BEST VALUE

rei passage 2 tent
REI Co-op Passage 2

EDITORS CHOICE

marmot tungston tent
Marmot Tungsten

PREMIUM CHOICE

the north face eco trail
The North Face Eco Trail
Quick Navigation
Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on pinterest
Pinterest

Best Tents for Kayak & Canoe Camping

The wilderness, in a broad sense, has seen an increase in visitor numbers in recent years. More people are taking to the trails and reaping all the benefits that extended time in the outdoors provides.

While we’re thrilled that so many people seek meaningful experience in the outdoors, it seems that it is becoming increasingly difficult to find natural areas that you can have all to yourself or even to find parking at trailheads and get reservations to backcountry campsites. 

Thankfully, there are more than a few workarounds if solitude in the wild is what you are after. One of the draws of hiking and backpacking is how easy it is to get into, but with a little more investment, you can better guarantee yourself a wilderness experience away from the crowds. 

Camping via kayak or canoe provides a unique, comfortable, and isolated way to explore the great outdoors. While you need some specialized gear, much of your standard backpacking kit translates well to kayak camping. 

Kayak and canoe camping allows you to travel comfortably in the backcountry. Both vessels have ample space for all of your necessary gear in addition to non-essential, but highly desirable, items you may think twice about carrying on your back. 

When buying the best tent for kayak camping, there are a few things to consider. Pack size and weight go a long way on the water, as when traditionally backpacking. 

Similarly, ease of set-up, season rating, capacity, and price are all factors to consider when purchasing a tent for sea kayaking – as they would be for standard camping adventures. 

Best Tents for Canoe or Kayak Camping

Marmot Tungsten 2 Person Tent

best sleeping bag for kayak camping
  • Pack Size: 7 in x 21 in
  • Pack Weight: 5 lbs 4 oz
  • Season Rating: 3 season
  • Capacity: 2 person

The Marmot Tungsten is a great mid-range canoe and kayaking tent – offering all of the features you need and want in a tent at an affordable price. Boasting weather resistance, this tent is a good option for kayak or canoe camping in inclement weather. 

With its pre-bend construction, the interior space has extra headroom adding comfort if you do get stuck waiting out a squall. The Tungsten 2 Person Tent is light enough to pass as a backpacking or car camping tent, and its packability is excellent for both open canoes or stuffing deep into your sea kayak dry hatch.

PROS

  • Reliable, simple design
  • Set-up
  • Affordable
  • Extra space and headroom in the interior

CONS

  • Does not hold up particularly well in high winds
  • Some questions of pole durability

REI Co-op Half Dome 2 Tent

best tent for kayak camping
  • Pack Size: 7 in x 20.5 in
  • Pack Weight: 5 lbs 5 oz
  • Season Rating: 3 season
  • Capacity: 2 person

The REI Half Dome 2 is another excellent and affordable two-person option for both kayak and canoe camping adventures. This tent is for someone looking for a no-frills, easy to use option at a great value. 

Some have complained about the Half Dome struggling to hold up in the rainiest conditions. While this seems to be a case by case complaint, REI does have a great warranty and repair/return policy. If you are looking for your first backcountry tent, the REI Half Dome 2 is a solid pick.

PROS

  • Affordable, and often on sale
  • Simple yet elegant design
  • Attractive warranty and return policy

CONS

  • Some complaints of seals leaking in heavy rain
  • Shock cord in tent poles can lose elasticity quickly

REI Co-op Passage 2 Tent

rei co-op passage 2 tent
  • Pack Size: 18 in x 8 in
  • Pack Weight: 5 lbs 10 oz
  • Season Rating: 3 season
  • Capacity: 2 person

One of the most affordable kayak and canoe camping tents on our list, the REI Passage 2 is like the little brother to the Half Dome 2 outlined above. The Passage is similar in pack size and a few ounces heavier, yet comes in at almost one hundred dollars cheaper. 

With a similar design and construction to the Half Dome, this tent is an excellent option for the outdoor enthusiast looking to toe into kayak or canoe camping. At this weight and pack size, the Passage is also serviceable as an introductory backpacking tent to boot, and the price can’t be beaten.

PROS

  • Highly affordable and often on sale
  • Strong warranty and return policy
  • Simple no-frills design that works

CONS

  • Questions of durability
  • Not the most weather resistant tent on the list

Mountain Hardwear Trango 2 Tent

mountian hardwear canoe camping tent
  • Pack Size: 8 in x 24 in
  • Pack Weight: 9 lbs 10.2 oz
  • Season Rating: 4 season
  • Capacity: 2 person

Mountain Hardwear’s Trango 2 is the first four-season tent on our list, and it sure packs a punch. Given its four-season rating, this tent is best served when used in the most demanding climates, as it is so burly that it can become stifling if camping exclusively in hot and dry weather. 

While a bit heavier weight is less of a concern when canoe and kayak camping, and if you are venturing into coastal climates at the extreme latitudes, a four-season tent may be the right move. The Trango is on the expensive side but, as with most outdoor gear, you get what you pay for.

PROS

  • Highly durable and weather-resistant
  • Very spacious, with a large vestibule
  • Small pack size

CONS

  • Expensive
  • Heavy duty for the average kayak/canoe camper

Naturehike Cloud-Up Season Tent

best tent for canoe camping
  • Pack Size: 17.7 in by 5.9 in
  • Pack Weight:  3.8 lbs (1 person), 4.7 lbs (2 person), 5.7 lbs (3 person)  
  • Season Rating: 3 season
  • Capacity: 1 – 3 person designs

The best tent for canoe camping is going to be light, packable, durable, and affordable, and the Naturehike Cloud-Up checks most of these boxes. This tent is the least expensive on our list, yet it doesn’t have too many of the faults that often accompany lower-priced gear. 

This tent is exceptionally light and packable – making it an easy adventure partner for kayaking, canoeing, and backpacking trips. The Cloud-Up comes in one, two, and three-person construction – allowing you to choose the perfect sized tent for your needs.  

PROS

  • Highly affordable
  • Lightweight and packable
  • Easy set-up and simple design

CONS

  • Poor weatherproofing
  • Best suited for warm and dry climates

The North Face Eco Trail 3 Person Tent

best tent for kayak camping
  • Pack Size: 23 in x 6.5 in x 7.5 in
  • Pack Weight: 7 lbs 7 oz
  • Season Rating: 3 season
  • Capacity: 3 person

The North Face has built its reputation on selling environmentally responsible and high-quality outdoor gear, and their Eco Trail 3 Person Tent is no exception. Given that it is rated as a three-person tent, the Eco Trail 3 is a bit heavier and has more interior space than other two-person options. 

Again, weight is less of an issue when kayak and canoe camping, and if interior space and comfort are what you desire, consider the North Face Eco Trail. Made of entirely recycled materials, this tent has impressive durability in addition to excellent weatherproofing.

PROS

  • Excellent weather/water resistance
  • Spacious interior, with reasonably sized vestibules as well
  • Easy and intuitive set-up

CONS

  • More expensive than some other options
  • More substantial and larger pack size than competitors

The North Face Stormbreak 1

the north face stormbreak
  • Pack Size: 6 in x 22 in
  • Pack Weight: 3 lbs 7 oz
  • Season Rating: 3 season
  • Capacity: 1 person

If you envision taking many solo kayak and canoe camping trips, a one-person tent may be the right move. If you are looking for stable one-person tents, look no further than The North Face Stormbreak 1. 

This tent is lightweight, easy to set-up by yourself, and packs down small. It’s simple and elegant design is more than enough for a home in the wilderness, and it’s affordable price point makes it that much more attractive. 

While solo camping isn’t for everybody, the Stormbreak 1 is an excellent choice for those needing a shelter while enjoying a solitary experience on their kayak or canoe camping adventure.  

PROS

  • Lightweight and easily packable
  • Excellent weather and rain resistance
  • Affordable

CONS

  • Small/cramped interior space for larger campers
  • Smaller vestibule than two-three person alternatives

ALPS Mountaineering Lynx 2-Person Tent

  • Pack Size: 6 in x 20 in
  • Pack Weight: 5 lbs 12 oz
  • Season Rating: 3 season
  • Capacity: 2 person

The ALPS Mountaineering Lynx 2 Person Tent is an excellent introductory tent for those unsure if kayak or canoe camping is right for them. Like some of the other more affordable tents on our list, the Lynx is a reliable no-frills option if you are trying to toe into kayak and canoe camping. 

It is relatively lightweight, packs down to a small size, and is easy to set up. While not particularly fancy, this tent holds its own in good weather. The Lynx is by no means a workhorse but, if you are concerned about breaking the bank, it can get you started. 

PROS

  • Highly affordable
  • Simple and elegant design; easy set-up
  • Relatively lightweight and easy to pack

CONS

  • Not made of the most durable material

Black Diamond Eldorado 

  • Pack Size: 7 in x 19 in
  • Pack Weight: 5 lbs 1 oz
  • Season Rating: 4 season
  • Capacity: 2 person

If your kayak or canoe camping adventure is going to pit you against the elements, consider bringing a four-season tent along. In terms of spacious, lightweight, and durable four-season tents, the Eldorado from Black Diamond is an excellent option. 

While pricey, it is one of the lighter four-season tents on the market and packs downs to an impressive 7 in x 19. Similar to the Trango by Mountain Hardware. However, this tent is likely overkill and not worth the price if you envision most of your kayak or canoe camping adventures in relatively warm and welcoming climates. 

PROS

  • Incredibly durable and weather-resistant
  • Lightweight and packable
  • Sound and spacious design

CONS

  • Expensive
  • Spacious vestibule sold separately
  • Likely too burly for the average canoe/kayak camper

Kelty Salida Backpacking Tent

best tent for kayak camping - kelty salida
  • Pack Size: 13 in x 15 in
  • Pack Weight: 4 lbs 9 oz
  • Season Rating: 3 season
  • Capacity: 2 person (1 and 4 person also available)

The Kelty Salida Backpacking Tent is the perfect example of how and why tents can be multifunctional. You don’t need to buy separate tents for kayaking, canoeing, or backpacking. Another middle of the road option.

The Kelty Salida, is a trustworthy and affordable option for the camper looking to put their tent to use in multiple ways. 

At its price, the Salida is one of the lightest and most packable on our list. Further, it comes in 1, 2, and 4 person options if you are looking to up or downsize your current tent situation. Its simple design promotes interior space and usability and makes for a great shelter on any 3 season adventure.

PROS

  • Comfortable interior space
  • Large vestibules for gear storage
  • Light and packable

CONS

  • Seems to trap interior moisture/condensation more than others
  • Some questions of durability

How to Choose the Best Tent for Kayak Camping

When shopping for the best kayak camping tent, it may seem like there are a lot of things to consider. Luckily, it isn’t that different than finding your perfect backpacking tent. You want something light and durable and rated to whichever seasons/climates you plan to use it in – paying particular attention to capacity and price. After sifting through these criteria, it will soon become clear which tent is the right one.  

Pack Size & Weight

Weight conscious backpackers are hypersensitive to the pack size and weight of the gear they purchase. In terms of kayak and canoe camping, you have much more freedom in adding a few ounces here and there without really paying for the extra weight. 

There is a surprising amount of dry storage space in kayaks, and the soft material of tents make for easy stuffing into every nook and cranny. Still, you want to find a tent that packs down to a reasonable size. 

Canoes have ample space for storage, so pack size is less critical when canoeing. Compared to backpacking, you can comfortably transport much more weight on the water than on your back, so weight is less of a concern. 

If you are looking for a multifunctional tent that you plan to use for both water travel and backpacking, consider skewing light. It is also worth noting that the weights above are pack weights, meaning they are a bit heavier than necessary. You can shave a few ounces here and there when hitting the water.  

Season Rating

Very few people are kayak or canoe camping in winter when it is snowing because many bodies of water are frozen during the colder months. Some of the most incredible places in the world to explore by kayak are in the far northern latitudes of Alaska, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, etc.

Similarly, world-class canoeing destinations like the Boundary Waters in Minnesota are uniquely beautiful (and cold) in the spring and fall. 

If these destinations are on your list, consider looking at four-season tents. If these places don’t speak to you, a four-season tent is overkill. They provide a lot of comfort and protection in extreme weather, but three-season tents will generally suffice for most places – including coastal temperate rainforests that see a lot of rainfall.  

Set-Up Ease

One of the first things you should always do when you arrive at camp is to set up your tent, and the easier that is to do, the more enjoyable your experience will be. Choosing a tent that is easy to set up is especially prudent if you are camping in the rain.

The ease of setup allows you to expedite creating a warm and dry shelter in demanding conditions. That said, it is always good to practice setting up your new tent at home before heading off on an adventure. With enough practice, even the most complicated tents can be set up in a matter of minutes. 

Capacity

Capacity is entirely personal preference and depends on who you plan to camp with and how much extra space you desire. Some kayak and canoe campers want to maximize interior space so that they will purchase a tent rated to one additional person than on the trip. This allows for gear storage and added comfort inside. 

Others will prioritize weight and packability and choose a tent meant for the exact number of people on the adventure. 

It is up to you to prioritize what you feel is the most important, but remember not to get bogged down in ounces as weight is far less of an issue in kayaking and canoeing than in backpacking. Additionally, remember that vestibules on the outside of a tent are a great feature in terms of protection from the elements and gear storage space.  

Price

Like all outdoor gear, you often get what you pay for when it comes to tents. More affordable tents will often be less durable and be made from cheaper material. If you don’t plan on using your tent often, are budget conscious, or just want to give kayak camping a try, then less expensive options are an excellent choice. 

There are many affordable and serviceable tents on our list. If you are more drawn to high-quality gear that will last for years and years, be prepared to pay for it. Ultimately you need to decide what you are willing to spend and what you are ready to sacrifice when setting a budget. 

Kayak and canoe tents can easily be multifunctional and serve you in other backcountry endeavors. If looking for an option that can check multiple boxes, consider what is most important to you in a backcountry shelter for all modes of transportation. 

Finally, do a little research on each company’s warranty, repair, and return policy. Most outdoor companies are very generous when it comes to building a devoted customer base and will do a lot to ensure you remain satisfied with their product.   

Final Thoughts

Exploring the backcountry via kayak and canoe is a phenomenal way to avoid the people that may have otherwise crowded your local hiking trailheads. Exploring nature by water offers a unique perspective that not many others get to experience and also allows you to bring a lot of gear along for the ride. 

This often translates to comfortable camps, delicious food, and guaranteed good time. While many backcountry gear items are universal, there are some specific needs you will need to address to ensure that you are exploring the wilderness by water in a safe, efficient, and enjoyable way. 

After those needs are addressed, and if you are in the market for a new backcountry shelter, start your search for the best tent for kayak camping. Like all tents, this is a personal endeavor – the best tent for you will likely not be the best tent for someone else. 

Do your research, jot down what you feel is the most important, and buy when you’re ready. Before you know it, you will have a paddle in the water, setting forth to parts unknown! 

Related Reading:

Found This Useful? Give it a Share

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on reddit
Reddit
Share on pinterest
Pinterest