A-Frame Tent vs Backpacking Tent | Which is the Best for Camping?

When comparing an A-Frame tent vs backpacking tents, they each offer low-weight options great for traveling campers but are backpacking tents worth the extra cost to shave a few pounds?

We’ve broken down the major similarities and differences of common tent types to help you make the right decision for your next outdoor adventure!

A-Frame Tent vs Backpacking Tent

First, let’s break down each type of tent:

A-Frame

a-frame vs backpacking tent
The A-Frame tent is distinguished by its triangular prism design which uses a rectangular floor, two A-frames on the ends, and a cross pole in order to form the tent frame.

Backpacking

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True to their name, backpacking tents are intended for backpacking! They are traditionally smaller than most other tent types as their primary focus is keeping the weight down while protecting you from the elements.

Major Differences

The biggest difference between an A-frame tent vs backpacking tents are their price and weight. Unlike a-frame tents, backpacking tents have two or more poles that intersect to create the frame. Backpacking tents almost always have a shorter peak height as every bit of pole and fabric has been shaved off to save on weight wherever possible. In contrast, A-frame tents frequently have a higher peak height created by a cross pole held up by four corner poles. Each tent type comes in sizes of around 4 people at their largest. Larger tent types can be found in different structural designs.

Both types of tents usually use a two-layer design to repel rain but an A-frame tent may be slightly more comfortable to spend a longer period of time inside during a storm with the slightly higher peak height giving you the ability to stretch vertically a bit.

Backpacking tent’s largest advantage comes from their size and weight. Built specifically for backpacking, manufacturers use lightweight poles, minimally required fabric, and other techniques to get to crazy low weights. Some of them are under 2 pounds, even less if you ditch the bag the tent comes with. When every ounce counts, it can be well worth the extra cash to splurge on backpacking tents instead of the standard bulky A-frame tent you might already have in the gear shed.

Best Uses For A-Frame & Backpacking Tents

A backpacking tent is best used for its namesake, backpacking! A-frame tents can be used for backpacking too but will add more weight and a bulky bundle to your pack than the more specialized tents will. Backpacking tents are a little small for use during family or car camping, especially with their low peak height, but they certainly will protect you from the weather no matter how short the roof is!

A-Frame

Backpacking


Family Camping


Car Camping


Backpacking

Feature Comparison | A-Frame Tent vs Backpacking Tent

Backpacking tents and A-frame tents are very similar outside of weight and cost. If you can afford it, a backpacking tent will probably be the better choice for most campers looking for a smaller tent. If peak height is important to you – a dome tent may be the better option!

Product

A-Frame Tent

Backpacking

Sturdiness

Capacity

Cost

Portability

Lifespan

Want more?

Check out our infographic and larger article covering the ten most common tent types or use our tent finding tool to quickly find the tents that suit your needs!

About the Author

Photo of author

Robbie

Robbie is a Co-Founder and editor at Midwest Camping. Robbie has backpacked over three hundred miles of the Appalachian trail, visited seventeen national parks, and camped regularly for the last two decades.

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