person backpacking tent, then that is going to be different again from the aforementioned best 3 person backpacking tent).
How Heavy is a 3 Person Tent?
Three person tents typically weigh between 3lbs and 10lbs, which is quite a wide range.
If you’re looking for 3 person backpacking tents, then you can actually find a fair few that weigh under 3lbs. The lightest 3 person tent we are aware of is the MSR Freelite 3, which weighs just 2lb 6oz. The Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL3 and the Nemo Hornet 3 are both a few ounces heavier at 2lb 13oz.
Heavier three person tents weigh more for a variety of reasons. For example, Alps Mountaineering sell several different designs that weigh between 6lbs – 10lbs. These tents use heavier, cheaper materials so you trade weight for price. Ideal if you are car caping on a budget!
Another reason you might look at a heavier three person tent is if you are in the market for four season tents. These also tend to use heavier materials, but because the materials are also higher spec (to withstand bad weather), they can also be quite pricey.
Finally, there is a slight correlation between weight and space. It stands to reason that the more material used, the heavier a tent might be. It’s not a hard and fast rule but the heaviest three person tents seem to have up to 20% more space than the lightest. For example, the Alps Mountaineering Lynx 3 (7lbs 3oz) has a massive 52 square feet floor area, 48″ of headroom and 20sq feet of vestibule space compared to, say, the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL3 (2lb 13oz) which just has 41sq feet of floorspace, 43″ of headroom and 18sq feet of vestibule space.
What is the Packed Size of a Three Person Tent?
Given the significant spread in weight across three person tent designs, it will come as little surprise that there is also a significant spread when it comes to packed sizes. We looked at the packed dimensions stated on each manufacturer’s website and calculated the volume of each tent in litres.
Most three person tents are packed into a cylindrical stuff sack. The lengths tend to vary from 17″ to 23″ (give or take) and the diameters are typically 5″ to 8″ wide. When it comes to volume, they range from around 5 litres up to 20 litres.
There is a fairly good correlation between weight and packed size but there are a few surprises. For example, the most compact three person tent we found was the Nemo Hornet 3. With a packed size of just 12.5″ x 7.5″ x 3″ that translates to just 4.6 litres. If you’re looking for 3P backpacking tents then compare that to the 6.11 litres of the slightly lighter MSR Freelite 3 and you might start to question whether you want an ultralight backpacking tent or an ultra-compact backpacking tent…
Backpacking tents aside, the overwhelming majority of three person tents range from 10 litres to 20 litres, with the least compact tents again either being all-season tents or budget 3P tents.
How Big Is a 3 Person Tent? (Floor Area, Height & Vestibule Space)
A 3 person tent typically has a floor area between 40 and 50 square feet, has a peak height of between 40″ and 50″ and has either one or two vestibules with a total vestibule space of between 15 and 25 square feet.
As with packed weight and packed size, there is quite a lot of variance in there!
You can get really small 3 person tents. A floor area of less than 40sq feet has the potential to feel quite cramped. Models like the MSR Freelite 3 (39sq feet), Hilleberg Nallo 3 (34sq feet) and the Snugpak Scorpion 3 (just 26sq feet) might be too small for most folk looking to invest in a 3 man tent.
On the flip side, you’ve got tents like the Alps Mountaineering Lynx 3 and the Eureka El Capitan 3 which have an exceedingly spacious interior of more than 50sq feet. Although it must be said that the Lynx 3 has absolutely no vestibule for gear storage, which is a big thumbs down.
The Eureka El Capitan 3 has an insane amount of storage space in it’s vestibules, by contrast. With a total of 28sq feet spread across two vestibules, it has the most space of any 3 person tent we could find.
Two vestibules definitely feels like a better design than a single vestibule for most people. Storing all your camping gear inside the tent body seems a bit unnecessary, and doesn’t exactly help you sleep comfortably. And while a single vestibule might be normal for most backpacking tents, it feels like one of the main reasons behind buying a three person tent is extra space. So a solid mid range tent is likely to have two doors and two vestibules (in our humble opinion).
Finally, peak height might not be a massive concern for a lot of people. But if you are a tall person looking for a long tent, it is probably quite an important one. Similarly, if you don’t like feeling cramped then a higher roof can give a comforting sense of place. (I’m not claustrophobic but even I don’t like feeling hemmed in on all sides). It’s just one of the reasons the Telos TR3 is such as awesome tent with a whopping 53″!
How Much Does a 3 Person Tent Cost?
3 person tents cost as little as $150 up to over $1,000. The variance in price depends on several factors with the three most common being: whether you want a 3 season tent or a 4 season tent, whether or not weight is important and how much interior space you want.
A cheaper 3 person tent typically uses bulkier material, which means the tent is heavier and less compact when packed. That’s often fine for car camping, but the best backpacking tents will employ much more technical material.
A design like the Eureka Suma 3 is a bit of an outlier because for less than $200 (at the time of writing) you get a tent that weighs less than 5lbs while also providing 44sq feet of floor space, a massive 50″ of height and a modest 11sq-foot vestibule.
Typically, however, you have to spend north of 400 bucks to get a sub-5lb 3 person tent. And if you’re looking for a true 3 person 4 season tent, expect for hand over at least 900 bucks (although you can pick up respectable 3P tents for 3+ seasons around the $400-mark).
Durability becomes more of an issue with people who camp a lot. The components of your tent will wear with use. Someone who does a lot of camping will want to look for a very durable tent with longevity so that they do not have to purchase a new one every few years. On the other hand, someone who camps a couple of times a year will get a lot more years out of a less durable tent.
Good Brands to Look For When Buying a 3 Person Tent
There aren’t a huge number of options when it comes to 3-person tents. Most manufacturers aim to supply the backpacking community with smaller tents or to supply families with much larger tents (check out our reviews of 12-person tents here). But there are a few companies that put effort into serving the smaller 3 person market.
Marmot have been making gear for over 40 years and they have a huge range of tents. Although in the tent reviews above I look at the Marmot Limelight 3P, they actually have a much larger selection in all different shapes and sizes.
When it comes to purchasing tents that provide the quality and features you are looking for at a mid-range, you will want to look at ALPS mountaineering as a trusted brand.
Because Coleman has been in the camping business for a very long time, they tend to be able to offer a decent quality tent at a lower price than most of their competitors. Their range is huge, so if the Coleman Sundome 3 Person Tent doesn’t feel right for you, do go check out the others they have on offer.
Lighter weight tents that are better for backpacking, but still have the design quality and construction to withstand the elements are going to be found in MSR tents, though you might have to pay a bit more to get your hands on one. I really do think the MSR Elixir 3 is one of my favorite tents on the list (even though it’s one of the pricier ones).
Where Is the Best Place to Buy 3-Person Camping Tents
Why Do People Buy 3 Person Tents?
People usually buy a three person tent if they want a bit more room than a 2 person tent without having to pay a big weight penalty. 3 person tents are ideal for couples who have a small child or perhaps a dog. Backpacking is still possible with a 3 person tent and they can also be used for car camping.
What Is the Best 3 Person Tent?
The best 3 person 3 season tent is the Sea to Summit Telos TR3. People looking for an ultralight tent might prefer the MSR Freelite 3. If space is the major consideration then the Alps Mountaineering Lynx 3 is the most spacious 3 person tent, while the Zephyr 3 is probably the best budget tent for 3 people.